Sunday, April 3, 2016

Adventures in Homeownership: LiverMORE House

Yes. The Plattner Family is on the move. Again. This time to Livermore, California. It is exciting. And new.

We weren't really looking to move. I mean, yes, we did talk about it. We planned on moving eventually, but we were in no hurry. It all started when I looked at a website about the development being built on Communications Hill. The builder had some information online, but what caught my eye was a side-bar ad with the text "Ideal commuter location; conveniently located near I-580 and Livermore ACE train station." As I mentioned in a previous post, the Silicon Valley is getting more crowded, and the commute is getting worse. Knowing how much Aaron hates traffic, and loves public transit, I decided to click through. As I searched, and google mapped, I realized that this development was being built right next to the ACE train station. Not just conveniently nearby, but, like, right next to the station. It's eight-minutes-walking-from-the-front-door-to-the-platform close. We decided to check it out. And, after a lot of soul-searching and conversing and deliberating, we decided that it was time to make a change and move our family to Livermore.

I have to admit, I am pretty excited to be moving to Livermore. Afterall, it is "California's oldest wine region." And I do enjoy a nice cold glass of white wine. Being able to walk to a local tasting room is not too shabby. After a few visits to the area, and some online sleuthing, we realized that Livermore is a cute city with a lot to offer. It has a growing downtown area that seems both family friendly and great for date nights. It also looks like Livermore has a flourishing arts community -- there is even a local orchestra and a recital hall. The schools seem to be quite good, and they seem to have some really good recreational offerings even for babies and toddlers.  Livermore has more of a small town feel, like Turlock does. Small town feel with larger city amenities.

Our new house is a part of a new KB Home Development called Vineyard Crossing. It is a large planned development community. When the community is done, there will be two large parks and a walking path around the whole thing. Our new house is going to be two doors down from one of the two parks. (Granted, it is basically a water drainage park, but it's grass I don't have to mow, so it's pretty sweet!) 

We've chosen a home in what is being called the Reserves, which features larger single family homes. Our new home, Plan 3, is approximately 2,200 square feet. It will have five bedrooms and three bathrooms. The main living space and our guest room will be downstairs, with spacious bedrooms and laundry upstairs. Having this space will give us a guest room and a wonderful office for Aaron. (And, while he likely doesn't realize it yet, that will be half mine. Hello to my craft space not in the living room!) The rooms are a really good size, and the master is beautiful. Not only is it huge, it features a spacious balcony overlooking the hills of Livermore. The main living space is a great room style space, with a living area, kitchen, and dining all within a single glance. This will be lovely for watching the boys while cooking dinner. (Don't laugh. I won't have an excuse not to cook anymore. Maybe.) Off of the main living space is our (teeny-tiny) backyard. It's small, but it is outdoor space. Our outdoor space. It's big enough for Ethan to run around and throw a ball in. Someday it may even house a hot tub. One of the coolest parts about our new home is that our lot is right next to a fire easement. So, while the other homes are only ten feet apart (yikes!) ours will have an extra ten feet of space between them. Did I mention it is still being built? It's really exciting to watch the progress. There really was quite a lot done when we found it, but they are still putting the finishing touches on it.

Move -in day will be before we know it. Once we get settled, you will have to come and check it out for yourself!

January 30, 2016
January 30, 2016

February 9, 2016 
February 9, 2016 

February 9, 2016 

February 9, 2016 

February 9, 2016 

February 9, 2016 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Adventures in Homeownership: Movin' On Up

 Aaron and I have been in our cute little San Jose townhouse for a little over four years. And it's been a wonderful four years. This house will always have special meaning to us. It was the first home we purchased together, just a few short months after we got married. We brought Ethan and Henry home to this house. We've celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and promotions. We've hosted holiday parties and gatherings. We've made friends with our neighbors. Our little townhouse is full of love and cherished memories. 

For the last four years, San Jose has been our home. But it's a funny thing about homes and houses. It doesn't really matter where it is. What matters is that you are with the ones you love.
“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
― Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye
Now that the boys are getting bigger, our needs are changing. As our family grows, it has become increasingly cramped. With two babies, we were running out of space. Our office spaces are encroaching on our living spaces, and our living spaces were quickly filling up with kid-friendly materials. But the community is growing, too. This means our commutes were getting worse, as more and more people moved to the area. Getting to our work places was taking us longer and longer, and sitting in traffic is no fun at all when you know you have super-cute little dudes waiting for you at home. And as Ethan gets older, I find myself longing for at least a little backyard that boys can play in with ease.

The thing is that we weren't really looking for something new, or for somewhere new, it kinda just presented itself. We had talked about moving someday; we knew that our cute little townhouse was not our forever home. We figured on a five year plan. We knew that we'd want to find a single-family home, something with a little more space and fewer stairs, and maybe that cute little backyard. And, if I am being honest, I was always looking at houses online. I liked keeping my eye on the market if for no other reason than so that I wouldn't miss something awesome. But with one eye on the market, we also knew that we had little hope of getting any closer to my work, or Aaron's work. If we wanted our ideal single-family home, we'd only be moving farther away. The big question is how far. 

