Thursday, February 28, 2013


I was ranting about leaving Aviano on FB and someone who has PCS'd (moved) a few months ago said that she'd heard this said:  "You don't leave Italy, you escape."  With as complicated and backwards as this country is, I couldn't agree more.

The most frustrating thing about this country is how backwards they are in EVERYTHING.  If there is a way to make something more complicated, Italy will find a way to do so.  Last month I wrote a note to Abbie's school stating that Brittney would be taking care of her while we were gone and that her last day of school would be the 25th of Feb.  The teachers wanted me to write a letter only stating her last day of school because the one with 2 things on it wasn't good enough....  Seriously?

To get out of cable and internet contracts (2 different companies) you have to send a letter to them by registered Italian mail.  They both required the same thing and I sent them both the letters the same way on the same day.  The internet was good to go and shut off, the cable company apparently never got the letter.  So today we took the box and remote back to the store and they called the company which told them they never got the letter.  So while we are STANDING IN THE STORE, it's not good enough for those people to tell the people at the customer service center we want to cancel.  No, instead we have to mail it (mail only, no email, fax, etc - nothing faster, God forbid) and then it takes a MONTH OR TWO for them to "process" it.  What the heck?  Why does this take a matter of minutes in the States and it literally takes 2 months here.  It is beyond frustrating.

Then comes the deposit.  Our deposit on our house was twice the monthly rent - so 2100Euro.  The military lends that money to you and then you pay it back once you get your deposit back from the landlords.  At the out-processing briefing they said to just take the check from the landlords to the cashier's window at finance and they'll take care of it for you.  So Mark got the check from the landlords and took it to the window today, and they said they don't take checks in Euros....  Uh, duh!  We're in Italy!  You think the Italians are going to give us a check in USD?  Idiots.

Which brings me to rants #3.  Our deposit was less 700Euro (about $1000) because we hadn't gotten the bills for trash for 2011 and 2012 and 2 months of 2013 and 1 water bill for 2 months.  So those 3 bills equaled a grand.  Do you pay a grand for TRASH every other year?  Seriously?

We have to have our rented appliances from base SPOTLESS when we return them.  I cleaned the microwave and fridge myself, but we wanted to hire someone for the stove, washer and dryer.  I called a few people with ads on the classifieds site and got a few quotes.  They were between 30-60Euro for the 3 appliances.  I went with someone that was cheaper and to African ladies (with the thick African accents) come out.  They walk in to the house and immediately say, oh it's going to be 60Euros because you have the big FMO stove and 2 machines.  As far as I'm aware, there is only 1 stove FMO rents and they're all the same size and I called and got a quote for the stove, washer and dryer, so they knew about the "2 machines" up front.  I said no, I'm not paying you that much.  Do it for what you quoted me or leave.  And then they asked for gas money because they drove all the way out to my house.  Uh, no way on God's green earth am I giving you gas money.  I told them I was going to put a warning on the classifieds about their bait and switch tactic and one of them went OFF.  Like yelling, waving her arms, getting in my face, telling Mark to "control his wife", ranted for about 5 mins.  We couldn't get a word in edge-wise.  It was fun.  So they finally left and another 2 people came out later on who had said it would be 40Euros and they no sooner walked in to the house and said "we came all the way from Maniago so we need money for gas".  I just walked away.  I couldn't take it.

We are in TLF's (temp lodging facility) on base, and we're in a 2 bedroom apartment.  It's decent except the light in the bathroom where their shower and toilet are (not by the sinks) is out, so that room is pretty dark.  Giving the kids a bath is fun.  I called right away Monday and they never came.  I called again yesterday and they said their one maintenance guy was out sick and no one else in the whole place could replace the bulb.  We're now at the end of the 3rd day, and the bulb is still out and we aren't allowed to fix it ourselves due to liability reasons.

