April 9, 2015

Home.

I drove up to the local grocery store tonight to pick up a gallon of milk. I just hopped in the car and was there about 3 minutes later.  The grocery store is about a mile away.

Last year at this time, we lived about 15 miles from the closest grocery store.

I pondered this as I drove and realized that it was around this time last year that we seriously started considering putting our house on the market. Our concern at that time was whether or not it would sell.  Isn't that cute?  Have I ever shared that story?

The whole thing started because there was a particular house we had our eye on.  We'll call it house #1.  We passed the driveway every day taking the kids to school, and it was around this time last year that we actually drove back to get a good look at it.  It was an abandoned foreclosure and it needed work. We thought it looked like something we could renovate, if we could get it at a good price.

The whole thing was accelerated when the temperatures got warmer and our neighbors re-emerged from their home. That's a different story that doesn't belong on the blog. Just ask me when you see me next, okay?

So, we contacted realtor #1 and he said something to the effect of, "You can't even think about looking for a house until you sell yours. You need to get your house listed first."  This made me so, so nervous because we had no idea when house #1 would go up for sale.  Realtor #1 was pretty insistent that we should put our house up immediately to ensure that we would be in the position to buy when house #1 became available, which he assured us was going to be very soon. There were a few  things that went down with realtor #1 . . . things that we later found out he was a little dishonest about.  Also, he would show up hours late to meetings.

So we moved on to realtor #2.  Her name was Linda and she was the realtor when we purchased our first house. She's amazing. She didn't know anything about house #1 or when it would sell but was looking into it for us. We had it in our minds (thanks to realtor #1) that we needed to sell our house pronto so we decided to list with her.  She suggested an asking price that was much higher than realtor #1, so we were happy about that.  We also thought that maybe the higher asking prices would slow the process down a little and give us time. Isn't that cute?

We listed it. There was a showing on the next business day. An offer was made.  After a week, we had a signed purchase agreement for our house. Our house was sold but house #1 was still not up for sale.

Let's recap . . . I was 32 weeks pregnant, we had about a month to be out of our house, and the house we wanted to buy wasn't even on the market yet.  We had a preapproval for the mortgage, but that was it.  Oh, and we were in the middle of staff training.  Let's not forget that May/June/July/August are naturally our most stressful months, given that we work at a youth camp.

Our realtor was AWESOME and got working for us.  We went to see SO. MANY. HOUSES.  The houses that were perfect for us weren't in the area that we wanted to be in.  The houses in the area that we wanted to be in were less than perfect for us. There was a house (house #2) that we really loved, but there wasn't much of a yard and we weren't allowed to put up a playscape. We almost put an offer on that one, but decided not to when we saw a listing for house #3.

In the meantime, house #1 was finally listed! BUT WAIT. The bank listed it for (literally) double what it should have been listed for. It was a joke. Even the realtor selling for the bank said it was ridiculous. Side note: The house finally sold just last month for less than half of the original asking price.  We were so bummed at first . . . until our realtor told us about some issues with the house.  The house was a disaster and needed way more work than we'd originally thought. But the real issue was that the driveway to the house was an easement through someone else's property!  The whole thing just seemed really messy. Perhaps we dodged a bullet with that one.


We started packing up our old house, with no idea where we were moving to.  That was really hard.  I didn't know how to organize things. I wondered if we would be moving to an apartment while we house hunted for a while. July 2014 was, without a doubt, the most stressful month of my life. I said, "What on earth have we done?!" more times than I can count.

Back to house #3.  We loved the location and the yard. It was in our price range, but it seemed more expensive than other houses we'd seen with the same specs. We decided to go see it, and immediately understood why it was priced the way it was. The previous owners had made many upgrades and it was really well cared for. Honestly, it was missing about half of what I had on my wish list, but we still loved it.  The biggest drawback for me was the kitchen . . . it was smaller than our original kitchen.  Same number of cupboards (a couple less drawers, though) and the same amount of counter space as the old one, just not as open and no island. During our second showing I stood there wondering if I could make it work and be happy in that kitchen.  I spend a lot of time there.  Ultimately, I decided it was worth it for what we were gaining, and we ended up with a really good deal on the house.

In our first 8 months in this house, the kitchen has been my biggest point frustration, but at least I was prepared for it. Not having an island has felt like a huge loss for me, because that's where the kids did most of their "helping" me in the kitchen. Being able to stand across the island from them instead of having them right next to me was really nice in our old kitchen. Just typing that, I realize how petty and spoiled I sound . . . but I mourn the loss of that kitchen almost daily. I have dreams of someday renovating the main floor of the house, but that will be a while down the road.  Maybe I'll be able to have my grandkids stand across from me at an island someday.

Speaking of grand kids . . . one night when we were between houses, Kyle and I were laying in bed and he was saying how nice it will be that when our kids come back to visit, we'll have enough bedrooms and bathrooms for each family to have their own. I just laughed at him for thinking that far down the road, but secretly began praying that our kids (and their spouses) will desire to all come home to spend time together at the same time someday.

Anyway, we ended up closing on house #3 two weeks after we had to be out of our old house. We lived in a trailer at camp for a couple of weeks, praying the entire time that Hattie would stay put (and she did).  We had two storage units and two trailers full of our stuff. We bought a washer and dryer while we were still living at camp, so that sat on a third trailer under a tarp until we gained occupancy of our new house. 

We got the keys to our new house on my 36th birthday. It was such a good day. We hadn't taken the kids to see the house yet (actually, Claire had gone with us to the first showing, but of course she didn't really remember it) so it was so fun to take them there. During our first week here, our neighbors (many of whom we already knew) brought us food, showed up to help us move boxes, and just loved on us.

Hattie was born 17 days after we moved in, and the fall was a whirlwind.  It was rough. Postpartum hormones, living in chaos and clutter, trying to make the stuff we purchased to fit in our old house work in our new house . . . I just felt like I was in limbo for months and months. Many times I've wondered if we made a rush decision because I was pregnant and if we should have just held out and rented an apartment for a while. But that brings me to tonight. 

When I pulled into the driveway tonight, I sat and looked at the jonquils and tulips that have pushed up in our landscaping (LANDSCAPING! We have professional landscaping! It makes me feel so grown up.), and I had this overwhelming feeling of knowing that we're right where we're supposed to be. This has only happened once or twice in my life, so the feeling is a significant one for me. I watched the boys run around in the yard in the rain tonight, and it felt right. I painted the living room (for the second time since we moved in) today, and it felt like home. My heart is so full when I see the kids playing with their friends from the neighborhood . . . friends whose parents I know!


I'm still not completely settled in our new house. I still move things around on a weekly basis, and my kids are sick of new systems for organization. Our formal dining room is still void of furniture and serves as more of a playroom as we figure out what to do with it (it's kind of small and awkward for a formal dining room, anyway).



But we're home. And I'm happy to finally be here.

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