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Sunday, May 27, 2007

What to Bring?

We need to figure out how much stuff we are bringing and what things we want to go buy here so that we don't have to find there. Here's the list so far:

Kitchen:
Microwave (new - we have been surviving with a friends toss out from college)
Other kitchen implements (rice cooker, blender, veg steamer, quisinart, kitchen aid mixer, slow cooker, salad shooter, thermometer, single serve coffee maker, bean grinder, toaster, electric griddle)
China, glasses, silverware (wedding presents)
My favorite 3 calphalon pans, 2 dutch oven pots, grill pan, small calphalon pot, strainer (never saw good ones there), cutting boards, lobster pot, 3 cookie sheets, a few square pans, knifes, some storage containers, kids plates

My spices (can I do that?)
Medicines like tums, aspirin, ibuprofen/tylenol on advice from http://www.abroadincostarica.com/2007/05/expat_wish_list.html

All are hanging wall art
Decorations
Photos and photo albums
Digitalized my 350 cds, down to 2 backup dvds!
Also digitalized 2 old boxes of audio tapes!
DVDs
Working on way to get rid of videos (to dvds)
Many boxes of books

Washer and dryer

Vacuum Cleaner

Shark

Lots of kids toys

Old files that we need to keep

Our clothes, including clothes for little one to grow into (i.e. hand me downs)
Hair implements (dryer, curlers, irons, barrettes, bands, etc)
Small amount of mostly costume jewelry

Electronics - computers, printers, stereo, hopefully new (to us) smaller speakers), tv, dvd player, video, one cd player, mp3 speakers

Cords, Extension, computer, etc.

Tools - electric drill, saws (circular and reciprocating), etc. and hammers, etc)

Gardening stuff (rake, broom, weed wacker, edger, clippers - this category is iffy).

My old skis (what else you gonna do?)

Some sports equipment (balls, weights)

Linens (sheets, comforters, mattress pads, towels, small amount of table clothes, place mats, etc)

One nice armchair and ottoman

King mattress, Queen mattress

Baby crib

Christmas decorations

Baby gates

A few boxes of .....what?

Undecided about:
A lawnmower (new)
One dresser
One buffet
One antique armoir
2 garage sale chairs we bought to refinish
Desk chair

I am sure that I am forgetting lots of stuff and as I pack I will find large caches of stuff we "just can't live without" I will try to fight that urge for the sake of not starting with too much stuff....

Am I missing some stuff? What is too much? Any suggestions would be welcomed

The Order of Attack

Okay, here is what is really stressing me out. I can't figure out the end. The right order to do things so as to:

  • minimize cost
  • minimize inconvenience to us
  • minimize upsetting the kids

Here are the tasks that I can't put in order:

  • Last day in current rental house
  • Stay last night in hotel by airport for early morning departure
  • Finish packing into garage
  • Get container at our house
  • Close container and have it picked up (or truck our stuff to someplace to share a container)
  • Figure out if we need a whole small container or can share
  • Garage sale (one or two) - final one to sell off most of furniture
  • Final dump run
  • Clean rental, give back keys, vacate, hope to get back security deposit
  • Stay somewhere?

I don't want the cost of living in a hotel for very long, nor do I want to sleep on the floor at my mother-in-laws. It would be hard to live here for long without some stuff.

Right now I am thinking if we keep the following: queen mattress to be thrown away, refrigerator, microwave, tv to be gotten rid of and some clothes, shampoo, toys - we could get by at the rental for a little while. But all this is still swimming in my head....

Any suggestions out there?

This doesn't seem to bother my husband. I finally put the list on paper and said, put numbers by these tasks and I think he finally got it. Anyway, we'll figure it out.

Break it Down

There seems so much to do to prepare to go, however I feel paralyzed to do much of anything. I am a list maker, an organizer, I used to work as a program manager and short of entering the tasks into MS Project - I am a little lost.

But I feel that I must divide and conquer, so:

I have broken down the tasks into three major areas (okay actually five, but you'll see)

  • Stuff - figure out what goes, what gets sold (garage sale, craigs list, ebay), what gets donated and what gets junked. Figure out and do those things (pack, hire container, prepare and hold garage sale, figure out how to get rid of leftovers). I have done some work on this already. I have been culling through everything and reducing by half, but I am quite a pack rat and the job still looms very large.