Our plane takes off in 10801 minutes....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Abbie’s last day at the asilo


Friday was Abbie’s last day at the asilo in Sarone.  I was a little sad for her and for her teachers, since they were sad to see her go.  And I was a little sad for me since the asilo here is free except for the 2E meal ticket per day, and in AZ it’s going to be around $440/month for PART TIME.  Ugh.


Abbie has come a LONG way since her first day at the asilo.  She loves going to school now and gets sad to leave when I come pick her up after she’s been there for 7 hours.  I think she thrives in a group setting like that where she can be social and be around other kids.  She learned quite a bit of Italian and can sing nursery songs in Italian now, which is really cute.  I’ll miss that.


Ben and I walked this walk multiple times per week to take Abbie to school or to pick her up from school.  Usually I would strap him on my back in the Ergo, or I would push the double stroller up the hill so she could ride home.  The street above was about the only flat part of the walk.  The rest of it was uphill to her school, although it was less than a half a mile away.  I loved that her school was within walking distance of our house.  The two preschools we’re considering for Abbie in Phoenix are both about a mile and a half away from our house there.  I will consider putting the kids in the Burley bike trailer and taking Abbie to school that way there.  I loved that I could walk her to school here.  And I lost a bit of weight doing it!


This is one of Abbie’s teachers.  I think she had 4 of them that rotated throughout the day.  Abbie really like Maestra Marta (pictured above).  (“Maestra” means teacher in Italian.)  She didn’t speak much English, but she always gave Abbie a big hug when she got to school.  The night before her last day of school Abbie told me that Maestra Felica said that she would “have a tear” when Abbie left.  It was sweet.


Every day Abbie would ask if she could play in this park right outside the school.  The asilo has a private park not open to the public, but this was the little public park in Sarone.  It had like 3 things, but Abbie still liked it.  I think she’s going to be overwhelmed by the parks in Phoenix.  There is a park about 300 feet from our back yard in Phoenix and it’s even covered, so it’ll be shaded in the 120 degree heat there.  She’s going to love it.


I’m glad we put Abbie in the asilo during our time in Italy.  I know she really enjoyed her time there.  Hopefully we’ll find a preschool in Goodyear that she likes just as much.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Busy month!

I have to say, buying a house from overseas isn't the most fun experience I've ever had.  It's kind of stressful and it's a lot of work.

We have a fairly tight time line for the Stateside part of this move.  We get to Baltimore on 3/7 and fly to Phoenix on 3/8.  We're going to try to do the paperwork for the house over the weekend and close on the house on Monday 3/11.  My parents are flying in 3/10 to help us paint, work on the flooring, hang up stuff in the garage for storing, watch the kids, get settled, etc.  We have about 1100 sq ft of tile we want to rip out of the top floor and replace with carpeting.  To pay someone else to take that tile out would cost us a minimum of about $1800, but most quotes are closer to $2500/3000.  So we want to try to do that ourselves since that's obviously a lot of money.  So it'll probably take us a few days to get that tile out, and then they'll only have 5 days to get the carpet in before our stuff gets there.  In order to get the carpet in in those 5 days, most likely we're going to have to order it ahead of time and picking carpet out online is not my idea of fun.  So I don't think that's going to be possible.  And that pretty much messes up everything.

My parents are leaving on the 21st.  Their whole purpose in coming out was helping us get the house organized and all of our stuff put away.  But if we don't have the carpet in, we don't want our stuff delivered because I don't want to have to haul furniture and a zillion boxes up stairs by myself.

Mark's brother and his wife coming on the 20th, my parents leave on the 21st, Alex and Sarah leave on the 26th and then Mark's parents come April 3-10.  It's a lot going on in a short amount of time.  We're excited to see everyone, and I'm not too worried about all of our stuff not being organized for our guests.  They're all family and they'll understand, I just don't want moving in to be a month long process.

