Thursday, March 2, 2017

Watching and Waiting

Through the fall, I kept watching Zillow, but honestly, everything was now compared to what I thought the house from June could be.  (I mean, I had probably 15 pages of graph paper drawn out of floor plans, remodeling lists, and more... so much for having put it out of my mind, right?)  I kept trying to figure out a way to buy it for their opening bid and still be able to remodel it, but it just wasn't going to work.  I had peace and trust though, that God would lead us to a good house that would be a blessing to us for a long time.

Having done my research, I knew the house was in redemption until November 10th. So, my expectation was that it would get listed sometime in November, December, or January, for the asking price at the auction.  I had also figured that we'd need about $30,000 to remodel it and repair all the damage.

One Saturday morning in late October, we were all rushing around getting ready for the last of the soccer games for the season.  I heard my email ding, and quickly checked. It was an automated email from the bank announcing a new foreclosure listing in Derby.  It was THE house.  And I screamed out loud when I saw their listing price.  It was... you guessed it. $30,000 less than the opening bid at the auction. I could NOT believe it.  I sent it to my realtor immediately and sat in disbelief.  We set up a showing that afternoon as soon as we could, and we had a contractor ready to go to go with us to confirm  estimate on the remodel.

At 3 that afternoon, everyone gathered there.  My parents, realtors, contractor, everyone walked through it, taking our time. I remained convinced this was just a gift from a good God to us, and no one seemed to have any major reservations.   So we put a full price offer in.

But you know how big banks are.  They picked up all the offers that had come in over the weekend on Tuesday and looked at them.  They let us all know (I have no idea how many there were) there were multiple offers, and we had until Friday to give them our *best* offer.  Paul and I stewed on this, and thought, and prayed.  Should we play the game and try to outbid what we think others will offer by a few hundred dollars? Or do we offer as much as we can legitimately see paying given its condition and what we want to do?  I really, really wanted to do this.  There was something so redemptive about taking a house like this in a sad state and bringing life and beauty back to it. It's why Chip and Jo are so popular! :)  Plus, on the financial side, even with the remodel expenses, our investment would be well under the value of the house.  And our mortgage would be thousands less than if we bought a ready to go home in town.  On top of that, I will have gotten to pick out every last detail of it!  I was motivated. So we decided to give them our truly best offer.  We upped the ante a good bit.  And, we got the house. :)

But there were some unexpected hiccups along the way.  First, when they came to turn the water on so the house could be inspected, the water heater sprang a leak, and so the bank just decided to shut the water off and say no one could turn it on until after closing. This caused us to lose our first loan option: they would not loan for a house without water.  Thankfully, our realtor had connections and was able to get us in with a local bank that did in-house loans that was willing to take the risk.  So then we were back on track.  The inspection came back that it was a strong house with good bones, lots of life left in the heating/cooling, no major problems.  So that's another step down.  But, then the appraisal came in below our offer.  This could have been bad. The bank could have chosen to cancel the contract and re-list the house.  But, they decided to take the appraised value instead and keep moving forward.  This was great for us! :) It cut our buying price down a few thousand!  The last hurdle was with the loan.  The loan came through fine, but the PMI company (mortgage insurance) felt they were assuming too much risk in this situation.  We decided to plead our case.  I sent them my list of improvements and bids from contractors, proof that we had the funds to pay for them in cash, , and statements from inspectors cleaning up some questions they had.  We had to cancel our first closing date, but in the end, they decided to give us the go ahead, and we were able to close before the end of the year.

There are just so many moments in those six weeks where I saw God swing doors open and set up best case scenarios for us.  We were walking confidently into it with a perfect peace! (And, good thing I'm obsessive and already had copious Pinterest boards full of ideas and products so we could get started with the remodel ASAP! The contract required that we take occupancy within 60 days of closing!)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Discovery

When Paul and I got married, we really thought we'd never own a home.  We felt called to give our lives overseas for the kingdom of God, and felt like that would prevent us from ever buying and putting roots down somewhere.  But as is often the case, God has plans that don't necessarily go in a straight line like we imagine they will. When we'd been in India for seven years as a family, my body spazzed and I got so sick I lost over 40 pounds. Most of you know that story, but, it ended with our returning to the states quite unexpectedly.

Once we realized and surrendered that we were back to stay, we scrambled to figure out what we were going to do.  Paul ended up going to work with my dad, which was a really good fit for our family.  But, it meant that we wouldn't qualify for a home loan for two years.  I had figured out that now we were back, we'd be able to buy a house, and I was anxious to do that. But since I'd been waiting so long, and since I'd moved so many times, I had definite things in mind that I wanted. And living in a not-so-old suburb of a bigger city didn't provide those things. I wanted an old house, like at least a hundred years old. I wanted traditional charm and character, like colonial houses. I wanted a bedroom with a window nook set out on the roof.  Big trees. Columns. Big porch. Like houses built in the 20s and 30s.  Problem was: our town didn't start building neighborhoods until the 50's.  

