Tag Archives: Friends

New job, new hobby

Its been a while since we have updated the blog. Jen, Peyton and I are still settling into the new house. As spring has come around, we did something we’ve never done before. We turned off the heat and air conditioning. The house, because of how its built, is near steady temperature during this time of year and so we occasionally open a window to cool things down, but for the most part, the house is feeling great. We are also spending a lot of time on our screened back porch and talking. We have cut off the TV and we’re spending time in conversation and I am really enjoying that.

A little over a month ago, Jen began a new job at Coastal Carolina University (our alma mater) as their Sustainability Coordinator. She’s settling into her new opportunity and its going great. She has a lot of supportive students and staff and that’s making the work enjoyable. It is keeping her busy and there is a lot to do around campus building upon the success of her predecessor.

And last week, Peyton began gymnastics classes on Wednesday evenings. She’s so super excited about it and wants to show us both all that she has learned after class. Jen took her last week and she’s asked me to come this week so that we can both watch. She really really enjoys it and it was her choice of what to do. We will try to post some photos and video of her in coming weeks.

But things are doing pretty well in the Sellers house. More to come soon.

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2010 year in review

** I started writing this in December, but I never was able to bring myself to finish this entry. 2010 was a tough year. 2011 is a fresh year and as sad as it is to move on from some things, its truly a fresh start in many ways. — March 21, 2011 **

2010 is going to be remembered as very tough year.  There were personal highs and very deep lows this year in our lives.  This year will be the year of a new beginning with our house.  We celebrated the house with some close friends on Saturday night to celebrate and thank them all for their support, love and help along the way as we have gone through the process of building.  Without them, we couldn’t have completed the build.  And that was a large, very good night for us to celebrate. It represents a big milestone in our lives. As part of that night, we asked each of them to bring a photo for our family and friends wall. Its one of the final touches we are adding to our house. We purchased a “tree of life” metal wall sculpture made by a local artist as the focal point of that wall and we are surrounding the tree with photos of all the people who are most special to us. The photos we adding at the party were just the beginning as we have lots more people to add to our wall. These strong relationships are so valued and needed for us to be healthy and their support in the last year has helped us pull through some difficult times. Continue reading 2010 year in review

Landscaping has been added

Landscaping has been added around our house and the driveway has been created.  Our friend, Robbie Prince, and his company, Carolina Outdoor, has been on-site this week and working on building flower beds around the house and putting in bushes and flowers.  He suggested Magnolia trees at the corners fo the house, holly bushes, loropetalum, and a crepe myrtle at the corner of the back porch.   We are extremely happy with the results.  He will be adding mulch to the beds today and finishing up.

House completed, and we’ve moved

What a busy month it has been.  Our house was completed on October 30 and we received our certificate of occupancy.  The next day, we celebrated Peyton’s birthday and we were able to show the house off to Jen’s parents who came into town for the birthday celebration.

After receiving the certificate of occupancy, we still had a few minor things to be completed in the house – trim paining and the such – but all the major construction was completed.

We moved in the following week and although we planned to move furniture and rent a truck on Saturday, with the help of some of our fantastic friends, we were able to move in the last furniture late on Friday night.  My cousin Brett, his wife Trina, and our friends Annie, Madelyn and Russell all were huge helps in moving us in so quickly, as well as unboxing when we got to the new house.  My mom and dad came in on Friday during the day and helped unbox and move some of the bigger furniture, too.

Saturday night, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner welcoming us to the neighborhood.  Our neighbor and friend Kendall fixed prime rib on the grill.  Tammy and Kendall hosted all of us so that we could meet our neighbors and celebrate our new house.  Tammy also prayed for and asked for blessing over our new home.  Afterwards, we gave a tour to my cousin Amanda and her boyfriend Justin – and they helped us unpack some more afterwards.

Peyton is really enjoying her new room.  She loves sleeping in there — and a bad habit she developed in the rental house has disappeared.  A lot of nights in the rental, she would come into our room during the night – around 3am – but that hasn’t happened once in the new house.  She loves her room and is really comfortable in it.

I’ll be posting some new photos soon of the completed house.

Slab poured, foundation complete — now time for some walls!

To my delight, I drove out to the new homesite and found that the slab has been poured for the house and both porches.  When I got out to the site, the crew was busy taking down the edges of the porches and setting everything up to cure.  I am so excited that everything is poured.  Our family Bible has been encased in concrete in the block foundation under what will become our front door.  Friends of ours suggested how cool it would have been to slide in some photos along with the Bible, so that has lead us to a new idea for our kitchen – aka the heart of the home – but that will stay an surprise for now.

The bank called and we are approved

The bank called yesterday, and we received our second appraisal.  This time, the appraisal was in line with our costs to build and so the project is back on track.  We are excited to report that Conway National Bank has worked out great for us with our building project.  Given the appraisal results, we are in good shape to handle the cost of the build and anything that may come up, as well as pay off the small amount we owe on the land.  Right now, the feeling of relief is just settling in and we are just now realizing that the project is going to finally happen.  Jen and I had both mostly given up after a bad appraisal, a second bank turning us away and a third bank deciding that they didn’t like the amount of cash reserves we had (and giving no credit for having zero consumer debt!).

