10 months ago
20 April 2015
Ok, when we moved from upstate New York to San Diego about 2 1/2 yrs ago, and then moved into our current home 2 years ago, we said we would never move again. (Or, we thought, we could possibly move again to somewhere local, but not for years to come -- at least not until our kids were done with high school).
We have been pleased with our home here, and have enjoyed it's convenient distance from local schools. We've been mostly unpacked and settled into our house for quite some time now, but we had a few pesky boxes remaining in the master bedroom -- containing papers that needed to be sorted through, and things that we didn't quite have a good place to put away, so we just put off unpacking those last few things. So, over the last few months I got some cute shelves & cute containers, and I got everything unpacked and organized. I was so pleased with how nice our bedroom turned out. So, we finally got totally moved in!
Then about 3 weeks ago we went to visit our new friends, Matt & Michelle, who's son Jordan is in Courtland's class at school. They had recently moved into a new house a couple minutes down the street from us, and they invited us to come see their new place. We knew that they are both realtors, and they had mentioned that they had gotten a good deal on their house because it was one of the last few in that development to be sold, and there were only 4 other houses left in the development at that time. (We also knew that that housing development is the one that we had seen the models of about a year ago, and Michael and I had really liked one of the models and had jokingly said at that time that maybe we could move one more time if it were to that model). So we asked them to show us the different floorplans again while we were there (even though I did feel a little bad for wasting their time at that, since I knew we weren't really moving and couldn't really afford those places anyway, but they were still happy to show us).
So we went and saw their house first. It was very nice, especially their yard which is extra large compared to most in our neighborhood. They explained that they got their house for a lower price than comparable properties in the neighborhood because you can see a power line from their back yard. But those big back yards sure are great for kids. We also stopped briefly at the home of their neighbor a couple houses down from them, who happened to have their same floorplan. Then we saw one of the other floorplans, which is nice, but it has a courtyard right in the center of the house so that layout doesn't work as well for us.
Then they showed us one last one: which happened to be the house next door to theirs. (And it was the plan that we had previously joked was the one floorplan that could make us move again someday). And it had a good, large backyard with a view. And, yes, you can see the power line wire in the view from the backyard (but that also makes it more affordable than comparable properties in the neighborhood, and a few tall trees on one side of the yard could help with that). And it was already done inside the house -- all that needs to be finished is the back yard landscaping. And we like how the inside of the house is finished (there are only a few finishes that we would have chosen differently) -- dark hardwood floors, a pretty color of granite in the kitchen, nice tile in the bathrooms, and there is even already wiring so we can install ceiling fans in all the bedrooms and throughout the downstairs and in the covered patio. This plan is just right for us: a large backyard, a kitchen that overlooks a family room and a room for a large table (but there's also a separate dining room that we can use as a piano room), a large pantry, a large covered patio with a fireplace, and large sliding glass doors that open onto the patio. And it's in a good location, with a pool/lap pool/jacuzzi/and a small playground just a few houses away, and a trail that leads to the open space just a few houses down in the other direction. And good neighbors.
Anyway, at that point it still wasn't even a real possibility. But we thought about it, then we spent several days running the numbers and talking to a few lenders, and at that point I still didn't see how it could be possible. (Maybe if we had been planning for a move, and had been penching pennies to carefully save for a move, but we hadn't planned this at all). We ended up being referred to a lender, though, who was able to offer us a Professionals Loan because Michael is a physician, and since the requirements of that loan were just a little different than the ones we had previously explored, we realized it just might be possible. So we put down a deposit on the house since we knew the deposit would be returned of for any reason the financial end of things didn't work for us to move forward with it (which is good that we put down the deposit for it when we did, because apparently the couple who had previously made a deposit on that house, but who had been unable to sell their current home, had come back a couple days later and said they wanted it again now. So our timing was good, because it was reserved for us instead).
