Friday, February 18, 2011

We're Moving in 2 weeks!!

What. A. Week.

I'm so exhausted.  But the news that I got today over-shadows that exhaustion.  Our loan is officially approved!!  We close on March 1st and will be moving in that next weekend!! 

I feel like I have sooooo much to write and share, but I'm so tired that I can't really think straight :). 

Here are some scattered thoughts:

My favorite time of the day is when I rock my Ethan before bed.  He's such a sweet, amazing little boy.  He loves to sing and cuddle... and so do I!

I love that my kids fight over whose brother Levi is :) ("he's my brother!  no, he's my brother!").  Today in the car, Ethan said, "Levi is Karis' brother," and Karis said, "Levi is Ethan's brother."  So now they are in agreement. hehe

Karis is so grown up.  She is amazing.  She is a sponge and remembers everything.  She shares her deep ideas with me on our drive home in the evenings.  :)

Levi is almost walking.  I blinked and he grew up.  He was barely crawling a month ago and now he's about to walk.  He also "talks" and "sings" a lot.  And he loves to dance.  He's a cuddler and gives really good kisses. 

Ethan can now count to like 13... and it's mostly because of his "teacher" at "school"...  I'm very happy with our choice.  I couldn't do a better job than they are doing.  He also loves to sing and read. :)  Oh, and he's almost potty trained (also because of his "teacher").  I'm a horrible potty trainer, but they are great. 

My husband is amazing.  Tuesday, I forgot to bring some very important folders with me to my training afterschool, so he took off work early, went to the house, drove them to me, and then drove back home.  I love that man.  He takes care of me. 

We will most likely not be putting the kids into my school afterall... Long story, but mainly because if they go to the local school, they can go to the afterschool program offered at the school instead of having to bus over to a program that's not very good.  And, even better, they have art and music! I'm excited.  Karis is such an artsy kid.

I love my job more now than ever before... and I love that I have a teacher trainer to work with me and help me get better at my job.  I had a conference with her the other day and she told me that I'm at a point now in which she would like to see me take the lessons deeper... I have excellent control of the classroom, I have a nice routine in place, so now she wants me to think "how can I take this deeper" when I plan my lessons... how can I get the kids to be engaged from inside of them (bringing the lessons deeper naturally).  She said that she knows that I can do it, but to not overthink things (because she knows me well enough now to know that I do that!).

I went to the Tom Thumb store that is a few streets from our new house, and it is great!  Most Tom Thumbs are kind of "sucky," but this one is very nice, has lots of organics at a great price, and has a beautiful produce section.  And their natural meat is cheap!  So, it looks like I'll rarely have to leave the area!  I can't wait to not have to fight Dallas traffic. 

Karis has been talking about her birthday party for a while... so it looks like we're not getting out of throwing her a big party this year.  Tinkerbell party here we come!  She is SO my daughter. 

Okay... I think that is all for now.  I'm going to bed.  :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dreaming, Part Two :)

