Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Get Back

Get back.
Get back.
Get back to where you once belonged.

Get back.
Get back.
Get back to where you once belonged.

I was so stoked when I got home last night! The refrigerator is back where it belongs and the electricity is fixed! I just don't know if the refrigerator is Jojo or Sweet Loretta Martin.

I had a dental appointment yesterday as well. And what a gorgeous day for a mid-day drive to the dentist! Sunroof open. Tunes on the radio. Driving next to the shores of the San Francisco Bay. I could go to the dentist every day like that. But insurance wouldn't cover it.

Actually, I'll be going back to the dentist on Thursday. Turns out I've either started grinding my teeth or clenching my jaw at night. I've been waking up with achy teeth and a sore jaw a few mornings now and I lost part of a filling a few weeks ago. The dentist says he can see telltale wear indicators for grinding right where the filling popped out. So I'll be back in his chair tomorrow to repair the filling and get fitted for a night guard.

Also have a phone call scheduled with the builder in the morning to make a final decision on windows, front door, and other exterior doors.

And making an appointment for Home Depot this weekend to meet with one of their kitchen designers. We've been working with a cabinetry craftsman recommended by the builder, but honestly, we have yet to see a door style we really like from him that fits within our budget. We've seen a couple of Kraftmaid cabinet styles at Home Depot, so we've decided to have them bid the job so we at least have a number to compare to with any other vendor we may choose to work with. And who knows, we may end up doing the work with them anyway.

Although, now that I just loaded the Kraftmaid website and heard the auto play music, I may have to walk away from them just on principle. I hate it when websites play music at me and don't give me a way to turn it off. Oh hey. It shut off. I guess it only plays for 20 seconds or so. But still. Annoying.

Just finished my workout, got cauliflower coming out of the oven, and Scoob just got out of the shower. Sorry it's so rushed, but cauliflower is my fav and I'm famished. Until next time…

Get back.
Get back.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Little Ponies

All 165 of them, are sick. I have a major car repair looming in front of me that I am not looking forward to. And the worst part—it's all my fault. You see, I did not do the regular oil changes on my Subaru Forester as I should have and ran it until the oil was nearly dry. Which damaged the engine bearings. Which is an expensive repair. Even more expensive on a horizontally-opposed Boxer-style Subaru engine because the bearings aren't as easy to get at.

It's still drivable for the time being. But I have to take care of it. There's no way I'm going to attempt a cross-country drive later this year when I know the engine could seize. Scoob wants to just sell the car (it is paid off) and get a new-used one. (Sometimes I swear he thinks money grows on trees.) I, on the other hand, do not think taking on a car payment right now is a good idea when I know we'll soon be carrying 2 mortgage payments until the house in Fremont sells after we move.

Then Scoob said we should just sell the car when we move and not drive cross-country. Great. That solution leaves us without a car when we get to North Carolina, which, given how far removed we will be from town, won't last long and we would still have to buy a new-used car.

So like any woman with a truck driving mechanic father would do, I called my daddy. Who laughed at me. Not really, but I know he was laughing inside. And he pretty much said I was screwed. From my conversation with him, we figured I was looking at a $2,000–3,000 repair bill.

So that leaves me looking into repairs. I have 3 choices. I can remove the old engine and drop in a used one, I can have the engine remanufactured (uses the existing engine and remachines the damaged parts), or I can replace the short block (lower half of the engine) and remachine the bearings. Oh, and that $2,000–3,000? Don't make me laugh. Or cry. The lowest possible solution came in at $4,800.

I looked into several independent repair shops and my local Subaru dealer and found I could save $600–800 on whatever repair option I choose by going with an indie shop. However, the Subaru shop offers better warranties. Given that we're moving cross-country, if I actually need to use the warranty I'd much rather have it be through the Subaru dealer than an indie shop in northern California. There's no way I'm driving my Subie back to California for repairs. So, I'll be working with my Subaru shop.

I've taken my Subie there once before for big ticket maintenance service and really liked the guy, Kevin, who dealt with me then. So I asked for him when I called. Kevin has been very patient with me as I figure out what to do. I took my car in for diagnostics and he refused to do it, saying "I don't feel right charging you for a diagnostic test when we already know what the problem is—you damaged your bearings by running the engine without oil stupid lady." I've paraphrased a bit.

