Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving to you, and Happy Anniversary to us!

Today is our 4-year anniversary, and the best one so far. It's also Thanksgiving, and we have so much to be thankful for. We are so blessed to be moving to this area--Doug's job, our home, the schools, our pre-school, the church we'll go to, opportunities for Doug to preach. I think NC is going to be very good for we Bakers. Praise God for his wonderful and generous gifts.

Happy Thankgsiving, everyone!

Other Stuff

Not only did we find a wonderful house, which, by the way, was lived in by one family for 15 years. And they did a marvelous job of keeping it up--everything is new within the past three years or so.

But we also checked out lots of schools. I am not thrilled at all with our base school, in fact, I know our children won't be going there. Our base year-round school is better, but the principal has not been good, and over the past three years test scores have declined and parents have been unhappy. However, we have three more years until Brad will start kindergarten, and a lot can happen in the WCPSS in three years. And--a very big and--the schools here are excellent and fluid. You can pretty much decide where you want your child to go, and the schools here are SO much better than the DC area. In DC we would have either had to send the kids to a poor public school, or break the bank with private school tuition. We really like the school options here.

Anyway, the best thing about our year-round school (and I am so thrilled that they offer year-round schools) is that it is right across the street from Doug's office! How wonderful is that? He can stop in for the class play if he wanted to! Which should tell you about the distance from our house to the school/his office: it's not far at all. He'll have, on a very bad day, a 15 minute commute.

We also found an excellent pre-school and I need to confirm our enrollment for January tomorrow. I toured a billion facilities, and this one is 20 minutes away from our home, by far the furthest away, but it's really the best one. So we'll be paying a small fortune for the privilege of sending our children there, but it's only for three years for Brad, tuition decreases every year as the kids get older, and I will have complete peace of mind, knowing this is an excellent school.

So the pre-school is 20 minutes away from our house, Doug's office and the elementary school are about 10 minutes away, and I really hope to find a job that is not much further than that. I am thrilled to death to be giving up the Washington commute--what a waste of time. I spend 2 1/2 hours (at least!) on the road each day--that's 2 1/2 hours that I can now spend with my family. Are we excited? No, not at all!

They're Here!

We have pictures! We arrived at the house for the inspection only to discover that our camera had broken again. We're going to have to get it repaired again, or possibly get a new one. Anyway, our wonderful inspector offered to let us use his camera, and he just emailed me all 34 pictures! Such a nice guy. Without further delay, may we present:

Our home

Outside

The house itself. Oma approves of the landscaping. She says we have two beautiful, low-maintenance English rose bushes, and two rosemary plants in the front yard. I told her she's going to have to give me gardening lessons. It's going to look gorgeous in spring with the roses blooming!

The view from the front porch (we're in a cul-de-sac!)

The view from the back deck--we love that we back up into woods. It's a beautiful view and offers a bit of privacy. Plus, the backyard is pretty maintenance free--no mowing to do!

The swingset that Brad is just going to love, and Anne will too someday.
When you walk through the front door, you have the coat closet directly in front of you, with the hallway to the kitchen slightly to your left, and the dining room on your right. We knew we were going to like this house right away because you walk into crown molding and hardwood floors. Plus, there is a defined entrance area--you're not walking right into a room or up stairs, which not all houses we looked at had.

This is the dining room on your right, with the crown molding, chair rail, and hardwoods.

This is a blurry picture of two very nice features: a programmable thermostat, and a swinging door into the kitchen--I love that door!
This is the kitchen, which didn't look so great in the photographs on the realtor's website. Those cabinets are new, and include a lazy Susan, which I really like, and the counter tops are just lovely. This is our realtor, Debbie Braxton, with FM Realty.
You can see here the tile back splash, which is throughout the kitchen, and the very nice refrigerator. We'll probably need to replace the stove in a few years. The dishwasher is new. The white door leads to a good sized pantry. There's also another pantry/storage area that I didn't get a picture of--we'll have plenty of space!