As the loan process is coming to a close and the ownership of this house is becoming more real, I'm beginning to really think through details of daily life living in North Oak Cliff (in Kessler Plaza) and beginning our life there!  Not only are we getting a house with a lot of character (and one that is so us), we are also going to be living in an area that we love!  It's an area of Dallas that is really a small community, where everyone is friendly, and everyone knows each other.  I was talking to someone (a stranger) one day and somehow mentioned that we go to church there, and he knew some of the people at my church.  And this is in Dallas (and our church is small)!  There are some favorite, small town restaurants there that everyone knows about, and best of all is my new favorite store, Urban Acres.  I have talked about this store so many times... but it is because I'm so excited about it!  It is a store that sells local, grass-fed/pastured meats and eggs, low temp pasteurized/non-homogenized milk, raw cheeses, raw honey (they make the honey right there because they have their own bees!!), and even some of our favorite boxed crackers and cookies that are more naturally made (at the same price that I would buy them somewhere else!).  For the past 7 months or so, we have just been "surviving" with our eating... mainly because of the fact that we are SO busy, I lose about an hour and a half each day due to traffic, and we live far from "health-food" stores (well, maybe not far, but out of the way).  We've also been trying to not spend much at all because of the fact that we're trying to buy a house (lately), so we've been getting "cheap" food to just get us by.  The plan when we move is to buy a little bit at a time, and just go by Urban Acres every few days to get what we need.  We will also be joining their CSA and getting our produce that way (along with having a garden in the spring/summer).  I have wanted to join a CSA for so long, but all of them were far away from the camp and/or we wouldn't have eaten enough because we ate in the dining hall at the camp so much.  With our own kitchen again, and living close to our favorite (local) store, we will be cooking every night and eating natural and healthy!  The plan is to come home from work each day and start cooking so that when the boys get home, it will be ready (since they will have a long drive still).  Right now, we all get home about the same time (or I get home later) because traffic is so bad (it takes 45 minutes to an hour for me in the evenings).  Then it is rush, rush, rush to get dinner cooked, eaten, and cleaned up before it's time to start the bedtime routine.  Evenings are awful right now!  That will change soon!  
We will still be on a tight budget (because we will have a mortgage!), but it will be possible to eat healthy on a budget with some careful planning.  We hope to go back to making our own bread and all of those things.  We'll see how that goes :).  Afterall, I will still be working full time.  BUT, we can use some time each Sunday evening to get those things done (like I used to).  Even when I worked part time, I had little time during the week to get things done because when I was home on Monday and Friday, I was working on school stuff.  I still really worked 5 days a week, it's just that some of that was at home :).  So, I would prepare everything for the week on Sunday evening... I made bread, breakfast foods for the week, prepared snacks, prepped for dinners, etc.  I want to start doing that again.  And Robert can help!  And the kids can play outside while we're doing that!  (which they can't right now because we don't have a yard here!) 

Another cool thing is that we will have plenty of room for a garden and to get some yard hens.  We've been talking about doing both of those for a while, and now we'll be able to.  The great thing about the garden is that we will plant it and most of the harvesting will be happening when I'm home during the summer!  So I'll have plenty of time to care for it.  And my dad has several chickens and loves it.  He says they are very easy to take care of and they become your pets.  And, they will give us healthy eggs to eat :). 

Sorry to be annoyingly excited :).  The home-owning thing is really something we never thought would happen.  With a past history of stupid mistakes and bad debt, we thought that would follow us forever and not allow us to even think about owning a home.  We thought we would be paying someone else's mortgage forever.  But, that is not the case.  At this point in our lives, our past mistakes are no longer going to keep us from beginning our lives in our own home.  I'm looking forward to beginning our own routines, traditions, etc in a home that is ours.  Just a few more weeks!!! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Almost a Homeowner!

Things are coming together VERY nicely.  The appraisal has been done and the things that needed to be "fixed" were very few.  We actually went over to the house today (along with the seller's realtor!) and did some scraping and touch up painting (the appraiser said all we had to do it prime it for FHA, so we'll have to come back later and paint).  As I have said before, the seller was unwilling to do any repairs so we had made the decision early on to do those repairs ourselves if they were minor.  And early on the seller's realtor said that he would help!  So, we went today and did those repairs and had fun!  We met the seller and he actually gave us our option period fee back and said we could use it to help pay for whatever we needed for the repairs.  We appreciate that!!  He was actually pretty nice!  He also told his realtor that he was going to leave the stuff in the shed for us, which is a lot of GOOD stuff.  A lawn mower, weed eater, table saw, blower, tiller, etc.  We're not going to hold our breath on that stuff until we actually walk into the house after closing.  It would be nice, though!

Paper work is almost completed for the loan... we sent in a few more things yesterday, but have been told we have conditional approval with the underwriters (pending those documents and the repairs on the house that were done today).  So, it's looking good! 
We could probably close a little earlier, but the seller hasn't even started packing, really, so I'm not sure that it could happen any earlier.  It would be best for us to wait anyway... give us some more time to pack, etc. It would feel less rushed if we wait. 

Anyway... all of this to say, we truly are about to be homeowners!  It's crazy!  Something we never thought would happen is about to happen!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Meal Plan Week of 2/7-2/11


Superbowl Foods!  (not healthy :)
Hot dogs, chili, queso and chips.

