She’s here!

Well, if you’ve read my blog at all you know that we bought this new house just a couple of weeks before our daughter was due.  After 9 loooooooong months of waiting, Caroline made her appearance on December 14th… just in time for Christmas!  Now that I’m done with the whole pregnancy thing, I can start thinking about the house.  I have big plans for the dining room which will be my first project.  Currently it has vertical blinds (yuck) and is a funky mint green color with a weirdo chandelier.  I don’t have money for a new dining set just yet, but I’m going to start the transformation with some much needed paint.

My plan involves a chair rail and painting the lower portion of the room black and then the upper portion a lovely magnolia/cream color.  Gotta get rid of those vertical blinds and switch them out for some luxurious curtains (Black on top, cream on bottom?  Or is putting cream near the floor a big mistake???).  I want to add a mirror with a thick black lacquer frame and get new dishes (bright red?  Fresh green?  I don’t know yet).

I’m excited to start this project right after the new year.  Look for before and after pictures to come!


Home at Acorn House

When we first saw this house it was the middle of fall and the oak trees had dropped thousands of acorns on the ground.  The kids started referring to the house as Acorn House and the name stuck!  Here we are in December and we have officially been home owners for one week!  That’s right, after all that we went through, we finally signed papers last week and Acorn House is ours!

We ended up only have a week to move and during that time I discovered just how much crud a family can collect in almost three years.  I found boxes filled with junk mail, scrap paper, old newspapers.  Why did we feel these things were so important to save?  We’ve been making our fair share of trips to the garbage dump and we’re finally seeing the floor in our formal living room (where we stacked all our boxes).

A big change has been our morning routine.  When we moved we changed school districts, but with a brand new baby and a brand new house, I didn’t want the kids to go through too many changes, so I requested that they be able to finish the school year where they started it.  Happily they are able to do this, but that means that I have to drop them off and pick them up every single day.  This is no big deal right now, but in just 13 days, I’ll be having this baby which means no driving for a while.  Thankfully Grandma and Grandpa will be here to help.

Can I just say I love our house?  One of the first things I did was to buy new shower curtains for the blue bathroom and the green bathroom.  That one little change did WONDERS for both rooms!  I’m hoping to get some paint for the dining room soon… I don’t know how much longer I can stare at that mint green… but if I’m honest with myself, it will have to wait till after baby makes her grand debut.

Here we are, home at last!  What a wonderful way to spend the holidays!

Appraisal Fiasco

It’s T minus 6 days until our scheduled closing day and of course there’s a new snag to contend with.  As part of the loan approval process, the lender will have the house appraised basically to make sure they aren’t loaning out more money than what the house is worth.  Around here the appraiser is randomly chosen from a pool of appraisers and in our case we got a real gem (insert sarcasm here).

Apparently this woman appraised the house over a week ago and hasn’t bothered to turn in her report.  Not only that, but she hasn’t been responding to the many attempts by the lender to contact her.  Our loan agent said that now management is involved because this isn’t the first time they’ve had problems with this woman.  It’s so frustrating to know that this is totally out of our hands!

We’ve decided to move ahead with packing and trust that our lender will continue to take good care of us.  Last night we broke down two of the kids’ beds and moved them into the garage.  We have plans to paint tomorrow (and just FYI, do not let your husband decide to use flat paint anywhere in the house… I tried to tell him it’s impossible to clean, but he didn’t listen and now we have to repaint the entire entry way of our rental house).  I’m trying to help as much as I can but we’re only about 30 days away from my scheduled C-section and I have definitely gone into “Waddle Mode”.  Instead I’ve been spending most of my time day dreaming about my new leather furniture and front load washer and dryer.


The next big step

Well, it feels like our closing day is right around the corner (and I guess it is!  We are scheduled to close on the 16th) and we just heard from our lender that we got approved through underwriting which is the next step in the mortgage process!  We’ve been feeling apprehensive about everything just because it’s such a huge move for us, but we’re finally starting to feel good about everything.  This week we put the three kids into one bedroom so we can start to break apart their bedframes and clean their rooms.  They are (like all kids) not the best at keeping their rooms clean, and the oldest two are especially prone to keeping every scrap of paper they’ve ever written on.  We’re going to do something similar at the new house, putting all the kids in one room while I get each individual room set up and ready.  I want them to have a clean start and nice organized rooms to sleep in.

I’m also shopping around for bath curtains.  The house we’re buying has super retro bathrooms (one pink, one blue and one green) and the kids’ bathroom downstairs is the mint green one:

mmmm... Minty!

I have plans to remodel the two upstairs bathrooms eventually, but I think about the only thing I’ll change in the downstairs bathroom is the vanity (I’m thinking something bright white with clean lines).  I like the kitschy/retro feel of the green and because it’s going to be a kid bathroom, I can have a little more fun with accessories.   I’ve been doing some looking online, but haven’t found anything I want yet.  I’m thinking a trip to Ikea is in my future (yeah!!).  Until then, I’m having fun looking at bathrooms on “Rate My Space” – a cool feature on which lets you see and rate other people’s home improvement efforts.

