1st Neighborhood Ice Cream Social

Let the summer fun begin! In order to kick off school being out and the hot weather, we decided to host our very first Ice Cream social with several neighbors of ours.  I think it was a big success! We had such a great time visiting with everyone, and the best part was that the kids all played very well together! We had water guns, kiddie pools, slide, water balloons, and of course, ice cream! Everyone chipped in and brought something which was such a big help.  The kids looked like they had a wonderful time!

 

Maybe we’ll make this a yearly tradition!  We are having a blast in our neighborhood with some pretty incredible neighbors!  Not only do we hang out during fun little get togethers like this, but I work out with some of them, go pooling with some of them, watch ‘The Bachelor/Bachelorette’ on Monday nights with them, go to the library story time together, and our kids are all great friends too! I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better neighborhood for God to place us in!  We prayed for this when we were living in our townhouse, and we feel so blessed for the answered prayers!

Updates!

So much has happened since my last blog post that it’s hard to know where to start with catching up! Here’s a little run through of some happenings.

1. I tested positive for Lymes disease from that tick bite back in February.  Crazy, right?  I took a month long course of antibiotics, but a few days ago I started getting symptoms again (stiff neck and back, extreme exhaustion, nausea, stomach cramps, etc.) So, I went back to get some blood work taken to see if the bacteria is still in my system.  Since I’m breastfeeding, they had to give me a different type of antibiotic than they normally give for Lymes since the medicine will transfer in the milk supply.  I got the results back from the bloodwork and I tested positive again for the Lymes.  Apparently, this monster wants to stick around for quite a bit.  I had to make a very difficult decision to stop nursing Sienna and get on IV antibiotics after having horrible neurological symptoms from stopping the oral antibiotic and the new oral antibiotic not working.  I now have to go to the doctor every day for IV rocephin antibiotic.  I will see another doctor for a second opinion this week to determine if it is advantageous to stay on the antibiotic for longer, or if I should chance it and stick with the 30 day dose.  We also got Sienna and Mason tested for Lymes as a precautionary measure.  Mason has had a rash on his bottom for quite a while (that appears to be some sort of insect bite mark), and even the steroid cream from the dermatologist will clear it for only a short time and it comes back.  Sienna was breastfed, it is somewhat unclear as to whether or not Lymes can be transferred by breastmilk.  She too, has had a diaper rash for some time that has been difficult to clear up (keeps coming back) so it is precautionary. We will find out by week’s end the test results. Praying they’re both clear.  The Lymes symptoms have been super scary for me.  Nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.  Stiff neck, sore lower back, brain fog, confusion, severe nausea, and exhaustion are a few of the symptoms that I’ve had.  I had to call my Mom to  and a friend to help with the kids since Dan was out of town.  It was super scary for me. I hope I never have to experience that again.  It has certainly given me a new perspective on life and I now am conscience to thank God each and every day for my health.  Something that is so easy for all of us to take for granted.

2. We’ve been so busy with getting ready for our big move! We’re are so excited that the new house is coming along nicely.  The house is fully bricked, the facade is about 95% complete, and they’ve been working on the inside for the past month or so.  Only about two and a half weeks left! I can’t believe we’re so close to moving into our dream home!

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3. Last month we celebrated our sweet boy turning two! It’s been so busy that I haven’t been able to blog about it until now, but we are so thankful for this sweet boy, and so glad that God decided to bless us by letting us be his parents. He has his own little personality that can sometimes be challenging, but he is smart, enthusiastic, compassionate and lovable.  We had a fun little morning celebrating his birthday at Ihop.  We decided to do a “Pancakes and PJ’s” birthday party where we had fun with his little friends listening to a story “Curious George makes Pancakes”, stringing cherrios, and used cookie cutters to cut shapes out in pancakes.  It was a fun little party and I think Mason, as well as his little friends had a nice time!  IMG_7805

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4.  Sienna had her first Easter this year.  The weather wasn’t ideal, but we still had a nice day going to church and learning about our risen savior, and visiting family.  The boys loved all the little toys they got in their basket and they had fun leaving a carrot out for the bunny.  Plus, they looked just as cute as could be.  So happy their our kids.  Love them to pieces.

