Friday, May 19, 2017
It's funny, because the home-buying process has been not at all like what I expected---
I expected us to perhaps wait for a home in one of those areas we really liked, or I expected that we would go and see scores of houses before finally settling on The One. And when we did find one that we liked, I thought we'd sit on it for awhile--pray for a few days, maybe even visit the ward (aka, church congregation) where we'd be attending if we moved.
With today's housing market being like it is (at least up here in Northern Utah), all of that wasn't really an option---
Basically, if there's a nice house that's priced right, you have to move ridiculously fast to get an offer in period before it gets taken off the market.
On Monday night, we drove out to Hyrum to see a house that seemed really promising on paper---the pictures made it look nice, and there was the possibility to finish a basement to add extra value to the home later on. The other houses we'd gone and seen, I'd felt distinctly neutral about---I was able to see both the good and the bad, but I didn't necessarily lean one way or another. When we went and saw this particular house, I felt distinctly uneasy about it, though I couldn't pinpoint exactly why.
Though Matt was optimistic about the home, we decided not to do anything about it at present, but on our drive home, just a block away, we passed it---
A red-shuttered home with a For Sale by Owner sign that I just KNEW we needed to call on as soon as we could.
I was worried it would be out of our price range, but it turned out to be *just barely* within it, complete with a finished basement and 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (giving us plenty of room to grow as a family). It had carefully-done landscaping (both front and back), as well as a fully-fenced backyard. And it had literally just gone back up on the market after the contract it was under at the time was going to fall through.
As we walked through, I saw lots of light and plenty to love and felt nothing but enthusiasm about moving forward on it. And checking in with each other very quickly outside on the front porch, Matt confirmed that he felt the same.
So we put in an offer that night.
We were only mildly hopeful that our offer would be accepted because the family who'd seen it right before us was also putting in an offer, and the owner of the home had intimated that he felt it would be kind of a "first come, first serve" basis (although my realtor talked him into at least entertaining ours as well).
All in all, we found out the next day--on the day it freak-snowed here in mid-May, no less--that the house had actually received four offers in less than 24 hours...
BUT THAT OURS WAS THE ONE THEY CHOSE!
True, we basically had to "swing for the fence" (as Matt put it) with the offer we gave, meaning that we agreed to cover all our own closing costs as well as the cost of our own realtor. It also meant that we offered $5,000 above asking price.
BUT WE GOT IT.
So now we're currently knee-deep in trying to close on this thing quick, since a key variable in our contract was that we would be willing to move fast (which was important for the sellers as they moved out awhile ago).
But if all goes as planned (and we're keeping our fingers crossed that it does!), we'll be homeowners in less than a month.
Excitement all around over here!
We'll be keeping you posted as things start getting closer to the settlement, but it looks like we'll be out of here in mid-June. Wish us luck!
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Before becoming a parent, I was totally behind the idea that sometimes, you just need to get away from your troubles for awhile to sort of hit the "refresh" button on your life. And Matt and I were fairly good at taking those breaks---we usually took a vacation together over spring break, we (okay, I) took mental health days off when my teaching job became too much to handle, and we often slipped in several date nights a month (even though you could count most nights as date nights since we were usually at home together just the two of us).
I thought that once I became a parent, I would become desperate with the need to get away on a regular basis---I thought that I would jump at any chance I could to take a break from some of the 24/7 responsibilities of parenthood.
But you know what?
I've been surprised that it's harder to take those times away than I thought it would be. And I'm not just talking logistically (although that's obviously going to be harder than it was before, when we were childless)---I mean that whenever we're able to take an overnight trip somewhere together, just the two of us, I think we're both surprised at how much we miss Raven, and how we can never really "escape" our responsibilities as parents (nor do we want to).
That being said, I do think it's important for us to make the effort to occasionally "get away" from it all---
It's important that we take time out with just the two of us, to shake ourselves of the daily routine once in awhile and experience new things together.
I think it's important to remind ourselves that we are people outside of just Dad and Mom, Husband and Wife----we are individuals who love to try new restaurants (even though one of the places we tried this anniversary was a complete bust, prompting me to leave my first negative Trip Advisor review ever), who love to take leisurely walks along random trails, who enjoy taking the time to explore new places and see new things.
Two weekends ago, thanks to my mom's offer to take Raven, we were able to escape overnight to the place where we spent the first night of our honeymoon (and where's we've returned since then in years past because we loved it so much).
