Thursday, December 30, 2010

Promised Pictures

So it's taken a while, but here are the pictures I promised! We have taken a lot recently, but they have mostly been with Jon's camera and neither of us know how to upload pictures from it yet. The quality puts my pictures to shame though, so those will be worth the wait! To tide you over:

Ella with her friend Tayler (they've been friends since they were 18 months)

After the first snow of the season, Jon and Ella made a mini snowman

First night sleeping in big sister's big girl bed

Marking our progress- the Great Box Wall continues to grow and take over the office.

Cookie making party with Katie and Erica

From scratch!

Silly girl 1

And her partner in crime, 2

After the furniture arrived a week late

This is how our living room looked for 4 days (over Christmas) while we moved out the old stuff to make room. Pictures of our bunkbeds and the dining room table all set up, to come!

Taking Christmas pictures

Christmas morning

Tiana footie jammies

Opening presents

Daddy and EllaBelle

Daddy and LilyBug

Marshmallow pops from aunt Kristyn (I managed to get Lor mid bite)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone had a good Christmas! Ours was busy, of course, but a lot of fun.

To update everyone on the home front- our offer was rejected. We did not realize the seller had to pay a real estate fee equal to our closing costs, so it makes sense that she could not afford to pay the closing costs as well. Unfortuantely, that is all we were approved for since we do not have enough cash for a 20% down payment and 6% closing costs. We looked for other homes in the area, but there just were none in our price range. Winter is a really difficult time to move and I guess that is why a lot of people do not bother to try to sell their home until spring.

That being said, our lease is up in a month so we have to move asap. Jon is on break from school for the rest of this week but he is trying to get caught up on his classwork. Our plan is to rent an apartment in Wexford, keep saving as much as we can and keep our eyes open for the right house. Hopefully, Jon will have a little more job stability and we can try again this summer.

I am bummed about it, but truthfully, we were trying to make this second choice work. It really felt like God was thwarting our every effort, so we are just trying to keep the faith that He has something better planned for us.

We felt a little silly because it turned out that we did not need to scrimp and save as much as we did the last two months, since we did not end up needing a down payment next month, but it all worked out because I had some very expensive car problems right before Christmas. In the end, we learned our lesson and decided that it just wasn't worth some of the sacrifices we were making.

We are really looking forward to a fresh start in a new home this year and can't wait to see what 2011 has in store!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Everything else

Apart from the home situation, things have been good! Busy, but good.

I've been loaded up with end of term projects and tests, but two of my three finals were canceled, so as of last night I officially survived my first semester back at school. I won't get my grades for another week but I feel pretty comfortable. God was extremely merciful and Jon was an amazing support system for me. I am glad it's over, though. It was not fun; I enrolled 4 days before classes so I had to scrape from the bottom of the barrel. Next semester, I'm looking forward to taking classes I actually have an interest in.

Jon is really enjoying Seminary. It's been a lot of reading so far, but we're use to that, and it makes him really happy. He got a seasonal job at Target, part time, and just had another interview for a part time position at Home Depot. The hours are kind of crazy and we're relying on a lot of help from family with babysitting to make it work. We're looking forward to a point in time when things slow down, even just a little, but we can't really forsee when that will be, so for now we are just trying to enjoy the ride.

My bible study is on break until January, so I've had a little extra time to myself. This has been used for packing and moving out furniture and little else.

Ella had her Christmas program yesterday, which was just about the cutest thing. I'm sorry I don't have pictures of it. It's been so snowy here lately and I was so focused on getting there on time that I completely forgot the camera. She was dressed as an angel and kept staring off into space watching the TV screens with the pictures, except the last song, which I've heard her singing to herself at home: "Good News." Ask her to sing it if you see us over Christmas. It's crazy to think that next year Lily will be up on that stage with her.

The girls got to see Santa at Phipps Conservatory. Lily asked for a "real puppy" and Ella asked for "a baby brother or sister." What happened to kids asking for barbies or toys??