I've been busy trying to figure out how to entertain the kids on the flight back.  We got Abbie a Nabi, which is like a kid-proof iPad with all kid friendly apps.  I also got her a dry erase board with markers and a bunch of big sticker books.  I'm sure that'll keep her entertained for most of the trip.  Finding things to entertain Ben is a different story.  I found a little phone for him that makes "phone button noises" when you push the buttons on it.  He's obsessed with phones right now, so hopefully that'll entertain him for a good 5 minutes.  Haven't figured out how to entertain him for the other 11 hours and 55 mins but we'll figure it out...  =)

Things are winding up here.  Lots of last lunches with friends and starting to out process here.  15 days!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I've been feeling a little bit "blah" lately.  I feel like we're kind of in some weird limbo right now with this move.  We still live in Italy, but there always comes a point in every assignment where you know your time at that assignment is up, and you start focusing only on the future, and we passed that point a while ago.   We are trying to buy the house from over here and doing all of that via internet and the telephone isn't fun at all.  I've gotten calls from the mortgage company early in the morning (12:30-3am) because they forget that we're 7 hours ahead of them.  We're slowly getting everything worked out and set up, but it's not easy.  We just want to get there so we can get started on all the plans we have for the house.

I don't know if it's my imagination or what, but it seems like some of my friends are being really pissy lately, which puts me in a bad mood.  I always wonder what I did to piss them off, but I was gone for a week and then the week we got back was consumed with Luc's memorial, Cassy having her baby, Luc's dignified departure, the piano burning and our farewell dinner.  We also found out that another friend in the squadron has Stage 2 breast cancer and they don't know if it's spread at this point because she's 37 weeks pregnant and they can't do the scans.  So I guess people have reasons to not be in good moods, but it's hard not to take it personally when it seems to be directed at you.

Abbie has been more than difficult lately, but that's a separate post in itself.  Mark's been busy with work.  I've been busy with last lunches with people and researching stuff for the new house and working on quilt blocks for a friend in the States.  But really I don't feel like doing anything.  I just want to sleep all the time.

We're trying to contact people about carpeting for the new house and decide how much that will be.  I've heard as little as around $3000 and the estimates I come up with online are closer to $8000...  That's a big different.  It is really hard to do all of this via the internet right now.  I just wish we could walk into a carpet store, and see our options up close and personal and talk to someone face to face.  And since we're not there to measure the rooms and get exact square footage, it's really hard to get estimates on it also.  It'll all be worth it in the end, it's just a little bit stressful right now.

22 days....

This is what happens when you pee your pants and have to borrow pants from a friend....  She was ready for the flood.

Abbie loves to help, so she helped make breakfast.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Christmas card demographics

Normally I get this post up the first or second week in January, if not earlier.  This year has been nuts, so it's the 2nd week in February before I'm getting around to writing it...  Ugh.

Anyway, here goes:

This year I sent 140 Christmas cards out, and we received 70.  I made a nifty little spreadsheet on Google Docs to keep track of them all.

Here's where they all went:

In the US
IL - 24
IA - 23
CO- 7
WI & FL - 6 each
AZ - 5
TX & OK - 4 each
IN, MO & VA - 3 each
NC, SC, CA & MS - 2 each
NE, TN, NV, WA, UT, NM, AR & MN - 1 each

Outside the US
Italy - 33 (mostly APO addresses though)
South Korea - 2
Australia - 1
Japan - 1
Germany - 1
Spain - 1
Switzerland - 1
Vatican City - 1
Belgium - 1
Sweden - 1

If you want to check out 2011's card demographics, they're here.

It'll be interesting to see how this changes next year since we're moving back to the States and quite a few of our friends from Italy will be moving before next Christmas also.  I'm already excited about Christmas next year.  9 more months and I can start working on my Christmas cards for this year!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Not sold on the Mac

I have an iPhone that I really love, and an iPad that I find very useful also.  So when I dropped my laptop, I thought I wanted a Mac to go along with my other Apple products.  I thought I would be wow'd by it, but honestly, I'm not...  At all.

