Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Glutton for Punishment

I haven't written about real estate for a few days. Gee, I wonder why that is? I made the mistake of reading all the bubble blogs on the same day (the kids are on break, after all, and I had some serious catching up to do). How much of "the economy is melting and real estate is worthless" can a poor soul take? Sometimes I have to slap myself (quite literally, I'm afraid) in order to snap out of the too-scared-to-move trance that these sites put me in. I have to remember the perspective (it's just like reading the news).

Since I have little power over the outcome of this treacherous economy, I'm determined to look forward and continue to plan for our future. I can't help but be excited about opportunities in single family residences that await us. We've proven that it's a niche where we can succeed--and time is on our side. The prices in Riverside County seem to have dropped much lower than other parts of Southern California. Frankly, San Diego has a way to go before I would touch it again as an investor. But I'm still watching and waiting.

I don't want my site merely to regurgitate the news (without substantial comment by moi) or be a duplicate of other real estate blogs out there. If I address the sub-prime market (e.g., Bear Stearns) and how high the foreclosure rates have skyrocketed, would you be interested in reading it? I wouldn't. I can get the economic analysis anywhere by a variety of experts. I'm here to give you one person's viewpoint. I'm not sticking my head in the sand, by any means, since I do read about current events. But, right now, I've OD'd on bad news. So, for today anyway, this investor's perspective is all about a little distraction.

As I've outlined in great detail here, I've had some challenges in my life recently: financial stress, attacks from killer bees, one family car--and the list goes on and on.

However, I dare to say that what I'm doing now is probably the most idiotic adventures that I've ever undertaken. I'm a soccer mom. Not for one kid--oh no, that would have been just a minor interruption to our lives. Not for two--that would have been barely manageable. I am the mom of three kids on three different soccer teams. Please stop laughing at me. There were compelling reasons for us to finally break down and put our younger kids in organized sports (I'll get to them in a minute).

Our first son played a variety sports. His favorite was soccer, and he stuck with it for many years. He's still on teams even today as a senior in college. The leagues he joined had a couple of short practices a week and one one-hour game on Saturdays. It was merely a hobby.

Our second son fell in love with baseball. After years in baseball leagues, I've come to one conclusion: baseball is evil. He would have three long practices and two 10-hour games (well, it seemed like it, anyway) a week. There was nothing else in life when he played baseball.

I attended most of the games, until his last year. I never could concentrate on the slowest moving game in the history of organized sports. However, I was fascinated and entertained by the hard-core league parents. They had the set-up down: folding chair with cover and cup holder, cooler with dinner (because there is no family time during baseball season), thermos with hot water to make tea or coffee or hot chocolate, favorite treats from the snack bar, blanket for warmth due to the frigid cold nights that the spectators are subjected to (or portable fans for the searing hot days), and, of course, we can't forget the folder used to keep every stat of the night. They even knew all the team members' names. Did all the players have names? What's wrong with screaming, "Go Number Two!"?

After suffering through the practices and games, and rejoicing at the end of the season, I was disappointed to find that we had to endure the play-off and championship games. Then, when summer was half over and I'm begging for my life back, my son was chosen for All Stars. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! Of course, the parents who were baseball fanatics couldn't be more excited that the season NEVER ENDS. They even voted for more optional scrimmage games before the playoff and all star games. Were they nuts? In some cases, yes, I'm sure.

I wonder if I was the only parent at the play-offs praying that our team loses--just to stop the madness. I'd never broach it with another parent for fear of being beaten to death with an aluminum bat. Not that anyone would notice or care. They might miss a play.

After my son decided that joining a baseball league kept him from participating in other endeavors (like, oh, let me see. . .living, maybe?), he didn't opt to sign up again. Since then, we've been successful in distracting our other children when they ask to play on a team. My husband offers a baseball clinic one and a half hours a week for homeschool children, and myriad other activities to keep the boys busy.

However, one day a few weeks ago, during a very weak moment, my husband and I agreed to sign up the three youngest boys to play on a spring soccer league that our good friend coaches on. He has three kids in it, too, and it seems to run smoothly for them. We knew that we could have him as a coach for two of the kids, but the other one would be with someone else. How bad could it be anyway? The spring soccer season is eight measly weeks. We can withstand anything for eight weeks, right?

Wrong!! I didn't factor in that each of the children would have two practices and one game every week. That means that there are practices in our family four days a week. Plus, my husband's baseball clinic is on the fifth day. Did I mention that we also have to pick up my teenager from the junior college and work at about the same time as the practices twice a week? The worst part is that our family dinners--which we had every single night--are now extinct. Not only is our time together gone, but we are reduced to eating unhealthy food because the league is only too happy to schedule practices during dinner (baseball clinic is in the middle of the afternoon). For me, gaining some weight wouldn't be a bad thing, but I don't want to do it by eating too many hamburgers. Besides, I'm more concerned for our overall health than anything else. The cost of playing organized sports is more than the sign-up fee. We also need to factor in our time, the game accessories (cleats, etc.), the price of gas (as I gun my 12-seater to make it on time), and eating out.

Needless to say, I complained a lot the first week because I cherish our time together more than anything else. But now I see how excited the boys are. They have so much fun, and wake up in the mornings eager to go to practice, even if it's not for another 12 hours. They have great coaches (especially our friend, who has such a wonderful way with children) and can't wait to play their first game this Saturday. So, in the end, I guess it'll all be worth the sacrifice. After all, don't I always tell the kids that they can't truly appreciate something (like enjoying their time on a team) unless they've earned it through hard work and sacrifice? I still can't wait for this short season to end, but the joy that my children are experiencing makes it worth the effort.

I just have one question: whose game will I attend when they all play at the same time in different locations?

Maybe I should join the track team.