Normally with homes in new developments here you have to move and sell your current house before you can go forward with a purchase agreement on the new house. But apparently now that they are just trying to sell the last few houses in the development, they are willing to allow you to do it with a contingency to sell your house, as long as you agree to sell it very quickly (list it on the MLS within about 5 days, have it in escrow within 30 days, and close within 30 days). So we were glad it was possible to do with a contingency to sell our house. But we also knew that would take a LOT of work to get a house ready to sell that quickly.
The other roadblock for us was the situation with our boys' school. All 5 boys started at a brand new K-8 school this year. Prior to this school year there was a rather complicated lottery based upon different percentages of the student population coming from different local neighborhoods within different Mello Roos districts (Mello Roos is a special tax in Southern California that raises money specifically for local school districts). Anyway, lots of students tried to get in last year, and something like 800 of the kids did not get a spot at the school. We were very blessed that all of our boys got in. And we weren't willing to take them out of that school that they have all been doing so well at this year.
So, when we started seriously considering moving to this new house, we found out that the school district had a policy that if a child is already a student at this school, and they move from their current Mello Roos district into a different Mello Roos district (even if both districts are within the school boundaries), the child would have to go back through the lottery process if they wanted to attend the school again next school year. We realized that it would be nearly impossible to go through the lottery a second time (this time with most of the spots at the school already filled) and have all 5 of our boys get in. And we weren't willing to just pull them all out of the school. So we were considering making the offer on the new house contingent on selling our current house, and contingent on our kids all getting spots at the school for next year in the upcoming lottery. But we knew that would make our offer weaker to have two contingencies. So we thought maybe it wouldn't work to go forward with it.
But, just a couple of days after we found out about all that, we got a phone call from the school office saying they were excited to tell us the district had just called to say they had changed their policy. And the new rule was that any current student who moved, but stayed within the school boundaries, could continue to go to the school! I think I was a little emotional -- yes, I cried on the phone when she told me that. :) It just seemed that early on in this process, every couple of days we would hit a roadblock and decide that there must be no way to go forward with it, and then by the next day the problem would resolve itself and we'd think maybe it could all work out. Lots of highs and lows in those first few days.
So, once we figured out that we could actually make it work financially (we'll be "house poor" for a while, but we can handle that), we made the deposit to reserve the house, then we went forward with negotiations on the price. We were able to get the builder to lower the price down a bit and throw in a couple more upgrades (blinds throughout the house, and glass enclosures on the showers in the bathrooms). So we were pleased with the outcome of that.
It was late afternoon on Easter Sunday when we found out that the builder had accepted our offer on the new house. As soon as we found out our offer was accepted, we started working the next morning to get our current house ready to sell. Although we have always been DIY kind of people (and I'm generally too cheap to pay other people to do the kinds of things we are able to do ourselves), we knew that in order to have our house in the condition we desired in order to list it, it would be impossible to do all the work ourselves within just a few days. We hired out several of the big jobs, and even so Michael and I still spent every waking hour working hard, and my family helped us for several days, and we ended up calling in a group of guys from the ward to help move out the last of our boxes and stuff.
So, in 5 1/2 days, the yard was trimmed, mowed, edged, a few flowers were planted, mulch was spread through all the planting areas, and the small back lawn area (where there is so much traffic from the kids and dogs that the grass had big patches of dirt all over) was dug up and new sod was laid, the walls in almost the entire interior of the house were painted, the ceiling in one room was painted, exterior doors & trim & baseboards were painted, windows were all washed, we hired someone to spend a few hours to deep clean the house after all the other work had been done, curtains were put up in the front room (where I had never hung curtains before because I hadn't found ones I loved), the fountains outside we're cleaned, the entire house was staged, and everything else in the whole house (other than the staged furniture and items) was packed up and moved over to my parents' garage so our house would look de-cluttered and spacious. Getting recommendations and doing all the scheduling, quotes, correspondence, and coordinating just to get the painters, cleaners, landscapers, piano movers, and window washer all set up, and spending time working with the stager to sage the house took up quite a bit of my time that week. (And we also got several quotes about possibly buffing or refinishing the wood floors, but didn't end up doing that because you have to remove all the furniture and then it takes a few days to complete, so there wasn't enough time to get that finished before we were going to list the house. But I still made all the calls and met with people to get 4 different quotes for the floors, which took some time).
