Wednesday, May 30, 2012

we bought a yard...

...with a small house attached.

 We finally got our own place.  After 2 years of renting, our offer was accepted on this house.  This was our 5th offer - we got outbid on 4 others.  One of those we got outbid by 75k!  The market here is pretty crazy.  In the lower range, the houses go super fast.  If you don't have a realtor sending you the newest on the market, you won't be able to buy one.  You have to see the new ones daily, schedule a showing for the next day, and make an offer that same day.  And even then, there's usually at least 7-8 other offers.  We made offers on 5 houses, but there were several others that were already pending when we were about to put in an offer.  We got so lucky with this house.  We weren't "supposed to" get it.  There were multiple offers, but we did have a chance to counter on this one (there was no chance to counter on any of the others).  Our realtor called us the next afternoon and asked if we could increase our counter offer.  At that point, we decided we were already stretched too thin, so we let it be.  Since we knew we weren't the top offer, we just figured we didn't get it.  But we got a phone call at about 10pm saying our offer was accepted.  The widow selling the house heard about our family and wanted us to have it.  She and her husband raised 4 children in this house.  

We still had a hard decision to make, whether we actually wanted to go through with the purchase.  Since you don't have much time to think about it before you offer, we hadn't really decided whether it was suitable for us.  It's not very big, although does have 4 bedrooms and 2 bath.  It needs updating.  And we would also have to change schools and wards.  

But the location was convenient to the bike path to Alex's work, about 2 blocks from the elementary school, and the yard is great for active boys (who also desperately want a dog).  There are also several fruit trees already on the property.  The apple tree in the front yard was our 1st "sign" that this would work for us!  With everything falling into place fairly conveniently AND this being our only offer ever accepted, we decided we'd take it.  We were afraid we'd miss our chance at getting our foot in the door on the market here.  We also didn't want to miss getting the help from Alex's work on some of the down payment.  This assistance was guaranteed for 2 years from his start date.  (We may have been able to apply for an extension, but it's not guaranteed that you'll get it after 2 years.)  Our 2 years was up at the end of June.

The other lucky part of this sale was that it was a regular 30 day sale.  Most of the houses that we could afford were short sales, which are anything but "short".  The short sales can take around 3 months to close on.  With this, the timing was so convenient.  We could close right before the end of the school year and move in during the summer.  We didn't have to worry about moving in the middle of the school year.  

Everything went so fast with the purchase.  I guess the only problem was we only had about a week from the closing until the end of the month (start of new month's rent).  We wanted to get some things done, especially the flooring, before we moved in.  So this past week has been really busy.  Alex took out the partition in the front room, as well as the wood paneling.  It took about 3.5 days to get the wallpaper down (I HATE WALLPAPER!), which left Monday for painting.  Thankfully, we had some people come help us get the walls ready and paint.  And I used some friends to watch the boys a couple of the days I was trying to get wallpaper out.  The installation of the flooring started on Tuesday and will be done tomorrow or Friday.  We got a couple of extra days from our landlord, so we can move all of our stuff over on Friday evening and Saturday.  This has been so exhausting.  But I think it will be worth it.  

The hardest part is "abandoning" our friends from school, sports, and the people in our ward at church.  Even moving just 10 minutes down the road puts us in a different school, sports leagues, and ward.  But we're trying to look at the big picture and do what we think is best for our family.  I hope we made the right choice!  At least now we can own our own shoddy little house here and fix it up the way we want to.  

We LOVE the yard!        

More to come later...

Sunday, May 27, 2012


We didn't do a friend party this year.  We just did a small celebration.  Jared requested a volcano cake (easiest one I've done - less than 2 hours start to finish including baking time).  He wanted waffles for breakfast and pancakes for dinner.  He loved all his presents and got right to work on building his new toys.

We didn't his special outing yet - unfortunately we've had no time.  More on that later...

We're so glad to have Jared in our family.  He's just a pretty easy going kid.  He loves sweets, loves taking his time, loves doing artwork, playing t-ball, playing legos and pretend play with his brothers, says thoughtful prayers, and keeps us laughing with the things he says.  He's our most adventuresome kid - Jared is often the one to try new things (Nathan will push Jared on, and then if it's okay with Jared, it's okay for everyone!)

We love you Jared!

Utah trip

We drove to Utah the first weekend in May.  I snapped a few pictures as we came into Utah.  I had to take a picture of the billboard - Noah Hartsock is #34.  I went to high school with his older brother.    

We got there late Friday night, so Saturday was our "play day." The boys loved seeing their cousins. The kids played outside a lot.  Weston followed the cat around.  Alex and I took the opportunity to add another temple to our list - the Draper Temple.  (Family, thanks for watching the boys for us!)  We enjoyed spaghetti dinner, cheesecake, popcorn and a movie on Saturday night.  

And the main reason for our trip was for Emmy's blessing on Sunday.  Alison made her pretty dress - so talented!  I'm glad we got to be there for this special day, to hear the blessings the Lord has in store for Emmy.

Alison & Micah organized a big family dinner after church - good food and family.  Doesn't get much better than that!  Micah has a lot of family there, so I guess there were just too many people to take a group picture.  We got a few shots here and there.  Alex and Daniel were there too - we just never got a picture of them!  We did manage to get a picture of all the cousins on the couch.

It was a quick trip!  We had to leave at about 3:00am to make it back in time for Alex's afternoon meeting.  Luckily the boys were pretty good travelers.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

benefit of funerals

While the occasion is a somber one, funerals do have one benefit.  They provide an opportunity to see family and friends.  I got to meet my new niece Emmy (a week earlier than planned).  It was nice to spend time with all of my sisters as well.  We sang "The Old Rugged Cross" at my grandpa's funeral.  We weren't sure how we'd get through it, but it was much easier with the security and comfort that comes from singing with your siblings.  The funeral service was as good as it could be - a nice tribute to my grandpa's life.  We are grateful for MaryAnn and her strength in this trial.  We love you!  