I have a 13" MacBook Pro, and I haven't really been all that impressed with it.  I mainly use my laptop for checking my email and surfing the web.  I read blogs, and check Facebook and the weather.  And I write blogs and edit photos.  However, I was using Windows Live Writer to write blogs with my PC laptop and I LOVED it.  I figured Mac would have something similar to use but they don't.  They don't have anything even remotely close to it, and the one they do have that is sort of similar is $40...  WLW is free.  I really don't like using the blogger dashboard to write blogs in.  WLW is much easier and better, in my opinion, especially since I put a lot of pictures on my blog.  I just can't format them the way I want to in the blogger dashboard without taking extra steps to create collages first.  I'm already strapped for time, most of the time.  Adding extra steps isn't an option for me at this point.

The other thing I do is edit photos, and I'd have to buy Lightroom for Mac if I want to do that on here.  I would do that if I was sold on other aspects of this computer, but I'm not at all.  And I think their photo storage on Mac's has left much to be desired.  It's a pain in the butt to try to figure out where it's stored photos.  I like being able to make my own folders for things, and I'm finding myself searching for photos before I actually find them.  I'm sure I'll figure it out over time, but I'm not sure I want to stick with Mac at this point.  I like that it has the photo stream linked from my phone on here, but that's the only positive so far.

I don't find this to be particularly faster than my previous computer either.  There are things I try to get into on my Mac (like the contacts/calendar section of system preferences) and every time I do it, I just get the pinwheel thing and it never opens.  It hasn't opened since I got it.  Just kind of freezes the computer.  Sometimes when I'm typing an email on it, it will start skipping letters randomly that I'm typing, which is super annoying.  It takes a while to boot up - much longer than my PC laptop did.

So what am I missing?  I was told by numerous people that I would love a Mac, and I thought I would too, but I don't.  At all.  I'm not sure this was worth the $300+ extra that I paid for a Mac vs a nice laptop.  Do you have a Mac?  Do you like it?  What do you use to blog from?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ben at 14 months

Our little man is 14 months old today!!  Hard to believe!!  This month has been interesting for us, for sure, and I am still amazed daily by this little guy!

Ben still has quite a bit of baby in him, but he's rapidly emerging into a toddler, and it makes me so sad!  I just want him to stay little!  He had 2 ear infections this month, and I discovered that my sign that he has an ear infection is that he gets eye goobies.  He didn't really have a temperature, isn't super fussy, doesn't pull at his ears, but he does get eye goobies.  So now I know when he wakes up with those, to get him to the doctor, although hopefully he won't have another ear infection for a long time.

He still has that horrible paci rash, even though he hasn't had his paci for over a week.  I'm hoping once this round of it goes away, it'll stay away for good since he's not using a paci, although that's not his decision at all.  I owe Brittney a big thanks for starting that process for us.  While we were back in the States, Abbie decided to try to pick Ben up and he fell teeth first into the tile, knocking both of his front teeth out in the process.  He wasn't allowed a paci for a week while he healed so we're just going to run with what was started and ditch the paci now.  He is MUCH more attached to the paci than Abbie ever was, so I do feel a little bad for him.  And I'm going to feel really bad for me when we go on the 12 hour flight back to the States in less than a month with no paci's for him...

Due to him not having the paci, he's been more difficult to get to sleep lately too.  He'll cry/fuss/scream for 5-20 mins at bedtime now before he goes to sleep, but he'll sleep until at least 8:30am if not later.  He's still taking a 2-4 hour nap in the afternoon and he's still drinking 20+ ounces of whole milk a day.  He eats like a champ and typically eats more than Abbie does at any given meal, but he lets you know if he doesn't like something... or if he does.  I made the mistake of giving him a teeny tiny little piece of a Girl Scout Thin Mint, and now he goes nuts every single time he sees them.

Ben gets SO excited when he sees Mark for the first time in the evenings.  It is adorable.  I remember Abbie getting excited, but not quite this much and not this young either.  Ben about turns inside out.  He screams and claps and kicks his feet and does everything he can to get Mark's attention (all while Abbie is doing her best to get his attention too) and if Mark doesn't go over and say hi, Ben crawls to him and pulls up on Mark's pants and stands there until Mark picks him up.  He loves it when Mark crawls around with him on the floor and he LOVES to crawl under Mark.  I have a few videos of it.  It's really cute.