The least expensive option is to drop in a used engine. We did manage to find a used 2005 Forester engine with only 10,000 miles on it in Idaho somewhere. But here's what I thought, "If I have almost 120,000 miles—about 20,000 miles a year—on my engine, that means the found engine was only driven for a year at best and has been sitting all this time." What this means to me is that seals and gaskets will probably be dried out and cracked and I will likely have another expensive repair bill to fix them. Also, I don't know what happened to the car that engine was in. There could be other damage I just don't know about. And Kevin agreed when I told him about my misgivings.

The next least expensive option is the remanufactured engine. This option offers a 3 year/50,000 mile warranty, but only on the parts. Since the remanu option uses all the existing parts, they'll all have 120,000 miles of wear and tear on them. And, as it turns out, Subaru sends the engine out to an indie shop for the remanu and the warranty would be through the indie shop.

So that leaves me with the last option; the short block. Subaru will do all the work with this option and the warranty will be through them. It's 1 year/unlimited miles parts and labor. With the short block I'll also be getting a new timing belt (due for service), new drive belts, new water pump, new thermostat, and new gaskets and seals. The price difference between the remanu and short block options is $400, about the cost of servicing the engine for its 120,000 mile check-up and taking care of the timing belt. This will run close to $7,000 +sales tax on the parts.

For me, I'm thinking this short block option is the most sound decision.

I had planned to install a hitch before we move so we can pull a small trailer for things that won't get packed in the moving van. I'm pretty sure we'll have the cats in the car with us, with their carriers and a litterbox there won't be room for much else. The hitch will cost about $400 parts and labor.

So all told, I'm looking at about $8,000 in work on my car (I've factored in sales tax for parts) before we move. $7,500 of this I did not anticipate spending right now. And certainly not on my car. That's essentially my furniture fund for the new house.

I love my Subie, but it really may be time to part ways. I keep weighing the options of parting with $8,000 right now, or buying a car with monthly payments, which will let me hang onto the bulk of that money for the immediate future while we're going through this financially stressful process of building.

When we sold Scoob's car in January 2010 we took it to CarMax. We were dealt with in a straightforward manner and received a very fair deal for his car. We had such a good experience selling the car, we talked about buying a used car through them if we ever needed to purchase another car. So I went to the CarMax site and did a search for vehicles available for $10,000 (the lowest price option available). There's quite a bit out there.

It turned up 15 sport utility vehicles (same class as the Subie) and 2 already have trailer hitches installed: a 2004 Chevy TrailBlazer with 110,000 miles, and a 2004 Nissan Xterra with 111,000 miles. There are also a few interesting van/minivan options with decent gas mileage. Particularly this 2005 Dodge Caravan with 84,000 miles (and a DVD player, hey, it's a long drive) for under $9,000. We don't have kids, so I never thought I'd find myself considering a minivan, but I'm thinking the extra cubic interior space a van offers would eliminate the need for towing a trailer.

I looked up the Kelly Blue Book trade-in value for my Subie in fair condition—$6,400. Given it needs a major repair, let's say I get half that—$3,200. If I put that as my down payment on a $10,000 vehicle at CarMax, even at a 7% interest rate my monthly payment would be under $200.

So I'm stumped. On the one hand I want to fix and keep my Subie even though my gut tells me this may be the beginning of a very expensive relationship. On the other hand, I may have admit Scoob was right with his first suggestion, selling the Subie and purchasing another vehicle may be the best decision given the situation.


Monday, March 28, 2011

One Week and Counting

So dudes, something has been going on with the electricity in our kitchen for a while now, but we weren't sure if something was really wrong. Power to our refrigerator, microwave, and phone was cutting in and out at random. We probably wouldn't have noticed as soon as we did if the phone didn't beep every time the power came back on.

About a week ago we finally decided to do something about it and I emailed the Home Owners Association. We own our living space from the paint in (some condos go studs in), which means anything going on in the walls is the HOA's responsibility. (It took me a long time to wrap my head around this kind of ownership.) And, since power wasn't cutting in and out for the entire kitchen, I thought it was going to be a wiring problem. And given our previous experience with wiring issues, we contacted the HOA first. (We never were reimbursed for that repair.)

The HOA representative said she thought it was a problem at the breaker, which makes it our problem. Turns out there are 2 outlet circuits for our kitchen, and the HOA rep may be right. So Scoob contacted our Home Buyers Protection insurance to schedule a service call. It's been a week since he called, but the serviceman should be out tomorrow.

