Monday, March 30, 2009

And the winner is...

House #3

Why this one, you ask?

In our opinion, it is all about the potential.

Granted, we did fall in love with house #2 when we toured it the first time. It is beautiful inside - just picture perfect. When we inquired about it, however, we found that it already had 3 offers, one for full price. We figured we'd keep on looking.

Then then we toured this home. We saw past the ugly light fixtures and carpeted bathroom and got a small glimpse of what it could be like with a little TLC.

We looked around at all kinds of little improvements we'd want to do to the place, and in addition to neon yellow dollar signs we saw an opportunity to really make a house our own home. We knew it could be a beautiful, and that we'd have the opportunity to watch it come together.

With cute little house #2, the potential is all-but-maxed out. There are significant advantages to going this route, but I think we'd miss out on the fun of watching something really take shape.


Today the sellers accepted our offer.

Pending any financing or inspection problems, we'll close on April 30.

We're totally excited. And thankful. And nervous. And amazed.

And when in three months I'm totally fed up with little home improvement projects? Remind me of this blog post, please.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

House Hunters: Columbus, OH

We’ve spent all kinds of time looking at homes online for the past few months, and even took some trips to Buckeye-ville to check things out.

And finally – finally - it was time to start looking in person. So, along with our wonderfully nice and helpful Realtor, we set off Friday morning and started really looking. We toured countless homes over the weekend, nervously praying for wisdom along the way and reminding ourselves that it was 100% okay if we didn’t find something right away. To our surprise, there were a few that really caught our eye.

Indulge me in some House Hunters fun (and try to imagine a very Suzanne Whang voice when you read this next part).

This 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bathroom home is the largest and newest home on their list, but it is at the high end of their price range. It has the large open kitchen and cathedral ceilings they were looking for, but the d├ęcor wasn’t their style and it would need a significant investment in improving the flooring and painting the walls. It is located in a desirable neighborhood and overlooks a golf course, but there was evidence of water damage in the basement.

This 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bathroom split level home is located in a convenient area known for good schools. It is on the low end of their price range, and completely move-in ready. They loved the updated kitchen, great room, and hardwood floors throughout. However, it is the oldest and smallest house they’re interested in, with small bathrooms and closets.

This 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bathroom home sits on a half acre of land in a desirable established neighborhood. They like the open feel of the floor plan, but don’t care for the flooring, kitchen cupboards, or carpeted master bathroom. While they like the curb appeal better than the others, the house needs some significant updates inside.

Did they go for the big new house with the crazy colors?

The small but cute Tudor that is already decorated to their taste?

Or the large brick home that needs interior updating?

I'll leave you guessing for a day or two. But we did put in an offer on one of these and waiting to hear back. I pray God's will be done in any case, but I hope it is in His plan for us to have this house. We will find out soon, I'm sure.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Would enjoy eating lunch at this table?

Are creeks your thing?

Or maybe you prefer waterfalls?

Would you like to see trees that are the exact color of cinnamon?

Do you love looking out on lakes?

And mountains?

Do you like to ride chair lifts?

Or maybe zip-lining is your thing.

If, for you, any of this is true...
Patagonia is the place for you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Life

I am confident that there is no experience like it.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to witness a baby being born and oh my goodness was it incredible. One moment there are seven people in the room, and all of a sudden God reaches down and adds an eighth body.

Let me just say he is healthy, darling, sweet, soft, snuggly, and big. He and his mama are doing just great.

It all started early Sunday morning. Montoya and her daughter (close friends of my family through church) had been staying with my brother and me at my parents’ house for the week prior to his birth so that we could help out and be there if anything were to happen. Nine-month-pregnant women have no business living alone! My parents were off on a trip to Florida they had planned months before, and I had long planned to be in Grand Rapids for the week anyway. The timing worked out really well, and we had a really fun week together.

We headed to the hospital at 3am Sunday morning, and after a long day of labor beautiful baby Aiydan Shawn-Paul was born at 9:14pm. 9 pounds, 9 ounces, 19 ½ inches long. Completely perfect.

There was something so beautiful about seeing a brand new baby with his mama. The hard, painful work was over and they were finally chest to chest. She looked down at the little person, testing out his voice for the very first time. There was an instant bond between them, and a her part a deep, fierce mama love. It is no wonder that the relationship between mother and child is a metaphor used in the Bible to describe God’s intense, unending love for his people.

As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;

Isaiah 66:13

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!

Isaiah 49:15

For me, it was a new glimpse of God's character and his vast, ceaseless love for His people. Entirely beautiful and pure and sweet.