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House Update

Things have been super busy around here with three kiddos, trying to organize everything into piles of “keep and pack”, “donate”, “sell at All4Kids consignment”, and “yard sale”. It’s exhausting! I’m so thankful that help is on the way, and I know we’ll get through this challenging time soon and we will be in our new beautiful home. It’s just been a difficult transition with Sienna at three months old and Dan traveling so much throughout the week. I trust in God and know that he has never given us anything that we can’t handle. He’ll see us through it! On an exciting note, here’s some progress on the house!

 

-This is right before they started pouring the slab and framing.

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-Then the framing went up so fast! Less than two weeks later, almost the entire house was framed!

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-Below is the back of the house.  We’re loving the site of our flat green space and then woods that the boys will go nuts in!

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It’s starting to feel real now that the shell of the house is up!  I’m so excited about this next chapter of our life!

Home Update

They’ve poured the footings! As exciting as that it is that they are finally starting on our home when we are closing in just four months, we’re probably just as excited (if not more) that we recently got word that we’ve been approved for our loan! Of course, they will re-run our credit and crunch the numbers once more before closing, but it is a sigh of relief that we have been given the big thumbs up! We still have all the money saving to do before closing and getting this town house in rental condition before we move, which will keep us very busy. We are thankful and feeling super blessed right now that things are starting to feel very real for our new home that we’ve been waiting and saving, for some time now! Yippee!

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with the community, here is a video that talks about the community and the area.

New Home Site

They started clearing the land near our home site recently.  They have yet to start on ours, but we’re excited that we’re getting some progress on the back end with paperwork and finalizing the design finishes on the inside.  We have a meeting with the builders this month. Updates to follow!

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On the path to New Home Ownership!

Last week Dan and I decided on our dream home, and put down earnest money to start the building process!  We found this amazing home community called Copper Creek.  It’s in South Forsyth county, in Cumming, Ga and in one of the very top school districts in all of Georgia.  It’s only two miles from GA 400, which is important to us since Dan has to commute each week to the airport, and who knows where I’ll work many years down the road once the kiddos are in school.  We wanted to be near a major interstate that can take us down to Alpharetta and Atlanta fairly quickly without too many back roads.  We also wanted to be close to restaurants, grocery stores, parks, libraries, hospital and good shopping without too much travel, and this place has it all.  Not to mention, the community is top notch with a gated entrance, olympic size swimming pool, lit tennis courts with viewing pavilion, etc.  AND it has sidewalks!  Living in a community for seven years without sidewalks REALLY sucks.  We do have a two mile loop with sidewalks, but there are just too many little turns in this subdivision, and with little kiddos and impatient drivers, it’s been a bit of a pain.

We also really craved a yard, something that is certainly lacking in this townhome where we only have public area surrounding us.  We got a basement lot with a slight slope that has about 20ft of grass in the front and 15 ft of grass in the back before it slopes into 30-35ft of woods (that we own) and then it’s nothing but forest that goes beyond that.  It is so hard to find homes with land! Especially new  homes, where most of them you can reach out and touch your neighbor. That’s great for low yard maintenance, but with the kiddos, I want somewhere they can run around.  It’ll also be nice for our dog who has been cooped up inside or leash walked for the six years we’ve had her. Also, it’s about two houses outside of a cul-de-sac! So, not too much thru-traffic, which will be great when the kids get older and start riding bikes.