This little guy is all boy.  He seems interested in different things than Abbie was at this age.  He gets a kick out of throwing things.  He is absolutely fearless of stairs.  He likes to turn things upside down, especially his bigger toys like the push ones or this musical table things.  He loves picking things up and putting them away and he loves "chasing" Abbie while pushing his little push toy.

Ben probably could walk by himself if he tried to, but he's not quite brave enough yet.  He's walked across the living room a few times, but it's not a regular thing.  He can bend down and pick something up if he's hanging on to the wall or his push toy or something.  He's really thinking about walking though.  You can see him staring at something a few feet away and he inches towards it while hanging on to something.  Then he'll take a few tentative steps towards it before he purposefully drops to the ground to crawl the rest of the way.  However, if I'm in front of him with my arms out, he will walk all the way across the living room and kitchen without falling.  That makes him so excited when he does that.  So he could do it, he's just choosing not to right now.

This is how he gets my attention.

He's such an easy going little guy.  I am so thankful I have at least one easy going child, since Abbie is about anything but.  Ben is very quick with his smiles, and when he wants your attention, he crawls over to you and pulls up on you and waits for you to look at him.  He doesn't get mad when you redirect him.  He's an expert at noticing if one of our lower cabinet child proof latches isn't hooked.  He immediately bee-lines for it and then opens the cabinet, all while watching you.  But you can go close the cabinet and he doesn't get mad at all.  It's super easy to get him belly laughing, which has got to be one of the best sounds in the world.

I just LOVE the little curls he gets in his hair.  He'll need a
haircut soon, but I'm enjoying this while it lasts.  Love it!

Ben is getting much better at doing the signs he knows.  He still doesn't say many words, although this month he added "Uh-oh" and "thank you" to his vocabulary, and he's also starting to sign thank you.  Abbie was much further advanced in her language skills by this point, but I'm not too worried about Ben catching up to her.  He's much more of the "slow and steady" type.

He's still in size 4 diapers and 12-18 month clothes.  He still hates having his diaper changed and loves to turn the TV off by the buttons on the side.  (Thank you, Abbie, for teaching him that...)  He loves playing with Abbie and doesn't throw quite as big of a fit when you put him in to his car seat now.  He's getting more interested in the dogs and likes to go over and beat on them every once in a while.  (His petting is more like smacking at this point, but they don't mind.)  He's fascinated with remotes and phones and the buttons on the stove and microwave.  He really is just a joy to be around.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Remembering Luc

Copyright 2011 Lucas Gruenther

Luc's memorial service is tomorrow.  I told Abbie I would be picking her up from school early because I was going to a memorial for a friend who died.  She immediately asked who died.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  Do you remember big, tall Luc?  (Side note:  Abbie has always called Luc "Big tall Luc" because she has another good friend her age, Luke.  So to distinguish between the two, that's what she called Luc.)
Abbie:  Yes, did he die?
Me:  Yes, he did.
Abbie:  How did he die?
Me:  He had an accident with his plane.
Abbie:  Where is his plane now?
Me:  Probably still in the water.
Abbie:  His plane is in the water?  Who got him out of the water?
Me:  Yes, his plane is probably still in the water.  The police got him out of the water.
Abbie:  The police aren't on the water.
Me:  Sometimes they are.
Abbie:  Why did he die when his jet went in the water?
Me:  Because he had too many injuries, I think.
Abbie:  Because he was going really fast.
Abbie:  I think Miss Cassy is very sad.
Me:  Yes, Abbie.  I think you are right.

It's still hard to believe that Luc isn't here anymore.  He was just so full of life and energy and always had a smile on his face.  He was one of those people that you just instantly felt comfortable around and he was so easy to talk to.  He made you feel like what you say really mattered and that he really cared.  I remember seeing him numerous times in the parking lot at the BX and we always found something to talk about for a few minutes.  He always gave you hugs when you saw him.

