AJ’s Laugh

I think that AJ has the cutest laugh!

Anthony 5 (1/2) month letter

Dear Anthony,

You are actually 5.5 months as I write this, because the last few weeks have been rather busy!

But I needed to sit down and let you know what a ball of sunshine and love you’ve been to us! You are such a joyful, easy going baby (except at bedtime….more on that later). You nurse whenever, wherever. You are a punching bag for your brother (he’s trying to “tickle” you, so no hard feelings, k?). We can make you laugh and giggle by doing next to nothing. You love to be held by anyone, and you also love sitting in the bouncy chair, observing everything going on around you. I can’t stress enough what a wonderful joy you are to have around!

You pretty much exclusively co-sleep with Mommy now, going on about 6-7 weeks. This new habit has definitely cut into Mommy’s sleep, but (shh), secret, she doesn’t mind as much as you might think. She knows that in the blink of an eye, just like your brother, you will be a rambunctious toddler pushing her away 🙂 Plus, this also means you are nursing a TON and gaining weight like a champ! You are in 9-12 month clothing now (WOWZA!).

When you do sleep by yourself in the co-sleeper attached to Mommy’s side of the bed, you always roll over on your tummy and snuggle your cheek up with your fist. It’s pretty adorable. Sometime we can soothe you to sleep by rubbing or patting your back (I say SOMETIMES, because you prefer to exclusively fall asleep nursing, which means that Mommy spends 2-3 hours every night running up and down the stairs to go coax you back to sleep…NOT efficient, to say the least!).

You can’t quite sit up yet, but you’re almost there. During tummy time, you push up and try to inch around. You hardly ever stay on your back for long before you’ve rolled onto your tummy. You are grabbing onto everything around you, whether it be Mommy’s fork at the dinner table or the shirt of whoever’s holding you. WHAT a death grip! Mommy has to keep your nails cut at all times because you are able to inflict serious damage with those claws!

We’ve decided not to start you on any solid food for as long as we can possibly help it. Since you weigh a ton, poop and pee constantly, and still have yet to be sick,  I don’t think anybody’s too worried 😉 You nurse 6-8 times during the daytime for about 5-10 minutes, and then off and on all night (Mommy’s not counting then, because she’s trying to sleep, despite all of your acrobatics!). We already knew you didn’t like pacifiers (you made that pretty clear within a month or two of being born), but you’ve also decided that you won’t take a bottle. Luckily, Mommy’s work schedule allows her to be home to nurse you every 1-2 hours when she’s working, so it hasn’t been too inconvenient. Actually, it’s been a time-saver, since Mommy doesn’t need to clean bottles or pump!

You and Gregory already have the funniest relationship! You watch him intently, and the moment he pays attention to you in the slightest, you giggle. He kisses your belly, and you laugh hysterically. On the flip side, when he has a temper tantrum and does his classic shrieking, you burst into tears. Loud noises are extremely startling to you (your grandparents say that Mommy was the same way, don’t worry, you ‘ll never grow out of it).  When you cry, Gregory says, “Baby Wee! Baby Wee!” and tries to pat you, or goes and gets one of us.

Little Wee, you are kind of a big deal around here. If I could only pick one memory from this month, it would be your vivacious belly laugh that goes ON and ON! We all love you so much, and we love the happiness and joy that your personality brings to all of us!!




Some good news!

First, it starts with the bad news, actually. Sorry to disappoint.

Our “Maybe” House does, indeed, have bedbugs. The seller paid for a pest inspection today and confirmed the worst.

BUT there is a HUGE silver lining here!

Because the carpet needs to get ripped out, ideally, for the pest treatment, it looks like the seller is willing to not only pay the several thousand dollars for the treatment, but will ALSO pay for new flooring, AND let us choose it!

So, while this extends the timeline (because they can’t do the treatment until after the tenants are out of there, mid- November), we don’t have to pay a few thousand for new floors, OR do it ourselves!