If you have known us for a while, you know that Aaron commuted all the way to Santa Clara from Turlock. It was three hours. Each way. He loved taking the train to work, but the extra, extra long commute was taking a toll on him. That is how we came to find this house in San Jose. But with the traffic getting worse, the idea of taking public transit (even if it took a bit longer) seemed like a really exciting proposition. And that, my friends, is how we found our new house. 

Yes. The Plattner Family is on the move. Again. This time to Livermore, California. It is exciting. And new. And because there is just so much to say, I will share more details about our new home in another post. 

We are really excited about this new chapter in our lives. As they say, when one door closes another opens. And this door opens to a beautiful new home, in a lovely area. Of course it will be extremely difficult to leave everything we have now. I'm going to miss our San Jose home. It's super cute. The kitchen is fabulous. The house often has a wonderful breeze blowing through it, keeping it nice and cool and airy. I finally feel like I have put my touch on some of the decorating. I especially love Ethan's new big boy room. The location is quiet and really convenient for Aaron to ride his bike to work. We have absolutely wonderful neighbors and a few cute grassy areas for Ethan to play in. But I am sure that the new house will have all of these things and more. And, of course, there is the fact that I will be leaving my job at my wonderful school and leaving my sub status with the big band I love playing in. It's a lot of change. But change is good, right? As they say, without change there would be no butterflies. 

Yesterday, we received an offer on our fabulous townhome. We countered, and the buyers accepted. It makes my heart happy knowing that a cute newlywed couple wanted to call this house their home. Just as Aaron and I started our family in this home, they hope to start a family as well. Soon they will get to start filling it with love and making memories of their own.

For those who didn't get a chance to visit, here are some photos of our San Jose home. What wonderful memories it brought us!
The "Upstairs Living Room"
The dining room looking into the upstairs living room

A view of the dining and kitchen

The upstairs living room and half bath
The half bath downstairs
Ethan's Pixar themed big boy room
Henry's Mickey Mouse themed nursery room
The hall bathroom
Aaron's workspace, office
The master bedroom
The master bathroom 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Adventures in Gratitude: Turkey Lent IV

Photo Credit
Looking back on the last few years, I have been truly blessed. Amazingly, awesomely blessed. Five years ago, when I started this blog, I don't think I could have predicted everything that has happened. There have been so many moments of celebration, but there have been a few moments of trial and tribulation. We have had so much going on that my poor little blog was pretty well neglected. I am hoping to catch up, if for no other reason than I would like a record of all of our wonderful adventures for my kids.

I decided Turkey Lent is a perfect way to re-boot. Yes, I managed to take a three year (!) hiatus from my annual adventure in gratitude, but I am back, baby! Don't get me wrong, I am 9 1/2 months pregnant with a nearly two year old... it's not going to be glitter and glam. I am keeping it real -- I am lucky if I stick with it. But the last few years have really brought about some great change (and will continue to, "Hello Baby#2!"); and with change comes many, many things to be thankful for.

For those of you who might be new to my blog, Here is a little history:
      Every year I blog about what I like to call Turkey-Lent. Yes. I made it up. Much how Christians show penance before Easter through Lent, I have decided to show my gratitude for all of the wonderful things that have surrounded me just before Thanksgiving. Each November, I show my appreciation for all of the things I have by giving up (or greatly reducing my use and/or consumption of) something I love. I believe in gratitude. I believe that we, as both individuals and as a society, should be thankful for all of the wonderful bounty that surrounds us. Food to nourish us. Shelter to protect us. Friends and family to care for us. Because of this, I always appreciate Thanksgiving. But I don't think it is enough. I don't think there should only be one day a year when we decide it is okay to tell everyone what we are thankful for. We should be doing it every day, as often as we can.
      Unable to think of anything to give up that I hadn't already tried (or not concentrating that hard!) the last few years I decided to show my gratitude through various acts of appreciation. I used Facebook and twitter to show the world what I was thankful for, in hopes that other people will be inspired to share their own gratefulness. My goal was to use my Facebook status update and/or Twitter update to share at least one thing I was thankful for. My goal was to do it once a day, from November 1 - Thanksgiving.
      This year I have decided to continue with my goal of public displays of appreciation, as it has indeed become a KWP tradition!
I really wanted to go back to my Turkey-Lent roots and give something up as I had the first few years. Honestly, I was going to type some excuse, (blah, blah, about to have a baby) but it would be just that. So, I am going to try really hard to give up making excuses and live in the moment. Yep, you heard that right. I don't think I make excuses too often, but for some reason I always feel the need give super elaborate reasons why or why not. I am not going to do it any more. I choose to do something, or choose not. I am not going to worry about who I am upsetting, or how it will affect others. I am going to worry about me, and my three boys. I am going to live in the moment and not worry about it. I am always going to try really hard to give up worrying. This is a really big thing for a pregnant woman to try -- so bear with me on this one. But I know I worry about things that I don't need to worry about, or that I just spend too much time thinking about. And I know that it can sometimes adversely affect family time. So, this month, I will give myself a short period of time to reflect and then I will try my best to move on.

