Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Tour-- Picture Heavy

Yesterday, I went out in 108* heat and humidity to hear the report from the inspector.  (I am from Georgia and temps like that are normal there, but it is still sweltering and miserable, and now my ankles are SO paying the price.) 

There are a few minor things on the list.  A few will need addressed after closing (like the kitchen faucet that has very little water pressure.)  Most of the others are things *I* probably wouldn't have noticed.  For example: The bedroom doors for the children's rooms don't latch when you close them.  We close doors so rarely, it may have taken me months/years to figure that one out.  They can be adjusted but really, right now it is the least of my worries.  (Now the swelling in my ankles? THAT worries me! I can't see my ankle bone!)

A tiny little drama-ish story.  Solomon has already fallen down the stairs in this house.  He did it yesterday and there was blood freakin' everywhere.  He tore his upper frenulum.  So I've already cleaned the vinyl on my hands and knees once and we haven't even closed.  HA.  Solomon is okay and my heartrate has returned to normal.  Life with boys, what can I say?

Looking back through my pictures there are obviously places I didn't bother to take pictures, but I did take enough for you to get the general idea.  The house is a very clean canvas right now, but we are okay with that... for now.  (We already have a list of things for "Someday.") 

Right when you walk in the homeschool room is to your right.  I took this from the OTHER entrance to the room.  This is technically a diningroom, but A.  It is carpeted and B. There is another eating area.  We aren't fancy people.  ;) 

In this picture, I'm standing in the doorway from the homeschool room to the kitchen.

Not really our style, but we have plans... eventually.  This is a much better layout than our current rental.  (Ya know, where my dishwasher is ACROSS from my sink. HA)  A fridge is on the To Buy List. 

On the other side of that half wall, there is the "breakfast" area that we will use as our dining room.  Remember.. not fancy people. :)

This is the first picture we ever saw of it, and I thought, NO WAY jose!  That isn't big enough.  Turns out, it is a bad angle and doesn't photograph it well. 

So I tried again, yesterday and got this. 


The ceiling makes it feel MUCH larger than that first picture. :) 

Through the doorway on the left of that picture is the living room. 

We truly LIVE in our livingroom.  So this space will be welcomed and used often. 

Oh and I live in the laundry room.  That shelf will come down, so we can stack a washing machine and dryer and still fit a freezer in the room. :)

Downstairs there is also a pantry, half bath and a coat closet.  But I'll spare you those details. LOL


Master Bedroom to the right:

Master Bathroom:

Master Closet (and Vanna Soli) 

And two very similar bedrooms (one boys, one girls): 

Kids Bathroom:

Kids bathroom from another angle. 

There is also a linen closet upstairs. 

I still feel like I should pinch myself and I may be holding my breath til closing.  There is an appraisal, septic inspection and termite inspection left to go.  *slow deep breaths*. 


Friday, June 29, 2012

A Hand +1

Julianne's sixth birthday was earlier this month and completed our kiddo birthday season for this year. ) 

That morning, she just KNEW it was her birthday and wasn't about to let anyone accidentally forget.  She granted us permission to look at houses on her birthday and our realtor brought Julianne a Happy Birthday balloon and she beamed from ear to ear during the showings.

All Julianne could talk about was her Auntie Karon coming for her birthday and eating Sweet Frog (frozen yogurt.)  Unfortunately Auntie Karon had an infection in her leg and her doctor wouldn't clear her for the drive from Georgia to Virginia. 

So Sweet Frog would have to do.  I prayed really hard that Julianne wouldn't spend her birthday day  sad about Auntie Karon not getting clearance to come but she seemed to take it in stride.  "Your doctor is silly, Annie Karon..." is an exact quote from their phone conversation.   *giggle... * 

But God had already worked it out for Julianne.

We looked at houses and then went to Sweet Frog.  Yes, I let my hair down and we had dessert before dinner. 

As we were sitting and eating our yogurt, we looked up and realized that a large group of firefighters/paramedics were also making their yogurt.  Hmmm.. I thought. 

We finished and walked outside and guess who was parked behind us?  TWO firetrucks and a pile of firefighters/paramedics. 