Big sister Aiyannah was SO proud.

A few minutes old, with his "Auntie Jessie."

As sweet as they come.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My heart is officially fond.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in this case I think it is true. It has been a solid week since I've seen my husband, which is the longest I've been apart from him since we were married. I'm counting down the days (3!) until I see him again.

It isn't that I take him for granted when he is around. At least, I really try not to do that. But being apart has given me the chance to step back and re-realize so many things that I love and appreciate about him. And that helps.

(This picture makes me laugh)

So in case you're curious, here are some of my favorite things about Josh, in no particular order:

He is extremely thoughtful and always has great ideas for presents for me
He lavishes hugs and kisses on me
He truly desires a deeper walk with Christ and encourages me in my faith
He always takes care of oil changes for both of our cars
He has very sweet, expressive eyes
He lets me get Starbucks from time to time
He encourages my creativity and always likes to see what I’ve come up with in my card making, scrapbooking, or Photoshop projects
He loves the way I look – even first thing in the morning
He truly values my opinion on things
He loves to learn new things – especially about history and geography
He keeps our iTunes organized
He loves me as I am – flawed, imperfect, and sometimes emotional
He does all the vacuuming (This was actually agreed upon prior to our engagement! I truly detest vacuuming.)
He is extremely sweet and tender with Riley
He usually does the dishes
He loves to snuggle with me
He loves to snuggle with Riley
He is supportive of my sometimes demanding travel schedule
He works really hard

I can't wait to see him again.

And for those of you who were asking about baby Aiydan? He arrived, safe and sound and beautiful, this past weekend. His birth was completely incredible. More to come on that, rest assured.

He and his mom and doing really well, praise the Lord.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ooooh, what a comfy spot!

Riley didn't get the memo that Boppys are for babies.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Week In Review

What a busy, fascinating, weird, interesting week for me. I don't have coherent thoughts on it all, but here are a few observations:

1. It seems that my friend Montoya's baby boy is very comfortable as-is and isn't in any hurry to join the rest of the world. MUCH to his mom's chagrin - she's totally and completely uncomfortable these days.

2. I've never spent so much time with an about-to-pop pregnant woman, and it is totally fascinating. Holy cow those kids can kick! I love seeing her tummy move in weird ways. I try to tell the baby that he can kick all the more on this side of the womb, but so far he hasn't been convinced.

3. Being a working mom must be very big, exhausting job. I've been helping take care of 6-year-old Aiyannah this week. Her mom still does the lion's share of the work (bathing, hair-braiding, homework, etc.) but my very small contributions (bringing Aiyannah to school on my way to work each morning, picking her up from the bus stop each afternoon, and making a few dinners) have seriously tired me out! Props to working moms everywhere. I had but the smallest taste of it and holy cow it is a lot of work.

Apparently I'm not the only sleepy one these days:

But seriously, how sweet is that?

4. Josh left for South America on Tuesday and I miss him an incredible amount. The morning coffee helps, but I'm lonely without him. Thankfully they're safe and sound in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, and are really enjoying themselves. And I'm very thankful for wonderfully sweet emails from him on a regular basis.

He sent me this picture, which he took today:

I'm trying not to be too jealous.

And hey, at least I got some Yesterdog (best hot dogs ever) this week, right?

You're right, that doesn't compare. But I'll take what I can get.

5. I got to meet my brother's girlfriend tonight, which was nice. I've never met a girlfriend of Ben's before. She seemed like a very sweet girl, but they didn't stay long. At all. Was he afraid that Montoya, Aiyannah, and I would start showing her naked baby pictures of him or something? I don't think we're that embarrassing, but you never know what we might let slip.

6. Work kicked my butt this week. In a good, learning-new-things and growing-in-my-career way.

7. On Monday morning I did a complete wipe out on a patch of ice. As in, one moment I'm walking from my car to the office and the VERY NEXT MOMENT I'm flat on my back looking up at the building/sky, wondering "did that REALLY just happen?" Neither my computer nor my bones were broken, and I didn't even spill coffee on myself. I'm thankful for these things. But here it is late Friday night and I can still feel it in my neck.

8. $1 Hannah Montana dry erase boards from Target, carousel rides, and talking to "Oma and Opa" (aka my parents) on a bluetooth are all things that can rock a 6-year-old's world. That and creating personalized place cards for everyone at every meal.

9. I'm really hoping to sleep in tomorrow. This 6 am thing isn't something I'm fond of.

10. Pray for little Aiydan's prompt and safe arrival, please. We're all ready for him!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

But it really does help.

