Saturday, May 20, 2017

Baby Sadie.. for now

One year of this tiny baby... How do I describe this contrary and adorable creature?

This is going to be a picture and video heavy post.. Be ye forewarned.. I've tried to choose ones I haven't shared on social media yet.

--Sadie was pretty small when she was born, so she wasn't super cute when she was born (sorry baby.. but it's the truth). She just needed to gain some weight and fill out a little bit.. But now, she has the cutest little baby doll face ever. She has the cutest little dimples and I die whenever she smiles enough to show them.

--From birth, she has always been somewhat of a noisy baby. Even as a newborn, she would squawk if we held her in the wrong position, she would snuffle at night, hiss or make funny noises when she got mad, and would grunt if put in a swaddler. Currently, she screams for attention, and still squawks loudly when she wants something.

--She definitely liked to snuggle as a baby, and was pretty much in someone's arms for the first 2-4 weeks of her life. Currently, she only snuggles when she's sick or with daddy. She will snuggle with Graham while he sings her to sleep, but she wriggles and squirms out of my arms when I sing to her after her bedtime bottle.

--She is obsessed with Carter.. and I mean obsessed. She wants to do whatever he's doing at the moment. If Carter has a toy, Sadie will only want it while Carter is playing with it. She follows him around, and tries to wake him up in the morning (they're currently sharing a room). Sadie will do anything to play with Carter, and likes to crawl all over him when she finally gets to him.

--Sadie is not a good sleeper.. She went through a period of 3 weeks straight of sleeping through the night when I went back to work when she was 3 months old.. and then, only sporadically over the next 9 months. She has her dad wrapped around her little finger, so sleep training has been inconsistent as well. Carter was a good sleeper, so this baby is payback to that. My mom says that I didn't sleep through the night until I was 13 months old as well.

--This girl does not laugh easily. We have a video of her giggling, but seriously.. this girl is difficult! She loves to smile, but man is it hard to make her laugh. The only time she laughs spontaneously is if she is climbing up the stairs, and Graham or I try to get her before she climbs up all of the stairs. She is a stinker, this one.. She also laughs when daddy throws her high into the air.

--She is a little independent sprite. We call her Dora the Explorer because she doesn't really like to snuggle or play with stuff.. she just likes to crawl around and explore everything around her. This means she's getting into trouble all the time because we leave open doors or the kitchen pantry. Despite her self-declared independence, she doesn't like to hold her own bottle. The girl refuses to drink if she has to hold it herself. If we let go of the bottle, she'll let it drop and she'll stop drinking. We don't know if she is the laziest baby in the world, if she's contrary like me, or if it's just comforting to not hold her bottle.

--Sadie is into EVERYTHING.. and she's kind of sneaky and quick about it. Our new word is "Sadie-ously??" because we kept saying "seriously?!?" every time we noticed she was into something new. She's our little trash panda because she looks so cute pulling our kitchen trash can down and eating everything that spills out of it. Luckily, she's mostly been eating food scraps, like orange peels and onions. Carter was definitely not like this, so we are so not prepared for little Dora.

--Sadie is a daddy's girl, through and through. The look on her face when he walks through the door at night is priceless. She laughs the most with Graham, whether he's throwing her in the air or he's chasing her up the stairs. Well, I guess both of the kids are daddy's kids.. and since we probably won't have any more.. I guess that's that.

--We initially thought she was just like Carter.. sweet, content, happy to do whatever.. But it turns out she just merely looks like Carter with dimples. She's loud, begs for attention, more volatile in emotions, and just a little harder to deal with.

--Fun Sadie fact: when she was a little baby, she LOVED the song "Only You" by Yaz. She would stop crying immediately in the car whenever it came on. It worked like magic, and it really pissed Graham off every time.

--We love this baby. She's definitely come into her own little personality, and we're loving these everyday moments of her babyhood and transition into toddlerhood.

Sadie at her "birthday party". Those in attendance were her parents and brother. No excitement was had by all. We are kind of lame parents by some standards..

