Another House Update

Well, folks, this house saga is like something from a movie. A HORROR movie. We’ve been through so many heartbreaks throughout this process, it’s maddening! I’ve heard that if one or two escrows fall through, it’s really tough on a couple buying a house. We’ve been through SIX. SIX!!!

Seriously, this whole process has been awful. I don’t think I will ever want to buy a house again (when I said this to our lender, he said that “buying a house is like childbirth– the baby makes you forget all the pain”. Whatever. Where’s my epidural??).

When we watch “Househunters” on HGTV, I can’t help but get super snarky and start yelling things at the TV like, “LIES!”, “THAT’S NOT HOW IT IS!”, “WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH THAT HOUSE?”, “IF YOU CAN’T GET PAST SOME BAD PAINT, YOU DON’T EVEN DESERVE A HOUSE!”

Part of the reason for all of this craziness is that the market in CA is climbing at a weekly rate. When we tried to buy a house back in April, we had, on average, 5-6 homes in the $200-250k range to pick from. Now? We can’t even find a single 3 bedroom home for under $270k! Every realtor that I’ve talked to says that everyone who’s trying to buy right now is about 6 months too late.

Since our “maybe” house switcheroo, we’ve also been in a bidding war on another house (we were competing with TWENTY other people!), AND in escrow on a 2 bedroom that we thought we could do renovations too. We eventually backed out of the short sale we had our offer accepted on because the bank was taking too long to do ANYTHING (normally with short sales, the bank needs 10 days in order to accept an offer that the seller has already accepted, but it had been 4 weeks and we still hadn’t gotten an answer!). We definitely lost the bidding war, even though our realtor offered 100% cash for us, $30k over the asking price! And we decided that with over $25k worth of renovations, the 2 bedroom just wasn’t the right fit for us.

On top of everything, we gave our 30 day notice and have to be out of our apartment by next Wednesday!!! Are you going crazy yet, just hearing about this????

There just might be a happy ending in sight. Our realtor, the one offering 100% cash for us (we will buy it from her immediately, but she’s not even getting commission!), bid on a short sale that was 2 weeks away from foreclosure. Basically, only a full cash offer would work, since normal sales take 45 days and it would have foreclosed by that time.

She won the bid, $25k under what the bank was asking! The bank is working hard to get things settled by next week, but there are no promises or guarantees in this business. We are not counting on much, that’s for sure! But there might be a chance that this is house is finally THE ONE.

Kenton Court 39

If we were to get this house, it would truly be an answer to prayer. It’s 2200 sq ft (WOW!), 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, granite kitchen countertops, beautiful views, and built in 2006!

But, as we know, it’s not over until the fat lady sings.

Please pray for us as we pack up our townhouse, without any sure idea of where we’re going!!!

 

Christmas Activities!

Although we’ve been pretty occupied with finishing the school semester and finding a house/packing/moving, we were able to spend our weekend doing some fun Christmasey things, thanks to our awesome families!

On Saturday, after my mom and I ran a highly successful garage sale (the sale only made a combined total of around $150, but oh well!), we headed out to the Cone’s country house for some holiday fun.

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Auntie Em made some special vegan gingerbread cookies to decorate!

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Showing off the fruits of his labors 🙂

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For a toddler, THIS is what it’s all about…

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Gregory loved this little train/music player. He pushed it over and over again, saying, ” ‘GAIN!” and “bye train!”

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Showing Dadda

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Delighted!

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Nana and Gregory making some pine-CONE ornaments!

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Finished and so proud!

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Decorating Nana and Poppa’s tree

After dinner at the Cone’s, we headed over to Vine Street, a Paso Robles’ tradition dating back long before I was a kid! I have great memories of participating in this event when I was super little, so it was neat to take my own kids! The whole thing is a lot bigger than I remember it though– 25,000+ participate every year!

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AJ was NOT COOL with how cold it was!

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G kept warm with an Ernie beanie 🙂

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All of the neat Victorian houses are decorated oh-so-pretty!

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G’s favorite part was getting to pet the sheep. He was pretty zonked out during the live Nativity scene, or that probably would have been his favorite!

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And, of course, everyone’s favorite Vine Street event– Ebenezer Scrooge’s house! This guy has been doing his Ebenezer-thing for 20+ years now. 6 or 7 years ago, he sold the house to move to Oregon, but with one stipulation in the contract– that they let him come back every year to perform! Now THAT’S dedication!

