Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Vacation Home

This summer we'll be heading to the Northeast coast for the Darrell & Lois Bartholomew reunion.  My brother Roger, who lives in Oregon, is hosting the reunion this year.  A couple weeks ago I reserved this:

Pictures from and

I am SO excited to be staying in a yurt!!! I don't know why, but I think it will be awesome.  And Lee is excited about not setting up a tent!  "Tenting" would be cheaper, but for a bit over $100, seven people and three nights, I'll take it.  This yurt actually sleeps eight people and has BEDS! The layout picture I inserted sleeps only 5, so there must be another bunk bed in our yurt. Though it's not a hotel room, and has no tubs/showers/toilets, it will keep us dry from any rain.  (Really, our tent does a good job of that...we've camped in the rain before.) Still, I've never slept in a yurt and I am excited for the experience.  Roger and two of my sisters have yurts reserved right by us.  Can't wait!  Ruth and Jenn....can we meet up for a visit???

Friday, February 22, 2013


Has something ever come up in your life, a piece of news or a big project, and you can't seem to focus on anything else except that thing?  That has been me yesterday and today.

Yesterday we got some information concerning the rental house.  If you haven't read the earlier post about it, our landlord has been foreclosed on.  We got a "cash for keys" offer where if we vacate by a certain date, Freddie Mac will give us money.  If we chose a date in March we could have received $1000 more dollars, but we opted for the move out date near the end of April.  Plus, I called Freddi Mac, and we don't have to pay any rent March or April!  Pretty sweet.  This will definitely help with expenses for closings costs and improvements to the house.

So that was yesterday. 

Today we actually put an offer in on a house! (The one across the street.) The loan lady called me this morning saying that sometime this afternoon we should hear if we've been pre-qualified or not for a loan.  I went ahead and met with the realtor to go over the offer.  The kids had school canceled today (I really am not sure why...the snow was gone and melted by about 9:30am or so).  This afternoon we all took a trip into Harrisonburg for Lee to sign the offer.  We weren't sure yet if we should submit it or not because we still hadn't heard from the loan lady.  Really, worse case scenario is that we just wouldn't be able to buy the house because of financing.  I went ahead and brought the offer to our realtor.  Just a few minutes after I handed it to her and was still at her office, the loan lady called!  She said that we were pre-qualified! Now I hope we will be fully qualified to get the loan after the offer has been accepted. Since the house is an estate (or something like that) we gave them till Monday night to get back to us.  It would be awesome to hear something tomorrow of course!

Crazy day.  Now I feel less anxious though so that is good!  Now maybe the girls will get their jobs done since I can go in and supervise them now.  I'm not so distracted, ha ha.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I teach a Sunday school class at my church for the 10 and 11 year-olds.  One member of my class was baptized on Sunday!  It was great going to his baptism.  When I first started teaching him the beginning of the year I was under the impression that he and his family were already members.  But no.  His sister recently joined the church, and his parents aren't members.  In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, children can be baptized when they turn eight.  Since I have an older age group all of them have been baptized already.  So it was a treat to be able to go to his baptism.  I am so proud of him for making this decision.  He's a great kid. (He just turned 11....he's taller than me!)

Jan 17 2012 Ruth and Chris Munoz's baptism

Friday, February 15, 2013


This waiting around is killing me.  We are in the midst of finding out if we qualify or not to get a mortgage.  (So funny and weird that I want them to say yes!)  There is a house we want to put an offer on but we are waiting to hear back from the mortgage company.  No point in offering if they say no. I have checked my email so much today.  At 4:00 I am going to start calling.....I think I am going to have an even harder time waiting around after an actual offer is submitted!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope you are enjoying this fun day.  I love special events and traditions that happen throughout the year.  And after all the wonderful decorations and festivities of Christmas, the winter seems bleak when the holidays are over.  Valentine's Day adds some fun to the normal everyday routine.

