Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ten Years

Ten years ago:

We've done quite a bit in 10 years. Graduated from college, done the grad school thing once, moved 3 times, had two kids, worked through post-partum depression, worked at multiple jobs, jettisoned a belief system, and bought a house (almost!). Ryan sat next to me a couple weeks ago and said, "I had been thinking we should do something big for our tenth..." I responded, "But we're buying a house." We have joked that the house is our birthdays and anniversary and Christmas for the rest of our lives - we never have to buy gifts for each other again! But we would like to take a nice trip or something at some point, so maybe for our 15th.

Instead of a big trip, we'll spend the day in a pretty typical way - at work, trying to clean the house, playdates with friends, and then we'll go out for a nice dinner this evening without the kids. Ten years ago we were young and we've both grown into quite different people than we were (or were looking for) back then. But our personalities still work together well and we still enjoy being together. We frequently marvel at how lucky we got.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Househunting, Part III

We found ourselves quite nervous about the inspection. In the days before it we'd chatted a lot about how well this house would work for us, and couldn't help but be a bit excited about the possibility. In the end, the inspection went pretty well.

There were the couple big things we expected and a couple big things we didn't know about. And the usual little things, about 30 items total on the inspection report. The deck got the okay from the inspector, and the water pressure was actually excellent, despite the line to the house being galvanized still and 80 years old (all the lines inside the house had been replaced).

We asked for the seller to do some of the big things and left some of the big stuff that can wait to ourselves (like replacing the galvanized water line and a retaining wall that's deteriorating). We got an estimate for the tuckpointing that came in way, way below what I'd anticipated. Good news there, leaving us hopeful the seller would agree to do it.

The next day we did our sewer scope. We brought the kids with us so they could see the house (and so we wouldn't be bugging friends for help with them two days in a row). Gareth loved everything about the house and while Mal was reticent at first, he definitely seemed to warm up to it after a bit. They had fun exploring and running around while Ryan checked to see if he could fit out of the window in the master bath (because we'd realized that bedroom and the basement room are non-conforming with no second legal egress and we really don't want to die in a fire) and I measured the downstairs bath space for a washer and dryer.

Ryan commented that the house suddenly seemed much smaller once the kids were there. We'll definitely have to invest in some area rugs to help dampen the noise of them running through the house. The sewer scope was a mix of news. A lot of the line had been replaced and all of that was looking good. Just a foot or two from the main the scope guy ran into a ball of roots (probably from the redwood tree in the back yard) that his camera couldn't get past. So that last little bit of line was an unknown. It could just be a matter of eliminating that ball and it'll be great (until the roots grow in again), or it could be that you eliminate that and see that the roots have decimated the line between there and the main. So we asked the seller to take care of checking the rest of the line in addition to the other items.

They took a few days to respond, but in the end essentially agreed to do everything we asked for. They gave us a credit for the tuckpointing and checked the rest of the sewer, which looked good. So now we needed to finalize our lender and insurance provider decisions.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cougar Mountain

My friend's kids have watched our kids twice this past week so that we could go on bike rides. It's been good to get back on the bike after not many long rides recently. I did lots of little rides through the end of the school year just getting Gareth to and from school, but hadn't done many real rides.

Today we rode up Cougar Mountain. By the time you reach the top of the mountain you've climbed about 2500 ft. You're rewarded with a great view of Lake Sammamish. Today it was quite foggy, so not the clearest of views. But still lovely.

I've ridden across the I-90 bridge several times now. Figured it was high time I got a picture.

The bridge takes you across the lake to Mercer Island. Then on the other side of the island another I-90 bridge takes you across the lake again to the east side.

It's about 18 miles until you start climbing the mountain. Another 6 or so to the top. Then you get to have fun riding back down. We hit 50 mph on the way down. You add a few hundred more feet of climbing as you're going home, to get in about 3100 ft. total and 48 miles.

I believe this park is one I've been wanting to take the kids to for a hike. When thinking about that stuff it's easy to feel like it's all so far away (I have to drive to the east side, ugh!). But the fact that I've biked over there and back in just a few hours rather puts things in perspective. The only thing holding me back for now on that kind of activity is the fact that Mal is potty training and not at all interested in doing so outside of our own home.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

We have friends here who were going to be in Tacoma house/dog-sitting for her mom for a couple weeks. They invited us down to spend a day with them at the Point Defiance Zoo. We'd never been and had a Chinook Book coupon that would get Gareth in for free. I thought it'd be fun to all go, but the only way to do that would be to go on a weekend, and with this weekend being the holiday weekend knew that would likely mean big crowds. So opted to go mid-week with just me and the boys instead.

The zoo is part of a larger park that looks like it has a nice scenic drive and some beach areas. The zoo is a good size - not tiny, but not so big that you can't do everything in a day. We started at the aquarium. Malcolm loved trying to pet the sting rays and screamed at me when it was time to move on. Eventually he calmed down when he realized there were other cool things to see. Like spiky lobsters.

Then he screamed at me when it was time to move on from those. That's pretty much how the entire day went. Attempts at getting pictures in the dark aquarium weren't too successful, so I gave up after a while. I thought these starfish were rather cool.

After the aquarium we saw the elephants. The one we could see seemed to be trying to stick to the shade and wasn't doing much. Malcolm didn't like that I wouldn't let him go play with the elephant.
Then it was on to the tigers and leopards - they had some adorable cubs that were sleeping. And the monkeys. The monkeys were the first really active animal. Malcolm loved watching them swinging.

Then we ate a snack to distract Malcolm from trying to run back to the elephant. The older boys asked for a camel ride as we passed, but at $6/person we told them they had to choose between a camel ride and a carousel ride. And that we'd wait and choose at the end of our day.

On to the walruses, seals, and puffins. Malcolm adored the walruses. They kept swimming right up to the window so everyone could get a good view of them. After we moved on Malcolm kept insisting we go back to them again.

We caught a glimpse of the polar bear and saw an arctic fox as well. Then passed a couple muskoxen on our way to the play area to eat lunch.

Checking out the muskoxen

Apparently there are goats, wallabies, lemurs, and meerkats near the play area, but we skipped those. Ate lunch, let the kids play. Malcolm found some cool frogs. And all the kids cooled down in the small splash pad that turned on while we were there.

The older kids decided on the carousel over the camels (only $1.50, much better). Malcolm, our overly risk-averse child, screamed in terror when I asked if he wanted to ride on the carousel. So he and I watched the other kids ride. Then we got them ice cream. Malcolm was totally on board for that.

We headed back to the house where our friends are staying and hung out in the air conditioning and ate some dinner before heading back home. Definitely a fun first outing of the summer!