Well, things are happening fast and I should be having lots of posts on outdoor lighting fixtures, winterizing your home and choosing paint colors here in the near future.  Talk with you soon!

It’s like middle school

We just got word that our offer has been accepted and we are on track yet again to purchase our first house!  I feel like the new kid in middle school, trying to put my best foot forward and get accepted by the “in-crowd”.  Our offer needed to be just right for the seller to accept, our credit and finances need to look just right to secure our loan.  This is not the time for a “bad hair day”!

This time our closing day is in 30 days instead of 60 which is exciting because we should be in the new house before Thanksgiving.  We’ll be going out to the house for an inspection this weekend and even though we’re a little gun shy after the last experience, we don’t expect to find anything too surprising this time.  My husband has already climbed up on the roof to check the chimney flashing (one of our main problems with the last house).  The furnace, hot water heater and air conditioner are new so there’s no issue there.  Everything looks structurally sound and there are even screens on the gutters to help keep them from clogging!

Fingers crossed that I’ll be doing remodel/redecorating posts soon and we’ll be snug in our new house when the new baby arrives!

Here we go again…

So pretty much as soon as we started thinking our first try at home buying was going to fall through (thanks to major water damage and mold), my husband and I started looking at other places.  We drove past at least 15 different houses checking out neighborhoods and discovering that not all pictures on real estate websites are accurate when it comes to houses.  It’s amazing what taking a photo at a certain angle can do for a house.  Busy streets disappear, yards look bigger…  We were able to eliminate many of the houses we were interested in and narrowed it down to two in particular.

Being just a little bit on the anal side (I prefer “detail oriented”) I created a spreadsheet to compare the properties on everything from price to included appliances.  We drove by both neighborhoods and liked the areas.  In the spirit of HGTV’s House Hunters here are the two houses we were most interested in:

House #1 for $219,000

4 bedroom, 3 bath split level on 9,124 sq ft lot  in a nice culdesac neighborhood.  HOA gives access to a nice community pool.  The house has 2420 sq feet of living space with a formal dining and living room, family room, game room and a brand new kitchen.  Master bedroom has attached bathroom with soaking tub and separate shower.  There is no garage, just a paved driveway.  The home was built in 1994 and appears to be in good condition.

House #2 for 239,900

5 bedroom, 3 bath split level on quiet 1.3 acre corner lot.  No HOA.  The house has 2408 sq feet of living space including a large family room with wood burning fireplace and formal dining and living room.  The house was built in 1967 and has very “kitschy” dated bathrooms (one all pink, one all blue and one all green) and a somewhat dated but large kitchen.  Wood floors in excellent condition all through the house and a new furnace and hot water heater.  Attached 1+ garage with separate entrance and a circular driveway.

So, did we decided to make an offer?  Which house did we go with?  The more affordable split level with newer kitchen and pool access?  Or the more expensive, dated house on the large lot?  We went with…

House number two!  We are making an offer today on the house.  While we liked the idea of pool access and a new kitchen, there were ultimately two factors that helped us with our decision.  First was lot size.  We have 3 very active kids with one more on the way and House #2’s large lot is perfect for tiring them out 😉  The second factor had to do with House #1.  When we were arranging with our real estate agent to see the houses, we found out House #1 was a short sale property.  That pretty much took it off our list all together.

Here’s another instance where knowledge gave us power in our decision making process.  When we first started looking at houses, I googled all kinds of thing to get more information.  I learned about foreclosures and auctions and short sales.  Basically a short sale is when the bank and the home owner agree to sell the house for less than what is due on the mortgage.  Basically it’s a pre-forclosure move.  Unfortunately, nothing is short about the time frame when buying a short sale property.  It’s not just the seller who has to accept your offer on a short sale, it’s the lender too, and just because one says yes doesn’t mean the other will.  Short sales can take up to 6 months to close and without an agent who has experience with short sales, it’s often difficult to close at all.

So basically, although the house was cool, we didn’t want to deal with all the problems and uncertainties that come along with a short sale.  We really like the second house and although it’s a bit dated, it has major potential.  Hopefully the sellers will accept our offer and this time we can make it all the way to closing!

Want more information on short sales?  Check out this article from REALTOR Magazine Online.


So we’re out of our contract now and the process of finding our first house has started all over (well, not all over… we got our financing all figured out now and a really good working relationship with our lender and real estate agent).

While we get to do the fun part of looking at houses, I’m just not sure I’m ready to jump in with both feet again… at least not yet.  See, the problem lies with two other feet, very small ones to be precise.  I’m getting to the very end of the pregnancy and I just don’t know if I can handle a big life change right in the middle of a big life change.  Besides the fact that I’m gigantic (I’m bigger around than my three year old is tall) and tired all the time, I keep thinking even if we get into a new contract in the next little bit we will still have to deal with the closing period which would basically put us right when the baby is being born.  As much as I want a new house, I’m not really excited about the prospect of adjusting to life with four kids, recovering from surgery (we have a planned c-section) and unpacking the house.

I’m getting tired just writing this out… perhaps it’s time for a nap.