Thursday, January 31, 2013

More 2012

Wow, it takes me forever to pick through pictures when I blog. I can see why I hit blog burn out last year.  Anyone else have this "issue"?


Buying the house was pretty all consuming the first few months of 2012. And once in the house scrubbing, painting, renovating, demoing, and just all around lots of DIYing has been a constant (well I've slowed down as my pregnancy has progressed) but I'll enjoy blogging all the house goodness some other time.

Other than housing buying/making and April's events  (that I actually did blog about), life certainly didn't slow down from there...

 In May, Boz hit the big 30.

We started potty training Charlotte. Oh what a LONG road that one has been :) good thing she's so stinkin' cute.

Add caption
We got to have a brief but sweet visit from my parents, who came out of there way to see us while picking up a new paraplegic vehicle in Northern Cali.  Unfortunately, thanks to this falsely advertised vehicle, their time was not as brief or as sweet for them on their way home. Without going into all the details, Jack was beside himself when they left. It was very sweet. He prayed very earnestly for their safe arrival home (even though he wanted to keep them longer). We all did, as this vehicle gave us all cause for concern. The faithful prayers of that little boy that got them home safely (albeit in a rental car with a few bruises- their lives' mission carries on).
Elyette had her 2nd ever dance recital. Dancing to "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". She performed her dance with 2 other friends from class at their school talent show too. It was from that we discovered Elyette has NO fear of performing in front of others. She thought we were nuts when we asked her if she was nervous. She certainly didn't get that from either of her parents.

May also marked a whole lot of camping for Boz. Between various ward campouts, scout camp etc. I think he spent only one Friday night in his own bed that month.
Daddy/Daughter campout :)
Come June I got some camping in too:
On top of "Donkey" Rock with some of my YW, Amanda, Abby, and Emma
I had the opportunity to serve at YW's Camp for our Stake for a week. I got to be a 4th year counselor, serving alongside some wonderful women for some seriously AWESOME young women. As 4th years we went up a day before the rest of the camp and did an overnight hike backpacking in all our gear to our base camp, hiking the Rock by day and back to base camp for the night. The following day we hiked back into camp where all the rest of the camp had just arrived. It was a pretty cool experience. All of camp was. One definitely marked in my memory. Kinda a tender one for me still since it was shortly there after that our ward YW presidency was released (I served as YW 2nd counselor for 2 years. BEST CALLING EVER!).

The day before leaving for YW Camp, though it was a few days premature, I had some pressing business I had to take care for my mind to be at ease:

Yep, I was pregnant. It was also Father's Day so I wrapped that puppy up and gave it to Boz that evening. What guy doesn't love getting a stick his wife peed on for Father's Day? :)

So as my official announcement to the world (with less than 4 weeks to go- ha): We're Pregnant with #4... a little girl, due February 25th, 2013.

Aside from camping, our summer was filled with swimming, boating, tubing, fishing, shooting, chilling at the beach, evening movies in the yard, stargazing, enjoying the Millar ranch,  kitty chasing (on Charlotte's part), biking Yosemite and, oh yes morning sickness :)... blah. Seriously though, it was a great summer.
tubing Millerton at YW/YM activity

little dork :)
"I swimmeen, swimmeen..."
Red faced Charlotte, cousin Brynn, Jack and Elyette on Bass Lake

Tube wars

Elyette getting a shooting lesson family friend Ernie
4th of July sparklers at Great Gma Rae's
Elyette biking Yosemite

With Gma Debbie and Gpa Greg
Fishing in Utah near Bear Lake

got one!
gutting her catch
watching "The Lorax" outside

Our last hurrah of summer was a bi-annual Smith Family Reunion (my parents, siblings and our families). This year at Bear Lake, Ut. All 49 of us (hence the "Smith Family 49ers T shirts) shared a big house near the lake. It was a BLAST.
With my 8 siblings
(From left to right- Top: Elisa, Jacob,  middle: Marissa, Rachel, Stephanie, bottom: Matthew, Amy, Me, Jennie)
All 49 of us
Charlotte and her also 2 year old cousin Sarah
belly laughing about who knows what out alone together on the patio.
Just 2 days after getting home from the reunion. School started.
all ready

Elyette started 2nd grade and Jack started Kindergarten. And can I tell ya, sending them off doesn't get any easier!

with Charlotte who thinks she so big :)

I'm getting all gushy just writing about it.