This is the eating area, overlooking the back deck, and the family room to the left.
The family room has the same hardwoods (in fact, the first floor is entirely hardwoods) and crown molding, plus a working fireplace (which everyone seems to have down here). The fireplace needs a clamp to keep the damper open, and the fan lights buzz, so we'll have to fix those things.

This completes your tour of the first floor. I'm realizing that I did not take pictures of the garage or the basement! Almost no homes here have basements, and this house has one. It's partially finished, and it's where Doug's office and books will be. Plus, there are two large unfinished sections which we will probably finish in ten years. I suppose we could put a bathroom down there if we wanted to. You also walk out of the basement into the back yard, which is nice. The basement was a huge selling point for us--I'm so sorry I forgot to take pictures!
We're now upstairs, in what will be Brad's room. The paladian window you saw on the front of the house is actually his bedroom window. The upstairs is going to need the most work. We're going to remove the wall paper here, and paint the entire upstairs, including doors. I'm thinking blue for Brad's room, and I have the shade I want in my mind, but I can't describe it. But it's going to be nice.

This will be Anne's room, which I'm going to paint green, and again, I know the shade that I want. I plan on accenting the green with a purple flowery motif. So it won't be a sickly sweet pink girly room--it's going to be a delicate, feminine green/purple foresty room. The blinds in this room need to be replaced as well. One of my other favorite features of the house: this fan!

This is the master bedroom, which looks small, but is actually a nice size. We'll paint in here as well.
And these are the doors to the master bath....wait 'til you see that!
This is the jacuzzi tub in the master bath, overlooking the backyard. The floor in the bath is tiled and beautiful, and the window on the tub has blinds that you pull up, rather than pull down, so you can have light and privacy.

The master bath sink: I love the light fixtures, and the top and cabinets are the same as the kitchen.
The best feature: these faucets! They're so elegant and charming--Doug and I both love them.

The master bath shower, which is actually bigger than most of the other showers we saw. Most of them were one door, and you stepped into a tiny shower. This actually has a little seat and is a nice size. The shower head (sorry, I didn't get a picture of it), is new and has a lot of features.

The master bedroom closet, which is a decent sized closet. The white boxes on the left go with the sellers, but the ones at the end are built-in.
The children's bath, which we will obviously be painting. The shower handle leaks, so we'll need to have a plumber fix that. And eventually, a few years down the road, we'll have the floor and sink replaced (floor is vinyl and I'm not keen on the sink). The toilet is an eco-flush....our inspector was impressed by that. There's also a solar panel on the roof.

And this is the infamous 4th bedroom/bonus room/home theater. We will be painting and replacing the carpet in here. There is another window on the other side of the room, so it should be nice and bright when we get done with it. I'm not sure what this room will be...probably a guest room?

The laundry room (with Maytag appliances) is off the bonus room.

And this is a little closet off the bonus room, which I think they're using as their server room. We'll probably use it as a closet. What's behind the door, you ask?

Lots of attic space! So, for those of you keeping track, we have attic space and basement space: a rare find here in NC.

So, this concludes the tour of the new Baker Family abode. Our checklist before move in day is:
Repair fan light buzzing in family room
Get clamp for fireplace
Fix leaking in upstairs bath
Remove wallpaper in Brad's room (and stickers from ceiling)
Paint entire upstairs (including doors)
Replace Anne's blinds
Carpet the bonus room
Fix stairs to basement (they squeak terribly)
Carpet said stairs

And that's it! Very minor things and we'll be able to move in very quickly. We're thrilled to death to find this house and VERY excited about moving in.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Still here...

We are supposed to be on vacation, but we have been running all over Cary getting things done. Doug is working at his office, and he had a stack of paperwork about an inch thick that needed to be filled out (which is good, because the more paperwork, the better the benefits!).