  • Documentation/Accounts/Paperwork - This is a terribly boring but essential category. I am trying to assign as much as possible to my significant other. This includes getting all paperwork complete for our residency package, closing accounts (electric, water, cell phones, etc.), banking consolidation and preparation (i.e. getting it on the internet, etc.), minimize mail junk, forward mail, set up mail for CR, skype stuff, and bundling kids stuff (i.e. immunization, school stuff, etc). Yuk.

  • The Going - buy tickets, set up short term rental (i.e. 1 month), Hotel here for the end, figure out the car situation, know what we have to do when we get there.

  • Appointments - finish up dentist, eye doctor and get my hair done (haven't had it done since the baby was born - been doing the ponytail.)

  • Shopping - this is the fun one. We are going to get a new tv (the 18 year-old cable guy informed us we could get HDTV and the laughed when we declined and showed him ours. It is about 12 years old, but really, how HD do you need Barney?) Anyway, this is a luxury that we have been promising ourselves when we finally get a house, but now seems smart to buy before moving to CR as it seems to cost double there. King size mattress (yea), nice new linens and a stockpile of Target tee-shirts for me.

I know that I am being naive, but that seems like everything, right?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Breaking the news

So the news is out. I told my parents and they did flip. I think that they are still flipping.

The funny thing is that in an earlier conversation, they were re-hashing my thoughts of 7-10 years ago, when I told them I didn't think that I would want to raise kids in California, but here we were. They also didn't think that my husband would ever concede to move away from his family. They were going through all this because they not so secretly wish we were back on the east coast.

I can't say that I blame them. It is hard to be the kind of grandparents that they want to be when they only see the kids about twice a year for an intense, 24-hour/day for 1o -14 days. They wish we lived within an hour drive so they could pamper one kid at a time for an overnight visit and then return to us. It is also hard that it takes my kids about 5-7 days to re-warm up to them. I wish we could have that too, but we don't want to live in upstate NY - too cold, too limited, t0o not diverse. Maybe if one of my two younger brothers would get married and have some kids (they both live in different parts of NY), it would take some pressure off of me.

So it was kind of funny to later tell them that we weren't going to continue raising the kids in California and that Bars was going to move away from his family. That we were going to move to Costa Rica.

They didn't find it so funny.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

So Now What?

Okay - so now what? I have gone through the who (our family), what (relocate for at least a little while), where (Costa Rica), and why.

Now we are on to the when and the how. We are targeting end of June, beginning of July because the school we picked out for Bells starts around July 24.

Now for the how. That is what I will be dealing with mostly in the continuation of this blog. How in the world are we going to do this? What stuff should we bring? How do we get it there? What about bills and mail and all that other stuff? Also, all my fears I will write down so that later I can laugh or say, "See, I told you so..."

That is what I will be doing at least until we get there and then it will probably be the how are we living and are we glad we did it? That will unravel as we continue.

For now, we are back from Florida. Had a great time, but now must really buckle down and start to prepare. I am going to try for a garage sale this weekend to at least clear out that one corner of the garage where I have been stockpiling....

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Disney and the Signs

So we have spent a wonderful ten days with Poppi and Toots. We had a great time at Disney World and I broke the news to them. That was probably the least fun thing and I will deal with that in a separate post.

But, I just needed to say that the signs are everywhere that we are making a good choice. While at Disney-MGM, we stopped and got a caricature done of Bella and Sera. While waiting there we chatted with another family (father, mother 10-12 year old girl). The girl was an artist and interested in watching the guy draw. As we were chatting we discussed names of our kids, he wondered about the Mediterranean theme, I explained my husband was Filipino and I was matching the last name (and I liked the names). He asked if we had been to Philippines, I said not yet, he said it was lovely.

Later in talking with his daughter about her art, she mentioned that she had won some contests. The best contest was actually a coloring contest and she won a trip to ...... Costa Rica. The father said it was the best trip they ever had (and from above you can see that he seems well traveled). We compared notes, he had loved Monte Verde and was surprised we had gone up there.