Roasted chicken, pasta, and veggies (prepare Sunday night to stick in the oven when I get home)

Chicken tetrazinni (crock pot- with leftover chicken from Monday), brown rice, veggies

Meatloaf (crock pot), mashed potatoes, veggies

Skillet chicken and couscous

Taco Salad


Banana Muffins
Egg sandwich

Amy's Meals (I have a few in the freezer)
Boiled eggs, cheese, veggies, and fruit
Grilled chicken salad

Dreaming :)

We were supposed to go to my parents' yesterday because today is my grandmother's birthday party (as well as celebrating Levi's), but we weren't able to go because the streets were so bad.  And Robert has to work today since he couldn't get out yesterday.  They have to get the church building ready for church tomorrow.  Next weekend Robert has to work on Sunday (it'll be his Sunday to work at the church), so we can't all go then.  So, my parents are going to take the kids for the weekend.  I'm a bit sad to send them off again for the weekend, but at the same time, we need some time to get some things taken care of.  There will be a few things that might need to be fixed at the house (the seller isn't willing to fix anything, but we have decided that if FHA won't approve it because of something small, we will just fix those things... the seller is okay with that).  There are a few things that we already know about, but we want to wait and see if the appraiser even cares about those things before we put the time into it right now.  A few of those small things are a plug that doesn't have a plate on it, a gas line that is plugged, but doesn't have a cover, there are some old water stains on the ceiling (but the inspector says that they are old and he can't find any evidence of water leak or damage), and a few more things like that.  It's nothing big at all.  So we're pretty sure it'll be fine so we just want to wait.  But, the appraisal should happen this coming week so we will know by next weekend. 
Also, I've decided to go ahead and start the packing process.  It's not "official" yet, but it won't be official until we close, and I'm not going to wait until then to start packing ;).  By next weekend, we should have a better idea about the loan.  That's all we're really waiting for now.  The inspection went really well, and we already know of the small things that need to be fixed (which are totally doable), so we know that the house is in good shape.  So now we just wait for the loan to go through completely (which we're not worried about because we have been pre-qualified through like 3-4 different mortgage brokers!).  I still cannot believe that everything is working out the way that it is! 

Yesterday Robert and I were "dreaming" about what it would be like to be in our house.  We were talking yesterday that the snow in that backyard would have been so much fun to play in :).  Then we could have come inside with some coffee and curled up by the fireplace.  I can't wait until we're in it.  It feels so peaceful inside.  It feels like a cottage.  It has a lot of square footage, but it's split up in a way in which it doesn't feel huge (which we prefer).  It's cozy despite the size.  We really could NOT have picked a better house for our family... and I'm thanking God for it.  He knew what we needed better than we did.  I know I've said this so many times, but everything about it is perfect.  The location, the neighborhood, the fact that there's a park behind it, the size of the house is perfect, the large lot/backyard, it's down the street from church and my work, and it's so comfy! 

One thing that Robert and I have decided is that we will go back to the way we know we should be eating.  We have gotten away from eating natural/whole foods since I started working (and since we aren't in our own place).  It's difficult to cook dinner everynight here, and we are just so disorganized.  I will save over an hour every day (closer to an hour and a half) because I won't be driving far to and from work (and days will just be much less stressful because I won't have to deal with traffic!).  I am pretty sure we'll also just go back to natural living in general.  We have been doing EVERYTHING out of convenience for the past year and I truly miss living naturally... We might even try using cloth diapers again (when the boys are at home).  We'll see :).  Ethan is just about out of diapers/pull ups completely, so it'll just be for Levi mostly. 
My plan is to start using the weekends to prepare for the week.  I will start baking a loaf of bread every Sunday and making breakfast foods.  I will also try to cut fruits and veggies and put them in individual bags, make fruit and veggie dips, etc.  I plan to make our own milks (coconut and almond) because I've decided since it is too difficult to get raw milk, everyone would be better off with almond and coconut milk (which, for Karis, it's much better on her tummy, and Levi doesn't like cow's milk but loves almond and coconut).  I need to be better at making menus (which will be easier when we have our own place!) and shopping for only what we need for the week.  We also plan to become part of the CSA that the local health food store (Urban Acres) has there in Oak Cliff.  It's pretty inexpensive compared to most CSA's that I have found, and it is right in our neighborhood!  The great thing about OC is that even though it's technically "Dallas," it feels like a small town :).  And our lot will be larger than many lots in Dallas.  So, that's nice :).  We'll have plenty of room for a garden, and we might even try to get some chickens :) (there will be plenty of space!). 