Between yesterday and today we:
Contracted on a house
Contacted three lenders and received two GFEs (still waiting on the third)
Contacted two insurance brokers and received estimates
Picked an insurance broker
Called two movers for estimates (need to call one more)
Visited seven preschools and called a bunch more
Tentatively decided on a preschool
Filled out a mountain of paperwork for Doug's new job
Filled out a mountain of paperwork for our realtor
Filled out a mountain of paperwork for the finance guys

Tomorrow we will:
Visit one more school
Select a school
Go to our home inspection (and take pictures) and make of list of what we want fixed/painted
Post pictures to our blog (so stay tuned!)
Start getting estimates for someone to paint/carpet/do anything else
Lock on a loan
Go to dinner to celebrate our 4th anniversary!

Please pray for me: I still need to hire someone for my job and I'm having a hard time of it...I'm just not getting a lot of resumes to choose from. And if you are in the DC area and know of anyone that is a good accounting/office manager, send them my way!

Here's a pic of our babies, whom we miss:

Monday, November 19, 2007

We got it!

The sellers accepted our offer! And, they will be paying up to $5,000 in closing costs! The inspection is scheduled for Wednesday, and we're tentatively closing December 17th. I'm going to take some pics during the inspection and will try to post them that day.

We are SO thrilled!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We did it!

We just put an offer on a house!!! We're waiting to hear back from the sellers and should hear from them by tomorrow evening. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this house. Everyone pray that we get it!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

House Hunting

We are in Cary, NC (just south of Raleigh) looking at homes. We visited 16 (!) today, and immediately narrowed it down to five. Upon further reflection by ourselves at dinner and reviewing our needs and the photos online, we've crossed off three more, leaving ourselves with two very nice options. We're pleased with both, though there is an issue with each house which we have to work through.

Our broker is sending us more listings tonight so we can go out tomorrow after church for yet another pass. We will probably make an offer this week! More updates to follow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Congratulations!

Aunt Lyndsey passed the bar! We now have an attorney in the family, so you can take all your legal woes to this woman:Don't those chubby cheeks inspire confidence?

Congrats, Lynds--we love you!

Mt. Vernon

Brad is the one in the lower right hand corner.


Doug took Brad to Mt. Vernon for the day a few weeks ago while Anne and I had some Mommy-n-Anne time at home. Brad had a great time (and so did Daddy!).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One more update...

...thanks for all the emails about our (poor) health. Doug is fully recovered from the kidney stone, Brad's MRI is done, Anne has an appointment tomorrow to see the doctor, and my sore throat is almost gone. Just in time for vacation/Thanksgiving!

Update



Brad did really well during his MRI today. He was actually pretty wound up and wild when we arrived at JHU. Thankfully, they got us in fairly quickly. And this year they had him lay down on the stretcher while the medicine was being administered, which was a much better idea than having me hold him, which is what happened last year. He was pretty restless as he dropped off, and it was a good thing he was laying down.

When he woke up he was hungry, and then promptly fell asleep again while I drove around really awful parts of Baltimore, completely lost, until Doug came to my rescue from NC with Google maps (thank you Doug, and thank you, Google!). He was pretty out of this afternoon, too. I tried to keep an eye on him and didn't let him walk around much, because he couldn't walk that well, but he still managed to fall off of the couch.

Doug is taking him back up on the 27th to meet with the neurosurgeon for the results.

Pictured above is Brad is his new jammies from Nana and Papa Frank. He LOVES these pajamas, and requests them every night. He's always sad when they're in the wash. I always ask people to buy bigger clothes than he needs, so he can wear them a long time, and these pjs are a little big--he walks around the house holding his pants up with his hands, and every few minutes he'll come up to me and say, Mama, my pants fell down! As if he's totally surprised and they didn't just fall down five minutes ago. He is absolutely hilarious in them!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My baby

Poor Brad. He had no idea why I was fattening him up at dinner tonight. "Do you want more pasta, sweetie? Okay, here you go....How about an oatmeal square? Would you like one? And some crackers--you like crackers? No, you want cheerios? Okay, here's a bowl. And cheese, would you like a cheese stick? Do you want another oatmeal square?"

