Monday, February 21, 2011

Two weeks later

It's been a long stretch between posts here. I had every intention of writing last week, but our world was extra crazy last week. On Monday, I got word that our loan pre-approval was done and we could now meet with our realtor. We met with our realtor, George for the first time on Thursday to go over paperwork, sign some preliminary documents and check out some potential properties online so we could decide which we wanted to see in person. When we left the office after nearly two hours, George said to pick the top three or four and let him know as soon as possible. I called him back about an hour later after Kraig and I had narrowed the options and he said, "Okay, let me get some things in order and we'll see if we can't go look at these properties tomorrow morning." That felt fast, but we were excited to get out there and see things in person after searching online for almost as long as we've lived here.

Friday morning, we set off to meet George at the first property. It was a townhouse. Being from small towns that still don't have "townhouses," Kraig and I were very skeptical of the idea. George thought it was a perfect option, though, because you can get a lot more square footage for your money in a townhouse. We arrived a few minutes early and surveyed the neighborhood, in spite of the fact that we'd driven past the night before. When George arrived, we went in and were pleasantly surprised at what we saw.

The front door opened to a decent sized living room with a pass-through window into the kitchen. Just off the living room was a small half-bath. I was just thrilled that there would definitely be two toilets in the house. Beyond the living room was the kitchen and dining area. Though there's not much counter space, there was definitely room for an island to be put in and for a table to seat at least 6. The kitchen appliances, all which appeared to be new, were black Kenmore energy star appliances. The fridge, a side-by-side, had an ice maker and water dispenser in the door. They might not have been the color I would have chosen, but they still seemed a little like a dream come true. The dishwasher definitely added to the dream. On the back wall of the kitchen was a sliding glass door, where there is potential for a nice deck, as this floor is the second floor based on the back of the house. Next, we went down stairs to see the fully finished walk-out basement. It had another sliding door, where there was a perfect location for a patio that would be shaded by the deck. Off of the main area of the basement was a storage closet, a large utility closet for washer and dryer AND a full bathroom. Next we went to see the bedrooms upstairs. There were two smaller rooms for the kids, another full bath and the master bedroom. They all had decent closet space, and I should mention that all three of the bathrooms appeared to be recently renovated. So much space and it was clean and new looking. The carpets had been cleaned and the walls had even been repainted some variety of white. I think I was scared to like it because I knew Kraig didn't like the townhouse idea. But he loved it. After leaving, we realized the only things we might change were small things like light fixtures and the flooring of the kitchen and bathroom. These are all minor things that we could do eventually, nothing that would have to be done before we moved in. Definitely a positive!

After seeing the townhouse, we went to see a ranch style house a few blocks away. We walked in and I kind of cringed. After entering the second room, I said, "I think we can go now." The house was mess. The walls were dirty, the floors were dirty and felt unstable. The kitchen was grimy. That was all I needed to see. It was a disappointment, but we knew we didn't have money to fix up a house like that and we knew this house would never pass the inspection for our loan. Sadly, the prices of this house and the nice, new townhouse was very similar. We still had another house to see, though, so we went on.

The next house looked really cute in the pictures, but it was not so cute in person. The front screen door was literally hanging by the bottom hinge and the hydraulics at the top. Not a good sign. As we stepped onto the front little deck up to the door, the whole thing moved and made bad noises. Not so promising. As we went in the house, there were bedrooms immediately on the left and right. The living room was basically the center of the house, and everything was built off it. The kitchen was straight back from the front door and it looked decent, but the appliances and flooring were very worn and showing their age. Off the kitchen was a door to the back yard. It was a small area, but decent looking and much better kept than the rest of the house. When we went back in, we went to the master bedroom, which was beside the kitchen. It had a great closet and it's own bathroom. The bathroom was in the best shape of any room in the house, but it was just an average size. We left the master and went to the second bathroom, which was also in good shape. Then we checked out the bedrooms. They were a decent size, but their condition was not so great. There was nothing major wrong with the house, but it's size and layout was not for us. There was no room to grow there, for sure. Definitely not for us.

So we went outside and, after securing the precarious front door, we talked about what we'd seen. Obviously neither of the houses were for us. Their conditions were not as good as the townhouse, for sure. Neither of them had a basement either, finished or not. We really value our current finished basement space for when we have teens over. It's just a great, comfortable place to hang out. That was definitely something we were hoping for in a new place. All-in-all, we just kept coming back to the townhouse. Yes, we'd only seen three properties in person, but we'd seen the best three properties in person. In our price range in this area (the greater DC area), there's not much that's in livable condition. Ninety percent of the places we were interested in at our price range were foreclosures. You just never know what you're walking into with foreclosures. Unfortunately, the two we looked at weren't great. So, standing in the front yard of house #3, we decided we were ready to pursue the townhouse. It had only been on the market for ten or twelve days and we didn't want to lose it. Who knows how long it would be before something in this condition would come along again in our price range.