Shortly after his first day of school, my little dude turned 5!
Enjoy breakfast in bed: german pancakes, his favorite

Jack played soccer again in the Fall and Elyette really wanted to join in this year so we signed her up too. They were on the same team (since she was 6 and he 5 at the time) so it made practice/game life super easy and really fun to watch them both.
She got really good
seasoned pro
Charlotte always making friends at the games
We did loads of crafting in October and as always, the "give me fast results" seamstress in me is a fan of the Halloween costume scene. It was MUCH lower key this year however (last year's all from scratch insanity is not a likely recurrence). Thanks to previously made costume in their dress-up trunk, only a few items were made to supplement.

Since getting much coveted play bow and arrows, Jack and Elyette have wanted them in their costumes. I thought about doing a family theme of famous archers; Robin Hood, Cupid, Merida, Katniss, Hawkeye, etc. -- Charlotte as Katniss. Myself as Cupid. My growing belly made me feel more chubby baby like than kick-butt tribute from District 12. -- but that was more work and Boz ended up being out of town anyway. Instead I sported my belly as a beer belly, I mean a "rootbeer" belly and went as a white trash dude (trucker hat, mustache, tats, tight shirt, etc.). Sorry, I never did get a pic of myself... I think my father-in-law did though... hmmm, blackmail?

Anyway, back to the kids.

Charlotte was Little Red Riding Hood. The corset and peasant top were already made, so I just did the cloak and skirt for her.

Jack was Robin Hood of course. I made him the cloak and hat but the rest were dress-up stuff.

Elyette decided early on she wanted to be Merida from Brave. She already had the purple cloak so the dress was the only thing from scratch I had to do. It was 2 dresses really. The tan under dress (nightgown like) and the green dress over it. The sleeve cuff things were interesting to figure out.

A week after Halloween comes Elyette's birthday. She's a HUGE fan of sushi (what 7 year old isn't?) so we made our 3rd attempt at homemade sushi rolls (no fancy raw fish though, just smoked salmon and shrimp combos). Followed up by her request for pumpkin pie. The pumpkin used was the ultimate gift sacrificed by Jack from his field trip to the pumpkin patch. A much loved pumpkin. He made an interesting pairing with sushi.

Its been a while since I threw a party for the kids' bday (Elyette's 4th and Jack's 3rd) so I decided I trade off ever other year with them. Elyette helped me plan a party of extreme girlyness. It was a Fairy Garden Tea Party. We planned to do it outside under a little tent and feature the kids' new treehouse that Boz had just finished, but it ended up too cold with possible rain, so we moved it inside. Elyette worked hard individually decorating teacups for invites and helping me assemble tulle flowers, wings, petal placemats, and all the food.

 We made assorted tea sandwiches (ham and cheese, strawberry cream cheese, and cucumber avocado , veggie and dip filled baguette slices, fruit kabobs, banana nutella wafer cookies, petite fours (chocolate dipped rice crispy treats) and of course Raspberry tea. As long as they had enough cream and sugar the tea was a hit :).

We made iced butterfly and flower cookie pops as party favors and had jelly filled strawberry cake with frosting rosettes that sat on a bed of wheat grass. The wheat grass is the coolest thing ever. It took us 2 weeks to grow from some wheat berries (just from food storage) on a large disposable platter. It was really cool to see it go from seed to 6 inch long thick green grass in such a short time. I might have to do it again for an Easter centerpiece or something.

Shortly after that adventure we drove off the Washington for Thanksgiving break. It had been 10 years since I had been "home" for Thanksgiving (last time was my freshman year at BYU). A first for Boz and kids.
DANG! We look good after 8 years.

Before Thanksgiving Day, Boz and I got to celebrate our 8th anniversary back in Seattle. We first did sealings at the Seattle Temple (where we were married), then had a YUM pastrami sandwich at Tat's Deli and visited the King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center (I'd been wanted to see it since it was in SF the Fall we moved out of the Bay area).