This past weekend, we took Ella and my brother Dallas to see The Nutcracker. It was kind of long and Ella lost interest a couple of times, but she got so excited to see the Sugar Plum Fairy. She's been asking to wear her tutu for days now and constantly performing parts of the ballet for us, so I'd rate it a success!

I promise I'll get some new pictures up here soon!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sorry, sorry!

It's been two weeks. I know, I'm sorry. I had a feeling this would happen with finals and everything, but if it's any consolation there hasn't been much newsworthy to share. Here's an update on the housing front:

We went in on Wednesday (12-1) to make a formal offer. The seller was going to be out of town until the following Monday and the agent wanted us to fax it to her immediately. We tried to decline because we wanted our agent to be there at the presentation of the offer to explain why it was so much under the asking price and also to get a feel for what to expect. The seller said she did not want our agent involved at all and insisted we send the offer right away. So we did. That weekend went by with nothing, which we found really odd since her agent had been harassing ours for two weeks asking if we were going to put in an offer and when. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nothing.

Wednesday (12-8), we went to look at two more townhomes in the McCandless area, as a back up. One was very, very small and completely outdated. The other was even smaller and in shambles and disgusting. We asked our agent what was reasonable to expect in terms of a timeline for our offer. He told us it varies, but Friday would be fine. So he called their agent and told them we needed an answer by Friday night. They blew us off. Saturday night, our agent told us they decided to accept another offer. We believe they were using our offer to make the other person increase theirs. Although, why they had to keep us waiting for almost two weeks was completely beyond us. It kind of left a bad taste in our mouth. But we got back on the horse.

Last night we went to look at two more townhomes: a new one, out of our preferred area (uneventful), and the first back up again. This time we tried to imagine it as ours. It would need a lot of appliances and carpet replaced and it is still very small, but we love the location and that neighborhood sells fast so we think it would be a good starter home for the next few years. We asked our agent to make an informal offer for us and we're going in tomorrow to draw up the papers for a formal offer. We're not taking any chances though, because we are running out of time. We have a month and a half 'til our lease is up.

We're going to look at 2 more this weekend that are out of the area we wanted but still pretty close. And we'll be putting in offer for all three if we like them, and just take whichever bites first! They are all very similar, in terms of size, price and everything, so we're just leaving the rest up to God at this point.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving, give or take a few days

This week has been jam packed! But I thought I owed at least another post with further detail, especially since there is a decent chance I may fall behind on this blog as Finals Week and Christmas draw closer.

This week Jon was finishing up Seminary enrollment, and I had an overload of schoolwork to get caught up on.

The girls and I were still sick Sunday and Monday. I worked Tuesday and Wednesday. I was supposed to make pumpkin rolls with Ella when I got home Wednesday night, but she was in a bad mood, so we put it off for Thanksgiving morning. Lily insisted on helping, which worked out because Ella was more interested in watching the Grinch after the first roll. Pictures to come on that later. We had so much fun baking that we ended up being almost two hours late to dinner, but we still got to spend a lot of time with both of our families. We are so thankful that our parents and siblings are so closeby.

 The girls spent the night at my parents (where they evidently did not fall asleep until after one) and Jon and I went out at midnight to go Black Friday shopping. It totally was not worth it this year. Since we are moving, we planned to get the girls and each other furniture for Christmas. So Jon and I walked around in a daze and then called it quits before 3 am. Next year, I'm sure we'll have more use for the sales. I did enjoy sleeping on my new pillow though!

I worked all day Friday.

Saturday we went for our final look at the last two homes in the running. Jon's dad and stepmom, Janie, came with us to give us feedback. Thank goodness they did- they caught a lot of things we missed the first two times. We ruled out the house and have since opted for the townhome. When we got home, I managed to pack up almost all of our books and toss out our broken bookshelves so we would have room to put up the tree.