In the meantime, our kitchen is in chaos. It is normally minimally functional and keeping it neat and orderly is a challenge on the best of days, and for the last week it has been such a chaotic space that I can hardly stand to go in there. It was a tight space before, and now it's positively claustrophobic just for one person in there.

You see, the power cut out again, but this time for several hours, so Scoob rigged up a power supply from the living room by daisy chaining several power strips together to reach the refrigerator. As much as I'm glad Scoob took the initiative to make sure the refrigerator has power, I am not a fan of this daisy chaining thing. Not to mention the deathtrap of cords running through the middle of the floor. And all the other things in the house that no longer have power because those power strips were repurposed for the fridge.

And in order for the chain to reach the refrigerator, he had to pull it out from the wall. It is now sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and has been for a week. There's just enough room to walk around it and for heaven sakes don't try to open the fridge and dishwasher doors at the same time.

This configuration has made even the simplest tasks stressful. I can no longer just walk into the kitchen, open the refrigerator door and get some water to drink. Cooking in this space is a nightmare. And trying to keep it tidy has already sparked more than 1 argument this past week. And I know it won't be fixed when the serviceman comes tomorrow. He's just coming to inspect the problem. Then there will be part ordering. And waiting. Then we'll have to schedule another service appointment. And more waiting.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Just the Facts, Ma'am

So, following up on yesterday's post, we chose the Paris style front door. But Cheri's question about security got me thinking, even though I feel safer in Pittsboro, NC than I do in Fremont, CA, what do the facts say?

That's about what I expected to see.

Pittsboro has lower crime rates when compared to the state of North Carolina as a whole. But what about compared to Fremont, where we currently live.

What!!!??? We're 3x more likely to be murdered in Pittsboro!

Okay. I soooo wasn't expecting to see such a stark difference in murder risk. I have to think the statistics are skewed due to small sample sizes. Pittsboro has a population of roughly 3,000, while Fremont's population is around 205,000.

Anyhow, Scoob and I were both stunned by the graph, so I decided to look up the actual numbers—Pittsboro had 1 murder in 2009 and Fremont had 2. (Only 2? That so does not jibe with all the shootings we hear about. I guess they weren't fatal shootings.) I think this chart has divided Fremont's population number by Pittsboro's and used that number (about 68) to factor the crime statistics. Which isn't to say there aren't risks in Pittsboro, just that they're vastly overstated on this graph. (Which also leads me to believe they may be overstated on the first graph as well.)

So, for S&G, and because I'm a graph geek, I decided to try this again using the nearest large cities—Raleigh (about 40 miles from Pittsboro) and Oakland (about 30 miles from Fremont). (I know, I know. It doesn't seem fair—almost any city is going to come out smelling like roses when it's compared to Oakland. But this is our reality and I drive through Oakland every day on my way to and from work.)

Okay. That's making me feel better.

Now, aside from where the National Median lies, this is more in line with what I was expecting to see. Raleigh and Oakland have similar population sizes—405,000 and 409,000, respectively.

Anyhow, this so wasn't what I was planning on posting about today, but sometimes these things take on a life of their own.

Want to do the same comparisons? I used Just type in the name of the city or use the zip code, scroll to the bottom of the results page and you should see a link for crime statistics.

Opening Doors

The number of decisions we have to make regarding the house never ceases to amaze me. I've been given catalogs for everything from doors, and tile, and cabinets, all the way down to doorbell buttons and roofing tiles. Who knew there were so many types and colors of roofing tile to choose from?

We had to decide on the materials for the exterior of the house early on to get approval for permits, but we can still change our mind on things, as long as we don't change it too drastically. I'm not sure that I like that door being left open. I don't like that open-ended feeling. I want to tic that item off on the to-do list and keep moving forward.

We know the exterior materials will be stone and HardiePlank.

Provence color scheme in a cobblestone style from Quality Stone Veneer.

We chose Provence because we thought it would add some color and thought it was one of the more "natural" looking options for colors. And we chose the cobblestone because we thought it would be visually interesting and somewhere between the complete irregularity of fieldstone and the total uniformity of brick. We went back and forth a bit between cobblestone and drystack, and we will probably utilize the drystack style on the inside of the house.