So I take this as a sign. Costa Rica is everywhere. I think it means we are doing the right thing. At least I hope so.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Broken toe to Disney and breaking the news

So the kids and I are off tomorrow to Florida to meet up with Poppy and Toots. After a few days at their place, we are off to Disney World. That should be fun, except Bells did a cartwheel this morning and managed to break her big toe. After spending all day at the doctors (also, we figured out that Gussy has a sinus infection which equals antibiotics).

This is a bit of a nerve wracking trip, for the following reasons:

  • Traveling alone with three kids, at least it is a direct flight SFO to Orlando.
  • A broken toe in Disney World
  • At the end of this trip, I will be breaking the Moving to Costa Rica News to my parents.
I figure that they will flip out. They have never been out of the country. So we will focus on the closer to Florida benefit. But I am a little nervous, about all of those things.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Dogseller



It seems that if you drive around long enough, you really can find anything that you need. On Sundays near the Multiplaza you can buy a pet. Really.

The Visit - Part Two (Funstuff)

Now this is the vacation I was thinking about all along. We had a good time just being together in Escazu, but there is so much more to Costa Rica. Here's what else we did.

Zoo Ave. - This was meant to be a little day trip, our first excursion beyond gringoland. However, we took a left off the Autopista, rather than a right. (Don't know how we missed it, there is a huge sign and if you have heard anything about Costa Rica driving, there ain't hardly ANY signs) and drove out to Grecia and Atenas. Beautiful. Tranquil. Had a great lunch at roadside place called Papa Something. My memory is foggy, but it is on the left. Saw leafcutter ants walking across the parking lot. Very cool. Got back to Zoo Ave and little boy blue was fast asleep. So he missed the first part. Now for my first dumb gringa confession. I thought the Ave. stood for Avenue, um, nope it's for birds. Lots of birds here. Beautiful birds, including free-range peacocks. Bars wanted the kids to stand real close. I thought it was a bad idea. Guess he forgot our last encounter with peacocks. The time in Napa when he stood for a picture next to one behind a fence and snapped at his back pocket. I think if it hadn't been for his wallet that bird would have gotten a piece of him. And that bird was behind a fence. We move through the zoo and the two best parts were:

  1. We saw a huge iguana thing in the trees (i.e. not caged)

  2. We were just finishing up when the weather started to change and this caused for some very active pumas.

Definitely a fun trip that I would recommend. But a zoo is a zoo. For older kids there is real wildlife to see.




Then we went on the road:


Lake Arenal/Arenal Volcano - We drove to the Lake Arenal area and found a cute little place to stay first night. We enjoyed their pool, ate their food, couldn't see the volcano and enjoyed speaking with our hosts. In the morning we went and did a walking tour in the rain forest. Mostly what we got was wet and tired. For the last half of the walk, Barry wound up carrying little boy blue fast asleep in our toddler hiking backpack (one of those many pieces of paraphernalia we brought that were bulky to get around, not needed that often, but a godsend at the right time!) while I had Sera in the baby bjorn. Luckily, Bella has boundless energy and walked the whole way, and was the only one NOT tired at the end. Go figure.

The next day was spent at the Tobaccan Hot Springs (http://www.tabacon.com/). This place is AWESOME. This was my favorite thing and I really want to go back sometime with just my husband (hint, hint Barry). We were tired idiots, unable to decode the map and realize that the spa was, a---(wait for it) ---cross the street and that you needed to ride the shuttle. We wasted a lot of time going back to the town of Arenal to find food, and taking naps, etc. I could have easily spent more time submerged. But it was so nice. And since we were only there one night, we sprung for the Volcano view room - so glad we did. After the kids were asleep, it was clear and Barry and I got to sit outside and watch the lava flows. And when I was up in the morning, I got a picture.



Monteverde - This was a long and beautiful trip. We found a cute little cottage to stay in. One bedroom, and a living area with kitchenette. The owner was very nice and had visited Niagara Falls in NY so we had something in common. He and this place reminded me of the family lodges on Lake Luzerne and Lake George back home. We did not do any walking or zipping trips here. We were all too pooped out. We went to a butterfly farm and at night the Serpentaria. More our speed with the little ones. Not sure it was worth the long drive for us to go here (and back) with the kids at their current age and ability.