Besides all that, I worked all day every day that week, and Michael joined me each day after work, and we worked hard into the night until we just couldn't stay awake any longer. We emptied every closet, cabinet, bookshelf, and drawer of all but a few staged decorations or other items. We sorted all our things into boxes of stuff that we knew we would need to use during the next couple of months, and another section of boxes of things we wouldn't need access to (so we could stack those boxes high in my parents' garage).
Oh, and that week happened to be the boys' Spring Break from school (fortunately we had previously decided not to go out if town that week). The first few days the boys stayed at the house with me and they were quite a lot of help overall. They helped pack up some boxes of books and games, took things out to the car for me, helped me move some furniture, and they even disassembled the trampoline in the back yard for me. But it got to the point where I couldn't have the kids and the dogs in the house anymore -- I was too concerned that they might touch a window that had already been washed or a wall that had already been painted. So I'm really glad that Kolby is old enough to babysit now, because for the second half of the week I just left them at my parents' house and only saw them for a short time each night before going back over to work in the house some more. And the last couple days my parents were over there helping us move things and clean too, so we were grateful that the boys were so good taking care of each other. I felt kind of bad that they had spent most of their spring break entertaining themselves instead of going and doing some fun activities together, but they told Michael it was the best spring break ever because they got to watch movies all day. :)
Anyway, getting the house ready to list within a few days was stressful at times -- there were a number of different times that I seriously thought it wasn't going to be possible to finish in time for our goal, but mostly it was just an incredibly busy week. I'd say the busiest and most tiring week of our lives (and that's saying a lot for a family that had 5 boys in 5 years). But amazingly, we started on Monday and we got it done enough for professional photographs on Friday at noon, and got it all completely done in time for the open house on Saturday morning! And we couldn't have gotten it all done without my parents pitching in, a group of guys from church coming at the last minute to help us empty the garage on Friday night, and even our realtors/friends pitching in with some moving and cleaning help a couple different days.
After all that work, I actually felt really confident that the house had turned out looking so nice. It felt like a model home, with everything staged and perfect. As we drove away from the house Saturday morning before the first open house, I said, "Maybe I'm being overconfident, but I think we'll have an offer within a week."
Our realtor decided it would be a good idea to list it with a range for the list price. We wanted to price it competitively enough that we would get what it was worth, but also that it would be able to sell quickly. We ran the numbers, and we knew it could work out for our budget if we did end up selling the house at the lower end of the range for the asking price (but we were really hoping to get the higher end of that range). So, the house had a lot of activity each day, and Michael and I would go back each night to make sure everything was perfect again -- watering the plants and sweeping the sidewalks. We had 3 neighbors who live in different parts of our neighborhood all separately comment that they thought our asking price was low (which you would rather here that than it's too high). So I was still hopeful after a couple days that it would sell really quickly.
But after 4 or 5 days without an offer, I was starting to wonder why we hadn't had any offers yet -- since the house looked so good, it is in a really great location, and it was competitively priced. I had all these doubts, thinking about the unpleasant prospect of moving all our things back into the house if we couldn't sell it for enough. I just kept telling myself it hadn't been very long yet, and I had to be patient. And I kept praying that it would work out if this new house would be a good move for our family, and I prayed that if it would be better for our family to stay there that selling the house wouldn't work out and we would be able to accept that.