The HardiePlank will be some shade of green. How's that for specific? I'm very timid when it comes to choosing colors, especially when it's green we're talking about. When we moved into our current home, the first thing I did was paint the master bedroom. I wanted a nice, calm, sage-silver green. And after extensive swatch testing I chose a color called Pond. Calm sage-silver green is not what I got, people. It was more like Seafoam Green from a box of Crayolas. I like Seafoam Green. But I didn't like it on my walls. It took us years to repaint the room.

So anyhow, that's why I'm balking at selecting a specific green. We did track down our local Sherwin-Williams and finally caught them in between store location moves and inventory mishaps to get one of their master paintchip wands (it took 2 months. it was an ordeal.) because paint color is going to come up over and over again. Right now I'm looking at something close to Sherwin-Williams Artichoke (yum!) and Oakmoss for the HardiePlank color.

We also chose our roof tiles.

Heatherblend from Pinnacle.

We did have to make a final decision on the front door this week. The original quote we were given was for a solid mahogany door with plain glass panes. It was a pretty door, but on our home, the front door will face west, which posed some maintenance issues for solid wood. A friend who is much more home design savvy than I said, "the front door welcomes visitors into your home and is the jewelry on the outside of your house."

And along with pricing out fiberglass doors, we asked for quotes on some decorative options for the glass since we've been given a budget for it. We had narrowed down to these 3 styles from Portrait Windows & Doors.

Oak Park

We like the Oak Park pattern because even though it is geometric, it is not a uniform pattern. I particularly like the Craftsman/Prairie style of the design.


We like the Paris style because, as with the the Oak Park pattern, it is also geometric without being uniform. I particularly like the addition of curved lines, which I think helps to soften the pattern and keep it from feeling too rigid.


We like the Majestic pattern for it's simplicity and geometric design. We also like that, of the 3 styles, it offers the most opacity, and therefore privacy, which has been very important for us.

We've decided on the ¾ glass option with decorative sidelites and a clear transom.

So now we play a game. You tell me. Which style did I choose?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Time Machine (part 4)

[To avoid one, long, endless post of how we got to where we are today, I've broken the background up into several parts—Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.]

Scoob shielded me from most of the headaches related to the construction loan by handling all communication with the bank. He would have shielded me from the bank entirely, except, because we currently own the condo we live in, in order to take on another home loan, Scoob had to include me on the paperwork.

I will say, I gained a new appreciation for my organizational skills, at least with regards to paperwork, during this. I had to pull up bank statements for the previous 4 months (I have accounts at 3 different banks), statements from retirement accounts (I have 2 401(k) accounts, and a Roth IRA), any loan liabilities (thankfully, just an almost paid off student loan), and any other assets (I have some stock in a company I used to work for). I was able to retrieve and pull all this information together in about 15 minutes.

But it was still a pain all around. Between miscommunication, mistakes by the bank, delays by the underwriter, and incredibly confusing instructions, the loan didn't close until the end of February. I won't get into the specifics, but we had a couple minor meltdowns just dealing with the loan.

While waiting for the loan to close, the builders sent us copies of the blueprints and architectural drawings for the house and I geeked out for a few days just pouring over the drawings and thinking about what we could do with the different spaces. Exciting! Scoob teased me about my inner geek as I deciphered the drawings. He then decided to order a design program (Home Designer, which will be helpful with landscaping later, too!) so we could better visualize the possibilities.

The moment the loan closed (we sent off the final notarized page on 2/26, YES!), the supplies started arriving at the lot and the builder began framing to pour the foundation. These photos are from March 2nd! (Thankfully, our friends live in the same neighborhood we're building in, and they've been sending us regular updates!)

And 2 weeks later…

And 3 days after that…

And 2 days after that (yesterday)…

OH. MY. GOD! I had no idea it would go up this quickly!

And that pretty much brings our story up to date.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time Machine (part 3)

[To avoid one, long, endless post of how we got to where we are today, I've broken the background up into several parts—Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.]

During our visit to North Carolina last November, we had several meetings with the builders and began to hammer out a plan. I had a difficult time even beginning to decide on a house plan until someone told us we didn't have to build the plans exactly as is—we could change things!

What a revelation! And change things we did!

We finally settled on this house plan. The builder recommended that we mirror the plans due to the elevation of the lot so that the driveway would be on the opposite side and keep the costs for grading the lot down.

We also decided to square off that corner between the keeping room and kitchen. Surprisingly, this was a simple adjustment that added more square footage to the house without adding tremendously to the cost of the build—even though the same amount of materials are used for the walls, the builders don't have to mess with creating corners and can instead just build a straight wall, so the only real addition for materials was the added foundation.

