Monday, September 26, 2016

5 Things I Miss About Michigan

So of course, I miss my friends and our church. That goes without saying (but I just said it).

The top 5 things I miss about Michigan:

1. The Lake!
We lived about 30 minutes from Lake Michigan. On summer weeknights when we wanted to go to the beach, we'd eat dinner and then throw a few things in the car and go to the Lake for the evening. It was so effortless and relaxing. In Michigan you're never far from any lake, much less the Great Lakes.

2. Meijer
I used to think I hated Meijer. But it turns out that shopping without Meijer as an option is really no fun. Wal-Mart just isn't the same. And we might have lived in Michigan for 12 years but I never adapted the Michigan custom of saying "Meijers". There is no "s". ;-)

3. Biggby
Coffee shops are expensive in general, and it isn't like I lived at Biggby. But Biggby's coffee is just so good. They don't roast it as dark as Starbucks does so their plain coffee is quite delicious. We went to the Charleston area last weekend and I made sure we went to the one Biggby in South Carolina. Yum.

(not plain coffee)
4. Storage of a basement and garage
I never fully appreciated the amount of storage we had in both our basement and garage. The houses in our area that were in our price range which we were interested in did not have garages. Most houses in this area do not have basements, unless they are walk out basements. So, we've had to get creative with storage and get rid of a lot. It's not a bad idea to declutter!

5. Snow
Just kidding. I will not miss the snow.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Our Move to South Carolina: the Move and Our New House

I wish I had a picture (no, I don't) of all our earthly goods out on the front yard. We had so many friends come and help us move, that all of our belongings were moved out of the house about four hours faster than the truck could get packed. So everything was across our front yard, the neighbor's drive way and even in the road! for a very long time. I just stopped looking.

Sigh. We had so many lovely friends helping us. Words can't express what my heart feels when I think of all our friends and the help they gave us.

My brother came to help us move! That was a huge blessing too! He ended up driving our car most of the journey down, while Kevin drove the truck. My brother is 13 years younger than me, and this was the most time we'd spent together as adults. It was great to talk the hours by. My brother also pulled up funny comedy sketches on his phone and we listened to those.

We moved into a small apartment with most of our stuff in storage. The plus side of the apartment was that it was close to work and one of my sisters. And it had a pool! My daughter learned to swim in the two months that we lived in the apartment.

So, on to our new house! We found our house relatively fast! We only went out with our realtor twice to look at houses, and of the six houses we looked at with him, the house we bought was the only one that we hadn't requested to view. Lesson: just let the realtor do the work! If you have a good one they'll find the perfect house for you!  In the end everything worked out, but our house deal in Michigan had us worried for a while. And then they did stuff like send us a check for the equity we  had in our house, instead of wiring it, and our bank did stuff like, "we are going to put a hold on this check until the very day you need it" but it all worked out in the end, Praise the LORD! We just feel so blessed with our house. It's so beautiful! Even though we've been in our new house for a month it still doesn't feel like we've been here that long! I'm showing pictures of the house before we moved in. We're still settling in and making it our own!

The screened in back porch

The laundry room off the kitchen

the breakfast nook

the kitchen, looking from the breakfast nook

the living room

the dining room (looking from the living room)

the main bathroom

the master bedroom

master bathroom

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Our Move to South Carolina: Staging and Selling our House

A few weeks before we listed our house, we spoke with a realtor who came by and walked through the house, and prepared an estimate of what he thought our house would sell for. When we were getting the house ready to list I asked him what we should do beyond cleaning, decluttering, and taking personal items down. He suggested that we get the basement as empty as possible, either by selling the items or by storing them in the garage. That answer surprised me, but I guess it must be easier for a potential buyer to look at a garage with stuff in it and envision cars in it, than to see a basement cluttered with stuff and think of how much storage there is.

I scoured Pinterest for staging ideas and came up with a list of things we should do. We wanted to spend as little money as possible but have the house look as nice as possible.

We sold and gave away so much stuff! There was a minor brawl on my hands over the piano giveaway (but I need to let that go...LOL). As I mentioned in my previous post, we sold the snow blower. We also sold extra pieces of furniture, and anything that was down in the basement or in the garage that we knew we didn't really need or want to move.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law came to see us before we listed the house, and they were such a HUGE help in getting our house ready for listing! We couldn't have done it without them! I also had two friends come by and help me, and again - I couldn't have done it without them!

Besides cleaning and decluttering, we touched up paint. Some of that ended up being a huge job because of old paint not matching the new touch up paint (I painted two whole walls in the dining room). Because we took personal pictures down there wasn't much on the walls, but it ended up looking perfect in the pictures!

