Mar 31, 2008

House Update

Had an open house on Sunday. Not one buyer came through. It must have been all the rain. Yeah, that's it. The rain.

Mar 30, 2008

Apocalypse - Sign #1

This is from a show called Yo Gabba Gabba. It's the one show on Noggin that I actually objected to Jameson watching. As far as television goes, Noggin is about as good as it gets. It's entirely commercial free, geared towards preschoolers, and has many creative, educational and entertaining programs. And thanks to Noggin (and Moose A. Moose) few parents of toddlers don't know that flowers are the smelliest, rain's the umbrelliest and buttons are the belliest. However, the producers of Yo Gabba Gabba are all clearly on acid and/or peyote.

Since my initial introduction to the show, I've actually learned to appreciate the creativity of Yo Gabba Gabba. Still, this particular clip frightens me. For those of you who have never seen Yo Gabba Gabba, especially those who haven't been exposed to preschool television since the days of trippy Sesame Street counting animations, this might rock your world. It is clearly a sign that the apocalypse is upon us.

I Haven't Forgotten EVERYTHING

JustSayHi - Science Quiz

Mar 28, 2008

Daycare Hunting

We're finally trying to find a daycare for J. He's more than ready for the social interaction of other 2-year-olds and is practically begging us to take him to "school." Sadly, finding a suitable daycare is about as difficult as finding a new house. Yes, Julie and I are probably too picky and never being able to agree on anything doesn't help. But the quality of the places we've visited so far is, um, lacking. Lacking to the point where I wonder why anyone sends their kids to daycare. The infant areas are like little prisons with rows of babies just staring out at each other from behind bars. They look like they're likely to have human contact maybe twice a day. And one place we visited smelled like cats. Which didn't seem so bad when the next place we visited smelled like wet cats.

And then there was the place we visited on Friday. The director of this fine establishment managed to take her daycare out of the running with three little words.

After finishing up a nice little tour of the facility, we headed back up to the office to get some additional information. I can't even remember what the conversation was, but at one point she was making a comment about one of the many toddlers we had just met. Recalling one boy in particular, she looked at me and said, "you know, the dark one." That's right. She referred to one of the black kids in her daycare as "the dark one."

Are you friggin' kidding me? Needless to say, J will not be receiving his early childhood education from "the crazy, white, ignorant, inbred, racist one."

Mar 23, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Some photos from Monday's party over at Great, Great Aunt Patty's house. Thank you, thank you, Patty, for not kicking us out after the first hour. This was my first real taste of what it must have been like for the adults when I was one of the wee lads and lassies terrorizing any number of family functions. It was exhausting with just a handful of kids running around on Monday... I can't imagine what it was like back in the day when the children numbered in the dozens. How any of our parents have an ounce of sanity left is a miracle. God bless you Ron, Patty, Doug and Curt. You must have racked up some serious karma points back then. For those of you readers who aren't part of the Murphy Clan, I was one of nearly 30 first cousins who got together with some regularity when we were kids. Throw in some second cousins and what not, and any given family function for us resembled some sort of surreal daycare of whirling dervishes. We're all (mostly) grown up to varying degrees now and so has begun the next generation of Murphy kids.

Jameson was in rare form that day. This is one of the few moments where he wasn't running, screaming, pulling, pushing, jumping, falling, banging, bumping, knocking, eating, hiding, finding, lifting, dropping, touching, squealing, laughing, crying, kissing, hugging, squeezing, biting, climbing, crawling, sliding or slipping.

Patty the Great presiding. She doesn't seem to rule with quite the iron fist that I remembered. Suddenly, everything now seems to be cleanable, fixable, replaceable or inevitable.

Jameson and Tucker discussing the finer points of modern aeronautics. It was evident this day that Jameson is in dire need of a playmate his age.

Here are my two lucky charms and further proof that I am Irish Catholic. Are you guys ready for another brother or sister? (Or both?)

Here is cousin Andersen making full use of his newfound teeth.

Awww, you're so cute. You're more than welcome to devour that soccer ball.

Mar 19, 2008

Babies, Babies, Babies

Last weekend we spent some time over at Grandma and Grandpa's house. My sister was also there with her son and she got some great pictures of the rapidly growing number of grandkids. Check out all the pictures here. My favorite is the one where Andersen has his hand on Amelia's head and he and Jameson seem to be discussing the issues of the first female foray into the grandchild ranks.

Mar 18, 2008

Offer Accepted... Now What?

Good news: our offer on the house we want was accepted by the seller. Now we just need to sell our house... FAST. I don't know if that's possible in this market, but we'll hope for the best. Thanks to everyone for the crossed fingers, prayers and sacrificial chickens. We may need to move on to sacrificial goats for this next phase.

