Friday, June 29, 2007

Updates - Round 4

One of the things that my wife and I agreed to do once we were married was sell our townhouse and move up to something bigger. We had plans to start a family relatively shortly after the wedding and doing so in a 2 bedroom townhouse was possible, but not optimal.

Real Estate
So starting at the beginning of the year, we rented some storage units and proceeded to move all of the clutter that filed our lives into storage in preparation for selling the townhouse and so that there wouldn't be as much to move at one time once we found a new place. Every weekend, we'd fill our cars to capacity with boxes and drive them over and load up the unit. It quickly became quite obvious that we had a lot of crap (still do).

With the house cleared of clutter, the organization and decorating began. We'd torn up the planter areas on the patio during the summer but then didn't get much further because of the wedding and because I wasn't sure what to plant in the middle of August that would last. The only thing we had done was put down sod along one side so that we could train the dogs to "go papers" on the grass. This was effective, but also a nuisance as the grass would die pretty quickly from the urine and I'd have to go back to Home Depot and start all over again. As the market date approached now, it became imperative that we do something, anything to make the backyard look better. We picked up an aluminum/stone table and chair set from Costco for about $300 and I began the task of gardening.

We had originally thought to put plants along the back fence and only sod the left side, but when reality came crashing down, we decided it would be easier to sod the back as well. I used Mexican beach stones (round, flat, black/grey stones about 3 inches in diameter), large smooth rocks extracted from our planters (there were at least 10 that were almost bowling ball size) and a nice shrub to create a quasi-bonsai garden in the right corner near the door.

I used the smaller, flatter planter stones to create a cobblestone effect in the corners that I was actually really proud of and that the house photographer praised later when he came to take his pictures.

Then we sodded the left and rear and finished off the right with Alyssum and Geraniums

A wall decoration on the fence and the blown glass butterfly bath that my sister and her husband gave as a bridal shower gift and the backyard was complete. Believe it or not, we were planting and doing cleanup almost right up to the arrival of the photographer. You can plainly see that our backyard is still wet in the photos he took from me trying to spray away all the sod dirt.

Inside the house, we bought a new dining room table and completely rearranged the furniture in the living area to open up the room. We got one of those wrought iron candle-holder sculptures for over the fireplace... $20 at Target, but it made such a difference. Most of the rest of the house was pretty well completed. We'd repainted our kitchen a year earlier with one wall a textured mix of dark reds and the rest a nice light Pecan. Coupled with the tan Corian counters, light maple cabinets and the black appliances, the kitchen really looked sharp. The bedrooms upstairs needed some minor tidying and then our house was ready for market.

The photographer took some amazing photos and the resulting flyer looked fantastic. The Broker Caravan on day one went well and we had planned to have an open house on the second weekend. Because of the dogs, we wanted to make the listing "by appointment only" which meant that my cell phone was the contact and agents were calling me at the rate of 2-3 per day to stop over and see the place with their clients. I'd usually get the dogs and step out, but I'd either hear comments through the windows or some people would say nice things about the place on their way out. The only real sticking point for most people was the construction going on in the lot next door. It was a commercial building and people were worried about how high it would be, how much traffic, etc. Figures, they leave that lot dirt for the entire 5 years I lived there and then they decide to build on it when I want to sell. The kicker: it was my own company that was going to be putting in new medical offices there. Go figure.

On the eve of our open house, we got an offer. It was lower than we expected and we decided to go through with the open house anyway, but they answered our counter with a more reasonable offer so we took it. 13 days on the market. Incredible considering one unit in our complex had been on the market for almost 6 months. The escrow went relatively smoothly with nothing major turning up in the inspection. 45 days later, we closed and I'll be happy not to sign my name to anything for a while.

