Feathered Aspen

The Pregnant Landlords

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Well, our second trimester came and went without much glory…  I may be deluding myself, but I seem to remember feeling a bit more energetic and enthusiastic with the first two pregnancies.  While my nausea did abate and I had more energy than the first trimester, I can barely count on one hand the number of times I thought about forgoing a midday nap.  And I’m still not staying up much past 9, so I feel a bit like a sleepy landmonster.

About a month ago, I started having this sharp pain right around the middle of my spine and I was feeling huge…  Luckily, the pain hasn’t reappeared (except during a long car ride or at the end of a really long day) since week 26, and though I’m waddling by the end of the day, when I look down at my belly, it feels about right for 29 weeks.  I think that’s just how it goes with each successive pregnancy – you get bigger faster, but eventually it’s all about the same.

With the anterior placenta, it took a long time to feel regular, strong movements from out little girl.  At even 17 and 18 weeks, I wasn’t sure I was feeling her every day (whereas with Lu, I felt certain I was feeling her as early as 14 weeks).  But in the past couple of weeks, the movements have been strong enough to shift my whole belly and be visible to others.  Now when I lay down or sit for a bit, I’m almost guaranteed to feel her move.  And that, my friends, is the most magical part of pregnancy.  So strange and so exciting.

This morning I noticed my linea nigra for the first time, and I’ve been seeing the mask creep onto my face the past couple of weeks.  Despite all my best efforts to eat healthy and work out regularly, I feel like I have this winter coat of extra weight everywhere on my body.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me, but with my third pregnancy, I also know that this is what my body does to get ready for baby and it’s not excessive and it doesn’t last forever.

The working out is going well.  We were all hit with a bout of the flu last week, so that slowed me down, but otherwise, I run as much as three consecutive miles (woohoo!), and I try to cover 4-6 miles each day running/walking.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I swim laps at the Rec Center for 40 minutes.  It really is so wonderful to be weightless and engage in a form of exercise where the bulk of my belly doesn’t slow me down much.  I can still do flip turns and I just swim at this easy pace, four strokes and a breath, the whole time, covering 35-40 laps.  I can’t say it’s terribly rigorous, but I do feel like it’s a workout.  The only thing I wish I were doing more of was strength.  I’ve had the intention of doing arms and lunges and squats, but…  Yeah.  That’s hardly happened.  Also, yoga.  But I’m thinking that might be part of my birth prep in the last 6-8 weeks.

Looking forward, it’s hard to believe that there are just 11 weeks left until our due date.  Between visitors and holidays, the majority of our weekends are already planned out, and though our to-do list isn’t enormous, I am starting to feel the urge to really get ready, emotionally as much as organizationally.

I know that organizationally, everything will get done, and if it doesn’t, that’ll be ok too.  I still remember that saying from my prenatal yoga teacher when I was expecting Lu:  “babies are born with a sandwich in their hands.”  And it’s true.  There’s not much stuff that you truly need when it comes to babies.  Something warm to dress them in, diapers, a baby carrier and a car seat…  Love.  That’s about it.  Mentally and emotionally, though.  That stuff is important.  I think taking care of your head and heart and doing a little prep there before baby comes is so important, and we haven’t had much time for that recently.

…two week intermission…

Haha!  Where was I? Oh yes.  Mental and emotional readiness.  And I think I was about to tell you that mentally and emotionally, these past few months have been a whirlwind.  Well.  Two weeks have past and not much as changed pregnancy-wise, but as we gain distance from July, August, September, and the first week of October, I am feeling a bit more mentally and emotionally grounded.  Not quite ready, but better.

July, August, and September were just nuts.  After we got back from Bryce Canyon, Joshua jumped into renovations on the basement in our second house.  We decided not to rent the upstairs during the renovations and turn the renovations into a larger single family rental, rather than the up/down rentals we had initially considered.  And even though forgoing a kitchen in the downstairs meant saving on time and money, it still took forever.  Joshua worked, and worked, and worked…  And then he worked some more.  At first, he took off two days a week to spend time with us, but by the second week of July, we knew our plans for a finish date of August 1st were way too ambitious.  So then he started taking just one day off.  And then teacher training started, and he worked M-F at school and spent most of the weekend in the basement, working.  By mid August, Joshua had worked a month straight without taking a single day off, and it was becoming clear that even a September 1st rental date was out of the question.

So he kept going.  We brought out Papa and then Grumpy.  We had a work day and bribed our friends to come over.  For a couple of weeks in October, the girls and I were over there doing as much as we could do, too.  Joshua was at the house after work during the week and all weekend.

