We are West Virginians!: The Process to Finding Our “Home”

Two weeks ago, we turned in our Virginia licenses and registered our car in West Virginia. We are officially West Virginians! I wanted to take some time to record our journey to becoming West Virginians/home owners…

Back in March (2016), we drove out to West Virginia to look at a potential neighborhood for our future home.  We had seen this neighborhood online that we liked and thought it wouldn’t hurt to check it out in person. Back in March, the earliest we thought we would buy a home would be springtime of 2017. However, I wasn’t even sure if we’d buy a home that soon.

John was really the one interested in buying a home and was a huge advocate of the financial benefits of owning versus renting. Early on in 2016, I suggested we attend a home buying seminar put on by our bank. I figured this was a way I could show him I was supportive of the goal of homeownership, even though it seemed scary to me.  (I highly recommend attending a first-time home buyer seminar for anyone wanting to buy their first home.) This helped me better understand the steps for buying a home and the pros to home ownership. I told John that I’d agree to make a goal to buy a home within the first five years of our marriage. When I told him that, I definitely didn’t expect that one year and two months into our marriage we would close on our first home.

Now back to that fateful day in March… The neighborhood we had seen online wasn’t quite as grand in person as it had appeared online. Don’t get me wrong, the houses were beautiful and totally lived up to what we had seen online. The thing we didn’t like was how close the houses were to one another and how narrow the streets were. On our way back home, we saw signs for another neighborhood that was being built. We pulled into the neighborhood and it just felt so much better. There was more space between the homes and the neighborhood had such a welcoming feeling. The homes were definitely smaller, but the neighborhood felt so much more like “home.”

We ended up spending two hours touring a model home and evaluating the pros and cons of this home. It was a ranch style home with a very large basement. As we talked about this home, it felt like this was “our home.” I could totally envision raising a family in this house. There was another house in the neighborhood that was slightly bigger, but when we walked inside, I felt the exact opposite feeling of “home.” The floor plan was way too open for me, and while I liked that it was bigger, it just didn’t wow me like the first model.

On the drive home, we were so excited. We knew that this builder would still be building homes in 2017 in this neighborhood, so we didn’t feel any pressure to sign on a house in that neighborhood anytime soon. We felt so good about this house. However, after a few weeks, that good feeling kind of faded. When we crunched the numbers and figured out how much it would cost to finish the basement, it felt like it was a little outside of what we wanted to pay. So we stopped talking about it and figured it wasn’t meant to be.

In May, we had a weekend with no plans. So, we decided to drive out to West Virginia and drive around some of the homes that were for sale to help us determine what neighborhoods we liked. Then, when the time came to actually purchase our house, we’d know what neighborhoods to keep an eye on. It ended up being quite a disappointing afternoon. There wasn’t one neighborhood that felt like “home.” Some of the neighborhoods had nice houses, but the streets were narrow and lacked sidewalks.

John suggested that we drive to the neighborhood we visited in March that we had really liked to remind ourselves of what we liked about it. So we did. Once again, as we pulled into the neighborhood, it just felt like the sort of neighborhood where I would want to raise a family.

We walked in the sales office and the salesman we had met two months prior remembered our names. He even had an earring of mine that I lost when we visited back in March. He then let us know that he just found out that very morning that the builder was offering a deal on the next five homes built that included finishing the basement at no additional charge. Wow! So we went home and prayed and pondered about this opportunity that had in some ways just fallen into our laps. We decided this was the right decision for us and for our future family. And the following Saturday we signed the contract to begin the building of our home.

In June, we went to the Design Center to pick out the finishes for our home. And then we spent the next six months watching our home be built. It was amazing to see this journey of buying/building a home unfold. As I sit here in our basement, typing this blogpost, I truly feel “at home.” Throughout this experience, I have felt guided by God. Things fell into place in ways we didn’t expect. God opened doors for us in ways I could have never anticipated. I am so grateful to call West Virginia (and this particular house) our home.

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December 2016 Moments

It’s officially 2017! I want to write a post that recaps 2016, but before I do, I felt I needed to update the blog with our Christmas experiences this past month. Truth be told, it didn’t really feel like Christmas for most of December because we were surrounded by moving boxes. My focus was so much on making sure everything was ready to go for the move on December 17, that I didn’t feel like I could fully get into the Christmas mode.

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Our annual Christmas Eve photo in front of the Christmas Tree (this year’s turned out blurry).

On December 16, we officially moved into our new house. We were supposed to do the big move on the 17th, but an ice storm was predicted to hit the area on the 17th. So, after work on the 16th, we rented a truck and loaded it up and headed to our new home. Thankfully, John had taken over lots of loads during the week since we closed on the house, so there wasn’t too much stuff to move. My parents and brother also came and helped us move. By 1 a.m., we were getting ready for bed in our NEW HOUSE.

Even though the move was a big focus this month, we still found time to participate in Christmas activities. The first weekend in December we headed to the National Zoo to see the Zoo Lights. We also attended a Christmas sing-a-long with my parents at Shenandoah University.

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Later in the month, we attended a Messiah Sing-A- Long in Ashburn. My dad played the trombone for the sing-a-long.

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This year for Christmas, we stayed local and celebrated with my family. On December 23, we went to the Kennedy Center with my immediate family for the annual Messiah Sing-A-Long. We gathered together on Christmas Eve with some extended family for a delicious dinner, caroling, and a white elephant gift exchange. That night John and I exchanged presents after returning home. The next day, Christmas Day, we went to church with my family, ate our traditional monkey bread for a late breakfast, exchanged gifts, FaceTimed with my brother Blake, who is serving as an LDS missionary in Arizona, and finished the day off with a turkey dinner.

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We spent the next couple of days after Christmas working on the house. We did manage to also spend some time with two friends who came over for lunch and an afternoon of games. We had an adventure getting to lunch because of a road closure, but ended up at the most unique restaurant called “John’s.” John and I drive past this restaurant on our way home from work. It’s a small restaurant on the side of the highway, and its parking lot is always filled with cars. The inside looks like an antique store and the food is all homemade. It was a fun lunch experience!

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In the foyer of the restaurant.

John’s family came into town on December 28 and will leave tomorrow. We’ve had fun doing Christmas activities with them, as well as with my family. My Uncle Kevin, Aunt Diana, and cousin Cory also came into town and stayed with my parents.

On December 29, we bundled up and headed to the National Christmas Tree. We walked around and looked at all the state trees and then took pictures by the National Christmas Tree. My dad has a picture of John and I by the Iowa tree, but I don’t think I’ve grabbed that from his phone.

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Sisters & Sisters 🙂

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On December 30, we headed to the Washington D.C. LDS Temple. We participated in a service at the Temple and then walked around and looked at all the Christmas lights. Inside of the Temple Visitors’ Center, there was a room full of nativities from all around the world. My favorite part of the evening was attending a hand bell concert. The McLean Stake Hand Bell Choir performs at the Temple Visitors’ Center every Christmas season. I’ve not been able to go the past few years and see their performance, but this year it worked out. They were great!

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John and I with my Aunt Diana and Uncle Kevin.

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On New Year’s Eve, we gathered at my parents’ house for food, football, and fun games. We chatted, laughed a lot, and I personally ate way too much food 🙂 Yesterday, New Year’s Day, everyone gathered at our house for dinner. It was fun to have our first family gathering in our new house.

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I don’t want to end this post about Christmas without saying how grateful I am for the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. He truly is the reason for this season of joy. He is the reason I can have joy each day even when life is hard or challenging.