We were able to have lots of talks in the car about our future plans and watch cheesy chick flicks in the room we were staying in (while we waited for the rain to let up) and take some short walks along trails we found on the side of the road. It was good, for once, not to feel tied to a schedule, to not worry about getting back at a certain time in order to stay on track with Raven's bedtime or mealtimes. It was good to stay up until nearly midnight reading in bed, because we didn't have to worry about being woken up around 7 a.m. the next morning.
But boy, it sure was nice too to get back and wrap up that sweet little girl of ours into our arms and hear of her adventures while we'd been away.
(Oh, and it was nice to get back into our little habit of taking kissing pictures out on our adventures again---when we were first married and traveling to various locations on different vacations, we would always make sure to get at least one picture of us kissing. When Raven came along, that became a lot harder to accomplish logistically, but it was nice to kind of resurrect for this trip.)
Thanks to my hubby (and to my mom) for a great weekend getaway!
Monday, May 15, 2017
In the hustle of each day, I don't always take time out to think about my goals as a mother, as a wife, as a friend. Often, I'm just so preoccupied trying to feel like I'm keeping up that I forget to look up and make sure I'm headed in the right direction.
I'm thankful for built-in opportunities (such as Mother's Day) that remind me of all there is to aspire to, all there is to admire in the women who have made such an impact in my life, and all that I want to embody for my daughter.
Raven got to spend time with two of her three grandmothers yesterday, as well as one of her great-grandmothers. I am so thankful to have these women in our lives, so that I don't feel as much the burden of trying to be everything---rather, she is able to see everything wonderful in the diverse mix of womanhood that's all around her.
I AM grateful, though, that thanks to all the strong women in my life, I am inspired to reach a little higher, to try a little harder, and to be a little better each in every day in my quest to be The Ideal Mother.
Raven, for you, I want to be a mother who shows, through words and actions, that she loves you completely (more completely, in fact, than she even knew was possible). I want to be the mother who shows you that even when you make mistakes or make poor choices, you don't diminish that love, and that by trying to help you to see a better way, that love only grows more.
I want to be a mother who is unafraid to show--in any situation--that she is a woman of faith, that she is a believer of Christ, that she believes that there is a great and eternal purpose to our time here on earth. I want to be a mother who shows you that in practicing that faith, there is peace; that in striving for those ideals, there is growth and joy. I want to be a mother who pursues the higher way, even though it is usually the harder way.
I want to be a mother who loves learning, who embodies the pursuit of not just knowledge, but wisdom. I want to be a mother who takes the time to teach you the WHY, and not just the HOW or the WHAT. I want to be a mother who is not too busy to teach you how to do for yourself.
I want to be a mother who illustrates that people to be loved are more important than problems to be solved. I want to be a mother who makes the time to listen, to soothe, to explain, to help. I want to be a mother who is not distracted by whatever is loudest or messiest or most popular, but who is focused on what is truly the most important.
I want to be a mother (like your Great-Grandma Goldie) who is generous and open-handed, who is always looking for ways to share, whether it be through love or encouraging words or special treasures. I want to be a mother who is unafraid to speak the truth, even if it isn't always easy. I want to be a mother who always seems to have enough---enough patience, enough time, enough love to share, no matter how many things and people are clamoring for my time.
I want to be a mother (like your Grandma Allred) who is endlessly looking for ways to serve, who daily goes out of her way to ease the burdens of those around her, both in and out of her immediate family. I want to be a mother who, when you are a mother yourself, you feel like you can go to for everything (and I mean everything)---how to mend a button, how to buy a home, how to cook for a crowd, how to organize your life...
I want to be a mother who is strong in the face of adversity, who never loses hope or faith, and who you can count on to be a rallying force for good.
I want to be a mother (like your Grandma Meidell) who takes time to play, to get down on hands and knees and be silly, who makes up funny songs and delights in your conversation and who seeks out opportunities for fun and laughter. I want to be a mother who radiates optimism and contentment, and who makes everyone feel welcome in her home.
I want to be a mother who can stay cool in the face of frustration, who can hold you and tell you over and over again that you are loved (even while you might scream out how your feelings for me run otherwise). (This is based on an early event in Matt's life, where he remembers screaming at his mother how he hated her, and how she held him and rocked him and whispered over and over again, " I love you, I love you" until he finally calmed down)
There are many more mothers than just these three who have shown me the standard of motherhood, who have raised it up high and shown it as something to be cherished, to be proud of.
And I hope, with all that I am, that I can be that kind of mother for you.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
I've gotten all thrown off on my usual M/W/F posting schedule because I've been feeling a bit exhausted by this whole house-hunting thing (which is ridiculous, really, since we have hardly even started). But I was determined not to let the 10th pass by without doing my usual 10 on 10, so I've forced myself to harness some energy (courtesy of a handful of both marshmallows and chocolate chips), and do this post.
