Monday, June 29, 2015

Skipping Ahead to our vacation

I decided to skip the rest of the buying of the house. It was frustrating and aggravating but it's finally over. We now have our house and we are all settled in. Our friends Todd and Anna came from California to visit last week. We spent three days down in Savannah. It was hot and humid but so much fun!
We went to Tybee Island to play at the beach. I was amazed at how fearless the kids were. They are so much more confident in the water. (Which can scare mommy!) They loved finding sea shells. I found a crab in a shell, which everyone had a blast watching. Will found a crab claw and he thought it was AWESOME!! We saw jellyfish and made sure to not touch them! I didn't get a picture of them while we were there. :(
We ate lunch on the beach and while we were there we got to see dolphins swimming in the water pretty close to the shore.

They spent so much time in the water. It was so much fun. Jim and Ellie got pretty sunburned :( (Mom apparently isn't so good at applying sunscreen) 
There was an amazing thunderstorm that night while we were in the hotel room. Lightening and thunder right overhead. Pouring Rain. I love the thunderstorms here! They are so fun to watch. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Moving Part 7 - Our House

This is our house. I love this house so much. I am also amazed at the size of the house compared to our Moreno Valley house. This home with the basement included is 4100 sq ft. That is almost 3 times the house we had in Moreno Valley. For just about the same price we sold that house for. 

This is looking in the front door
The formal dining room
Formal dining room
Formal living room (we use it as our office for now)
 The kitchen. (Yes that is Jim and our realtor sitting on the counters lol) 
See we already felt like we were home.
Guest Bedroom on the main floor
 Family room from the eat in kitchen
 Family Room
Looking into the Formal living room from the family room

Master Bed room
 Master Bathroom
Kids Bedroom (Ben and Will's)
 Kids Bedroom 
(Ellie's - she didn't want us to take down any of the Georgia Bulldog stuff)

Playroom nook
 Playroom from the nook looking out
Basement Guest Room
 One of the storage rooms in the basement
Backyard (only brown because it was still winter)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Moving... Part 6 - House Hunting

So now it is January 2 and we are living with my parents. They were great to help us out. I know it was cramped for everyone and it took some getting used to but I appreciate them so much! Wally our cat went to live with Katie and we brought Molly the dog to my parents with the kids and I. But this was only going to be for 6 weeks at the most! We knew we'd find something super quick and we would all be together so soon! Right?!?!?

Jim started driving around neighborhoods. I would go through Redfin and find a list of houses then we would narrow that down to the best ones. After that Jim would drive through the neighborhood and we would narrow the list down even further. We didn't have a real estate agent yet so that made it a little more difficult. There was one house we in November that Jim loved but it had gone off the market. He decided to drive past it in January just to see it again. There was a sign out front of it and it had fliers on it. We couldn't find it online so Jim decided to call the agent listed. He made an appointment with him and they chatted for 3 hours. Michael, the agent, told him about the house and said it was a great house, beautiful neighborhood, in fact he had actually sold the owners the house 10 years before. He said however unless we could afford to put the kids into private school that we shouldn't buy that house. The elementary school that the kids would go to, if we bought that house, wasn't good. That right there showed me the integrity of this agent. He would have been the buyers agent and the sellers agent but he chose to let us know that this house wouldn't be a good fit for us because of the school. He also went through and emailed us a list of homes in different schools that were higher rated.

We went through this list and did the same thing we did with the lists I had come up with. We narrowed the list down from 65 to our top 20. Then we went through those twenty and rated them on a scale of 1-10 If they came in under a 6 we knocked them off the list. We got the list down to 10-13. Jim and Michael drove around and went to see the houses. We knocked them all off the list. So we started over. I think this happened 2 or 3 times. (We didn't think we were THAT picky lol) But none of them felt right.

We found one that we liked and decided to put an offer on but the house wasn't worth what they were asking and the owner wouldn't budge on the price so that one was gone. Jim had a hard time with it because he was worried about picking the wrong house. I got to see pictures of the homes and he would Facetime me while he was at the houses if he could but I couldn't really get a feel for the houses.

By February we were getting frustrated but still looking. Jim found one house that he liked but I wasn't 100% sold on it. We discussed where all of our stuff would go and if everything would fit where we wanted it. Jim couldn't say for sure that it was exactly what we wanted. We both were having a hard time with this. Jim said "I can't make this decision without you here. If I pick a house and you come out here and hate it then it's all my fault" So we booked a flight for me to come out and look at houses with him. He had a list of 15 houses to go through and narrow it down because we were only going to have a couple days to look at houses.