Then on Saturday we found out from our realtor that we would be getting two different offers the next day! (I just knew we would get an offer within a week!) The offers were good (if not as high as we had hoped), and we countered that both parties would come back with their highest and best offer. The next day we got two offers back, and we chose one, and have felt really good about it since then. The buyers are a couple with two little boys, perfect for that house and that located just down the street from the elementary school. (And they close on the sale of their house in a couple weeks, but we were able to get them to make their purchase of our house not be contingent on the sale of their house, which just makes one less thing for us to be nervous about).
Since then, we've spent time every day filling out forms, signing and scanning and emailing forms, and docu-signing forms online. Forms, forms, forms. Forms for one escrow company, for the other escrow company, for the builder, for the buyers, and for the lender. We've bought and sold houses before, so we know the drill. But we've never bought and sold houses at the same time before, so it's definitely more forms to keep straight with two escrow companies at the same time. But so far, so good.
We close on our current home on May 20th, and then close on our new home on the 22nd. And we are so excited to move in and get all settled again. We can really see ourselves in this home for the long term. We love to go over and walk through the new house, and we have enjoyed getting to know some of our new neighbors already. It already feels like home.
Our house after it was all ready to sell:
And here's the new place:
A few of the boys went with me on a little walk after church today. We walked up a short path that goes up a little hill behind our future house, and saw this view of the whole canyon behind the house. Can't wait to explore all those trails!
Posted by Stephanie at 8:53 PM
01 April 2015
30 March 2015
Ok, so far today we did our normal morning routine with the kids of family scripture reading, breakfast, getting ready for school, piano practice & chores; then I got the three youngest kids dropped off at school. We swung by the library to return something, then I took Lijah & Kolby to the orthodontist, and then dropped them off at school too. After dropping off a few papers in the school office, I went and packaged up a rug that we decided to return to the store because it doesn't quite fit in our family room, got Macie ready in her crate, and headed to Home Depot. I returned one rug at Home Depot, then took two other rugs back to Costco (we still haven't found a rug that's the right color and the right size for a family room, oh well). Then I dropped off some letters at the post office for Michael. I just took Macie to the vet to get her last set of puppy shots, and now I need to drop her off at home before I stop by at an afternoon baby shower. And it's not even noon yet.
Then I will have to pick up two of the other boys and take them to a dentist check up, and then return them to school, then pick up all the boys at school later this afternoon, then drop off Elijah at my mom's house because she's going to help him on one of his school projects today. Oh yeah, and I've got to get to the grocery store sometime today because we're low on milk. And I have no idea what we're going to have for dinner tonight.
People always ask me what I do with all my free time now that all my kids are in school. :) I'm just glad that every day is not as crazy-busy as today!
Posted by Stephanie at 11:32 AM
14 March 2015
It's done! (Well, mostly done, anyway). We moved into our house almost 2 years ago, and it took us a little longer to unpack in this house than in previous places we've lived, mostly because we knew we were settling down in this house for good (as opposed to our previous house and apartments where we always knew we'd only be there a few years before we'd pack up and move to the next place), and so I wanted to go through every box and get rid of anything we didn't really need, and get it all totally organized.
Most of our house has been unpacked and pretty organized for a while now, but our bedroom has been the place where we've left the last few boxes and where we stacked all the stuff that we didn't have a good place to put yet. It was a lot of papers that I needed to sort through. And also a lot of items that we don't use all the time, but we didn't want to get rid of because we might need them in the future (like art, sewing, scrapbook, painting, craft supplies, pinewood derby kits and materials, CDs, paper, plastic page protectors, etc). A lot of it is the kind of stuff that comes in handy when you have a project or a school assignment to do. So I wanted it to be organized and easy to get to (not stashed in boxes in the closet where we'd never be able to find what we needed).
But I was also tired of our bedroom being the place where we we stored our extra stuff. I wanted it to be pretty and relaxing in our bedroom, but I also wanted to somehow organize and store all that stuff in an easily accessible way. Since we don't have a separate craft room, I had to figure out how to make it all fit together in our room.
