Aug 29, 2013

Ghost Stories

Cameron and I are happy to report that our new house is Ghost-free. You may be thinking we're a little odd in declaring this, but for us it was a huge relief. The funny part is, with this being a relatively new home (built in 2006) there really shouldn't be any concern, except that when we went to look at it originally, the sellers' were the ones to actually show us the house. During the showing, the wife made mention of why they were selling. See, her mother, father and brother had been living in the house. First, her brother passed, then shortly after, her mother so now her father had moved into an assisted living facility. All were on the older end of the living spectrum. At the time, it didn't occur to us to ask how or where the brother or mother passed.

Until last night.

Last night I asked Cameron that if someone did, in fact, die in the house, does it have to be disclosed or only if it was a murder. He said it had to be disclosed if someone died, murder or not. And then we both got to wondering about the mother and brother. How had they died, was it in the house and was it peaceful or not? Cameron quickly shot an email off to our realtor. This morning, Cameron sent me a text saying the house was Ghost-free.

Cameron and I were never huge believers in Ghosts before. I believed in a kind of energy but not actual ghosts. That is, until we lived in a rental house in Fremont. The house was built in the 1960s and had been through several owners. Of course, as renters, it was never disclosed to us whether someone had passed in the house or not. But after living there, we're pretty sure someone passed and not in a pleasant, peaceful way. And this ghost had a thing against black cats. The evidence was strongest when we first moved in.

I had a black cat name Lucifer, aka Louie when we first moved into the house. He actually would only be there for about 2 weeks before he ran away and I'm pretty sure he ran away because of the ghost. Because Cameron had Spaz, our still-living bearded dragon, located in the dining room, Louie had to be shut in the spare bedroom when we weren't home or when we were sleeping and Louie was being too much of a pest to be in there with us (he got his name for a reason, trust me, though he was also a very sweet and beautiful cat once he grew up some). Almost immediately, every time I would go into the spare bedroom to let him out into the rest of the house, he would be no where in the room. The first time this happened, I freaked out, until I heard him meow from the closet. I quickly learned to just open the closet - he would get stuck in there each time. The thing was, we could see him sliding the door open to get in, but how did it get shut behind him each time after? This never happened to Jake and Kelsey even once while they lived there and were kept in that room.

My Louie

Here are some other reasons we became believers in Ghosts. Over the two years we lived there, we would each would hear footsteps in the house when home alone and not walking around ourselves. This would happen especially when I was home alone laying in bed. Lights would randomly get turned on in the middle of the night. I even had doors slam shut when not a single window was open.

It definitely was creepy, but we after a while we could tolerate it for the most part. I never did sleep well when Cameron wasn't home at night - I was known to take two nighttime Advil tablets when Cameron was gone several nights in a row to try and get a little extra sleep than usual when he was gone for just one night.

So whether or not you're a believer of ghosts, we are and we are relieved to find out that neither the mother nor the brother of the sellers' family actually passed in our new home.

Aug 26, 2013

A Dream and A Drive

Sorry for my absence, but we've been working toward making a big change in our lives and we weren't ready to share, until now...

The Dream

Cameron and I have always daydreamed about owning a piece of land, larger than an acre at least. He was dreaming of at least 20. I'd settle for 5-10. 

The Drive. 

I was on my way to a new hairstylist after work one day, taking backroads through the countryside. Due to the nature of my company, we're located out in the country, surrounded by agriculture. It's a great commute once I get out of the downtown Sac congestion. Especially this time of year when all the rice fields are green.

Using my car's bluetooth, I was on the phone with Cameron when I noticed a For Sale sign advertising 9 acres. I just happened to mention it to Cameron. By the time I arrived home after my hair appointment that night our silly daydream seemed like it could be a (small) possibility. Over the next 24-48 hours Cameron and I daydreamed about what life would be like, what we would do with the land and how nice it would be for me to have a 5-minute commute, for once. We went as far as to look at land for sale online. That's when we discovered that prices weren't out of our reach, depending on how much we could get for our current home. We even spent that Friday driving around looking at these pieces of land. And the more we looked into it, the timing seemed to be on our side, as the Sacramento housing market was on fire. That's when we decided to give ourselves a 2-year deadline to make this dream a reality. I figured we had until London started Kindergarten to make such a move. Once she was in Kindergarten I wouldn't want to uproot her. We decided to take a few primary steps.

The first step was to find a good realtor and to complete some major projects on our house: 
  1. Finish the Office
  2. Paint the interior of the house
  3. Complete a raised bed in the backyard

We found our realtor online based on some good reviews he had received. One night we met with him and found out we could sell our home to get what we needed to purchase some land. And we spent the next month focusing almost every evening on completing these projects. 

