Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting the Animals Ready

As we prepare for our move something that has been really important is preparing our animals for this move too.  As I stated in a previous post we found a great home for our two younger cats.  Our older cat Doc is almost 17 years old and a grumpy guy set in his ways.  He is lovable when he wants to be. To prepare him for the move we bought a new carrier last night and a soft cat bed.

He loves the soft bed that I placed in the carrier to get him used to being in it.  He's in the laundry room right now as construction has started on the apartment the new owners are planning to have above the garage and I wanted to make sure he didn't get in the way or escape as the contractors go in and out.

Then our dogs needed grooming badly.  We bought a barrier to place between the back of the seats in the Vue for Nala and Bear to travel across country in the back of the car and to be sure they can't jump up front with Cameron or I. 

Bear After Grooming

Bear before

Nala Before
Nala After Grooming

Nala was 6 when rescued from a shelter, shortly after we got her we found the large cancerous tumor on her leg.  We were told she only had 3 to 6 months to live.  So I got her started on vitamins and healthy food and decided to make her as comfortable as we could for the time she had.  Guess it worked, that was over 4 years ago!!

Our basset hound Bea will ride in the truck with Kevin and the girls.  So now that we have our seating  assigned and the dogs are cleaned up and prepared for the move we are getting the chickens ready for their move to their new home. 

Bea just needed a good bath and will again before we travel

Kevin's going to miss his "girls" as they leave.  Having the chickens has been a real learning experience and a lot of fun.  It's also had the benefit of all the eggs they've provided us with.  Once we're settled in our new home that's something we'd like to do again is to have another flock.

So as we continue to get ready we are actively making plans for ALL the family members including the non human ones : )

Friday, January 25, 2013

Park Break

As my last post stated we have been really busy in preparation for our move.  So yesterday we decided to take a quick Disney break.  Kevin has two personal days he needs to use prior to his retirement date or he loses them as a benefit and with the paperwork and inspections completed in expectation of today's closing on the house, we thought it a good time to head over there.
This was in spite of the early morning rain and more in the forecast for the day.

So glad we did!!  Since it was a Thursday the crowd was already thin, but with the rain (that stopped early in the day) it was especially so - just the way Mom likes it  (big smile here)!  We were determined to get on the main Car Race ride at the new Carsland area of the park.  Hadn't been on it yet as the fastpass tickets were always gone almost as soon as the park opened and the line for waiting has been well over an hour each time we've been previously.  To our surprise the fastpass was still available for late afternoon and the wait in line was a half hour, so we decided to do both.

Racer Entrance

Photo of our 1st ride. Note flying hair as we sped along : )

2cd ride Hannah's in back with Dad holding her tight as she was scared, Lauren's whooping it up, up front

With the exception of Hannah we all loved it!!  She enjoyed the first part of the ride that takes you through a series of scenes from the movie, but when we reached the last part of the ride where you are participating in a race with the vehicle next to you that was too intense for her and she was not a happy camper.  This was hard to believe as this is the kid that drives her Barbie jeep and tries to spin it the way a stunt driver would, giving Lauren (her passenger) a thrill and us yelling for her to settle down so she doesn't roll her car!!  Maybe it's not being in control of the ride that didn't settle well.

On the other hand when she picked to ride on the carousel later it was Lauren's turn to go from excitement to terror.  Seriously, go figure?  The little girl who just got off the really fast race car ride squealing with delight went from happy and smiley to hunched over, clinging to the carousel pole for all she was worth with Dad consoling her that it would be okay  the whole time.  Only once it stopped did the smile of pure relief return.

Lauren getting set to ride, still smiling

Kevin enjoying himself, Lauren not so much

Lauren's death grip on the pole and Dad reassuring her

Hannah loves this ride

AH, ride stopped I can smile again and wave like I had fun : )

We walked, rode on a lot of rides as so many you just walked right up and got on with the lack of a park crowd. We ate and took time to get pictures since we won't be in this State too much longer.
A photo I made sure to get was of Hannah in front of "her" purple house.  Purple is her favorite color and this house, which is a cute front for offices in this park, has always been one she's pointed out as something she'd love to live in.

