Stages of Home Buying in Denver

Here’s what the last month of our lives has looked like.

Our budget is $xyz,000.
We want 3 bedrooms.
2 bathrooms would be nice, but we could live with 1.

Could we live with one bathroom?
Well, we could add one in a few years. How much is a bathroom?
Oh. We want a 3 bd, 2 bath house.

Do we need 3 bedrooms? It’s just the two of us.
Look how cute this 2 bed, 1 bath house is.
And it’s in a great neighborhood – the one we already live in!
Cute layout! Cute architectural details! Cute!

Well, great neighborhood might be an over exaggeration.

Our new car got broken into. We don’t want to live in this neighborhood.

Cute means small. Two bedrooms isn’t going to get us very far when we have a kid. What if we have two?

Ok, so we want 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.

Our budget is still $xyz,000, but could we stretch it?

Maybe a few grand, nothing more. What’s on the market in our budget?

Needs to be gutted, but trendy neighborhood.
Needs to be gutted, in up and coming neighborhood.
Needs to be gutted, in a crappy neighborhood.
Needs to be torn down, but the property is stunning!
Needs to be torn down, and comes with plans for a $750k modern masterpiece house!
Needs to be torn down.

Oh. Oh my gosh. Did you see this one? It’s in our budget.
It’s kitchen is remodeled.
It’s got three bedrooms.
We could live with one bathroom if the kitchen is remodeled.
Let’s go see it. This could be it.
Sold. Off the market before we even emailed our realtor.

We’ll find one. There has to be one out there for us.
Nope. Another one bites the dust.
We’re never going to find a house.
Fuck it, we should just rent for another year.
Whoa. Did you see how much rent went up last year?
Let’s look at more houses.

Did you see this one? It’s got three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
It’s quirky.
It’s kitchen is vintage. Quaint. Charming. Are those metallic bronze tiles?
But square feet. It has lots of them.
And a back yard. Partially covered.
Garage?
Carport. But in a safe neighborhood.
I can live with a carport.
I can live with bronze kitchen tiles.
I can live with this house.
Can we live with this house?
Can we have a family here?

I think so.
I do too.
Fuck it. Let’s put in an offer.
There are already two other offers.
We aren’t going above $xyz,000.
We’ll offer $5k above $xyz,000.
And wait.
And wait.
Offer was accepted.
Wait. What?

Holy shit. Did we offer too much?
Why did they accept our offer?
Is there a murderous dungeon in the basement?
Why did they accept our offer?
Are we in a floodzone despite being in a semi-dessert?
Is there something we missed?

Why did they accept our offer? Is this too good to be true?
We’ll see what the inspection says.

To be continued…. wish us luck!

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2015: Year In Review

I sure don’t write here often. Not nearly as much as I wish I did. But still I keep my little corner of the internet alive. My end of year (or start of the year in this case) post recapping the past year is one of my favorites. So here goes nothing.

January: Last year started with some ambitious goals. Running a half marathon. Having more fun. Spending more time with the people I care about and trying out more new things. We started the new year with a bunch of friends visiting us in Denver and a whole lot of music – STS9, Tyler Farr and Bone Thugs N’ Harmony. Because all of those bands belong on the same line…  and then our friends Jennie (see girl sitting on Sinclair in Golden) and Olivia came in for a weekend! Little did we know, Olivia would end up moving here a few months later! We also had a few afternoons spent outside with some insanely warm January weather. Life is good in Colorado.

 

February: I kicked off half marathon training and learned all about pushing my limits and further embracing winter running. We also went up to Aspen and I absolutely fell in love. When STS9 comes to town multiple times in a few months, we end seeing them multiple times. I gripe because it isn’t really my favorite music, but I also am so thankful for that band because it brings our friends together. Also. Aspen is heaven. We hiked on an unseasonably warm day with the girls and took a champagne-filled gondola ride up the mountain. We might be the only people in Aspen in February who don’t ski…

March: One of my favorite months because we get to celebrate Leo’s birthday and it’s our anniversary! We spent Leo’s birthday celebrating with close friends (and a delivery of Little Man ice cream and warm cookies – seriously amazing). We went to our first Nuggets game, which was actually my first pro basketball game! And I was able to grab excellent seats for the Thursday night Garth Brooks show when he came to Denver. One of the best concerts of my life. For our anniversary, we headed up to Estes Park for a romantic weekend away including one of the best meals of the year at Twin Owns Steakhouse and a beautiful hike up to Gem Lake. Leo and I spend a lot of time celebrating our love and enjoying time together, but there’s something so magical about being able to get away for an entire weekend together, just the two of us.

