Wednesday, July 20, 2016

And then, one day, this happened....


So, it's been in the works for quite a few months now...but it's finally official!  We signed the papers yesterday afternoon and I feel like it's finally safe to announce that we've not only sold our house on Robin Lane, but we've also moved into what I'm hoping we'll be calling our "forever home" about 15 miles away in a small town called Marengo.  


I've been waiting months and months to type up this blog post because it didn't all happen over night.  And, I feel like I've been keeping a really big secret from my blog readers.  We started half halfheartedly looking at houses for sale back in the fall....and sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas we finally found a house that we thought we could love.  But, maybe I should back up a bit...you may be asking yourself, why in the world are they moving?  Didn't they just put a million hours of work into that house?


Well, true, we did....but when we bought this house we sort of knew it was going to fit our needs in the short term, but we had grand visions of something more.  We purchased this house back in 2012 just 5 weeks after Abby was born.  It was a short sale and while it was in pretty good shape compared to others we'd seen, it still needed work.  If you want to take a trip down memory lane to see what it looked like the day we closed, here's a link to the new house tour I did back in 2012.  We've come a LONG way!


We knew we could pour some blood, sweat, tears and money into this house and flip it into our dream home....so....back to the search that started back last fall.  In mid December we found a horse farm on 5 acres and while the house wasn't quite everything we wanted....the land was, and if there is one thing that Ryan is good at, it's construction, so we hemmed and hawed on it and thought it through and finally decided that when we got back from our trip to Hawaii we'd make an offer on the horse farm.  Fast forward to mid March, we returned from Hawaii and started prepping our house to list it (because we couldn't buy a new house until ours was sold).  In that week or so time frame between getting back from Hawaii and writing up the offer letter we found out that much of the property was listed in a flood plain and we would be very restricted on what and where we could build on the property.  


We ended up making an offer on the horse farm house with a contingency that we'd need to see how the actual survey the owners ordered came out, but wanted them to know that we were serious about buying.  That same day we signed the paperwork to list Robin Lane for sale and these pictures were taken.  It was a bit of a leap of faith but we knew we'd need to sell before we could buy and so we decided to list even though we didn't 100% know where we'd end up.


After listing and making the offer on the horse farm we found out that the owners of the horse farm had taken an offer from a second buyer that came into the picture pretty late in the game.  We were a little saddened but decided to keep our house listed just in case.  Plus, there was still the whole flooding issue that needed to be worked out in our minds.  So we moved forward as planned.


The sellers of the horse farm came back to us a few weeks later saying that the second offer they took fell through and asking if we were still interested.  At that point the survey had been completed and it was clear that we'd never be able to make the improvements to the house that we had planned and so we graciously declined and continued our search for a new home while leaving Robin Lane listed.


We had a tremendous response to our listing...it's was hard to keep track because many days we had two or three showing in one afternoon/evening but I'd guess that we had between 30-40 showings from mid April through mid May.  It was a crazy time in our lives with me trying to work from home, and having the two girls, both with early bed times.  We did a lot of evening walks and trips to the forest preserve to kill time...we ate a lot of meals out and did a LOT of driving around looking at homes that were on the market for ourselves.


There were a few "false starts" or offers that didn't pan out for one reason or another but the week before Memorial Day we finally got an offer....the one that would ultimately stick.  We were feeling pretty disheartened in our search at this point as the only house we really like (the horse farm) had fallen through.  We had some second place options but all of them would have been settling in some aspect.  Then, one weekend just before our offer came in my friend Nichole mentioned that her neighbor (Leah's) parents were planning on listing their house for sale soon...and would we be interested in taking a look before they did?


Nichole said that the house was on five acres (YES!) but that it was a two bedroom ranch (NO!).  Our ideal home would have been a five bedroom two story house....why five rooms?  Well, master, two kids bedrooms, a guest room and then an office for Ryan and I to share since we both technically work out of the house.  So, while we had very low hopes that this potential house would be right for us we decided it couldn't hurt to take a look.  At this point we'd spent hours and hours and hours driving around, going on showings, etc so what was another hour at this point?


