It has been a while since I have blogged because I have been so busy with these two little ones! They both take long naps in the afternoons, but this time is for cleaning the house, which is a wreck by noon each day, getting laundry done, and making dinner in advance. The 5-7 pm hours when I would usually make dinner are occupied by Lily's cluster-feeding. If you have had a newborn in your home you are familiar with this "happy hour" fuss-period which visits us every evening for the first month or two.
Don't be surprised if it takes me a while longer than usual to respond to messages; unless they are sleeping, it is impossible for me to answer emails or write.
I left off last time in the beginning of June where we had just accepted the offer on the Bell Lake Road house and realized we would have to move out within weeks. (My dates were a bit off in the last entry, it was more like June 10 that we found out we'd be selling the house, not June 22.) Nothing was packed, and we had no place to go as of yet. Lily was scheduled to arrive in less than two months, as my every expanding belly reminded me every time I looked in the mirror (or tried to see my feet!).
We had begun seriously looking for a home in Tampa, but we just couldn't find anything we liked. We settled on putting a deposit down on a rental home in my parents' neighborhood, for a move-in date of July 5. We were set to close on Bell Lake Road on July 10, so that would give us a week overlap to move our things in to the rental. The rental home (actually a duplex) was dark and cramped, but they were willing to give it to us for a 60-day term, with an option to continue month-to-month, while we looked for a house to buy. Plus, it was safe, clean and affordable. We disliked the thought of bringing home our new baby to a place that didn't feel like home at all, but we had no other option.
Meanwhile, Ryan had been seriously considering the prospect of a new job in Sarasota. He had considered the job before, because it was all-around a better position (pay, time-off and opportunity for promotion were all better than his current job) but we just couldn't justify the hour commute. He would have more time off, but the drive would result in a net loss of time with the family, which would wouldn't accept.
Now, however, we realized we had nothing tying us to living in Tampa any more. We did some exploratory searching in Sarasota/Bradenton and quickly learnt how well the real estate market was doing down there. Homes in our price range seemed to be snatched up by voracious buyers the day they were listed.
We looked a little further north in a suburb of Bradenton called Parrish, which is off the exit for Ellenton Mall. Here we found more homes for sale, but the market was still red-hot. We were shown one that we loved that was on a quiet cul-de-sac. It had a huge yard (the lot was nearly a half acre) and four bedrooms-- our two primary criteria for our home search. We got really excited and called the realtor, who gave us even more reason to be excited: after 300+ days on the market, the seller was willing to lease the home to us with an option to buy at the end. This would mean we could move in quickly and live there while all the inspections and appraisals took place. The thought of setting up our home in time for Lily to arrive was irresistible. The only thing holding us back from making an offer then and there was the appraisal of the Bell Lake Road house-- the buyers had said they would walk if the house didn't appraise at the contract price. Not to worry, we thought, because the house had already sat on the market for 300 days and would surely hang around a few days longer. We went to bed that night positive that this would be our future home.
A few days later, the appraisal came through, and we were officially "turned loose" to put in a bid on any other home we desired! We were thrilled, and called the listing realtor the very next morning to discuss putting in an offer.
"We went into contract with another buyer last night."
Our "dream home" was gone, big yard and all, and we were left to start over from scratch. Searching for a home is such an emotional rollercoaster. You cannot help but get excited and imagine yourself and your family playing in the yard, making friends with neighbors and exploring the local schools and parks. You start picturing your furniture in the living room, and even begin searching online for a new piece that might fit that one "weird space" you noticed at the showing.You start to wonder what the grocery store might be like, whether good churches are in the area, and how long the drive will be from your "new home" to work, the mall, and other destinations.
And then, in an instant, it's gone, just like that. And you have nothing to do but accept it and move on.
In hindsight, our "dream home" was not our dream home at all. A week after our big disappointment, we found the home that we ultimately bought, and we see now how much better off we are than we would have been there. For one, that huge yard we were so excited about would have had to have been fenced immediately (the property bordered a lake), which cost alone would have been $8k-10k. Maintenance of a yard that big would have been another huge expense we couldn't have afforded. More importantly, though, the neighborhood didn't offer much, despite high HOA fees: there was no community pool or other amenities. Also, it was fairly new, which meant no "mature landscaping" -- and we are not fans of the "desert look" of one skinny little oak tree planted in the middle of a huge, barren yard.
We landed at last in a home in a development about five minutes down the road, which after living here a month we can tell you we just adore. The story of how we found the house is blissfully dull and not worth detailing: we found the house online, drove down to take a look, decided it was perfect, and went into contract that night. Our only sticking point was the moving date: we absolutely wanted to move in before Lily was born, and somehow the sellers agreed to be out less than three weeks from signing (closing date: July 17). That gave us exactly two weeks to make the house a home before our newest family member would arrive (August 1). From there, everything just kind of fell into place with no hiccups or problems.
Our new neighborhood, Harrison Ranch, is a perfect fit for us. We have a great community pool and playground, miles of walking trails and tons of "mature landscaping." Our yard is fenced with the see-through rod-iron fencing that allows us to enjoy the nature preserve behind our house. Most of our new neighbors have already stopped by to meet us, many more than once, and one family even brought us a pasta dinner and brownies after Lily was born. We truly love our new home and couldn't be happier living here.
I just celebrated my 29th birthday with a great meal out with my sweet husband. We did the same thing last year for my 28th birthday. If we were told then that in just one short year we would be living in a new home over an hour away from Tampa, with a new baby, and with a new job, we wouldn't have believed it. We literally had no idea this is where life would take us in just one short year.
Thanks for sticking with me while I shared the story of what we've been up to in 2013! We cannot wait to find out and share with you all that God has in store for us in the year to come.