Hannah's Purple House

As the day drew to a close we headed from California Adventure back to the Main Park and stood to watch the lowering of the flag ceremony.

We then rode a few more rides, had dinner and finally took the Monorail back to Downtown Disney to walk back to the parking structure and head home.  Had a great day and enjoyed not having to pack or do projects for one day.

Today we are due to close on the house, YAY!!!!!  Amazing, can't believe it's all happening so fast.  Kevin and I have dental appointments, oh joy.  Want to get these done for everyone prior to our move and we'll spend more time packing, cleaning and staying busy with our long "to do" list.  All for a great cause, so can't complain.  Take care and have a great day too.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Busy, Busy , Busy

Not this much paperwork, but it feels like it sometimes

In preparation for the sale of our home moving forward and our upcoming move we have been busy getting necessary tests and work done on the house and property.  It feels like we've read and signed a ton of paperwork, though that might be a mild exageration (smile).  We are busy collecting and packing boxes with our stuff and just in general still cleaning up and clearing out.

Last Monday started with the well test, still waiting for the water results from the lab.  As mentioned in the last post we had the septic pumped, the pest control inspection, lots of contractors for the people who will be the new owners and then on Saturday we scooted out to take two of our kitties to their new home, get the girls new glasses, have the grant deed notarized and make it back home for a paperwork signing party with the new owners and their realtor.

SO happy with their new glasses

Today was the appraisal and this friday we will close!!

Even though the house will officially be the Fleming's our contract states we can remain until March 15th.  Our schedule is that we are planning to have the first moving pod delivered for packing on February 21st and the 2cd on the 25th.  Then they will pick it up on the 28th and the next day we're on the road on our way to FLORIDA!!!!!

In the meantime I've also scheduled my eye appointment and dentist appointments for everyone, in addition to our packing preparations. Final touches on projects we've started and don't like to leave undone are being finished.
We have the barn 98% completed, just a few spots that need to be gone over and the white trim done.

Barn/Garage Old Color

Now with new color

It's been a whirlwind of activity, but all for a desired outcome that we are really excited about.

Will keep you posted - Lynda

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Boxes, Boxes Everywhere

Our home is feeling more like a storage facility as we pack up, open cupboards and closets and continue to pull out years of accumulation to decided what gets packed, donated or trashed!!

We pulled everything out of the top floor of the barn so the people buying could bring contractors over and see the space as they make plans for the changes they want.  Though there wasn't that much stuff remaining, it has still added to the clutter of sorting and the addition of a lot of DUSTY boxes!

We've ordered a dumpster to handle the extra trash we'll have.  Have had another Salvation Army pickup and are preparing our Goodwill pile to take again.  We're sorting through the outside items to make some decisions the same way we've been doing with the interior stuff.

This has also been a week of professionals coming over for tests and inspections along with a steady stream of contractors to look at and prepare bids for the soon- to- be new owners' projects. This began Monday as a gentleman from a well service came to test our well for water quality and performance.  It passed fine, we're just waiting for final results from the lab on the water. A county hazard report was ordered online and sent to the buyers agent. This just lets them know what, if any natural or manmade hazards might be associated with the property location.  Nothing of any significance in that - so pass.  Monday also saw 3 different contractors here.  We've had to do some temporary fencing to accomodate our dogs and keep them out of the way.  They are not happy with the reduction in the size of their yard and all the people coming in and out.  Afraid there's nothing we can do about that for awhile.

Tuesday was the septic being pumped out and inspected - YUCK!!!   It passed just fine though - YAY.  Two more contractors over and our neighbors dog who keeps escaping from his yard and just has to be a part of the activity going on here. He's friendly enough just adds to the confusion trying to keep him out of the barn or away from our dogs now confined to their smaller space.