Xander (not being the least bit shy) started shouting "Fi-yah twuck!" and jumping up and down.  This display of complete and total excitement got a firefighter's attention and opened conversation.  Then Lainey volunteered that it was Julianne's SIXTH birthday.  Oh the firemen were just super excited about the opportunity to make it special for our little Bunch.

So they each got to get in the front and look at ALL the buttons.  They turned on lights.  And they sat in the back.  I was trying to snap pictures to capture it all (with my phone, boo!) 

Xander was a little shy once he got into the firetruck. 

When we got back in the van Julianne declared it the "most special birthday ever!"

I'll take it!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Under Contract...

Under Contract.  First inspection tomorrow. :)  Please pray!

Friday, June 22, 2012

31 weeks: Medical Drama and More Houses...

Last Friday, we managed to get into a house last minute and take a looksie around.  It made me dance in the kitchen. ;)  It is not exactly what we imagined or hoped for, but I think it will work out nicely for the way that we use our space. 

(I do find it rather sad that when we spoke to the neighbor across the street she stressed that the home would be too small for us, because she felt her home that was a little bigger was too tight with three children.  It's the American way, huh?  More, more, more.) 

And then we saw a house where we'd never be able to get up the driveway in the snow or rain.  We barely got to it during the summer and it needs massive amounts of work. 

The price range we are in is so funny.  You see all kinds of things apparently. 

The weekend was pretty low key.  Saturday Brandon worked, Sunday we went to church and celebrated Father's Day and then Monday we went to Lowes. 

Apparently, I cannot walk Lowes without stirring up a bunch of contractions.  It happened the last time I went but I drank a ton of water and was able to ward them off.  This time, it just didn't work.

After about an hour of contractions every 3-5 minutes like clockwork, I got in a warm bath and after that a shower.  But it didn't help.  Bran called my OB's number and another doctor was on call.  He was very short with me and said, "Well, I guess you need to come in." And then hung up!  He hung up before I could tell him it may take awhile since we live 45 minutes away (on a good day with little traffic.) 

We made arrangements for the children and headed in.  The hospital was ridiculous.  No one bothered to see if I had a UTI causing my contractions, no one ran labs and no one even checked to see what was going on.  In fact, a doctor never saw me, only two poorly informed residents...

The next morning they decided I had made progress but the resident told me it didn't matter because I had had three babies.  And then they discharged  me.  Never saw a real doc or even an OBGYN resident. 

Brandon was furious and I was exhausted.  We figured out that I slept about 11 minutes broken into 2 minute segments between the monitors being adjusted, having to go to the restroom and contractions.

Later that morning we found a new to us OBGYN.  One that would see me within an hour if I could get to his office in that time.  I also found out that I had been misled and I CAN deliver at the closest hospital here.  (Before I was told that they could not care for a preterm baby and we'd be separated.  This is true until 28/29 weeks, but I am past that.) 

Things have settled down since then, but the dilation won't go backwards, so I'm literally on pins and needles waiting to see what happens.  I'm resting in knowing that God knows Isaiah's birthday and that he is big enough that he would most likely do well and just need some assistance.  It still hurts to think about things in terms of "odds" and the thought of leaving Isaiah in a hospital to come home sends me into sobbing fits. 

Little Isaiah sure likes to keep us on our toes.  But we still love him, to the moon and back times infinity.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

More House Chronicles

Brandon and I bid on a SECOND house this week. No dice. This is getting old.

I mean, really.. You want the price from 2007 (note: still near the top of the bubble)but you did not maintain your home. You have not decluttered. There is no walkway from the driveway to the front door. You have TERRIBLE mismatched appliances that you are being "generous" and leaving behind. Your kitchen layout stinks. You ONLY CLEAN ON FRIDAY. The first time we came to your house we walked through a FOOT of weeds and I nearly went into labor when my husband pointed out the STUFFED bobcat in your extra room.. which I have noted cannot be advertised as a bedroom because

How nice of you to agree to have your house power washed. It is super sad that we even had to put that INTO the offer. I'd be ashamed to try to sell my house with green slime on the side of my house. Apparently you are not.