So here we go---ten photos of Raven in the past month that illustrate what life has been like around here lately:
1 // Lately, she's taken to stepping up on this little chair, dramatically throwing up her arms, and yelling, "JUMP!" (before she carefully and cautiously climbs down off of it the normal way, ha ha)
Aaaaand, of course, a little bonus video of some play time with Grandma:
All in all, a pretty decent month, actually (despite all the sickness!)
Sunday, May 7, 2017
The first year we were married, we rented our first apartment together, I graduated from college, we both suffered through the worst jobs we've ever had, and we finished our first (and maybe last) marathon together, hand in hand.
The second year we were married, I landed my first teaching job, we went on an Alaskan cruise and to Bryce Canyon, I lost my grandpa, and you were able to finally quit that job you hated so much working at the beef plant.
The third year we were married, I had the worst group of students in the history of the school (and had the daily freak-outs to prove it), you applied to PT school for the first time and we were both bitterly disappointed about you not getting in, and I lost my grandma.
The fourth year we were married, we moved to a different apartment (which made a WORLD of difference), you got called into the bishopric, I got pregnant, we went on one of my favorite trips ever (volunteering at an Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab), we welcomed the most perfect little girl into our family, and you graduated from college.
The fifth year we were married, we found out I had an autoimmune disease, I got my gallbladder removed, we traveled with a three-month-old halfway across the country to Missouri for my dad and stepmom's wedding celebration, and I finished up my last year of teaching and put in my resignation notice.
The sixth year we were married, you went full-time at your current job, we rejoiced that I was able to enjoy the SAHM life, we traveled to Island Park with your family, we both turned 30, we almost lost your dad and went through one of the worst weeks of both of our lives, you lost your grandma, and we both lost our unborn baby at about 8.5 weeks.
In six years, we've been through beautiful highs and some heartbreaking lows, but through it all, I have never doubted in my heart that you were the perfect one for me to spend it all with. You are my eternity, my perfect, and my whole world.
I love you, Matt. Happy six years together!
Friday, May 5, 2017
Well friends, it looks like this is really going to happen this year (or that's the new plan at least)---
We're officially in the market for a house!
There were a lot of reasons we decided to change our initial plan (which was to save a full 20% down payment before we started our search), but one of the key reasons was that if we're likely going to be here for the long haul (at least that's the plan for now), it doesn't make sense to be renting still, especially while interest rates are still low and while we've got money set aside just for a down payment.
Honestly, I think the biggest kick in the pants for both Matt and I was when I worked out that in the last six years of marriage (we celebrate our 6th anniversary this Sunday, actually!), we've spent over $40,000 on rent.
When you look at it like that, and start thinking about how at least a decent portion of that could have gone into creating some equity for us, it hurts to wait *too* much longer.
That being said, we're more than aware of how bad the housing market is right now for buyers---all the houses in our price range that are in good neighborhoods get snatched off the market within a day or two, and we know that many go for ABOVE asking price (which we probably won't be in the position to do).
But, with all the anxiety about those things aside, we still feel good about moving forward with our plan to purchase a home here.
Although we're not in the market for our dream home (yet), there are still a few features we're really hoping to find in our first home:
- 3+ bedrooms (4 would be awesome)
- 2 bathrooms (although I would settle for 1.5---I just need to have the option to use a toilet when someone is in the shower)
- a safe neighborhood (we would love to stay around the area we're in---in fact, there's this neighborhood that's just east of ours that I'm just DYING to move to, but the one house that was for sale in it recently was snatched up before we could even get prequalified. I'm hoping that I can get a tip-off from somebody before one of those houses goes on the market next time so we can at least get an offer in)
- a decent-sized yard (ideally we'd like a quarter-acre or more, but ANY yard will be an improvement at this point)
- a kitchen that has sufficient counter and cupboard space (I love to cook, and while I recognize I won't get my dream kitchen, it still needs to be of sufficient size that I can feel like I have enough room to actually make meals and continue baking and all that. This will probably be accomplished by a home with a kitchen island)
Stuff we'd like but can live without:
- a garage (after dealing with Logan winters for 10+ years, I would REALLY love not having to scrape my car off every time it snows)
- an older home with a unique design (although newer homes will be nicer on the upkeep side in general, both Matt and I have always loved the look of older homes, which don't look like everyone else's)
- a home that's not super close to the homes on either side (that's just always bugged me)
- a home with some mature trees (although preferably not right out in front of the house)
Although I feel a little bit of trepidation about the home-buying process, I'm honestly mostly just excited out of my mind to have a place of our own, that we can do with as we like (and that we can actually have sufficient storage space in).
