June 29, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Jake for a Month

Yesterday was a day of goodbyes. We spent the morning at church and went out for a late lunch - our "Last Supper" with Jake before his month-long trip to his dad's. Caught up on some things at home, while Jake packed his bag. Then, it was time for goodbyes before Jake and I left for the airport.

I think the pictures speak for themselves. We were all in tears and hated to see him go...

We walked into the airport, grabbed a bite to eat and sat and waited forever since his flight got delayed. (Like 2 hours delayed - he wasn't due to arrive in Ohio until 12:30am. Ugh.) We hugged, I kissed his cheek, I prayed a blessing over him and then he was off.

Tears streaming down my face, I felt God whisper the words...

You're going to be okay.
He's going to be okay.

God loves Jacob so much more than I do, and I know he'll be safe in His arms. No matter what happens.

June 24, 2015

Brooklyn's Swim Lessons

Brooklyn's swim lessons followed right after Connor's swim class, so hers were from 7-8pm. Jake completed all of his levels last summer, so we opted for back-to-back lessons this time with the other kids. This year, Brooklyn was in Level 3 - which is a really hard level to pass. (It took Jake three times before he was able to pass Level 3 several years ago, and Ms. Sue even warned us it would take more than one year for Brooklyn to pass since it requires so much arm strength.)

Even so, Brooklyn plowed through with a determined spirit, perseverance and a whole lot of bravery. She dreaded the final observation day where parents came to watch because she knew she wouldn't make it, but the lifeguards were right by her side and she had a three-person support team encouraging her and cheering her on the whole way through. (Jake was away with a friend for the weekend.)

Her shy, soft spirit is something she inherited from me, and sometimes that can be a burden. But, I'm so proud to see my girl pushing herself outside her comfort zone and trying new things - even if it's scary. She's becoming the person God wants her to be and blossoming all the more...

Her cheering squad on the sidelines:

Checking out the farm animals in-between:

 Beyond proud of our brave girl!! Always learning, she's ready to tackle Level 3 again next year. 

Our crazy kiddos did so awesome that a DQ family ice cream party was definitely in order. Best way to celebrate swim lessons and to end the day!

Until next year...

June 23, 2015

Connor's Swim Lessons

Connor took Pre-K swim lessons from 6-7pm in the evenings a couple weeks ago. This was Connor's first experience in the water without us, so I was a nervous wreck thinking he'd just run and jump in without a parent right there with him. But, the funny thing is that the opposite happened - he freaked out the first day of swim lessons, crying and yelling and not wanting to do anything the lifeguards asked of him. Ms. Sue and the lifeguards worked with him every day for 5 days, bless them. And by the last day of swim lessons...everything just clicked and this happened:

Complete with this silly crew watching from the sidelines:

Seriously, so proud of our big boy! We knew he loved the water, but they had to break through Connor's strong will and stubbornness of wanting to do things his way, and he's become so much better because of it.

We love our swim lessons - all ready for Level 1 next year!

June 22, 2015

Our Home-Buying + Selling Story

So. This happened.

It all began back in April. We first started casually looking at new construction home locations, different floor plans and options, etc. Most of the new builds were either out of our price range or a layout we didn't like, except for one floor plan - the Brentwood - with Fox Ridge Homes that we loved. It was basically a ranch-style home similar to what we have now, but with a bonus room or converted bedroom + bath upstairs. We went back and forth with the sales guys for weeks, asking questions, crunching numbers, debating about options, getting pre-qualified. The last step in the preliminary stage (after we selected the lot we wanted) was paying for the lot premium to reserve our spot and begin the building process.

During this time, Scot and I and Scot's dad Mike scoured MLS listings and real estate sites too. We knew we could get more space for the money if we bought an existing home, but there weren't many out there with a layout we liked or one that had a separate 4th bedroom + bath. After our last meeting at Fox Ridge (and before putting any money down), Mike showed us a few existing homes he found for sale right in our price range and one of those stood out. It was a 4 bed/3 bath with a bonus room - the 4th bed/bath in-law suite was upstairs. We went and looked at it and loved it! We put an offer on it immediately, countered back and forth and the sellers finally accepted.

We put our offer in on May 20th and by the end of the day on May 22nd, we had a for sale sign in our front yard. In less than a minute, we had a realtor pull into our driveway with interest!

We had an inspection done on the new house in the first week, and we were there for the horrible news. They had termites, cracked tile floors in all the bathrooms (couldn't tell because of their rugs), cracked ceilings in places...but, the deal breaker for us was the foundation. The sellers only disclosed installing two piers under the great room, but the inspector found over 6 piers in different places under the house. I called the foundation repair company and discovered there was no lifetime warranty included on all the piers - only a 3-year warranty that had already expired. Since we've spent the last 3 years of our lives dealing with insurmountable foundation repairs, we were sick but knew what we needed to do. We had to let the house go.

