New Houses For Everyone
I have even more good news. Not only am I now building a new house (Ryan Homes, Vienna floor plan) in Brunswick Hills, but my buddy Dave Derecskey just bought a 5.88 acre house in Bainbridge. His new house needs things to be replaced and probably updates and additions, but at least he won't be as cramped as I will be on my 0.15 acres.
So, most people won't care much about anything after this point of my post, but I wanted to document the unique specifications we have selected for our house. Egads, this might get boring after the first few that you read.
We have chosen an almond siding with white trim, dark green shutters, and a some indescribable dark burnt-blue door. We chose the same neutral tannish carpet for the entire house. The driveway is on the right side of the house leading to an attached garage. If you go into the front door you can either go up the stairs which will be right in front of you or to your left into the great room. The wood-floored foyer is open through the 2nd floor. If you walk through the great room you will find the morning room to your slight right and the kitchen all the way to your right. The interior comes painted white and any painting must be done on your own. The morning room is the only room we have picked out colors for already. It will probably contain wicker furniture and have a lime green paint to give this already bright room an even more vibrant look. The morning room has a sliding door leading to our tiny backyard. A peninsula island counter separates the morning room from the kitchen. The morning room and kitchen have wood floors as well, and oak cabinets. We went with a dark counter top and we will have all black kitchen appliances (to go with our black toaster and microwave we already have). Upon entering the kitchen there are stairs going downstairs to the basement. If you continue to the end of the kitchen you will find three options: The laundry room, the powder room (a half bathroom), and a door to the two car garage.
If you go up to the 2nd floor you will find the main hall bathroom at the top of the stairs. We upgraded to white cabinets because they look nicer with the other white parts of the bathroom. If you turn to the right the short hallway leads to three bedrooms...nothing special about them. If you turn to the left you get to the master bedroom. This bedroom has it's own bathroom, a walk-in closet and a linen closet (that we'll probably just use for clothes).
If you go down to the basement we have excavated the provided crawl space into a full basement. We opted to not finish it at first, but we plan on doing so after we get resources saved up to do so. I actually can't wait... For now the great room will be the "living area", but eventually I would like to put my big speakers, a big TV, and video games all down in the basement.
Anyway, that's the house. Behind us is a "privacy ridge", but that's only a few feet tall. Over the ridge are the backyards of some slightly nicer homes on a culdasac. We almost bought a lot with a creek in the backyard (and we thought of building a little bridge over it), but that lot cost more and we decided otherwise. They break ground in January and we should be able to move in before May.
The Alpha Table
I am participating in a get-together named Alpha
for the 4th straight time. It's basically a free dinner once a week for almost two months. You sit at the same table every week so that you get to know everybody else that is at your table on a personal level. Anyway, after dinner this guy named Bruce throws out some thoughts about a topic for a short time (and usually watches a movie clip from Braveheart or The Matrix [or something]) to illustrate some of his points. After that your table gets back together and discusses things over coffee and dessert. Did I mention that my church puts this thing together? It's really a very not-in-your-face way to hear a few things about Christianity and ask a bunch of questions over a long period of time -- so there's never any pressure to do anything other than learn and ask questions at your own pace.
This Alpha is the first time I have been the main table leader. The first Alpha I simply attended and learned about things to solidify my faith. The second Alpha I assisted Ed Cavanaugh at a huge table. The third Alpha I co-led a small table (it was actually a small Alpha overall). This fourth time I now have a table assisstant (Ron). Ron, who is my age, has been through 6 Alphas now...starting as an atheist and slowly (over 4 Alphas) moving to the point where he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Returning from my 3rd Alpha table is Beverly (we call her Bev) who is a very loquacious and bitter Christian who has been hurt many times (and let's us know) yet is a very good older lady. This time she brought her friend David, a Christian, who is very intelligent yet tips the scales on the uber-nerd side of things. We are talking pocket protectors, Star Trek conventions, and nasal snorts.
Mark Chernisky brought two others to our table, one of his little brothers, Aaron, and a friend from work named Sarah. Mark wasn't at our table before, but now he has joined us. He is, I dunno, 30ish, and is the typical St. Ignatius guy (as all of the Chernisky guys are). So, of course his little brother Aaron, a recent Ohio State graduate, is extremely similar (and soooooo quiet). Lastly there is Sarah, a married mother of two with vibrant, short red hair who believe it or not (and I'm serious here) talks more than I do. She says her husband just glazes over and nods/ignores her most of the time. That made me wonder...do other people do that to me and I don't even notice? I've been trying to shut up more lately, but the silence is killing me.
Anyway, the real news is this: Sarah came in as a very eager seeker of truth and of the God she just knew was out there somewhere. A couple of weeks ago, after gaining some understanding about eternal matters and God's saving grace she committed her life to the Lord after a Sunday service. I wish I could have been there to help her pray through it, but I'm very glad it happened nonetheless.
So, now that we have crossed that bridge the following are my goals: Help Sarah mature in her understanding and faith - especially since her husband calls Christianity "a cult" and has no current interest in matters of faith. Get Aaron to open up just a little bit. He has said less than three sentences of words in 5 weeks thus far. Help Bev and David break through more of their hurt and bitterness. Lastly, call it selfish or what-have-you, but I hope to grow more as a person once again, just as I have done through each of the previous Alphas.