Michael said "They teach us in Real Estate to show the worst houses first so that way you end on the good ones. But I'm going to show you the best ones first and go from there" The first one Jim didn't care for and he didn't love the second one either. The third one he walked in and said "this could be a contender" It was gorgeous and had a lot of the things we were looking for.  He liked the fourth one too. But then he walked in the fifth one. He called me and said "I found our house. This is it!" He sent me pictures of the house and we agreed to put an offer on it. The problem was the seller's agent didn't like Big Banks or VA loans and we were going with both. On top of that they had 2 other offers. We were really nervous because we loved this house and it was looking like we wouldn't get it. Jim put the offer in Tuesday morning and within 3 hours they had accepted it!!!! We were finally in escrow!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Moving Part 5 ... Life Apart - Car Accident

Life without Jim was quite an adjustment. It definitely took some getting used to. He stuffed his Chevy Volt as full as it would get, put his bike on the back and drove off into the sunrise with his sister on Oct 2, 2014.

There was quite the learning curve. It was a struggle for both of us on either end of the spectrum. He struggled because he was lonely and he missed us. I struggled parenting mainly alone and missing him. Our plan was for him to fly back at Thanksgiving. Which turns out is a LONG way away from Oct 2.

I learned to do things on my own and thankfully overcame the panic attacks that had often plagued my nights when he was on business trips. (My anxiety is awful at times) I also learned how to ask for help when I needed it.

Monday Oct 27th was one of those days. The night before, Will threw up all over the living room floor so I called Kate, Jim's sister (She stayed with him for 2 weeks then came back) and asked her to watch Will while I drove Ben and Ellie to school. Then I needed to take my mom to the airport. My dad was working and wouldn't be able to take her. The kids school is right by their house so it was no problem at all. I got the kids loaded into the car and left to go pick my mom up. I took a different route this morning because this one was easier to get to their house. (I was going to pick her up first then drop the kids off)

As I was driving down the road a car pulled out of a side street and ran right into the front passenger side of my car. The car was completely dead. Air bag deployed, electrical system was gone, I couldn't even get the key out. I scrambled to find my glasses that had been knocked off my face, got the kids out of the car and across two lanes of traffic to the curb. I made sure they were ok and no one was bleeding. Ellie had a big bruise on her neck. Ben was shaken up but fine. I was sore where the airbag hit me and my arm was bruised and burned. But overall we were fine. Much better than the car was.

Sadly no one stopped to help myself or the other driver who also had a child in the car. I called Jim right away but he didn't answer I don't remember if I left a message for him or not. Then I called 911 to get help. After that I tried Jim again. I knew he was probably in a practice so he couldn't answer. I called my parents house to tell my mom I wouldn't be able to take her to the airport. My dad answered, it turns out he wasn't feeling good that morning so he had decided to wait to go in to work. He was able to take my mom to the airport. Then I called Kate to let her know what had happened and I needed her to come and get Ben. The police had arrived at this time and were planning to take me and Ellie to the hospital to check us out. Jim called me back and I told him what happened. Poor guy was so distraught. He had talked to Kate and knew we were in the accident but didn't know how we were or what was happening. He felt completely helpless being so far away. At some point during this whole time I think I called the school to let them know the kids wouldn't be there and to let the PTA know I wouldn't be there (I was in charge of Red Ribbon Week and obviously wouldn't be there)

Kate arrived at the accident scene and picked up Ben. She let me know she had called her dad and he would be there to help me however I needed too. Ellie and I got to ride in the ambulance to the Emergency Room. Almost immediately my brother arrived to make sure I was ok. I think my dad had called him. He stayed with us until my dad and Jim's dad got there. Because Ellie and I were both patients we both could have 2 visitors at the same time. Two of my friends from the kids school showed up as well to make sure we were ok.

They checked out myself and Ellie to make sure we were fine. They took me down to get an xray on my hand because it hurt to move my finger. Thankfully we were both fine. They released us with prescriptions for pain medicine.  My dad said he would go pick up my prescription and Jim's dad took us home.

During this time, Jim talked to his manager who told him it was fine for him to take the time off to come take care of us. He booked a flight for the next day. He really wanted to get on a flight right then but he talked to his dad who told him everything was taken care of and it was ok to come the next day. We were both so grateful for the love and support we received. It was humbling to see how much we were taken care of. Knowing that our families were there and our friends were there to help was such a relief to myself and to Jim.