Our conversation this morning:

Me: I'm going to buy Starbucks on my way to work every morning when you're gone. It will make me feel better.

Josh: I thought you just told me we need to try to save money.

Me: We can afford like $5 per day for this. It is important. Five dollar Star-buuuuuucks.

Josh: It just doesn't have same ring as five dollar foot loooooongs. Nor does it seem like you're actually getting a good deal. Five dollar coffeeeeeeeeeee.

But you know what? If I have to spend a full 10 days without my husband around, a morning Starbucks run will be worth every single penny. And since he is headed on South American adventure without me, I figure he can't complain. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Our Spring Break Plans

Any of you long-time readers of this here blog may remember that Josh and I spent an incredible two weeks in South America for his spring break last year. Josh, the lucky duck, gets a full two weeks off from school for spring break, and I was able to use some vacation time from work. We're so glad we went - it was truly beautiful and interesting and enjoyable all around.

Since we've already got an exciting trip planned for this summer, we'd decided months ago that Spring Break '09 would be a much more low key affair. Josh thought it would be nice to spend a few days with his parents in Phoenix, and I figured I'd just save up that precious vacation time and continue on working.

Boy were we wrong on the "low key" prediction.

First, a 4 day trip to Phoenix for Josh has morphed into a 10 day trip to Argentina for Josh and his parents. When it comes to vacations, my in-laws are all about the scenery - the mountains, lakes, and oceans. They've harbored a significant desire to check out South America for themselves, especially after seeing our pictures and hearing us rave about the scenery in that part of the world. But I think heading to a remote part of Argentina (San Carlos de Bariloche) by themselves, not knowing the language or area, was a little daunting for them. Understandable! So Josh will be doing a bit of tour guiding and translating for them while they're there. I mean, in addition to just enjoying the area again. I'm sure they'll have a wonderful time.

I'm a teensy bit jealous, but I always knew I could never pull off two big trips in one year. I'm happy that Josh can go again and know he is looking forward to it. And, as I like to tease Josh, someone's gotta work!

Plus Josh has promised to buy me another purse while he is down there. Woo hoo! I love me some Argentinian purses.

But me? My time in the states will be anything but low key.

I have a friend in Michigan that is due to have a baby. Like ANY MOMENT. And she asked me to help out, labor coach style, at the hospital! Me! I'm deeply honored and totally excited. Starting tomorrow night, I'll be spending the next week+ in Michigan on full baby alert! And depending on when this kid decides to show up, I'll potentially get to help take care of a newborn. Anyone who knows me well knows just how much I love tiny babies and just how exciting this prospect is for me. And I'm so excited for this little family and their new addition.

(On that note, if anyone has any advice, please feel free to leave it in the comments.)

And little Aiydan Paul? Please sit tight in your mama's tummy at least until tomorrow night. K? I don't want to miss out on welcoming you into this world!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chocolate Cake

I had a severe chocolate craving* on Sunday morning.

I like me some chocolate, but I don't think I've ever felt such a strong urge to eat some. Not in the chocolate bar sense, although those are always welcome.

This time I was going for something ooeey-gooey and warm and melty.

Enter Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake. I'd heard several rave reviews and had wanted to try it.

And since I'm not a nut person, I just left those out.

Let me just say it hit the spot. In a major way. All my chocolately dreams came true.

*And just in case anyone read into the word craving, let me assure you it was just that. No special news 'round here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Our Hot Valentine's Day Date

You know, throw 13 kids into a lecture classroom, along with 5 other adults, and you can have yourself a rockin' good time on Valentine's Day.

First, who doesn't love crafts?
Or puzzles?
And babies, of course! This is Josh with our neighbor, Ainsley. She is giving him a look that clearly says, "you are crazy."

This kid entertained herself by going up and down the stairs. Uuuupppp... dooowwwwnnn.... uuuppp... dooowwwnnnnn. It was all she was interested in for most of the evening. Her mom told me later that they didn't have stairs at their house. I'm sure to it was like holy cow what a fun new thing to do! for her. I can go up AND back down. Wow! Look at me go! Believe me, kid. Stairs become less exciting as you get older.

She only face-planted once, and I figure one fall in 2 hours isn't so bad.
The #1 lesson I learned about taking care of children in a college classroom?

You can bring in all the puzzles, games, and snacks you can carry, but what the kids really want to do is color on the massive dry erase boards. When you're 4 the boards are taller than you. All we had were 4 markers and a few magnetic erasers. It made for hours of entertainment. Seriously.
You can see some of their artwork in the background of this picture. Stellar.