Luc taught me a lot about photography.  He showed me quite a few tricks and gave me more than a little advice on the subject.  He also gave me Lightroom 3 and a huge instructional book to go with it when he upgraded to Lightroom 4.  It's pretty much because of him that I got interested in photo editing.  Even though he had a busy life, like everyone else here at Aviano, he would always respond quickly to my emails with photography questions.  Both of the photos in this post were taken by him.  He really was an amazing photographer.  And because he was so outdoorsy, he got so many great shots of places some of us can only dream of seeing.

I remember the first time we met Luc and Cassy.  We were in Phoenix and our mutual friend, Chris B, introduced them to us since he knew we were going to be stationed at Aviano together.  They came over for dinner at our house and my mom did most of the talking, drilling them with questions, and Mark and I kind of sat back and listened.  But they were fun to be around and easy to talk to and Mark and I liked them a lot right off the bat.  We moved to Aviano within a few weeks of each other and we were disappointed when they chose a house in Maniago and we chose a house in Sarone since the two were about as opposite of base as you could get.

Luc loved kids.  Sometimes he would spend more time talking and interacting with the kids than he would the adults.  I think that says a lot about a person.  He loved asking them questions and keeping them involved, and in turn, they loved him.  Abbie absolutely loved "big tall Luc".  Every time we would see him she would talk about him for days afterwards.  We actually discovered Abbie knew a little Italian from the asilo because Luc was fluent in Italian and he started talking to her in Italian and she was able to respond.

It absolutely breaks my heart that Luc died 20 days before his daughter was due.  He would have made the most amazing dad, and just asking him about the baby and Cassy's pregnancy made him light up.  The fact that Cassy is going to have to give birth so soon after losing her husband is something I couldn't even imagine.  It makes me so sad that she is having to go through every pilot's wife's worst nightmare.

If you are the praying type, please say a few prayers for Cassy as she is going to have to attend her husband's memorial service tomorrow.  They had an undeniable bond that you don't see in most couples and they both had that special look in their eyes when they looked at each other.  They never, ever said a bad word about each other either, not even sarcastically.  I'm so glad that they had 15 years together (they were high school sweethearts), but I wish they would have had 55 more.

Copyright 2012 Lucas Gruenther

Monday, February 4, 2013

Phoenix house fiasco/ blessing

Feb 1, 2012

So apparently house hunting doesn't go nearly as easily as they make it seem on HGTV.  It's not where you look at a few houses and do a few hours of negotiation where the realtor runs back and forth while you nervously try to eat a meal and you seal the deal in what seems to be a few hours.  No, that's not how it goes at all.

Here's how it really goes.  First you spend 60000 credit card points and $1100 to fly 8 time zones away to try to find a house before you move so you don't have to live in a temporary apartment or hotel room with 2 young kids and 2 dogs for a month or two while you wait for closing.  Then you spend 2-3 days looking at houses, being completely overwhelmed and having every single house you look at run together to the point where you can't differentiate one from the other later on when you're trying to discuss them all despite you haven't taken decent notes on most of them.   Then you make an offer on a house that you love and tell them you'd love to have the deal sealed before you leave the country the next day.  They don't even come anywhere close to meeting the timeline you requested and instead make a counter offer about 2 hours before you leave the state.  And on top of that, they counter back with them dropping the price by $1000.  On a $315K list price, they "negotiate" by dropping it $1k, cut the closing costs that they'll pay in half and move the closing date back over 2 weeks.  They also say that basically they want to not discuss anything more until after the weekend, which is 3 days after we get back to Italy.

