***You will probably need to grab a beverage, maybe a snack and definitely a comfy spot while reading this, because it is LONG!***
We are building a home! It all started in September of 2016. We knew we wanted to put our house on the market in October. We had been ready for a very long time to make a change. Our family of 6 people and 3 pets had outgrown our cute little 1636 sq ft cape and we needed an upgrade.
After living in our home for 13 years, the time had finally come where we were able to make the change we had been wanting to make for many years. We found an agent, who also happened to be a family friend. She was willing to take on the challenge of helping us find a new home for our crew.
We found a neighborhood, in an area that we love. The neighborhood was new. The houses were adorable. We set out with our new realtor and drove out to the neighborhood. We looked at the model home and then looked at plans that the builders he represented were building in the neighborhood. We liked a few of the homes, but nothing seemed to really WOW us. We had walked through a home by another builder on our own a few days earlier. That home was still being built. We loved it. We asked this builder about that home and he explained that it would be well out of our price range and was much larger than any of the plans they offered. We left a little disappointed, but not defeated. A few days passed and we were going to go meet with the builder to see what he might be able to tweak in his plans to make one of them workable for a family of our size. The day we were supposed to meet, he called and had to cancel. At this point, I asked my realtor if she would call the other builders and ask about the plans of the home that we walked through and liked. We noticed those builders were offering $5,000 in closing costs and a "local heroes" special where you could get a refrigerator or washer and dryer if you were a teacher, a fireman or a police officer. Since I'm a homeschooling mother, I asked her if they'd honor that special for homeschool teachers. Our realtor called back a short time later and gave us some great news. The house that we loved was at the top of our budget (but IN our budget) and they WOULD in fact extend that offer to homeschool teachers! We immediately went to meet the builder's realtor. We signed a contract that day. And days later, our home went on the market.
As often happens, life got a little messy in the following months. Our house wasn't due to be finished until April 2016. On November 15, our offer on that house expired, because our house had not sold. We asked for an extension and they granted it. At that point, we took off to spend the holidays in Idaho. We spent Thanksgiving in North Dakota with family and quickly scooted off to Idaho before snow closed the mountain passes. My husband had to head back to the east coast to work, while the kids and I stayed in Idaho with my in-laws. Grandpa had set the house up to be uber homeschool friendly. I've never been so grateful! I've also never missed my husband SO much.
One thing I am not is a lover of snow and all things cold. I become a hermit during cold weather. I get cold so easily. It's just not my cup of tea. My kids on the other hand LOVE the cold. Much to their delight, not long after daddy left, the skies opened up and Idaho became WHITE! Fortunately, we were able to get around in the snow fairly easily at first. We attended homeschool roller skating day and homeschool movie day. I was able to go shopping and Grandpa even babysat the kids for me to do Christmas shopping SOLO! It was during those times I'd turn on Christmas music and PRAY for Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus is Coming to Town, not because I enjoy that song -- I hate it -- but because it was my husband's favorite and I longed for a little bit of him with me. I would cry, but not sad tears, a mix of happy tears and missing you tears. Soon the snow began piling up, as in 28 inches of snow, then over 30 inches! My kids were building forts and spending so much time TOGETHER! They were sledding, making snow cakes and just enjoying life in Idaho! One day, while out there playing, 2 moose happened by! Grandpa snapped a photo of one of the moose. The kids got the thrill of a lifetime.
Grandma made gingerbread houses with the kids, we made sugar cookies and we celebrated my middle daughter's 8th birthday. It was such a wonderful time. We don't get to spend a lot of time with my in-laws. Until this trip, only the oldest of my four had ever been to Grandma & Grandpa's house. The kids were soaking up every moment with their grandparents. We had so many giggles. They took us to The Snake Pit for the birthday girl's lunch. We set out to see the pretty Christmas lights. Alas, December 15 rolled around. This time, I talked with my husband and we decided to let our dream house go, since we hadn't even gotten a bite on our house. We were so sad to let it go, but we didn't want to hold the builder in limbo when they had people interested in the lot. And not long after that, the lot went under contract to another family.
December 22, my mom's birthday, I got a BIG surprise. My husband flew back to Idaho and surprised the kids and I. I was having a particularly bad day, when suddenly, he showed up! We had no idea if he would be able to make it back for Christmas or not, as we were trying not to spend any more money than we needed to spend. Friends from home had used their frequent flyer miles and flew him back out to us for Christmas. He then informed me that we would be heading home together, since we no longer we were waiting for our house to be built. So, we had a precious Christmas with his parents and then we drove out to North Dakota to spend time with aunts, uncles, cousins and great grandparents. The coolest thing happened on New Year's Eve, just before midnight, we were told to head out side and look for the Northern Lights... THEY WERE DANCING!!! We threw the kids in the car and drove up to the golf course (it was -14 degrees outside). We turned off all the lights on the car and watched the lights dance in the sky. The kids were mesmerized! It was one thing they had all hoped to see on this adventure. We were leaving on January 2, so the timing couldn't have been better. On January 1, we celebrated the 65th wedding anniversary of my husband's maternal grandparents. The next morning, we headed for home. We left 9 am on Saturday morning, stopped for a short visit with cousins in Minnesota and then straight back to my parent's house by 9 pm on Sunday night -- Yes, that's right folks... we made it back to Virginia in less than 2 full days from the western most part of North Dakota! We were motivated to get home.
Fast forward a week and a half. We'd had one bite on our home, not worth negotiating. We'd toured several homes and found nothing. On January 12 we received a text from my father in law that my mother in law was in the ER. The next morning we received an update that Grandma was being moved to ICU and possibly going on a ventilator. She was very ill. I was talking on the phone with my sister updating her on my mother in law when a text message buzzed in with the words, "My entire department has been eliminated." -- it was from my husband. I crumbled, there on the phone with my sister. We'd lost our dream home, we might be losing his mother and now his job was eliminated. That's A WHOLE lot to handle. While I was so sad, I knew that God was in full control. I held on to the hope that He had a plan and we just needed to hang on for the ride.
Two days later, my husband was offered a position at a local company, doing what he loves and what he'd just gone to classes to learn more about. A position that paid more money and offered benefits we could have only dreamed of in the past. Grandma took a turn and was soon out of ICU and getting stronger! And we made a decision to continue looking for a home and keeping our home on the market. 2 weeks later, I asked my realtor to contact the realtor for the builder we'd been under contract with and ask if there were any spec homes ready to be sold. There were, and they were in neighborhoods we were interested in living. My realtor called me back a short time later and delivered some unexpected news... the lot we'd originally wanted to build on was available again, the couple who'd bought it, decided on a different house plan that didn't suit that lot, so they moved to a different lot. We immediately went to sign a contract! The builder honored our original contract from September. My husband soon began his new job, our home went under contract and we began planning our new home. God certainly had a plan... I'm so grateful that we held on and waited on HIM!!!
Here are some photos of the fun we have been having planning our new home!