 

April: In April, I was in full training mode for the half so almost every waking moment was spent eating and running. It’s amazing how much more food I had to eat while I was training to keep my energy up. Alex and I were running 4-5 days per week and usually 2-3 of those runs were done together. Thank goodness for that girl being able to stick to the schedule because I’m not so sure I would’ve done it by myself. The last week of the month we were off to Naples & Ft. Myers for our friends’ wedding. I managed to stick to my training, and enjoyed the miles in the humidity and new scenery. Spending a long weekend on the ocean is a must at least once per year. We ate wonderful seafood, enjoyed spending time with some of our favorite people, drank entirely too much pretending we weren’t all almost 30 and then spent our last day out on a boat exploring (albeit a little hungover). Weekends don’t get much better than that.

May: After all those miles of training, it was time for the big race! I ran the Colorado Half Marathon in Ft. Collins the first weekend of May and loved every second of it. Really need to sign up for another one in 2016! Add in: A little late season snow. Shopping for dinnerware. A visit from an old friend from my PR agency days and a day trip up to Breck? Not a bad May. Maria came into town and we figured a hike at St. Mary’s Glacier was a good idea. What we didn’t realize? There was a chance for blizzard-like conditions up there. Sure enough, we get to the trailhead and there was a whole lot of snow. So we improvised and drove over to Breck for some lunch and beers before heading back to Denver. A trip to the mountains requires flexibility, but it never fails to be wonderful. Our closest friend Olivia finally moved to Colorado from Chicago. WIN!

June: With summer finally kicking off, we enjoyed a really fun event at Marley Coffee here in Denver and a few concerts… Luke Bryan at Sports Authority Field courtesy of work was so fun, especially finally hearing Randy Houser live and seeing Florida Georgia Line! And then Leo’s favorite – D’Angelo. While I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy the concert, I was absolutely blown away with his talent. I’d put the D’Angelo show in top 3 concerts of my life… and I wasn’t even a huge fan coming into it!

 

July: This post about our camping adventures sums up my absolute favorite moments for July. We camped twice at Twin Lakes, Leo bought a new car, we did a bunch of wedding planning stuff and I cooked a lot of great foods and wrapped up the month in Chicago for my brother and his wife’s baby shower. Camping and family. What else could a girl need in life? Maybe just one soccer game? MLS All-Star team vs. Tottenham was awesome.

 

August: Oh August. Not quite the end of summer, but it always feels like the summer starts winding down. Hardly for us though! The start of the month was all things wedding planning for our October event (vow renewal — but we called it a wedding because it was the whole shebang!). Then, my girlfriends Keebler and Audrey came to visit. Last time they were here, we got into a whole lot of trouble — the best kind! This time was no different, but instead of getting lost on a 14er, we tackled it with confidence and a sparkly guide made by Audrey. White water rafting was another favorite for August, and while I took no GoPro pictures (oops), the memories are still so fresh! We ended the month in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to watch two of our dearest friends Thomas and Ashley tie the knot! And the best part? I BECAME AN AUNT to the most beautiful baby in the world.

 

September: While I’m sure we did some exciting things this month, I captured just about zero photos… the only one I have is of Olivia and I at Red Rocks for My Morning Jacket (I think). Leo and I enjoyed an evening at the Rockies game with an old friend from college who was in town, and we spent a lot of nights relaxing and saving as much money as possible. At this point in the year, we were just about a month out from the big wedding weekend, so I think all waking moments were spent making decisions about decor. Those are literally the only photos I have!

