Sunday, July 29, 2012

Closing one chapter, beginning a thrilling new story...

So, I vowed not to become one of those bloggers who disappeared for more than a few days without providing any updates. Well, as loyal readers can tell (and thanks to all our followers for your interest), it has been a while since our last post. But, don't worry, it has all turned out with really terrific results. I apologize for not providing an update sooner, but we were without Internet for a week, and we've been crazy busy the rest of the time. Anyway, here is a much overdue update on what has been going on.

- We closed on July 19th, but not before a little excitement. I had blogged a while back about the fact that we were doing a loan through USDA, and everything seemed to be going well. But, it took a while before we got the final green light from there (there were no issues, they were just really slow), so we didn't know until two days before closing that we had the go-ahead. That meant a lot of last-minute shopping for things (hello ceiling fans!) and we hadn't even packed because we were afraid closing could be delayed a week. But, it all worked out in the end.

- We have a resolution to the rock issue. I'm going to do a separate blog post on this in the next week or so (I promise to do better with the blogging updates), but the final verdict is, we're keeping our unexpected find. I'll get into more of the details in that next post, but the cliff notes version is that the rock could not be removed without major issues, and that Ryan Homes has gone out of their way to make sure we are satisfied with the end result. The transformation isn't complete yet (it should be done in the next week or so), but we are actually quite happy with the end result. Kudos for Ryan for making a difficult situation turn out for the best for everyone.

- Since closing, we have been quite busy with work inside the house. You don't realize how much work it is to unpack until you start doing it. But we are making progress. Lauren, my super wife, has already installed six ceiling fans and only has four more to go. We have most of our garage unpacked, and even have the kids' rooms nicely done.

Ah, but I know what you are thinking. All of these updates are nice, but where are the pictures? Here are some of the photos to show just how well things turned out for us.

We recreated the scene we've seen on other blogs. It was such a special moment to open the front door for the first time as a family. 

Six months ago, we never thought we'd see these so quickly. But since then, we sold one house (in three weeks!) and bought what is truly our dream home. We are blessed so much by all of this - words can't even express what it has been like. 

Our happy kids. They spent their first day at our neighborhood amenity center Saturday, soaking up the first of many fun days there. We haven't been able to have a lot of those kinds of adventures lately with everything going on, but soon they can look forward to many more days like that. 

A little surprise we had in store for the kids. We put their names on their doors, with a sign that showed a little of their character (guess what Hannah is interested in). 

McKenna shows how happy she is with her new room - now she won't have to share with her sister anymore. 

Alden is becoming my sports buddy. We can't wait to play NBA Jam and cheer on the Panthers in our new home. 

Our last look at our kitchen before we moved everything in. Much of the house doesn't look this neat right now - there are still many boxes left to go, but we have made a lot of progress in just over a week. 

What better way to celebrate than to break out a little Rock Band? Alden and Hannah prepare to sing "21 Guns" by Green Day with me on guitar and McKenna on drums. We look forward to many more "concerts" in our newly created bonus room

I'll try to post more pictures soon, including the final version of the rock. (you won't want to miss that one). Thanks again for reading, and we hope everyone's experience with Ryan Homes turns out as well as ours did. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Even prettier than our home

When I write something for the blog, my wife Lauren usually reads it over and approves it before I post it. But not this post. This post is about her, and how blessed I am to be sharing this special moment, a moment we've been waiting a year for, with her.

When I proposed to Lauren three years ago, I did it with a 40-page book that included many of the emails and texts we had sent to each other (I proposed after she finished the last page). One of the emails I sent her talked about all the moments I couldn't wait to share with her in the future. This will certainly be one of those moments.

This house will be Lauren's first - I had our previous house before I even met her. It is the first house that she's been able to choose the colors, pick out the furniture, and really have a say in how it would turn out. And it has turned out to be almost as pretty as she is (but not quite). :) Going from our old house to our new house has been a roller coaster ride, filled with many twists and turns along the way, but I couldn't imagine sharing those moments with anyone else.

Lauren is so sweet - she has kept my head up when we've faced challenges, and has been such an inspiration to me. It's funny, because just the other day, we talked about how we never dreamed we'd have such a great new house to move into. Yet, in many ways, I feel the same way about being married to her. I never thought I could find someone who could make me as happy as she does. Lauren is a great wife, a terrific mom, and someone who I'll get to wake up next to for many, many years to come. As thrilled as I am about the house, I am even more thrilled about that.