And you STILL don't want to actually pick a close date. You were LATE responding to us and then you STILL want 14 MORE days to pick a closing date? And you are "offended" that we asked to have where you claim a small limb crashed into your roof, leaving a dent in the roof line fixed? And somehow I am supposed to trust you that it is PURELY cosmetic even though it happened FIVE YEARS AGO and YOU bought the house like that? And this is somehow supposed to make me feel better about your home maintenance because you are a maintenance man at a nursing home but your roof has been like that for five years?!?!?

Price didn't budge, and yet you REFUSE to correct the roof. I believe the words were, "I will not budge on this issue."

NOPE. We don't really want your house that bad anyway.

Two words: Buyer's.Market.

And then I find it mighty funny that less than 12 hours after you "lay it all out on the line" with your ridiculous demands, suddenly because we are no longer interested in negotiating with you, you are NOW willing to fix the roof. You know, the same one that you just said that you weren't willing to budge on at all.

Too bad, so sad, too little, too late.

In your case, sir, "Motivated seller" means "I want my cake and to eat it too. I want the best price of 2007 but I don't want to keep up my home for you to be able to justify it." I'm thinking you may want to rethink the whole "motivated seller" thing.


An Educated Buyer

Friday, June 8, 2012

House Chronicles 4: I almost went into labor...

Julianne was sweet enough to say that she didn't mind if we went to go look at a few houses on her birthday yesterday (birthday post to follow) so we planned to go to 3 more houses before we went to our favorite frozen yogurt place and had dessert before our dinner. ;)

I think the fact that we pack a lot of snacks and let the kids control the radio on these trips swayed her a bit. My motto for certain situations: "Whatever it takes to git 'er done!"

Anyway, when we met with the agent she said another house in the same neighborhood as the one we bid on had just dropped it's price. She wanted to know if we wanted to look and said sure. So it turned out we saw four.

House #9, we loved from the outside. When we went in, it was impeccable. Like think Jeffery Lewis clean. ;) It's all good, I get along with OCD people fabulously, especially when I am buying their USED items that look brand new. Tee hee. It had an amazing eat in kitchen with lots of cabinets and counters. The view from the front steps (no porch)was beautiful. Like, I'd actually get up and drink my coffee there instead of having my coffee brought to my bedside.

Take a peek:

The one downside is that there is only a living room and kitchen for common space. We live in our common space, not holed away in our respective bedrooms. I think it might be a little small for us long term-- especially as we continue to feel called to adopt again. (No shocker there right?)

The upside is that it is a beautiful drive and the house is spotless and nice! I seriously walked through and after room 2 I was like, "Sooooooooooooooo... where is the catch?" Couldn't find one other than the common space. And it was a VERY reasonable price.

This one stays on the list.

House #10 was at the top of our price range and I immediately smelled smoke when I walked in. Dear America, air freshener does NOT hide smoke smell. Bran and our agent blamed the fireplace but later after walking in another door, they smelled it too. I'm telling you, I should be a professional smeller. All the bedrooms were upstairs and the master bathroom only had a shower. It was in a neighborhood but the lot felt private because of all the trees.

The backyard had chickens, which I later found out Julianne thinks we should eat on the first night we move in. I had to explain that the chickens generally go with the previous owners and that they were chickens used for eggs. Remind me not to leave a pet I love near her for too long.

These owners had fabulous landscaping skills (or ability to pay for landscaping) and I spotted Erika's favorite flowers ever in the front yard and had to snap a picture for her.

House #11, was a cape (I think? I'm still learning my house shapes/styles) in more of a neighborhood. Still large lots but neighbors were all easily visable because there were no trees. I think we've gotten a little spoiled by living in a more private location. It felt a little fishbowl-ish. But I think a fence and landscaping would help that.

The complete deal breaker is that there is no dedicated master bath and the kitchen was in need of major renovating. We also found some areas that are in need of repair.

House #12... I almost went into labor. First, the seller's agent had warned us that the owners only clean on Friday and they only mow that day too. so we walked through a foot of weeds to get to the front door. The owners were there but leaving which was awkward.

Right when you walked in the house you could go up 2-3 stairs to the majority of the house or down a short stairway to get to the garage, extra room and storage. Strange to me, but we went down since the owners were upstairs.