Halloween 2012

I have to say, Gregory made one hecka-cute giraffe!

Playing with some toys as we got ready to go. Once we put the costume on, and he saw himself in the mirror (smirking the whole time!) he never once tried to take it off

My mom saved my old cheerleading uniform from high school 2001!

Poppa got the honor of taking Gregory house to house while we took pictures! Gregory yelled, “MOE CAN-DEE! MOE CAN-DEE!” super loud, in between each and every house. It was hilarious!

 

 

Nanna got to hold a super cute elephant 🙂

 

Adorable munchkin alert!

He pretty much hummed or slept on her shoulder for most of the evening

We met up with some friends and formed ourselves a little circus safari! One girl walked by and said, “Mom, it’s a PETTING ZOO!!”

Gregory was definitely eating the chocolate through the wrapper. His love for candy completely overran any logic.

 

 

Later, Gregory, on a total sugar high, crashed and fell into his toy bucket, after which he could not get out. I imagine real giraffes feel the same way.

Gregory’s 2nd Party!

It’s really hard for me to believe that a year ago, we were celebrating G’s first birthday! I was 14 weeks pregnant with Anthony, and just beginning to come to grips with what things were going to be like TWO children.

Now, a year later, I have THREE kids. How weird is that?

This party was definitely a lot more low key than last year. I don’t feel bad about this fact, mainly because last year was our first birthday party for our first kid. It was more about us surviving that first year than it was about his actual birthday. ‘Nuff said!

I did all the grocery shopping the day before and made all the decorations while the cake was baking– so, basically, most of this was done in 30 minutes. It probably shows, but who cares?

As I briefly brainstormed his party theme about a month ago, I kept wanting to go for something cutesy, like Noah’s Ark or Dr. Seuss. I really didn’t want to do something generic like SPORTS, for heavens sake. But you know what? In the end, I just had to realize that this was GREGORY’S party, and his two favorite things in the world are icons and balls. So, rather than have an Orthodox themed party, we went with balls, specifically, basketballs. The orange/black color theme right before Halloween made everything a whole lot easier! Score!

The Guests:

Both of our families, Tess, Jerad and Stephanie + their two kids Marshall and Baby Miller, and 3 of Gregory’s older buddies from church.

The Basketball Menu:

Apple “Turnovers”

Carrots for “Dunking”

Watermelon “Balls”

Orange Cuties made to look like basketballs

Orange Gatorade and Balloons for centerpieces

“Shred the Defense” Shredded Pork (okay, that one was a bit of a stretch!)

A chocolate fudge cake with Reese’s Pieces!

Table of food

Nummm

I love how the Gatorade bottle just has a big “G” on it!

These oranges looked so much like basketballs, that people were tricked out of eating them! Oops.

 

 

The sign I threw together in 20 minutes

I printed off some of my favorite pics of G

Playing with his friends

The Birthday Boy

Some of G’s buds from church

Opening presents: Gregory got lots of books, arts and crafts, clothes, shoes, BALLS, play food, and some legos! I also got him a Melissa and Doug “Band in a Box”, but he won’t get that until his actual birthday 🙂

This pacifier was definitely the gift that kept on giving!

Gregory’s new tricycle!

I had to help him with the pedals. Turns out, you can lower the seat…which explains why he wasn’t able to reach

Tess and Anthony, chillin

Playing piano together. Notice the back of Tess’ sweatshirt. Lovelove.

So….big changes

So, basically, I should probably get out my “typing fingers” and fill you all in on a little secret the Cones/Honeycutts have had brewing for a few weeks….

No, we’re not pregnant. I will probably have to use that as a prelude a million more times before I turn 40.

We are going to be permanently foster-parenting a 15 year old girl!

Yup. And if you’re thinking, “How was THAT even on the radar for them?” great, so were we!

But that’s definitely how this thing is going to work. We’re never going to look back and think, deep down in our hearts, we always knew we wanted to be foster parents, because we’ve never even had a conversation about it!

I’ve always dreamt of adopting kids, but they were always babies, from another land. But never fostering American kids, least of all a teenager!

That’s what makes Caitlin so special. We love her enough that she was able to change and turn around all those “not us!” and “what if?”s that happened along the way. God convicted our hearts and changed them. She went from being one of our students at school to being someone we look forward to seeing every day, someone we love and want to protect. We want to raise her into a Godly young woman, then help her get her first car, go to college, and eventually have a family of her own!

