Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Our First Home.

For the last few years, whenever someone asked Weston and I that oh-so-fun and not-at-all-invasive question, "So when are you guys going to get married?!" (most commonly at weddings. See also: "So… are you two next?!") we answered with awkward shrugs. But the truth was, we were working towards a goal that we had set for ourselves and promised each other we'd achieve before we got married : buying a house.

Here in California, rent is often about the same as  (if not more than) a mortgage payment and we knew that for us, if we started renting somewhere it would be really hard for us to put enough money aside each month to come up with a down payment. So we lived at home and saved. Occasionally, the task seemed too daunting - we even started looking around for apartments about a year into it, thinking our goal of homeownership might be too far fetched. But years later, we were finally able to start browsing through some modestly priced SoCal real estate.

Back in March, we found a house in our price range that we loved. A cute, little fixer upper on Strawberry Lane. We got pre-approved for our first loan, excitedly placed our offer… and were quickly outbid by a cash buyer. At the time, we thought it was just a very unlucky St. Patrick's Day but we got our feet wet, learned more about the home buying process, and knew it was time to really get serious about our house hunting.

Throughout the next few months, it seemed that none of the places we were finding could measure up to that house on Strawberry Lane and we started to get discouraged. I checked Redfin obsessively, three times a day. Then, exactly one week after our engagement, we walked into an adorable, two story town home and made an offer as quickly as we could. It was the perfect place for us: quaint but open floor plan with a small stone patio, trees surrounding it, a little fireplace, big windows, and walking distance to my job! Since it was a short sale, it took three months before we heard back from the bank, but we jumped through all the hoops and they finally accepted our offer. We opened escrow while I was in Atlanta for my surgery.

A few days after coming home our realtor called with horrible news. The seller of the home had hidden a $20,000 HOA debt from everyone involved in the selling process and if we wanted to purchase the home, that debt would become our financial responsibility. What?! Of course this wasn't feasible for us so we had to pull our offer after months of patience and hard work and start all over again. It was so discouraging and through many frustrated conversations, Weston tried to remind me of what I'm always saying - God has a plan in all situations and good can always come from difficult things. There had to be something better waiting for us.

As the wedding date got closer and closer, we started to really stress about where we would be living after we got married. We even ended up making an offer on a home that we didn't love, just out of desperation and feeling like we were out of time. When our offer was accepted, we went to see the house for a second time and when we left, I tearfully told Weston I couldn't do it. It just didn't feel right and we had worked too hard and waited too long to settle for a place just because it was livable. We both spent the day brainstorming, trying to come up with new options.

That night, we decided to reapply for a new loan. I had gotten a promotion at work, Weston had started working for another school district… and since this process had taken about 7 months at this point, our down payment had increased too. We ended up getting our budget bumped up and in our new price range quickly found a house on Redfin that I absolutely loved from the pictures. We toured it the next day, made an offer and opened escrow. And thirty days later, the day after my birthday, we officially became the owners!

When we met our realtors at the house on closing day, they had our keys on a pumpkin that had been painted with a warm, "Welcome Home!" We all waited as Weston turned the keys in the lock for the first time and as the door opened I got butterflies in my stomach. I finally understood every twist and turn in our 8 month journey that led us to that moment. When we went into the kitchen and saw the birthday cake and champagne that our realtors had waiting on the counter, I started to cry and so did our realtor, Jeannette. I'm so thankful she and Julio were the ones who were with us throughout our whole process. They worked so hard and made our priority their priority too. Shortly after, our parents came over and we showed them the house and talked about all of the memories that we know we will make in this house. It still feels like a dream, but we did it! We're homeowners!

Slowly the place is becoming our own. We're gradually acquiring furniture, painting over some of the previous owners more adventurous paint choices, and moving things from our homes. On Halloween,  I excitedly decorated our little front patio and answered the door for trick-or-treaters.

Tonight, I'm writing this as my first home-cooked meal is in the oven and filling the kitchen with a yummy basil smell. I keep saying out loud "This is my house!" hoping it will feel more real. No luck yet. ;)

There was absolutely no way to prepare for what the home-buying experience had in store for us other than just diving right in but in the end it was worth every struggle, heartache, and sleepless night because now we're exactly where we need to be. God's timing is infinitely more perfect than mine and I'm thankful for it. Can't wait to share more updates with you as we continue to make it our own!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Me Want Cookie.