We peeked at the garage, the storage and then Bran headed into the extra room. I noticed from the hallway that they had deer heads on the wall and seemed to be into hunting. Hey, I'm from Georgia, I get it. My brother had his first buck mounted too. But I noticed the deer (yes multiple) were almost all wearing sunglasses. Ohhhh----kay.

I'm standing there looking at the deer and the room, and I realize it has no closet so it technically is not a bedroom so I start thinking about how we would use it. I'm deep in though when Bran tells me to look down.

I can't see my feet these days (29 weeks today!) and so I have to do this manuver to see over the belly. I looked down and was standing this:

And Brandon said I looked like a cartoon. My legs were just a-goin' and yet I was going nowhere, until he looked down to wipe his eyes and when he looked back up, I was halfway up the stairs.

Now, remember we didn't know if the owners were still in the house, so we had to temper our response. But holy moly, I nearly went into labor.

Bran showed our agent and she jumped a country mile too even though she was standing further away from the dead thing in the tank than I was, thankyouverymuch. That room is now known as The Dead Room.

This house had more space but the kitchen leaves me puzzled. I think it was the angled sink, lack of cabinets and lack of counter space that makes it feel wrong. And there was a breakfast room that was small that I'm not sure what we could use it for, so it feels like wasted space... I know people redo kitchens, but they get expensive and it is inconvenient, especially when you have a child with severe, multiple food allergies. And the landscaping was a hot mess. Actually, I don't even think you could call that landscaping. Their jungle was untamed. There, that is more precise.

Maybe y'all have a better imagination than me. Have a look:


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

House Chronicles Part 3

We found two more houses to go look at today.

House #7 was a beautiful house but a foreclosure. It had mold/mildew and a large water spot in the ceiling of one of the closets. I really hate the thought of mold/mildew and the hassle of dealing with it, but the yard was the dealbreaker. It was 1+ acres of ravine with a house in the side. Not little kid friendly or usable space. I think there was an erosion problem because there was the dirt barrier things around most of the yard. No go.

House #8 was a modular home down a dirt road. It was at the top of our price range (sigh..) and was a foreclosure. The common areas were all very oddly shaped and very defined which left it feeling choppy. There was a huge shed/garage/carport that was obviously handmade. It looked like a death trap. The yard was large and open but the neighbors were very close for having such a large piece of land. Oh and the access panels to water heater/ac/etc were all busted and had the trim torn off. Not huge in the grand scheme of things but a minor annoyance. The carpet was all very badly stained though and had a thick pile (which is not good for our allergies.) It would need replaced ASAP.

And so we continue looking...



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

House Chronicles Part 1 and 2

So I mentioned that Brandon and I had started looking for a little Casa. The truth is that Brandon and I have had quite an awakening about what we find is neccessary for a family our size and what we are willing to spend. Then we moved to a place with a higher cost of living. Needless to say, our budget is quite small for the area.

We started to look, just because we realize with a smaller budget our choices are going to be limited and so it may take some time for the perfect little Casa to come across our radar.

We asked our friends at church for an agent recommendation and we are so blessed by her. She is patient, puts up with our quirks (ahem... we are accompanied by four little people everywhere we go, we make frequent potty breaks for mama, etc.) and is super helpful.

So last week, we picked some houses out of a list and went on our first official househunting adventure here in VA.

(I should add here, that we had our first house built, so we um... didn't have to see past other people's decorating bloopers while looking for our first house.)

So we went to House #1. House #1 was tiny. And we knew that from the description. But there were no inside pictures so I guess we were intrigued. Tiny was an understatement. It should have been listed as a 1 bedroom cottage. Instead it was listed as a three bedroom house. Our king size bed wouldn't have fit in the master and the eat in kitchen would have fit a 2 person pub style table. NEXT!

House #2. House #2 was bigger in square footage. It was white everywhere, but that just made it easier to picture our tweaks. The kitchen was outdated but the killer was the master bath. It was only a shower stall and that stall was TIIIIIIINY. I'm not sure I could fit in it with my pregnant belly. And it had lots of hair in the drain too. Barf. There was no room for a future remodel of the bathroom to make a bigger shower without, I dunno, taking out the toliet and one sink? LOL Sorry #2, you did not make the cut.

