Malone 2010 Year-In-Review

by brandt

I’m not much into resolutions. The New Year is going to bring what it brings.  I’m into priority lists and to-do lists.  So while Ashley might put together her own New Years Resolution list, I like to reflect on what happened this past year.


Aside from the birthday of the absolute nerdiest person on the face of the earth (yours truly), January was special for 2 reasons.  First, I was able to get Ashley to try Korean food (her first time).  I spent quite a while in Korea, and learned to really love their food and culture, and wanted her to experience it as well.  Sharp spices, wonderful meat, and vast amounts of fish and veggies were a welcome break compared to American-style eating.  Second, the mortgage company I was working at put me in charge of learning the new governmental requirements for RESPA – the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Why was this important? Because I got a good view of the mortgage industry as well as my current position at the company, and realized that I needed a change. It’s a long story that’s not relevant, but at this point Ashley and I both decided that I needed to start looking for greener pastures.


We are both huge movie buffs, and after hearing Ashley’s complaints that we only go to sporting events, we found a mutually beneficial arrangement that worked out for the better.  We had a pamphlet delivered to our mailbox from the Detroit Film Theater (which is part of the Detroit Institute of the Arts, a big artsy-fartsy place).  They were having a film festival where they played all the Oscar-nominated short films in one night.  They were starting the festival at 9:00 PM, and after getting all dollied up, we made the trek downtown.  I had purchased the tickets beforehand, and didn’t think to bring any cash…until I realized that we couldn’t park in the protected Film Theater parking unless we had cash.  I found a lighted, !!safe!! side street and parked down there, and we walked about a block-and-a-half over to the Film Theater.  We didn’t realize how late the festival was going to run, but we thought “They’re short films!  It can’t be that long!”  At about 1:00 AM, we decided we should probably head out (we had to be somewhere early the next morning).  Living near Detroit my whole life, I wasn’t worried in the least.  But for Ashley, she wasn’t prepared for eerily quiet walks down sidewalks in the middle of the night trying to get to our car.  She says she was scared for her life.  I say she was just cold.  We’ll definitely be heading back this year, and I think this time I’m going to remember to bring cash…


I finally was able to do it.  I finally got Ashley to go to a Detroit Red Wings hockey game!  She’s from Utah, where they only have one professional sports team.  She understands football pretty well, she loves baseball, and basketball is a way of life for her.  But hockey?  She’d watched it on TV with me a couple of times, but didn’t really understand what was so exciting about it.  I decided to change that.  I got some cheap tickets and took her down to the Joe Louis Arena to experience hockey the way God intended it to be experienced – in Detroit.  While it was an exciting game (with the Red Wings winning 4-2), Ashley wasn’t prepared for how ravenous us Detroiters can be when it comes to hockey.  Or beer.  According to Ashley, a non-drinker, our seats smelled “like yeast.”  Oh Ashley, you’ve got so much to learn about being a Detroiter.


Oddly enough, this was our one “down month,” which worked out well.  I wish I had some witty social commentary or some humorous anecdote to place here, but I don’t.  Maybe my memory is failing me in my “old age”…


We finally went on our “vacation” this year.  I put vacation in quotes because in reality, it was only 3 days, but still, we went “…someplace warm. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called”…NORTHERN MICHIGAN! I wish I could describe Northern Michigan in such a way as  to give it due justice, but take the best parts about a vacation resort – lakes all around, perfect warm temperatures, little humidity, boats, swimming, beaches, fire pits, and falling asleep in perfect weather to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore.  My parents have a little place they purchased up there, and have done a wonderful job in fixing it up.  At some point in the future we’ll have some pictures up of the before/after of what they did up there, but that really became the inspiration for our own renovation dreams.


Ashley took a trip to visit her family for a week, the first time she’d seen them since November.  We were going to go out together last Christmas, but schedules didn’t work out with our new jobs and we had to cancel our plans.  However, Ashley’s dad had some frequent flyer miles that were collecting dust, so we put those miles plus a tad bit of money towards her plane tickets, and she was on her way back to the Motherland.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that the flyer miles plus the cash was enough to upgrade her to first class the entire way.  Lucky girl.  While I haven’t seen the family since April of 2009, that’s going to change that this year.  It was good for Ashley to reconnect with her roots, and especially to see her grandparents.  She did tell me that I need to come out with her the next time “so people don’t think that you hate them or something.”