I watched the market, stalked zillow. I saw what was available in our little town and for how much for two years.  It was hard for me to find something that I liked, let alone that I loved.  But one day last summer, in June, my mom mentioned that a friend of ours knew the house across the street from her would be for sale soon.  So I drove by.  I couldn't believe what I saw. I had seen this floor plan a few times before in town, and had thought it could work for us...
This is what I saw! Big tree! Big front porch! Dormer windows!!  It was also in a beautiful well kept neighborhood. A neighbor next door was out in his yard and I pulled over to ask him about it. It was vacant, and he asked if I wanted to go in and see it.  Of course I said sure! He let me in through the back door. 

I walked through it in about 15 minutes and really thought it could work for us. I came home and told Paul about it and made him go back with me (we let ourselves in the back that time!)  The problem was, it was being foreclosed on, so we had to wait on that process. 

Over the next few weeks, I drew out the floor plan, thought about how we'd remodel it, and how much we could afford to pay for it and still be able to afford to remodel it.  Because it was in terrible shape.  

This is the living room and dining room.  It had new windows, but they were unfinished. The dining room was missing the lower part of the wall and had no flooring. 

Kitchen: new sliding door, unfinished, subfloor, no base boards.

Kitchen. No backsplash or floor, desperately needed the cabinets to be cleaned/refinished, and new counters

Laundry room: totally gutted. 

Main bathroom: subfloors, 70s counter...

Main bathroom shower: nonexistent! There was some tile board there, but some down to the studs as well. 

Basement: it would need to be finished into a bedroom, with an escape window on that back wall, and an office if the house would work for us. Also, the siding was unfinished on the exterior and the driveway was missing the concrete in one large area. 

The good news is, the bedrooms and family room were in decent shape. 

Master bedroom

Second bedroom with double closets

Basement family room: all it needed was new carpet and paint

So, I did a bunch of research to find out that it was being auctioned in August.  At the auction no one made a bid and the bank ended up with the house. I also was able to find out their opening bid on the house, which is what I figured they would list it for. At that price, there was no way we'd be able to buy it *and* renovate it.  So I pretty much put it out of my head.  But, I did sign up to get the updates from the bank so I'd know when they listed it, which I thought would be in November. 
But, they surprised me big time!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

First Month Wrap-up!

Preedy Academy kicked off for weeks ago and we've had a great four weeks!  So far, all the long hours of thinking and planning put in over the summer are paying off, and the choices I made for us are working.  Praise God for His guidance and wisdom!

Coming back from overseas, our first year we just hunkered down and did the hard work of recovery and healing.  The second year, I felt more able to take on some things like Community Bible Study, beginning a small co-op with some friends.  This year, I feel even more recovered and capable, but need to still be careful not to get over-committed.

Here's some pictures from our first few weeks! The kids' schedules are pretty laid back still, but my daily schedule is pretty crazy, I'm always moving, always working with one of them, or preparing food and cleaning up.  By 3:00, I'm so ready for them to put on their yoga or other PE video and fro me to get to workout with no one talking to me! :)

Playing math games together!

Levi is loving his first year Latin, especially getting to play Latin games on the computer!

Making Byzantine mosaics!

Luke opted for stained glass coloring.

Kiryn chose paper crafts of damsels hats and swords.

Karen's finished product!

Can you tell what we've been reading this month??

Levi is really into King Arthur!

Luke picked up an old projector at a bargain sale and wanted to take it apart... until he realized it actually worked. :) 

This spider built a web in our backyard and caught a cicada (I think!) in it, and it was amazing to see!

Nature walks with friends!

Byzantine stained glass project. This is the example I made to show the class. 

They took it really seriously and al did a great job!

Their finished projects displayed in the door!

Luke's Lego rendition of a scene from King Arthur.

This is Levi practicing addition and subtraction by building 20-step staircase and having his Luke Skywalker Lego figure hop up and down the stairs. Whatever works! :) 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Music of the Hemispheres

In my search for a delightful, rigorous grammar program, over the last two years, I kept coming back to look at Michael Clay Thompson's language arts.  This year, I finally spent the time to figure out how the program worked, and decided to give it a try. I didn't want to buy the whole program, first because it's expensive as a whole program. Secondly, I'm very happy with our writing and Latin programs, and didn't want to switch over. But I did feel that his grammar and poetics books could work for us, even apart from the whole program.

So I bought Grammar Town and Music of the Hemispheres, the poetics book. I did not know what to expect, but thought, it can't hurt to give it a try.