The very next day, I tackled the desk in the living room in order to make room for a potential couch. We ended up not getting it, but our living room looks so much better without the clutter of the desk, that I still feel like I'm walking into someone else's house when I come home every night. Those of you who know what it looked like before will appreciate the otherwise boring picture:

We spent Sunday cheering on the Steelers and decorating the tree.

Last night, we drove out to Ohio to visit Sheely's. I have a new favorite store! I think Ikea still tops out because they have lots of practical space savers and I can afford to shop there more often, but this was a very close second. We spent a couple of hours walking around looking at everything and picking out furniture pieces. Delivery is not for another two weeks, and I don't know if we'll bother to unpack them at our current home, since we'll just be moving a month later, but I can't help it; I am so so excited.

And tomorrow, we are meeting with our agent to make an offer on the townhome. Keep your fingers crossed that she accepts our offer!

Phil's birthday

I forgot to mention at the end of the previous week, Jon and I went out for his brother's birthday. It was nice to be able to go out. We were about an hour and a half late getting there, at which point most of the guests were already sloshed. And our appetizer took about another hour and half to arrive (literally). But we had fun  just hanging out and talking. After almost everyone else left, his sister donated her game card so that Jon and I could play a few rounds at game I turned out to be rather good at. We got an extraordinary amount of tickets in 15 minutes time and then walked around the place to see if we could find any kids still there after 11 pm. We found one of about ten years old with her parents and it made my night to see her eyes light up at the amount of tickets we handed her. Then we held hands and skipped out to our car  to head home. Really.

We smiled at each other as Jon put the key in the ignition and... nothing. not even one pitiful turn. It seems I left the light on in the car while at Dave and Busters and that 2 hours of time killed the battery. Erica drove all the way back out to jump our car, even though she had to work in the morning (Thanks, sis!) and played 20 questions with us while we waited. Apparently I play the game wrong.After about another hour, we made no progress and called our insurance company to come and tow our car. As soon as we hung up, the people who owned the car next to us showed up and insisted we try their magic Box. No sooner had we hooked up it than the car started. It was like flipping a switch. I'm definitely adding those to our Christmas lists for next year!

I wish I would have had the presence of mind to snap pictures of our rescuers and their magic box, but sadly, I did not. I did, however, take a couple from earlier in the night. Enjoy!

 Phil and Jon

 Erica with her roommate Jess

Jon and Me

Taking pictures while waiting for Erica

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The lost week

This has pretty much been a lost week for us. Each of us was struck down, one by one, with a raging, nasty, painful, debilitating sinus/ear infection.

Somehow, I was able to finish my end of term English essay (with a lot of support from Jon) and Jon was able to do research, apply and meet with the seminary counselor. RPTS does Quarters instead of Semesters (although most people do not attend Summer Quarter), so Jon will actually be starting class in a week. He will be taking two classes for Winter Quarter (I keep calling them semesters out of habit, so if that crops up, don't be surprised) and starting full time in spring.

This week the plan is to get him a job that will work around my school/work schedule and his school schedule.

 On Saturday we are making the final trek to look at the two places (home vs townhome) with Jon's dad and Janie. After that we will pick one and get the papers drawn up to make an offer the following week. I was going to post pictures of the homes we looked at, but after reviewing them, I realized my photographic skill (or lack thereof) did not do them justice. Really, you couldn't tell how creepy some of these places were, or how big some of the rooms were in others. When we pick one, I'll upload pictures of the moving process instead.

In the meantime, we're packing and throwing away a ton of stuff and trying to sell/donate almost every piece of furniture we own. My cowokers were laughing that I was starting to pack 2 and a half months in advance, but I'm glad I didn't wait.  I only get 3 days off a week from work and they're usually filled with running errands and schoolwork and fulfilling various commitments we've made. At best, I'm getting 2 boxes done per day off, which has amounted to almost nothing. In the midst of all this, next week we will be bringing in the Christmas decorations and filling our house with more stuff. So tonight, I'm hoping to pack up the bookcases. That way, we'll actually have a place to put the tree.

