Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day at the Beach

Memorial Day dawned with a bright cheerful sun and the promise of hot weather.

So we headed to the beach.

What's that?  You thought Iowa had no beaches?  Shame on you.  There's more to this state than endless fields of corn and old barns in various stages of disrepair.

We went to Big Creek State Park, and the weather was perfect for sand and water play.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  And if you ever want to make Iowa your vacation destination, we're happy to host.  I mean, just check out the beach babes here.  :)


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Let's Get Fired Up!

(No, we haven't dropped off the planet.  We're just in the country, waiting *patiently* until we can get into our new home.  Three more weeks!)

The Ankeny Fire Station held an open house last night and it sounded like too much fun to pass up, so we carted our little man to the party.

First things first: let's get Topher in that fire truck!

Next it was on to the ambulance:

I think we visited the dress-up station quite a few times:

Then we watched a live extrication demonstration (jaws of life).  Topher kept saying, "He's breaking the car!" with total glee:

Followed by a trip through the "house on fire".  Topher learned how to get on his hands and knees and crawl out through the dangerous fog.  Oh, I mean smoke.

He drove the rescue cart:

Took one last turn driving the fire truck:

And then we heard the chop-chop of the life flight helicopter coming!

And I couldn't believe it, but they let the kids climb right in:

I'm so glad we went.  It was awesome.  I'm so grateful for firemen, policemen, and all those men and women who serve the community while earning their living.  

Who knows, maybe Topher will join the ranks someday.  I mean, you have to admit he looks great in that uniform!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lucky Monday

On March 7th, we put out a "for sale by owner" sign in our front yard.  We closed that sale on April 27th.  On April 30th something magical happened.

Crumbling soffits.  Cigarette smoke.  Moldy showers.  Wet basements.  Drafty windows.  Bathrooms so small you could wash your hands while you're sitting on the toilet.  Without stretching. 

We have seen it all.  And we have seen every house in our price range.  There are a couple things we really wanted in our next home, but we thought it was a reasonable list:
3 bedrooms, 2 baths
Fenced yard
Ankeny school district
A house that hasn't been trashed
You know, the standards.

Well our search has been so very disappointing.  Oh, there were a few that were nice but over our budget.  We thought maybe we could stretch ourselves to afford them.  We made offers on two houses that were both rejected but that was okay, we probably couldn't have afforded them anyway. 

We thought about new construction, but there were so many extra costs involved that we sat that idea on the bench and called it an alternate.

I have a realty search saved on my phone that I check several times a day (it's updated every 15 minutes, or so my app says).  This glance at my phone is usually accompanied by a resigned sigh.  Yesterday morning at 7am it had the regular 75 results, most of which we've seen or can tell that we never need to see. 

Then yesterday morning at 10am, there were 76 results.  So I scrolled through the list with reserved hope and found the newcomer.  Her name was 1406 NW Linwood.  There was no picture but her description had me interested.  If it were a personal ad, I would have called her up for a chat (you know, in theory).  I emailed my realtor and told him that I wanted to see this house today.  I know this isn't New York, but houses surprisingly still disappear overnight here in Ankeny.


 The description sounded good.  The location was ideal.  But the lack of photos had me a little nervous.  Still, I was bound and determined to see this house.
And so, as soon as TJ got off of work, we met our realtor there at 6pm.  We were the first showing on the house. 
And within 10 minutes, we knew we had found it.  At our price point, we haven't seen anything else that even compares.  It was clean!  The owners took care of it!  The owners added value to it!  The siding wasn't falling off!  The windows and doors were newer (and nice ones!!)  There is room for upgrades down the road but nothing has to be done.  It's move-in ready. 
The deck and fenced-in backyard stole my heart.

And the inside was great too.  It had new stainless kitchen appliances, the paint was neutral, the basement was finished (!), the master had its own bathtub, the house was was pretty much everything on our wish list. 

We went straight to the realtor's office and submitted an offer.  By 10pm we had a verbal agreement, but our realtor (who is awesome, by the way) said that wasn't good enough and demanded the signatures that same night.  So at 10:30pm, the seller's realtor went and got him to sign the agreement, which we then signed at 11pm.
And good thing, too.  Four more showings were already scheduled for today and our realtor said by Thursday at the latest the house would be long gone.  It was priced right (lower than right) and it's in fantastic condition.  We could not be any more thrilled.  We feel so blessed.
Our closing date is not until June 30th.  We negotiated more closing costs in order to give the seller more time to find his next house.  And that means we get 2 more months to pad our savings account.  (Thanks to my amazing in-laws who are helping us out by putting a roof over our heads in the meantime!)
And I can stop obsessively looking at my phone's realty app. 
And we can officially say we're no longer homeless.

We are full of gratitude and giddiness.  And not a single regret.

Today is a really good day.