Thursday, August 6, 2015

Our new house!

Two weeks ago, Brian and I closed on our very first house. !!!
the landscaping is a work in progress, but it's much easier to see the house now
It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom "Cape Cod" style bungalow in the Alger Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids. It was built in the 40s, so it's well-made and very much fits into the post-war style house that is prevalent in our area (and many areas).

We weren't looking for a fixer-upper, and this one, thankfully, fit the bill. While it is slightly dated in certain respects, we don't need to put a ton of work into it. We have big plans to update things as we go, but we don't need to do anything major before we move in.

So how did we get here?

We've been renting an apartment since we moved here three years ago. While we have loved the location and appreciate being able to rely on somebody else to maintain the lawns and pave the parking lot, cramming three people and two cats into a 950 square foot space is no fun. Minimalism is cool and all, but we were slowly going nuts with an increasingly mobile baby and everybody on top of each other ALL THE TIME.

This spring, we finally decided it was time to start looking for a house.We've resisted the idea before for a number of reasons, mostly relating to the level of responsibility that comes with owning your own property, but we figured we were capable of dealing with it. The pros outweighed the cons.

We went to the bank and got preapproved for an amount we were comfortable with. We contacted a realtor, met with her briefly, and started poring over the listings. We knew the neighborhoods we liked, and we knew the market was moving extremely fast. Good news for the economy, but scary for us. The very same night we met with our realtor, we sent her a list of houses we thought we'd like to see. We went to a couple of open houses, and then met up for an individualized tour at the little brick house we didn't think too much of online.

We walked in, and Brian and I both really liked it. Really, REALLY liked it. It was a good size for us, had been well taken care of, had the specifications we were looking for, and was in the neighborhood we loved. As we were walking out the back door, another realtor was coming in the front door with his client. It had only been on the market for one day, and we knew we had to act fast, so we told our realtor we wanted to make an offer. On the first house she'd shown us!

Thankfully, she didn't think we were crazy. She thought it was a great house, too, and said "if you were my kids, I'd tell you to go for it." So we did. We went to a restaurant and hammered out the details. We decided to go in a little bit above the asking price and ask the seller to pay closing costs. All the while, we were both freaking out a little bit. It all was happening so fast, and we truly had no idea what we were doing. I guess all those years of watching HGTV were finally paying off.

We headed home, put Claire to bed, and tried not to freak out. We looked at pictures of the house online again to refresh our memories, since we had spent a total of fifteen minutes inside the place. A few hours later, at 10 pm, we got an email from our realtor telling us our offer had been accepted. HOLY CRAP.

I realize this is unusual. We were prepared to spend months house-hunting, battling with other buyers, and having deals fall through. In reality, everything happened fairly seamlessly. Come to find out the house had been on the market a few weeks earlier, before we were even looking, and the seller had accepted an offer from a buyer whose financing ultimately fell through. That was stressful for everybody, but, good news for us, they had already completed an inspection (only about a week before we bought the house), which we were able to use. Our bank was extremely efficient and on top of things, so we didn't have many issues with the endless amounts of paperwork we had to  complete. Once it came time to close, we had already reviewed the documents we'd be signing, and the process was seamless.

We are still a little bit in shock and keep forgetting that we own a house. We'll be moving in at the end of the month, after taking care of a few things and, oh, packing up our entire lives. NO BIG DEAL. :)

And now, pictures! The "before" shots, if you will.

Our kitchen! It feels so huge after our not-so-huge apartment kitchen.

sun room, looking into the backyard

a small patio, and a backyard full of weeds and overgrown perennials--it's already looking better!

Claire's room, which will not be staying pink. She is extremely excited about the ceiling fan.

the original bathroom

the dining room, looking into the sun room

our bedroom with its one tiny closet

living room with a FIREPLACE

stairway up to the third bedroom

hallway looking into third bedroom

a pretty, loft-style room, which we'll use as an office/guest room

the finished part of the basement (this fireplace doesn't work)

laundry area

Creepy basement bathroom! So I guess we'll all be sharing the main floor bathroom?

As you can tell, we're very excited about this next step and having a place of our own. And, moreover, we're looking forward to posting the "after" pictures once we spruce the place up a bit.

Monday, August 3, 2015

12 months

Months 1-6

Months 7-12

I wrote this post two weeks ago and never published it. A lot has changed since then, but here's a little bit about Claire at twelve-months-old.

Last week, Claire turned one. All of a sudden, she seems to have grown six inches and resembles a kid more than a baby. She is losing her chub and is developing some long legs. Thankfully, the cheeks, while not quite as round as they once were, are still very present. We get comments everywhere we go about her cheeks!

Our sister-in-law Sarah, who is an excellent photographer, took some pictures for us in South Haven

Stop taking my picture and give me that cupcake!

I say it every month, but I am shocked we have a one-year-old. The days are long but the years are short, as they say. Watching someone go from a tiny eight-pound lump to a standing, waving, kiss-blowing, clapping, laughing, "dada"-saying, sweet, funny, adorable person is pretty incredible. But one year of parenthood/Claire-hood deserves its own post, so I'll leave it at that for now.


After about a week of multiple nighttime wake ups and too short naps, we (I HOPE) are back to normal around here. She is doing great at night 98% of the time, and still does best when she gets two naps a day. We were on vacation last week and completely messed with her schedule, and she did really well. The routine is essential to everyone's happiness, but it's helpful to know we don't have to be obsessive about it.


She is, yes, still nursing, about 4 times per day. All attempts to wean have been met with STRONG resistance. She does completely fine when I'm not around and will enthusiastically take a bottle of milk. If we're together, though, she will not accept any substitute snacks or liquids. So, rather than trying to force something that she is clearly not ready for, we're going to stick with nursing for now. I am fairly confident I will not be breastfeeding her when she goes off to college, so I'm not to worried about it.

She continues to have a hearty appetite and eats most of the stuff we give her. Sometimes she looks us right in the eye and throws it on the floor, which drives both of us a little crazy, but hey, welcome to life with a kid. I made cupcakes for her birthday, and she was a BIG FAN. We also ordered her her very first kid's meal at a Mexican restaurant last week during our trip, and that turned out to be a good idea. She can EAT, so having bites of food off of our plates will no longer tide her over for long.

cupcakes and paparazzi


She is super close to walking, so I know one of these days she'll take off. She cruises along the furniture and will sometimes stand without holding onto anything. Standing and looking out the window is one of her favorite things.

clapping without reservation

Otherwise, she continues to say "dada" and "baba" along with many other sounds, so she clearly has a lot on her mind. No real words yet, and no "mama," though not for a lack of effort on my part. She waves, points at everything, and holds up her pointer finger when we ask how old she is. When we read books, she will point to things when asked (particularly balloons), and it is SO COOL to realize how much she understands.


The beach, swimming, opening drawers/cupboards/everything, taking all the books off her shelf, dancing


Not being able to hold onto whatever she wants to hold onto (eg Brian brushes her teeth before bed, and she DOES NOT want to let go of that toothbrush when it's time to leave the bathroom), diaper changes, riding in the car for too long

In sum, we are really glad to be here. Having a newborn is a unique and beautiful experience, but it is tough, raw, and exhausting. Having a one-year-old is exhausting in its own way, but it is also so much fun.