Of course, all of this is just dreaming, so I hope it will be possible when we actually get there :).  It's fun to dream! 

I guess I should go take care of the kiddos! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day (really this time!)

What a wonderful day!  We have been inside the house all week because of bad ice on the roads, so today was a nice break from being stuck inside!  It snowed a little more than 5 inches and we got to play in it!  Several times!  We also made snow icecream :).  It was just a great, relaxing, fun day with my family.  I also got ahead on lesson planning.  It was just great all around.  Here are some pictures:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

One Step Closer

Robert ventured out into the icy streets today to be at the house for the inspection.  When he got there, the inspector was busy, busy inspecting the house.  I called him about 45 minutes after he got there and found out that the house is in great condition.  The plumbing, electrical, structure, everything looks great.  There are a few little things, but nothing big at all.  In fact, Robert and the inspector were surprised at the condition for the age of the house. 

The courier picked up the earnest money and we have paid the seller for the option period.  I have spent quite a bit of time today on the phone with an insurance agent getting insurance quotes for homeowners insurance and a combo of homeowners/auto insurance.  I can't believe this is happening!  I never would have imagined that we would find the house that we did and that everything would be going along as it has been. 

I have spent the last couple of hours looking at our budget... for this month, for next month, and what it will look like after that.  It'll be tight, but we'll be fine... completely fine.  It's crazy.  And next fall will be even nicer because childcare won't be as high.  Can't wait! :)

Alright... I've been wasting time long enough.  Time to get busy working on lessons!

Random Thoughts on an Icy Day

Sorry about my random thoughts... I have been stuck inside for several days now, and I have many things on my mind.  I thought I would just write them out in a blog so that maybe I can move forward with my day without so many thoughts :).  We'll see!

I'm up early this morning even though I don't have to be!  I can't seem to shake my normal schedule :).  School was canceled again today, and I have a feeling it will be canceled tomorrow as well.  There has been a LOT of ice on the roads, and it hasn't gotten above about 20 degrees, so it has no way to melt and go away.  The ice melter that Dallas uses isn't working because it's too cold for it to work.  Strange, huh?  Welcome to Texas!  I'm enjoying these days at home, though, and am trying to take advantage of them.  I feel a bit lazy, but I have decided that it's okay to be a bit lazy!  I never get this opportunity!  I have enjoyed many great moments with the kids... reading to them, watching movies, cuddling.  I'm thankful! 

Robert will be headed to Oak Cliff today because the inspection is being done.  I'm praying that nothing big comes up!  I am confident that this is the house for us, though, so I'm pretty sure it will be fine.  As time goes by, I see more and more that this house is perfect for our family and I (we) have more and more peace about it.  We'll see what happens today! 
I am a little nervous about him driving in this ice, but he is confident that he'll be fine.  In Lubbock, this was the norm for winter, and that's where he grew up.  So, I'm going to just trust that he'll be fine! 

The mortgage broker that we're using is in Houston (long story!), so all of the paperwork that he's requested has to either be mailed or scanned and emailed.  So, I spent quite a bit of time Tuesday scanning in paperwork and emailing it to him.  As soon as I emailed the copy of the contract, he said that it's time to get moving!  So, we are in the process of the loan underwriting, etc.  This isn't very fun, so I'm hoping that it goes pretty fast.  We'll see :).

For the first time in SO long, I feel like we're going to be settled!  I can't believe it.  I have lived in transition for about 10 years... Even though we were at the camp, we never felt completely settled because we always thought we would leave.  Now, when we move into our own home, we plan to just stay!  CRAZY. 