I started thinking about Halloween pretty early this year. Our school puts on a costume parade each fall and I always try to think of an outfit that will be a) recognizable to 5-year-olds, b) comfortable enough to work in throughout the day, and c) kind of cute.

This year, I dressed up as everyone's favorite, cookie obsessed, Sesame Street monster and I convinced my co-teacher and our assistant to join in on the neighborhood fun by being Elmo and Oscar the Grouch! The kids were really excited to see us this morning and we got lots of compliments on our little costume trio. Not too shabby for a $10 DIY!

I bought a blue t-shirt for $3, two blue feather boas, two styrofoam balls to create the eyes, and some felt to cut out the cookies. I safety pinned the cookies and boa to a skirt I already have and love to wear to work, and hot glued part of the boa and the eyes to a cheap headband. 

Glad to retire my go-to Minnie Mouse outfit this year for something fresh and new. 
Plus, I got to eat as many cookies as I wanted during our class party. ;)

The cookie nails were a hit too. I didn't even think the kids would notice but they pointed them out right when I walked in! So funny what they notice! 

Here's the rest of the crew. ;)

What are you dressing up as this weekend?
Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2015


It started with kindergarten birthday greetings, shouted at 8:30. Playdough shaped like tulips on the table, a colorful banner above my things. Handmade cards and a happy chapel. A mid-morning visit that let us take a break from ten frames in favor of playing with Toby. Freshly baked gluten-free cookies and brownies at snack time from the world's best co-teacher. A cold Starbucks delivery during recess. An armful of flowers as I left our classroom. A breezy, sunny afternoon drive home. Laughing over old home movies with my brother.

Sometimes, bodies aren't aware that there should be a celebration going on so they shut down a little bit. Mine is notorious for this, so I haven't been able to taste any of this beautiful, mom-made cake yet, but hopefully soon! And speaking of being "Grown Up"… I actually acquired another cake last night from two very special realtors, as well as the keys to our newly purchased home! :')

Twenty-four was monumental for sure…
but twenty-five is already one for the books.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bridal Brunch.

Last Saturday morning, my soon-to-be mother and sister in law TOTALLY outdid themselves and threw the most beautiful bridal shower I've ever been lucky enough to attend. They kept every detail under wraps so when I walked out into the backyard I had no idea what to expect, but everything was more perfect and thoughtful than I could've ever dreamed up on my own. It was enough to bring tears to my eyes!

I've looked forward to this day since the gorgeous invitation arrived in my mailbox a few days after I came home from Atlanta. All through my recovery these past six weeks, we continued to pray that I would feel well enough to enjoy the entire party and even some of the food and thankfully, I was! And I did! One of my favorite personal touches were the quotes from Weston that they framed and placed around the party as decoration. Such a cute idea!

Taryn made these incredible flowers! That girl is too crafty and creative!

 hahaha this made me laugh. Weston hates if I even tell him a kid fell down on the playground! ^
Weston's mom is the mastermind behind these homemade treats. She even whipped up those gluten free apple fritters that were to die for! I'm so thankful she loves experimenting with healthy recipes for me!

She also set up a build-your-own Acai Bowl Bar with lots of toppings to choose from! Such a hit!

After breakfast (and a face-time photo with my San Franciscan virtual guest, Sami) Taryn introduced a trivia game. She asked questions about me (for example: where I'd most like to live, my favorite TV show, etc.) and everyone wrote down what they thought Weston would answer for the question. I would give the actual answer, then they had little video snippets of Weston giving his answers! It was a fun way for some of the guests to learn more about me.. and in some cases, more about Weston and my history! Where our first kiss was, who said "I love you" first (he did, of course!) ;) and it was nice to incorporate Weston into the shower even though he wasn't actually there. So fun! 

See him there on the TV?