A big hooray! We needed this win today 🙂

Don’t Let The $&*#s Bite!

And…the adventures continue!

We had an appointment this morning to tour our “Maybe” House with a friend of ours who just got his contractor’s license. He took measurements in order to make an AutoCad drawing (so we can play around with knocking down walls), and did some inspecting for foundation and roof problems. Our “official” inspection won’t happen until we are closer to having the deed in hand.

He didn’t find anything majorly wrong (no leaks, no cracks), but what we DID find was disturbing…

Let me back up. The saga with the current tenants has been a bit epic. We were due to tour the property last Thursday, and the tenants gave our realtor a super hard time about it, cussing her out, hanging up on her a few times, etc. The ironic part was that once we toured the home, we saw tons of Hume Lake and Christian posters everywhere!

Then today when we showed up, the tenants were still there. Super awkward. They had been given 24 hrs. notice to clear out for an hour or two while we conducted our investigation. They were still in the middle of breakfast!

As they were leaving, one of them (the girl who had cussed out our realtor), explained that there were bedbugs on the property.


Our realtor decided not to go in, but our contractor, Jesse, my dad and I all went in on a rotating basis, so that someone could be outside with the kids at all times. When we were done, we put trash bags over our seats for the 5 minute drive home. Upon arrival, we all stripped down in the kitchen and took turns bathing the kids and ourselves.

We have a pest inspection guy coming to do a termite and bedbug examination next Tuesday. Bedbugs can cost thousands to eradicate, so we will get a quote from him and simply ask the seller to lower the purchase price by that amount! We never actually saw any, and the tenants have proved that they want to make the house “undesirable” for purchase, since they’re mad about leaving, but it’s good to take threats like these seriously.

Exciting times for the Cones! Here are two pictures that our realtor took of G during one of my “shifts” with the kiddos.

I win “Mom-of-the-Year” award for today. Not only did we rush out of the house without a proper breakfast this morning, but I let him snack on goldfish crackers, AND he drank some of my coffee…

This was when I tried to take the mug away from him. Terrible Twos? BRING IT ON.

Our “Maybe” House

Warning: Fair amount of real estate explanation and lingo in here….

Last Thursday night, we toured the only TWO houses within 15 minutes of us that were not a short sales or REOs (the market here is CRAZY, I tell you). Our problem thus far has been that our price range ($200-300k) is SCARY close to the cash investor range. We’ve actually put a few offers on houses, only to have them GONE within a week of being on the market! The last one we put an offer on, got 12 offers within 5 days and ended up going for $40k more than the asking price!!!

The problems: we CAN’T usually go more than asking price. If the house doesn’t appraise for as much as you offer, you are supposed to pay the difference in cash. That’s not even including a down payment! So if we offer $15k above an asking price, we are looking at shelling out $15k, plus our downpayment– something we cannot do.

Add that to the fact that housing prices have risen 5% since Anthony was born (no joke), and 15.5% since last year (AGH!), and we decided to step up the timeline on “The Plan”, before the market here locks us out.

Back to my story– we toured two homes, the only two that we might have a chance at. You see, it’s hard to have a chance on a Short Sale or an REO, because the bank makes the final decision, not the seller. And a bank will ALWAYS go with who has the most cash, not who was first, who wants it most, who is offering the most, etc. That’s the frustrating truth.

One of the houses we toured had only been on the market for 3 days and is pretty much our PERFECT ideal. 4 bedrooms, fixer upper in all the right ways (to our un-trained eyes, anyways), on a HUGE 1/2 acre lot, 5 minutes from school, and on a big hill with an incredible view! It even has a few details that I love– knotty wood beam ceilings (no icky popcorn ceilings!) and a rock fire pit on the back patio!

So, Friday morning, we put in an offer. Since our realtor believes that the house is very under-priced, we offered $11k more than asking, so that the extra could be used towards our downpayment, freeing up our funds for repairs.