I also got to tag along with my parents to visit our good friends and next door neighbors, the Jones.  My siblings and I spent half our time over at the Jones.  We had a fence connecting our backyards that was always open, so we'd come and go as we pleased.  (I don't think our moms knew exactly where we were or what we were doing most of the time...)  It was great fun.  Mike and I (and maybe Megan Jones was there too?) had a little wedding ceremony for Audrey and Darren.  We even made them kiss!  They must have been about 2 or 3 years old.

Anyway, it was good to see the Jones again.  Harold is battling cancer, but enduring well.  They have a very inspiring blog about their journey.  They are such a good example of staying faithful amidst whatever trials come along.  What a great family!  Whatever the outcome of this trial, they have been an inspiration to everyone around them.  It was fun to see these "old friends" together again.

no more crib

In April, Weston started putting his leg over the side of the crib, so that meant it was time to get out of the crib.  That's always been our cue to switch them out - as soon as the leg starts going over the side, they're done.  
Even though he's only about 21 months, we knew he could make the transition.  (Owen was out of the crib at about 18 months.)  He was pretty excited to have a bit more freedom.   We just pulled the mattress from the crib and put it on the floor.  Right now, he's scrunched in the corner between the end of Owen's bed and the wall.  He seems to like still having "walls" around him.  He does pretty well at night when it's dark and his brothers are all in bed too.  The afternoon nap is the challenge, since he's not confined in his crib "trap".  Lately, I've been driving to pick up Jared from school, because Weston falls asleep in the car and usually makes the transition to his bed.  Sometimes I can close the door to the room and he'll take a nap.  And sometimes he won't nap.    

Anyway, this is the 1st time we haven't had the crib up in about 8 years.  It was a little weird only having "big boys" in their beds and no babies in the crib!    

You'll notice that Weston likes to sleep with a baseball mitt - his new security item.  Too much baseball going on this year!

school stuff

We had the chance to peek at a few of the things Nathan and Jared were working on at school.  We also bought a cake at the cake auction.  We only got through about half of it - it was so rich with chocolate and peanut butter that we couldn't eat much of it.  We definitely picked the wrong cake.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

April adventures

 For some reason, these ducks reminded me of my boys... they wouldn't stop "talking"!  

Is there anything wrong with this picture?  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Break with Aunt Jane

Aunt Jane came to visit us for our Spring Break.  We had a good time, although we're sorry that she had to put up with our rowdy travelers.  They wore us all out when we had to be in the car.  We had a small birthday celebration for Jane's recent birthday, went to the beach and local sites, out for ice cream a couple of times, Chinese food, sandwiches and fries at a beach front grill (with a sandbox for kids to play in), and trip to Ojai.  We hope the boys didn't wear you out too much Jane!

Alex's March adventures

While I was making leprechaun traps, doing family history projects, baseball, scouts, and in the midst of potty training, Alex was traveling (half of March).  It really was "march madness".  His first trip was to Washington D.C.  It was a quick trip, so he didn't have much time to look around and go inside buildings, but he at least saw most of the major sites on the surface.  He did get to go inside the temple.    

His next trip was to France, followed by Greece.  He really liked the Notre Dame Cathedral.  

Alex nearly got pick-pocketed in Greece.  He felt someone reaching into his pocket.  When he turned around, the guy pretended to be helping him with his bag.  He didn't feel very safe after that, but nothing happened the rest of the time there.  Alex enjoyed the sites.  I think he particularly liked standing where the Apostle Paul taught on Mars Hill.  He also enjoyed his fried seafood dinner overlooking the gulf of Corinth.  Squid??  Blah.  But he loved it.  Luckily Alex got out of Greece just in time before more protesting started again (the following week).   He took lots of pictures - I just weeded through and picked some out.  Hopefully I labeled them correctly...

We took advantage of Skype while he was traveling.  I'm wondering why we hadn't used that before.

Tough job Alex has, huh?  All this traveling that he has to do...

leprechaun trap

One of Jared's homework assignments was to make a leprechaun trap.  I wasn't feeling very creative, so we found an idea on-line and went with it.  His has a rock climbing wall up to the gold on the trap door.  We added a pipe cleaner rainbow.  They took them to their classroom.  They didn't catch anything, but apparently leprechauns made a big mess in their classroom.

Beekeeping 101

One of our activity days in March was learning about bees.  One of the ladies in our ward is a beekeeper, so she graciously showed us one of her hives and taught us about bees.  It was very fascinating.

I thought this would be perfect to go along with our theme for the year for activity days.  There's not an official theme, but we came up with one for us.  We wanted to use President Hinckley's B's - be smart, be true, be clean, be humble, be prayerful, be grateful, be positive, be still, and be involved.  We have tried to do activities that relate to each of these "Be's".

Bobcat ceremony

Back in March, Nathan got his bobcat award - pretty simple to earn.  He had to memorize the cub scout promise, law of the pack, sign, handshake, motto and salute.  We also had to discuss some safety issues and other things as well.  They had a ceremony for all the ones who completed the bobcat.  I hadn't ever been to one of these ceremonies before.  It was interesting.  We'll be learning a lot about scouting and spend many years in scouting with all these boys!  They got their face painted to symbolize the ways of the bobcat:

Yellow - being positive and helping others
Red - Courage to tell the truth and be honest
White - purity, making wise choices and decision
Green - Protecting and preserving the environment
Blue - Reaching for the sky, going for your dreams and doing your best

Nathan has a good start in all of these.  We're proud of him for the good boy and example he is to those around him.  If only we all could remember these basic principles of scouting, how much better off we'd be.