Monday, December 23, 2013

Going veg

This will be the first New Years Eve I can remember that I will weigh less now than I did at the beginning of the year.

About two months ago I watched an interesting documentary called "Forks Over Knives". It's about being Vegan. I never thought I could be a Vegetarian...much less a Vegan.

The documentary opened my eyes a lot. I was eating mean because I "needed" protein and consumed diary products because I "needed" calcium. Turns out I was eating way more protein than I needed.

So I took the plunge and went full fledged Vegetarian....with Vegan influences. I following Vegetarian practices but when possible I am full Vegan. I don't consume traditional dairy products like milk, ice cream or yogurt. I will consume dairy or eggs if they are a minor ingredient in something however.

It's been much easier than I thought it would be. There have been some amazing results.

I sleep better and deeper than I ever have. I used to wake up often or just feel sluggish. No longer.

Another benefit has been the weight loss. I'd already been exercising. Going veg has put a turbo on the weight loss. I've lost 30 pounds in 3 months. Slow and steady weight loss. It's nice.

This isn't a diet as I plan do be a vegetarian for the rest of my life. I used to eat meat because I was raised that way and never thought much of it. I then began thinking "why?" I mostly ate meat covered in sauces and spices. I rarely ate plain meat. So I didn't really like the meat, I liked the sauces and spices.  I can eat the same or similar flavors with vegetables and tofu.

I eat a lot more fresh vegetables now. A common mean is steamed vegetables over rice. No real seasoning is needed. I have splurged on a Blendtec blender. I've made some awesome all vegetable and a few mixed smoothies. My first vegetable smoothie had kale, spinach, ginger, lemon, carrot and cucumber. It was awesome.....Kelli tried it....but only a sip.

She has been supportive. She has no plans on following me down this path though.

Hopefully in the new year I will update my blogs more. I've been neglecting them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sliding Doors

I'm a bit of a dreamer. I'm not the only one.

I got to thinking how I got to where I am. What was the pivotal point.....the one point in time that got to me where I am today.

To the best of my knowledge it all goes back to 9th grade.....and two women  whom I met, Beth Dusesoi and Katy Fernie.

I met Beth first. She was different from the was I. Via Beth I met Katy. Beth and I were good friends and Katy and I were friends.

For 10th grade we all moved to a brand new high school. We were the first 10th graders and the highest grade as the school started with just freshman and sophomores.

Katy was interested in Journalism and was enrolled in newspaper right away. Early on she asked me if I had a camera and if I wanted to be a newspaper photographer. I had used my dads Canon AE-1 a few times. Why not? Being the first photographer I was instantly Chief Photographer! Katy was Editor in Chief.

Aside from newspaper there was a yearbook staff also in the journalism room. With only one darkroom I became great friends with the Chief Photographer for yearbook, Katrina Brown. We were both quirky and got along great. We became great friends and even went to a few Homecoming dances together (even though there were no former students coming home....since I would be in the first graduating class).

Another woman in yearbook was one of the Co-Editors in Chief (still not sure how that went down) Emily Wallwin.

Emily and I had gone to the same schools since Kindergarden but didn't really know each other well. This would change during my junior and senior years. We hung out often. I'm pretty sure I had my first drunk experience at her house. Her mom was very nice and I was at their house often. I even had the honor of taking Emily to prom.

When it came time for college I followed Katy to Texas Tech to major in Photo-Journalism. I fell in love with photography.

That lasted all of one year. I didn't care for Texas Tech. I sent physical letters and later e-mails to Emily (still don't know how that started) and became closer friends. She went to Stephen F. Austin. Since I didn't care for Texas Tech I decided to head east to Stephen F. Austin for the rest of my college career.

Emily was a Resident Assistant and encouraged me to apply. Why not I get my own room. Sometime between Texas Tech and Stephen F. Austin Emily and I began dating.

While in training to be a Resident Assistant I vividly remember standing in a hallway next to a tall and large black guy named Larry Campbell. He asked if I was in a Fraternity. I wasn't. He was. He encouraged me to join . I rushed and was accepted into the Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity.