But we soon found that land, without a home already built on it, was going to be hard to get a loan. See, we'd planned on purchasing land and a doublewide, then building a dream home a few years later, after the land was paid off. And it seemed everything we had seen for sale was being taken off the market, but not necessarily sold. And then a few of our neighbors put their homes on the market. So we sidelined the idea for a while. 

Until I went to go get a pedicure before my girls Vegas trip. I happened to run into one of our neighbors' whose home was for sale. It had sold, they'd be closing in a few days. And they had gotten near their asking price. Suddenly, we were back into full-on dreaming mode. But this time we modified the amount of land we were looking for (we'd been looking at 5 acres or more) and made sure it had an established home on it. And we flew back into focusing all our spare time on the house. 

By now, the planter was completed, as was almost all the painting minus a few high corners and all that was left in the office was putting up crown molding. Then just picking up, decluttering and cleaning would be needed to put our house on the market.

And what we were seeing for sale looked promising. Almost too promising, as between the time we emailed our realtor that we wanted to see 4 properties, until the time we'd scheduled to see them (3 days later), 3 had gone into sale pending status. We'd end up seeing the one that was still active and one that was a sale pending but was accepting backup offers. About an hour before we were to meet with our realtor we decided to see if we could see one more place, that we had originally written off. It had been overpriced originally, but a price reduction had us interested in it. Turns out, this last minute addition was exactly what we wanted. 

It's a relatively new 4-bedroom home (built in 2006) sitting on 20 acres just 6 miles from my work. After a few days of back and forth counter offers, we entered into contract, with the stipulation that we accept an offer on our house within 15 days. We went into contract two Sunday evenings ago. We put our house on the market last Tuesday evening. We had planned to not let any one see our house until an open house scheduled for this past Saturday, but one realtor begged ours for a showing on Thursday evening. Friday morning we had an offer, over asking price with the stipulation that we not have the open house on Saturday. A little back and forth was done and we accepted the offer mid-Friday morning. 

I have to say I am in still in shock. We're moving. We are selling the first home we ever bought and built, the home we brought our babies home to and celebrated their first Christmases in. We celebrated London's 1st, 2nd and 3rd (kind of) in this house. But Sydney won't even celebrate one. We'll be celebrating her 1st birthday in the new home. How crazy is that! 

I'm so excited for the possibilities and the potential our new home brings, and with all the work to get our old home on the market, it doesn't even feel like home any more, it is so depersonalized. I'm proud at how quickly we sold it too - it means we made good decisions with it every step of the way. 

But I am sad to leave our wonderful neighbors and our daycare. This will be hard. But we will do our best to stay in touch with both. I can't even imagine how Sydney is going to take the change.  

So please bear with me the next couple of weeks. I'll try to keep you updated as much as possible on all that goes into moving and I promise to show you pictures of the new house and land once we get a second chance to see it. 

Aug 8, 2013

Anniverary Week: Our Engagement Story, part 2

Dinner at the Tournament of Kings
We had a great trip. We visited the Aquarium at Mandalay, slept in, over ate, and walked about inside the various hotels. We even took in "O" one night at the Bellagio and Tournament of Kings at Excalibur another. All the while Cameron kept mentioning and laughing at our "joke". 

We were seating in the "Ireland" Section

Our last night in Vegas was Christmas Eve and Cameron had made reservations for us to have dinner at a steakhouse in NYNY. He kept saying this would be a great place to stage the "proposal" picture.

The dinner at the Tournament of Kings was actually, surprisingly, delicious! It is a massed cooked meal after call.
Leading up to that evening Cameron had been making sure I was having a great vacation. It was my first Christmas away from my parents, and one of few I had spent away from our family friends, the Moffetts, so I figured all the special attention was because he knew that even agreeing to go on the trip was hard for me - Christmas Eve had always been a special holiday for my parents, the Moffetts and me. So when I kept eyeing a pretty dress in a window in the shops at Mandalay, Cameron convinced me to go in and try it on. It fit perfectly, so he bought it for me and suggested I wear it the next night at our Christmas Eve dinner. 
We stopped and watched the Lions at MGM Grand while shoe shopping on Christmas Eve
I just stayed there for my girls weekend - sadly the lions are no longer there

I'm sure they are happy to be living at a sanctuary in Vegas full time now
I recently heard that they never "lived" at the MGM but were shuttled in each morning and out back to the sanctuary each night.