Wednesday it was pest control inspection.  The big plus to this one is the man doing the inspection is a person Kevin used to be on a volunteer fire engine with ages ago when we lived in the mountains. After the inspection was finished they spent awhile recounting some of the funnier incidents on fires or emergency runs in the back country they covered.  It was great seeing him, oh and we passed that inspection too!  A new contractor and the main guy, Mick who is coordinating this project were here.
Neighbors dog dug under our temporary fencing and got into the dog yard and our dog bear had him down and was letting him know this was his territory.  Was trying to deal with this mess as the new owners arrived to measure an area before they headed to appliance store. 

Today, contractor from yesterday is coming back for measurements etc.  and we are inspection free for the first time this week so it's on to more packing.  Tomorrow the dumpster arrives and we'll make some progress this weekend getting stuff truly cleared out.

The prospect of moving and beginning new is really exciting, but the process is tedious and at times overwhelming.  Yesterday especially so.  I didn't realize how much I like my orderly and mundane life and routine until it's been so disrupted.  So I keep looking at pictures of our new location and focusing on what's to come to keep the tension level under control. The kids have been great.  Cameron's a huge help and the girls diligently get their school work done in the morning then retreat to their rooms for computer work and play.  Bless their hearts this is exciting and overwhelming for them at the same time, but they are showing themselves to be real troopers in all this.

So as I finish this in the quiet of the early morning, before anyone else is up. I'll post to the blog, get another cup of coffee and enjoy the moment before our crazy, busy day begins.  Have a good one.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Amazing, Awesome....

Nasa's "Hand of God" Image found in a Supernova

Amazing, Awesome.

These are just a couple of the adjectives we've been using to describe the recent turn of events in our upcoming move preparations.  I wrote in my post this n that about our project to do list which included meeting with a gentleman from a property management company to list our home for rent and that we had been scheduled to do this last friday.

 I'll back up to Tuesday night  when Kevin found himself wide awake and decided to update information about our home on the website Zillow because a couple of friends at his work had asked for information on our house and had we considered selling.  As he typed in the new details to update all the changes we'd made since the last property info had been posted 7 years ago when we added the pool, he noticed a link that said "Make Me Move".  It was a price you assigned to your property that would really cause you to consider selling.  He'd already researched comparibles of homes that had sold in our area and knew this price was in the high range but was still realistic, and would be one that would be a great return for us.  So he posted that and closed the link without expectation of anything more.  On Wednesday he got an email from a gentleman asking if our home was still available and then later that day a realtor left a voice message with the same question.  When he responded he found this realtor represented the gentleman who had emailed us and they wanted to come over right away to see the property.  It was late evening and we were just getting to dinner, the house was in disarray from packing and we needed to get cleaned up ourselves so we scheduled a time the next evening for them to come over. 

Thursday the realtor Bob, the gentleman Chris and his wife Sue all came over to see the house, barn and property. Bob arrived first when it was still light outside and had a chance to see around, but Chris and Sue had been delayed and it was dark by the time they got here.  They loved our home and kept asking all kinds of questions especially as Kevin had shared not only the changes we'd made to the bare land we originally purchased here, but also about our ideas we had wanted to do if we'd stayed.   They asked if they could come back the next day and see it in the daylight so they could really see the property portion that wasn't really visible in the cold darkness they'd been marching around in. ( It was FREEZING for us with the temperature dropping to 36 degrees and breezy.)
So we scheduled that and they left.  A little while later Bob called and said they were 99.9%  sure this was the property they wanted as they were purchasing a place for their 26 year old son to rent as he started his own business and they wanted to bring him over the next day too.

So as usual we sat down that night and prayed as a family that if this is what God had in store to bless our family then we were completely open and to make it work out. 

Now the rental agent had originally been scheduled to come Friday morning to see the property and potentially list it for rent, but we recieved a call from his office that he'd come down with the flu could he reschedule for the following week?  And everyone else was due to come in around 2 pm to see the property again.  When they arrived it was Bob, Chris, Sue, their son Nick, his friend and business partner CJ, a contractor named Ron and a pool contractor whose name I can't remember right now.