He's too young to realize that something is seriously wrong when Mommy is offering all of his favorite foods at once. (Mayday! Mayday! Not the natural order of things!)

He can't eat anything else before the MRI tomorrow--he can have apple juice until 8am, but that's it. This is the kid who wakes up asking for food. And the worst part is that I have to feed Anne in front of him. I can just see the waterworks and tantrums tomorrow morning when Anne gets a nice big bowl of oatmeal and a bottle and Brad gets...apple juice. Until I take it away from him. Poor kid.

I had some pics to post, but Blogger is giving me error messages, so I'll try again tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's Official:

Doug is the new Director of Public Relations for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Say that five times fast.

We're moving to NC!!!! Finally, an affordable home and good public schools. Too bad I can't take my office and transplant it in Cary. :( Well, it's a new opportunity for us, and we get to see family more often (hi, Oma--see you next week!), and I'm excited.

On a different note, we Bakers are falling apart. Doug was in the ER yesterday with a kidney stone (in Greensboro, NC, without me!), I'm home from work with a throat so sore it hurts to move my neck, Anne (still) has a runny nose, and Brad is about to have another MRI (Wednesday). Please pray for us!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Three Years Old



Here are the last two pics from our session. To everyone who received pics of Anne: if you have a preference regarding a picture of Brad (pose/size), let me know. I can definitely accommodate size, and will try to accommodate pose preference.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Three year pics

We're portrait club members at JC Penney, so that's where we usually get our pictures taken, but yesterday I left my coupons at home and sometimes they give out coupons, but they would not do that yesterday. And the line was a mile long, and we had some trouble with them in the past...I don't want to get into it right here.

So we ended up at the Picture People and paid a fortune for 8 5 x 7s ($76!!!!!). I really wanted 8 x 10s, but every time they tried to blow them up to 8 x 10, the picture was blurry. (which is why we don't usually go to the picture people, either: another long wait, and terrible prints--beautiful poses, but terrible prints--I had a bad experience with them when Brad was a newborn and swore never to return....I broke my word, and have re-learned my lesson. We won't be going back again). I need to re-think this whole picture thing for the long term--either you get terrible poses and cheap, good-looking prints at JC Penney, or you get fantastic poses and expensive, awful prints at the Picture People. I think it's time to find a good professional photographer.

At any rate, I headed home with 8 5 x 7s, and I've scanned them in and determined that the dpi is entirely sufficient to print 8 x 10s, so I've concluded that the problem is their software/printer, and I've ordered 8 x 10s from Snapfish. So, having said all that, here are the first two pics. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to see the next two, and believe me, you'll want to see tomorrow's.



Don't worry, I'll be mailing pictures to everyone who received pictures of Anne.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Trains!




More trains. Lots of trains. Loads of trains. Have I mentioned how sick I am of trains?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Anne modeling the purple bow



This is a Tommy Hilfiger outfit that I got for Anne when we were up in Strasburg, PA--it was one of the best deals of the day!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Birthday Dinner




We took Brad to his favorite place for dinner: Red Robin. It's a really great family restaurant. He was a little stunned when all the waiters started singing to him, but I think he enjoyed it.

Regarding the onion rings: he saw a tower being carried to another table and wanted to order them. Why not, I said, it's his birthday--so we ordered them. And he loved them!

Rides at the mall




After Brad's birthday dinner we went to the mall and let Brad ride the carousel three times in a row! He and Anne love to make each other laugh--they do this all the time now--Brad will run down the hallway and Anne will just die laughing. And then he'll do it again, and again. I love sweet moments like these--too bad they all can't be like this (I won't tell you about the fire-truck incident this morning...let's just say it was confiscated and Anne now has a bruise on her head, poor thing).