At this point, we have decided to take Karis to school with me.  It has been a very difficult decision, and one that we've thought/prayed about since I started there.  This was our thought process: 1) Karis will probably be the ONLY white kid there... and as much as I LOVE racial diversity, I feel bad for her being the ONLY white kid there.  I have a feeling, though, that she won't care nor will she see that she's different!  When my students had a Christmas program, she joined the pre-k kids on the stage to sing Rudolph!  She loved it!  So, I think it will be fine.  It really doesn't matter.  2) There isn't art or music in elementary (and I'm not sure about the upper grades either).  She is an artsy kid.  But I feel like we can supplement that somehow... we'll make that work.  3) Many of the students at this school are low (because a LOT of them are second language learners).  But, I trust the teachers 100% and I trust the curriculum 100%, so I know that Karis will be fine.  And one thing that I LOVE is that we do guided reading, and it is broken up into low, middle, and high groups.  If she is in the high group, there is a lot of enrichment done during guided reading (and I know because I teach the high group).  I am confident enough in the curriculum and teachers to know that she will do well.  And anything that needs to be done at home can be!  I believe that parents make or break a child's education, so I will do my part as well!  4) If she was at another school, I'm not sure how we would drop her off.  Robert will have to leave at about 6:30, and I will have to be at work at 7:15.  Most schools don't start until 8:00 in that area.  So, it will be really nice to just bring her with me to school. 
No matter where I teach, Karis will have to go to afterschool.  Long story, but basically she will get out before me.  So, we'll just have to make it work. 

We were also thinking about putting the boys where Karis currently is, but now we're thinking that we'll just leave them where they are.  They love it there, and it is so much less expensive than where Karis is.  The only downfall is that it's a little bit out of Robert's way.  So, we'll make that decision as it gets closer to the summer.  If we do keep the boys where they are, they will have to go part time during the summer to keep their spot.  So, that'll factor into our decision.  It will be good to have a place for them to go if I have to go to trainings and things (which will happen), so that might be a good thing.  And it'll give me some designated time to work and do house cleaning and laundry, so I'm thinking this may be the way to go ;). 

Oh how I love my family!  My kids amaze me everyday... and they make me laugh.  They have such personality.  I am SO blessed!! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Time to Come Back Home

"Don't let your eyes get used to darkness. The light is coming soon. Don't let your heart get used to sadness. Put your hope in what is true.
No matter how the wind may blow, it cannot shake the Son. Lay your sorrows on the ground, it's time to come back home.

When the future seems uncertain. Like coming of a storm. Your loving Father carries His children when they can't walk anymore!

No matter how the wind may blow, it cannot shake the Son. Lay your sorrows on the ground, it's time to come back home."
-Back Home by JJ Heller

My most vivid memory over the past year (a little more than a year) was the day that my mom called me to tell me that my brother had shot and killed himself.  She was hysterical.  With the kids in the car, I yelled out to Robert what had happened.  I still feel bad for that, but I did it out of reaction...

My life has never been the same since.  The thing is, it wasn't just his death that was tough... it was the way he died.  It was a very gruesome death.  My mom found him.  The whole year after we all had to overcome the way he died.  Now we are just missing him. 

One thing that his death did in my life was to remind me how important each moment is.  I received a book from a dear friend about a month later that talked about enjoying every moment as if it was a last moment (with our kids).  We should appreciate even the hard moments because the kids grow up so fast and before we know it, they will be off to college.  The middle-of-the-night wake ups.  The tantrums.  The "I can do it's."  The "leave me alones."  Everything.  I used to think that it was bad to get the kids used to rocking them at night, and now Robert and I BOTH rock Ethan before bed because WE enjoy it, and because it helps Ethan calm down before going to sleep :).  Before we started doing that, he screamed and threw a fit... then he would fall asleep out of exhaustion.  Now, no fits :).  All he wanted was some individual attention from mommy and daddy.  What's the harm in that?  We don't rock him to sleep.  He would be able to get to sleep without us.  But, it's in those moments that I am able to enjoy my baby that is growing up too fast.

Through the hard times of this past year, I have grown in SO many areas.  The two areas that I feel like I've grown the most is: 1) not caring what others think our family should do, and 2) enjoying more of those little moments.  I still have moments in which I care what others think, but for the most part, I am content with the person that God has created me to be for His glory.  I see the giftings that He has given me so that I will glorify Him.  I see now the path that He has carved for His glory.  I am content in knowing that His plan is SO much better than any plan I could have created. 

