Saturday, March 30, 2013

Our New House

Going back to January 1, 2013, buying a house was nowhere on the goal list for this year.  Honestly, we didn't even think it would be an option for at least 5 more years.  We had no down payment saved, and honestly we were happy renters.  If something went wrong, it was great to just call the landlord.  We knew there were some benefits to owning, like the tax write-offs and things, but again, we really just didn't think we could afford it.  With four kids and a teacher's income, it just wasn't going to happen.   Back to the point, we just didn't think it would be in the cards for us anytime soon, and I was fine with it.

We are currently renting a 3 bedroom house and it has worked great, except Kevin (5 months) is still sleeping in our room.  He still doesn't sleep through the night so we have not wanted to put him in a room with any of the other kids.  We knew our contract was ending the end of April, so we thought at that time we would look for a 4 bedroom house to rent.  Well, in Plano the cheapest 4 bedroom we found was $1800/month and my initial thought was, I'm sure you could buy a house and have a mortgage cheaper then that!  So that is why I even had the first thought of buying.

Our good friends were going through the house buying process and they stopped by to drop some toys off for our kiddos (they were downsizing, so thanks for the free stuff:)) I was just talking to them for a few minutes to see what it was like and who their realtor was.  I knew there were some programs out there for first time home owners and I knew there were some classes to take and things so maybe I would just call to see if the process would take a year or more then maybe we could get started....

So I called Paul, who is an amazing realtor, and told him we would just like some information.  He gave me the name of a loan officer and said it basically starts there.  I then called Armando, the loan officer, to get some information.  Turns out his company is actually in association with Plano School District and there were some things we didn't need to pay for like fees and things, because Kyle was a teacher in the district.  Well that was great news! So I filled out the application.  I talked to Armando's assistant, Carmen and told her all about these student loans we have in deferment.  Basically we are part of the IBR program.  With this program, they calculate the amount of people in your family and your annual income to determine how much you pay on your student loans monthly.  Once you qualify for IBR for 25 years, your loans are forgiven.  I tell Carmen this info, that we have student loans in deferment, didn't seem to be a problem.  I also tell her that Kyle tutors on the side.  He makes pretty good money doing it, but he didn't do it very long last year, so we didn't have to claim it on our taxes.  Again, this didn't seem to be a problem.  So we filled everything out and low and behold we pre-qualified!!!!  That was news to us.  Like I already mentioned, and I'm sure I will keep mentioning, I just didn't think we would have the money to even pre-qualify.

Well with that letter, we decided to start looking at houses.

Our first requirement was the house be in Plano school district.  We love the special ed programs here, they have really helped Josh and we didn't want to take him out of that.  We also wanted at least 2 living areas.  As a stay at home mom, the living areas are where we are all day.  The kids don't just play in their bedrooms, so I didn't care if those were tiny, I just want great family living space.  So we looked at house after house after house.  All 4 bedrooms with 2 living areas and all built in the 70s or earlier and you could TELL!  For example the ovens back then were 24" and the ones now are 30" so a big difference and we would have to do some major remodel/updating to even just put a new oven in.  Kyle and I talked about, when we get a house we want it to be for the long haul.  A house that we can raise our family in and not grow out of in 2 years.  All the houses in Plano we felt we would grow out of soon.  And they are just really low on inventory right now.  If a house was on the market for more then a week that was a long time to be on the market.  If we even kind of liked a house it would be under contract latter that day, so you had to make a decision fast.  So if you don't get your off in right away, you won't get the house.  After seeing houses go so fast I started getting nervous that we just wouldn't find one that we liked, in our budget, and in time (we had to let our landlords know if we would be staying or not).  I created a pro/con list of buying/renting.  Yes, I am a major list maker... and after that list I had decided we just need to rent for a while longer, we just aren't ready to buy yet.  I distinctly remember being so super tired one day with a new baby.  I had decided to talk to Kyle that night about renting for a while longer.  Hannah was taking a nap, the boys were watching a movie and I was holding Kevin, reclining in a chair hoping to just catch a few minutes of a nap.  My eyes were sinking shut when I just had this overwhelming feeling that we needed to buy, that Heavenly Father had a house for us, and it is what we need to do now.  I instantly was wide awake and had energy the rest of the day.  It was such and overwhelming feeling that I knew it was what we needed to do, and honestly that instance is what has helped me get through this whole process.