So, Friday afternoon, we put in an offer. And then we waited. George finally called this morning (Monday) and said that the sellers had countered our offer. They didn't come down much at all, but we were comfortable countering a little higher than our original offer. George called in the counter offer, and we waited. A few hours later he called Kraig and began chatting about the weather. He was making small talk. Clearly he had bad news. Then he said, "Are you having a good day? Enjoy the holiday? Because it's about to get better. You've got a townhouse!" We were thrilled. We never saw it going this way, but we prayed for God to give us open eyes and minds and to help us be clear about what He wanted for us. Thankfully, we never doubted our decision. Tomorrow we'll have some papers to sign and then there's inspections and appraisals. As long as those things go okay and the house is in an acceptable condition for the loan, we should be in settlement (whatever that means) around March 16th and keys in hand by April 16th. It's perfect timing, in spite of how fast it felt. We'll be able to give our 30 days notice in April and be out before May rent is due. Our lease is up after April, and while it just goes month-to-month after that, we're ready to be out of this house and neighborhood. They've served us very well, but we're ready to be somewhere else. We love Winchester and plan on staying here. The townhouse is in the school district we wanted, which is awesome. Our hope is to live there until the kids are in school and I've got a job. We'll have a little more income then and we'll be able to, hopefully, buy the house that we can stay in forever. This is home.

Sorry for the long, non-pregnancy related post. This is our excitement right now.

In pregnancy news, I'm 15 weeks today. Things are going well. Three more weeks until the "big" ultrasound!

What's next? Hopefully, the promised "Things they don't tell you" posts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Can Hear Your Heartbeat...

(Now I have the Partridge Family stuck in my head!)

I finally got to meet my midwife yesterday and she was great. In my initial consultation at the doctor's office, the nurse was convinced they would not let me even attempt a vaginal delivery because of a surgery that I had not long after Kate was born. The midwife, however, did not see this as a problem and I am so happy. If I have to have a C-section because of an emergency or something, that's one thing. But to not even be able to have the option was very upsetting to me. Anyway, the appointment went great. It was my first, so they had to do a Pap smear and exam. No biggie. But I also got to hear baby's heart beat. It sounded amazing! Strong and steady at 148 beats per minute. Old wives' tales say anything above 140 is a girl and anything below is a boy, but we'll see. The midwife, Karen, said that according to the Chinese predictor charts, it's a boy. Someone will be right, I'm sure:)

It was great to finally hear the baby, but I started feeling some signs of life in there on Friday, February 4th. I was only 12w 4d, but I'm still feeling it now. There's definitely a baby in there (as if the expanding waistline wasn't evidence). She wanted me back in four weeks for a checkup and ultrasound, however she's out of town on March 7th. So, as I hoped, we got to push the ultrasound to March 14th, my birthday!! With Kate, we had her ultrasound on Friday, March 13th, so it's fun that the dates are so close AND so close to my birthday. I can't think of anything more fun to do for my birthday, either. Our friend Sara took the day off so she can keep Kate during the appointment. She even suggested Kraig and I do breakfast or lunch that day while she has Kate. How sweet! I'm very thankful to have her as a friend.

Yesterday was the 13 completed weeks mark. Welcome, second trimester!! It feels like time is flying by. In less than 5 weeks, we'll know whether Kate will have a brother or a sister. I can't wait! Oh, the picture included here is a belly shot from yesterday. I'm going to be huge again!

How I'm feeling...great!! Minus the stuffy nose leftover from last week's cold, I feel great. Karen gave me a prescription for a nasal spray and a muscle relaxer for my restless leg syndrome, so good sleep is finally headed my way. I'm definitely in my maternity clothes now. I even went shopping for a few new things this weekend and found some things that I love. I love being pregnant!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Coming soon...

Things are getting back to normal here. We've all been sick. Kate's finally better. Kraig's getting there. I'm in the midst of a nasty cold, but I'll survive. Monday afternoon I'll have my first real appointment with my doctor and we'll finally get to hear the heartbeat of this baby. I can't wait! I'll be posting Monday or Tuesday about how that appointment goes. I'm anxious to meet the doctor and see if I'm going to like this office or not. I loved my doctor with Kate and I'm not sure anyone could live up to that experience. I hope it doesn't ruin me!

I'm also going to start a series of posts called "The Things They Don't Tell You." It'll be all the things I've learned so far about pregnancy, childbirth and living with a newborn that don't always get talked about. Hopefully, it will be informative and enlightening!

How I'm feeling...anxious!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I haven't forgotten...

Dear Blog,

I have not forgotten about you. Unfortunately, the plague has taken over my house. First the daughter, then the husband and now the Mommy. They were so sweet to share. There's not much else to share. Doctor's appointment to hear the baby on Monday! Can't wait!

Hoping to return to you soon,