By the time I listed the rental, it was September 23rd, and although it wasn’t completely finished, we felt assured that we could pull off the last touches by October 1st…

And then came two very, very stressful weeks.  A year and a half ago when we had listed just our two bedroom, one bath, there had been FLOODS of e-mails and voicemails with interested and motivated potential renters.  And it wasn’t cheap.  But here comes our mistake.  Rather than doing our research, we assumed that we would be able to rent a four bedroom, two bath, single family home in an up-and-coming area for quite a bit more.  It has double the square footage, a large deck, three large family spaces, and a fenced in yard.  Initially, we thought that we would be able to rent the place for 50% more than we had last year, which would make the last three months of hell…  Worth it.  We could pay for a vacation!

48 hours in, we had no responses, and with a heavy heart, I dropped the price $200.  Another 48 hours in, there was only one hopeful lead, and then that fizzled out.  With October 1 approaching fast and the thought of floating the mortgage and losing rent for another month over our heads, we dropped the price another $200.

It was the magic number.  Calls came in and we had at least 8 showings.  The impossible (renting the space by October 1) started to seem possible.  And then an application came in asking if we accepted housing vouchers.

God knows why after all of this we decided to look into housing vouchers, especially when we had two other applications with no such requests, but we decided to look into it.  We had gotten a good feeling from the person applying, and something in us just said, try it.

So with whirlwind efficiency, we filled out an RFTA (Request for Tenancy Approval) which is about 20 pages of questions about us as landlords and about the property.  Our very motivated potential tenant submitted the document to the DHA (Denver Housing Authority) the very next day, and we waited to schedule an inspection.

Although it typically takes two weeks after submitting the RFTA to get an inspection, they expedited the process (yes!  Bureaucracy that can move fast!), and we were able to get an inspection on October 4th.  The inspector walked through the home, opening each of the windows and peeking inside appliances.  When she was through, she announced that she would be back at the end of the day to see that we had installed a thumb lock on the back door, a railing on the steps downstairs, and hung our fire detectors.

And she did.  And then together, the inspector, the tenant, and Joshua signed the lease.

So it was a little bit crazy, and we were nervous the whole time that everything would fall through, but it didn’t.  It worked out.  And you know what?  I feel pretty good about the decision we made to take a risk.  It seems like every report I hear or read on Denver housing and real estate says that gentrification is a huge problem, and the rising costs of housing are pushing out families that have lived here for generations.  So it feels good to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.  We’re providing housing to good tenants who deserve to be able to live and work in the town where they grew up.  And as independent providers of Section 8 housing, we’re offering a nice, newly remodeled single family home in a mixed-income neighborhood, rather than an apartment in a building designated for public housing.  I’ve taught many students who have lived in “projects” like those, and I think most of them would agree that these were not nice or safe places to live.  It was a learning process for us, but I’m glad we had the experience.  If you’re curious and would like to learn more, here’s a link.

What else, you ask?  Well, we took a quick 7 hour drive up to the Black Hills to see our friends, the Devanes, for a weekend in between submitting the RFTA and scheduling an inspection.  So that was both wonderful and a little terrifying to still have everything in limbo.  Once we got back and managed to finally rent the house, we breathed a sigh of relief.  Or rather, I did.  Joshua returned to work and felt overwhelmed by a growing list of things to do at school, so he worked late a few nights that week to catch up.

And then that weekend – the first weekend in nearly three months that we anticipated spending time as a family together, just the four of us, we got nailed with the flu.

On Friday night, Lu puked.  By Saturday morning, I was puking.  Joshua took the girls (Lu had a quick recovery) to go have fun at the pumpkin patch, but Lily was having a resurgence of what was definitely not food poisoning and had hit her on Wednesday.  On Saturday night, Joshua began puking.  This particular bug was a lovely little two-fer.  24 hours of nausea, followed by 24 to 48 hours of feeling somewhat better, and then a little 6 resurgence.  I puked again on Monday night.  Yum.

So yeah.  I think that’s where I left you guys.  We had just emerged from the flu, and from three months of overtime, single parenting, missing Joshua, and just generally feeling like we were totally in over our heads.  And then realizing that after all of that, we are in the exact same financial position we were in last year, month to month.  Because while the basement will certainly add to the value of the property and pay off when we sell, the increase in rent just manages to balance out the increase in our mortgage we took on in the spring when we refinanced to take out money to renovate the basement…  So yeah.  No sweet little vacation bonus there (she weeps).  It sucks, and we’re sad, but I’m also feeling like, well!  It’s done!  We don’t have to do it again!  And it sucks!  But moving on!  We’ve got lives to live, dammit!  We survived on this budget last year, and we’ll do it again this year.