Except I didn't have shoes. Christmas Eve morning, Cameron had scheduled an hour-long massage for me as well as a manicure and pedicure. After that, we spent the day looking for shoes to go with the dress, which we found in the first shop we stopped at - I would drag Cameron to several more before going back and making the purchase. 
We stopped and took this picture at the Luxor when we went to NYNY to make our dinner reservations the day prior.
As we were leaving our hotel room to make our reservation, Cameron made one comment that almost tipped me off. Almost. He asked if I had kleenex with me. I found it odd and asked why I would need it? We were planning on calling my parents and the Moffetts after dinner, so he explained that he thought I might get a little emotional. I shrugged it off, and said I planned on making that call when we got back to our room before we headed out to see the Blue Man Group. I wasn't even bringing my phone with me. But I did look at Cameron's pockets for a ring box. Something seemed off with him. But I couldn't see one. So I shrugged that idea off too and kept reminding myself he wasn't going to think about marriage until he was done with his masters. A year from then.
First Picture
When we got to the restaurant, Cameron ordered a bottle of my fave white wine at the time and then asked the waiter if he would take a picture of us. He obliged, so we got up and took a beautiful shot of the two of us. Then Cameron explained to the waiter that we had one more picture to take, as we were playing a gag on our families about "eloping" in Vegas. He explained to him that we were going to stage a fake proposal shot. And then as Cameron got down on one knee, he pulled out an actual ring, and said...
Second picture - totally in shock there

Why don't we make it official? (I'm sorry honey, but I have to throw that in there!) 
And third picture - so glad the waiter took this one as well. I think this is where I finally remembered to say yes.

I know this is the most unromantic line of asking a woman to marry you but I laugh and smile every time I think about it because it is so us. When it comes to expressing our emotions through words, Cameron and I both aren't exactly the best. We show how much we love each other by our actions more than words. We don't even say I love you to each other every day - hugs and kisses are more important to us. It's just how we work.

I was in total and utter shock when I saw that ring - the whole way over from the hotel room I had very much talked myself out of the idea of Cameron proposing. I was speechless too. I think I finally squeaked out a yes, once I stopped hyperventilating. 

The best part - we had our waiter fooled for a moment. He thought my reaction was fake for the picture. It took a couple behind him to clue him in and then he went and got us some complimentary glasses of champagne along with our wine! Once I calmed down and we sat back down, Cameron informed me that my dad was very much eager for a phone call, he was sure, and explained when and how he asked my dad for my hand. Which makes me realize I broke my own rule in not asking if he had even asked my dad before saying yes. It was in the back of my head though - I was just about to ask if Cameron had asked my dad when he mentioned this. 

But I figured Cameron had asked too, given my insistence on it. And we hope this is one way our own daughters will be old fashioned when their time comes (many, many years from now!) - Cameron even wants me to drive in this message to the girls as they grow up. And I will. 

There were definitely some tears that night when I made my call home, but they were joyous and happy as every one was quite excited. 

We finished the night off seeing Blue Man Group and I felt as if I was floating on air - I definitely was glowing.
Glowing through a delicious dinner
Maybe next year I'll tell you all about our wedding.

Aug 7, 2013

Anniversary Week: Our Engagement Story, Part 1

This would become our official engagement photo - Cameron proposed just after this photo was taken
First some background: Cameron and I met when I was only 20 years old when we were both attending Chico State. I'd graduate from school in May of 2004 and move in with him, officially, by the end of June. Whenever we would go out to the mall Cameron would do everything in his power to keep me away from the jewelry stores, always insisting outwardly to other people that he was never, ever going to get married or have kids. I knew better as privately we would talk about the future and it had the "if"s of marriage and kids as in "if we get married", or "if we have kids"...
When Cameron & I fly, we always make sure we have time at the airport to have a drink to help calm our nerves
And our engagement story starts about a year and a half before Cameron actually proposed, when Cameron went to Europe with some fraternity brothers. I'm told he had a conversation there where he admitted he was pretty sure I was the one. And when Cameron returned from Europe, when we would walk around the mall to avoid the hot or cold days in our heater- & air-conditioner-less house in the Bay Area, he suddenly was fine letting me window shop in Jewelry store windows, even suggesting we go inside Tiffany's of all places, a few times. This lasted about a year. Then suddenly he was completely against this kind of window shopping again. 
Cameron's typical pic at airports prior to vacation
You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a shot of him like this - ever! It easier with kids now.
In the time that we did go into these stores, we'd look at engagement rings and talk about what we did and didn't like.And I did figure we were sort of shopping for my engagement ring, which when I did finally see it, I knew for sure - though I had never seen it in real life, as we could never find it when we were out together. Cameron would tell me later it took something like 5 stores before he could even find the right setting and then it took some finagling on his part for him to get the store to swap out the sapphires with emeralds. 
We got in late the first night so we headed to a 24-hour restaurant where Cameron got this massive pile of nachos. I shouldn't have ordered my tomato soup and grilled cheese!
Also, I'd always told Cameron that I would never say yes to a proposal unless he had asked my dad for permission first - for some reason, in that one way, I was old fashioned. I really don't know why I felt so strongly about this, but I did. And I remember I was heading up to Chico to visit my parents one weekend when Cameron actually said he wanted to go too, and then he called my dad himself to set up a round of golf. Cameron had just returned from a business trip in Virginia, from what I can remember and I think I was going up to Chico specifically for a hair appointment so the plans didn't phase me much. But apparently, that's when he asked my dad for permission and my dad said yes. And then my poor dad had to keep this secret for about 6 months! 
Our first day in Vegas we went and visited the Mandalay Bay Hotel's Aquarium
 My poor dad did a great job keeping this secret too, because my mom didn't even know and she straight up asked my dad if Cameron had ever asked him. This was after I had told her she would likely know if I was getting engaged before me since I was so adamant that Cameron ask my dad for permission first. My dad lied. 30+ years of marriage and he lied to my mom to keep his word to Cameron to not say a word. This occurred within weeks of the actual proposal.
We took a backstage tour where we saw this cute guy! He was new and adjusting to life in the aquarium.
On August 12, 2007, my best friend Sara married her husband Jim on her family's tree farm in Oregon. It was a gorgeous setting. We had driven up from the Bay Area and we spent much of our drive home discussing the wedding and what we liked and what we would do differently for our own. It was at that moment that Cameron and I started planning our wedding without me knowing it. But first he had to have some fun with me to totally throw me off. 

