Thursday, April 28, 2011

We may have found . . .

the perfect house.  Seriously.  It is walking distance to one of the two schools we want the boys to go to, as well as to CU.  It is an older home that has lots of updates.  In fact, I don't think we'd need to do anything with it.  The issues: it is for sale by owner (and I have no idea how that works), and it is about $15,000 out of our price range.  It is on a really busy street, and it is set back from the road.  I have no idea how Archer saw the for sale sign.  Because it isn't in the MLS system, I can't tell how long it's been on the market.  Archer has called our mortgage broker to see what the likelihood of us getting approved for slightly more is, and we are making an appointment to go see it.  This is probably a bad idea, but if we could get the owners to come down on the price . . . I'll stop there.  I don't want to like this house any more than I already do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New or old?

We've been pre-approved.  That's the good news.  The sort of good news is our mortgage broker is practical, and she didn't pre-approve us for the total amount the bank will likely approve us for.  She pre-approved us for what we can afford our monthly mortgage payment to be.  Why is that sort of good news?  Because it is the harsh reality of what we already knew.  We can't afford the nice homes in the older neighborhood walking distance to the really great French immersion school and to CU.  We can, however, afford a brand new home about a mile from the other really great French immersion school and a five minute drive from CU.  We can also afford a moderately nice home in the older neighborhood, probably one that has had some updates, but will still need a fair amount of work in the next 10 years or so.  Now we get our place on the market and hope it sells high.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


So Archer and I are approaching this house hunting thing from completely different perspectives.  I'm going on a gut feeling, and he is being much more analytical.  We saw a lovely Cape Cod style home on Saturday that I love.  Is it perfect?  No, but it is a great place to begin.  It has 3 bedrooms and 1 bath (which is small).  It lacks closet space, but it has a brand new kitchen, a new roof, and a family room addition.  It has a small yard, and it is one of the two neighborhoods we'd really like to be in.  As a bonus, the basement is large and could easily be finished to make a larger family room.  Plus the laundry room has already been refinished, including new plumbing, which means we could add a second bathroom in the basement.  I liked it because we don't have to do anything to it but move in.  Does it need work?  Sure, but it doesn't need any thing done to it right away.  Any work that we would do would be cosmetic.  Archer, however, had a whole list of things that he didn't like, including the fact that it is quite likely neither Yetta nor Pita would fit in the bathroom (it is oddly laid out, so given their sizes, this is a distinct possibility).  So this started a whole conversation about what we each want in a home (and yes, we did have this conversation when we started this process, but it seems that wasn't enough to get us on the same page), and again, I'm thinking what feels right for our family (along with all the essential practical things).  He is thinking, "What could we do to improve this place and make money in 20 years?"  I see that as a valid point, but it also means he is automatically ruling out lots of places.  I have no solution for this. 

I've spent the last 40 minutes looking at houses on line, and I've discovered a few things.  If we broaden our search a bit, we can get more for our money.  We'll still be in one of the two districts we want to be in, but we won't be walking distance to the boys' school or to CU.  Given the price of gas, it would be enormously helpful to be walking distance, but we would be biking distance.  So I've got a list of a few more places to look at.  Once we see these though, I'm stopping.  I think the most practical thing is to wait until our place is on the market and then start looking.  In the meantime, I'm still frustrated.

*As an aside, I have no desire to evaluate every single home we look at based on whether or not Yetta and Pita will fit in the bathroom or up/down the stairs.  I'm just saying.

Monday, April 25, 2011

House Hunting

In my last post, I neglected to mention one of the new stresses in our life: we're house hunting.  When we moved to CU Land in 2008, we knew the town home we purchased would be a temporary home.  We had thought then, however, that we'd likely stay until Archer had tenure.  As we learned more about the school system, we learned we'd have to move sooner rather than later.  When I was first offered the full-time position at CU, we talked about moving.  At that time we decided it made more sense to stay where we are now and save up a larger down payment.  This meant, however, that we would enroll Wild Man in the French Immersion in the neighborhood we weren't thrilled with.  This also meant that Wild Man would likely change schools by the time he went into grade 2.  We weren't happy with this decision, but economically, it made the most sense.

A few weeks ago, Archer and I were in one of the two neighborhoods we'd love to live in.  This neighborhood is walking distance to CU, to the boys' daycare, and to the FI school we want the boys to go to.  I looked it up when we got home and found out it was affordable for this neighborhood (I say for this neighborhood because the homes in this neighborhood are, on average, $30,000 more than most of the homes in CU Land).  So after several long conversations, I called the real estate agent who helped us find out town home and made an appointment to see it.  The house turned out to be insulated with a formaldehyde based foam insulation, which cannot be easily removed, so we passed on this house.  But our agent came by and looked at our town home, and based on some key factors, she thinks we could get about $15 to $18,000 more than we paid for it, giving us a much larger down payment than we anticipated we'd have.  She also said the market for our neighborhood is really great right now.  Because ours is a small town home community in a nice part of town, retirees want to be in this neighborhood.  Not only are there no town homes for sale in our community, but there are only 3 for sale in this part of town, all listed at $20,000 over what we paid for ours.  So we've decided to put our place on the market.  Archer is in the process of finishing the floor trim in the kitchen, and we're going to touch up all the rooms we've already painted and paint the main floor.  Next week we'll go pick out carpeting for the top floor, and after we rearrange some furniture and pack up all our family photos (if you know me at all, you know that will be an arduous task as I have lots of family photos and that I will be a little sad not to have these things around me).  Then our place will go on the market.