I can't believe how fast time is going. It feels like the weeks are melting away.

Since I was working during light up night this year, I really have no recent cute pictures of the girls. So instead, I give you:

The Great Box Wall. So far it has taken the place of a dresser and file cabinet and will continue to grow as we prepare to move. It's bigger than it looks; all the small boxes around the house are shoved in random open spaces, but this spot in the office houses the biggest boxes. I will post more pictures of our progress later.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fall update

So here's an update on Fall so far for us:

I (Lyssa) am working full time alternating between 40 and 50 hour weeks. I am tantalizingly close to finishing my first semester at CCAC. For those of you who don't know, I decided to go on a whim in September, and I'm currently working toward my Associate's degree. I have no idea if I'm going to continue on to a Bachelor's and no idea it will be continuous or if I will take a break in between. I also joined a women's bible study this fall, and I love it. I only wish I had more time to devote to it. I'm running behind every week and feel more rushed to get it done than I'd like.

Jon is currently working out the details so he can start seminary for the spring quarter. We're not yet sure if he will be full or part time. Details to come on that when we know them! Jon also joined a men's CLC group. It's like bible study, but more intense- it's a two year commitment and nightly homework of about an hour, with meetings once weekly.

We became official members of our church, Orchard Hill, this fall. That was more Jon's pushing, since I considered attendance for 15 years to be equivalent to membership. As Jon put it, it was more about the level of commitment than about whether this was my church home. And we met some really interesting people out of it!

Ella is making a lot of friends in preschool this year, most of which are little boys. Her class has 4 girls and 12 boys. She already has a "boyfriend" named James. They are inseparable and it's adorable. I can't believe she is already 4 and a half.

Lily is changing a lot and quickly. She has been potty trained for about a month and a half now, so thats a huge relief. After 4+ years, the baby gates are finally coming down (for the most part) and the door knob covers too. It's nice because things are finally able to flow more in our home.

I've developed an obsession with packing. Our lease is up soon; we have to be out by January 31st. We've been saving for two years and have enough for a modest down payment on a starter home or a townhouse of our own. Options are pretty limited this time of year, but we've had fun looking. Right now we're between two homes- pictures to come - and until we decide, I'm packing everything up and getting rid of every thing else. Most of the furniture we have was given to us when we first moved in. We were just starting out and beggers can't be choosers, so we accepted a lot of help happily. Now we're really looking forward to picking each and every piece slowly and deliberately. We're excited to make a home that really reflects our personalities.

Here are some pictures from Halloween:

Lily and her pumpkin.

The girls are in a naked phase.

Alice and her ladybug.

Phil took these last few:

I love the sky behind us.

I love this picture. Amazing, Phil, just amazing.

My girls

I'm hoping to get some pictures and details on our house hunting soon, but these next couple of weeks are kind of crunched with school and bible study and trying to squeeze in friends and family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

... there will your heart be also

So I have decided to start another blog. I used to have a LiveJournal (thanks to Jon as a first Christmas present) but in the great computer crash of 07, I lost everything, including what I had documented of my pregnancy, which I had done religiously, with the intent to turn it into a book (if only ever read by Ella). I was devastated and took time off from journal-ing. I wrote intermittently in physical journals for a while. In the last year, I got a Xanga, which I blog in privately. Now I am starting a family journal (taking a page out of an acquaintance's book). I thought this was a fantastic idea, as our friends and family are extremely widespread these days. And, unfortunately, since we are all so busy, we don't get to stay in touch with our local friends/family, either. At least, not as much as we want. This is a great way to keep everyone updated on our crazy, constantly changing lives.

As a small token of love to the aforementioned family, I am going to make an effort to type properly, instead of ignoring the rules of punctuation and capitalization as I usually do. I do this without the intent to use it as a bargaining chip to stop the use of prepositions at the ends of sentences, but if it should happen as a fringe benefit, so be it (curse you, Anna, for giving me your English pet peeves)!