House #3. House #3 was spotless. It was modern and well cared for. It had an amazing open kitchen. I didn't even mind the brown cabinets. (I'm more of a white cabinet girl myself-- yes, even with the kiddos! But brown is growing on me.) We loved that the floors were hardwood in all the common spaces and carpet in the bedrooms. I have a little carpet hate in me, but this would be the agreed upon compromise... It had a large garage, a closed in sunroom (helloooo playroom!)and a decent sized laundry room. One downfall was that it had no dishwasher, but it had plenty of cabinets where we could have sacrificed a set for a dishwasher installation.

That is all the houses we had scheduled for our first outing. We talked it over and decided to put an offer in on house #3. We figured it had been on the market a bit and we could try. We looked at comps and realized that the listing price that was in our budget was a bit high. So we lowered it to be in the range with the comps and waited.

And they countered back at full (overpriced!) listing price. Oh look, they were nice enough to throw in the washer and dryer. But we weren't going to pay $10K extra for a washer and dryer. Nice try, slick. They also moved the closing date up. (HELLO!? I'm very pregnant folks!) and demanded we double our earnest money.

We countered again, raising our price a bit, keeping our closing date and earnest money amount the same.

And they countered back.... at full list price, again, more earnest money but our closing date. Womp, womp. Suddenly the seller's agent tells us all about the sudden flurry of interest in the property.

By this point, we felt like they were being difficult and the more we thought about it, the more we couldn't justify anymore movement up on our price. So we stopped negotiations and walked. See ya!

Back to square one, we set up another date to go out with our agent and started House Chronicles 2.

This time, there wasn't much else that caught our eye in the listings our agent sent us. We had a foreclosure, a house that was sent to our agent after she heard house #3 didn't work out because she thought it was "similar" and another house that looked great in pictures but was at the top of our budget.

House #4 was the foreclosure.! You hear stories of stripped out foreclosures but I think until you really SEE one, you can't comprehend exactly what it is like. This house had no door knobs, no light fixtures, no appliances, no outlet covers and only one light switch cover (that was broken.) The master bedroom was painted red and they obviously did not tape off anything. There was paint on the carpet, the baseboards, the ceiling and the door. There would have been less red if it was a murder scene. All the carpet was ruined. Bedroom 2 had a wrestler drawn on the wall (?) and bedroom 3 had no flooring. In addition, there was water damage and the stair rail was very loose. The house would have been better off bulldozed, I think. We left quickly!

House #5 was the house that the agent sought us out for. She claimed it was similar to house #3 and only went on the market yesterday. But it was SO not like house #3. The home smelled of smoke and airfreshener. Nice try! There was no laundry room, just an accordian door for a washer/dryer in the kitchen. The kitchen had very few cabinets. The breakfast nook was too tiny for us, but there was a halfwall partition separating it form a dining space. We could have made that better with some work. The livingroom area had beautiful hardwood floors, but the bedrooms were tiny and there was no garage or space for a playroom. The bathrooms were pink and beige tile. Did I mention it smelled of smoke and had no furniture in it? So Bran and I figured that the carpet would have to go, it would all need painted and we'd have to pray the hardwoods didn't absorb all the smoke. My eyes burned. The best thing going for this house was a large deck out back.

And then we went to House #6. House #6 quickly made me forget about House #3. It was BEAUTIFUL and well taken care of. It was on a large piece of land that made it very private. It had a rocking chair front porch and I could just see myself out there with a glass of sweet tea watching the kiddos play. We couldn't see the road or a single neighbor. It had a detached 2.5 car garage with an attic space above it. We envisioned that as a homeschool room/playroom. There was a large laundry room/mudroom. The kitchen had stainless appliances and only needed a fridge. There was plenty of room for a large diningroom table for our family size. The livingroom was amazing.

And the master bath was a show stopper. Stonework around a huge, deep soaking tub. I squealed with delight as I called our agent and Brandon in.