Until this point I was a quiet and reserved person. Being in Fraternity really broke me out of my shell.

In my pledge class was a guy named Eric Bridges. He was also in his second year and happened to be living on my floor in my wing. I actually met Eric before rushing as he arrived early and was playing computer games in an nearly empty dorm.

Emily and I broke up.

Katrina drove up from Houston in her Ford Ranger to help bring my stuff home for the summer. We ended up hanging out all summer. She attended SFA the following semester.

Fraternity life was.....wait for it.....legendary. I loved it.

I met Stephanie Holcomb at a Fraternity party and we began dating during my 3rd year in College.

Stephanie and I moved in together and things were great. She was very intelligent and was on track to finish college in 3 1/2 years. I added on a second major to stick around an extra year to be with her. Katrina and I lost touch.

I did have an awesome job driving a school bus. Seriously it was an awesome job.

I graduated in May 2000. My mom passed away in July 2000. Stephanie and I moved to Houston and got decent jobs. We lasted until March 2001. Done. Stephanie moved back home with her mom in the Dallas area.

Somewhat foolishly I got a job in the Dallas area teaching computer repair at a community college to chase Stephanie.  I moved up to the Dallas area in April 2001. It never worked. Stephanie and I were done again.

I was laid off from being a teacher in August 2001. Nearly broke I got a "temporary job" at NCR in late September 2001. I hoped I would land a better job soon.

Around this time Katrina and I reconnected. It was like we never stopped talking.

Still being somewhat new in town I asked Katrina to find me a girlfriend. She placed an ad on FOR ME. She kept calling (no texting back then) and asking odd questions. I later learned about the ad.

I met one woman named Dorie and then I met the woman who would become my wife....Kelli Richmond.

I met Kelli at a Chilis. She looked like she was 16. I asked for an ID...she didn't have one as she just moved to Texas from California. Three years later I would propose to her in that same Chilis.

Eric was the best man at our wedding.

That's about it. Well I quit that temporary job at NCR in 2005 after being there 4 years. Eventually Kelli pushed me to pursue flying...which is what I've been doing for 7 years now.

That's how I got to where I am now. As best as I can tell it all started with Beth Dusesoi and Katy Fernie. Without meeting those two I am fairly certain I would not be where I am today.

I'm still friends with everyone except Stephanie....gotta love Facebook.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How it all went down

Selling our house was stressful.

Back in November 2012 when we decided to buy a new house, we started prepping our old house, even though it wouldn't be "on the market" until May 2013.

The first thing we did was paint. Most of the walls were white and had not been touched in 8 years. Well they'd been touched, just not painted. They looked a little worn.

We said we'd paint a room a week. Well it went more like a room every two weeks. Still not bad. We hated painting.

In March we got a storage unit for all of the extra "stuff" in the house. Mostly mine. We also emptied out the closets off all clothes except what we wear. By having a more empty closet they appeared larger.

Also in March we had our house pre-inspected. It was $350 but it gave peace of mind as to not have any surprises. It was money well spent.

Back in April 2012 we had a really bad hail storm in the area. I had our roof inspected and was told we had no damage. Well the house inspector said our roof was in bad shape. I called our insurance agent. He agreed and said I had just one more week to call as they cover hail damage 1 year from the date of the last storm. If we had not had a pre-inspection....we would have been on the hook for $9,000.

Beyond that we had a few small things to fix.

When we bought our house in 2004 we paid $144.000 which was a crazy amount of money for us. Still is.

Over the years the city of Euless kept raising the appraisal value of our house peaking at $170,000 in 2012. We would be thrilled if we could get that much for our house. We wouldn't pay that much, but if someone else would...great.

We decided to use my Fraternity brother for our agent rather than a total stranger. He did give us a break on the commission charging 5% vs the normal 6%.

He let us pick the asking price. I'm not sure how we came up with it, but we decided to shoot for the stars and ask $185,000. We figured with a brand new roof, less than one year old air conditioner, new carpet and fresh paint....why not?