I love the love notes that my kids write.  Haley, in particular, writes them all year long.  It's so sweet. I love the picture of me and Lee. It was so sweet because her blue Valentine for us came via the mail from school!
Feb 13, 2013 Haley Love Notes

Feb 13 2013 Haley Picture

Here are Shanna's. Her white one on the right also came from school.
I received it in the mail yesterday. So fun.
Feb 13 2013 Shanna Love Notes

Cal made this at art night last week.  I love how he did the lettering.
Feb 13 2013 Cal Love Note

So Clark's isn't necessarily a "love" note, but it was very thoughtful of him to think of me while scratching out the letters at art night!
Feb 14 2013 Clark Love Note

This morning the kids awoke to some fun little gifts.  It's amazing how FAST everyone gets ready when there is a surprise waiting....  Hopefully starting next year, I'd like to give all my kids books each year for Valentine's Day.  We had hot chocolate and pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips for breakfast. I got Lee some chocolate and a Valentine of course! I had 5 heart-shaped York peppermint patties. For the Valentine I wrote five different notes to Lee, trying to link them with mints.  I used words like refreshing and cool. I folded the hearts up and hot glued the mint (in the wrapper) onto the heart. I put them all into a glass container. You can actually see it to the left of Clark's head. I also put out the candy that their friends had given them.
Feb 14 2013 Haley Cal Clark

Feb 14 2013 Shanna Elden

Feb 14 2013 Elden

Feb 14 2013 Clark

Feb 14 2013 Cal

Every year my dad would write each of us kids a personal Valentine and leave a Little Debbie treat with them.  He would ring the doorbell and run away, leaving the Valentines on the door step.  It was a very fun tradition.  Thanks Dad! Now that we are "grown", my mom sends us Valentines each year.  I love it! Lee started doing the same thing my dad did and will do the same thing tonight for the kids.  One year the kids thought the postman had left the Valentines from Lee.  That was funny.

Last Saturday 4/5ths of the kids worked on Valentines for school and Elden worked on them for friends.  Yesterday Elden and I delivered two of them.  We delivered the rest today with Lee's help. (Actually, there are two more to deliver which we'll do tonight.)  Shanna has been counting down the days to Valentine's Day.  Last Valentine's Day the boys brought home a lot of goodies from school--the girls are excited to do the same this year.  (Especially Shanna!  I love how she giggles and squeals with excitement...literally too!)

I made a chocolate truffle pie for tonight. It will be a chocolate truffle pie with chocolate pieces as I didn't melt the chocolate properly with the cream.  I was going to make this for just me and Lee, but decided that I will be nice and share it with the whole family.
Feb 14 2013 Chocolate Truffle Pie

Because Valentine's Day was this week, Lee is going to do the date again.  When we got home from the school this afternoon I noticed a heart taped on my handmixer that I had left out.  Lee created a little clue hunt for me regarding our upcoming date. There was a message on the back of the heart. Then I saw another heart on the microwave.  I kept walking around, finding one by the bathroom door.  I had a harder time finding the last heart.  Lee said that if I just did my everyday things I would find it.  I looked in the fridge and freezer, the washer and dryer.  (Though I don't do laundry everyday.)  I found the last clue on my scriptures. We are going to a play tomorrow night!  I am not sure which one, he wouldn't tell me. 
Feb 14 2013 Lee Date Clues

Yesterday I received a delivery--a pretty rose from Lee.  I do get flowers from Lee, but past Valentine's Days I haven't received flowers from him because I told him not to (because of money....ha ha).  Thanks Lee!
Feb 13 2013 Shanna

This afternoon Elden wanted me to take a picture of him with his chocolate bar.  They had Milka bars at Sharp Shopper for $0.50 each!
Feb 14 2013 Elden (2)

Have a fun-filled day today! Hope you enjoyed the Valentine over-loaded post!

Rich Chocolate Truffle Pie
By: Marbalet...???  It's from
Original recipe makes 1 pie


  1. In microwave dish combine chocolate chips and 1/2 of the cream. Cook on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Stir in sugar & vanilla. Set aside.
  2. In small bowl, beat the rest of the cream until soft peaks form. Beat in chocolate mixture on high speed 1/3 at a time. mix well and spoon into crust.
  3. Refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Date & Other Activities

I am excited that Valentine's Day is tomorrow!  There was a great deal on some yummy chocolate at Sharp Shopper that I bought for Valentine's Day right after New Years.  I did eat some of it, but I have held on to most of it though! I also found some cute little "guinea pigs" for the kids at our local pharmacy. Cal really wanted one (they're fake) for Christmas but I forgot about it until AFTER I had spent all the kid Christmas money. Thankfully Cal didn't say anything about it on Christmas Day! I noticed them again, half-off, at the pharmacy after Christmas!  Sweet! I also bought a book for Clark at Barnes and Noble.  A teacher gave me a gift card as a thank-you right before Christmas.  Clark's book cost me about $1.  I must say, I really like book stores.  I had fun looking around.  Elden even sat in for a few minutes during their story time.