We were now out a car though. Our friends offered to lend us their car. My parents lent me their truck until the insurance got it taken care of. We went down Tuesday to see the car and find out what the actual damage was. It was surreal and kind of sickening to actually see the car and know how close we were things being so much worse. You could see the Lords hand in everything that happened. Had Will not been sick he would have been in the back seat on the passenger side and Ben would have been in the front passenger seat. As it was, Ben was sitting in the back row in the middle seat and Ellie was behind me so thankfully my children were as far away from the impact as possible. Then my dad wasn't feeling good in the morning so he stayed home which made it possible for my mom to still get to the airport. So many people were there to take care of us. No one was seriously hurt. In fact, there was no blood at all. The other driver and her son, as far as I know were fine. They also had gone to get checked out but both were fine.

Our insurance AAA was amazing! They totaled our car and sent us a check by Friday. On Saturday we went down and got a new car. (which by the way I LOVE!!!) 
What was obviously a horrible situation actually turned out ok. We learned that we would be protected and taken care of, we were able to have Jim fly out (which was a much needed visit for the both of us - even without the car accident) and I got a new car that I love. :)

Jim flew back to Georgia on November 1 and we wouldn't see him again until Thanksgiving :(

Moving Part 4 - Home Selling

We had the home listed and lots of people came to look at it. (That was a feat in and of itself. House always has to be put together and look nice.) The house listed Sept 2nd. We knew Jim would be moving Oct 2nd so we were hopeful that it would sell quick. We had an offer right away but it turned out they couldn't qualify for the house with the HERO program lien.

Emotionally Scarring Backstory:

In May, we talked to a company about putting solar panels on the house. Our electric bill was sky high and we were hoping to lower it. (We were on the level pay plan through So Cal Edison and we were paying over $200 a month every month) The saleswoman explained to us about the program and we made sure to ask how it worked when we eventually sold the house (Because we knew this wasn't going to be our forever home) She told us its super easy to sell your house with it. It just transfers into the other buyers name and everything is great. (We should have done more research) We made sure to let her know that we wanted to OWN the panels. We did not want to lease them, or just "purchase the energy" We wanted to make sure they were ours. She said that was exactly what we were getting. We would own the panels. Our electric bill would be about $186 which was lower than we were currently paying. Things sounded great. (That should have been a red flag) We were also told the total amount we would be financing would be roughly 23K.

Fast Forward to the home selling:

Turns out its not quite that easy to sell a house with them on. They are listed as a lien against the house. They are in the first position. 9 out of 10 banks will not fund on a home with a lien in first position. (This basically means if you go bankrupt or short sell your home the lien gets paid before the mortgage does) The first people to offer on the house - their bank wouldn't fund on it. This happened 4 times. As months dragged on it was becoming more and more apparent we were going to have to pay off the entire 28K! Yep you read that right. Our payoff amount was 5K more than the amount we signed off on. (And in looking at the final paperwork our payment would have been $265 not the $180) (We wouldn't have to make a payment in the first year so we didn't know the exact payment amount until that point)

We also found out that we did not own the panels like we thought. We had gotten what is called a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Which means we were paying for 20 years of electricity. This was what we specifically said we DID NOT want. We got copies of all of the paperwork and the PPA only had my name on it. Jim's name was no where on the PPA. Both of our signatures were on every other form we signed. Both of our names were on everything. We are both listed on the title of the home so we both should have been on every form. All paperwork was digitally signed. This form was not one I remembered signing. In fact I wouldn't have signed a paper that only had my name on it without Jim's and I definitely wouldn't have signed anything stating we were getting a PPA. I can't say 100% that the sales woman forged the documents but I can say I didn't sign that paper.

But at this point there was nothing we could do. We had to get the house sold. This stretched through to November. Jim came back for Thanksgiving and on his birthday Nov 28th we accepted an offer on the house! It was a full price offer but we did have to pay off the solar panels. We had gotten to the point that we didn't really care about that. We just wanted it to be sold and us to be together again. Our closing date was originally early January.

We fought with their lender for quite awhile. They wouldn't return calls, they didn't complete paperwork on time. They were a nightmare to work with. But eventually we closed on the house and it was finalized on January 20, our anniversary. (Funny thing is when we bought the house we closed on January 22, 2010 so we lived there almost exactly 5 years to the day)

The kids and I would be moving in with my parents for just a couple weeks until we found a house in Georgia. No problem this half had to go smoothly right? Jim had already been in Georgia for over 3 months, it couldn't be much longer. Maybe 6 weeks at the most.......?!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Moving part 3 - The house gets listed!

The decision was made and I had to get our house ready to be listed. I really had fun staging the house and taking pictures for the listing. We were hopeful it would sell quickly.