We did buy a new toilet seat and new towel rods for the bathroom. I also bought fluffy white towels for the bathroom, as I had read that on several posts about staging houses. Besides those things for the bathroom, and touch up paint, we didn't buy anything else for inside. In April I redid the flower beds up front before we knew any of this was up, so I added some bark mulch (3 bags @ $2.50 a bag), a $5 pillow for the bench and a $10 fern for the plant stand. Just some things to add a little curb appeal. In the back, we had a long bed that we had taken lilacs out of in the fall. It really needed something to make it look like it had a purpose, so I bought hostas from a person selling them on Craigslist. That was $10 and I got enough to fill in the length of the bed. Also outside, we sold our raised beds and soil and gave away our compost bin and all the wonderful compost and worms inside it!

We didn't do anything terribly fancy or expensive. Mostly it was just elbow grease and either packing or selling extra stuff around so each room had nothing but the basics. It does look a little sparsely decorated but I wanted to lean that way more than overly decorated. Once we listed the house, we had a lot of interest! The first two days it was on the market, we had 10 showings and 2 offers, one of which we accepted! Our realtor told us that the hard work we put into decluttering and staging really made a difference!

The finalization of the sale of our house was not a super easy thing though - we hit a few snags. But it all went through and we were so thankful to our realtor who took care of everything after we were already moved out and in another state!

Tomorrow: the Move, and Our New House

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Our Move to South Carolina: the Announcement and Pursuing a Move

In April we were busy living our lives in Michigan! The weather wasn't very great but one weekend between snow and rain and more snow there was nice weather and Kevin built three additional raised beds for our garden, and got the soil for them. We were living as if our roots were settled.

On April 29th, a Friday, Kevin came home from work as usual and motioned me to the bedroom to talk. I thought he had an outing in mind but wanted to check with me before bringing it up in front of our daughter. Little did I know!

Instead of plans for the weekend he told me that his boss was shutting down his business. The business that his boss had built from the ground up, that was going well from our perspective, that had provided a steady income for our family for the past three years - closed. In a month. (In fact, everything ended up being wrapped up in two weeks after that announcement.)

After questioning Kevin (closed? as in: no more? what? why? ), I slowly said, "Maybe this means we can move to South Carolina now." My heart that I'd been carefully guarding against discontentment, now exploded with hope in the possibility of moving. And Kevin, instead of saying we were fine where we were, looked at me and agreed that it was indeed a possibility.

On Saturday, Kevin updated his resume and sent it to a company in South Carolina that was advertising a position he was interested in. He had me read it over, and the only comment I had was that perhaps he should remove our cell phone from the resume, because we don't really use our cell phone. He did decide to leave the number on, and sent it off. Not twenty minutes later, the cell phone was ringing. I just looked at Kevin in disbelief. And it was the company that he had just sent his resume to.

While the company had been quick to call and schedule an initial phone interview, after that it felt like they moved very slowly. In retrospect it wasn't that slow - but at the time it felt like all we were doing was w-a-i-t-i-n-g. 

In the meantime we started doing things like talking with a realtor, and as we got nearer to knowing for sure about the job, Kevin did something totally crazy: he sold our snow blower!

And then, finally, the company got everything squared away and gave Kevin an official offer letter. After that it was GO time! We had a lot to do to wrap up our Michigan lives: stage and sell our house, declutter as much as possible, and get a place to live in South Carolina.

Tomorrow: Staging and Selling our House

Friday, September 02, 2016

Our Move to South Carolina: the Backstory

Every story has a backstory! And the story of our move wouldn't be complete with a little backstory!

We moved to Michigan 12 years ago, and about a year later, bought a house and settled in. For 11 years.

We didn't have family in Michigan, and while it was just the two of us, it truly wasn't that "big of a deal". I missed being near our family, but we got to see them periodically. Plus, Kevin's sister and her husband lived in Wisconsin so we got to see them every so often also. But after we had our daughter, I really felt the impact of having no family near by.

Last year for Thanksgiving, we decided to go to SC for the holiday. It ended up being an almost complete family get-together - just missing two of my sisters and their families. For a lot of families if there were "just" two missing that wouldn't be almost complete! Haha..but in my family I guess it is. ;-) We didn't go with the thought of moving, we just went and had a nice time with family!

We did have a discussion after we came back though: wouldn't it be nice to be closer to family? But then we decided to put it to the back burner and see what happened over the next few years. So I started checking out books like Love the Home You Have and was trying desperately (and praying!) to be content with our house, our location, our life! And it was mostly working!

Tomorrow: the Announcement and Pursuing a Move