A few things that I have learned along this process:

  1. Banks don’t care that you are debt free.  When figuring your credit worthiness for a construction loan or mortgage, they want to see that you are less than x% gross incoming to debt with the loan.  Having no additional debt did not help us…  Because banks allow another 10% of your gross income towards the additional consumer debts.  I found, at least in our case, you are better off saving your money than accelerating your payoffs on consumer debt.
  2. Freddy Mac and Fannie May loans for construction are extremely difficult to get unless you have large cash reserves today.  While I think construction is the best way to put people back to work, banks or the government seem not to agree because they have made it nearly impossible for the average American to get one of these loans – unless you can put down 30% of the cost of the home.
  3. I had to work with local banks on in-house loans.  Although this means a two-time close, and probably higher closing costs, I was able to find terms that were much more workable to our situation.
  4. Appraisals are screwy right now.  This has little to do with who is doing the appraisal, and more to do with the market.   There is no delineation between a foreclosure, short sale and conventional transaction for appraisers.  Its all one big pool and so the foreclosure and short sales have brought everyone down (yes, I know — no duh! — read or watch the news).  But, I have also heard that appraisers are also doing their part and being intentionally conservative with the comps that they use on the appraisal.  I don’t know how true this is, but based on what I have been told and the results of our first appraisal – I find it to be true…
  5. There is no replacement for relationships.  Throughout the financing process, the places that have worked best for us were the places where the people knew me, knew my extended family (or friends), and knew my reputation.
  6. My credit score didn’t really matter…  Yes, I know this sounds really odd, but CNB didn’t care about my credit score.  They cared about my credit file and looked at each account and how it was managed and handled.  Jen and I both had excellent credit scores, and my past experiences led me to believe that these were good enough.
  7. Its a tough time for everyone.  Although Jen and I have been largely insulated from the financial meltdown for the last few years, we were greatly affected by it while shopping for financing.

We are extremely excited to be moving forward.

VMworld 2009 and San Francisco family trip

I was fortunate to get the opportunity to travel to San Francisco for work to attend VMworld.  It was my first trip to the West coast and we had a great time.  Jen has family living just north of San Francisco and visiting the area has been a trip we’ve been talking about since we got married.  So, we decided to join the two events.

My conference ran from Monday, Aug 31 until Thursday, Sept 3.  Jen, Peyton and I flew in a couple days early and we were able to meet a college friend, Tammy, and enjoy the San Francisco Zoo.  We were also able to spend an afternoon playing in the park at Moscone Center and getting ourselves familiar with the section of the city we were staying in — Union Square area.  I was impressed with the area.

Our hotel was on Powell Street, one of the cable car lines in the city — which runs all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf.  On the same street as the cable car turn-around, we had the electric street cars and BART available for transit.  I think we used all of the above at some point during our trip.  We used the BART to get to our hotel from the SFO airport.  It was no DC Metro, but it got the job done — cheaply.

Jen’s parents joined us for their first trip to the West coast in nearly 30 years.  They flew in on Tuesday and stayed at a hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf.  Jen and Peyton could take the street cars or cable cars there during the day and they had a lot of fun site seeing and touring the area.  Jen’s aunt — Jim’s sister — Jeanette picked up her parents from the airport and took all of us on a tour of the city.   The whole family, minus me, spent one day visiting UC Berkley and that area across the bay.  Jim graduated from UC Berkley with an engineering degree, so it was good for him to see his alma mater and for Jen to get to visit it, too.

My conference wrapped on Thursday afternoon (coverage on the conference and my experiences are over on my tech blog).  We took a tour of the city a bit, were able to take some photos and then we headed to family dinner in Tiburon — at Jeanette’s house.

We took a boat tour from Fisherman’s Wharf one evening.  The trip took us from the wharf out the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge, under it briefly and then back to Alcatrez and back.  The bridge and the ‘rock’ were very cool to see – up close and personal from the water.

We moved hotels from the city to Tiburon, too, that day.  We stayed in the The Lodge at Tiburon, where Janet and Jim stayed after their wedding 34 years earlier.  It is at the foot of the mountain where St. Hilary’s Church, where they were married, and Jeanette and Bill’s house is located next to the church on the hillside.  The Inn was a nice place with a pool, fireplaces and a great restaurant.

Tiburon was fantastic.  I think we all enjoyed our time there.  It was relaxing and beautiful.  We were lucky to be in town for the annual Labor Day parade and music in the park.  We enjoyed a beautiful Saturday afternoon with music and the local parade.

We had a great dinner one evening at a restaurant on the bay with Jeanette, Bill and cousin Merrill.   Merrill also treated us to a home-cooked dinner at her and Tinman’s beautiful townhouse.

As for sites, we visited Muir Woods one day.  It is a redwood forest just north of San Francisco.  It was really cool to see these huge towering trees.  It was peaceful and serene.   The trees were amazing.

Of course, we visited and took photos with the Golden Gate from the Marin Headlands and the visitor’s center just on the Sausalito side of the bay.  I noticed on a couple trips back and forth across the bridge that they were painting the bridge.  I’m told that once they finish, they have to start again painting the bridge – its a constant process.

We attended the Sausalito Art Festival on Monday with Merrill and got to see some of that area too.  There were lots of great artists and the festival was great – more music and food.  We also got a chance to see the San Francisco Bay model – a several acre model of the tidal basins and San Francisco bay.  It was used by the US Army Corps of Engineers to simulate changes in the bay and ecological impact of changes to the bay.

Jen planned a special trip for me one day and we traveled south of San Francisco to Cupertino – home of Apple, Inc.  We were able to visit the company store and drive around the campus and see the buildings where all these wonderful Apple products I enjoy were designed and created.   We also drove through Mountain View – home of Google – on our way down.  It was my first visit to Silicon Valley and was pretty cool to see headquarters for many of the major tech companies that we use at work and home.

All in all, it was a great trip.  We enjoyed getting to see family, friends, the sites and enjoy life.  It was an excellent break from things and maybe it was the thousands of miles in between, but we really got away from everything…

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