So where are we living now? Ah, let's not get ahead of ourselves, there's still at least 3 updates to go. :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Updates - Round 3

After having a blast on our honeymoon, it was back to work which was a mixed feeling. Frankly, I think if I ever take more than three weeks off of a job, I may as well just stay off. Especially if Hawaii is involved. :)

One thing that we'd been wanting to do for a while but hadn't since we knew we wouldn't have the time during the wedding planning and celebration was get a dog.

Bonnie & Clyde
I grew up with Weimaraners and my dad grew up with Weimaraners. My wife's family kept King Charles Cavalier Spaniels and she herself had a Beagle several years back. We were limited by the size of our backyard... erm, patio... and the fact that we lived in a nice-sized, but still relatively small townhouse. Leaving the dogs outside was not an option because there was no shelter and we couldn't install a dog-door insert in the sliding glass door because our backyard was right on a cul-de-sac where one of my previous roommates cars had once been stolen.

So small dogs, apartment dogs were in our crosshairs. Weimaraners, though beautiful dogs, are large and need a large yard to run around and be active in. My father also had a bad run with his final 2 dogs, both of which had multiple medical issues and died long before their time. Beagles apparently eat anything and everything and are highly destructive when left alone in the house. Cavaliers are cute, but my wife had had 7 of them at one time as a kid and that was enough for her for a while.

After much research, we decided on a Pug. They're small, cute in an ugly way that's hard to describe, and supposedly perfect for apartment living. We found a breeder in East County San Diego and drove out there on a Friday night to see her litter. She had 4 left of the original 6: three males and one female.

Our original intention was to get 1 dog, but then we realized how lonely the dog would be while we were at work and figured since they're small, we should be able to manage 2 dogs pretty well. (Yeah, right! I'm praying we never have twins!) I'd always had male dogs and female cats (that *is* the way God intended, right?) so we decided to get 2 males and my wife suggested we name them Han and Chewie after the characters in Star Wars. However, the little girl of the litter stole my wife's heart and we ended up getting a male and a female.

We brought them home and this is the first picture we took of them. They passed out on the couch after the long ride home. It's hard to believe now that they were ever this small.

Naming them turned out to be a challenge. We tried to think of famous boy/girl duos that would fit their personalities. The list got pretty long at times but eventually we settled on Bonnie and Clyde. We get a lot of strange looks when we call to them singly; who names their dog "Clyde" after all, but when people hear both names they generally think it's really cute.

Not to be an over-proud papa, but I have to say that there are some ugly pugs out there and I think Bonnie and Clyde are pretty cute all things considered. They're almost full grown now and rather large for pugs. Clyde had some eye issues that are a whole series of posts in themselves, but he's fine now and not too much worse for wear.

They're a lot of work but a lot of fun. Someone once told us that with a Pug in your life, you'll always have laughter and we have to agree completely.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Updates - Round 2

So after most weddings, there's

The Honeymoon
My sister and her husband had had a novel idea: take 1 week to travel and 1 week to relax at home and unwind. We had decided this would be a great idea for us to do as well, except as we started planning it out, we wanted to squeeze a few more fun things into the 2 weeks and pretty soon, we were pretty much booked solid with no "unwind" time left over except for the final Sunday.

Our adventures began in Hawaii on the island of Kauai. We'd both been there a year earlier for a friend's wedding and we both really enjoyed ourselves and had a lot of fun so we decided to go back. We spent a week at the Sheraton in Poipu and over the course of the week we did all the touristy stuff: champagne sunset cruise, scuba diving, horseback riding, movie location tour (including the Jurassic Park Gate location below - please ignore the datestamp), innertubing down the plantation irrigation ditches and hiking through the rainforest. We also took some time to relax and tour the island. It was a good thing we left when we did at the end of the week; a few more days and we would have probably stayed.

