One Week Plus Eleven Days

Thanksgiving is one week from today. A day and season of thankfulness.

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In years past, it was a day for our family and extended family to gather. Although, Thanksgiving get-togethers have slowly become a memory of years gone by as our family began to spend the holiday with their other extended family. This year, COVID has guaranteed we again won’t be spending time with extended family. Yet, we are so very thankful that hubby, the girls and I will be celebrating our last turkey dinner in our house, surrounded by boxes and memories of the past four years. A day of cooking, baking, eating good food, playing some games, and watching Holiday movies as our family prepares to celebrate Christmas in our new home and in a new city.

Eleven days after Thanksgiving, we’ll move into our new home. There will be days and days and days of unpacking to take care of as we begin to organize and put things away. Top of our list is unpacking the Christmas decorations and decking the halls of our new home. With only a short time between moving day and Christmas day, there will be a lot of preparations to be made quickly as we prepare for the arrival of the “big” guy Christmas Eve.

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Time seems to be moving slowly and quickly at the same time as we make preparations for moving during the holidays. I can honestly say that we are all ready to get this move over with and settle into our new home ready to celebrate the Christmas season and New Year.

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Citysteading

For a long time, hubby and I dreamed of buying a house on some land in the country. I had dreams of the chickens, ducks, goats and guinea fowl that we would raise on our homestaed. We talked and planned and planned and talked about the animals we would raise, the fruits and vegetables we would grow and how we would work hard to become less and less dependent on outside sources for our food.

Then hubby’s back began to cause him problems and those problems grew until we realized that the physical labor required to homestead would not be possible for him.

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We gave up that dream and stuck with gardening on our little 1/4 acre piece of land in the small town where we resided. It was my happy place and I enjoyed growing food for my family.

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Then came our move and my dream of having enough space to garden was replaced with a pool to cool us off in the Texas heat.

I tried growing some things in containers, but container gardening on concrete during the heat of the summer proved to be much more challenging than I anticipated. I eventually gave up my dream of gardening in the city.

Now things are changing once again. We’re moving to a house that has plenty of yard space for a garden. My dream of homesteading has been replaced with my dream of citysteading.

After years of wanting to build keyhole gardens, I can make that goal a reality.

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I can grow tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots and so much more. I can try my hand at growing some fruit trees in containers.

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Maybe some tropical fruits that I can bring inside when the weather is cooler, like mangoes, lemons or oranges.

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The possibilities are endless and being able to dig in the soil once more is exciting. I look forward to teaching the girls more about gardening and watching Arryn experience it for the first time.

Even though my original dream didn’t come to fruition, my new dream of citysteading certainly can.

Pending

There are a few things pending right now.

One is this blog. For a long time, this blog was my journal, communication with friends and family, and a way to share what would one day become the history of my family. I blogged on almost a daily basis for a very long time, then Facebook took over. It became easier to share with friends and family on Facebook, then write a blog, yet my blog was always calling me home. So a few days ago I started giving it a make-over. It’s going to take me some time to get it set up the way I want it and even more time with a move on the horizon, but I’m excited to be back blogging.

Two is the sell of our house. We are now out of the option period and the sale is pending. There are a few more things to be done, but this is the final step before closing, so I’m back to sorting and packing things up in preparation for our closing.

Three is the purchase of our new home. Option period for the new house has now ended as well and the sale is in pending status. We’re waiting on the appraisal, insurance on the new house is in process and I’m making lists of everything in an effort to stay organized. I’m also back to packing more boxes and my dining room is quickly filling up with things I want to personally deliver to the house vs having the movers take it for us.

Everything is moving along nicely and with the sale now in pending status, let me introduce our future new home to you.

I love the stone and brick mix.
I have wanted a double oven for years and years. FINALLY!!!!
Love the use of space in the bathroom.
No pool at the new home, but a nice big yard and play set is better for our family right now. There is a community pool and the yard is large enough we could add a pool later. In the meantime, I plan to get back into gardening. There will certainly be a learning curve as gardening in Texas is very different from gardening in Illinois, but I’ll have a couple months to get everything set up and ready.

You can see more photos and information here.

We are excited and so very ready to get moved.

In 25 days, this is the house we will call home.

Everyone Wants Our Business

We put our house on the market and shortly thereafter started receiving offers of assistance.

Moving companies really want to help us move and I had no idea there were so many different ones in the area. However, on a daily basis we have been receiving anywhere from 2 – 6 postcards, letters, flyers, etc. from moving companies.

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In the past we would have rented a truck then gathered some friends and family to help us load and unload. No more though! We have hired movers to load and unload for us. We’ll have boxes packed and ready for them, but the days of moving ourselves are over and quite honestly, I think it will be money well spent.