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Construction Loan Woes

So, in my first blog about building a house, I talked a little about the differences between home loans, land only loans, and construction loans.. and now I have experience with all three. Mind you, I'm definitely not an expert, so I'd recommend contacting a loan officer that is proficient in construction loans if that's what you're working towards.

With the conventional loan, it was a little stressful as we had a high deb-to-income ratio (DTI) back then. We were still paying off debt, and Graham was only working part-time at the group home for $10/hr. We recently had switched one of our credit card balances to a 0% APR, which then lowered our monthly payment, so then we qualified for the loan. That was a big relief.

The land-only loan was scary because we were completely out of our comfort zone. We had to contact the county about land planning, ask a geologist about soil tests, and learn about balloon payments on loans.. It was more work than we were expecting.

And then, we went through with the construction loan.. Honestly, if I could have done it all over again, I would've done the all-in-one construction loan, with the land rolled in with the construction costs. It would've been so much easier to do it all at once, and it would've saved us a few thousand dollars in closing costs. However, we weren't ready to sell our house last fall/winter, which was necessary for a good portion of the down payment on the loan. Plus, it would've been a crazy amount of work to get everything we needed for the construction loan.

So, here's the low-down on a construction loan. There are several terms you'll need to get familiar with: DTI, closing costs, and the loan-to-value (LTV). Your DTI is fairly simple: your average payments on debt compared to your average gross income. To be approved for a mortgage, the recommended DTI is usually at or below 42% (including rent/mortgage). Closing costs can be several thousands of dollars, depending on your lender. They usually include loan origination fees, appraisal, and all kinds of fees (title, county, escrow, etc).The LTV is a little more complicated for a construction loan. If you put zero percent down on a house, the LTV is 100%. Unless you do a specialty loan (such as the USDA loan that we did or a VA loan), many lenders won't do 100%.  Also, you have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) if the loan is >80% LTV.. which can add $200+ per month to your mortgage.

The complicating factor with a construction loan is that some lenders allow you to only put 5% down on a construction loan.. which is great for people like us who have cash but don't have like $80K to put down on a construction loan. Many banks require 20-30% down on construction loans due to the higher risk of new construction. Anyways, we based our future mortgage payments on our home's estimated LTV after appraisal.. For example, if it cost ~$400K to build a home, and the appraised finished home value is $480K, the LTV would be 80% and we wouldn't have to pay PMI. What we didn't account for initially was the LTV on the construction loan (~90-95%).. so we have to pay PMI on the construction loan.. which initially increased our estimated DTI. So, we have to pay PMI on the construction loan while the home is being built. We can re-finance the loan after the home is finished so we won't have to pay PMI, based on the fact that our home will be appraised way higher than what we will have paid for it. This is definitely a bonus to a buyer's market.. as most homes in our area are being sold for $180-200 per sq foot.. so our home could potentially be worth $455-505K after it's built.. which is way more than what we will pay for it.

Going through this process has been anxiety-ridden, as we've felt like we didn't have good communication from our lender, and our questions weren't always answered in a timely fashion. We also had to get bids for all of the items not provided by our home builder, such as the outdoor concrete for patios and driveways, site development, septic design and install, utilities installation, electrician fees, permits, on-site portable toilet.. etc etc etc. It was quite the project, but I managed to do all of it fairly quickly. If you know me well, you'd know I hate making phone calls, so I hated every minute of talking to strangers about things I only have a vague knowledge about. I've never felt so stupid in my life asking an electrician about how we get temporary power to the house.

Due to the poor communication from our lender, we even contacted another loan officer in our area (Terry Pemberton of Umpqua Bank) to see if we could get a better deal basically. He was very knowledgeable and quick to respond, so I'd highly recommend him if you're building in Washington state. However, our current lender had the best product for us, so we stayed with them. We should be closing soon.. but right now we are waiting for the appraisal. I'm really quite curious as to how the appraisal will turn out, as it's just based on the plans, the HERS score (that's a discussion for another day), and the upgrades we're planning on putting into the home. Let's hope it comes out high!

