01 September 2014

A tale of two houses...okay, three. Technically four if you count the little green house...

I would be remiss if I didn't stop and write down what's in my head this weekend.  It's Labor Day, and this year that coincides with the opening of dove season.  Happy September, y'all!  We've had a great weekend with Ronny's family here and Timmy's family came up on Saturday, too.  It's been a good mix of productive (finally got our DVDs catalogued and have about 120 ready to go OUT THE DOOR!) and lazy, with lots of family time.

Oh, and we closed on our house Friday.


It feels...pretty awesome.  It will be at least a month before we can start moving in, but with everything else going on, that's okay by me.  We're so blessed to have a landlord like Amy, who's willing to roll with whatever we need.  Let me say it again:  this lady has blessed us in ways she'll never understand, by sharing this little green house with us these past 8 years plus.  Leaving the little green house is absolutely the only hard thing about this process.

Our tale starts with our decision last winter to start looking into our options--did we want to live in town, out of town, build, buy, big, small, new old...and how much house could we really afford without affecting our quality of life?  (Read:  eating out.  Buying clothes when the kids need 'em.  Starbucks.  Man, I sound like a douche for that last one, but it's the truth.)  So we started looking in February.  James and I searched for rural properties first, and spent a few lunch hours driving around to see what it felt like, how long the drive was, etc.  Well, it didn't feel right, I know that.  And the more we thought about what living out would mean at this point in our lives, giving up lunch together, limiting my volunteer time at the kids' schools, etc., well, it just didn't work.  But in the searching, one day I came across a listing for a house in town that appealed to me.  And the closer I looked, I realized I'd BEEN in the house before several years ago.  It belonged to a local architect and I wanted my Boy to check it out, like, yesterday.  So we went, one Friday evening.  Granted, we didn't have a down payment, yet, but we figured if it was meant to be, the finances would work out.  And we loved the house, although we had reservations about the location.  It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but once we started thinking about the house we wanted to buy now as a "right now" home, until the kids are out of school, it made it easier to think about what's most important.  What's important to us:  room to entertain, but not so much room that we live separate lives, rooms enough for everyone to have their own space, but not so spread out that everyone can go to their separate corners, room for James to work, space for all of us to be creative, a great yard for entertaining and living, and it needed to be pretty close to the places we spend most of our time.  That house, and a bungalow that we'd looked at when we moved here originally, were the only two homes we looked at in February.  And Elizabeth's house is the only one that felt right.

So we handed it over to God, and we quit looking.  It felt like He'd answered our questions about where, and the clear answer was:  in town.  We felt like we had a good idea of budget and what we needed to save for a down payment, and we figured it would take us until about December 2014 to save up.  And we waited.  And before too long, it was obvious that God was moving, and way faster than we ever expected.  At the beginning of May, we had the down payment (okay, okay, James earned the down payment by working crazy hard at all of the opportunities God threw his way).  That same week, Elizabeth's house sold to another family.  And it was okay...we immediately knew that it wasn't our house, and God had gently closed that door for us.  And truly, I haven't looked back until I started this post because it doesn't seem right to talk about this process without mentioning the house that started it all, for real.

We kept our eyes open, and in mid-June we looked at a house that had TONS of potential.  Like, I could SEE the before and afters being posted on a blog somewhere.  Great price, great lot...meh location, but I figured to get a great house on a great lot we had to compromise somewhere, right?  Visions of new plumbing and designing a kitchen and moving rooms and walls danced in my head.  Yes, I was temporarily insane.  But where the old Kristi would have plowed on and made it happen and lived to regret it, I knew to keep myself in check and remember that God was in control.  We were very grown up and consulted experts and all signs pointed to...this house needed much, much more cash than we could ever hope to put into it.  And truly, I was more interested in the house itself and the possibilities (oh, the possibilities!) and the story than I was the life we would live there.  Because you know, the life we would have lived there would have revolved around renovating and figuring out what to do with the awesome lot that had zero landscaping and no fence and...needed lots of work.  It was pretty easy to face the truth:  that house wasn't our house.  So we left for vacation and I gave myself a vacation from house-hunting.

And then we got back, and I looked at new listings and there were a couple of promising ones.  When we were looking at one (that we hated, btw), we ran into a lady who mentioned that she owned the home across the street and was looking to sell it, and she also owned a home around the corner that she MIGHT sell.  She invited us to look at either or both, and we politely thanked her and went on our way to our listing appointments.  Dead end, dead end.  So we went back and took a risk and pulled into her driveway.  I immediately realized that I'd been in that driveway before.  A friend of mine lived there before this family, and I had dropped her off after Bunco or something.  I'd never been IN the house before, but I'd been in that friend's new house and it was lovely.  So I hoped that would be the case with this house, as well.  And when we walked in, that was pretty much it...I felt like I was home.  And James felt the same way.  The kids weren't such an easy sell, as this house only has 2 bedrooms and they wanted their own rooms already.  But it felt right, so we went home and wrote up an offer.  Twenty four hours later, give or take, we had a contract.  That's how it happens here, sometimes--and now we're one of the lucky few who can say we got a great deal on a great house that wasn't even for sale.  This is God's math:  the house payment is almost exactly equal to our rent.  Which means I don't feel guilty for that Iced Caramel Macchiato I had this morning.

It will be a year before we can add the master suite, but that's okay--truth be told, I don't think the kids are ready to sleep apart yet, anyway.  And that will give us time to figure out what we really want/need, and to save $$ for the addition.  Can you tell we're really against being house poor?  I don't want a beautiful home and an ugly attitude...and I want the life we already have, just in a slightly bigger space.  (And trust me, it's only slightly bigger...I think people think we're a little nuts for buying such a small 2/1, but we've learned we're small house people.  We'll be thrilled when it's  a 3/2, but we're pretty happy in the meantime, too!)  The house is great as-is, but we've budgeted $$ for painting the interior (after all these years of taupe, I long for white walls!) and will do a couple of small things before we move in.  But really, we could move in the same day they move out.  If you've been house hunting in Brenham before, you know what a rarity that is.  It's a great house, y'all. And it's a great lot.  When I think about it, I don't think about how the house looks as much as how it feels...and it feels like a place where we're going to have a great life...pretty much like we do now, but with enough room to have friends over for dinner.  And a yard where kids can go and play.  And a patio where James and I can enjoy our coffee.  And a space where he can work, uninterrupted and without me moving his stuff (maybe).

I love this house, and the idea that it's about to be our home.  I hope you'll be able to join us at our table one day soon...I can't wait!


Jana said...

So excited for you all! And glad I can keep up with you guys!! Congrats in home-ownership!!!

MommyGirl said...

Hey! I need to e-mail you and check out YOUR blog! :)

Jana said...

My email is the same... I tried to email you but I guess the address I have is bad. Would love to chat with you soon!!