Back on the mainland, we embarked on the second leg of our honeymoon: Vegas, baby! We both have a love for Las Vegas and we stayed at Treasure Island - sorry... The "TI" - in a very nice suite with a jacuzzi tub and the works. They sent a bottle of a really tasty champagne up to the room, which was very nice. I wonder how many times I can get away with saying that I'm there on my honeymoon? One of my coworker's brothers is a pit boss in the high limit room at The Mirage, so he got us fantastic seats for Ka (the Cirque show at the MGM). Fantastic, not free, but you can't complain when you're 12th row center (you don't want to be any closer or you won't be able to take in everything that's going on).

On our way back to San Diego, we stopped in Anaheim to spend 2 days at Disneyland. We stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel which is a bit of a hike to the park, but not terrible considering all the rest of the walking you're going to be doing during the day. The hotel greeted us with balloons and an autographed photo of Mickey and Mini wishing us congratulations on our wedding. We thought this was really cool, but then when we got back to the room at the end of the first day, the staff had turned down our bed and covered it in rose petals arranged in threes to form "Mickey ears".

Someone spent a lot of time on that, I'm sure. There were also petals on the floor from the door to the bed, chocolates on the bed, Mickey Ear Rice Krispy treats on the desk and a note wishing us a magical night.

That last bit was a little weird, knowing that the staff knew what we'd be up to that night as honeymooners (watching a movie and passing out... what were you thinking, eh?), but the gesture was certainly appreciated.

All-in-all a ton of fun and a fantastic trip the likes of which we probably won't be able to do again anytime soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I say ketchup, you say catsup

Alright, catch-up time.

For anyone following my homepage, my last update was in December, 2005. I know: I stink at updates. I was writing at that time to report that I had just asked my girlfriend of 3 years to marry me and that she had accepted.

So what's been going on in the past 18 months? Well... I'm going to do some major posting here to bring you up to speed. 1 Topic each post so that we can break things down a bit into more digestible chunks.

Ew. Sorry, proceeding....

We waited a good month to let the reality of the engagement sink in before even thinking about the wedding plans. This was both good and bad, because those of you who have been through this blissful and insane period in your lives will know that locations and vendors book up fast, sometimes a year in advance. What it did do was allow us to thank all of the well-wishers and advice-givers in relative peace and comfort without feeling like we needed to rush into everything and end up with someone else's idea of a great wedding.

The first step was location hunting and after several weekends we decided upon The Victorian in Santa Monica. There was some parental hesitation because it could only seat 180 (150 comfortably and even then a little cramped) but we had fallen for this place so we eventually moved forward with everyone's blessing. The date we had picked was September 2nd and Vendors were all wrapped by the end of March. Or was it May?

The big day arrived quickly and was everything we hoped it would be. My wife and I had the time of our lives and hoped that our guests did as well. We certainly received a number of compliments over how well everything turned out and how much fun people had. We had really wanted to imbue the night with a bit of our own quirky selves and so we had a few personalized surprises such as the dinner music being songs from movie soundtracks; everything from Pirates of the Caribbean to "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" in Monty Python's Life of Brian.

The wedding really turned out to be a full weekend affair thanks to a Friday night rehearsal dinner and Sunday brunch thrown by my parents. Coupled with the "big day" (props given generously to my Mother-in-Law), it was truly a whirlwind weekend for my wife and I, made even more special by the friends and family who shared it with us (both personally and vicariously). Thank you.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Welcome one and all

Welcome to my new blog.

I figured the biggest obstacle to my updating my home page was that it was too much work to edit the pages manually (I really need a good WYSIWYG editor), so I've put myself out in the blogosphere in the hopes that the ease of updating combined with the interactive forum and resulting self-imposed pressure to maintain said updates will inspire me to maintain a schedule of updates.

This blog is about me (what blog isn't) and Gombergs in general whenever I happen upon an interesting Gomberg figure or factoid. It's what I had planned to do with but ultimately failed at. ( is being redesigned in the wake of this change.)

This blog isn't about gossip, trash-talking, venting, or anything else that the relative anonymity of the web afford so many people. I've been down that road before; it's not where I want to be.

I look forward to seeing you here in the weeks, months and years to come.