In The Red
Debt is such a pain. When I was a new high school graduate I was in the black for the furthest amount I had ever been...over $2000 net personal worth. I bought a car for $1500 with 15 one hundered dollar bills. I just happened to have that cash sitting around in my sock drawer. Little did I know that that was the pinnacle of my net personal worth. Your current net worth is basically every asset you have (stuff, cars, house, investments, cash on hand, etc) minus your debts (mortgage, car payments, school loans, etc). Ever since the end of that summer I have gone further and further into the red. It started out with a $2500 bill after my freshman year of college. I got into snowboarding that year...so I spent most of my money on equipment and ended up broke going into the summer (without any jobs). That was the breaking point. Instead of floating around zero I plummeted and have never been able to recover. I lost my partial scholarship, so the following years had much bigger college loans (I finished with nearly $40,000 in school debt...even after paying thousands out of pocket every year).
I bought two cars this year, two cars that cost over $10,000 apiece. Now I am buying a house...that's going to be a lifetime of debt there. I haven't even covered credit card debt (mostly my wife's, since I actually only use my debit card).
In the end I just can't wait for the day when I look at what I have and what I owe and I actually have a positive net worth. It'll be great to be in the black. Once I get there the next goal will be to be 100% debt free. ...Someday
Eagles Won The Holy War
You don't have
to be excited, but you should
be. St. Edward High School faced arch-rival St. Ignatius High School in the annual Holy War
football game in Lakewood, OH. The Eagles defeated the Wildcats in a defensive battle, in front of the usual sell out crowd. The Green and Gold Eagles of St. Ed's improved to 7-0, with hopes of becoming the state title holder after the playoffs start in a few weeks.
In other news nothing is very exciting about other Cleveland area sports.
On the home front we have picked out colors for the outside of the house and we have picked out carpet and linoleum patterns. The tough decisions (somehow a lot tougher than carpet, linoleum, and house colors...) are counter tops and where to put water spickets and cable outlets. We will either pick a lighter counter top and get white appliances or a darker counter top with black appliances. The water spickets will be on opposite sides of the house...the only question is whether we should put one of the two inside of the garage or not. Lastly, the two cable outlets. I don't know whether to put one in the great room and one in the master bedroom or two in the great room such that the room can be reconfigured easily.
We Bought A House
Kelly and I bought a Ryan Home in Brunswick Hills last night. I can't really believe it. I mean, it's just a little bit crazy to me, but last night I bought a house. A house. I bought a house. A real one.
That Was Fast, God
Well, it looks like the decision making process has just gotten a lot easier. Kelly and I believe in the power of prayer and the day-to-day participation of God in our lives. As such, we pray about many things...but definitely about a home purchase.
Just like "gifts hints" from my wife, I don't regularly notice the subtle things God might try to tell me. I need God to smack me in the face for me to notice things. So, after praying for wisdom, clarity, blessings, and guidance, I put it to God like this: "How about you just close one of these two doors, and close it soon as our decisions have to happen very quickly. As a sure sign how about this? We are meeting with Ryan Homes tomorrow (Wednesday night). If we shouldn't go that route, when I ask about extending our decision by a week have them say sorry, these offers won't last that long
. If we shouldn't go with the Strongsville house, I know it's been on the market for 127 days and things probably won't move quickly, but have somebody bid on it and have it sell in the next 72 hours." This was yesterday around noon right when we realized it was a dead heat between these houses.
Guess what? Shortly after we prayed that somebody bid on the house, and the very same night (last night), the sellers accepted the bid. The flippin Strongsville house sold within HOURS
of us praying for a closed door either way.
Hey, whether you believe in the power of prayers or not, that's just plain and simply cool.
What Do I Do?
I don't know what to do. As many of you know my wife and I have been searching for a house for some time now. Well...this is crunch time. Seriously, what I am telling you is that in a week's time Kelly and I will have a new house.
It's down to two...and OH MAN it's a dead even heat. I need as much input from every possible source as possible to help with the decision. Kelly and I REALLY don't know what to do. The decision is between building a new colonial house in Brunswick Hills using Ryan Homes (hereafter called the Ryan Home or "Ryan") and buying a 1987 built ranch style house in Strongsville on Jonathan Road (near Jake and Pam, hereafter called Strongville Home or "SH").
The pros and cons list is so perfectly, intricatly balanced that we have no idea how to procede.
SH (remember, that means the Strongsville Home"
), assuming we bargain for 5% off of the asking price, it is 94% of the Ryan price, which is not negotiable past what we have bullied them into already. But, Ryan is a new house so maybe that is a justified expense. The argument really comes down to "New" versus "Established".
- SH:Established lawn and landscaping, Ryan: Must plant your own lawn and landscaping (I've done landscaping work before, though)
- Ryan: Brand new everything exactly as we want it, SH: Must update some ugly areas of the home and must replace counter tops and backsplashes...an added expense
- SH: Needs a new furnace and possibly (we need help here) a new roof if it's still the 1987 original. Oh, and we have to see if there is lead sodder in the pipes and whatnot. Ryan: Obviously these things are new and not an issue.