The master had a large closet and the room itself was plenty big for us and a baby (since my newborns room in with us.) The other two bedrooms were good sized as well. We drooled over that house. We had a few questions for our agent to ask theirs, and we headed back to "town." On the way home, we talked about the list price, etc. And then when we finally picked cell service back up, we got a message from our agent saying that when she called, she was told that they had just accepted an offer TODAY, while we were inside the house. Our agent left her contact information in case anything falls through.

Boo hoo.

Six houses (well technically 7, because we looked at one before we found our own agent, but that house isn't even worth mentioning.) and back to square one. I know our house is out there... we just have to find it.

Later today (since I am typing this at 2:35 am..) we are going to see two more. I don't know if I should be excited or feel dread. This hasn't been an easy process at all.

So how many houses did you look at while you were house hunting before you found The One? Any terrible foreclosure stories?


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Changes... Lots of Them...

Monday I had an appointment with a new to me doctor. She is a family practioner that has chosen to focus on women's health.

I was nervous going in. I've only ever used an OB for my pregnancies and annual check ups. But I was quickly growing dissatisfied with the types of care that were provided by the OB I was using.

I see things so much more differently when it comes to pregnancy and birthing than I did with my first. My goal with DeLainey's birth was to both make it out alive. Seriously. I was young and scared and just wanted to live. It seems a bit dramatic looking back, but that is where I was back then. I had no support for breastfeeding-- in fact I didn't actually KNOW anyone that had successfully breastfed. I was working full time and a full time college student, so formula is what we did. It never even crossed my mind to try to pump for Lainey.

Julianne was my csection. I happened to be using an OB that pregnancy with an astonishingly high csection rate. No surprise that he convinced me I *needed* a csection too right? I'm NOT saying csections are never needed. I'm saying that NOW I know that our csection rates are so high. They are higher than you see in other countries. I tried to nurse, but only lasted about 3 weeks. Again, I had no support other than a well meaning husband that had never nursed. LOL

Between Julianne and Solomon's birth, my friends shifted a good bit. Suddenly, I knew women that had years of nursing experience under their belt. I actually knew women that had VBAC successfully and *gasp* I even knew women that had used a midwife and homebirthed. My eyes were opened in a way that I can't explain.

I wasn't ready to make a HUGE leap, but I did suddenly have the reassurance I needed to attempt to VBAC. I exclusively nursed Solomon for 6 months and our nursing relationship survived mastitis and a nursing strike.

But something was different this pregnancy. As the subchorionic hemorrhage disappeared and the previa moved, and yet I continued to see interventions thrust upon me with no solid, evidence based reasoning given, I started to feel more and more uncomfortable.

And then my OB dropped the bomb that he would be out of town during the weeks that I normally deliver. I know first hand that his partners are NOT as supportive of a VBAC and in all honesty, I only consider my chosen OB to be minimally supportive.

So the prayers started. I spoke with our family practioner and he really encouraged me to go for the birth that I desired and not be herded along with the current "norms" that are accepted here by lots of women with no questioning.

So I did. I asked around and prayed A LOT! And it brought me to the appointment with the new to me doctor on Monday. We had a very relaxed talk about what HER policies and procedures were and I walked out actually excited about giving birth this time. The things that my old OB said concerned him, didn't concern her nearly as much (and some things not at all!) She is VERY Pro-VBAC especially since I have successfully done so in the past and practices evidence based care, instead of herding all of her patients along a single path. She is very supportive of breastfeeding.

She was also willing to try a different medication instead of continuing the shots that were giving me 6 days of side effects every week. I had discussed the side effects with my original OB on multiple occasions and only got the NICU guilt trip. He NEVER told me that there were other options available.

After lunch and prayer, I signed the paperwork to change doctors. This also means that I'll be delivering at another hospital... so we have a hospital tour coming up.

Then on Thursday, we put in our first house offer here in Virginia. It quickly became clear that the sellers wanted their cake and to eat it too and today we let them know that we are no longer interested in continuing negotiations.

So we'll see. I know that our house is out there but it is a bit discouraging given our small budget. We do have the advantage of not having to sell our own house first, so we'll see!

Some days I feel like our world is spinning too fast... but we always make it through. The speed of life leaves me clinging to God and I have a feeling that THAT is right where God wants me. :)