Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Miracles Are Real Part II (aka How to Buy a House in Under 24 Hours)

We had been searching for what seemed like an eternity (but in reality had been less than 2 months) for a house in Midland that met our needs: cheap enough for our savings to cover the down payment and closing costs, nice enough for us to move in ASAP, and in a fairly nice neighborhood with good schools.

Finding that in Midland, Texas -- in the middle of an oil boom -- seemed like an impossible task. If you don't know about the housing market in Midland/Odessa, let me give you a few facts. 

1. Midland/Odessa was ranked in Forbes online (click for article) as the #1 & #2 small cities in the US to find jobs easily.
2. Median home price had gone up 12.75% in the last three years. Compare that to the rest of the nation where home values continue to drop.
3. Average days on the market for home sales: 48. Yeah, that's right. FORTY-EIGHT DAYS! Less than two stinking months! In DFW, the average is double that. When you find a house in Midland that you like and seems to be a good deal, you better pray your realtor can get you a showing in the next 24 hours because, otherwise, it's gonna be a goner. 
4. A 1300 sq ft house, 50+ years old in a crappy neighborhood with no garage, can go for at least $110 grand. Sometimes more like $120-130 grand if they've updated the floors or kitchen. Put that same house anywhere in DFW, and you are lucky to get $80 grand for it.
5. There are very few homes for sale. 
6. You are looking at at least $8 grand in cash to have on hand for closing/down payment costs. So if you can't afford that and need to find a rental property. 
 A) there are no homes to rent under $2000/month
 B) Occupancy rates of apartment complexes are 98-100%. Yep. I said 98-100%!!!!!
 C) Waiting lists for apartments can be up to two years long. Cheapest, smallest one-bedroom apartment in town costs over a thousand/month. But remember, that's if you can find one.

All my numbers for #2-6 came from here.

So yeah, it seemed like a daunting task.

We decided to try and find a cheap fixer upper. So far, every house that Jay had seen with the realtor had MAJOR structural or electric problems. 

We finally found one that we both agreed we liked. It was a huge property (1700 sq ft on an acre of land). But it had lots of problems (no ceiling in the second living room, no stove or dishwasher, old flooring, etc). But it was "livable" and it was cheap enough that we could afford to make a few quick repairs. But, it was also in an industrial neighborhood with no neighbors (unless you count the tractor trailers that parked in our grass. Literally.). The road to the house also was unpaved. After viewing it with the realtor, Jay wanted to wait until his Dad could see it. But that wasn't for a couple weeks. 

The house sold within one week.

I was more than just a little miffed.

But the Lord was working on it.

On Thursday, May 24th, I saw a house go up on that was way too good to be true. It was in a nice neighborhood in north Midland (where there were currently only a handful of homes for sale and all of them for well over $200 grand). It had brand new laminate and tile flooring. No carpet (I was head over heels in love with that). Totally remodeled kitchen with brand new cabinets and appliances. One and 3/4ths baths. The list of goodies went on and on. And, get this. It was listed at $98 grand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course it was. And I knew there was no way on God's green earth we would get it because Jay would not be going back to Midland until Monday. There was no way in Hades that house would not be gone by then. We called our realtor and she set up a viewing for Tuesday (Monday was Memorial Day so that was a no go) at 5:30pm. On Tuesday morning Jay texted me at work to say our realtor told him the house was still available but was already in "processing" or something with another buyer. Fortunately, our realtor was BFFs w/the listing agent for the house and got the buying process stalled long enough for us to get our offer in. She also got us in to see the house an hour earlier so that if we needed to put in an offer we could do it before close of business that day.

Jay saw it, adored it, called me, and with our realtor, agreed on what we would offer. She called the listing agent and they accepted. But it didn't end there. The other buyer made an additional offer, but because our realtor was BFFs with the listing agent, we got another crack at it and outbid them. In the meantime, we were emailing paperwork and contracts etc back forth and handing over money that way we could get a contract done that night to seal the deal.

And guess what?



Here it is, in all its' glory (lol)....we have big DIY plans :)

View From the Street
As You Walk Up
Living Room
Guest Bathroom
Braden's Room
Master Bedroom
Master Bathroom
Back Porch (BIG plans for this huge space and super large backyard!)
More of the Backyard

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Turning 31

That number is just plain yucky! I mean I can actually remember my own mom being that age. Am I really as old as I thought she was at the time???? Jeeeeeeez.....

lol, no offense or anything, Mom ;)

Anywho, despite the tragedy of being a year older, being broke as a joke because of my maternity leave, and having to leave my kids and go to work, I did actually have a good day!