As of Tuesday, they accepted our offer! It was a little scary, down to the wire, because at the last minute a cash investor came forward who was willing to pay for the entire thing with CASH and wanted to keep the tenants! I told you this market was scary!

And then, we got some more scary news yesterday. Since the house was, at one point, part of a lawsuit, it’s a “Sheriff’s Sale”, meaning that the party who lost the house has a 6 month redemption period. According to CA law, the seller cannot acquire the deed until that 6 month redemption period is over. And no title company will insure the title until that 6 months is up.

The problem was that we had no idea when the 6 months had begun. Did this mean our escrow couldn’t even BEGIN until 6 months had passed?

As of this morning, it looks like we can acquire the deed at the end of November, which would probably put our closing date sometime in December. A little later than we wanted, but hey, if we can make it work, we will!

We really believe that this house is a good deal, seeing as all the houses around it are going for $100k more, just because they have landscaping and curb appeal. If the market keeps appreciating as well, it should be a great investment!

We have our friend who is a contractor coming out to the property tomorrow morning to see if there are any “deal-breaker” repairs that he can see, and also to give us a rough quote for the kinds of repairs we want (kitchen remodel, new floors, portico off the front door for curb appeal, etc.). Everything depends on how much money we’re going to have to shell out in order to repair it. The current tenants LOVE living there and didn’t want to leave, so that says good things about the house!

So, for now, we are calling this our “Maybe” House. So many things between now and December could happen, many more than usual sale-escrow transactions to deal with, so we are taking this one day at a time!

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t at least grateful our initial offer got accepted 🙂


*Interesting Side Note #1: The street this house is on is the SAME STREET where Jesse was born, 29 years ago!

**Interesting Side Note #2: The realtor representing this house is the SAME realtor who has represented multiple friends of ours, including the Bartels! She knows our families, and really wants things to work in our favor!

***Interesting Side Note #3: The husband of the realtor representing the house also manages a few rental properties. I toured one of them in November of last year. He and I chatted for a bit, and he said to me, “Why on earth are you guys looking to rent instead of buy? Don’t make someone like me rich! Go buy a house! Now’s the time!” Partly due to this conversation, we started trying to buy a house!

Camping #2 with 2 babies!

It was always our desire to finish off the summer with ONE last camping trip. It was previously scheduled for the weekend before school started (our anniversary weekend), but we postponed it at the last minute.

Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early and drove 2.5 hours to Wheeler Gorge, a campground right outside of Ojai (a small town 30 min. inland from Santa Barbara, for those who don’t know a lot about CA).

Quick travel tip for those with young kids: we try to always leave early in the morning, before they’re accustomed to being up, because they are sleepy and do well in the car. My analogy is this: you harvest honey in the morning, while the bees are still dozing, right? So that you don’t get stung?

Although the Shelbys were also set to join us, their daughter got super sick last minute and they ended up spending the weekend nursing her back to health 😦 But we did get Ben!

Overall…the campground was a LITTLE too hot for my taste. It was over 90 during the day, and only cooled off to around 75 at night. We didn’t even end up sleeping inside of our sleeping bags! Practically, this worked out well since whenever we camp (or whenever else, for that matter!) I co-sleep with Anthony and don’t use covers in order to be safe. So it worked out well for me!

Also, the stream wasn’t deep enough for swimming, just minor wading, which was a bit of a bummer (although I had Anthony strapped to me in the Mei Tai the whole time, so I’m not sure how that would have worked anyways…?). G LOVED the river. As in, “throw me in some cold water, Dad! I’m totally DOWN!!”