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Inspections

The buyers of our house hired an inspector to come look at our house. This is a common practice here in Texas as well as other areas in the U.S. We did the same thing when we purchased this house and the inspection on the house we’re buying was done this week as well.

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The purpose of the inspection is to make the buyer aware of any problems or potential problems with the house. The buyer can then decide if they want the seller to take care of anything off the inspection report, buy the house as is, or back out of the purchase.

Our house is 23 years old and while we’ve done a lot of work on the house, we knew the inspection would likely find issues. We also expected the buyer would ask us to do some of the things the inspector found. Fortunately, the inspector didn’t find any major problems and a couple of the things found are questionable. For example, we were asked to replace the water heater because the inspector felt it was at the end of it’s life. The inspector didn’t know we had a plumber out last month who inspected the water heater and didn’t have a concern about it. However, the buyer decided we should be given a long list of items to fix and we weren’t expecting that. For a matter-of-fact, the list was so long and so nit picky, our realtor was “MAD.” She could not believe the buyer’s realtor would be willing to send a seller such a long list of things to do.

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We understand that not all buyers want to move into a home that is going to cost them money the moment they move in. We certainly don’t, yet at the same time we understand that making our monthly mortgage payment is only a portion of the money it costs to own a home. Part of the agreement made in selling our home was that we would spend up to $500 providing a home warranty to the buyer. This provides the buyer an extra layer of protection for the first year of ownership. However, this buyer had already made some not-so-common requests. At least here, leaving a refrigerator is not the norm and we were asked to leave the refrigerator. Honestly, that request wasn’t a huge deal as we have a second refrigerator we can use while we wait on the delivery of a new one. But, we were also asked to leave our washer and dryer. That request was a surprise and we had to spend some time discussing and considering that offer. Eventually we agreed to leave it knowing we would be spending additional money that we hadn’t planned to spend. As such, having the buyer give us such a long list of items off the inspector’s list was totally unexpected and balsy.

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After going thru everything with our realtor, we responded with a shorter list of the things we’re willing to take care of and last night we got a response from the buyer agreeing to our list. That tells us that the buyer really wants the house and tomorrow is the end of the option period, so our house will soon move from to pending sale. That will allow us to breathe a little more freely while we tackle the list of asks from the buyer.

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We also received a list of items from the inspection on the house we’re buying. We have requested two items from the list be taken care of by the seller and will hopefully get a response this weekend as the option period on our new home is almost over as well.

So, things are moving forward and I can honestly say that I would avoid ever going thru the process of selling and buying a house at the same time. I love looking at houses, but the pressure to find a house after accepting an offer on the sell of our house took away some of the fun for me.

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I’m so thankful for our realtor. She was great to work with when we bought this house and has been great to work with again. Granted, she may be going home to rant and rave over my craziness, but she has been the calm in all of this.

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Hopefully my next post will be pictures of our new home, so come back soon.

Selling A Home, Buying a Home, Ups and Downs

Our house went on the market last week and two days later we received and accepted an offer.

Now we needed to find a house and by this point we had already looked at 20+ houses. We had found one we wanted to make an offer on, but at the time we had not yet sold our house so the buyer wouldn’t accept our contingency offer. The house sold a few days later, so it was no longer and option for us. We sent another list of homes to our realtor and continued looking.

We looked at several more houses and by the end of the second day of looking found a house we all REALLY liked. It had everything we were looking for and the kitchen was amazing. So we told the realtor to put in an offer.

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That evening we were told there were already multiple offers on the house so our offer would need to be $15,000 over asking

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and we would need to write a letter to the seller as encouragement to choose us. So, that’s what we did.

The next morning I woke up very early with huge doubts about our decision. As much as I LOVED the amazing kitchen, I realized I was making concessions on other things that I didn’t like about the house and some of those things were on my priority list.

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For example, we need homeschool space. Currently, our dining room doubles as our homeschool room. It’s challenging and with the girls getting older, they have project work that we need to leave out so they continue working on it. In addition, the homeschool space needed to double as homeschool space for Arryn. Homeschool space for a pre-school kiddo looks very different from space for middle schoolers which meant a large room that could accommodate all our curriculum and space for project work as well as toys, games, books, etc. The house didn’t have a large enough space for all of that which would have meant moving some of our homeschool work back to the . . . . dining room!

The other problem with the house was my extreme fear of heights. The house truly was beautiful and part of the beauty was the catwalks with the Romeo and Juliet balconies. My anxiety level got pretty high walking across the catwalk, which was required to get to two of the bedrooms. My anxiety level rose even higher when the kids walked across them. However, it went thru the roof when they were on the balconies and looking over the top of them. Plus, one of the bedrooms was open to one of the balconies which meant we would need to hire a contractor to build a door way we could close to the balcony. So immediately, we were investing an additional $15,000 for the purchase of the house, would incur a few thousand more for a wall and door, and I would need to figure out how to deal with the catwalk and balconies.