They all pulled up, made their introductions and began excitedly following Kevin all over the house and property to see everything.  Chris had Kevin tell Ron (the building contractor) about the plans we'd had for an apartment in the area upstairs in the garage and the attached patio with the french doors accessing it we'd thought would be nice for this space, but clearly we never got to.  They loved the flooring we'd done, and the style we'd developed in all the various things we'd finished.  Nick loved the fact there was a greenhouse and we'd been experimenting with our aquaponics system, plus that we had a garden, greywater system for the washing machine water, and rain collection barrels.  They went on and on.  The contractors both left after some quick discussions and everyone else came inside for us to talk.

To sum all this up they made a full price cash offer on the house!!  Then said they knew we weren't planning on moving until April, but if we would be willing to close earlier (in two weeks) they'd have us stay for free until  we were ready to move if they could have the contractors begin to build an apartment over the garage and patio the way we'd described we'd always wanted to do. The pool contractor would do the rockscape refinishing and painting we'd had on our "to do" list and could we show their son how our water systems etc worked so he could know how everything was run?  In exchange for this teaching he and his friend would gladly help us load our pods when they arrived for moving.  I am awestruck at how this has all worked out!!

In addition to getting an incredible price for our home, we get to see finished some of the additions we had hoped to make.  We know that those taking over this land that we've stewarded all these years have similar interests and appreciate the potential this place has.  The timing of everything was incredible and God's hand was so clearly involved.  Even the realtor Bob said, "we really don't know how we found your place we just stumbled across the Zillow notice for Make Me Move" as they were searching other multiple listing sites. 

So we've gone into overdrive finishing up the barn painting,  we found a nice home for the cats and Nick wants the chickens.  The moving pods are scheduled and we've refigured our move schedule to be able to head to Florida by the beginning of March!!!!!!!!

The cynic would say coincidence, I don't believe that.  There's a saying we love that "coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous".   So as Hannah has prayed each night "let us move sooner, rather than later and bring the perfect people to buy (she always said buy not rent) our home who would love it too".  God has answered the prayers of our little princess with her incredile level of faith and her expectation in His coming through always.    Amazing, Awesome, Inspiring and Humbling.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Need Glasses!!!

Went to the optometrists office today to have all the kids vision checked out.  Hannah went first and definately needed to have the prescription for her glasses increased in strength.  This will help with the headaches she's been getting lately from the strain on her eyes with all the reading she does.

She chose these for her new frames.  Pictures a tad blurred didn't have my camera with me and I must have moved my phone as I snapped the shot.  Oops, still you can get the image clear enough from this picture.

Then Lauren went in with Kevin helping interpret her chatter for our doctor : )   Lauren has a bit of a speech impediment and understanding her can be rather challenging when you're not accustomed to her pronunciation.  We're working on this.  Needless to say when she was through she burst out the door and ran up to me with a huge smile, excitedly waving her arms saying "I need glasses!!!"  She was thrilled, because both her older sisters have glasses and now she gets them too.  Go figure.  In my day and world that would not have been a happy announcement, but for her she's beyond excited.

So we tried on several pairs of what I was adament with the wonderful lady who helped us,  needed to be a pair that was virtually indestructable.  Lauren has an ability to break almost anything, so we need to give ourselves the best opportunity for keeping these intact and functional as long as possible.  With as happy as she is to need these and the improvement she'll experience for seeing everything, I'm hoping she'll have some appreciation for taking care of them.  So here were a couple of contenders:

Looks like the same pair, but actually has different sparkles on the side

And this is the pair she decided she liked best:

My girl's definately have their own style and are fully confident about stating what they like and don't care for : )

Cameron's report was a slight case of far sightedness, but not enough to put a lens on, so he's our only family member who doesn't require some form of visual aid.

That's it for this post.  Have some big news I'll announce in the next post so stay tuned.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

This 'n' That

We are busy preparing for our move by packing up many items and storing them for now in our shed to both get the boxes out of the way and to get an idea of the amount of space they'll take up as we plan for the moving container size we need.