Stay tuned for my next home building blog.. I'm planning on blogging about the design and pre-permitting process. Should be fascinating. I'm sure.

Update: Curious about our progress? Click on this link to see all of our home building updates, or check out my Instagram account.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Four Years Later..

Yes, this is a post about my personal life.. so if you're just following my blog for building our house with Lexar Homes, you'll just have to check back next week..

Anyways, over the past three years around this time of year, I tend to look back at my life and see how it's changed. It has nothing to do with the spring season, but with the fact that Graham and I separated on May 1st 2013. If you don't know about our saga, here's the starting point to our journey. Also, this year, Graham and I have now been together ten years.. so it's a particular year of significance for us.

Four years ago, we went through a personal hell. We separated for Graham's own good, for him to get help, and to fully change without me to push him. He needed to be away from his family to fully realize what he had was worth working to keep. Because of the lies he told about flunking out of school and the trust he broke with his lies, it has taken a lot of time and work to rebuild our relationship. Time has been the biggest help, as it's helped reduce the pain. As time has gone by, I've been able to look back with fondness and with a bittersweet outlook. I've learned a lot.. and grown up a lot throughout the years.

To be honest, it's hard to stay with someone after they've broken your trust. I don't mean to make light of other people's serious problems as well, but I'm pretty sure I have a mild case of PTSD from what I've gone through. Whenever I hear a trigger word, or a trigger situation, such as a mention of somebody who has lied to their spouse.. I have a mini panic attack. My heart starts racing.. I get the anxiety poops... I check the cell phone records.. and then I have to call Graham and make sure he's not lying to me about anything. It sucks, but I'm glad I can better understand my response. Plus, my mini panic attacks get better and less severe as the years go by..

It's not easy to be in the position to doubt your spouse. I've doubted Graham so many times about the things he says and the things he does.. For a while there, our relationship required a lot of verification of things he did. He checked in with me when he was at work. Our emails and account were open and available at any time to each other. I've definitely had my moment of complete freakouts where I needed a lot of comfort and reassurance. Mostly, I feel better now. When I hear my normal anxiety triggers, I react much better. I'm not still asking Graham about events like 8 years ago. I'm looking forward to our lives together, and experiencing what life has to offer as we grow older together.

And yet, still.. sometimes I feel a sense of impending doom because things are too good right now. Sometimes I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.. or something else to go terribly wrong. I feel sometimes like I'm not meant to have a happy life. I know friends who have lost spouses at a young age, or be diagnosed with a terrible chronic disease. I've seen people lose young children. My own brother had a brain tumor at 8 years old and a stroke at 32. Life's not fair, and I know it.. but I often fear for the worst. When I got pregnant with Sadie within the first month of Graham returning from Virginia, I was convinced that I would miscarry. Then after I got through the first trimester, I was worried I'd lose her at a young age. I don't know if this is ongoing anxiety, or just plain motherhood that I'm dealing with.. but it's not fun to have all of these negative thoughts.

But really, married life after a breach of trust doesn't have to be all negative. Luckily for me, it was not infidelity, or else I might be singing a different tune. I'm able to have a happy marriage because I married a great man. An imperfect one, sure.. but who's perfect anyways? Graham treats me like I deserve. He never nags or picks at me. He is my absolute best friend. He is an amazing father. After working a 12-hour day, he comes home and immediately helps me in the kitchen or plays with the kid. He helps with the chores. He doesn't complain about my meal choices (although one time he told me that chips and salsa didn't count as dinner, and I almost kicked him out). He is handsome and looks great in a hat. He kisses me goodnight every night. I am freaking lucky to have a husband so caring and perfect for me in almost every way. What we have is worth fighting for.. and I'm so glad we keep working towards eternity together.

And seriously, how can your heart not melt when you see this every day..?

House Update #1,000,000

Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit with the title.. but that's how it feels. And, my the title for my last update was a little mi...