But we found this great place on the back side of town were the guy sold fried chicken. That is all. Fried chicken in a plastic bag. Mostly locals buying. Cheap and delicious. And just like the Philippines, Barry said. He also said, "See, you just find something here and do it well and you can succeed."

Playa del Coco - From Monteverde we went on to Playa del Coco. We also picked up Barry's sister, Wilma at the Liberia Airport. We kinda felt a little like locals, waiting on her plane. We spent a few days here. Spent time at the pool. Took a day trip to a beautiful beach, Playa Conchal. During the drive, had to ford a small stream in the middle of the road. On the way back we took a picture driving through the water (yea for 4-wheel drive, remember this is the actual road) and felt like tourists for doing so. Bars got stung by something and the kids liked the beach. On the way back, we stopped to eat at a restaurant that looked like a castle. An American family lives there and runs it. They were very nice and the food was pretty good. It was nice to talk with someone with small kids that made this change. I would recommend stopping here for a snack. You can't miss it, it looks like a castle.
Jaco/Manuel Antonio Park - From here, we traveled south as far as we wanted to drive in the day. We got as far as Jaco. Looked like a good place to spend a couple of nights. We found a place to stay, ate and waited for daylight. During early evening (around 6 - 7 pm) I tried to go from the hotel down to the beach. There was a night guard. In my limited Spanish I asked him if it was okay (safe) for me to go there. Eventually I understood the answer to be no. So we waited for the next day. We drove down to Manual Antonio Park. It was beautiful. After parking, the dry path to the ticket booth/park entrance is shown in the photo. You pay some guys to help you stumble across their boat. We had a nice walk, we saw monkeys (howler and capuchin, unfortunately no spider monkeys for me), coati and some kind of crabs. My kids seemed to like the crabs the best. I am not that much of a nature girl, however it was really nice to watch the monkeys. We also took a swim at one of the beaches. I hung out with sleeping baby under a sheltered picnic area. Great time. We stayed until closing (~4pm). Had to walk out in the rain. And the boat guys weren't there when we left, so we left really soggy, but happy.

San Jose Area - The rest of the time, we spent in Santa Ana. We took a day trip into the city to see the Teatro Nacional and the gold museum and the market. I've been through open air markets in Taiwan, so this market wasn't that unusual. It was a nice day, but definitely not the most unusual. Still, nice to be in the hub-bub for a bit.
The rest - After that, we put Wilma on a plane home in San Jose and just hung out some more as a family. Grocery shopping and such. We did spend sometime shopping at the mall and looked at a few properties for sale to see what kind of options there were. But there will be more on that later. This is too long already.

Kids on Blog



Now for a slightly sensitive issue. Posting photos of my kids. Probably not going to happen. At least not in anyway that would allow someone who did not know us to recognize them. So anyone looking for just that can exit stage left. This is one thing that my husband and I came to agreement on without any discussion. It just seemed too scary and unfair to them.

Take it from me that they really do exsist. Take it from me that they are beautiful. Take it from me that they are wonderful.



Monday, May 7, 2007

The Visit - Part One (Administrative)

So to catch you up, we are thinking of moving to Costa Rica. We have been thinking about it for a while. As part of our research we went on a "vacation" there last November. We bundled up our three kids, including a 3-month old baby and took off for 3 weeks. Here is what happened:

We flew from San Jose, California to San Jose, Costa Rica - which for some reason, just really tickles me. We had a few hours in Houston, which worked out good for the kids. So we land, deplane, and find the line for immigration. It is quite long and quite late. As we wheel up with infant, a beautiful lady in incredibly high heels with a clipboard gestures for us to follow her. She takes us around this long line to a special short line. I believe because we have small children (or a baby - Costa Ricans seem BABY CRAZY). WOW! - this kind of consideration would never happen in the U.S. If kids get you this kind of treatment in Costa Rica, might be a good reason to have more. Just kidding. It takes about 30 minutes to get through.