We have  a gentleman who is a realtor and has a rental agency coming by on Friday.  We've felt we would just rent our home at this time as opposed to trying to sell it in this market. So we've been fixing up items that need touching up or finishing projects that we'd started, but hadn't yet finished.

Kevin replaced the kitchen faucet as the old one had just finally worn out after all the years of use. Plus he made use of extra floor boards we'd stored in the garage after having to change out the kitchen flooring last year.  So he pulled up the old carpet in the master closet and laid flooring to match that in our bedroom.  Love the results, only wish we'd thought to do this sooner!!!

In the process of packing closets Cameron found the Noah's ark project he'd done ages ago built out of popsicle sticks.  Time to let go and trash it as we don't plan to pack and move this.  We also have Salvation Army coming friday for another pick up of furniture we won't be moving.  Rather than being sentimental or feeling any kind of loss, it really feels good to lighten the load and start fresh!!

Meanwhile in addition to their school work the girls have been keeping busy playing with their new Christmas gifts and helping us by entertaining themselves. Both still bounce between being excited about the upcoming changes and then saying they are nervous too.  I can appreciate this, as an adult I feel the same way, especially when having to make all the arrangements and being responsible for the outcomes of these decisions.  I have to stay focused on our goal and the benefits we expect with this move so as not to get overwhelmed by all we need to do to prepare. 

Dolls Pizza Party - love their creativeness : )


Friday, January 4, 2013

Surprise Request

We received a surprise New Years card from Lauren's orphanage in Shanghai with a note that thanked us for "your care and love to the child from Shanghai".  It also requested updated pictures if we were willing to share and an email address they could be sent to.

So I put together a couple of collage sets of Lauren over this past year and sent them off with an update on how she's doing and a note of thanks for all their care of her the almost 7 years before she arrived in our lives.

Lauren arriving on "Gotcha Day"

Lauren points to Hannah as she recognizes her from the photo album we'd sent her

It was 2 years ago this week that we were in Shanghai and Lauren joined our family.  It's hard to believe, time has flown by so fast and the changes in Lauren and for our family have been dramatic.
I've mentioned in past posts about the challenges Lauren suffered with her health from the time of her birth, to even a few months before we arrived in China being hospitalized with yet another kidney infection.  Since joining our family she's had nothing more severe than two colds and a brief bout with the flu!!!   The improvement to her health is truly miraculous given her history.

Signing all the final paperwork at the Civil Affairs Office

It's official she ours!!

She's had to adjust to a whole new life, language and learning to be a part of a family.  These are not easy changes and the process takes time, but the reward of seeing her blossom into her own person and part of this family is tremendous. 

In looking over the changes for all of us these past two years makes you really appreciate the importance of family.  Adopting an older child has it's challenges, and they are ones we still deal with. However, the rewards for everyone involved are nothing short of incredible. The opportunity to give love and be loved, to see potential and hidden talents nurtured and grow until they bring forth the fruit of real accomplishment - AMAZING!!.  Opportunities for a whole new future that didn't exist before, but now are completely in the range of reality truly brings a tear forth.

Lauren's grown literally, from a tiny 36" tall 6 1/2 year old who barely kept her 2 Toddler clothes on, to a now 41 1/2" tall  almost 8 year old who can wear size 4 Toddler clothes and fill them out. She's  still very tiny for her age, but has grown considerably. 

Lauren and Hannah busy with their schoolwork

Schoolwise she's gone from not even being able to hold a pencil or make a simple line, to basic writing with quite nice printing skills.  She is beginning to learn to read and is doing some 1st grade math.  We've had to deal with a lot of challenges in schooling that have included the reality that her ill health and malnutrition that resulted from it have caused some learning delays that require extra time and attention for her to gain and master skill levels.  Still, her improvement and progress has been significant.

So in response to the surprise card and request it was a nice chance to review where we've been and are now since Lauren's "Gotcha Day" on January 3. 2011.

 And so the journey continues - Lynda