House Hunters: Silicon Valley

Since I arrived in California a week ago I have had one mission: FIND US A HOUSE. We are currently living in corporate housing, which has actually been sort of amazing. Our apartment complex is not too shabby…in fact, I think it might actually be a five-star resort and they just gave us keys to the wrong place. But I’m not complaining.

In a few weeks, though, we’re getting kicked out of the resort (er…apartment) so we need to find something more permanent. The rental market here is crazy (I have literally been on the computer when a house is listed, called the agent, requested a viewing for that afternoon and gotten a call back before my scheduled viewing saying that the house has already been rented). The houses, if they’re any good at all, are available one minute and then gone before you can dress the kids, go to the bathroom, lug your diaper bag down to the parking garage and buckle the car seats.

But that doesn’t really matter anyway, because nobody wants to rent to you if you have a dog (which we do) because they’re afraid the dog’s nails will scratch up their brand new hardwood floors (which they will). Oh, and another thing. The rent here is expensive. Shockingly so. And, so, it’s been a week of many deep breaths and faith and pleading with landlords to just consider our sweet dog and “let’s try this again’s”.

After many dead-ends, we have finally come to a place where we have some good housing options. I now present to you 3 of our top-contenders in this edition of House Hunters: Silicon Valley. Now that we’ve narrowed it down, maybe you can help us out. Which is your favorite?

House #1: Santa Clara Luxury Apartment

IMG_8864 Description: This is the apartment we’re living in now, our corporate housing “resort”. It is located in Santa Clara.  Our apartment is on the third floor and has 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms. If we decide we don’t want to move, we can just stay here (or in one of the other thousands of apartments just like it that are run by the same apartment company).
Monthly Rent: I don’t even know, but there are a lot of Ferraris in the parking garage.
Pros: 5 salt water swimming pools, huge central park with running trails/playground/fields/basketball/tennis; free yoga/Zumba/spin classes in the state-of-the art on-site exercise facilities; on-site movie theater with free movies every week; on-site Starbucks/pizza place/taco restaurant; brand new apartment with all the bells and whistles.
Cons: We’re on the third floor, which means every time the dog needs out or we have to leave the house it is a 20-minute ordeal to dress and pack up the children, walk 3 flights of stairs/wait for the ridiculously slow elevator, and get outside; 30-45 minute commute to Jon’s office (and we all know how much he LOVES traffic…); no yard for playing or entertaining; only 1 reserved parking spot

House #2: Los Gatos “Big House”

Audrey big house Description: Located on the border of Campbell and Los Gatos on a quiet dead-end street (there’s an elementary school at the end of the road). The house has an open floor plan with 3 bedrooms/2 baths. There is also a detached 3+ car garage/utility room.
Monthly Rent: An arm and a leg
Pros: By far the biggest house we’ve seen with spacious bedrooms that we might actually be able to fit beds into AND two family rooms that you could actually fit furniture into; fully fenced yard with a covered patio, grassy play area, and a separate “hot tub” patio that is just waiting for a sandbox (or maybe a new hot tub!); weekly gardening service included (because, in California, apparently that sort of thing is considered standard); brand new stainless steel appliances in the kitchen; a ginormous detached garage with wall-to-wall storage, a full fridge/freezer, and a utility sink; in a great school district
Cons: At the top end of our budget; moderate commute to work (15-20 minutes); we have to provide our own washer and dryer; can’t walk to Starbucks in under 5 minutes

House #3: San Jose Remodel

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Description: A newly remodeled home (as in, they’re still finishing the remodel this week) in the heart of Silicon Valley. 3 bedrooms/2 bath with an attached 1 car garage and a fully fenced back yard with mature fruit trees. There is also a large workshop/storage shed in the back yard.
Monthly Rent: #allthemoneyIMG_9022
Pros: Fully remodeled with state of the art appliances, newly tiled bathrooms, fresh paint, and new hardwood floors; great location in a quiet neighborhood 10 minutes from Jon’s work; plenty of storage; wood stove for all of those cold California summers; window seat in the dining area off the kitchen; brand new washer and dryer included; separate den in addition to the bedrooms; great price for the area
Cons: Small bedrooms; shop/shed is directly outside the back door so it would be difficult to see the kids if they were playing outside and I was inside; no air conditioning; kitchen is mostly closed off from the rest of the house

Sound off! Which one would YOU choose? We’re signing a lease on one of these beauties this weekend, and our choice will be revealed tomorrow 🙂

 

 

 

We’re Moving To California!?!

Yep, that’s right, we’re moving to California–and we’re just as shocked and surprised as you are. What was supposed to be a two-year stint in Ireland will be cut off right after the one-year mark. So, how did all of this come about? I’m glad you asked.