So when we left North Carolina in November, we had signed a design contract with the builders and they were going to order the architectural drawings for the house and begin applying for building permits, and they'd given us a general idea of what our allowances would be for selecting appliances, cabinets, etc.

What we were doing still didn't seem real to us. And since Scoob dealt with the bank for the construction loan, it wasn't really real to me until we went back to North Carolina in January. In January, the builder had cleared the lot and we needed to finalize the positioning of the house on the lot.

The site plan from the county surveyor.

This is what the lot looked like when we bought it in November.

Here's what it looked like when we returned in January.

Heavy machinery!

For some reason, seeing the bulldozer and the cleared lot, and holding the surveyor's plans in my hand made it all very real.

But the bank was dilly-dallying and it would be several more weeks before the construction loan would close. No loan. No work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time Machine (part 2)

[To avoid one, long, endless post of how we got to where we are today, I've broken the background up into several parts—Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.]

Scoob had suggested Chapel Hill before, but I was adamantly opposed to moving to the East Coast. All my family and friends are here, on the West Coast. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that whether I live here or there, a day ends up being devoted to travel in order to visit anyone. And I was pleasantly surprised that the Chapel Hill area reminded me of parts of Oregon. Minus the mountains.

Scoob and I still hadn't made up our minds about what we were going to do when we visited our friends again in November 2010. On this trip, we decided to look at some houses just to see what was available in our price range. We saw plenty of nice places, but each just had something "off" about it. And as our friend says, if you're spending that kind of money, you'd better be getting what you really want.

Then we found the house. It was a lot more square footage than either of us really wanted, but the property and the house were beautiful and I just about died when I walked into the spacious kitchen. (It's nearly impossible for Scoob and I to be in the kitchen at the same time where we are now.)

But. Of course there's a but. But, the house was $50,000 over the high end of our budget. But we loved it and we could see ourselves living there. And we had decided during our trip that we were serious about moving to North Carolina.

The real estate agent we were working with said if we were serious, it wouldn't hurt to put in an offer. So we did. And after a bit of haggling got the builder to reduce the price by $15,000, but he wouldn't budge beyond that, because that's what he owed the bank. And that's when the real estate agent said, "my husband can build you this house and stay within your budget."

And that's when we started doing some serious thinking. Scoob was excited about the idea of building a  house. I, on the other hand, was not. I did not want the headache of making all those decisions and thought if we kept looking, we would find what we wanted. If you've followed me from my previous blog, you'll know how difficult it is for Scoob and I to make even the simplest decisions sometimes. And these weren't going to be simple decisions! To make a log story short, he's an optimizer (he wants what's perfect), and I'm a satisficer (I want what's good enough).

The next day, the real estate agent showed us a couple of empty lots. And we found one that we liked. An acre with lots of privacy and within our budget. Things kept falling into place and it seemed like the universe (or whatever you want to call it) was sending us a clear message that it was time and this was our course. We discussed it some more, slept on it, and decided to have faith in the universe (and each other).

We purchased the lot by the end of the week and were starting to meet with vendors for appliances, plumbing, lighting, and more to get ideas for what we liked and to start pricing supplies.

Here we are after walking the lot with the builder and his wife,
our real estate agent. Can you tell who is who? Hint: the guy holding the
spray can with the tape measure on his belt, that'd be the builder.

A few pictures of the lot. I probably should have been taking pictures of other aspects of the lot, but it was fall, and the colors were gorgeous.

The view across the cul-de-sac.
This will be the view from the front of the house.

This little sap maple mixed in with the scrubby pine
was the only splash of fall color on our lot.

It sat near where the back side of the house will be,
and will mostly likely be cleared during construction.

So I took several pictures of it.
I'm hopeful there are more deeper in the pines that will now be on
the new treeline and get the sunlight needed to turn colors.

NOT a view from our lot, but from elsewhere in the development.
Gorgeous, no?

Not exactly the vacation we were planning when we left, but we were both excited about the future when we returned.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time Machine (part 1)

[To avoid one, long, endless post of how we got to where we are today, I've broken the background up into several parts—Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.]

Scoob and I moved into our current dwelling on Dec. 21, 2002. My birthday, actually. So, happy birthday to me!

Prior to moving in together, Scoob and I had been dating long distance. He was in Sunnyvale, CA and I was in Sacramento, CA. It doesn't seem like a long distance, but 4-hours round-trip driving time for each date began to take its toll on both of us.