Yes, we have 2 kids under the age of 2. Shhh. We know it will be hard.

But Love is always hard!

Because Caitlin has been in the “system” for a little while, we will have to undergo some special training in order to be better parents for her. We are hoping to eventually become certified as a therapeutic foster home instead of just Non-Family Relatives. It will take a few all-day Saturday classes, including one that starts tomorrow.

It also means that I will probably begin to cut back on teaching so many piano lessons so that I can be more available for her appointments and after-school needs. Jesse, of course, is always home by 3:15 or so, but we would both like to be there as much as possible.

But wait, you say, they live in a 2 bedroom townhome? How’s that supposed to work?

Well, remember our “maybe” house? The one that deviated from “The Plan”? That was our attempt at speeding up the process. Of course,  we only did this because we thought that we had found the ONE house in Atascadero that wasn’t a short sale or REO, therefore making the process as quick as any house-buying process can be (45-60 days).

BOY were we wrong! In fact, we were informed a few days ago that we don’t know if the deed of sale will EVER be released from this lawsuit. There is no timeline at all right now– March? December? May? No one even knows.

Big Bummer, right?

Except for God has a huge sense of humor. Remember the house we wanted to buy, back in April? The one that is within ear-shot of where we work? And it all fell through at the last minute?

Well, the one next door, which has a bigger yard and faces a side street instead of the busy road, is available for IMMEDIATE rental!

Yeah, seriously. God just did that.

We still haven’t received official confirmation that we got it, but as far as I know, we’re the only applicants (as of yesterday).

The only thing we needed to do was terminate our current lease. The way they do it is they charge $350, and then make you pay rent until they find someone to fill your spot.

Luckily, I just happened to mention all of this to a co-teacher! Her brother’s family has been looking for a place with a yard and garage, and we started emailing about the possibility of them taking over our lease. As of this morning, they’ve filled out applications and official paperwork to take over at the end of October! Hooray, right? We’ll only be paying a WEEK of rental overlap– perfect for moving in to a new place, a 90 second-drive away!

Isn’t it crazy how when God wants something to work, He opens all the doors?

Until our place is ready and we’re all settled, Caitlin will be staying with my parents and little sister. My mom has been to all of the meetings with me, so we have developed this plan with all of her social workers and care providers. She’ll be sleeping at their house for the next couple of weeks, but we’ll be “parenting” her, so to speak– taking her to appointments, helping with homework, setting the rules, etc.

In fact, the social worker is dropping her off at my parents’ house in less than an hour!

So, I should probably go….and later, start packing…!

Please pray for our Cone family as we go from being “little” to “big”!

My “HOLY CRAP” moments of the week:

1. We’re going to have a teenage daughter.

2. I’ll be 26 with THREE KIDS. When did that happen?

3. My little sister will be an “aunt” to someone a year older!

4. We’re moving again! Noooooo!!!!!!

5. Great, we’re going to need a mini-van sooner than I had thought….

Camping #2 with 2 babies!

It was always our desire to finish off the summer with ONE last camping trip. It was previously scheduled for the weekend before school started (our anniversary weekend), but we postponed it at the last minute.

Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early and drove 2.5 hours to Wheeler Gorge, a campground right outside of Ojai (a small town 30 min. inland from Santa Barbara, for those who don’t know a lot about CA).

Quick travel tip for those with young kids: we try to always leave early in the morning, before they’re accustomed to being up, because they are sleepy and do well in the car. My analogy is this: you harvest honey in the morning, while the bees are still dozing, right? So that you don’t get stung?

Although the Shelbys were also set to join us, their daughter got super sick last minute and they ended up spending the weekend nursing her back to health 😦 But we did get Ben!

Overall…the campground was a LITTLE too hot for my taste. It was over 90 during the day, and only cooled off to around 75 at night. We didn’t even end up sleeping inside of our sleeping bags! Practically, this worked out well since whenever we camp (or whenever else, for that matter!) I co-sleep with Anthony and don’t use covers in order to be safe. So it worked out well for me!

Also, the stream wasn’t deep enough for swimming, just minor wading, which was a bit of a bummer (although I had Anthony strapped to me in the Mei Tai the whole time, so I’m not sure how that would have worked anyways…?). G LOVED the river. As in, “throw me in some cold water, Dad! I’m totally DOWN!!”