After not finding anything in Plano, we decided to expand our property search to McKinney.  You can get a lot more house for your money.  And as much as we love being 7 minutes away from Grandma and Grandpa Hercules, we needed to find a house we could raise our family and that fit our budget.  We were looking at tons of houses in McKinney (I think we saw a total of 30 houses) and there was one that I really liked.  It was a foreclosure and had been on the market for 4 1/2 months, which was a super long time.  We wanted to put an offer on it.  So that night we wrote up the offer and as we were going through it we found out we needed the Earnest Money to "hold it."  Yep, we didn't have it, so we couldn't submit the offer.  We had to wait for our tax return to get in.  That meant waiting a month and looking again then.  I was hoping the house would still be available at that time and we could put the offer in then.  So everyday that month I checked and it was still available.  I didn't want to get my hopes up to high, but I was thinking, its been here this long, so maybe...

A month goes by and we get our tax return! Yeah, we are ready to put an offer on the house!! But guess what, the house went OFF the market the exact night before we wanted to put the offer on it.  WHAT?!?!?!?!? I couldn't believe it.  It seemed like this was supposed to be our house, it had waited for us to get they money.  So, back to the drawing board. We started looking again, and found another house we liked.  Space wise it wasn't my favorite compared to the first one, but it had new carpet/paint and was compelelty move-in ready.  Kyle loved it, so we wanted to put an offer on this one.  It had just gone on the marked that day (a Thursday) and we saw it at like 1pm, so we were pretty confident and were ready to make an offer.  Our realtor called saying he just talked to the listing agent and there were already 4 other offers.  So we offered $5000 more then listing price, but there was a cash offer on the table that they picked, so we didn't get that house, obviously.

We were just thinking we didn't want to settle for a house so maybe we would just stay in our rental one more year and look again next year.  Then our Realtor called us saying the original house we wanted was back on the market.  It already had multiple offers but they weren't very strong.  So right away we offered the asking price, but asked for closing and the home warranty and a few other things. This was on Friday, and being a foreclosure, the bank wouldn't look at offers until the next Tuesday (Monday was a holiday).  So we waited, and found out on Tuesday they accepted our offer over 14 others!!!!!  We were so excited they picked ours, but at the same time we knew it was still the beginning of the process, so not too excited.

So now we were officially under contract and all the timelines began.  We had 7 days to get the HOA documents-$300.  Then 10 days for the inspection- $325 house inspection, $95 termite inspection.  And 21 days to secure financing.

Here's where it became the biggest, most stressful pain in my neck! I never want to go through financing again.  I compile the whole list of everything they asked us to get and turned it in.  Then it's print sign and fax back in packet after packet. Yep, if you buy a house, buy a fax machine first:) Thanks to grandma for having one and helping us.  I'm a very private person financially and so this was really hard for me having somebody comb through every single penny we earned or spent.  The first issue that came up was Kyle's paychecks did not match up with how much we originally said he made. Right, because tutoring isn't on a paycheck.  But then the issue was we couldn't count that because it wasn't on the tax return.  Right because he didn't make enough money doing it for us to claim it.  Well apparently that through our debt to income ratio off and we didn't qualify anymore.  WHAT?!?!

And we had to many student loans.  But if they were in deferment for over a year we didn't have to count them.  Well, they were good until March 2014, so I thought they were good, and I still don't understand why, but apparently that's not a now we are having issues here too.   We change house insurance companies in order to bring the cost down some so that will help the ratio and we send in all the information proving the loans are in deferment.  Then we had to do a three way call with the student loan lenders and the loan officer to for them to say it was in deferment. But then the issue is the processor says, yes they are fine now, but what is going to happen when these loans come due.  So he wanted to know how long we would qualify.  It goes year by year and we couldn't guaruntee how long we would qualify, and neither could the student loan companies because there are so many factors.  They referred us to a website they use to determine if we qualify.  So we get on the website with the loan officer and processor to show them how long we would qualify.  Here is the really sad part: based on how many kids we have, and with a teacher's salary, even including a yearly raise, which at the most is $400/yr, Kyle would have to teach for 75 more YEARS for us to not qualify anymore! HAHAHA so we basically proved that we will qualify for the duration of the house loan:) Oh man, that's so sad it's funny.

We get all this information, and spend all this time doing it, and then they call saying that they aren't due until March 2014, so they don't have to count them.  WHAT? That's what I said in the first place!  Well, at least that isn't an issue anymore.  We have to turn in our bank statements for the past year and they see deposits every month from checks.  They as what they are, that's the tutoring money.  Well, since it is continuous and on the statements they can count the tutoring money.  What? That's what I said in the first place!  Unnecessary stress.  I think it was hard too because they had to call me for everything, since obviously Kyle can't answer the phone while he is teaching.  So it was just really hard on me trying to do it all and turn it all in quickly.