We've been up to different things.  A brief summary: no-school-parent-teacher-conference day, playing with friends, art night at the school, volunteering at the school, date nights, eating a free Papa John's pizza (thanks to a pre-Super Bowl competition which we don't even watch...who won anyway?), going to a birthday party, and deciding not to get the older house I posted about previously.  We've decided on a different house that we like which we've toured twice already.  It's funny how quickly plans change.  After our friend looked at the house and told us an estimated costs to fix putting in a vapor barrier in the basement, new drywall to cover the plaster walls containing asbestos, dealing with lead paint, etc. we decided to go a different route.  At this time it would be too much time and too much money.  Maybe someday...

Right now we are waiting to hear back about getting a mortgage.  We are doing a conventional 15-year fixed.  One problem is that Lee has been self-employed for only 1.5 years. "They" want to see 2 years on his record.  Hopefully our no debt record and our great credit scores will help. I am a little surprised that we both had a great credit score as we haven't borrowed money or got a loan or a credit card (we canceled our credit cards in 2010) for anything since the end of 2009. As time goes by I've heard that our credit score will go away, which is totally fine with me.  But it does make it a bit easier to have a great credit score when trying to buy a house.  I met with the loan lady the other day and left frustrated.  I had no idea that "they" wanted to see that we have money in the bank for closing costs also (in addition to a down payment).  And I didn't know that they would want to know where our down payment money came from! Plus I didn't have all the paperwork I needed. I was really hoping for the first meeting I would have all the paperwork squared away.  As far as I know the paperwork is done now; I am just waiting to hear back.  But, ugh, cash would be so much easier! I have been checking email a lot today and no word yet. It is possible that we may not even be able to get a loan at this time.  If so we'll contact two other companies.  If they also say no, we'll just rent this house for a few more months and go from there.

Lee and I had a mid-week date last week since our weekend was pretty busy.  Lee was in charge and did a great job.  We had yummy Ghirardelli brownies and played Boggle. 
Feb 6, 2013 Date Night

I love the creative note he made!
Feb 6, 2013 Date Night (2)

And if you were's IBC root beer. 
Feb 6, 2013 Date Night (3)

And for some random photos: Clark feel asleep one night mid-teeth brushing.
Feb 2 2013 Clark asleep

Shanna loves to do certain jobs.  She thinks it's so great when it's her turn to wash the dishes.  On Saturday she said: Mom, when do I get to mop the floor?  I want that to be my job.  Per Shanna's persistence we pulled out a bucket and I filled it with just plain water.  Soon after that we had to leave to pick up Clark's friend and fuel up the van.  When we got home I stayed outside and cleaned the van a little.  When I came in Shanna had already moved the kitchen rugs and mopped. I found her in her room taping wash cloths around her shoes so she could wipe up the excess water.  So funny.  I guess Shanna is taking after me!  Though I don't like to mop I've heard that when I was about her age I wanted to sweep the floor a lot...and maybe other jobs.
Feb 9 2013 Shanna

Feb 9 2013 Shanna (2)

Elden fell asleep in my lap while I've been doing this post.  Sadly he'll be too big some day to crawl into my lap and fall asleep.  I love snuggling with him, awake and asleep.  I've been very blessed that my last kid is so affectionate.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Exciting Life of Boring People

Practically every Sunday my family and I chat on google+.  Every now and then we share the crazy stories of our lives.  My brother Roger frequently shares crazy stories (maybe because he lives near Portland?); recently I shared one too.  Despite Lee and I being pretty regular-but-Dave-Ramsey-weird people, we have had crazy things happen to being accosted by masked guy who stuck a gun to Lee's head, sending off our twin girls to live with my sister Lena for two months (because I was in the hospital, 2 hours from home, for 5 weeks pregnant with Elden), someone stealing our identity by opening credit cards in our name, getting my if-I-were-president statement published in a book (okay, that was in middle school, he he)..with a few more to add to the list.