We are really frustrated with their counter.  We thought our offer was reasonable based on the comps in the area and the market.  Obviously we left a little negotiating room, but we thought it was a decent offer.  It seems like they paid more for that house a year ago than most of the other houses that sold in that area a year ago, so I can see how they want to get more money from the house than what they paid, and what they're trying to do by pricing it at $315k is have them still make money after all the closing costs and other expenses are paid.  We get that, but we're not going to set ourselves up for losing money when we want to sell it later on down the road because we overpaid for it and we don't want to pay more than the house is worth.  The fact that they're being so unreasonable is really discouraging and makes us feel like they don't really want to sell the house, even though we know they're moving out of the state in early April.  At this point I think it's smartest for us to play their game.  We're going to wait until Monday to make a counter offer and we're going to lay our cards on the table and see where that gets us.


So we didn't have to wait until Monday.  Early Saturday morning (Italy time) they rescinded their offer and said they were going to entertain other offers at this time.  So we gave up on that house.  I'm not exactly heart broken, because I still think it was too much house for us for our first house.  I don't want to be house poor and while we could have made it work, we would have been sacrificing in other areas.  We stressed for a while about our situation.  I was ready to call off buying a house and wanted to consider renting for our time in Phoenix but Mark was pretty adamant about not renting.  We started to look at other houses in the area that we hadn't seen and then started looking back at ones that we had seen.  Since it was really important that we had the master and 3 bedrooms upstairs for us, we narrowed our houses down to the area that we liked and that had the layout we liked, which left us with 2.  One was the first house we saw.  I liked that house as far as the layout and how bright it was, but Mark was pretty much dead set against it.  It needed new carpet and paint and the yard needed a lot of work and the yard and pool were both tiny.  He didn't like the neighborhood as much, which was odd since it was about a block away from the Mulberry house that he really liked.  So that one was out.  Which lead us to look at the only other house that had the layout we wanted.

When we looked at this house, there were a few things we liked about it and a few things we didn't like about it.  The pool and yard is the second best we saw behind the Glenrosa house.  It's in a nice gated community and it's on a corner lot, so it has a good sized pool and yard, with mature landscaping and grass and even a raise garden area for me.  There is a small park that we can see from our back yard, which is a huge plus for us and it's in a good school district.  It had double ovens and a gas stove, which were big on my list, and then Glenrosa house didn't even have those.  However, it seemed really dark in the house and that was a huge deterrant for me.  I like bright open houses and this didn't feel like that at all.  They had black window treatments though and the blinds were all down, so that didn't help.  My biggest dislike of this house was that the entire upstairs was tiled.  All of the bedrooms had tile and I am not a big fan of tile at all, especially in bedrooms.  So that will be something we'll change right away.  We're going to carpet the upstairs, although I think it's going to be pretty darn expensive since it'll be around 1500 sq ft.  And I'm still not sure if we want to try to rip out all the tile or just put carpet down over the tile…  We'll have to see.  We want to upgrade the appliances in the kitchen, although the house includes all of them, plus the washer and dryer and a built in grill in the back yard, so that won't be a priority for us right now.  We'll probably put in a tile backsplash and also updated the light fixtures through out the house, and update the master bathroom a little too.  It has a 3 car garage so Mark will have room to make a woodworking shop, and that was probably more of a priority for me than it was for him since I really want him to have the opportunity to pursue this hobby.  I'm sure he'd be great at it.

So Saturday we decided to make an offer on this house.  It was originally listed at $289,900 and they had dropped the price to $269,900.  We decided to offer $258k with them paying 2% closing costs.  After the first fiasco with making an offer on the Glenrosa house, we were really hesitant to low-ball them on the price.  To our surprise, the sellers accepted our offer as is.  We couldn't believe it!  We also found out that they are an older couple and he is retired military and a retired cop.

We're excited about our new adventure.  We went from wanting a completely done house without any opportunity for us to upgrade it, to buying a house that we will be able to customize to our liking and hopefully being able to earn some equity in it also.  I'm just glad that we have a place to go when we get to AZ instead of having to move in to a temporary apartment while we start the house hunt over.  The whole situation with the first house really was a blessing in disguise.   I don't have any pictures of our house, but if you'd like to see the listing for it, email me and I'll send you the link!