It was a very difficult situation because it was the first house we had looked at that hubby wanted to buy. Now I was telling him that I just couldn’t live in that house. It also meant saying good-bye to the amazing kitchen and the huge backyard, but as our realtor has told us over and over and over again . . . . “You gotta love it!” I just didn’t “love” it. So we pulled our offer.

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So the next day we hit three open houses and made an appointment to meet the realtor at yet another house.

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At the first open house, I found so much about the house I liked. Hubby, on the other hand, wasn’t sold. So we moved on to the next. I wasn’t sold. So we moved onto the next. The kitchen was much too small and there was no way I could get past that fact regardless of how much I may have liked everything else about the house. Throughout our home shopping excursions, the common theme was finding houses that had features we liked and features that we just couldn’t live with. If I could have taken the things I liked from the various houses and put them into one house, it would have been perfect. That, however, was proving to be an impossible task.

We moved onto the last house of the day and as we sat in front of the house waiting on our realtor to arrive, there was another family waiting outside the house. We assumed they were waiting on their realtor as well and I realized we could find ourselves in another situation of having to bid against other offers. We loved the outside of the house and while we hoped we would love the inside as well, I really didn’t want to get into a bidding war on a house again. It’s not something I enjoy at all. For a matter-of-fact, I abhor the process of having someone offer what the seller is asking and then bidding more against other families for a house. So we waited for our realtor to arrive and eventually the family that was also waiting drove away without going ever stepping foot in the house.

Our realtor arrived and we went inside. It took very little time to realize that this was the house we were looking for. There was not one part of the house that I found to be “amazing” while others were just “okay” because every part of the house was amazing simply due to the fact that it was exactly what we had been looking for.

Hubby would have the office space he needed.

Our master bedroom would be on the first floor.

The additional room upstairs was the perfect size for homeschooling, toys, books, games, etc.

No long catwalks, just a short one that didn’t bother me much.

Plenty of bathrooms for a house full of girls.

A big yard with swings and slides for Arryn. (The sellers are leaving it.)

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No pool, which was on our desire list, but there is a pool, play grounds, walking trails as well as a catch and release pond for the homeowners in the community. The other plus is that the yard is large enough we could add a pool if we miss not having a private pool.

We walked thru the house and then re-examined rooms and floor plan and yard. The more we looked at it, the more we loved the house and asked our realtor to put in an asking price bid.

That night we got a call that the house had another offer. (Sigh) However, it was a below asking price bid. While we were bidding against another family, we were offering the seller what they were asking for the house. That was important to us, so we put in the offer and waited.

Later that night our realtor sent me a text letting us know the seller would be accepting our offer and she would execute the offer the next day.

The next morning I woke up and had no second thoughts about the house at all. It truly was what we were looking for. No over-the-top features, just a nice family home on a corner lot, in a beautiful neighborhood and one of the big pluses is that it’s in the city hubby most wanted to live in.

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Things have been moving forward on the sell of our house and purchase of the new house until . . . . .

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Fun or Stressful?

I absolutely love looking at houses.

I love seeing the layout of the different homes.

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I love seeing how others have decorated.

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I love looking at flooring choices,

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tile choices,

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paint choices.

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I love envisioning how our family would fit into the space.

For me, those are the fun parts of searching for a home.

Selling a home and buying a home at the same time is stressful though.

Waiting on our pre-approval – stressful.

Wondering if we’ll sell our home and find a home simultaneously – stressful.

Deciding if we are willing to re-do things we don’t like about a house – stressful.

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Worrying that we won’t get all of this done before our pre-approval time runs out – stressful.

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It doesn’t help that two days into the painting we discovered they started upstairs when I specifically asked them to start downstairs so the flooring demo and replacement could start downstairs while they were finishing upstairs.

It doesn’t help that the flooring company neglected to get our job put on the installer’s schedule earlier and the flooring won’t even be started until after we’ve moved out of our rental house and back home.

I doesn’t help that we have a cabinet repair that will need to be done, but it now won’t be completed until after the flooring is installed.

It doesn’t help that these delays mean getting our house on he market is delayed by a week.

Some would say, enjoy the adventure. Truth is, I’m probably the one that would say that exact thing to someone else.

Some would say, it will all work out. Again, that would be something I would say to someone else.

Now I’m on this side of the searching, preparing, wondering and worrying. Maybe I should simply be saying enjoy the adventure because it will all work out. Instead, I’m having fun looking at homes while stressing about selling our house and buying another house in the next few weeks.

I do know this will all work out. Maybe not exactly as I had envisioned, but if life was all smooth sailing, the ride wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.