We contacted a realtor that came very highly suggested from my friend, and with zero knowledge about the real estate industry we dove right in.  We found out later that her specialty was in bank-owned homes, short sales, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac homes, and foreclosures.  She immediately starts sending us the MLS listings, which I would pour over with a frenzy.  We were just going on a wish and a prayer, not really knowing exactly what kind of house we were interested in or what we were getting into, or what type of realtor she was.  She was an excellent choice.  We’ve kept her ever since then, and she’s been absolutely wonderful.  On July 20th, 2010, Ashley and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary.  It felt like we’d been married a lot shorter and a lot longer than we really were.  I’ve heard that feeling gets stronger the longer we go.


We finally got one of our big breaks.  After working in the mortgage industry trying to make ends-meat and struggling to get by, I landed a job at one of the biggest IT companies in the nation as a financial analyst.  It all happened so randomly and suddenly.  I had a friend that I worked with at the mortgage place get a job at this company in May.  I was struggling in my own way, looking for a way out of what I deemed a dead-end job.  Out of the blue, he contacted me via Facebook in June, saying he remembered that I was looking for other opportunities, and that they had an opening on his team in his department.  I jumped at the opportunity, but I didn’t get too wrapped up in it, as I had been burned before on potential leads.  I survived the intense interview process, and started the first week of August.  To say that this wasn’t one of the biggest things that happened to our little family would be a vast understatement.  This was the biggest thing of 2010.


We finally did it.  We finally put our first offer in on our first house.  It’s a weird feeling to describe how it feels signing your name to that purchase agreement.  It’s exhilaration plus terror plus excitement and a little bit of a loss of bodily functions all at the same time.  Imagine girls seeing the Beatles for the first time, or high school girls reading Twilight for the first time, or middle-aged women seeing New Kids on the Block back together for the first time.  We made it past Phase One – getting it submitted to the bank.  We made it past Phase Two – the bank calling for highest and best offers.  But we missed on Phase Three – securing the house.  How much did we miss by?  $150.00.  That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.


Halloween, 2010 - Ashley dressed up as a nerd, I dressed up like normal

I had this crazy idea in October.  So many people were asking about our house hunt, both locally and across the country (where Ashley’s family lives) that I decided to start a website. We could post pictures of the houses we were looking at, we could post our projects that we were doing in the house, we could answer questions about the craziness of the whole mortgage/real estate industry, and I could tell my dumb jokes and not have to worry about getting the evil eye from Ashley.  So we decided on a name for our site, and kind of threw it all together.  Hard to believe that we’re going into our 4th month.  Like any relationship that’s meant to go the distance, it feels like this website was a part of us much longer than that.


Is it too dramatic to call this month “Heartbreak Warfare”?  I mean, the month was a very good month.  We saved a ton of money, we made some smart but hard decisions (UFC 123 was taking place literally 5 minutes from our apartment, and we passed up tickets to watch it at home).  It was a hard month because we put in 3 offers this month, and all 3 offers were on houses that were…how should I put it…inaccurate with their descriptions and disclosures.  We really didn’t lose anything this month, but it was quite the experience in tolerance and patience as we waited to see what else was on the housing horizon.


Yes friends, that is the Snuggie. And please disregard the trash in the background.

2010 went out with a bang.  Last year we were so wrapped up in work that we weren’t able to even do the little things, like set up Christmas decorations or even watching Christmas movies.  This year, we decided to make a conscious effort to really get into the season.  We rock the Christmas decorations, we attended Christmas parties, we passed out treats, we rocked the Advent calendar, and we spent the week leading up to Christmas watching Christmas movies.  And aside from the Snuggie debacle, we really felt like Christmas was a holiday, and not just a day-off from work.  We were hoping Santa would bring a house for Christmas this year, and he was pretty close.  He offered up a short sale, which we toured the Monday after Christmas, and made an offer on it yesterday.  It’s another short sale, so who knows what will happen.

Here’s hoping you and yours had a great 2010, and have the best of life and health in 2011!


7 Comments to “Malone 2010 Year-In-Review”

  1. oh dear snuggie! hahahaha! too funny =) My hubs and I got married in july too! so we all have that in common =) I have not, however, had a chance to try korean food — and I would for sure try it if I knew where to look!

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  2. I love reading year reviews and yours was great!
    The snuggie, how can you go wrong! And the trash I assume is the wrapping paper and box from the snuggie. No problem man!
    Have a wonderful 2011~!~!

  3. You guys seem like a fun couple. Love the 2010 recap. Thanks for your comment on our blog.
    We drove through Michigan to Chicago two years ago. Beautiful state.
    Cheers from your neighbour in Ontario, Canada.

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