- Ryan: Must buy most of the appliances, SH: Most appliances stay (although the stove is an original and seriously needs to get replaced)
- The square footage of the Ryan home is defintely more than SH, although the SH has a larger basement (not included in square footage)
- Ryan: 4 bedrooms, SH: 3 bedrooms
- SH: Has a partially finished basement with room to finish more (including adding an office), Ryan: Unfinished basement, not a good space for an office...probably meaning making one of the bedrooms the office
- SH: .51 acres, Ryan: .25 acres (SH is double the lot size)
- Ryan: Very fun and young community, SH: Somewhat older community, but still on the young side compared to greater Cleveland.
- Ryan: Probably need to install some basic things like drapes/mini-blinds, some fan-lights, some towel racks, etc, SH: Already exists
- School districts aren't really an issue because Brunswick is getting MUCH better and Stronsville is getting a little worse
- Taxes aren't an issue because Brunswick tripled their taxes last year to make them comparable.
- All insurance (car, home, life, etc) is cheaper in Medina Country (Ryan) than Cuyahoga (SH)
- Work travel is not an issue because these houses are actually fairly close to each other AND as a contractor I move all over the city anyway.
- Ryan: Move in April, but get to save up money until then, SH: Can move in as soon as some inspections clear and paperwork is filled out, but can't save any more than we already have.
Believe it or not that was just what I quickly wrote off of the top of my head. We have a lot more to consider...yet in a few hours Ryan Homes expects us to inspect the housing site(s) and start the ball rolling. I plan on telling them they have to wait a few more days while we consider a few more things. The deals we have going with Ryan are definitely temporary, making this decision very sensitive to time.What do we do?
I started up my mp3 collection in early 1998. I quickly gathered my favorite artists and suddenly I passed 1 GB of music. The quantity continued to grow and I ended up purchasing new hard drives and being an early adopter for cd burners (2x burners that took just under an hour to burn a single cd...and about half of them would fail).
Anyway, if you fast forward we get to Thursday, October 6th, 2005. On that fateful day my collection passed the 100 GB mark. Why? I don't really know. I can say that my music purchasing rate has either stayed the same or gone up. I have been exposed to so many types of music that I have a large spectrum of musical tastes and I support the bands I enjoy by paying for their cds and sometimes going to their shows.
Prayers For Grandma
Kelly's Grandmother on her mom's side, Bernice Slygh, just found out this week that she has cancer. The doctors noticed all kinds of lumps and objects and have determined that she has colon cancer, stage IV. The cancer has also spread to her liver. She is going to see the gastrology doctor today and needs a colonoscopy very soon to determine exactly what course of action to take. Once they have those results they will know exactly how much of her colon and liver have been affected. Those results will help the doctors to decide whether to remove some/all of the colon or simply to do chemotherapy. Stage IV colon cancer is also called "Dukes D Colon Cancer" and the 5-year survival rate for Dukes D Colon Cancer is about 8%.
Kelly's grandmother appears to be blowing things off and is not interested in understanding the severity of her situation. Nevertheless, Kelly's family would appreciate any prayers for the well-being and even a miraculous healing of her grandmother.
Legions of fans have been begging for an update, but I'm burned out on blogging right now, so I'll do it - but I won't put any heart into it. Since lists require little explanation I'll use one of those to tell all about what you've missed because I haven't updated "JBlog".
- I was on the jumbo tron at Jacobs Field
- The Indians had the most disappointing final week imaginable. I cried for weeks.
- I actually called up Wells Fargo to get pre-approved. We don't know if we'll stick with them or not
- Kelly and I are HIGHLY considering buying a new house in Brunswick Hills. We are meeting with a sales guy about stuff on Friday night.
- I met with the gastro doctor guy again today and it looks like I will have an endoscopy with a balloon which will rip apart my Schlotzky's Ring. It is supposed to heal in it's expanded state and give more room for food to fit into the stomach. Hopefully that will mean far less "choking" like I seem to do every month.
- How does a bite of rib meat cost almost $2500? The best part of my ER bill was the "Level 4 ED Diagnosis". HA! $800. Do you know what that bill is referring to? An ER doctor stood about 6 feet away from me and asked the following questions: What were you eating? Is it stuck? So, you can't even swallow water? Those three questions (total of 1 minute and 30 seconds) cost $800. I'm so glad we have insurance so all I have to do is pay the co-pay.
- I have worked out 3 times in the past 3 weeks, which is pathetic.
- I lost/had stolen my Creative Zen player (ipod looking thingy). Not only was that 60 GB of music, but it had my Bally's card attached to it, so now I have to pay the $10 fine to get a new Bally's card.
- The Sextons and the Morans went camping at East Harbor last weekend. It was a good, relaxing time (except when Amy "drowned in the lake", I'll explain more if you ask). The chicken kabobs and the tin-foil dinners I made were delicious!
- Lastly, I found some of those candy cigarettes and I've been eating them by the handful ever since.