We move onto baggage and get all our stuff (believe me - alot of paraphanalia - baby bjorn, baby backpack, baby pack and play, and luggage). This is tough because we need to get the stuff together and coral the kids. We get through customs and out to the taxi que. This is efficient as can be. We are quickly assisted into a large van type taxi to take us and our stuff to the Adventure Lodge, where we will spend the first night.

I know this is a lot of detail on the airport, but I was impressed. I have traveled with these kids alot, and they have been good about it, but the amount of assistance we received far exceeded anything I've experienced other than family meeting you at the airport. I hope it will always be this good.

We stay at the Adventure Lodge for one night. Seems nice enough. Cool things to note - the bathroom has a bidet. Cool foreign country. Bars wakes early and goes out to rent the car. We wind up with very nice Toyota w/ Four wheel drive. Very necessary for us and all our stuff. This is all our stuff (except one big suitcase that the nice neighbors at the Escazu condominium let us leave with them during our walkabout portion and Bar's sister, Wilma and her luggage that we picked up in Liberia). So quite full. Did we need it all. Pretty much. But look how nicely my husband packs a car!

Back to the story. We eat breakfast (complimentary) at the hotel. The nice lady serving it starts chatting with Ibarra because the father of her kids is Filipino. Ah, it's nice not to be solo-gringo family. And so far our few years of Spanish schooling is making basic exchanges slow but pleasant.

We go from here to find our VRBO rental. We have used VRBO a few times now and always with great sucess. Can't say enough about it. We stayed at Matt's place in Escazu for one week. It was a great place in a condominium. We then went on the "vacation" part of the trip which will be the next entry. After "vacationing" for about a week and a half, we return to Santa Ana for another week in a conduminium. Both places in the central valley were great. Most of our time was spent just living. Grocery shopping took up a lot of time. We also spent two days with an agent to see some places for sale. We went to the mall. We visited a school for Bells. We ate at KFC and Soda Tipico (I think that is right, at first I thought it was "typical" but with my limited Spanish, learned that it is the family name. Pretty nice place). We also spent one day doing administrative stuff. Met with our abagoado (lawyer) for signing paperwork for our residency, went to the San Jose Police Central for fingerprinting, good fun stuff. Definitely was helpful to have an escort. This is all part of the service. We have hired someone recommended on the We Love Costa Rica Site to do this.

So with two non-consecutive weeks of "just living" (for the most part) - we are hooked. We like it. And thus the plan was born, named and weighed in at a healthy 5 lbs (people in our family).
More to come.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Why Costa Rica?

Okay - now the big question - why Costa Rica?

This is a little harder to explain, but I will try.

We thought about other US places we could go with the following constraints:

  • Had to be warm (Boston area is nice but too cold for my Pinoy Boy).
  • Had to have good schooling (public) or affordable good private school
  • Had to have more reasonable housing.
  • Had to be a good place to start a business.
  • Had to be reasonable to get to Albany, NY via airplane (i.e. not longer than from San Jose/San Fran where we are now).

With this in mind we came up with some options and for various reasons shot each one done.

  • San Diego, still too expensive.
  • North Carolina, friends who have gone say boring and outside of the Chapel Hill Area, Bars worries about being different.
  • Florida, bad schools and high crime.

So we thought about going out of the U.S. We still had the same set of criteria. And somehow, somebody thought of Costa Rica. On paper it looks great.

  • Definitely warm, however not too warm if we stay in the central valley and chose our elevation carefully.
  • The place states a 93% literacy rate. That’s pretty impressive.
  • Cost of living is reasonable.
  • The crime is mostly theft, etc. Not too much violent crime it seems.
  • There are some really good, affordable private schools.
  • It seems like starting a business from there is not too difficult. Find a niche. Work hard. Do good. Hopefully be successful.
  • There is NO Costa Rican Army. Pretty peaceful place.
  • The culture seems similiar to the Filipino culture, so Bars has a bit of a leg-up there. I refer to the don’t say something someone might not like to hear, even if it means bending the truth a little. And the take it easy, live in the moment, right now could mean never attitude.
  • And it is the same trip to upstate NY (around 12 hours door to door).
  • AND (double bonus), it is a 3.5 hour direct trip to Miami and a 2 hour drive to Poppie and Toots (that’s my parents - will introduce them in a later post) winter/retirement place in Florida.