In April we had a garage sale. Prices were super low as we wanted to get rid of extra stuff. During the sale our neighbor across the street came over and said his family member wanted to buy a house in the area.

I gave him our floorplan (yep I saved it from 2004!) and the number of our agent.

They looked at the house twice BEFORE we listed it.....nothing. Waste of time.

Our house officially listed on May 1st. On May 2nd we had an offer for $181,000. On May 3rd we had an offer for $185,000.

The offer was a request to close on June 6th and then leaseback the house to us until June 20th (at the time our house would be done June 13th and closing June 17th).

They wanted $1850 for a deposit plus $50 a day. That spooked us and our agent. We negotiated for $1850 deposit and Principal, Tax and Interest (PTI) for rent. Fine. We thought the deposit was nuts for us living in our own house for 2 weeks.

They had the house inspected and looked at it again a few times. I guess they didn't think my security cameras recorded audio as they said a few odd things. Each time they looked at the house I had to leave. I'd pull away and just watch and listen to them on the security cameras.

Their inspector found a few things ours didn't. Four things:

1. The shower pan had a hairline crack and wanted us to replace the pan

2. A sprinkler valve and head were leaking

3. The caulk around the garage was "tacky"

4. The attic had an area that needed insulation

Well we did the following

1. Used silicone caulk on the hairline crack as a pan would be over $2000!

2. Repaired the valve and head

3. Removed the caulk ...and laughed as it looked worse

4. Nothing...the area was for walking and didn't need insulation


They were fine until the appraisal. Our house appraised for $182,000. They wouldn't budge. It was late in the game at this point. They knew we were moving.

Fine. It was still well above what we thought we would get.

On closing day we walked away with a lot of money. Being conservative we put half into a rainy day fund that was enough to cover almost a year of mortgage payments on the new house. The other part was spent on stuff for the new house and closing cost on the new house.

We were then renters. I took photos and video of the house the day we closed in case there were issues.  I also filled out a condition report similar to the form used to rent an apartment.

The closing on our new house was moved up to June 13th. Better.

We moved in on the 14th. Since it was only 5 miles away we didn't pack everything. Huge mistake. We made at least 10 trips to and from bringing "small" stuff. Ugh.

On the 16th we had maids over to clean the house. I cleaned out the garage.

On the 17th the power was cut off at the old house.

On the 20th we left the keys and said goodbye to our first house with a note to the buyers including our contact info if they had any problems with the condition.

About a week later our agent called and said the buyers weren't happy. We left "holes" in the walls and "Electric cables" hanging out and they were electrocuted!

The holes were there the entire time and were behind the TVs for cabling. The electric cable were two speaker wires that we had to leave.

A few days later we got a receipt for $500 for hole repair. That "upset" me.

I wrote a letter stating I had video and audio from each time they were in the house. They never asked for the holes to be repaired. We had to leave the TV mounts per contract. No response.

We were annoyed they didn't contact us directly, instead going through their agent.

They sent a check for $1350 with an explanation that $500 was for hole repair. I could have fixed all the holes for $20.

I sent another letter stating this was the final letter and if we didn't have the remaining deposit money we would be taking them to court for $1600 (3X the remaining deposit plus $100 per Texas law).

They sent the other $500 stating the would "live" with it.

We guess they didn't read the contract or their agent didn't explain the process.

I miss our old house some times....but I enjoy the new house. Hopefully this is the last house we will live in.

It was a stressful experience, but we had great timing.

When we bought our old house the neighborhood was just starting. We bought it site unseen. By the time the neighborhood was done the price went up to $165,000.

With our new house we signed for $263,990 and got $25K in free upgrades. Well after all the upgrades and add ons we paid $284,000. The same plan today is STARTING at $282,990. There's no way we could comfortably swing it now. Our house appraised for $300,000.

With our first house we got a FHA ARM mortgage. The rates then were 4% for ARMs and 6% for fixed. We were gamblers. Over the span it never went above 6%.