I found 3 shelves I liked at Target (and I was lucky that they ended up fitting exactly, even though I bought them without measuring the wall where I planned to put them). Then I went to Target and Home Goods and found a lot of cute organizational containers, and a few cute accents. I got lots mote containers than I needed, because I wasn't sure how many of the different size of containers I would need. Then I saved my receipts and returned the extra ones, and the ones I didn't like the look of as much once I brought them home.
So I had to find a good way to organize all this (and more) and make it all fit on the shelves:
I've been working on it a little but here and there for the last couple months, and today I finished with the shelves! And I love how they turned out! Everything has it's place, and we can find things and get them out easily, but it doesn't look like a big old shelf of storage bins. I think it turned out very pretty.
(And I found these really pretty sheets that I love, and the colors on the bed look good with the shelves too).
So, it's done, almost. We do have a couple more things to finish before the bedroom is spotless (hanging up some pictures, setting up a little shelf in the closet, and removing an old table that's been in there). But this is a big step, and it feels so much better to have that done!
Posted by Stephanie at 6:05 PM
12 March 2015
So, having a puppy is more work than having an adult dog, but I think things are going really well with Macie so far. We've kind of gotten into a routine with her, and she's doing quite well with the house training.
She LOVES Harley, and will play with him at any chance she gets. And Harley plays nicely with her too. Hopefully they'll continue to be good playmates as she gets older too. Macie seems to be just the right combination of playful and submissive, and I can't wait until she gets her last set of puppy shots in about 3 weeks and we are cleared to take her to the dog park. She is growing well, and was 18 lbs at her vet checkup on Monday. She is a true puppy, and loves to chew, but fortunately that has mostly been limited to chew toys and little sticks out in the yard so far. She learned how to use the dog doors pretty much right away after we brought her home (you'd be amazed at how many adult dogs that we have watched for neighbors have never been able to figure out the dog door, or seem afraid to use it).
She loves to chill in her little dog crate that our neighbor let us borrow. And she was getting us up once each night to go out, and then she would go back into her crate and fall back to sleep for the rest of the night. But 3 nights ago I happened to take her for a good, brisk walk at night after the boys went to bed (instead of taking her on a walk earlier in the day), and when we got home at 8pm she walked right into her crate on her own and slept through the night. So we were glad to discover that secret, and we have continued the nightly walks and she has since slept through the night every night. And although she's still getting used to the leash, she is improving on her leash walking. I think maybe this whole puppy thing isn't all that bad (it takes some extra work, but nothing too intense so far). And she sure is a sweet little thing. I'm really curious to see exactly how big she'll turn out to be and what she'll look like when she's full grown.
Posted by Stephanie at 12:41 PM
06 March 2015
What do you get when you mix . . .
a Labrador . . .
She's 3 months old, we got her from a local shelter, and they are guessing she is a lab - blue heeler mix. I know, we said we'd never get a puppy. But we happened across her, and fell in love. So now we'll be extra busy for the next few months. But so far, so good on her house training -- she hasn't had a single accident yet. She's also good with Harley -- playful, but submissive enough. So it may be extra work while she's a puppy, but we'll get to raise her with our kids.
It'll be interesting to see what Macie will end up looking like when she grows up. She is black with brown-brindle on her face, ears, legs, and belly, with a little white spot on her chest. Her sister was at the shelter with her (and happened to be adopted by someone else at the same time we were there), and she was all black with some white on the chest, and her ears didn't stand up, but they also weren't quite as floppy as Macie's ears.
It looks like Heelers come in a variety of colors:
And when I searched for lab-heeler mixes, I found that they come in quite a variety too:
So we'll see. But for now, she's just 100% cute.
Posted by Stephanie at 8:50 PM
03 March 2015
I was going through Elijah's school work, and came across this cute little Ice Cube story he made. So I thought I'd share it. (I think it's so fun that the teachers go to all the work of uploading the kids' school work and keeping everything updated so we can follow their progress and see their projects from home too -- what a great opportunity we have for our boys to be at this new school!)