We'd talk/fantasize how we would want to get married on his family's ranch, with him skydiving in and then have the reception at Peach Tree golf course, where his family had been members for years, followed up with partying out at the bars in Chico where our relationship started and blossomed. 

And then we planned a trip to Vegas for Christmas. And suddenly Cameron started jokingly asking me about my thoughts of eloping while there. I was fine with that, as long as my dad & mom were there. I love Christmas and I love Cameron. It would make Christmas more special for both of us, had we eloped. And Cameron tried to get my parents there, along with his mom and Joe, without telling any of them that he was going to propose and with them there, we would likely just get married. But that didn't work out - it was just the two of us on that trip. 

And so he then just starting to mention that we should make everyone think we had eloped through photos, reminding me that he wanted to wait to even think about getting married until after he finished his masters - that was a year away! How he wanted to fake every one out, was to take pictures, like him down on one knee and one of me in front of the Mandalay Bay Chapel: 

We'd then post them on Facebook without saying anything about them. 

Cameron kept talking about this "joke" we were going to play right up to and throughout our vacation.

Aug 2, 2013

5 Years of Wedded Bliss

Today is Cameron's and my 5th anniversary. And guess where I am - in Vegas - with my girlfriends. Odd, considering Vegas is where Cameron proposed! But he blessed my going on this trip, though he finally admitted he would have preferred it be a different weekend. We're going to try and celebrate next weekend and he gave me my anniversary gift back in May as a Birthday/Mother's Day/Anniversary Gift. As it should be, given the amount he spent on having this custom made: 

Yep - he bought me the wedding band I had wanted but didn't get originally (or even have on our wedding day) thanks to a pushy sales lady. Oddly, I would have spent more had she listened to what I wanted - she kept telling me to get a plain band versus having stones in it as she said it would take away from my engagement ring. 

After actually ordering what she recommended, I ended up hating my decision by the end of the day while we picked out Cameron's wedding band and so I called and spoke to the actual jeweler the next day, describing on the phone, what I wanted. Big mistake as what I described was not what I got. But then we made the mistake of paying for the band before seeing it. I didn't even get the wedding band until three weeks after our wedding. Since we had already put a deposit down I felt I had to accept it, even though as soon as I saw it I knew I didn't like it. Plus it was nothing along the lines of what I had described or had imagined in my head. For one it had filigree on it - I never asked for such and would have said I didn't want it had I been asked. Plus, where the band should have been thick it was thin and where it was thick should have been thin. Still, it took me a good year or two to say anything about how much a disliked it - it took a long time after London was born for me to even wear it again and I never put it back on after Sydney. 

Cameron and I found a new jeweler to discuss what I wanted in person in Old Town Sac. If you're in need of a great jeweler in Sacramento, please consider Skalet Family Jewelers! Every time I look down at my rings now, I get a huge smile and think how much my husband spoils and loves me. In case you're wondering, we are both born in May, and love emeralds (our birthstone), so that's why I have them in my rings. Cameron had taken me into enough jewelry stores before we ever talked marriage to know what I liked in engagement rings. Actually, our entire engagement story is one I realize I have never shared here, and it's actually kind of funny and includes some great pics! Stay tuned!

But I digress - mainly I want to wish my wonderful husband a happy 5th anniversary and thank him for understanding how much I need this weekend with my girl friends. I love you!