We did refinance to a 15 year fixed in 2011 at 3.25%.

With our new house we went conventional. When we started looking rates were around 3.50%. Then they started going up. That made us nervous.

At 50 days out we could lock so we did. We locked at 3.625%. Right after we closed rates shot up to 4.625%! Again timing.

That's a long story short on how it all went down.




Monday, June 17, 2013

New nest

I won't say we are moved in...but all of our stuff...well most of our stuff is in the new house.

Closing went well. We "made" a decent amount of money on the old house. Lucky timing. Three years ago it was worth $168K. We sold it for $182K.

Moving is annoying. We started packing over a month ago. We foolishly planned on taking small things....a lot of small things. The movers were good and we should have had them move everything. Instead we made at least 10 trips to and from for "small things".

We closed on a Thursday and had the movers arrive at our old house Friday morning. Today is Tuesday. My whole body aches from moving boxes, lifting things and installing things. I hope to be totally done in about a month.

I hate installing ceiling fans.

Should be able to post photos in about two weeks, once all the moving boxes are expected to be gone.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Under contract

Countdown to the new house has started.

We were a little worried about not selling our current house before moving in to the new house. We prepared ourselves financially to pay two mortgage payments for a bit.

Over the last two months we started getting our current house ready to show. We painted every room except closets and one bathroom. We also had 1300 square feet of carpet installed to replace the vinyl flooring we put down ourselves a few years ago. The flooring we put down was fine for us, but had a few issues.

We rented a storage unit and put a lot of (mostly my stuff) in storage. We also had a garage sale and sold stuff at fire sale prices. How low? Well out kitchen table and chairs sold for $50. That low. We just wanted it gone.

Beyond that we also replaced our roof. There was a really bad hail storm last April. I had the roof inspected and was told we were okay. Well we had our house pre-inspected for sale to be proactive. I'm glad we did as we DID have hail damage. A lot. I filed a claim with our insurance. The adjuster stated if I called a week later it would not have been covered as it would have been more than a year out. Lucky us.

During the garage sale a neighbor showed interest in our house. We gave them an early opportunity to see it. They viewed it twice....and nothing. Thankfully our house was priced right, in a great location and in great condition. We had about 9 other showings and got an offer after just the second showing for a little under list price. We were very happy. Then two days later we had an offer for full list price.

We were on cloud 9. In addition to full list they agreed to let us leaseback our house until June 20th. We close on the new house June 17th.

Kelli and I aren't financial wizards. We are just really, really , really lucky.

When we bought our current house 9 years ago...we did it on a whim. We were literally driving around and decided to buy a house. Marriage had not entered the picture yet.

We bought sight unseen, all based on a floor plan. The builder paid for the remaining payments for our apartment (4 months!) so we could move in without breaking our lease. After we signed prices went up by more than $20K. Lucky.

When we bought our 2010 Prius they had 0% interest, $2500 off and free maintenance. About a month later they cancelled no interest and they were going for full sticker.

For our next house we signed for a starting price of $263,990 back in December 2012. Today prices start at $282,990. We are going to have almost $40K in upgrades ($25K of that was "free" as an incentive). After all said and done we are paying $284K for the next house. Just $2,000 more than current list. Lucky.

It is kinda sad moving out. We've been together for 11 years. Nine of those years were in this house.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The new house

The new house is scheduled to be completed June 10th. Should close on June 17th.

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This old house

A few photos of our "old house"'s never been this clean and empty since we moved in 9 years ago.


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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Quick tour

Quick tour of the new house.....



Friday, March 8, 2013

More wood!

We have a foundation and basic framing. This was taken the weekend of March 1st. We are going back soon and should have a completed frame soon.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

We have wood!

It's been kinda quiet on the home front.

We finished picking all the colors for the house last month.

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This weekend we finally got wood!

[caption id="attachment_2445" align="aligncenter" width="150"]Foundation is next! Foundation is next![/caption]

House should be done in the next 140 days. Things should start moving faster now.