While this is all going down our 21 days to secure financing is coming to a close.  So I'm freaking out about that.  It finally goes to the underwritter and it is there for a day when our 21 days is ending.  It's 4:30pm and we still haven't heard anything.  I think we only have 30 minutes to get this done and it just isn't going to happen.  I cried for like the 100th time over this house thinking we aren't going to get it because financing isn't going through on time, and at this point we will just be out $3000.  Kyle kept telling me, it's just money.  Which is totally true, but it's still hard.  I tried calling everyone and nobody was answering.  Kyle gets home around 5 to me crying that we aren't getting this house.  Luckily he got a hold of the loan officer and he was told it is more like a "soft close." They like it to be financed by then, but you really have to closing.  Phew, but really what's the point of the deadline then?  Just to freak me out I guess.

Remember I said we had no money for this house other then our tax return, and with the earnest money, HOA stuff, and inspections that money is gone, so how are you going to put a down payment down?  Here is where being a teacher is AMAZING!  They have a Teacher's Bond that covers the down payment!  It's like a big pot and there is only so much, so you have to request the money and see how much you get.  Luckily with buying at the beginning of the year, there is still money in there.  First we were told the money couldn't be requested until we were under contract.  We were under contract for a month and we still didn't have it.  Then they tell us we couldn't request it until we had final loan approval.  But we couldn't get final loan approval until we could prove we had money to close, which included down payment.  Ok, something doesn't make sense there.... you can't get one without the other, but you can't get that one without the other one.... I brought that up to them and then we get the form to request the bond money.  And we have to apply for another program through Texas, MCC, which apparently means we get 35% of the interest on the house per year up to $2000.  So that's great, but we have to pay another 1% of the house at closing.  Yeah, more money to pay....I just felt like I was in the dark with everything.  I've never done this before some I know nothing about the process and all this stuff kept coming up and nobody told me, I had to go look up what everything was.  It's just hard to feel like a dummy.

We are now in the week we are supposed to close and still don't have final loan approval, we don't know if we got the bond money, and we don't know how much money we need to close, so we don't even know if we can afford to close.  We were set to close on Friday and on Thursday we finally get the call that we have final loan approval, the bond money came through, and we just owe $320 total to close!!!!!!!! I can't put enough explanation marks after that.  I couldn't believe it!  The day before we are supposed to close and finally everything comes together.  But you have to have a little drama that day right.  So we were going to sign everything and close on Friday, however the financing probably wouldn't go through until Monday, so that is when we would get the keys.  Well, Monday is April and the loan had to be funded in March, so they were trying to get us to close on Thursday so it could fund on Friday.  I'm trying to get a hold of Kyle to see if he could get his classes covered and come home to sign the forms.  So he is scrambling to do that, but the title company couldn't do it, so we had to wait until Friday and they would just have to rush the payment.

The bank that owned the house is in Kentucky, so they had a mobile notary come do the signing with us.  We just asked her to come to our home, so that was easy:) Grandma Hercules took the kiddos to McDonalds to play.  We sat at our table to sign or initial what seemed to be a whole book!  And you can't just sign Sarah Hercules, you have to do your middle name too.  Which was harder for Kyle with a middle name of Eugene, having to spell everything out legibly took a while.  It took about an hour.  About 2 hours after that the house was funded and we have keys!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow, can see how we are supposed to be in this house?  So many things happened and I know this has not just worked out by chance.  Heavenly Father prepared this entire journey for us, and I know it is only because of Him that we got this house!

So, we now have our very own house! It has some work to be done, but we can't even say how excited we are for this next chapter in our lives!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mirena Madness

I have had many people ask me lately if I have a blog, or tell me I need to write a blog and I could make a ton of money.  Honestly I have no idea how people make money writing a blog, and even have time to do on continually. But, I have a bunch of ideas of things to blog about, and I really think that my story could help other people, so maybe I should write more... I say that now:)  But with everything I could be writing about like having 4 kids the oldest is 5 and one has Autism, or our process of buying a house (which we should be closing on at the end of this month!!) today I want to write about the Mirena (hints the name of this post)

FYI- This post may be a little TMI for some, dealing with "girly things" so stop reading now if you don't want to know the details:)