October: Wedding month! Started with a bachelorette party that was so special. The girls I’ve met here are near and dear to my heart and they wanted to throw me a party because we didn’t get to do one before Leo and I ran off to the courthouse last March. This really deserves it’s own post. But here’s a teaser of a few of my favorite photos from the bachelorette party. And from the champagne party on Thursday night before my wedding. Oh and the rehearsal dinner (which was really just a party because we didn’t do a rehearsal). And from the big day! Yea, this really really needs it’s own post. C’mon Eliza.

And now a teaser from the big day (three months later…)

November: In November, I pulled off an epic surprise by flying down to visit my mom for her birthday without her having any idea. My dad and I timed it so well that I didn’t even have to find a ride out to Cartersville from the airport! I picked up my dad’s truck from an airport lot because he was traveling for work. I called her when I landed and said, “Hi, I’m in Atlanta.” And my mom started bawling she was so excited. And then I cried. SUCCESS! I took exactly two pictures while I was there. One of new purses. One of my pups. The good life. Leo and I went up to Breck for my book club (he hung out with the other girls’ significant others), and then I got to do some awesome events for work (one and two)! We wrapped the month in Kansas City for Thanksgiving.

December: We took a weekend up in Aspen and celebrated life with some great friends. (Cheers to our friend Phoebe for launching Messenger Aspen!) The food in that town… incredible. Throw in a Nuggets game for Christmas (and I made Leo take a selfie…and promised I wouldn’t share it). Then the holidays came and went so quickly! We spent Christmas about two hours south of Denver in Pueblo with Leo’s family. And then had a quiet night in for New Years. It all comes full circle. And what an amazing circle 2015 was!

Life is precious. Enjoy it. That’s what I did in 2015, and what I plan to do in the year ahead. If you survived this majorly long post, I want to hear it! What was your favorite memory in 2015?

2014 Year in Review

I did this last year and loved being able to go through an entire year of memories and write them down. So here goes again! But I’m also going to add a monthly goal to each month so when I reference this post, it’ll inspire me.

January: Started the new year in Chicago, and almost got snowed in! I started a new job on January 2nd after taking a month and half off of work. I intended to finish a story I’d started during those weeks off in January/February, but it didn’t happen. I also recommitted to healthier living and took off almost 15 unwelcome pounds by February. Goal: Return to the land of good food, good financial decisions and good friends. How every year should start! Oh, and begin half marathon training. Yikes.

February: February was a bit of a blur and I can’t remember much about the month. Getting back into the groove at work was likely my priority. One great memory was spending a weekend in Vail with a friend of ours from San Francisco..but that might have been in March. Can’t remember! Goal: Plan an international vacation with my husband for our honeymoon. Maybe I should plan our post-wedding party first… Learn something new (knitting is on my list).

March: March was my favorite month of the year! Leo and I got married after planning for around two weeks, and it was absolute perfection. We also celebrated Leo’s birthday, and prepared for him to leave for Mexico City for work (which didn’t happen until later in the year). Goal: Celebrate our love! Hoping to do a weekend in the mountains here in Colorado or up in Wyoming. But the entire month, I’d like to focus on love.

April: Beyond going for a hike at Table Top Mountain in Golden… I can’t remember much about April! Post-wedding glow I think blurred everything for me. And I loved it! We did have a great weekend up in Vail to cap off the month. Goal: Write memories. Write stories. Read books. Get outside!

May: I spent a long weekend in Georgia with my family which was so therapeutic and refreshing. We hiked, we kayaked, I ran a lot, we ate great food. All the things I love about Georgia. The start of warmer summer months is always welcome, but last May was extra fun because we had a snowstorm here in Colorado the first week of May! And then it got warm and summer really started. Oh, and I went blonde after being brunette for the past 10 years. Goal: Spend time with family, even if it is just FaceTime. Finish a half marathon (notice I didn’t say run?!).

June: While I’m sure I did stuff in June, I only took two pictures on my phone the whole month, so I can’t recall anything. Goal: Even if the pics aren’t perfect, snap photos of notable things that I want to remember.