At this point in my life, I feel incredibly blessed.  My relationship with Christ has grown to new levels.  I am fully dependent on Him.  I trust Him.  I have a close relationship that I have desired forever.  It will only get better :).  Robert and I are closer than we've ever been.  We work as a team now.  My kids are wonderful, beautiful little people that are growing up so fast.  I love watching them as they learn something new.  My job is a perfect fit for me.  I am doing what I love, and I have learned so much about being an amazing teacher in the past 7 months.  I have a long way to go, but I feel like I'm on my way!  God has led us to a church that loves Jesus and serves others.  I don't think we could have found a better fit for a church family!  And now we are in the process of beginning our lives in our own home and being settled for the first time since we got married... in a place that we know we belong and God has called us to... I can't wait to see all that God does in us and through us as we move to the area where we are called! 

Yesterday, as we were stuck in the house, we worked on getting some things ready for the loan process of buying the house.  Through some things that happened yesterday, God worked out some things in a way that we wouldn't have imagined!  It's a long story and hard to explain, but our finances are in better shape for the future than what we would have planned.  I'm so thankful that God is in control and not us!!  My prayer is that we would be better about turning our finances over to Him.  Robert is so much better about that than I am :).  Thank goodness he has taken over our finances :). 

I am just amazed today!  As we are stuck in the house (again) today, my hope is to enjoy more little moments with my family! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Surprising Phone Call

We got a call yesterday that surprised, confused, and confirmed some things for us (all of those emotions in a very short period of time!).  At about 6:30 yesterday evevning, I got a call from my realtor.  She said that she heard back from the agent on the Homewood house.  We had been waiting for a call from them for about 3 weeks and we just assumed that we wouldn't be getting that call.  Sure enough, the seller finally called the agent back!  And they had a counter offer on our offer.  At first, it was a tough decision.  The counter offer is a little less than the contract that we have on the most recent house (W 10th St), and the taxes are a little lower... AND the house is in EXCELLENT condition.  So, we had to think twice about our decision.  But, after a little prayer and talking, my realtor let me know that the listing for the Homewood house was expired on the 1st, and the current listing agent wasn't going to list it again.  So, that helped us make our decision!  And the thing is, we really like the W 10th St house better.  It is bigger, has a much bigger lot (and much bigger back yard), it's in a better neighborhood (with a park real close), is a better location, has a higher resale value (in the current market it is worth $23k MORE than they are asking... which will only increase as the market gets better), has a lot more storage (storage shed in the back and a closed in garage with storage/utility area), has an amazing master bedroom/suite, etc.  It's really a better investment and has more room for our family as they get bigger :).  It's a house that we could see ourselves in for years to come.  So, it didn't take long for us to make our decision.  We are moving forward with the W 10th St house and our inspection will be scheduled for Thursday afternoon! 

Today we have a "snow day" because there's a 100% chance of freezing rain and snow most of the day today :).  So, Robert and I will be working hard on getting everything organized and completed for our loan.  Our mortgage broker is in Houston (long story as to why we're using him), so we will be scanning everything that he needs and emailing it to him.  That will all be completed today so that we can move forward!  Closing date is set for March 1st, and we have agreed to give the seller 3 days to get all of his things out after the closing date.  So, we are currently set to move in March 4th! 

Due to the fact that our mortgage will be more than we anticipated, and we still have childcare to pay next school year (full time for the boys and after school care for Karis), our budget is going to be tight :).  But, it's worth it!  We should have been much tighter with our budget than we have been, but it has been hard since I started working because as we've been trying to get used to me working full time, we've been spending too much money.  So, back on a budget we go! (actually, we have been on a budget since after Christmas... we barely spend anything!). 
Honestly, I think being on a budget will be much easier once we move because we'll have our own place to do lots of baking and cooking again... I will gain about an hour and a half every day because I won't be driving anymore... And everything that we need will be RIGHT THERE.  It will be 5 minutes to work (for me at least), 2 minutes to the store, 3 minutes to church, etc.  Robert will have to drive... but he seems to be okay with that :).  I am excited about being right where our church family is! 

Okay, now that I've dreamed a little too much about a house that we do not own yet, I will stop for now :).  I realize that something could still happen so I am trying to not dream too much :).  But it's fun!  If it doesn't happen for some reason, I know that God is in control and will take care of the details.  He knows what's best!!  I'm pretty sure I know I couldn't have planned this better! 

Alright... off I go to get things done!!