On the negative/well at least think about it side:

  • We don’t speak that much Spanish……..YET.
  • We will have to leave friends and family.
  • It is a big change.

With this all in mind, we decided to take a vacation there last November. More on that NEXT TIME.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Why Leave?

Okay now to answer another question - why leave? The simplest answer is, because it seems like a good idea.

Here’s more detail, in no particular order:

1) Raising kids
As mentioned before, I am from a small town, where people know each other and know each others kids. Not the case in the Bay Area. I always said I didn’t want to raise kids in California. It seems that things here are too easy (nice weather, everything organized, everybody smart and rich - or at least looking that way). I grew up in upstate New York, where we walked to the bus stop in the very cold. So cold that sometimes your nose boogers froze. It made you a little tough. The good kind of tough. The I can take it if it’s not exactly how I want it tough. It seems like the kids here are the bad kind of tough. The I’ve seen it all, I bully and I’ve been bullied, and I know about sex and drugs and rock n roll at too early an age, and divorce and ….. well it’s just too early.

Also, the legal aspect of living in CA is getting to me. State just required new sign in procedures at the daycares. I now have to write down, every day for every kid the following information: who I am, who will be picking up the kid, what my emergency phone number is, what time it is that I am dropping off and sign. All good information, but not likely to change every day.
And it just feels scary here. I am definitely a type-A, however the amount of keep your eyes on them is just too much.

2) Lifestyle/pace
Everyone is living soooo fast. Everything is so organized (sports for kids, etc.) and everyone lives for the stuff and hence in big debt. We’ll get into that lifestyle choice another time.

3) Cost of living
Kids are expensive! We live pretty frugal for the bay area. We don’t have fancy cars, multiple houses, boats, rvs, or other toys, too much electronics, etc. But we aren’t really making it. When we pay all the monthlies (rent, utilities, services, school, gas, and groceries) - we are tipping the scales. If I went back to work, we would be bringing in more income, but daycare would take it all away. And if we want to buy a house - that would take about $1M here. Way too scary.

4) I have no family here and Bars family is 45 minutes away. But I think that they would visit. I hope that they would visit.

So it seems our best idea is to skedaddle. That’s the plan Stanislaus.

Who Are We?

Jen-Poco-Loco = I am the author of this blog

Bars - my husband of seven (wow) years (as of 4/29/2007). Originally from the Philippines.
Software Engineer, Youngest of Eight, Dreamer

Bells, Bella, Boodi-boo, Isabella - our oldest daughter. 5 going on 15. and quite an artist.

Gus, Gussy Boy, Goose, Gustavo - our son. 3 in September. Can't wait for potty training to be complete.

Sars, Sera, Serafina, - our baby. Just nine months old and a joy.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Our Silicon Valley House Saga

First a little background on how we got here. I feel I must start with the housing....
Well, after ten years in the valley (Silicon), working my tail off and being lucky enough to cash out of the housing market - we can't seem to figure out how to get back in. When Bars and I first got married, we toyed with the idea of leaving the area (for most of the same reasons we are going through now).

But then we were pregnant and found THE house. We could just barely afford it, but it was a good investment. Small (1200 sqft), old (1950'S) house in Santa Clara that needed work. But in the Cupertino school district. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, that's good. That's say-your-kids-live-with-your-cousin-to-get-in kind of good. So we did it.

We bought the house in fall of 2001 and lived real frugally for a couple of years (more on that later). We remodeled it too. Ourselves. Still very proud of that.

I'm talking tear it all out in the kitchen, tear out the walls, put in some new electrical lines (practically everything was running on one main line (computer, tv, kitchen appliances, electrical outlights, lights, you name it). We wound up with a completely new kitchen and master bathroom, new windows everywhere, added a french door in the master bedroom, and more windows in the dining room, drywalled the wooden paneling, hardwood floors revealed (still needed refinishing) repainted, new lawn, and new landscaping.

It took all of our spare time and was a great learning experience that gave me confidence in doing any work around the house (although plumbing seems like something that if you screw up, you really lose and electrical still scares me a little). But considering that I grew up in a house where repair work is done ala yellow pages, this was HUGE.

