Tuesday, May 31, 2011

House Hunting: It's sorta what we've been up to

As you know, we've been renting a house. I actually love renting. These days when a home is more of a liability than an asset--and definitely no longer an investment--renting kind of redefines the American dream. BUT there's this whole issue of settling in. I am not settled in to our rental. There are only 2 clocks on the wall and one poster up in the boys' room. And in full disclosure, that poster covers up a hole in the wall (no, we did not put the hole there). Plus we have stacks and stacks of boxes in the garage that have not yet been unpacked.

So I'd love to have a place to call my own so I could paint the walls the color I want them, put things on those walls, and unpack the boxes. We're aiming for November to be out of here and into a place of our own.

Even though that gives us 6 months, being the impatient people we are, we have been poring over listing after listing. A few things that bother me about homes up here:

1. First and foremost: no Central Air!! Our rental has no means of AC either. At this point it has kind of a been a game to see how long we can go before we give in and buy some of those ugly AC units you hang out of your window. In the listings, they describe them as "individual cooling units"; makes them sound so posh, doesn't it? I hate to buy them, though, in the off-chance we purchase a house that actually has added that modern convenience of central air! You might think the northeast is ahead of the times, but I'm telling you - just look at the AC situation, and you'll see they are in fact behind the times!

2. No garages or detached garages: This is actually not an issue for us because I have specified in my search that I only want to look at homes with a garage. But there are A LOT of homes out there without a garage. Again we must look at the average age of the homes here; I mean who would park a horse and carriage in a garage anyway? As for me, however, I will take a house that is just a garage if I have to, but I will not live with having to dig my car out of 6 feet of snow just so I can go pick up a gallon of milk at the grocery store.

3. If you're from the south, you know that most homes have a master suite, which means there is a master bedroom with a private bathroom connected to the room. Well, here, again probably because of the age of homes, it is not as common. So when there IS a master suite, the listing will say, "possible in-law suite". OK, I get that too EXCEPT that these are descriptions on homes that are sometimes right at 2000 square feet. That's not THAT small, but it's not huge. Throw in my 4 kids...well, I love my in-laws, but that really would be kind of crowded, wouldn't it?

4. I described our rental house in a past post and explained how there are like 12 different types of flooring in it. I see that in the majority of the homes I see on realtor.com. Each room has different carpet. Now I saw a friend's house who did that tastefully, and the different colors complemented the theme of the room, but with these, there will be one room that has bright green carpet, another with mauve, another with bright red.

5. Some of our top choices have an above ground pool in the backyard. Why in the world do so many people up here have pools that they can only use for 2 months out of the year? I guess maybe because they don't have AC. I don't know.

6. The prices of the homes aren't too bad, though CT has certainly not been hit like GA in the housing crisis, so prices aren't bombed and homes are still moving. BUT the price of a home can be misleading if you are trying to work up a budget because you have to take the property tax into consideration. The property taxes up here are outrageous. I have not found a single house with property taxes even close to the little we paid in GA. Most times, the property tax comes close to doubling your mortgage! I'm surprised everyone here hasn't just up and moved to GA.

OK, I'm done griping. There are some good points about the homes here. Because they are old, they are full of character. Also, many of them have been renovated but the character retained. So it has been interesting looking at the homes. Our top pick right now was built in 1912! It's fascinating to think of all of the voices that have echoed down the halls of that home...if the walls could talk, huh?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Disney 2011 - Magic Kingdom

Well, I am sure taking my sweet time getting to these Disney pictures, aren't I? Just trying to make the memories last longer...

parade Mickey

My kids always prefer Epcot to Magic Kingdom, but we have a good time at Mickey and Minnie's house anyway. This year was especially fun because the kids' cousins were there.


girls talking

It was a little crowded (after Labor Day is always better for smaller crowds). And it was a little hot, but that problem is easily solved:
ice cream Audrey

It was a good day!
American flag castle

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Disney 2011 - Where We Stayed

Jambo House sign

This is the second time we have stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and we always enjoy it. We love the decor, especially the fact that many of the artifacts are from our African home countries.

We love the African food, and the view from our balcony was awesome:
animals ostrich

animals giraffe4

animals gazelle

animals cranes

animals zebra b&w

animals zebra & giraffe

And of course we were treated wonderfully...it's Disney magic!
It all started with a mouse

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Disney 2011 - Getting There

While I miss being so very far from the warmth of the Sunshine State, I have to admit that a 2 1/2 hour plane ride down was a whole lot more enjoyable than an 8-hour road trip. The airplane is still a bit of a novelty to the kids; the car, well, it is not. Needless to say, they were excited to head to the airport last Saturday to board the jet.

We didn't leave until mid-afternoon, but we got there early enough to have a little time to hang out at the airport.


cutie Jake

airplane lollipop

iPad Michael

Alex & Audrey

We did not go to Disney straight from the airport. Since we didn't arrive until evening, we decided not to use any of our Disney Vacation Club points for a few hours' sleep. So we used our Marriott points instead and stayed a a Courtyard. Honestly, I didn't care where we stayed; I was just happy to be in tropical paradise again!
palm trees

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Things I Accomplished During My Blog Hiatus

I did not intentionally take a break from the blog. I just didn't feel like writing. It happens sometimes. But I discovered during my break that I can get an awful lot accomplished when my fingers are not tied to my keyboard or the shutter of my camera. Here's a taste of what I've been up to:

1. Spring cleaning. Not that you can tell now that I was spring cleaning a week ago.

2. Planning school for next year.

3. Paying more attention to the kiddos.

4. A week at Disney World. More to follow on that if I can get my act together and wade through the hundreds of pictures. Actually, I found I did not take as many photos this time as usual because we visited our regular spots, and I have all the great photos from those spots already. Want to see them? Just click on the Disney label on my right sidebar!
Mickey towels

5. Unpacked.

6. More cleaning.

7. And today began what I have observed to be about a semi-annual occurrence in our house: we change things around. As an MK (missionary kid), I have ants in my pants and want nothing more than to move around. The longest I have been at one address in my life is 7 years. In missionary boarding school, we left our school every 3 months to go home. When we returned from vacation, we had a new room, a new roommate. So every few months, I feel the need to change things up a bit. NOT that I'm going to get a new roomy, but I do like the change.

We just closed on the sale of our Georgia home, so we tossed about the idea of taking the plunge again and finding our forever home here in CT. But we decided to stick it out here a few more months. That will help out our landlord, and the more time we spend here, the more money we can save for a down payment.

With that in mind, I decided to better set up the house for school. Since we rarely have guests, I am turning the guest room into a school room by bringing in a table from storage. Of course, guests are still welcome, and one of the kids will be happy to relinquish his or her bed to a guest. So we have kept busy today making the move. Of course, I'm sure my husband wishes there had been a little more "me" in the "we", but it's getting done nonetheless.

Things I learned during my hiatus:
1. The world does not stop revolving if I skip a day--or 15--blogging.

2. God's creation continues to be beautiful,

and my children keep on being adorable even if I am not photographing every moment.
close-up Audrey

Who knew?

Pictures and details of Disney to come...