A few months ago Jon was contacted by a recruiter from Apple Computer. He wasn’t actually looking for a new job at the time, but he was willing to talk to the guy and hear him out. He had some interesting job opportunities available in Jon’s field, so the conversations continued. In fact, the conversations continued for several months and they finally convinced Jon to fly out for a face-to-face interview (which, by the way, is not easy to coordinate when you live half-way around the world and your current employer doesn’t know you’re interviewing for another job so you can’t ask for time off work so you have to fly all the way to California on a Friday, but your connecting flight out of London happens to be cancelled, then they have to re-route you to Boston, you spend the night in an airport, you arrive in San Francisco after your interview is scheduled to begin, you make it to the interview and spend 12 hours being grilled on technical questions even though you haven’t slept in 3 days, then you fly back to Ireland the next day and have be at work again on Monday morning).

After all this, Apple issued a hiring freeze for the team Jon had interviewed with…and nothing happened. No job offer, no more interviews, no more anything. So, we decided to move on.

At this point we had kind of set our hearts on moving back to the States, so we started working with Jon’s current company to coordinate our move back to Seattle. They were very understanding and helped get the ball rolling for the Big Move. We even had movers scheduled to come out to our house in Ireland a couple of weeks ago (June 26th) so we could have our first official moving assessment completed. Then, three days before the movers were supposed to show up, we got a phone call.

Apple was back, and this time they had a job offer. The hiring freeze was over, and Jon was the first person they called. They wanted to hire him. The job would be an incredible opportunity–both for Jon in his career and for our family–so we decided to go for it.  And that is how–literally overnight–we went from living in Ireland and potentially moving back to Seattle to being ready to move to California.

Our move will be happening the last week of July, so we still have a few more weeks to enjoy the Irish summer. This has been an unexpected week in what I’m sure will turn in to a very unexpected year for us. There are so many details of this turn of events that are evidence of God’s hand in our lives. Many, many prayers have been answered and we are truly grateful and humbled by the whole thing.

And even though we are thrilled, we are also a bit nervous and a bit sad. Nervous for having to uproot our family and start over in a new place yet again. Sad to be leaving Ireland after one short year. Even though our time here has been brief, we have cultivated new friendships and have started to grow our roots–shallow as they may be– in the community. Leaving now feels premature, and I know that I will be leaving a piece of my heart here in Ireland. There are so many things and so many people that we will miss dearly when we move. And yet, it is time.

On the other hand, we are also looking forward to continuing another adventure that we had left behind. It has been almost exactly 4 years to the day since we left our tiny apartment in Palo Alto and moved back up to Washington. Even though it hasn’t been that long, that season of our life seems like it was a whole lifetime ago. Since then we’ve had two babies, Jon and I have both had career changes (he went from grad student to worker, and I went from worker to Mommy), and we’ve moved to Ireland. It will be so fun to return to the Bay Area, reconnect with old friends…and soak in the California sunshine (I’m thinking we may just campout in someone’s back yard for the first few months so I never have to go inside!).

I will post moving updates here on the blog, so check back if you want to see our progress.  Thanks for all of your support, friends, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us in this next adventure!

 

iPhone Controls I’d Like To Use On My Kids

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I love my iPhone. Maybe a bit too much. It is always with me, waking or sleeping, handy and ready should I need it. Now that we are living in a different time zone from many of our family and friends, however, I have discovered that this wonderful little device can be quite a nuisance if not properly controlled. It took me a few weeks of midnight Facebook updates popping up on my screen and 2 AM phone calls ringing through before I discovered the “Do Not Disturb” icon (genius, whoever came up with that one). All I have to do is set up the hours that I don’t want to be bothered with beeps or buzzes or rings and I get to sleep through the night with my (dark and silent) phone beside my pillow. And that got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if I could transfer some of those iPhone controls onto my kids and my life? For instance…

IMG_3471Do Not Disturb:

I would love to have a button I could push that would keep my kids from bothering me between certain hours. It’s bed time, NO DISTURBING MOMMY. No whines, cries, or shouts allowed. No “I have to go potty” or “I want another drink” may be uttered. No baby in the process of “sleep training” (sheesh, is sleep training supposed to last 13 months???) who screeches from 4:30-5:30 every morning. No dog who barks at 3 AM when a cat runs through the back yard. Just silence. Sweet, sweet silence.

IMG_3470Privacy:

I have a 1-year old and a nearly 3-year old. I haven’t known privacy since the moment I went into labor with my first child. Sometimes I find myself dreaming about taking a shower or going to the bathroom by myself. With the door shut. And nobody crying and banging on the door trying to get in. Just me, alone, experiencing privacy. I want an icon on my life that says “Do not look. Do not touch. Leave me alone. I will contact you when I am darn well ready.”