One other minor hiccup…Gregory pulled a stubborn streak of steel and decided that he would NOT sleep. Seriously. We thought it might have been because he could hear us talking around the campfire, but when we all transitioned to the tent around midnight, he STILL wouldn’t sleep! What on earth? I’ve never seen him so stubborn. He glared back at Jesse and directly disobeyed him for over an hour, as Jesse tried to be firm without also letting G wake up the entire campground with his high pitched screaming. I fell asleep in the middle of it all…when I woke up around 6, his pack n play was empty, so I started searching the tent for him. I found him curled up into a ball, no blankets, in the corner of the tent. I think somewhere in there Jesse must’ve given up and let G “do his thing” until he dropped…which he *eventually* did!

Good morning!

Between the 4 of us (G included) we finished off EIGHTEEN eggs!

You can see in G’s eyes how much of a toll that late night of stubbornness took on him!

Gregory and Momma!

Taking down the chairs

As always, the great imitator!

Gregory was gettin cranky, so while the boys took down the tents, I walked G around. You can see Anthony in the background, sleeping like an angel. Tough life…

After we were done packing up, we used some of the leftover water to hose down the mess-that-was-Gregory

Despite the fact that the water was COLD, he loved it!


On the way home, we all stopped in Ventura at Panera Bread….this picture probably gives you an idea of how tired the boys were!

Playing Church

Two videos, courtesy of my new IPhone 4S!!!

In this first video, Gregory is kissing one his favorite icons– a diptych featuring Mary/Jesus on one side (sidenote: in the Orthodox church, Mary is never pictured without Jesus, as He is the reason she is important in the first place) and Saint George on the other. This explains why he says, “Mama” and “Wee” for the one side (Mama and Baby) and then “Go-Go” (George) for the other!

Also, Gregory has started making the sign of the cross at people…it’s adorable. He’s saying, “Holy God” throughout.

2 makes perfect

I never knew it was possible to have two favorites. Now that I’m the lucky mom of these two adorable boys, I completely understand!

Side Note: Pretty much everywhere we go, people oooh and aaaahhh over how cute these two are. It’s amazing how much more attention two cuties get than one!

Fun Fact: If you buy an adult-sized Jamba Juice, they will put 4 oz. in a tiny cup for your toddler 🙂

This is the face he puts on when he’s intentionally trying to smile for the camera (he’s all about letting me take his picture, then looking at himself on the screen). His adorable sweet face makes me melt every time.

Anthony’s loving his Bumbo chair lately! Can’t believe we’re already here! And get a look at those arm rolls! I DID THAT! 🙂

I get to wake up next to this every morning. Definitely not a bad gig! 😉

Oh my

I pretty much just hurt myself laughing. You really must go to this blog and read the whole story!


It’s been really hot here this past month.  For about two weeks, it was always over 100 degrees during the day, and only cooling to about 75-80 at night.

After the first few days, we broke our no-air-conditioning streak and started turning it on often. From about 4pm on, the A/C was set to 68 degrees. Since the cool evening air wasn’t enough to cool our entire upstairs, we even left the A/C on at night, as it is impossible for me to get a good night’s sleep if I feel sweaty and gross.

Needless to say, we have been expecting something quite a bit more than our typical $19/month electricity bill.

When our bill is ready, PG&E sends me an email. I got our bill yesterday.

“Uhoh, Jesse. I got our electricity bill here.”

“What! Is it bad? Oh no. Don’t tell me.”

“It’s much higher. Obviously. We used our A/C a lot this month.”

“Let me guess, $200? $150? $250?”

You have to understand. Having lived in TX for 4 years, we only think of utility bills in 3 digits. Our typical electricity bill in the summer and winter months, for a newly-built 2 bedroom apartment, was around $250. In other words, it was like a car payment.

I let Jesse agonize for a while longer, saying things like, “Wow, it makes sense, I mean, we used it a ton….”

Then I broke it to him.


That’s it.

Granted, that’s almost 2x more than the month before.

But still.

Added to our gas bill of $13, we’re really breaking the bank over here…

Moral of the story: never underestimate the value of living in smaller square footage with great insulation!l