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Columbine, the book

I've read Dave Cullen's blog, in various forms, for years. So, I've followed him while he wrote his book, Columbine. I pre-ordered it, and read it in 3 days. It is an amazing book.

I honestly didn't expect what I got. I knew it'd be a good book, but I didn't think it'd be so sweeping. It's not just about the Columbine murders and debunking myths, its about how Columbine fits into the community, and how that community was largely split in how it dealt with the aftermath.

I highly, highly recommend the book to anyone. I literally started crying in Midway Airport at one point in the book.

(apparently, trailers are all the new thing)

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Picture Day!

Okay, pretty much every day is picture day. But these are pictures taken with my camera, not my blackberry, so they are, well, not taken with my blackberry!

First, my engagement ring came home!

Engagement Ring at Work!

Kevin totally surprised me. First, he said he was going to make a payment on the ring, and perhaps James and I would like to go hang out somewhere else so James wouldn't be bored in the store. I found this slightly odd since James usually likes jewelry stores. But, I sort of just shrugged it off. Then, he was like "oh, I'll just run over there now, while James finishes his homework", and I was like "oh, okay, that makes sense".

While he was gone, James finished his homework, and asked if he could ride his bike. I was like "Yes, be back in an hour". Well, about 10 minutes later, he comes running in, saying "Gail, I found this outside, but I don't know what to do with it!" I turn around, and he has a box open, and its MY RING!

It turns out that the old downstairs tenants paid their part of the gas bill (600 dollars worth!), he got a rebate on an insurance deductible, and our newest gas bill was only 32 dollars! So he could pay it all off this week.

Next, I sewed Aimee a purse! She picked out the fabric and pattern at her local quilting shop. The pattern came from Slouchy Bags by Cindy Taylor Oats. The outside fabric I believe is one of Robert Kaufman's Asian designs, but its older, and I can't find it online. The inside came from Timeless Treasures, and is also older. I had a few false starts, but I'm really pleased with the results.

Aimee's Breast Pump Bag

It was the most complicated thing I've made so far - it has an underlining, lots of interfacing, I had to do bias strips for the binding and the handles. However, it seems like in the sewing world, everyone is more than happy to write up tutorials and pictures and diagrams, for free! So it wasn't too hard to figure out.
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Yes, its that time again

Should Gail do an advanced degree!

So, I was looking at the MASTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH IN PUBLIC HEALTH INFORMATICS (hee, I copied and pasted it). The University of Illinois has an online program. It looks amazingly cool and interesting, and I meet the requirements, academic wise. (I'd probably have to retake my GRE's - those only last 5 years, right?) Except it keeps saying its meant for people in public health? What if I'd like to be in public health, or just have a better stats background for my current job?

Help, advice plz. :)
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I just looked, and FHA mortgage limits in my area for a single family home is $410,000! Good lord! For some reason, I though it was around 300k, but that was from a few years ago.
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Houses oh Houses

I'll start out saying that we aren't really planning on buying anything for a few years. Kevin hopes in 2, I'm thinking more like 3. It looks like we'll need to save up at least 3.5% down and get our credit scores up to 640. The 640 credit score is pretty close these days, I believe. The 3.5% isn't, but will be.

Hopefully by then the housing market will have finished plummeting, and isn't already working its way back up. As of today, most of the houses we would be interested in are in the 325k-375k. I'm not sure where our magic number is, but we we're even a little "eh" at 350k.

Anyways, last night after a frustrating "Why did we agree to put the gas bill for the house in our name? WHYYYY" crab fest, I was looking on Craigslist to see what other apartments like ours would rent for. Mainly for leverage at renewal time to get the landlord to put the gas in his name. The old downstairs tenants owe us 600 dollars - they say they are sending a check tomorrow. We will see. We've been killed by gas bills this winter. While its great our budget is such that we can handle it, I don't want to outlay that kind of cash again. Plus, I want a decrease in our rent. We're paying 1350 a month, and that's above market, even given our location.

So, after all that background, Craigslist led to me searching Redfin, and I found this house:

It's around where Kevin's house was, but not too close as to be creepy. It's in the right area for the schools Kevin likes. It's convenient for the train. Mainly, it'd be exactly what we'd probably like. Today, 359k might be okay - there isn't a ton for sale in that area, and there are a lot of teardowns, so there isn't a lot of affordablish stuff there.

However, at 359k, they will lose money. They owe the bank more than that - that's why its called a short sale. Here's the listing price history:

Mar 04, 2009 Price Changed $349,000
Feb 24, 2009 Price Changed $359,900
Feb 17, 2009 Price Changed $369,900
Jan 12, 2009 Price Changed $379,900
Nov 22, 2008 Price Changed $389,900
Oct 30, 2008 Relisted
Oct 10, 2008 Price Changed $399,900
Oct 04, 2008 Price Changed $424,900
Sep 23, 2008 Listed $439,900

I think we can all agree 439k is crazy. The basement is painted BLACK. The kitchen, while perfectly nice, isn't THAT nice. The lot is the smallest on that court, and the house layout looks a bit odd. Oh, and they have the ugliest lino/tile in the kitchen.

I then looked at the property records, and they bought the house for 205k in 1996. That's right - they mortgaged the house up ABOVE 359k. That's 154,000 in 13 years, at least. I didn't pay to get their mortgage records, so I don't know how much they owe to the bank.
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Ari is a very smart boy!

He sent me this email this morning! Gumby the cat helped.

Auntie Gail,

Gumby is helping me with the email. I have to complain about Mommy and Daddy's morning routine. It is not good fun snuggles like when you are here. Last night momma and I spent the night on the couch together and I learned how to nurse while she slept. Then i turned into a fussbudget around 5 am just in time for Dad to take care of me. Then they tricked me, Mom took me back and nursered me. I feel asleep really deep then the next thing i know i wake up in my crib, upstairs, ALONE and I was stinky.

It is all very bad, plus look how bad Daddy is at taking pics?

He enclosed two pictures.

First, the one of us having our morning snuggles.

Gail and Ari's Morning Snuggle

And this one Aimee and Mark took when they were getting a photo for their announcements. It's from two days ago - look at all his dark dark hair now!

How many fingers do I have?
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Ari and Wine

Gail, Ari and a glass of wine

Aimee was so happy to see me that she handed me Ari, and then a glass of wine, within 3 minutes of me showing up. :) It was awesome. I love Ari so much it hurts.

These were my special morning snuggles - Aimee let me take care of Ari a ton. Monday morning, she fed Ari, had him say good bye to his Daddy (who had to go to work), and handed him off to me. We had a good few hours of loves while Aimee caught up on some sleep.

Ari Snuggles