You see what I mean?  Not the greatest mental and emotional preparation for welcoming a new little munchkin into the family in 9 weeks. But that being said, I’m already feeling better.  Two weeks ago, I was just on the other side of everything and feeling like I was getting my bearings.  And now if you asked me how things were going, I’d say we’re doing fine.  Which reminds me of something people say about women and their ability to completely forget/gloss over massive amounts of misery and pain…  Should we talk about labor?!

Haha.  But really.  The other night, I was having some insomnia, and I was all like, oh shit.  I have to give birth in like, two months, and man.  That’s gonna hurt.  And then of course I have this internal struggle like, “no!  Don’t say it’s going to hurt!  It’s going to be fine!  If you think it’s gonna hurt, then it’s gonna hurt!”  And then I’m all like, “but it hurts!  I can’t lie!”

Ok.  I’m going to end this post here with some photos of the rental.  And then I’ll be back for updates on Lily and Lu.

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Our old bedroom

Our old bedroom

The girls' old bedroom

The girls’ old bedroom

I do have new pictures of this space sans all of our stuff.  In the new photos you would see the big ass new house they built in the lot next store.  Seriously huge.  It's a side-by-side duplex three stories high that sold for half a million for each unit.

I do have new pictures of this space sans all of our stuff. In the new photos you would see the big ass new house they built in the lot next store. Seriously huge. It’s a side-by-side duplex three stories high that sold for half a million for each unit.

I'm sad to say our previous renters didn't appreciate pink nearly as much as I do and the "pink room" is now grey...

I’m sad to say our previous renters didn’t appreciate pink nearly as much as I do and the “pink room” is now grey…

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There's the cypress mantle Sarah brought us from NOLA

There’s the cypress mantle Sarah brought us from NOLA

Entryway

Entryway

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More kitchen love

More kitchen love

Joshua designed and bought everything from Ikea and then installed it with the help of his dad.

Joshua designed and bought everything from Ikea and then installed it with the help of his dad.

I miss that farmhouse sink!

I miss that farmhouse sink!

Gorgeous kitchen and huge island.

Gorgeous kitchen and huge island.

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom

Front living room (back when we were living there!)

Front living room (back when we were living there!)

Back bedroom on first floor.

Back bedroom on first floor.

Stairs to the basement (now with a railing ;)

Stairs to the basement (now with a railing 😉

New bathroom in basement with shower installation by Grumpy

New bathroom in basement with shower installation by Grumpy

Large family space in basement.

Large family space in basement.

Large bedroom in basement with egress window and structural supports.  All by Joshua (with help from his dad).

Large bedroom in basement with egress window and structural supports. All by Joshua (with help from his dad).

Back deck/back yard.

Back deck/back yard.

Huge back deck.  Perhaps too huge?

Huge back deck. Perhaps too huge?

And that’s a wrap.  Maybe someday Joshua will put up a post about everything he did, but I doubt it.  I think he’s too bruised from the whole experience.  He really did an amazing job.  I can’t believe everything that went into structurally reinforcing the space, electricity, framing, plumbing, drywall, floors, the deck…  And I’m sure a bunch of things I don’t remember or never really understood in the first place.  I never cease to be amazed by his DIY skillz.

And finally, a huge thanks to those of you who helped us:  Papa Tim, thank you so much for the kitchen and the help with all the windows.  I know that Joshua appreciated getting to spend quality time with you and that your expert help was a huge life-saver.  Grumpy Dave, thank you so much for helping with the back part of the house and the bathroom downstairs.  Both the company and your reliable skills are so appreciated.  Mark, Joshua’s former co-worker, put in quite a few hours tuck-pointing and doing other odds jobs, and David spent hours in the sun digging out the egress window.  Our friends, Weston, Mark, Will, and Melanie came over for a long work day and helped clean and finish the deck, and my mom spent hours cleaning the house from top to bottom.  Dan, my mom’s boyfriend, nearly broke his back working on the deck and clearing out mountains of debris from the back yard.  Thank you, thank you so much.  We couldn’t have done it all without you, and having company made it all a bit more bearable.  Compensation in the form of plane tickets, low hourly wages and pizza doesn’t seem nearly enough.  We love and appreciate you guys.

***And now, at the end of this post, I’m realizing what a weird combination of themes we have here…  Pregnancy and renovation.  Although, as my friend Chelsea said, it wouldn’t be an Andert pregnancy if there weren’t renovation involved 😉

Author: Ellie

Wife, Mom, Adventurer...

One thought on “The Pregnant Landlords

  1. Uh . . . wow! Amazing stuff, El. Thanks for sharing all of it with us.

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