That part will be the easy part.  The hard part--finding a house in our price range that doesn't need to be completely gutted in one of the two school districts we're interested in.  We've been looking, and we're slowly realizing this isn't going to be easy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


So Archer and I are in the midst of the end of the semester wrap-up, a particularly stressful time of the year.  The past few days have been rough.  We've both been grading, and we've had lots of other meetings to deal with.  We're having a hard time coordinating schedules, so at least twice one of us has had to rush out to pick up Wild Man on days we thought the other was going to do it.  Needless to say, this means we're being much snappier than usual with one another.  Archer said to me this morning, "I don't feel like I can do anything right."  To which I replied, "I'm really sorry if I'm making you feel that way, but I feel that way too."  It's frustrating because we go through this at the end of every term, and we haven't uncovered any really methods to prevent this or to deal with the stress more effectively.  Right now I feel like I'm just hanging on until we can get through this week, and then I think we'll be able to have a conversation without snapping at one another.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Um, seriously?

It is April 17th, exactly one week before Easter, and it is snowing outside.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I think this is the winter that will never end.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Survivor's Guilt

A few weeks ago Sally Racket, which is a pseudonym for a former graduate student who recently found full-time, tenure-track employment, published a column at The Chronicle of Higher Ed titled "Survivor's Guilt."  In a nutshell, Racket writes about the guilt many of us feel upon getting t-t jobs.  You see, as she points out, the market sucks, and those of us lucky enough to get a job are acutely aware that our success is the source of stress for one of our equally qualified colleagues.  It really struck a chord with me, especially as I was in the midst of negotiating the finer points of my contract with CU.  My guilt took a slightly different form, however. 

You see, I had the good fortune to come out of program that took some time to prepare its students for the job market.  Thus, many of my grad school colleagues have secured tenure-track jobs in the last 2 years.  In fact, most of them are now in tenure track positions.  I do, however, feel some guilt about my current colleagues, especially those in the Writing Program.  You see, I will be the fourth full-time, t-t faculty member in a department of about 20 part-time instructors, many of whom have been teaching at CU for over 10 years.  I've been teaching in this department for 2 years, and many of the department members have only met me a few times.  There are two primary things that set me apart from most of my colleagues in this department: I have a Ph.D., and I didn't get my Ph.D. at CU.   You see, many of my colleagues have either an MA or their completed their Ph.D.s at CU, making them ineligible for any t-t positions that are advertised at CU in their areas.  When I was offered my position, I was very aware that I could be seen as stepping on some toes.  I am an outsider, coming into a fairly well established program.  I don't want to be perceived as a usurper.  So I went to a faculty meeting earlier this week with a lot of trepidation (and this was not the same faculty meeting I attended on Friday; I'm working on another post about that one). 

I knew that Dr. Writing was going to announce my appointment at the meeting, but I had no idea when.  She and I had talked about my concerns, so I knew more or less what she was going to say.  In order to prevent some potentially hurt feelings, she decided to emphasize the partner placement aspect of the appointment.  She also made the announcement at the very end of the meeting, which meant if anyone had questions they had to direct their questions to her or to me.  I am happy to say that, despite my extreme nervousness, the announcement was received fairly positively.  I did get a few questions about logistics, but mostly my colleagues congratulated me.  Several stopped me to tell me that they see this as a good thing for the program.  Having another full-time t-t faculty member definitely gives the program more validity, which, in turn, increases the likelihood that those who are eligible could receive similar appointments.

I'm really happy that most everyone seemed positive.  I'm still a bit concerned how things will change in the fall once my appointment formally begins, but for now, it looks like the transition will be fairly smooth. 

Friday, April 08, 2011

Faculty meeting

I'm going to my first faculty meeting since signing my contract.  Technically I haven't started the term appointment yet, as it doesn't begin until July 1st.  But even as a "part-time" lecturer, I make an effort to attend faculty meetings.  I'm a bit nervous about this one though.  I'm not sure if Dr. English will be announcing my appointment to the entire faculty today or at the end of the year meeting scheduled for later this month.  I also have a Writing faculty meeting next week, and I'm really nervous about that one.  I know Dr. Writing will be announcing my appointment then, and because of the nature of the department, I'm feeling a lot of survivor's guilt, which I'll write more about later.  For now, I've got to read some stuff before the meeting.

Monday, April 04, 2011

A washer

For those of you interested, I bought this one.  Archer insisted I get a matching pair, even though I was happy to go down a model for the dryer.  They were delivered late yesterday afternoon, and I'm already in love with them.  The only issue is that we didn't buy the outrageously priced pedestals (Archer is actually planning to build a cabinet system around them with a counter on top), so Bear can reach the dials. 

Sunday, April 03, 2011

You know you're old when. . .

You celebrate getting a job by buying a new washer and dryer.