Thanksgiving Day was filled with LOTS of cousins, games, cooking, food and most of all PIE. We had 17 pies to be exact. And apparently they are pretty much all we got pictures of that trip :P.

Well, wow. Since this post in getting into the "epically long, likely unread" category of posts, we'll save December/Christmas for a later time... Happy Blogging!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012 at a Glance: Buying a home

So its a new year and with it a new resolve: to blog again... or at least try :). We've been so busy living life, we've failed to write about it. I do recognize the value in keeping record, so here we go, back to blogging.

First I'm going to play a little catch up... First up: Buying a Home


We started off the year convincing ourselves (after about 2 years of contemplating, research, etc.) that we should give the whole buying a house thing a try. We were not at all in a rush nor emotionally driven to do so, which I think greatly worked to our advantage to buy much better than if we had been. After weeks of spending hours and staying up late reading up on loans, real estate, legal crud, and all the lingo that was foreign (and really still is in by a huge margin of course) to me I was ready to throw in the towel for a bit. Seriously how does anyone buy a house without getting a degree in all that!?! Perhaps I'm just a freak, but I do NOT like doing anything without feeling like I know what I'm talking about. 

Anyway, LONG story short, about 20 houses down the line there was one a house I wanted to see but originally was priced too high to be on my radar that came down in price and seemed worth looking at. Well the weekend we went to look it was tented. Red flag! We hesitated cause what are you suppose to think when you see a house being fumigated. Well there was evidence of termites (which is the case for MANY, I would even venture to say majority of California homes... we've got the gammit of termite species out here in good ol' Cali) and in actuality we were lucky the investors with Granville that purchased this foreclosed home were taking care of it (amongst a few other things we certainly benefited from). So we still wanted to see and 2 days later I saw the tent off and called the realtor and took a look the following Tuesday night (this was all in mid-February). 

The house was in a great neighborhood, a block from a great elementary school that was also positioned in the neighborhood. Had a large lot with LOTS of backyard and NO pool (contrary to most, we didn't want a pool, safety and cost not worth it at this point to us), 2800 sq ft. with large bedrooms, large utitlity room, kitchen, pantry, storage space, shed outside. At the risk of sounding "emotional" it was one of the few houses that was suited to us and even had plenty of growing room (something we weren't sure we were going to find in the price range we wanted).

We talked it over and by Thursday we put on offer on it, but we low balled it offering 255K, 9K under the reduced asking price (no mystery what we got it for here, you can look it up on Zillow anyway :)). We honestly full expected to be turned down flat or to negotiate. We also expect to wait for a response for a bit due to competition. There were about 12 Realtor business cards sitting with the house of people wanting to see it when it was tented. We lucked out. The next day they straight up excepted the offer and the ball was rolling. Not only did we get it low, but Granville did all our requested work, included replacing the entire fence (huge savings there), replace a window, etc. without complaint in a just a few days. Made us wonder if we should have offered less and asked for more :)...

We did a lot of loan shopping, and locked in at 3.85% interest rate and closed on the house  April 4th and moved in that weekend. Thankfullly our rental was almost immediately filled to, so we had no mortgage/rent overlap at all. 

 Remaining coolheaded and not getting attached to a house I'd say was our best advantage. No buyers remorse here (though I admit I was on my toes about having some for a while). We're happy to say 10 months later we are even more happy with our home and how everything worked out. We feel like we probably had the best first time buyers experience possible. Probably set us up for some seriously high expectations for the next time. Although we hope that is not at all in the near future.

The house was actually the only house we looked at that was in our current ward, so we didn't change wards, which made the transition just all positive for the kids. Elyette finished out the school year at her old school, but many of the kids in her primary class would be at her new school too so she was not to worried to start at her new school with her brother come Fall. 

This was our first "local" move and I will say, it was easier in someways, but really more challenging overall. You don't get a few days breather or anything like when you move hours or states away. No break in school, church callings, life, etc. to give you a chance to move in. So with all the cleaning and unpacking it look me at least a month to feel semi-solid in my unpacking. Normally I'm in a week. Oh well, its been a fun process. One I'm excited to share here in future posts!