One other minor hiccup…Gregory pulled a stubborn streak of steel and decided that he would NOT sleep. Seriously. We thought it might have been because he could hear us talking around the campfire, but when we all transitioned to the tent around midnight, he STILL wouldn’t sleep! What on earth? I’ve never seen him so stubborn. He glared back at Jesse and directly disobeyed him for over an hour, as Jesse tried to be firm without also letting G wake up the entire campground with his high pitched screaming. I fell asleep in the middle of it all…when I woke up around 6, his pack n play was empty, so I started searching the tent for him. I found him curled up into a ball, no blankets, in the corner of the tent. I think somewhere in there Jesse must’ve given up and let G “do his thing” until he dropped…which he *eventually* did!

Good morning!

Between the 4 of us (G included) we finished off EIGHTEEN eggs!

You can see in G’s eyes how much of a toll that late night of stubbornness took on him!

Gregory and Momma!

Taking down the chairs

As always, the great imitator!

Gregory was gettin cranky, so while the boys took down the tents, I walked G around. You can see Anthony in the background, sleeping like an angel. Tough life…

After we were done packing up, we used some of the leftover water to hose down the mess-that-was-Gregory

Despite the fact that the water was COLD, he loved it!

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On the way home, we all stopped in Ventura at Panera Bread….this picture probably gives you an idea of how tired the boys were!

Ventura Vacay

Since Joe is only here for one more week before heading back to Gonzaga, my mom arranged for us all to spend the weekend in Ventura. She got us a beachside hotel to boot (which explains all of our sunburns). We also did some shopping at the mall and some swimming in the hotel pool.

Jesse, the rebel

Gregory was super adorable

He LOVES the beach. I’m pretty sure he could spend an entire day playing in the sand

While this might look like Jesse shoved him under, he actually was pulling him up from a wave

The aftermath, being carried away by Dadda 🙂

Practicing a few yoga poses on the rocks….well, I WAS

 

I’m definitely not very flexible anymore (I used to be able to touch my ankles). Le sigh. The price of bearing children 🙂

Some handstands

Walking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pool Day

This afternoon, we drove 5 minutes to my parents’ house and swam in their pool with Gregory while Anthony napped.

At first, Gregory was VERY nervous in the water, probably a combination of how cold it was (despite the fact that it was 100 degrees, the water was freeeezing!) and not being used to it (we haven’t taken him swimming yet this summer). Gregory clung to Jesse, saying, “nah, nah, nah!”, shaking like a leaf.

G was so nervous, in fact, that he did one of the cutest, most loving things I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it might be my favorite example of his sweet little heart. Jesse got out and went over to the diving board, while G sat on the steps with me. Right as Jesse dove in, Gregory gave a startled jump, started shrieking, “DADDAAA! DADDA!!!!!” , then burst into hysterical crying. He didn’t stop crying until Jesse swam over and showed him how alright he was. I’ve never seen him so scared and concerned for someone else. He thought something had happened to Jesse, and it completely destroyed him.

But, by and by, he got acclimated. With some fun splashing (he thought it was hysterical, even though every time he tried to “get” one of us, he got himself in the face instead), we even convinced him to float on his back and to “swim” while on his front.

Right as we were finishing, my mom brought home an inflatable kiddie pool from Target. Needless to say, G was a big fan.

He called it his “new-ul” instead of noodle

Showing off for everybody 🙂

Big Sur Preview

I haven’t found my camera cord yet, which means that MY Big Sur pics have yet to be downloaded. But here is a family picture, taken by sweet Emily Grace (David’s girlfriend, not my sister in law…yet!) that I just had to share for one particular reason.

Note G’s “drowned rat” face. Don’t be fooled, he absolutely LOVED playing in the freezing cold river. At one point, Jesse asked him if he wanted more, and he looked up, teeth chattering and lips turning blue and said, “Mo, riv-uh!”

This was Gregory’s first pool experience at 5 months. Notice the face?

Here’s the same face again at 7 months!

Also, not to overstate the obvious– we did it. We camped with TWO kids under the age of 2 years old: 4 days, 3 nights. How we survived? Other than the first night (after which I was like, “we’re getting a hotel or going home. end of story.”) things were pretty easy, probably because we had a TON of help from our families (my parents’ site and jesse’s parents’ site were side by side).

But more on that later!

 

 

Father’s Day, in pictures

Oreos after liturgy

One wonderful smiling baby

Playing at Grandpa’s house

Blowing “bubboos” with Aunt Juju

Enthusiastic with the bubbles

Basketball with cousins, sisters, and best friends

Sing along to Goetye