So, I’ll do my best to sit back and enjoy the adventure and try to keep in mind that it really will work out in the end.

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Moving Along

After lots of packing, cleaning and organizing, we are almost ready for a fresh coat of paint and some new flooring.

By the end of the week, our realtor will put a “Coming Soon” sign in our yard

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and hopefully a week later our home will officially be on the market.

We have started looking at listings and next week will begin looking at some homes while the house is being painted. We are a bit limited until our house sells, but we hope to have some homes in mind and ready to put in offers as soon as we get an offer on our home. It’s time for a home that has a little more room.

I’ve had a few people comment about how many times our house was full of kids while we were fostering and now we’re looking for a bigger home. Believe me, we talked about trying to find a bigger home while we were a foster family, but were never sure how long any child(ren) would be with us. It would have also required getting re-licensed in the new home and we thought it was better to stay put. Also, hubby’s job was not a 5-day per week work-from-home gig. That has now changed.

So, it’s time to move on.

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Our original goal was to move to Florida. We love visiting Florida. We love the beaches there. However, we realized visiting somewhere and living somewhere are very different. In the end, we decided it would be best to stay in Texas, take some beach vacations and then look at the possibility of buying a beach condo to use as our vacation home one day in the future. Kind of the “best of both worlds.” We’ll see.

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Now by break is over and it’s time to get back to work. We have a bit more to get done before the painters arrive tomorrow morning. And if I don’t forget, I’ll take some before and after pictures.

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“Almost” 5 Years

We moved to Texas almost 5 years ago.

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WOW!!! Honestly, it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. On the flip side, I’m beginning to forget what it felt like living anywhere else. I suppose that is due to the fact that we’ve experienced a lot of life in the past “almost” 5 years. We lived in our RV for six months, bought a house, took vacations, became a foster family for over 3 years, adopted our 3rd daughter, made new friends and became an established resident in the State of Texas.

What I’ve learned along the way is that, for me, a busy life is a happy life.

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COVID has removed much of the busy part of life and that has been challenging. Not just for me though. It’s been challenging for the kids as well.

The other thing we’ve learned is that our seemingly “perfect” house, isn’t so perfect after all.

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It certainly wasn’t perfect when we had our foster kids, but we made it work because kids were in and out so often during the past “almost” 5 years. In addition, moving means more work getting a new house licensed.

Hubby’s job was taking him into the office 3-5 days per week, so his little office in the corner of our bedroom worked fine the few times he worked from home. The COVID hit and his company told everyone to work from home. A couple months ago he accepted a new role in his company and regardless of what happens with COVID, he will work from home permanently. His little office in the corner of our bedroom doesn’t work as well any longer and we have no other space in our house.

It’s amazing how much space another child takes up in a house. That little body adds clothes, shoes, toys, games, plates, cups, and utensils. Our living room/playroom has grown very small for our family. For most of her two years of life, she slept in a crib in our bedroom. Yes, the same bedroom with the little office in the corner. When she began growing out of her crib, we had to move kids around so we could move her into her “big girl bed”. Our oldest daughter was displaced from her bedroom and our upstairs living room became her new bedroom. Because the room has a half-wall along the staircase, we put up curtains for walls, which gives her some privacy, but without walls, there is no real noise reduction. It’s a temporary fix at best.

Conversations about moving to a house that would better accommodate our family’s needs became common and after hours, days and weeks of conversations, we made the decision to move.

But where should we move?

At first the top contender was Florida. We love the beaches there. We love the weather (at least we have during our visits there). It’s a favorite vacation spot, so why not turn it into our full-time state of residence? Eventually, we realized it might not be the best location for our family.

Second contender was back to Illinois. Family and friends were a pull, but after some conversation, we decided it wasn’t the right decision.

Third contender was staying in Texas and ultimately we realized it’s the best choice for our family.

Now the adventure begins.

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Packing

Painting

More packing

Replacing flooring, thanks to some recent damage from a crack in our dishwasher. I’m so happy we caught it before it cause any more damage.

Even more packing

Replacing bathroom tile that cracked

And more packing

Cleaning

Packing, packing, and more packing

Organizing

OH MY GOD, the packing!!

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So much work to get this house show ready!!!!!!

Fortunately, it’s a seller’s market right now and interest rates are so low right now, so buying is good as well.

We’ve put ourselves in a good position to make this move, so the time is right except for the fact that we are getting so close to the Holiday Season.

Our goal is to get everything done so we can list our house the third week of October. That’s only three weeks away and it seems like an impossible task, but we’ve accepted the challenge and are working diligently to make this happen so we can find our next home sweet home.

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I am also trying to give this blog more attention. Needless-to-say, trying to move means my time is limited. At the same time, this is also a good place to keep a journal of our progress so I’ll do my best to keep blogging about our progress.

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