People who are home owners already---what do you wish you would have done differently your first time buying? Any advice?
Monday, May 1, 2017
Let's play a fun little game wherein you, dear reader, are left to figure out for yourselves which statement belongs with which designation (aka, high or low).
(Hint: I haven't made it extraordinarily difficult for you.)
Last Monday, we finally took Raven to the doctor to see why she wasn't getting any better (to catch you up, she'd seemingly caught The Plague from me about two weeks ago), and we found out she had a double ear infection. On the bright side, at least we caught this one earlier than we caught the very first one she ever had.
While picking up her medicine, I, in a moment of desperate need, bought a 6-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper, and my awesome cashier gave me a discount even though I technically shouldn't have qualified for it (since I only bought one pack instead of the required two). Rejoicing was felt all around while I reveled in the fact that I got the bottles of DDP for only 50 cents apiece.
(Minor) guilt ensued soon thereafter as I realized I really shouldn't be drinking Diet Dr. Pepper at all since one of my new year's resolutions was to break myself of my addiction to the stuff. (Fact: I went all the way through March, I believe, without touching any of it, then I got cocky and decided that since I no longer was having it every day, I must not be addicted and could therefore treat myself on special occasions, like when we went out to eat. Fact: after every such "treat," I have had massive cravings for it for the week following, and have given in about 25% of the time to go buy more. Fact: that six-pack is going to be officially G-O-N-E in less than two hours, as the last bottle is in the freezer, awaiting its 50-minute perfection mark.)
We all went (Matt, Raven, and I) with our friends to Vintage Market Days here in Cache Valley on Saturday, and we just about died over the plethora of amazing crafts and antique finds and cool pieces that were found in abundance there. Although we would have loved to buy about every other thing we saw, we were good at sticking to our original plan to buy nothing and just enjoyed browsing (although I might be sorry one day down the road that we didn't get one of the pieces...).
While at the fair, Raven proceeded to have multiple meltdowns, courtesy of us not letting her run amok as she pleased. (Note to self: next time, bring a stroller.) We have officially reached the stage where she is throwing tantrums in public, rather than just restricting herself to throwing tantrums at home. (The reason for my increased cravings for caffeine is becoming increasingly clearer...)
Two weeks ago, I did a blood test on my doctor's orders, the results of which we both assumed would show that my pregnancy hormones had dropped to their normal non-pregnant levels and that this miscarriage would officially be termed complete.
Well, the opposite turned out to be true---my levels hadn't dropped at all.
Today I went in again, two weeks later, and the good news is that while they had dropped significantly from before, they still aren't likely low enough for my doctor to just leave me be. I'm a bit frustrated because I always like to choose to let my body handle things naturally wherever possible, but now we've had to wait almost two months, and I STILL might have to get the D & C procedure done.
It makes me think that I might as well have just gotten the procedure done in the first place and saved myself two months of waiting, but at least this way, I can say that I tried my best to do it my own way and according to what I wanted.
This new thing I've got going where I go without sugar for 3 days a week has made me pretty cranky a lot of the time. Combined with the constant rain and cold we had last week, I was not the easiest person to live with for the past 7 days.
However, I was able to stick with it (which always makes me feel like a rock star for actually following through), and I was able to see some immediate progress with my weight going down almost two pounds already, so that's a start.
Also, the rain has left us again (for now, anyway), and today Raven and I thoroughly enjoyed going to our church's local play group today, complete with sunshine and lots of flowers to point out along the way.
(This was a far cry better than the indoor play group we attempted last week in the church gym, where she bawled the majority of the time and refused to share any of the toys we'd brought with us.)
I've officially put the goal down on paper to get prequalified for a home mortgage loan this month, and we've been talking for weeks about finances and future plans and what we want. It's really starting to get exciting!
Then, on Friday, I read an article all about how the housing market is basically the worst it's been for ages for home buyers, due to an increased demand for homes (especially those within a lower budget) and a severe shortage of available homes (thanks to Utah's high retention rate of the moment, mostly thanks to our economy being so stable). Having seen with my own eyes that homes in our price range are getting snatched up mere days after first going onto the market (with many selling at prices above their asking price) doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that now is a good time for us to start looking.
So now the question is...do we go ahead and chance the market and likely pay more for our future house than its worth for now? Or do we hold off for a year or so and risk the interest rates rising (which they're predicted to do twice more in this year alone)?
What would you do?
And what are some the highs and lows in your life lately?