When I got home, my husband was on his way home (he was in Mesquite with us the whole week because he had to attend an OSHA training class for work, and it took place less than 3 miles from our house! Thank God for small blessings!) and my mom was playing with the kiddos. The house smelled wonderful and I realized it was because my husband was baking me a birthday cake! We had made an agreement because I didn't want him spending money on gifts since we were broke...but I still wanted a cake!!!! 

He pushed his pride to the side and decorated it himself (lol). It turned out pretty cute, and of course he remembered my favorite flavor was strawberry!

He also watched Landri for me and my mom that night so we could have a drink at Starbucks :) This is what I saw when I came home.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Mom, a Miracle Worker!

So, since Landri was born, Braden had not really wanted to get near her. And holding her was something he would only do if forced with threat of punishment or promises and bribery. 

Of course, that meant within 24 hours of being with them, my mom got Braden so comfortable with Landri that he was asking to give her a bottle. WHAT? How does the woman do it?!?!?! I got this photo texted to me by mom while I was at work. Needless to say, it was the highlight of my day!

More of her little miracles :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Worst Birthday Present Ever

On Monday, the 14th, I finally heard back from the AISD payroll department about how much my maternity leave was actually going to cost. And the number left me reeling. If that number was true, that meant I would get no paycheck for May, June, or August. In fact, it would mean I would owe them several thousand when I left the district in September. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. On top of that, I discovered that the money I was getting from disability insurance was less than $300. 

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I could not believe this was happening. It would mean we would have no money to put down on a place to live. We would have no money to make our rent. We would run out of savings before the summer was over. 

Why was this happening?

And, of course, the only solution was for me to go back to work when my medical release went through and that was on Thursday. The whole reason I hadn't planned to go back was because I had no childcare options. I didn't think Braden's daycare would allow me to enroll Landri for two plus weeks, or if they even had a spot open for her. My mom was in San Antonio and I couldn't possibly ask her to come up for that long. And even if I did have childcare, I knew we couldn't afford it.

I went into panic mode and all that post-partum baby blues that I thought I had put behind me was suddenly back with a vengeance and I could barely make myself stand up to feed Braden and Landri.

I posted part of my woes on FB and within a few hours, my mom called to say she would be knight in shining armor :) And so did my sister-in-law, Ashlin. She was going to watch them Thursday. Jay would watch them Friday. And then my mom was going to stay with us for two weeks to watch them the rest of the time.

And, once again, the Lord answered my prayers :)

I still was in tears as I drove away from Landri for the first time to go to work. And I still spent my birthday at work. But, it could have been so much worse!

But when I got home, I got a pretty good present!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

A week before Mother's Day I was faced with the fact that I was going to be spending it with my two kids and no husband. I was beyond depressed. In fact, I'm pretty sure I cried myself to sleep three nights in a row.

On Wednesday, though, I found out that there might be a way for him to drive home Saturday night so he could spend Sunday with us before driving out at 5am Monday morning. When that possibility proved real I was crazy happy!

He even managed to get me cards and a gift :)

My beautiful little girl!
(Braden did not want to pose for a photo)
My New James Avery Charms!

It was a good day :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Miracles Are Real

Tuesday, April 24th

For the first time in days, Landri slept at the same time Braden played by himself. It was finally a long enough stretch of time for me to finish applying to Ector County ISD. There were lots of jobs listed (way more than in any of the hundred plus districts in DFW) but I had less than zero hope that I would actually get a job that I liked in this economy. I figured if I was really  REALLY lucky, I might get a sixth grade science job or something similar. No way would I actually have a shot at one of the electives I was certified in, especially not technology.

I wanted so badly to just be a family again, even if it meant leaving the best job I ever had in a city I really loved to move to west Texas (a place I said the Devil's hometown would have to freeze over for me to move there). I just prayed that I would find some job, any job that would enable us to have a quality of life similar to what we had now.

Wednesday, April 25th

While Braden ate breakfast and Landri nursed, I checked to see if any new jobs had been posted to Ector County ISD. Nothing. Then, while the kids were relatively sedate, I began the hour-long online application to Midland ISD. I had done the one for Ector County first because I knew there was a better chance for me to get hired in that district because Midland was highly sought after. I got through the majority of it and was at the portion where it showed available jobs. As I scanned the list, my heart dropped as I saw one of the secondary spots available: Junior High Technology Teacher. That's exactly what I wanted. Then I looked at the posting date, and wanted to cry -- the posting was nearly a week old. In this economy, a position like that is so aggressively pursued that it's usually filled within 48 hours...if not sooner. 

But I couldn't just give up.

I emailed the principal at the school where the Technology job was listed. I knew that every school in Texas was giving the STAAR test, which equated to administrations being completely busy and stressed from 6:30am-6:30pm (though usually later). But, again, I had to at least try. I figured that maybe when testing was over and the principal finally checked her email, I might hear something. And who knew, maybe there was another job on campus they had open. With my Generalist certification I could teach any core subject. 