House Update

We put an offer on a house today. Unfortunately, we had to put a contingency in the contract because we haven't even put our current house on the market yet, let alone sold it. We made a good offer, just a few thousand less than the asking price. The house is for sale by a woman who apparently just got done with a nasty divorce and needs to downsize. We've concluded that the home is priced drastically below its market value and we get the sense that she wants to be done with the sale ASAP. When I say "below its market value," I mean WAY BELOW. Let me put it this way, this house has almost twice the square footage of every other house we've considered in our price range. Without our house on the market, getting our offer accepted  will be tough, but from what we've seen lately, most buyers are throwing out low ball offers even if a house is priced where it should be to begin with. Hopefully she'll appreciate that we're making a serious offer up front. We'll find out by 5:00 on Wednesday if that's the case. Even if she accepts it, with this being a contingent offer, we need to get our house sold NOW so someone else doesn't swoop in and steal this bargain. Julie won't let me link to the actual listing for you all to check out. If we actually buy the house, she doesn't want all the serial killers in my blog readership to know where we live. I'll at least post a picture, though.

Our Marriage Is Still Fresh

Or at least I'm still finding out things about Julie. Like I just found out, that if she so chooses, Julie can stick the end of her tongue in her nostril. Quite easily, actually. Fascinating.

Mar 16, 2008

House Hunting, Part Deux

About this time in 2007 we decided we should start looking for a new house. We always knew we'd eventually need something bigger than our current three bedrooms, and with twins on the way that time was coming sooner rather than later. We thought it would be a relatively simple process and hoped to find a new house and sell our current one all before the twins were born. Well, as everyone knows, the market collapsed and we didn't exactly have buyers flocking to our property. After looking and looking for a new house. And looking. And loooooooking. We decided our best option was to build with Beazer in a master planned community in what we considered the ideal location in the Dayton area. We couldn't find an existing home that we were both excited about, so building seemed like the best choice. Plus, building gave us more time to sell our house and save up for the down payment. In addition, Beazer gave us an option in our contract to back out of the purchase if we hadn't sold our home. They in turn had the option to try to sell the house on the open market while it was being built (still giving us the first right of refusal should they receive an offer from someone else). Well, long story short, the contract option allowed us to back out of the sale when Beazer suddenly decided to pull out of Ohio entirely. That was great news for us. Not so for the dozen or so people that had just built houses there on what was supposed to be a 600 acre, 900 home community. Who knows what will happen to it now...

Anyway, we were glad to be out of the whole deal. Wintertime with a two year old and newborn twins is NOT the time to be trying to buy and sell houses. We yanked our house off the market and basically went into hibernation mode concerning real estate. Now that things are beginning to thaw, we're jumping back in the mix with a new strategy (and hopefully better results). We ditched our agent (and the commission expense) and decided to sell our house on our own. We'll funnel that savings into our list price and hopefully speed up the selling process. We haven't listed it yet, but, putting the cart before the horse, we've already been looking at houses for almost a month now. We spend hours and hours every week combing through online listings. Every Sunday we hit the road and try to visit a half dozen or so open houses.

Which leads us to tonight's blog. I had in my head the idea that I would be blogging today about how impossible it is to find the house. I can't imagine how many houses we've looked at in the last twelve months. Sixty? Seventy? Over one hundred? I wouldn't doubt it. But in all our looking, we've never found a house where we've walked in and thought, "this is it." We've found a handful of houses that we thought were "it," but we always seemed to have to talk ourselves into thinking it. In the end, usually after "sleeping on it," we never convinced ourselves to the point that we'd actually make an offer. It can actually get quite depressing. Never finding a house we both really liked is what led to signing the contract with Beazer originally. And it's actually how we ended up in this house when we built it in 2004. In fact, we often lament that our fantasy solution would be to add a bedroom to this house and move the whole thing further north, closer to Julie's work and both our families. We love this house, but apparently we were never going to find something comparable in the right location.

So tonight's blog was supposed to be a question to all of you out here on the internets. Is it possible to find the "perfect" house? There has always been a deal breaking flaw with every house we research. No yard. No privacy. Bedrooms too small. No basement. Poltergeists. No office. Kitchen too small. Bad smells. Poor construction. Weird looking neighbors. Water leaks. Power lines. I could go on. We're we being too picky? Probably. I thought maybe our dream home just existed out of our price range, but even that wasn't true. I looked out of our price range and still no dream house, just more disappointments but with more square footage and bigger price tags. So does the house exist? All indications were that it didn't.

Until today.

Almost on a whim we decided to look at a house at the very top of our price range. It's listed at a price significantly higher than anything else we've considered to date. Up until now, it seemed like a lower price house was our best option because then we could invest more money in making it our "ideal" house. We were wrong. Our best option is the house we saw today. Unlike every other house we've ever looked at, we walked to our car today with both of us saying, "we have to buy this house." This is it.

So now we have to find a way to buy it. We've got to get pre-approved again. We have to get the house inspected. We have to get our house sold. We have to come up with the 20% down. And, of course, we have to get the owners to accept our offer. Things aren't exactly in the bag.

We're not even close to the finish line, but at least we've finally found a house we really, really want. So keep your fingers crossed for us. Say a little prayer. Sacrifice a chicken. Whatever it takes.

I'll keep you posted.

Mar 15, 2008

Actual Conversation

Julie: "Did you eat one of the cookies laying on the counter?"

James: "Yes."

Julie: "You shouldn't have. They fell on the floor this morning."