We've been reading it aloud together for a week and a half now, and can I tell you, I have learned so much about poetry!  I had no idea that poets were such artists not just with the meanings of words, but with the sounds an using sounds to evoke feeling.  In the first third of this book, we have really come to understand end rhyme, internal rhyme, eye rhyme, and alliteration and more.

Today, at the end of the reading, the book issued a challenge: write a short poem using words and sounds that make you think of a specific sound or place.  We have NEVER attempted to write poetry before, I had no idea where to start or what to do. But this seemed like something we could do.  So here was what we all came up with. I share mine hesitantly, only to show that I am trying to learn alongside the kids and set an example of trying my best.  But it's terrible, really. :)  I am no poet, ha!


The sharp knife swished through the produce
Crunched as it chopped it to bits
Hoping to create a crispy, delicious dish
That could strengthen the body and give tastebuds fits!


The Forest
Who is that rustling the bushes
Who is that chirping in the trees;
Listen to the silent swinging in the canopy
Oh, how I would love to go to the forest, you see.


As I walk through stables of horses I stare
At beasts wild and mighty
They are furry, shaggy and covered with hair
But the creatures are rather friendly

For first attempts at poems, I think these are so delightful! :) I'm really pleased with what we're learning from Music of the Hemispheres!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Astronomy: awakening our wonder

Last year we began working our way through the Memoria Press nature study series.  We had spent a lot of time on mammals already, so we jumped into insects last year. We chose to dive into astronomy this year, because we are studying the middle ages, and historically they correlate well.

I love the Memoria Press guides, they provide a great backbone of factual scientific knowledge to learn. But I also want to awaken a sense of wonder in the kids, so I always look for other resources to pull in to do that.  In researching resources for astronomy, I found a book from long ago called Storyland of the Stars, free for download.

We began reading it this week, and today, we read about the "music of the spheres," a theory by Pythagoras that was correct, but that he could not prove.  (Not coincidentally, we began reading "The Music of the Hemispheres" by Michael Clay Thompson to learn about sounds in words and poetry this week too!)

As we read how he thought the stars and planets actually made sounds in the universe, it reminded me of a video I had seen of Louie Giglio years ago.  So I googled it and pulled it up.  We spent twenty minutes listening to the actual sounds planets make, stars make, and Louie's mashup of stars and whales singing together! Here's the links:

Louie's mashup

The Music of the Spheres: sounds of the planets:

Talk about awakening wonder!  All the kids now want to go to outer space and to listen to the stars all day.  This was a great way to start off our study: by realizing that all the stars we will learn about this year actually make noises of praise to their Creator, he set them in place, and enjoys their worship twenty-four-seven.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Memory Work Tips

Okay, really just one tip. :)


I randomly happened upon this book on Rainbow Resource earlier this summer. I'd never heard of it, but was intrigued by the title. I did a little googling and looking at Amazon to see if I could see inside or read any reviews.  There was very little out there. And even though it was $32.95, I decided to take a chance on this, not knowing much about it, because it looked so interesting. 

This is a total hidden treasure!  This book lays out suggestions for memory work in the above categories: Latin, Greek, Math, Grammar & Composition, Literature, Religion, Geography, World History, United States & Civics, Natural Sciences, as well as a guide to how and why to memorize things. 

Last year, I spent hours scrolling through blogs and suggested memory, wondering what was worth memorizing and what wasn't, how to choose. I was never taught to memorize anything besides a few Bible verses, so this is all totally new to me. It took me weeks to sift through all the suggestions and decide last summer. 

This book did it all for me this year!  I decided what categories we wanted to focus on, flipped through the chapter, chose how many selections I needed, and then typed them into my formate to print straight out of the book.  It's not just a list. Campbell provides the actual text of each poem, hymn, literature selection recommended.  I only spent one morning while my kids were at VBS planning out and printing our memory work for the entire year!

In addition to being just about anything and everything you might ever want to memorize, it's also a GREAT reference book.  It has lists of historical info, like the Roman emperors in order with dates, all Latin declensions in charts, traditional prayers and creeds from church history, mathematics tables an charts full of formulas, and so much more.  

So, get this book! :) 

Here's some other pictures from inside: (I have tried about fourteen times and cannot get the pictures to rotate to the right direction...)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016-17 Preedy Academy Curriculum Picks!

Better late than never?

I've had a lot of mental gymnastics to figure out how this year is going to work. I've got FOUR students this year for the first time.  Yep, Meryn is beginning Kindergarten!!! AAAAA!!! :)

So, after much contemplation, here's my plan.  We're going to have five blocks to our day:
-Morning Time

We'll stat each day with Morning Time, and move on to Math.  Everyone will be doing math for a set amount of time.  Same for the other blocks: all doing their own assignments within that subject, mom starting with youngest for instruction and moving up by age.  The older kids will have some independent work to do while they wait on me for any teaching we have for that day.