Another priority is an office for Dan.  He currently uses our formal dining room that is open to the hallway (and our loud screaming, I mean sweetly soft spoken kiddos) isn’t so ideal during conference calls. So it’ll be nice for him to have an office that has doors, as well as a basement with two finished rooms and bathroom for the start of what will eventually be a man cave.  Another perk of this home is the loft area, which will be a “free for all” space for the kids to have a playroom, which will evolve into desks and study area when they’re older and in school. Also a place where I can sew, do arts and crafts, and any other activities with the kids.  I love that its in its own space instead of in the corner of our Master bedroom like it currently is.  It’s fine for now to have toys in our master bedroom, but it’ll be so nice to really have a “kid free” adult retreat where we don’t have to be woken by a toy that goes off in the toy box, or tripping over missed toys during clean-up on the way to the bathroom.

Here is a glimps at the home that we have decided on.  Some things are a little different than shown.  There is a carriage garage that will be added to the floorplan that will face outward and be home to our bikes, outdoor toys, lawn equipment, tool workshop (eventually)< etc. and the floorplan for the basement shows it entirely finished, but it will actually only be two rooms (media and bedroom) and one bathroom.

Elevation I of Greenville Plan

First Floor (without third car carriage garage shown)

Second Floor

Basement (partially finished to include Media, Bedroom and Bathroom)

We have however, had a few surprises since we put down the earnest money. It’s all been a learning process for us since it’s been seven years since we bought a house, and times have certainly changed since then with the market and banks. Apparently, in GA you can’t use a FHA loan for over $350k and anything over 417k is considered a “jumbo loan” and requires 20% down. Since Dan and I have been focusing on eliminating debt (we’re currently debt free with the exception on some revolving debt on one the credit card and our town home) we don’t have as much savings to do 20% down on a home… more like 5-10%. So, instead of financing a home over 417k like we originally had planned, since they require more money down, we’ll try to pay down the mortgage some in order to keep it below that magic number. This is going to require a lot of frugal discipline, but it is so worth it to us to get into a home with a great neighborhood and good school district. We were looking at other communities, and this is the one where I really felt like God was telling me that we belong, so if it is in God’s plan I know he will make it work for us!
We will also be using Marketplace homes to rent out this town home for a guaranteed rental rate (to possibly adjust slightly year-to-year) over the course of six years or until someone buys it. That will give us time for the market to recover so we can at least get our money out of the home and break even instead of losing money like we would in the current market. We’ve heard several success stories from this company, and we feel very confident about the company as a whole and what they have to offer. It’ll be such a peace of mind to have someone else handle the stress of new tenants especially in the first year where we’ll just be getting into a new home.

We’re excited about this big step, but know it’ll be a long hard six months! Lots of meetings, a new baby on the way, tight budget with no frills of big vacations or trips, prepping, packing, painting, cleaning, but it’ll be well worth the discipline in the end!

Celebrating Daddy’s Birthday and Enjoying Labor Day

We enjoyed a nice weekend as a family this past weekend. Dan had been gone all week in Hawaii (I know, tough life, eh?) on business, so it was nice to have him home and he arrived on his birthday.  I decided I’d try my hand at making a cake at home.  Of course, I’ve made a few cakes in my lifetime, but for some reason, we just always opted to eat out for birthdays so traditionally, we didn’t make cakes at home.

Dan is a simple guy when it comes to food, so he opted for a plain yellow cake with chocolate icing.  The boys and I picked up a box of Duncan Hines’ finest with a selection of yummy chocolate icing, and headed home.  Parker was such a big help making the cake with me, while Daddy played with Mason.  He LOVES scooting his little two step-stool up against the counter and helping me measure, pour, stir, and blend.  He was so excited to see how the cake would turn out.  Dan wanted to do Chinese take-out for his dinner (no objections here!) so while he was gone to pick up the food, the cake had cooled a bit, and we spread on the icing, and I even whipped out one of my old pastry bags to do a boarder on the cake.  I was so proud of our little creation.  After dinner, the boys had fun singing happy birthday to Daddy, helping him blow out the candles, and most importantly, eating the yummy cake!  Mason just couldn’t wait and he was literally in tears while we were cutting the cake, waiting for his slice of heaven.  Poor kid.  He survived, though.  I think this will be a new family tradition for birthdays!