Posted by Stephanie at 12:44 PM
26 February 2015
I found this paper of Courtland's from school today. It looks like i need to work with him on using lowercase letters, but I was impressed that he could write a whole page with simple sentences, and do it well enough that I could understand all the words. Our little boy is getting big.
I am from a mom that likes to play with me. I am from a dad that likes to play games with me. I am from a family that likes to go up to the mountains. I am from pepperoni pizza and video games. And most if all I am from a loving family.
Posted by Stephanie at 7:39 AM
22 February 2015
But on Friday we were cleaning up the family room, and Oakley barked at the kids as they walked past him like he usually does, and
Camden gently pet him on the back as he walked by, and
Oakley jumped up and bit Camden
in the face. Fortunately, it didn't
break the skin, and Camden
was hurt a little, but he was fine once he calmed down and stopped crying. (And I do realize that a dog that size could
easily have injured a child if it had wanted to, so I don’t believe that Oakley
was trying to attack or seriously hurt Camden).
I don’t know if he was playing too roughly, or maybe he was trying to give him a warning to stay away, or maybe he was just trying to show that he was the dominant one. –I saw the
whole thing happen, and I couldn't tell that there was anything unusual in the
dog’s behavior that showed that he was acting differently than normal, or that
something like that was about to happen. And Camden
did not startle him, or touch him roughly or inappropriately. Actually, out of all our boys, Camden is probably the
best with being calm, but firm around dogs, and walking and training them with
my help. Fortunately, Camden was not scared after that happened. That kind of thing could make a child nervous
around dogs in the future, so I’m glad it didn’t have that effect.
So, Michael and I discussed it, and we decided that Oakley needed to go back to the rescue group where we got him. We encountered basically the only reason we could think of for not keeping a dog: if we were concerned for the safety of our kids or other people in our home (or for our other dog). And we feel that if he were to stay in our home, we would always be nervous about how he would act with the kids, and we could never really trust that they would be safe around him again. Fortunately Camden was ok, but we couldn't risk it happening again in the future, and possibly being more serious the next time. Oakley really is a sweet dog, and yesterday after we made that decision, he was being especially sweet with Michael and me. He's such a love bug -- just snuggling right up to me. (I do wonder if him barking at the kids was just his nervousness around them, or if maybe he felt like he was being protective of me?)
Anyway, I think he would still make a really good pet for someone, he just shouldn't be in a home with lots of active young children. I do hope that the rescue group will still be able to find him a good home. They are coming this afternoon to pick him up.
As we start over on the process of finding a new dog to adopt, I will be even more careful in choosing a good dog for our family. I thought we had found a great fit when the rescue group told us Oakley was great with kids and other dogs. But I'm realizing now that I need to ask more detailed questions -- like not only if the dog is good with kids, but if the dog has lived with children in the house before and how old they were, etc. And not asking if the dog is good with other dogs, but specifically asking how much the dog has been exposed to other dogs or all different sizes and temperaments, and how they interacted together. And now, instead of just searching for a dog that is playful with our other dog and seems ok around the kids when they meet, I will specifically be looking for signs that the dog is submissive to people (including the kids), and that it gets along with lots of other dogs (like in a dog park setting). Oh well, I guess you learn as you go along. And I guess we just happened to be really lucky with our previous two shelter dogs -- with Harley I just found him and brought him home, without even meeting our kids, Michael, or our other dog first. He definitely had some things he needed some training work on, but overall he has been well behaved and friendly. And his behavior has improved so much in the year we have had him. Well, we'll keep searching for the right second dog, but we may not be so quick to rush into things the next time. At least we'll be a lot more particular about the questions we ask and carefully having the kids interact with any new dog and observing the way the dog behaves around them. I'm sure we'll find the right one for us eventually.
Posted by Stephanie at 12:23 PM