As we drove up the driveway and got a peak at both the house and the land we knew we had a winner.  But, we knew we'd have to see if we could make the two bedrooms work for us...could we add on?  Convert a space to a bedroom?  Finish an unfinished area?  Is there a way we could make it work?  We decided it was time to get creative.


Pam and Gary (the owners) took us on a tour of the house, the detached shop and the property and we were hooked!  At that point we hadn't sold our house yet (it was about a week later when we got the offer on Robin) so we thanked them for letting us take a look, told them to keep us in mind before they sold to anyone else and went home.  Just one short week later we landed the offer on Robin and the rest is sort of history!


Since Pam and Gary hadn't listed their house for sale yet we actually ended up doing the purchase without realtors on both sides...making the price something we could afford (because they passed some of the realtor savings on to us).  Buying this way has been a complete DREAM for us...and I'm wondering if we could ever do it the normal way again.  I mean...we literally negotiated on price and the specifics over beers and handshakes in the back yard and then we brought in the lawyers to make it all legal.


Pam and Gary have been amazing to us through the entire process.  We went through the house room by room with them and worked out what would stay and what wouldn't.  We bought some furniture from them, got them to leave the washer and dryer and were even able to start moving things into the shop this past weekend before we'd signed the paperwork.  They were the most amazing couple to work with.  We hope they feel the same about us!


So -it's been a roller coaster of a ride, and I'm so happy to say that the hardest part is finally over.  We've got keys in our hands, the paperwork is signed and our names are on the title of our new house.  It's been stressful, exhausting, exciting, and crazy all at the same time.


Moving with two kids has been tough....and I think the move has been hard on Abby.  Hazel is too little to really understand what is going on, but Abby has been living in world where every day she comes home something else is moved or packed and she's seen her toys dwindle down to only a Barbie camper and some Lion Guard toys.  She spent the last few nights sleeping with only a mattress on the floor in her room but we're finally into the new house and I think she's starting to see that things are going to get back to normal.


On top of the move, the girls have also moved to a new daycare.  Another hard decision we had to make, but our old daycare is about 20 miles from the new house and with me working from home, it was just too many miles to do that commute just to drive back home again.  The good news is that the girls are now going to the daycare with Parker and Reece (Nichole's two adorable kids) so they've got some built in friends on the very first day.  Abby and Hazel started there today so we'll see how that goes.  

What I love most about it is that Nichole spent summers with us when we were younger.  My mom, being a kindergarten teacher, was off in the summers and she babysat Nichole for many summers.  Those are some of the best memories I have of childhood.  Joey, Nichole and I keeping ourselves busy and probably getting into trouble 5 days a week.  And now, my kids get to do the same with her kids.


So, do I have some mixed feelings about leaving?  Not really!  Sure, this is our first "house".  The place we raised our two kids in for 4 years.  It's the home we brought Hazel back to after she was born, the place we threw first birthdays for both girls.  The first time Ryan and I built something together...renovated together, argued about paint colors and hardware choices.  Went back and forth with room layouts and furniture placement.  We've grown as a couple and as a family living here on Robin Lane...so for those reasons, sure....but this new house, it's so awesome, guys.  Seriously!


I can not wait to have you all out to visit and help us make all kinds of new memories in this new house.  And, for those of you that live farther away and may not be able to visit, I'll be back at some point with pictures of the new house before we moved in...and maybe some in progress moving pictures as well so you can see how we lay out the rooms.