On Saturday, we enjoyed some nice family time during the day.   We checked out a new housing community in Forsyth County that we are interested in, but since we have the kiddos with us, I just ran in and grabbed some brochures and peeked briefly at the model.  We always said we wouldn’t move to Cumming because we like Alpharetta too much, but we find ourselves in Cumming most weekends anyways, either at the greenway or at the theaters etc.  Not to mention, you certainly get more for your money there in the way of land and spacious living.   We then enjoyed some time at the park and walking the greenway before we headed home for the boys naps (okay, and maybe our naps too) and then we left the boys with our sitter for an early evening date night to celebrate Dan’s birthday.  He really wanted to see the new Bourne flick, so we saw that at SMG and grabbed dinner at the same time.  We then headed over to Andretti’s where we shared a sinful dessert, and then enjoyed tearing up the machines like kids playing lots of games and enjoying each other’s company.  We had a great time and it was a completely laid back way to spend a date night without being too stuffy or fancy.  Okay, a cocktail would’ve been nice to have, but other than that, it was fun!

We enjoyed the company of my Mom for Labor Day.  The boys always love seeing her, of course, and we went out to lunch and caught up on life.  After lunch, the boys went down for a nap, and my Mom graciously agreed to watch them for us so we could go back to the new home community that we liked in Cumming so Dan could check out the model, home sites, etc. sans kids.

They have so many beautiful home plans to choose from, and even some of the smaller plans have enough bedrooms for each kid, plus an office, playroom and even guest room!  The layouts are very spacious and we were very impressed with the craftsmanship of the homes, not to mention the location (connecting to the greenway and 1.5mile from exit 13 and forum shops) and the school district.  Oh, and one of the best perks… Forsyth county taxes!

So, why are we deciding to buy now?  Well, to state the obvious, we’re expecting our third now, and frankly, we’re running out of space.  It hasn’t been the best market to sell a home, and us along with many many other Americans, are upside down on our home.  So, we won’t be selling our 2,200sqft townhome because then we would be taking a huge loss, and frankly it would cost us more to just get rid of it than to rent it out, and wait for the market to recover, and then sell it later.  With the home prices and interest rates in the favor of the buyer, however, it is a great time to buy.  So, we’re doing some research into a company called Marketplace Homes.  Which, at first glance, seems to be too good to be true, but they will to rent out your home for six years (at an agreed upon price) as long as you buy a home from one of their new construction builders (they get paid a % from the builder like a realtor would).  Here is a video from a third party reporting on it, that explains it better:

The company will pay you the agreed upon price every month for six years even if there is a fluctuation in getting the townhome rented and keeping the tenants in there.  What a great safety net!  One of our biggest fears would be that we would have to foot the bill of both homes at the same time due to tenants breaking leases and gaps in the rental, but this helps us with that.  As an added perk, they will also take care of any damage the tenant has done to the home.  Bonus!

So, we’re looking into their “builder list” to see if any of them fit into our mold of what we’d like to have in a future home. Since it will likely be the home that we raise our kids in until they’re in college, we want to make sure we’re getting exactly what we want without compromise (except for price… price is always the major limiting factor).  We want to make sure we have a decent size yard, room for growth in our home, a good school district, activities close buy that we frequently enjoy, etc.  I don’t want to have major regrets years down the road because we were anxious to make the “deal” work.  So, we’re going to pray about it, and shop around and continue to figure the whole thing out.  It will be so much different this time around than it was last time when we were a newly married couple without kids.  We’ll have to juggle two toddlers and a new baby while trying to attend meetings to select finishes, sign contracts, and do walk-throughs.  A lot of planning involved!

Overall, a nice enjoyable weekend with the family.  Dan has been in Seattle all of this week, and I’m looking forward to having him home this weekend to spend some time with him.  We will also be painting Sienna’s room on Saturday.  I picked up the “Victorian Iris” paint color today for the accent wall.  Then all we’ll have left is to hang the chandelier wall decal on the wall behind the crib after it is ordered and comes in.  I can’t wait to see it all pulled together!