I prayed again.


I sent the resume.


My heart beat so fast I felt like I was going to die. I immediately called Jay (who was beyond ecstatic) and after a few more emails w/the principal, I realized a phone or web interview was out of the question and I was going to have to go to Midland because I had an interview at 2pm that Friday! My only babysitter --my mom-- was already committed to something else so she couldn't come up from San Antonio. 

That's when I realized I was going to have to drive 350 miles with a 5 week old newborn and a 3 year old. Good freaking gosh...

Jay was awesome though. He felt super guilty at all I was going to do in order to move out there, the least he felt he could do was meet me half way in Abilene so that we could leave my car there and drive the rest of the way to Midland together. Not only that, but he wanted me to stay at the "man cave" apartment he and his dad shared on-site (at the oil company he worked for) for several days so I could see Midland a little bit.

Have you ever packed for a five day trip for a newborn and a toddler? HO-LEE MOLEY!!! It took me two hours of frantic grabbing and stuffing and grunting. Checking, double-checking, and then triple-checking that I had everything...all the while Landri is SCREEEEAMING and Braden is asking five billion questions about what I was doing, where we were going, and how soon will we see Daddy?.... Jeeeeeez.  

Filled up the tank on my Sorento.

Got on I-20: the road that would take us to Midland. 

Pulled into the Dairy Queen in Abilene where Jay was meeting us. Braden was beside himself when Jay pulled in to the parking space beside our car. He could not get out of the car seat quick enough to hug his daddy. And I was instantly reminded of why I was doing this.

While Jay put all our stuff in his vehicle, we chowed down :)

We hit the road again, this time as a whole family. About 20 miles down the road, I got my first look at the wind farms that are so prevalent out there. They are kinda beautiful in a weird way.

We finally rolled into Midland. Poor Braden was so tired that as soon as we got everything inside the apartment, he said "I need go bed now, Mommy." Cutest thing ever! So much for worrying about if he would have a hard time sleeping somewhere new.

Thursday, April 26th

Jay had woken up early to go get us donuts. It had been really hard for me to nurse in a folding chair at 3am but a momma's gotta do what a momma's gotta do. But, needless to say, I was exhausted and needed some sugar to be the perky, energetic Momma Braden requires (lol). So, while Jay was at work, we had to find a way to entertain ourselves in the man cave. The sunglasses were my last hope!

When Jay got off work, we drove to some different houses that I had seen for sale online. Unfortunately, none of them were available for us to see with the realtor. Oh well...It was nice just getting to be a family for a little bit. We went to one of my favorite restaurants (Logan's) for dinner. Braden was a pill at first, but then got a little better when the bread came, haha. Landri slept the entire time! It was so nice.

Friday, April 27th

When I went in for the interview, the secretary told me I was 45 minutes early. When I told her again who I was, she then said "Oh, I don't have you in the appointment book." My heart lurched. Surely the principal had not forgotten about me and I just drove 350 miles w/2 teeny kids for nothing :(  

5 minutes late she came back out and said the principal was ready to see me. THANK YOU LORD! 

The first thing I was asked in the interview was "Do you have a place to live out here?" LOL! I took that as a good sign. The interview lasted another half hour and by the end of it I had been on a tour of the school, met the teacher whose place I was taking to tell me what the job would be like, been told to talk to the asst principal about good daycares...She said the only thing left was for her to check my references. Basically, I had been all but offered the job.

Did that really just happen?

What I came back to after the interview: Braden hanging out with all his animals (yes, I brought all of them...because he SLEEPS with all of them) in Daddy's bed. LOL

Saturday, April 28th

Approx. 3:30pm
Headed back to Mesquite from Abilene.

Tuesday, May 1st

I was at Sonic watching Braden play when my phone rang. It was the principal. 

She told me to pack my bags :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Maternity Leave Playdates!

My mom went back to San Antonio when Landri was a week old, and Jay went back to Midland when she turned two weeks old, and so being alone 24-7 w/2 kids was TERRIFYING! I went through major depression and anxiety attacks, but I prayed for inner peace and day by day it got a little better. One of the things that helped was reaching out to my sister-in-law, Ashlin, and having playdates with my nephew Bentley. It was nice to spend a few hours with another adult and not have Braden at my heels like he usually was.

The first time she came over and they played and then we took them to a park right down the road. 

Sleepin' while the big boys play :)

It was only mid-April and yet we were dripping in sweat within 30 minutes. Had to be at least 95 degrees...yuck!

Some days we would meet at Sonic so they could take advantage of the monster playground! Plus they had a shaded area where Landri and I could hang out and the boys could snack and still be right next to the playground.

Then the boys would come home and literally tear the house apart and have an all-out good time ;)