My old co-teacher, Beckie, won the trivia game! She had to listen to a looooot of stories during the kids nap time for the two years we shared a classroom. I'm glad it finally paid off for her. ;)

I'm not a shy person but I get really nervous about opening presents in front of people. I know it sounds crazy, but I was almost making myself sick about it the night before the shower! Thankfully, it wasn't as nightmarish as I feared it would be and lots of laughs broke up some of those awkward holding-up-lingerie-in-front-of-Weston's-grandmas moments. hahaha

My friend Tandi gave me two boxes to open. The first box had some cute PJ's from Victoria Secret in them. The second box that had a note reading, "For the nights when you have to… 'Just say no!'" and inside was a star patterned, unicorn, onesie! And while we all died laughing, I have honestly become quite attached to it in these last couple days. It's super soft, Weston thinks it's hilarious, and who doesn't want to take a break from being a grown up in favor of being a unicorn sometimes?!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our TK Classroom.

Last year, whenever anybody asked me if I was interested in promoting from my job as afternoon teacher to a morning position, I assured them I wasn't. I loved teaching the afternoon program, loved the morning teachers I shared a classroom with, and really appreciated being on the same schedule as Weston. When he was working nights and I was working mornings, it was hard to even catch each other for a phone call during the week and I wanted our first year of marriage to consist of as much time together as possible.

But as the summer went on, I thought about it more and I started to feel like I had more to offer than what I was able to provide in the afternoons. A job as a lead teacher in the mornings would give me a lot more responsibility and creative control…. More hours, more students, more say in what our class would be learning and how we'd be teaching it. Slowly it became something I was really interested in but in order to make it worth sacrificing a lot of time with my soon-to-be-husband, I knew the position would have to be with an age group I love and a co-teacher who I could see myself really getting along with.

When I was offered the job as a Transitional Kindergarten teacher with my sweet friend Katy as my co-lead, I couldn't have said yes faster! And while Weston and I were both a little bummed to go back to opposite schedules, he fully supported my decision since teaching TK has been my goal since I started my career in Early Education 3 years ago! I just couldn't let the chance pass me by. :)

When we came home from Atlanta I was anxious to get into our classroom and help Katy get everything ready for the school year. I worked on a lot of little projects at home and one weekend I recruited Nolan and Weston to help me hang up butcher paper and do some of the more physically demanding projects while I felt well enough to sit and be bossy. ;) They helped me out so much and last week I was able to pop in a few times before our long prep/meeting days to finish some final touches. So by the time those days arrived, our classroom was pretty much finished and we were able to focus more on diving into our school's new curriculum and lesson planning.

Friday night was Meet Your Teacher and we got to welcome almost all of our new T-Kinders and their families into our classroom. They seem like a really sweet bunch with a lot of personality and I'm so excited to get to know them and start our year together!

For our decor, we combined Katy's love of chalkboard with my love of color and ended up with a rainbow/chalkboard classroom as our home-away-from-home this year. I've never been able to decorate a classroom as the afternoon teacher, so this was a lot of fun for me to be a part of. It ended up being a place that Katy and I said we can both see ourselves happily spending so much of our time.

Here's what we ended up with!

My little corner. :) My friend Nicole made me the crayon wreath for Christmas a few years ago and Katy made that awesome feather as part of a "class warming" gift she gave me! She also included post its, a cute journal, and a box of thank-you notes which is a GREAT teacher gift. Super sweet and thoughtful! Thank you for making me feel so welcome in room 105, Katy! xo

Ps. Recognize any of these decorations from our engagement party? I knew I'd find use for those pom poms and pinwheels again!

Eeee, I'm so excited! 

Aside from the bright, happy classroom and the awesome co-teacher, a few things are really great about this year already.

Number one, we have almost an equal number of boys and girls! Last year my class AND Katy's class had about a million boys and like three girls, which is fun in a lot of ways but it can make for some really loud and rowdy days haha. It seems like there will be a little bit more balance this year. :)

Also, in Pre-K our school offers the parents a choice of how many days their children will come to school. They can come two, three, four, or five days a week which means every day is a different group of kids, a different dynamic, and when it's time for projects to be done, you spend the whole week trying to make sure that each child is able to complete the assignment on the days that they come in! TK is a 5 day program at our school, so we'll have the same 22 students every day which makes certain things a lot easier.

As mentioned, our school is introducing a new curriculum this year which can be a little overwhelming for students and teachers… but I'm excited for all the fun new things I will get to teach with this new grade level and just have a feeling that this is going to be a really fabulous year. 

Can't wait for tomorrow!