Oh!  And, I can't forget to send a HUGE thank you out to everyone who came out to help make this move possible.  We recruited both sets of parents last weekend and next to get us packed up and moved.  Chris and Brenna donated some of their Saturday to help shuffle box after box after box out of the basement (you guys helped more than you know) and Erin's here helping to unpack boxes as we speak.  Dan, Ellyn, Mom and Dad all came out to help with the unpacking today and I know we've got another work weekend ahead of us but I'm feeling like we'll be pretty settled within a week from today and that is ONLY because of all of the help and support we've had along the way.


I spent the days between Hazel's birthday party and yesterday packing as many boxes I could a day.  My goal was five boxes a day and even with all of that prep work I know we could not have done it  without the help of our friends and family these past few weeks.  You guys are awesome and we're here to repay the favor whenever you need us!


Ok - that's enough chatting...I've got boxes to unpack and furniture to reassemble.  I'll be back with pictures of the new house for you in a bit...but for now, finish up the tour of Robin lane from the day we listed (it's never been this clean again!) and enjoy!





Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer Babies and Raspberries


Hazel is NOT afraid to eat...anything.  This kid will eat more than Abby and I combined if allowed.  Now, Abby on the other hand, she's a bit harder.  She's doing better these days and we've expanded her "yes" list quite a bit, but she's still pretty picky.  One afternoon we took a little trek out to the back corner of our yard to check on the raspberries and boy were they ready to be picked!


I planted three little tiny shoots of Raspberries 3 summers ago and this year they finally took off.  The patch filled in really well once we put a fence around the patch to keep Ryan from cutting too close to the bushes when mowing.


I was worried that Hazel would prick her fingers on the bushes, but she did great so I ran inside to grab my camera and I'm so happy I did.  These pictures just scream summer to me and I just know these will be hanging around our house in short order.


Fruit is one of the things on Abby's yes list so she's always excited to go out and help pick.  A few weeks back when Erin was out we picked some berries and then took them beside to pool to nibble and drag our feet in the water.  Abby asks if we can reenact that same scene very single time we pick berries now.  She's a creature of habit and her Mother's daughter for sure!


Yummmmm! Raspberry stains and all.  Happy Summer ya'll!

Monday, July 11, 2016

1 Family x 12 (July)

We're looking back and remembering all of the good memories from the holiday weekend.  Wishing we were doing this all over again...but instead, it's Monday, daycare is back open and it's back to real life for us.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hazel's First Birthday


Well, what can I say?  We've logged yet another summer birthday party in the back yard of the McGrath home.  We've been SO lucky over the last 4 years that we've had great weather for every single kid birthday party we've had.


When we threw Abby's first birthday party we came up with a winning combination and haven't changed it since.  I'm sure by now, everyone knows what to expect.  Tables under the trees in the back yard, fried chicken from Chick 'n Dip....rainbow colored balloons tied to the chairs and lots of kids, dogs, beer and family/friends.  We've got it down pat now...so why change it?


Hazel's first birthday was no different....and you know what, it worked perfectly.  There's not a ton to say, so just enjoy all the great pictures (courtesy of Chris Murphy).


We had such a great time and are so thankful to everyone who came out to help celebrate this little peanuts big day.  It was great to see friends we haven't seen in a long time...we really do need to be better about that!


Bubby's special birthday cupcake was a hit, as always. Abby has grown to love this little tradition and I'm sure Hazel isn't far behind.  She was tentative with the frosting at first, but it didn't take her long to figure it out.  I'm not sure why, she makes the biggest mess EVERY single meal, so why she was choosing to be neat this time is beyond me.


And, with that, sit back and enjoy the pictures!







Opening presents with kids is like trying to get cats to walk in a line. I've found it's better to just let them go crazy and try to control them to do just one present at a time giving me time to at least get the card opened and the gift written down before moving onto the next. No slow unwrapping is needed.  It's a crazy fun time and the kids love to help!









This John Deere "pooper" as Abby calls it is a big hit.  Abby likes it because it poops out balls out the back end.  Hazel loves it because she can stand on top of it like an elephant on a circus ball.  She's a crazy kid!