Friday, September 28, 2012

Picture Post

Here are a bunch of pictures from the last month or so, our last few weeks in the apartment and first few weeks since we've moved. 

Ella's first night of her new gymnastics class

Aunt Erin sent a surprise - a cute Hello Kitty necklace for Ella (here she is holding it, and notice the shirt she happened to be wearing the day it arrived!)

The necklace came in this little decorative box, and I discovered she was sleeping with it the next morning

Looking adorable

Fun in the (not-so-hot) hot tub one day last week after dinner

I went to her school for their cultural day where they made a "unity circle" and sang "It's a Small World" many times. Here she is with one of her best buddies from school.

Having lots of fun at a slip-and-slide birthday party

At another birthday party, swinging with Jake (I love their expressions!)

Driving around

Looking precious, yet again in a Hello Kitty shirt (I promise, she has a whole dresser full of shirts but has a very short-list of her "favorites"!!)

A 'first' - she colored a picture for a boy in her class. I was very surprised. She told me she wanted to make him a picture, wrote his name on it and everything and then brought them to him the next day. When I picked her up, the first thing she told me was how much he liked her picture and that he wanted her to make him another one - YIKES!

Pretty sunrise in the neighborhood when I was walking Cory one morning

Successful trip to the dentist -- no cavities and a goody bag!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We are finally in our new house! It has not been an easy process and the closing was a complete debacle, but it all worked out. We started looking for houses in mid June, and the way the school system works here, there are very specific objective criteria for the schools and they are all ranked against each other. I quickly figured out which school district I wanted Ella in because it is the only one in which all of the schools are ranked 'Exemplary,' and there is no concern about re-zoning.

On one hand this is great because you can decide exactly where you want your child to go to school, but at the same time, it really restricts your options (at least for me), because any other location felt like it would've been settling, even if the house was a dream. So picking the area we wanted to be in was the easy part, but then came the hard part of actually finding a home within the district that was what we were looking for. The market moves very fast here so we put in offers on three different houses before we found this one. 

The first one we really liked but decided to 'sleep on it' for a few days and ended up being a day too late in making the offer. The second one we ended up in a bidding war with another buyer that was getting crazy so we decided to leave the process. The third one came on the market on a Monday at 9am, we visited it at lunch time, put in the offer by 4pm, and our offer wasn't even considered because they had already accepted one. Then there were several others that we looked at and were in the right school district, but had one weird thing or another about it was a frustrating few weeks to say the least!

I was in Raleigh for work for several days in July and we were just hoping that nothing would come on while I was gone, and then the day after I got back, ours came on the market on Friday afternoon. Our realtor was on vacation for the weekend but I didn't want to wait for her to come back, so I called the sellers' realtor and asked her if she'd show it to us the next day. She did and we really hit it off with her, and loved the house. 

We put an offer in that evening, and by Monday morning they had received a few other offers but still stuck with us -- we were very relieved to sign the contract and to have finally found our house!

I just love it. It is a tudor style and looks a lot like the house we grew up in, and is an older home, built in the mid-80s, so has all the beautiful trees and landscaping of an older home, but has been completely upgraded inside. The neighborhood is quiet and Ella will be able to ride her bike and scooter without worrying about traffic, yet we're still really close to plenty of commercial stuff. 

It has been so well taken care of and the previous owners are really good people (there was a foreclosure I visited where it was obvious that the previous owners were anything but good people, so I really liked the difference). 

It's closer to Ella's preschool, and will be less than 10 minutes from her elementary school when she starts kindergarten next year. And Steve's dream - it has a pool so we can swim in our own backyard. I *hope that this will translate into Ella wanting to have her friends over to our house as she gets older so I know what they're up to ;). 

The owners had two girls, so there is a blue painted room and a lavender room. Ella loved the blue room at first sight and claimed it immediately. There is an office downstairs for me, which is important to me to have dedicated space so I'm not upstairs in a bedroom all day, or looking at my work once I'm done for the day or the weekends. There were many other things we loved too, but needless to say, we were all just thrilled with the house. 

There have been many signs along the way which have confirmed for me that this is really meant to be 'our' house - from our unusual relationship with the sellers' realtor which is ultimately the reason were able to make it to closing, plus the fact that I still am signed up for the email alerts, and not a single other house has come on in the district that we'd consider since this one.

Mom came to watch Ella so that we could get as much done in a short period of time, and we moved in the second weekend in September. 

This picture is terrible quality, but I love it. This was after we had been moving for about 14 hours on Saturday and finally were done for the night. We sat down in the backyard to rest...the feeling of 'yes, we are finally here!' was just overwhelming and we were so happy.

The previous owners have done so much beautiful landscaping that I hope we can keep up with. There are so many flowering trees and bushes, even a little vegetable garden and we have a single pepper growing. Here is my favorite though, this beautiful hibiscus.

And I needed to convince Ella to please let them stay on the bush :)

My little unpacking helper, helping me smash down the packing paper

Ready for school one day last week

We are really enjoying the pool so far, here are some cute pics of Ella having fun

Looking adorable after a bath

And her lucky little foot pillow!

We've unpacked almost all the boxes in the last few weeks but of course there is still so much to do. But, all is going well and we are just so glad to be getting settled in what will hopefully be our house for a very long time!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New School Year

Ella's new school year started the last week in August. She is now in PreK 2, and will have a full year of PreK before kindergarten next year. She was already in PreK 1 from March until the end of the school year, and unfortunately most of her buddies moved up to kindergarten this school year, so she was sad the first week or so because she wasn't with them. 

She's doing a good job adjusting though, and now she says she's happy to be in PreK 2, so I am very glad about that. 

First day of school 

Another morning that week, showing off a picture she made the night before 

Hand prints from her first week

Math worksheet

Here she was just supposed to be practicing writing her name, but decided instead to perfect her rainbow marker skills!