July: We spent our second Fourth of July in a row visiting good friends in Indiana at Lake Wawasee. It was so great to catch up with people that Leo and I have known since before we were even dating, and relax at a beautiful lake house. We celebrated my birthday later in the month with dinner at my favorite restaurant, and another dinner with some great girlfriends. Leo left for Mexico in July, which we knew was going to be a trying situation, but we got through it by communicating, being compassionate and understanding and a whole lot of patience. And Skype. Goal: Celebrate summer. Begin a Fourth of July decoration collection, host a BBQ in our new backyard, hike a 14er, get a sun burn, try something new outside.

August: Another blur of a month! I spend a weekend in Nashville for a bachelorette party and fell in love with another city in this fine country of ours. Live music. Incredible food (City House was a favorite). Great company. Midway through the month, two of my closest girlfriends came in from Chicago and we hiked Pike’s Peak. One of the most mentally and physically challenging experiences of my life (we got lost on our way up..a story for another day). Goals: Hike 2 fourteeners (mountains with peaks above 14K ft. It’s a thing here in Colorado). Experience live country music. Dance more!

September: Two major things from last September? I started a new job with Sports Authority in their marketing department! And Leo and I spent a wonderful weekend in Aspen. Absolute perfection in every sense of the word personally and professionally. We spend a long weekend with friends in from Chicago for an STS9 show, and we found a new house! I also conquered a major fear of guns by going out and shooting them with some guys I grew up with. Surprise – I loved it and found it to be incredibly relaxing! Goal: Reset career and personal goals. The start of school for kiddos are the country is a great reminder to reset adult life. And buy new pens. Can’t start the school season without new pens.

October: This was the first full month without seeing Leo, and it was tough! I reverted to every bad habit known to me during my college years. Mac and cheese for dinner (although nowadays it is homemade!), more eggs than anyone should eat, leaving dishes in the sink for more than a day, laundry never getting done, etc. etc. It was rough – I don’t do well without my best friend at home, apparently. But it was also an awesome month where I connected with good friends on a hike to St. Mary’s glacier, continued to love my new job, and spent a good chunk of the month preparing for a visit to Leo in Mexico City. Goal: Get ahead of holiday shopping with a firm budget and planned purchases. Explore Colorado with hikes, drives, camping. Plan holiday travel. Pickup an old hobby that made me smile (wheel throwing, I think).

November: Whirlwind months are the norm this time of year, right? I started November in Mexico City with Leo – an incredibly beautiful place, the best food I’ve had in ages, and a serious dance with the stomach flu. No, I didn’t drink the water. It was the flu. The next weekend, I spent celebrating the wedding of a great friend with great friends in Chicago, then spent the next weekend at another wedding in Austin. Possibly the best thing happened mid-month – Leo came home and we learned he won’t have to be in Mexico City 50% of the time! Just one-off trips. Amazing. One weekend home, and I was off again to Chicago for Thanksgiving and my brother’s wedding. I finally have a sister and it is awesome! I really should write some of these memories down with all my pictures… Goal: Write more! Play in the snow. Slow down and savor each memory instead of jumping into making another one.

December: Oh December! The lovely month of holiday joy! We traveled non-stop this December and while it was great to see family and friends, it was exhausting. I’m grateful for the time and ability we have to run around the country, and even just drive to family here, but it really took my energy out of me. We had great weekends in Kansas City, Pueblo and Denver with tons of laughing, drinking, eating, celebrating. Just like December should be! We rounded out the month with a full house of guests for New Years celebrations, which could not have been more perfect. Goal: Cut back on holiday sweets – I went nuts this year! Read an adventure book (did that this year, and it got me so inspired for the year ahead). Send Christmas cards. I’m 28. I can do that for the first ever in 2015.

It is January 11th. You just read a super long year in review. Without any pictures. Thank you. Onto 2015 which should be just as incredible if that is even possible. Life is good. Love is good. Family is good. Health is good. What more could I have asked for in 2014?

Words: Blessed to be Stressed

During a quick lunch walk today (because I was stressed and knew I needed to step away from work for a minute), two gentleman who knew each other, but didn’t seem close, engaged in a quick chat:

Guy 1: Hey man, how’s it going?

Guy 2: “Blessed to be stressed!” 

Guy 1: Amen. Have a good one. 

And just like that, I realized how lucky I am to have a great job that challenges me to be stressed. Onward and upward with opportunity always at my doorstep and ideas always driving me. 