Mar 13, 2008

Flyers Lose to Xavier... Again

For the third time this season we lost to Xavier. It was another frustrating game. While we managed to stage a comeback in the second half, even managing to take the lead, poor play in final stretch did us in once again. Our free throw shooting in particular has been downright embarrassing. We were 61% from the line yesterday which was actually a big improvement over the 33% from the St. Louis game. We really didn't deserve to beat St. Louis the day before, so this loss can only be so disappointing. Xavier owns us lately and a victory would mean a near lock for the NCAA tournament, so this game would have meant redemption on a few levels. Early on, this year felt like THE year. We began the year 14-1, had beat Louisville and TROUNCED Pitt. Brian Roberts seemed unstoppable and Chris Wright was living up to every expectation. Dayton was nationally ranked and, though early, we looked like a lock for the NCAA Tournament. So much for being a lock. Chris Wright got hurt at the end of that run and we lost 8 of our next 11 games.

Some say Dayton still has a chance to get in. We've played a tough schedule and our overall record is good (21-10), so it's plausible. We've got two big feathers in our cap with the Louisville and Pitt wins. Pitt just knocked Louisville out of the Big East tournament and next takes on Marquette. Sorry, Kip, I'm rooting for Pitt now. We need all the credibility we can get.

Mar 11, 2008

I Used to Be Thin

My wife and I used to be thin. And she's decided to remind us (and everyone else) here.

I've got to go work out...

Mar 10, 2008

So Called Blizzard

Yes, we got lots of snow this past weekend. But I don't know if I'd call it a blizzard. We probably got a total of 14 inches of snow from Friday morning through Saturday evening. I guess it was pretty bad as it was coming down, but by Sunday afternoon we were able to pack up the kids and spend the day going to various open houses. By today, the roads were completely clear and most of the yard was visible again. Anyway, it was the most snow we've had all year and it was fun while it lasted. This was the first time Jameson and I really got to go out and play in the snow for any significant amount of time and that alone was worth it. I love the snow, but with St. Patrick's day a week away, I'm ready for Spring.

The trusted family minivan wasn't going anywhere on Saturday.

The snow drifts were chest high in places.

My neighbor's truck. (I just needed a darker backdrop to capture the falling snow.)

Our flower garden. It's there. I promise.

The blowing snow made for some interesting snow drifts.

The snow was very powdery and the wind was strong, so I guess that's partly why there was such a fuss over this storm.

Jameson gathering the necessary tools...

"Let's do this."

"There isn't enough life on this ice cube to fill a space cruiser!"

Digging out the fort.

"If I die before we reach the top, promise me you'll use my body as an alternative source of food."

Another brick in the wall.

I pulled the camera away just in time to take a snow block to the head.

The neighborhood looks much better covered in snow...

It was beautiful while it lasted. Now it's a muddy mess.

All that time in the snow makes for some rosy cheeks.

Mar 8, 2008

She Knows

The only way I can get Amelia asleep is by walking and bouncing her. The key here is walking. Sometimes this takes 20 or more minutes. It's not a huge deal, but as she gets heavier, and especially when Truman also needs his own bouncing session, it starts to wear on one's back. Unfortunately, Amelia will not let me bounce her while sitting. I've tried so many ways to transition from walking to sitting but nothing works. I contort my body. I move in super slow motion. I do everything possible to recreate the feeling of being walked and bounced, but the results are always the same. The moment I reach a sitting position and give my back a little relief... BAM! Amelia starts screaming her head off. Nothing works. She KNOWS the second I've shifted an ounce of effort from maintaining her comfort to my own. I feel like Indiana Jones trying to replace the idol with a bag of sand. Just as I think I've successfully accomplished my task... click... the arrows start flying and I'm back to trying to outrace a screaming boulder. It's the same thing every day. So I guess in my case, Indiana Jones stars Bill Murray and takes place in Punxsutawney, PA.

As incredibly frustrating as it sometimes is (notice the time on this post...), for some strange reason I wouldn't have it any other way. It's such a part of her personality that I love and I guess it's also a reminder that being a parent requires no less than a 100% commitment to your children. Though, if she's this demanding at three months...

I'd better get some sleep. Lots of it.

Mar 6, 2008

Those Baby Videos Don't Seem So Funny Now

Ugh. Regretting staying up late. When the only free time you get is after midnight when all the mini-people are asleep, it's hard not to get caught up in the mindless diversions of the internet.

Funny Baby

Julie and I just spent 20 minutes (of course when we should have been in bed) laughing at baby videos on YouTube.

Mar 5, 2008

Is It Just Me?

If you are a parent, have you ever had one of those days where your child is behaving in a way that can't clearly be defined as "bad behavior" but he or she manages to get under your skin just the same? It's like you can tell they're deliberately pushing your buttons but they never quite cross the line to warrant a punishment. Things like deciding to play the piano and "sing" a song a few decibels louder than they normally would, but not quite yelling, knowing full well that it's making your ears hurt. Maybe it's just me, but Jameson seemed to have this behavior mastered tonight. He was toeing the line all evening, but the strongest charge I could bring against him was a bland and ineffective "you need to settle down." He soooo knew what he was doing.

Or am I the crazy one?