Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our "forever" home

I've been MIA lately, but for good reason (at least I think it's a good reason...), we bought a house!!! 

We sold Will's house back in September, and began house hunting in late October/early November.  The house we bought was one of the first we saw on the very first day, and I fell in love with it from the beginning!  Of course, we had just started our search and Will kept urging me to look at other houses and keep an open mind.  There were other houses I liked, but my mind kept drifting back to this one. 

When we first pulled up to the house, there was no "For Sale" sign in the yard, which we thought was very odd.  As our realtor walked up to the front door, she noticed that there was no lock box on the front door.  As we were discussing this, a man opened the door and asked if we were the 10:00 appointment.  He told us their listing had expired the day before, but since we made the appointment earlier in the week, he decided to honor it (thank you, Lord!)!  While the house needed some work (wall paper removed, carpets cleaned, paint), I was in love and I saw myself cooking dinners in the kitchen, setting up kids rooms upstairs, and having family meals in this house. 

We saw several other houses and decided to make an offer on a different house.  It had a lot of things that we liked, and Will loved it, so I gave in.  We made an offer, but got a call the next day that the owners accepted another offer before ours was made.  I was heart broken and scared to make an offer on another house. 

We scheduled more appointments and saw a few more houses, plus made second appointments for others we had already seen.  I was hesitant to ask my realtor to make an appointment for the "Grand View" house since they had pulled it off the market, but the worst they could say was "no", right?  Our realtor called their realtor and at first, they weren't going to show it to us because they were concerned we weren't serious buyers.  Then, the owner called back and changed his mind, he would show!  I was thrilled!  We spent a good deal of time in the house, then went home to discuss it.  Will liked the house better the second time, but I don't think he loved it yet.  He could obviously see how much I loved it and agreed to make an offer.  After a few counters, we agreed on a price and bought a house!!!!

The inspection went fairly well (a few snags, but nothing that would cause us to back out of the deal), and we closed on December 19th, Merry Christmas to us! 

We've been working in the house since the 21st, so I'll save the other pics for later, but here are a few pictures of the "before". 
The informal dining/breakfast area

Huge kitchen!

Family room

Formal dining (don't worry, they took the light fixture!)

Formal living


My fireplace!!!

One of the guest bedrooms upstairs

Master bath
I will definitely  be posting more pictures when we finish! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The White Envelope

I read this story and it truely touched my heart!  I can't wait to start this tradition when I have kids! ~L

Editor’s Note: This is a true story that is provided to us by the family of the author. Even though Nancy passed away two years after her article first appeared in Woman’s Day Magazine in 1982, her family continues to keep alive the tradition of the white envelope. This article has also inspired The White Envelope Project and web site.
It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree at this time of the year for the past 10 years or so. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it. You know, the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner city church. The kids were mostly black. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without head gear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously couldn’t afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.”

Mike loved kids – all kids. He understood kids in competitive situations, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally challenged youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas – on and on… The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. Still, the story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike several years ago due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. Yet Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further, with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation, watching as their fathers take down their envelopes. Mike’s spirit, like the spirit of Christmas, will always be with us.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lately I've felt like I can't do anything right. I can never find the right words, I can't make decisions fast enough, and have just felt like I'm failing others.

It's been an emotional few weeks, and I can't really see the light at the moment.

Today, I spoke with a parent of a former student. He asked how I was doing, how I liked my new job, and whether I missed the classroom. We chatted for a few moments, then he said, "You know, Nate still talks about how great a teacher you were and how much of an influence you made on his life."

Wow, that comment changed my mood. It reminded me that I am doing this for a reason, that's it's not just wasting time. Sometimes it's really hard to be in a fairly thankless job, but comments like that surely help!