Lee and I are renters.  We've been married for about 10 1/2 years and we've never purchased a home, condo, townhome, etc.  We have been able to live in three different places for free, which was a blessing; but never have we bought anything.  Currently we are renting.  Did I mention that we are renting? Before I tell you my crazy story I want it firmly ingrained in your mind that we are renters and have never purchased any type of dwelling (except a camping tent).

Right before Christmas a letter came stating that the house we are renting would soon be foreclosed. Right after our New Year's trip (here, here and here), we received another letter stating that our landlord's house would be foreclosed, with an upcoming auction of the house on the steps of the court house.  The auction has come and gone and the house is going back to Freddie Mac. Now maybe this isn't so crazy as, sadly, many homes are being foreclosed.  But this is the ninth place Lee and I have lived in and we've never faced this before.  Freddie Mac will contact us the end of February and we'll discuss the options then. It looks like we can stay on as renters, but in a way we don't even want to mess with Freddie Mac.  Side story: when the lady came to give me the information from Freddie Mac she felt really bad when she saw my kids.  She told me that usually the foreclosed houses she goes to are already vacant.  I told her that we are renting and she felt much better. 

When we moved here we planned on buying a house 2-3 years later.  We are now at 1 1/2 years here, and we might be buying a house very soon!  With the foreclosure happening, we might move sooner than we thought.  We eventually will have to move as Freddie Mac will put the house on the market.  We really don't want to move into another rental.  We don't have a lot of "stuff", but with seven people in a family, we do have a few things!  Moving "stuff" is not fun.  I've always wanted to ditch the college furniture when we bought a house, but that might not happen. 

We do have a house in mind that we would like to purchase.  Funny how plans change, but it's really, REALLY old, and I never set out with the plan to buy a house this old! It's definitely a huge renovation project.  Hopefully not a "gut" job because in that case we might not buy it! If we actually buy the house I will post pictures, but here are two.

I admit, the staircase is pretty cool. Thoughts, Nathan?
Jan 19 2013 (21)

Jan 19 2013 (22)

And in our case with buying a house, a mortgage comes into play.  We've been debt free for quite awhile.  We paid off our student loans back in 2009.  We did enter an agreement to buy the practice here, but 3 1/2 months into it, we were blessed have that paid off too (thankfully in the case of the practice we never had to physically borrow money from anyway...just make payments).  We love not owing anyone/business/institution money!  More and more I would love to put 100% down on a house, but realistically, we don't want to do that.  We will unfortunately use the luxury of paying interest so that we can start buying a house.

I have been filling out paperwork to pre-qualify for a loan.  Ugh. I don't like how they want to know every financial thing about us under the sun.  And on top of that they want ALL of our tax statements from the past two years and retirement fund statements. Cash would be much easier!!! My one glimmer in it all: I don't have to fill out anything under the "Liabilities" column. It felt nice telling the loan lady that we didn't have any debt. If I ever buy an investment property in the future (which I would really like to do), I am definitely paying for it with 100% cash. Maybe I would even bring in pennies at closing time.....

By the way, with all this money talk, the "program" that got us fired up and focused about paying off debt is Dave Ramsey's baby step plan.  Check out his book The Total Money Makeover.  So good. A must read! His website,, is great too; plus you can listen to his radio archives on his website.  I like to listen to the show when I'm at home cleaning or doing stuff around the house.

We've been praying a lot about the whole situation and know that Heavenly Father has guided us and will continue to guide us.  We don't know exactly when we'll buy a house or how long we'll keep renting, but it will all work out.  And in the scheme of things, it doesn't really matter what happens.  Though being evicted because of a foreclosure was never on my bucket list.  (And would someone explain to me why your things-I-want-to-do-in-life is called a bucket list? I'm confused.)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Clark's Pinewood Derby

Clark recently had his second pinewood derby.  Lee and Clark enjoyed getting his car ready...though I am sure Lee enjoyed it the most. Lee has fond memories of pinewood derby races when he was in Cub Scouts. Strep has been bouncing around our family, so that night Haley and I hung out at home.  (Clark, Elden and I haven't been sick's hoping...)  Lee took lots of pictures for me since I missed out.  Enjoy!  Oh, and next year it will be double the fun for Lee--Cal and Clark will be doing the Pinewood Derby together!
Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (10)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (11)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (16)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (17)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (19)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (20)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (21)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (22)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (23)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (24)

Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (25)

Clark got the "coolest" car award.
Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (26)

Great memories!
Jan 30 2013 Clark's Pinewood Derby (28)