Scoob felt he was ready to buy a place and make a break from renting and so we started looking. We ended up with our condo. I remember being happy with the amount of natural light that flooded the living room when we looked at it.

And the location was great for our needs at the time. Scoob needed easy access to a bridge to get to work in Palo Alto,CA , and I needed access to a train to get to school in Davis, CA. This was our first house for both of us and the possibilities seemed endless, though we were both in agreement that this was not our "forever" house. We figured we'd probably be here for 5 years. Tops. (We're closing in on 9 years.)

Once I finished school (2004) and got a job, and Scoob began telecommuting, the location became less important to us and we began noticing several quality of life issues. A few of the biggies:
  • Our condo (1 of 156 in our development) is 950-sq. ft. with next to nothing for storage space and a lousy layout. We outgrew it quickly.
  • Despite all the natural light that I loved, we constantly keep the blinds closed for privacy because the condos are too close together. 
  • Lousy insulation. During the admittedly few very hot or cold spells we have, we either cook or freeze.
  • The ineffective Home Owners Association is extremely expensive ($240/month!), and despite all the rules about what residents can and cannot do, they don't bother to actually enforce the rules the matter. I really don't care if my neighbor wants a red front door, but I do care that they've converted their garage into living space (no-no) and are now parking 4 cars on the lot (we're allowed 2, and 1 must be parked in the garage).
  • The buildings act as an amplifier and any outside noise sounds like it is right in our house. An issue that's become increasingly irritating the last couple of years due to all the families that have had to downsize their homes, so units that should have 3 or 4 people living in them now have 5 to 7, and that means more noise.
These seem like such minor things to complain about in light of the hardships other people face on a daily basis. But listening to the neighbor run laundry at 2 a.m. every other night for the last 3 years and wearing headphones to block out the kids blowing on whistles outside just so we can relax in our home has gotten old really fast.

At any rate, we knew we wouldn't be living here permanently and we started seriously looking at moving about 4 years ago. I was being laid-off at work and we knew we wanted to escape the Bay Area, so it made sense to do those things at the same time and we started looking around Austin, TX, and Eugene, OR.

We saw a few places that were promising, but then I was offered a new and exciting job with the employer that had just laid me off. We decided to accept the job offer and stick it out for two years so I'd have the job experience to take with me.

Two years has come and gone, and while I still enjoy my job, we have got to leave the Bay Area. The cost of living is just too high here, and the frustrations of where we live have worn on both of us to the point that we're constantly annoyed and we're not very happy people any longer.

So, we were still eying Austin and Eugene when we visited friends in near Chapel Hill, NC, for Christmas 2009. At the end of our week there I realized I couldn't remember when I'd last felt so relaxed. And that was when we began also considering Chapel Hill for our new home.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Adventure Begins

If you've followed me here from my previous blog, it's good to see you again and the cast of characters here remains the same: me (Wayward), the fiancĂ© (Scoob), and the cats—Madame Barf-O-Matic (aka Dozer) and Sir Talks Alot (aka Tank).

If this is your first time, welcome, and let me apologize now for anything I may say or do in the future.

The idea for this blog came about shortly after Scoob and made the decision to build a new home across the country, outside Chapel Hill, NC. As you can imagine, building a house is an exciting (and stressful) project, and has been the focus of most of my thoughts for the past few months.

I would have loved to blog about all of this on the old blog, but I was afraid some of my co-workers and possibly my boss might be reading it. You see, they don't know that I'll be moving across the country before the year is out, and I'd really like to keep my job while we're still in the Bay Area. And hopefully, I'll be able to telecommute once we do move. But for now, I need to keep it all under wraps.

And yet, here I am, blathering about it on the internets. So what gives?

Since building this house seems to be consuming nearly all my thoughts with all the decisions that need to be made, I need a place to put all of this down. And a central place where I can share ideas with and get opinions from family and friends (and anyone else who happens to stop by) instead of email.

I'm hoping I can remain anonymous, at least for the time being, by blogging at a new location. Once we get closer to our move date, about a month or so out, I'll share our news with my boss and deal with whatever comes next.

It feels like I've been keeping this secret forever. But really, our construction loan was only finalized at the end of February, and everything could have fallen apart at any moment before that.

The next few posts will probably be more about the background of how we got to this moment, but then the fun stuff—paint chips, tile samples, light fixtures, and more—will start.