There are three possible outcomes for each block:

-You work diligently, and complete your work.  In this case, there is a box of games to play until the next block starts, or books to read, or things to draw, etc.)
-You work diligently and don't finish your work. In this case, we put it away until tomorrow and pick up where we left off.
-You don't work diligently, and don't finish your work.  In this case, you will get your work back out after "school time", and complete it.

I have high hopes this will work to keep everyone busy and on task.  I have invested a good bit in educational games for math, history, astronomy, and language that are ONLY for school time.

So, here is what we'll be tackling in each of our blocks this year:

MORNING TIME: (everyone will listen, but most of this is expected from the Upper Grammar kids only)
-Westminster Shorter Catechism, last 36 questions, with devotions from Training Hearts, Teaching Minds
-Reading Psalms, Proverbs, Matthew
-Twelfth Night from Shakespeare
-Music of the Hemispheres by Michael Clay Thompson
-Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios (Botticelli, Rembrandt)
-SQUILT for music appreciation and composer study
-Memory Binders: Shakespeare monologues, Psalm 139 and a couple other passages, three hymns, traditional prayers and liturgical readings, and poetry selections
(I have another post coming on how I chose Memory Work this year!)

Upper Grammar:
-Latin for Children Primer B
-Writing & Rhetoric Books 4-5
-Reasoning & Reading book 1 (only half, we'll spread this out over two years)
-All About Spelling Level 6 (only half, also will spread this out over two years)
-Grammar Town and Grammar Voyage (MCT Language Arts)
-New American Cursive Book 3
(NOTE!: We will not be doing all of this everyday. We will have 3 elements of LA everyday: Latin, Writing, and the others on a loop or by term)

1st grader:
-All About Spelling Level 1
-Copy work for handwriting
-Veritas Press Readers
-Christian Liberty Nature readers
-Narration practice
-Song School Latin 1
-Ambleside Online read aloud selections
(Again, not all of this everyday)

-All About Reading Level 1 (phonics)
-Handwriting Without Tears Book 1
-Read Alouds from AO Year 0

-MUS (Zeta, Epsilon, Beta, Primer/Alpha)
-Select MEP Pages for puzzle and play with math from Year 4/Year 1

Upper Grammar:
-Berean Builders for Historical Science Science in the Ancient World/Science in the Age of Reason, one lesson per week
-Memoria Press Book of Astronomy: supplemented with Storyland of the Stars, Find the Constellations as read alouds and lots of star gazing.
-Elementary Geography as a read aloud
-Memoria Press Geography II
(AGAIN: Not doing all of this everyday. Rotating in and out.)

Lower grammar:
-Exploration Earth Animal supplement (copywork, animal study and classification)
-Burgess Animal Book of Nature Lore
-Working on continents

-Tapestry of Grace Year 2: Upper Grammar level for older two kids, Lower Grammar read aloud only for little kids
-AO Year 4 independent reads for Upper Grammar kids
-L: He will begin cello in the public school orchestra, and piano lessons
-K: She will continue with violin at home and piano lessons

We're not changing much from last year.  Last year, as I said in my review posts, was the first year I finished the year feeling filled up, rather than totally drained. So we're going to just keep walking the path we did last year, extending the view a bit further out this year. The kids also really excelled last year.  They progressed a lot in their knowledge and skills, and we weren't strapped to school all the time to do it. And we greatly increased our reading aloud last year, which they all LOVE!

The one major change I'm making is to try yet one more grammar program. :) I think, if I remember correctly, we've used:
-First Language Lessons/Writing With Ease
-Shurley Grammar
-Harvey's Grammar
-Memoria Press Grammar

I may be a stickler, but I really just want every area of knowledge we are learning to be delightful.  Grammar just never is. :)  But, Michael Clay Thompson's grammar program looks really interesting, engaging, and possibly even delightful! :)  I love the layout of the books that we will read together. And we are going to try out first ever school subject on the iPad with his Practice Books for Grammar Town and Grammar Voyage in iBooks.  I mean, if labeling the four level analysis of sentences *could* be fun, it would be dragging and dropping labels on the iPad, right? :)  We're gonna give it a go... and hope it works and sticks. Then I won't have to think about anything but science and Morning Time next year.

I'm praying for a year of great growth in all my kids, for a deepening in the knowledge of God, of Man, of the Universe, and their role in it and relationship to each of these!

(PS: Sorry I did not link this all up to the programs I mentioned. I am pressed for time. I trust you all can google them for yourselves.) :) Blessings!