IMG_3472Settings:

How awesome would it be to program your life to your exact specifications? I would check off boxes in my settings like no temper tantrums, no arguing, no complaining, no brother-hitting, no floor-licking, and no poop on the floor. I would set the day to include lots of fun and laughter and good food and good attitudes. Words like “I love you”, “please”, “thank you”, and “this broccoli is delicious, Mom” would be thrown around freely. I would schedule nap times–and the kids would actually sleep. I would set up my to-do list and everything would be crossed off by the end of the day.

IMG_3467Airplane Mode:

I would change this one slightly to be “transportation mode”, rather than just “airplane mode”. Transportation mode would allow me to control my kids’ behavior while we’re in transit. They would play happily in their seats, sing songs with me, and enjoy watching cloud animals out their windows. They would come up with creative ways to pass the time in the car or the shopping cart that did not involve kicking me. They would fall asleep in their car seats if it was naptime instead of becoming manic-depressive lunatics. They would not throw shoes at the windshield. They would respect the driver’s need to, you know, drive.

IMG_3474Navigation:

Sometimes, as a mother, I would just like some guidance. Someone to come alongside me and show me the way. And if I get lost (which I often do), to redirect me and get me back on the right path. Being a mom is one of the best parts of my life (despite the rants in this post)–but it is also, far and away, the most difficult (again, see the rants in this post). It would be amazing to–in a what-should-I-do parenting moment–to click a button and see the best solution. Or (and this happens, too), to see the best way to fix a problem I’ve already created.

If two kids have taught me anything, it’s that I can’t parent them (effectively) alone. I need guidance. Thankfully, I have my own parenting “navigation tool” of sorts–and it’s even closer to me than my iPhone. I have Jesus and God’s Word, ready and handy at all times.

And, if I get really desperate, there’s an app for that, too.

DIY iDad Father’s Day/Birthday Card For A Tech-Savvy Dad

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My kids are incredibly lucky. They have an amazing daddy who loves them with all of his heart. He does so much for all of us, and I want to make sure that he knows how much we appreciate him.

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With Father’s Day coming up, I decided to make him an extra-special one-of-a-kind card that is suited just to him. Jon is, shall we say, a “techy” guy. He is an electrical engineer, so all things technology-oriented are right up his alley. He loves gadgets–and he loves no other gadgets more than his iDevices. This week I counted up the Apple devices currently in use in our house and we have 13 of them. THIRTEEN! Yes, the man loves his iThings. Nothing seemed more appropriate, then, than an Apple-inspired Father’s Day card.

I call this the “iDad” (kinda looks like an iPad…hehe!). This is not a totally original idea, but I thought it would make a cute Father’s Day (or birthday!) card. Here’s the how-to if you want to give it a try:

DIY iDad Father’s Day Card

Materials:
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  • 2 pieces each of black and white cardstock (Or you can do a cardstock hack like I did. I just printed off two black rectangles from my computer and glued them to old file folders. I glued plain white computer paper to the back side of the file folders and cut them out so that one side was black and the other side was white.)
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Xacto knife or box cutter (and a cutting mat or other cutting surface, NOT your nice dining room table!)
  • white crayon or colored pencil
  • standard white glue and/or spray adhesive glue
  • app icons (I printed mine from this site. I just did a Google search for app icons and looked under images–there were lots of pictures to choose from. I also printed off some small photos of Jon and the boys that I cut down to the same size as the app icons.)

Directions:

  • Glue your black and white cardstock back-to-back so one side is black and the other side is white. I used spray adhesive glue for this because it dries quickly, sticks better, and leaves no wrinkles, but standard glue would work just fine. After the glue has dried, cut each piece down to the same size (whatever size you want your card to be).
  • Cut out the app icons you want to use and arrange them on top of one piece of black cardstock. I used 12 app icons on my card. Once you have them set up how you like them, glue each app icon into place.
  • Use the white crayon to draw the home button under the app icons. If you want to, you can also put an apple on the other piece of black cardstock (I happened to have apple stickers lying around from one of our many Apple product purchases).
  • Using an xacto knife, cut down the sides and bottom of each app icon so you can lift them from the bottom like a tab (do NOT cut the top of the app icon).
  • After you have cut each app icon into a tab, glue the two pieces of cardstock together back-t0-back so the black side is showing on each side. Make sure you don’t put any glue on the back of the app icons! Put something heavy on top of the card and let it dry flat for a few hours.
  • After your card is dry, lift each app icon tab and write a little Father’s Day sentiment. Under my tabs I wrote things like “Happy Father’s Day” (for the notes app), “We love you!” (for the photo of Jon with our boys), “You’re off the charts!” (for a stock quote app), and “Father’s Day: June 16, 2013” (for the calendar app).

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  • Present your card to Dad and watch his little techy heart melt!
The "iDad" card next to a real iPad. Can you tell which is which? :)

The “iDad” card next to a real iPad. Can you tell which is which? 🙂

To all of you amazing father’s out there, thank you for all that you do! Enjoy your special day, dads!