Dear 20-something news outlets: stop telling me not to go into corporate america

colorado, work life balance

If you read any news outlet aimed at twenty-somethings, you’ll read about what to do before joining the real world. There will be statements about doing what you love, about traveling, about taking risks, about moving to that incredible place you’ve always dreamed about.

What a novel concept of being middle-class and graduating college with options. I read these articles and am conflicted. Half of me says, “oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of moving to a new place or traveling the world?” Or, “why was I dying to get a good job out of college when I’d have my whole life to work?”
The other half of me thinks back to graduating college from a private liberal arts college in one of the most expensive cities in Chicago (oh how blessed I am, really). And how proud I was when I could pay my rent and start building my savings account because I found a good corporate job. And how planning my future was (and still is) a favorite activity.
I lived in a dump of an apartment with five girls and only four bedrooms in a less-than-safe neighborhood with month-to-month rent keeping us all “free” to leave if we needed. We had rat friends who would visit us when the storms were bad, probably invited by our pet rat (don’t ask).
But we had steam heat (a total luxury in older buildings). A seven minute walk to the train which took us anywhere in the city. A local grocery with the best prices, freshest produce and fresh-baked garlic sourdough loaves three minutes away. The energy of our college campus that we’d just graduated from down the street. And always enough money to grab a 30-pack of beers with our girlfriends.
When I graduated, I thought of nothing else besides finding a good job that afforded me these things – rent, small student loan payments (again, I’m lucky), and enough for a trip to TJ Maxx for new work clothes once in a while. Oh and beer, had to afford beer. That was my dream.
So when I found an internship that allowed me to maintain my 20 hours/week retail job because it started at 5:30 a.m. I was thrilled. And it paid? Done and done. I left my house at 4:30 to get to work on time. That means waking up at 3:45 everyday. And some days I’d work until 9:45 before commuting home. I couldn’t have been happier or more proud of what I have built for myself at a really tough point in the recession (I graduated in 2009).
The internship turned into the job at a PR agency that I stayed at for four years. I climbed the corporate ladder. I bitched at the water cooler about wanting more balance, less stress with the smartest and most incredible people. In reality, it was an incredible four years that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been so damn driven to get a good job right out of college. Did I travel the world in a gap year? Hell no, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing it with the impending worry waiting for me when I’d come back. My dream was to work in a field that challenged me with awesome people and constant learning.
Work/life balance is a middle class construct, certainly, but it is a major component of a young twenty-somethings happiness. It matters, for sure. But I’m planning on a fabulous retirement. I’m planning on how I will have a house to raise a family in. Every week, I’m thinking about how my decisions prepare me for a long life of stability and happiness.
Travel is in that stable happiness. So is adventure. And passion. And love. And exploration. All of the things media outlets and trending articles on Facebook lead me to believe I missed out on by jumping into a “real job” right out of school. Stop it, news outlets. I don’t want to hear it and I find it rather disconcerting that you’re telling all these young, confused 20-somethings that getting a great job shouldn’t be their dream.
I didn’t miss out on anything. My best friends that I met in a cramped office closet during our internship are all driven, the people I spent time with at the water cooler at the big PR agency, the friends who also went hard into corporate America or nursing or teaching who I share beers with while talking about job challenges… these are my tribe. The people who took time off to find themselves before digging into their careers? Sure – their experiences are incredible. But I am glad I went to work. I am glad I work hard in an office while trying to find myself.
My dreams of travel and adventure have to fit within a corporate PTO calendar. My dreams of retiring comfortably fit within my 401k planning. Buying a house will be a reality because I chose to jump into my career right away.
Maybe my life would have been different and I would have a different outlook if I followed my dreams of traveling for a year or if I volunteered in a foreign country. But maybe my life is exactly how it was meant to be. And I love that my career is a big part of who I am. And that working is one of my passions.
I would love it if every 20-something writer would stop trying to tell me I should have done x, y, or z before starting work in the “real world.” Anybody else feel this way? Am I crazy for following a traditional path to success?
colorado, work life balance
A quick trip with girlfriends helped me realize how much careers matter and help us find happiness!