During this time, we kept busy with band concerts, musicals, end-of-the-year parties and last days of school. Then, it was VBS and swim lessons. All the while, my phone ringing off the hook...multiple showings to schedule every day...keeping the house show-ready at all times (which entailed throwing wet clothes + laundry into the trunk of my van...making dinner in the mornings to store in the oven all day...throwing random stuff in the dryer, dishwasher, oven and closets to get out of sight...turning on all the lights...lighting candles...playing soft music) - some potential buyers and realtors even pulling into our driveway for spur-of-the-moment showings and I happily obliged (with the exception of any crazy 8am house calls), while the kids kept busy playing in the backyard or sitting in the van watching a movie during every showing we had.

We had flyers to hand out, utility bills, appraisal, disclosure form, foundation repair forms + lifetime warranty certificate, room specs and dates of purchase for everything. Our house was on the market 12 days before we got our first and second offers at the same time - on the 12th day with 6 showings that day alone! Two of those showings that day were just people who pulled in our driveway to get information, I let them in for immediate showings, they came back for second showings with their spouses that afternoon and both offers were in that night. (One offer had a sale contingency, so we had to let that one go. There was even a possible 3rd offer that almost came in, but the realtor called me back and said her client decided to back out last-minute. Talk about cra-zy!)

That all happened the night of June 3rd. Back on May 29th, Scot went house-hunting with our realtor friend Susan (while I stayed home for the painters to repaint our family room). One house stood out to him, so we all went back for a showing that afternoon. We fell in love with it, it was in pristine condition with all the space we desperately needed (including that 4th bedroom/bath in-law suite and bonus room upstairs), so we put an offer in that night and the rest is history!

This whole home-buying + selling experience has been nothing short of a miracle. To come from originally listing our home back on August 8, 2012, and getting an offer in the first 12 hours, having two inspections done, only to discover there were major cracks in our foundation that needed to be repaired, dropping the deal on our house and a new house we had already put an offer on, spending the following 3 years to get all of the exterior and interior repairs completed - with the help of gracious family and friends to get us through such a trying, difficult time in our lives - and now to be in the process of buying a new-to-us home in a family-oriented neighborhood with a golf course, playground and community pool nearby is just mind-blowing. It's nothing Scot or I could have ever planned or come up with on our own. It wasn't in our timing. It wasn't something we were really looking for. (In fact, we both gave our home to the Lord and were content with staying here indefinitely if we needed to.) I honestly don't even know how we came across this house before it sold.

It was totally and completely an act of God. His hand on our lives, moving and guiding us all the way.

The couple buying our house are Christians and members of a local church we attended and were a part of for 3 years. They had no sale contingency, no realtor fees and were flexible with a closing date and house repairs that needed to be done. They did their own inspection and have been a pleasure to work with so far. The funny God-part? They are renting a house and living in the exact same subdivision we are moving to - just a street away from our new house! Is that not crazy or what?!

The hands of God are all over our story, and I know He's not finished with us yet. There's a ton yet to do before our big move and a full summer ahead, but I'm grateful to be involved in every step of the journey. No matter how hard and crazy it gets, I know there's a purpose. I know God has a plan. And I know that joy always follows after the pain ends.

May 30, 2015

2015 Summer List + Goals

Summer is upon us, so it's time for our 2015 Summer List. Check it out!

And our goals for the summer...

Jacob's goals:
1. Read 6 chapter books over the summer.
2. Learn how to skateboard.

Brooklyn's goals:
1. Learn how to tie her shoes.
2. Learn how to ride her bike without training wheels.

And with that, our summer is off!

May 27, 2015

Last Day of School

Today was officially the last day of school. On Friday, the teachers finished up and had all their class parties, but today we picked up report cards and said goodbye to teachers and friends.

Jacob's in the middle school annex, so he wanted to go off on his own. (He has 4 middle school teachers, so he gave out handwritten thank you notes and multi-packs of gum to them.) Meanwhile, Connor and I went with Brooklyn to pick up her report card and give Mrs. R our thank you note and gift. Mrs. R loves flamingos and anything with a little bling, so Brooklyn's decorated letter R was a big hit - and something she can hang in her classroom every year too! Boy, we're sure going to miss her...

We walked out the school doors and Brooklyn immediately broke into tears. A girl after my own heart, she loves and feels fiercely. Every year is a great year and a year she just doesn't want to end. Yet, the sun was shining. There were no set plans or things to do. Just complete and total freedom as we pumped up the radio in the car and celebrated the start of summer.
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