During this phase of our live, we had our first daughter, Bells. She practically grew up that first year at the Home Depot. Sometimes I wonder if I scarred her for life by pushing her around in her little car seat hooked into to an overloaded shopping cart, looking so far up to those funny lights they use. Also, it really sucked to have an infant and no kitchen. And everything was a race. Finish the floors before she crawls (just in the nick of time). Always clean up everything up to spotless (I swear you could have eaten off the floors at anytime - I was more pyshco about it than I am now).

By the time we were done with it all, we had our boy, Gus and a gorgeous, probably too small house. Oh and it still backed up to a really noisy 4-lane road in the back. We knew this when we bought it. Double paned windows made the inside not so bad, however revving motorcycles were always noteworthy. And the backyard was just not peaceful. Beautiful for the eyes, not so much the ears. Then there was a new construction up the road for a Kaiser Permanente Hospital. ER in 2008. Can't imagine the ambulances.

So we figured this:

  1. It's never going to be this nice again with two little kids running around.
  2. Once that hospital is there - everyone will figure it out.
  3. My husband was So Sure that the housing market could NOT stay as high as it was and right then there was little inventory, higher prices and it seemed like a good time.
  4. We had enjoyed the process and would do it again when the time was right, my husband figured about a year later.

So we sold it. Made some money, not double or anything but enough to put away a really good down payment for next time. We moved into an expensive, luxury new 3-bedroom apartment (with elevators) that was walking distance to Bars work (okay he still drove it) and 3 minute drive to mine. It was a nice place, but we have very active children. We also had downstairs neighbors who didn't like to hear the "pitter patter" of little feet. So we had to let the kids jump on the furniture. I still worry I am a bad mother for saying "Stop jumping on the floor, you can go jump on the sofa." How weird is that. I am sure that I will be paying for that for a LONG time. Did I mention that these guys downstairs partied until like 4 in the morning on many many occasions. No Justice.

So after our one-year lease was up, we hightailed it out of there. May 2006 and the housing market was still hot. Bars said be patient, it will happen. We rented a nice 70's style 4 bedroom house (1800 sq ft - awesome, best sized place we have lived) in Milpitas. Now further commute (oh yeah, and Bars company moved further away, actually closer to that first house. Argh.) We also had our third, and probably final child, Sera. And our still here. Waiting.

BUT - Bella should start kindergarten this fall and we don't like the schools here. Or the pace. And I always said I didn't want to raise kids in the Bay Area (okay I said CA, but I only know here).

AND - it looks like Bars was right about the real estate market. For the most part.

EXCEPT - it doesn't seem like the Bay area was as DRASTICALLY hit as elsewhere in the country. It is in a slump here, but things are still selling. Just not crazy, multi-offer, 2 days on market, 20% over asking like before.

SO - What should we do?

Why Blog?

First Question: Why Blog?
As we move through this MAJOR decision with MAJOR work to accomplish, my best friend Jen suggested I journal. Having never been a journaler (is that a word?) I wasn't sure I would follow through. Besides, I am not a big one on immediate self-reflection. More of a hit in the head every so often when someone close to me dies or I start trying to clean up my "memory box" of newspaper clippings, old id's, resumes, and a paper napkin folded into a flower given to me at prom kinda gal.
Who would want to read it anyway. Then she said something else...."and send it to me." Ah, so now I have an audience. Okay. But if I do this, I might as well try that crazy new fad that's sweeping the nation. I refer to blogging. After a little cyber lurking on other peoples blogs (again, I've always been one of those readers, not posters) and feeling slightly embarrassed, old and not that swift (just passed 35 and retired as an engineer to stay at home with the kiddies) that so many so much older have figured out this thing, that I decided I had to give it a try.
Here goes. Hope I don't burn out too fast. Must write ten entries before I share with anyone!
I think that's fair, don't you?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Plan

We've decided to pick up our entire family (three kids pre kindergarten) and move away from the Silicon Valley. We have chosen Costa Rica. So Costa Rica Crazy, what does it mean? Crazy about Costa Rica? Or Costa Rica, Are you Crazy? Or even Costa Rica makes me Crazy? Only time will tell as we begin this journey.......