June 30, 2013

June in Review

After our amazing trip to Europe in May, we settled back into real life and finished out the school year.  Much of June was spent packing for our move, but in between we managed to keep busy with other activities.

Mary had her first violin recital.  Her teacher is our amazing neighbor who is extremely talented (she is just a high school senior).  Mary has only been taking lessons for a couple of months but she is doing well.

 Mary went to Girls' Camp for her first time.  Camp LoMia!

Collin attended EFY in Flagstaff at NAU and had a great time!  He loved every minute of it... learned a lot, made some new friends, and come home on a spiritual high.  He also went to camp with the Teacher's Quorum and did lots of hiking and rock climbing.  He said the food was really good too.  (Of course that would be the most memorable part for a teenage boy.) 

All 3 of my kids participated in musical theater camps (Jack for the first time) and did a great job.  Collin and his cousin stole the show performing the song "Tear Jerk."  It has hilarious! 

 They love being in it with their cousins!

 My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and we put on a nice dinner and program.  I wish I had some video or other photos but I'm really bad about that kind of thing.

 The rest of the month looked about like this.

June 27, 2013

The Saga of Our New Home

This is kind of long, but if you want to know the whole story, here it is.

Sixteen years ago this month, Jay and I were newly weds building a house for our family.   Sixteen years ago in October we moved into that house that seemed so huge at the time (for just the two of us).   Along came three children and our family grew as our house seemed to shrink.  

About 8 years ago we felt like we had out-grown our house and decided it was time to find something larger.  We started looking and planned to put our house up for sale.  We live in a great area so we really wanted to find something in our same neighborhood.  People are often looking to move into our area so as soon as a few people heard we were thinking of selling we had an offer without ever putting our house up for sale.  

So, we signed a contract to sell our house (for the market value at that time), started packing, hired a real estate agent, and started looking in earnest for our new home.  Really looking.  A lot.  Like every day.  At lots of houses.  Our buyers were living with family so they were able to be flexible on our closing, so we weren't super worried.  But then something strange happened.  Houses began selling within an hour of being listed and for much more than the asking price.  There were bidding wars on houses that weren't even that great, and lotteries for new homes.  Home prices skyrocketed and suddenly we were selling our house for about HALF of the current market value.  (Remember this craziness in 2005?)  We discovered that couldn't have afford something similar to the house we were selling, let alone buy something larger, even if we could manage to get in an offer before someone else. 

Since there was no contingency in our contract we really started panicking.  And praying.  Really hard.  We were stuck, and kind of desperate.  We found ourselves willing to make offers on houses we didn't even really like, in locations we didn't want, which really scared me.  Suddenly our "little" house looked really desirable again and we just wanted to stay put!  There ended up being some complications with the closing so we kindly returned the earnest deposit, and it ended up being best for everyone involved. 

So, over the next 8 years we stayed in our home and made the best use of the space we have as our children grew and their stuff and friends got bigger.  We like to entertain and continued to do so even with limited space.  I really do love this house, and we love our neighborhood and the whole area.  

But I never really stopped looking at houses and dreaming.  Our "ideal" was still to find a larger house in our same neighborhood, or very close by.  We always felt that if we were patient then the right house for the right price would come along at the right time.  And it did.

At the end of April, the week before we were to leave the country for 2 weeks, I was out jogging around the neighborhood one morning.  As I ran by a house in our "ideal" part of the neighborhood which I had run/walked/biked/driven by at least a hundred times before I saw something different.... a for sale sign!  I had never really given this particular house a second glance, but now it certainly caught my eye now!  I didn't want to get my hopes up and assumed we probably wouldn't be able to afford it, and figured I probably wouldn't like it anyway (from the outside it wasn't "my style"), but I figured what-the-heck.  (I work hard to not get my hopes up.)

So, I called the number on the sign and went to see it about an hour later.  Investors had bought it as a short sale and had just started fixing it up in preparation to list it (they had just put up a sign that day but weren't ready to list it yet).  I could see it was a nice house but kept telling myself it wasn't my style.  But I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I told Jay about it and he rolled his eyes.  Then I suggested he go see it with me, which he did the next day.  The next day we went to see it again.... and I liked it more.  The next day I took my stylish sister with me, asking her to point out all the things that were wrong with the house and to tell me why I shouldn't want it.  Instead she told me all the wonderful things about it and I finally admitted how much I really liked it.  She asked me to list the things that were most important to me in a house.  That's when I realized it had everything I was looking for, and more.  It was true love.  

The next day I took my parents to see it, wanting my dad to give his approval... or not.  He has been in the home building business for 40 years so he knows what he is looking at and is very particular.  I was braced for his criticism of the house so I was shocked when he only said things like, "This is a really nice house.  They are doing a really nice job fixing it up."  My construction-management BIL who knows a thing or two about construction came along too and gave his approval.  I was sold.  Now I just had to convince Jay.... or so I thought.  It turns out Jay liked it too.  

By the next day the sellers had accepted our verbal offer.  The timing was terrible because we were leaving for Europe in a few days, and we knew we would have to sell our house really fast!  But I was surprisingly calm about the whole thing.  I knew that if it was meant to be that things would fall into place.  And they did.

The next day I sent out an email to some family and friends saying, "We made an offer on a house and need to sell ours fast.  Let me know if you know of anyone who might be interested."  Within an hour I had people calling me.  Someone came to look it that night.  Another person came the next morning... and came back that afternoon saying she wanted it.  The next day we signed contracts on both houses and the next day we left for Europe.  It was crazy, but everything fell into place. 

I have mixed emotions about the whole thing since this is the only home our family has known.  I'm excited about the new home we are moving to, but feeling a little sad about all the memories we are leaving behind.  Thankfully we are selling our beloved home to someone wonderful, so we know it will be in good hands.  

It's a wonderful little house and it's been good to us!  Now, on to the next chapter....