Monday, June 19, 2017

A Special Father's Day Weekend

Happy Father's day to all the wonderful dads in this world. I know of many and am so thankful for the one that I call dad and my husband who is dad to my two little guys. May father-in-law is pretty amazing and my Grandpa-in-law (is that a thing?!) is so wonderful too. William and Stephen are so blessed to have several strong, smart, and compassionate men in their lives.

This weekend was very special as we had two wonderful people join us on Saturday and Sunday: Chris's mom, Sheryl and her dad, Ray! So, not only did we get to celebrate Chris but we got to celebrate Ray too! It also meant that we got to take a four-generation photograph (which we missed doing at Christmas).

This was Ray's first time visiting us. It may have also been his first time to California! He was traveling around visiting other family members and we were blessed to get the weekend together. We had a great weekend with plenty of sunshine.

It was also a special weekend for us because Chris was asked to preach at church that Sunday! It was his first time behind the pulpit and he gave a really great message about the father in the story of the prodigal son. I'm hoping he can type it out for you all so you can "hear" it. He worked so hard preparing it; although he said he was nervous, he did fabulous. If his scratchy throat would have left him alone, it would have been perfect. I am so proud of him!

On Saturday we spent the morning at a nearby park and the boys all sat in the grass playing and watching some guys play basketball. After the afternoon naps Ray took us out to eat at Super Duper Burger. We rarely go out with the kids so it was nice to have reinforcements. And they didn't do that bad.

On Sunday, we went to church and had take-out at home so the boys could nap. Stephen has been testing out what life is like with just one nap in the morning so the afternoon was a little rough. We we were all very tired after lunch and stayed inside and rested. 

Then we headed out on a brief walk to take some photographs together (the ones posted in the blog). We stumbled onto this tree swing and William loved it! We may have to head back there soon.

Stephen is 13 months old now and it's fitting that Nana came to visit again this June. She had stayed with us a year ago when he was born and although we've seen each other a couple of times since then, the difference between a newborn and a one year old is amazing. He really doesn't seem like the same baby! He isn't fully walking yet but he has taken a couple of steps here and there. It won't be long now!

One comment I hear a lot is about Stephen's curls. The top of his hair is fairly straight and looks very similar to William's hair at the same age, but the back of his hair is all curls all the time! I love them. So, although he was done taking photographs, I couldn't miss the opportunity to snap a few of his curls.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Preschool Days

William started preschool last September and although the program he was in is a year-round program we decided to keep him home over the summer. Of course, I'm late in posting it, but here is his first-day photo next to his last-day photo:

I wasn't put together enough to take the photos before the day began so these are after school, which was at noon -- lunch time. The first day, he got into the mud and came home in boots that didn't belong to us! He was just about turn three.

The last day of school was just last week, May 30. He had finished his lunch in the car on the way home. And although you can't see mud on his pants, he has dirt all over his face and hands (because I always to forget to wash him up before I hand him his sandwich). He is just over 3 1/2 years old.

In just nine months, I feel like my boy has grown so much! Somehow he still looks a little baby-ish in the first photo and not at all in the second. How is this possible! I wasn't ready for this.

He loved school and made a lot of friends. He also got into some mischief and had trouble following the rules. It was an all outdoor program and I think that suited William really well. He got a lot of fresh air, played in sand, dirt and mud and came home exhausted.  

Sending him to preschool wasn't really in our master plan but I'm glad we did. It was good for me too. Even if it was one of our top three bills to pay and was hard to swallow some months, I think it was the best for our family.

And now for summer fun!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Housing Update: When God Answers

It's been six weeks since I've given you a housing update and it's not because I didn't want to share. I did. But the things I would have written would have been speculation and hope and a whirlwind of emotions, not a sure thing. Until today. Now I know what to say.

Back in March, our lottery number was drawn for a brand new condo I mentioned here. It was drawn! Out of hundreds of numbers, ours was picked! There were 11 total units and ours was the third one. We were stoked and a little bit scared. This was a huge answer to our prayers! And then all the "buts" and "what ifs" started. And the lack of understanding the process would hit us day after day.

Even though we were third on the list, there were several other applicants ahead of us due to a couple of laws in our city government. Those that live in the same neighborhood as the available condo are given first priority and those that were evicted under the Ellis Act are also given priority. And then us -- the ones who just want to stay in the city. So after weeks of waiting for it to be "our turn" and doubting that there would be a 2-bedroom even available we continued trusting (and trying to wait) that God would indeed work this whole thing out.

And the waiting was a blessing too. In that six weeks, Chris went to several interviews (remember his employer ran out of funding? So we've been living on savings since February) and today he starts a new job! We couldn't very well get a mortgage if we didn't have an income. This is another answer to our prayers! But let me back up.

"Our turn" came up last Thursday. We received an email that our application was approved and we could move forward with the process. The process being, viewing and selecting our condo out of the available units and then working with our bank to get our loan. There were four 2-bedrooms available when we went to the viewing on Sunday afternoon. Another answer to prayer! After looking at them (some more than once) we made our selection and drove home, not at all excited. What?!

You read that right. We just didn't feel comfortable with the space. It is a brand new condo in a really great neighborhood with beautiful parks and a library all in walking distance. But that two bedroom, two bathroom condo felt so tiny. The bathrooms and designer kitchen were stunning and made me a little giddy, there was even a fitness center on site. And having in-unit washer/dryer and garage parking were things I've had high on my priority list for years. But the bedrooms were tiny and picturing our two boys sharing one tiny room (where two twin beds may or may not even fit) was just depressing. And the living room/dining room was fairly small too. There wouldn't have been space for a couch and a dining room table. Hosting has been something Chris and I love doing and the thought of having to get a small table for the four of us in order to have space for a couch was hard to consider. None of our current furniture would fit well here. And where would the toys go?

We currently live in 600 square feet and we have a lot of open floor space for the boys to play. We wouldn't have any floor space in this new home even if it was 850 square feet. The layout left us wanting more. We can get rid of a lot of stuff and go all-out-minimalist and even go broke buying fancy "tiny-house" friendly furniture . . . I've come up with a few ideas so far.

Was it worth going into debt to live in a space we would most likely outgrow in a few years? (Even with the below-market rate price it is still expensive.) And then there is the HOA which just sounded snooty. I understand they want the building to look and stay a certain way but telling me which curtains I can hang made me want to scream.

The weight of this decision sucked the air out of me and left me even more sleepless than the previous weeks of insomnia I've suffered. Chris and I talked it out over and over and kept coming to the same conclusion. It just isn't for us. And that stinks. We've seen God answer all of these prayer requests in the past six weeks and then to come to this conclusion? Are we crazy? Can beggars be choosers? Shouldn't we be grateful for this opportunity and just take it?

Over and over again we said "no." We don't have to take this. God is still in control and can still provide for our needs. And wouldn't you know it! There is an older 3 bedroom/2 bath below-market-rate condo available for resale. The lottery for this unit (there is only one) is next month. Please pray that somehow our number be drawn again!