But, for now, I get to look forward to what's next. It will be an emotional day when we get the keys. I hope all my fellow bloggers cherish the moment they get their keys, and appreciate the person they've shared this journey with. I know I do.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The grass is greener on our side of the fence...

O.K., so there really isn't a fence, but we now have grass in the front yard. Seeing the grass, combined with the landscaping, really pulls the house together. We are still scheduled to close in 9 days (aaaahhh!) but we really can't wait. After seeing some of these pictures, you will understand why. :)

We are so thrilled with how the outside of the house looks. They'll of course remove the dumpsters and pressure wash the driveway, but you get the general idea. It's amazing to think we went from making choices from swatches to what we have now. Like I said when we started the blog, "Don't act like you're not impressed!" :)

A nice look at the landscaping that comes with the home. We have some more landscaping to come in the back (foreshadowing!) but we'll get into that in another post. 

Hard to believe we were looking at this just two months ago. Now, we get this...

We feel very blessed to be able to call this house our home very soon. The kids are so excited too, and we can really sense just how close we are to realizing our dream. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our house is almost our home....

When you're two weeks away from closing and you really get that first extended walk into your house, it is an amazing feeling. We had the keys today, giving us an extended day to really look at our new home. We had seen it briefly Monday with our PM Abe, but today we were able to spend a couple hours just walking around and soaking it all in. This house will be our "forever" home, the home that Lauren and I will spend the next 30 years together in (sorry Lauren). :) We've built it with the future in mind, and we could really see that future when we walked in today.

They put up the number for the house. It's such a small thing, but in many ways it is a big deal. 

A good peek at our guest bedroom downstairs, with French doors at the entrance. For those who don't know, this room and the guest bathroom replace the living room and dining room downstairs (and also makes the pantry enormous - 4 x 8 feet)

The guest bathroom. This bathroom is basically identical to the secondary bathroom upstairs. 

A view from inside the guest room, showing the French doors and how the hardwood complements the carpet.  

Here's the morning room with the flooring. We opted to skip the optional windows due to the heat of North Carolina summers (and after the temperature reached 104 Saturday, we are thankful for our decision).  

A good photo of the stairs and spindles. (it's amazing the pictures you can get from a phone nowadays).

The powder room downstairs. 

The glorious kitchen, with the stove and microwave installed. We think having black appliances will reduce fingerprints and also help to pull all of our colors together. 

The refrigerator isn't quite in yet - unless Abe is trying to say he likes it better in the middle of the walkway. :) But you get the general idea of the kitchen with the crown moulding above. 

Our kids are so very excited. We spent three hours at the house today, but we would have been there even longer if it had electricity. (that's coming in the next few days, so maybe we'll bring sleeping bags). :)

Spending so much time at the house also gave Lauren and I the chance to really comb through everything. We found around five things that we would like our PM Abe to fix, including some creaks upstairs and a bit of minor damage to the kitchen floor at the dishwasher. But he has two weeks to fix those things and just touch up the rest of the house. We think that should be plenty of time for him, because the next two weeks will feel like a month for us. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Today was a good day

We are less than three weeks away from getting the keys to the house. I checked with NVR and their underwriters have approved our mortgage and they expect USDA to do the same in the next week or two. We had a brief meeting with our PM Abe at the house about the rock issue (we're getting closer to a resolution) and while we were there, we uncovered some new sights.

This photo was taken last week and we forgot to post it. All of the flooring is uncovered and cleaned as of today.

Today, we arrived just as the tile dudes finished up the tile backsplash. We love the accent clips.

Another glorious view of our backsplash.

Here's a view of our hardwood uncovered.

Kevin and our PM Abe honoring the little-known holiday - yellow polo shirt day.

We had a quick walkthrough of the house with Abe today and he answered a few minor questions we had. We didn't have doorknobs on our closet doors in the bonus room, but he explained that they are coming. We will get "dummy knobs" that match our other knobs, but don't move or lock. Since our bonus room closet was a modification, those knobs were not included in the original order of knobs. 

Speaking of knobs, it's harder to visit our house because it's locked every day now. Boo!!! We'll have to make arrangements with our SR Amber to pick up the key. Thankfully, we only have to do that for a couple of weeks.

Our final walkthrough is still scheduled for 2 weeks from today (YIKES!) and everything is right on schedule.