But, don't you worry, I am still going to continue with my Random Thoughts of Appreciation. I will publish what I am thankful for every day from here to Thanksgiving (and maybe beyond!)

So, I ask you my dear blog friends... what are you thankful for?

Random Thoughts of Appreciation 2015
  1. Today, Aaron and I were able to enjoy a relaxing afternoon at our favorite sparkling wine house, thanks to my parents. Yes, I am thankful for great service and a good glass of sparkling wine, even if I am not partaking while pregnant. We are blessed to have family who live close to us, and are willing to "play" with Ethan for an afternoon while we have a little date. Thank you, Mom and Dad.  ♥ 
  2. Early (early!) this morning I awoke to rain pouring down outside our cute little house. I am so thankful for the rain. California desperately needs it, but it is also nice just to have a change in the weather. I do love living in California with our fabulous weather! ♥
  3. We, both Aaron and I, have been so very fortunate to work for places we absolutely love doing a job we absolutely love. Aaron's company, NVIDIA, made us feel even more fortunate by increasing the paternity leave benefits for dads. We are so very blessed.  I just wish that the rest of the US would get with the world and start offering better maternity and paternity benefits for all parents. All parents should be as fortunate as we are. ♥
  4. Technology is both a blessing and a curse, but I appreciate it most of the time. Like, when you husband gets a flat tire on his bike, so you can feel better going to pick him up, rather than worrying about how and when he is going to get home. And then you get In N' Out as a treat for dinner, because it was right there, and because it is delicious. ♥
  5. I love two things today -- One. I love having a good dental plan, and clean teeth. I love the feeling of mouth full of clean teeth. Two. Having the ability to take impromptu lunch dates with my husband. I appreciate that we are able to go out and spend time together. I really do love that man...and cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. ♥
  6. Sitting on the couch, relaxing with my boys in my arms... that is quite possibly that best feeling in the whole world. I am truly blessed to have these wonderful gentlemen in my life. I am thankful for every second I get to spend with them. ♥
  7. Watching Ethan interact with things is often the highlight of my day. We took him to the Disneystore today and his face lit up for so many different reasons. He was super excited to watch the Muppets on their TV screens. He was overjoyed to see Buzz Lightyear toys on the floor, within an arm's reach. We went to the store to get him a Buzz, a toy that he has played with time and time again, and never fussed over not taking it home. I can hardly wait when he realized he has it at home. I think he was a little shocked when he got to take it out of the store. ♥
  8. Today was one of those productive, but still kinda chill days. I really appreciate those days when you can get stuff done, and still have fun, without feeling like you have been run over by a truck trying to accomplish too much in one day. I think that this is probably due to having a super supportive husband who puts up with my "To Do" Lists. ♥
  9. I am thankful for my boys every minute of every day. But today was especially happy as I watched both boys get super excited watching the lightening and listening to the "kaboom"! ♥
  10. As much as I hate to admit it, I really appreciate when something in life slows me down. It really helps to slow down and think about how lucky I am to have the blessings of health and happiness. ♥
  11. Words cannot express how appreciative I am for those who have sacrificed for our country. So, today I will use another's... " Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices." (Harry S Truman) ♥
  12. Lazy days at home are awesome. I am so thankful that I have been able to spend time with Ethan -- just the two of us. Today we had an awesome lazy day at home, just the two of us. And it was fabulous. While I know that everything will change soon, I will be able to cherish the memories of the two of us playing and laughing together. ♥
  13. I am forever thankful for my friends, especially those that go out of their way to check on me and make sure I get some mommy/adult time. ♥
  14. My heart is sad for those who are effected by the Paris terrorist attacks and the many other senseless acts of hate that occur all over the world. I really wish this was not the state of the world we live in. It makes me sad for the children, my children, that they may never know a world where things like this don't occur so frequently. Occurrences like these make me that much more appreciative that my loved ones are safe and sound today. Hug your loved ones, folks. You just never know, and I hope we never do. ♥
  15. Aaron and I are so very fortunate to have found our "extra" family member -- Ethan's best friend (and babysitter/nanny extraordinaire) Michelle. She is absolutely wonderful with Ethan; I love watching them play and interact. I trust her whole-heartedly and without a worry in the world. That is a priceless feeling. We are so lucky to have Michelle as a part of our family! ♥
  16. Little brother's arrival is just around the corner. I got a call this morning from a lovely person at Kaiser to give me information about his impending arrival -- and I am so thankful for her happy, kind telephone voice. Just having someone on the other line who sounded happy, listened to my questions intently and spoke eloquently and politely has really helped me to have a positive, happy outlook on the next few days. I really appreciate a good "bedside" manner. ♥