I have tried birth control pills, and even if I didn't go crazy on them, I still can't take them because I have a history of blood clots, which they believe was from the pill.  After my oldest son was born I had the Mirena put in and it was the most painful process ever!!  And even after that painful experience I could feel it (like I didn't put a tampon in far enough) and they didn't cut the strings so every time I wiped I felt like I was going to pull it out.  Anyway, so after a month of that I had it taken out.  I was living in Idaho when I had this experience.  So, basically I can't have anything with estrogen and the only other option was a depo shot or the little metal thing that goes in your arm (I can't think of what that is called now...).  My cousin introduced me to a method called Fertility Awareness Method (just get the book, it's great).  That is what I did after I had blood clots and after I had my third child.  It really works for me.  Basically you track your temp, cervical fluid, and cervix (I only did the first two) to know when you are ovulating.  Our bodies truly are amazing things that can tell us these kind of thing.  However, in order for it to be affective you have to track consistently.  Luckily there are many Apps now that can help, I like the Period Tracker (it has a picture of a flower as the face).  Well, after my fourth child I really didn't want to have any more kids right away and I thought maybe it would be easier to not have to track every single day.  Of course the doctor is going to push some kind of birth control.  So after talking to my doctor, I decided to try the Mirena again.

This doctor (now in Texas) numbed my cervix, which I have never had done before, so that felt kind of weird... but at least it didn't hurt to be put in this time.  And he cut the strings so I can't feel anything at all.  That is about all that has been positive about the experience.  I was losing weight consistently from eating right and exercising, but as soon as I had the M put in, I have not been able to loose a pound.  They say that weight gain is not a side effect, however after really digging on the Mirena's official website apparently there was weight gain in under 5% of users, so maybe I'm in that 5% and I'm just not gaining weight because I am striving to take care of my body.  That's just a bummer to be doing all the work and not seeing any results.  If that was all, it wouldn't be so bad, not great, but not awful.

I had the M inserted over 3 months ago and I am still bleeding every single day.  Yep, you read that right. Including the bleeding after having my fourth baby, I have been bleeding every single day for 4 1/2 months!  I describe it as, more then a panty liner could hold, but I'm not soaking through pads or anything.  Well after bleeding for 6 weeks I called the doctor.  They said in a perfect world, you would only spot a couple of days and then you would have little to no periods for the next 5 years (the length of the M).  But that it could take up to 3 months for the bleeding to stop.  So I just though, well I guess I will give it the full 3 months.  I did, and still bleeding every day.  I call the doctor back (just talking to a nurse) and she was like, that is not normal to bleed every day.  Maybe continued spotting for up to 3 months, but not bleeding every day.  So the options? First is to take a pill to regulate my body, but oh, I have a history of blood clots, so I can't do that, not that I would want to, I don't like the idea of all those hormones in my body.  Second to take a progesterone shot, which would force me to have a period and then hopefully regulate my body.  However, the issue with that is there is a 50/50 chance it would work, or it could cause my body to bleed a ton more and not stop, which obviously is not good, so they don't really want to do that.  Third, have it removed.  The downside to that?  They want $250 just to pull it out!  Um, we are in the process of buying a house right now and we just don't have $250 to spend on that.  Honestly I have tried taking it out myself, I can feel the strings, but I just can't get a grip on them.  So what do I do?  Still I'm not sure.

There are other things too, like how tired I am ALL the time, and I cry at everything! If I didn't have an IUD, I might think I was pregnant:)  I guess the concern now too with all the bleeding is that I am anemic.

I was talking to Kyle about it and I asked, "Why does my body not like birth control?" He responded, "Because a woman as beautiful as you should never stop having babies!" yep, he is the best husband ever!!!

Lesson learned is that I just need to track, it works for me, and it is natural and healthy.  I don't need or want extra things in my body that cause me to not "be me."  Another lesson is to not let somebody talk me into something (I was really hesitant to get the M because of my first experience, and ulitmatly the decision was mine, but I did feel a lot of pressure from the doctor).  I am so grateful to be able to have children and I love all of mine dearly, but I just don't want to have 20 kids:)  Even though they would all be super cute!!

Well hopefully we can get something worked out this week, where I will stop bleeding and I can have my body back.  But if you are thinking of getting the Mirena, in my experiences, Don't Do It!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Half Way through January

The half way point is always exciting, it means you have made it to the top of the hill and now you are on your way down.  They say that it takes 21 days to create a habit so I'm nearly there and overall I am pretty proud of the changes I have made.  We have read our scriptures every day as a family and had real FHEs each week.  I have personally read my scriptures every day, as well as read ahead of time the scriptures/lessons for Sunday School and RS.  I have been really good at praying every night, but I'm still working on getting a moment to myself in the morning.  I write 5 things I am grateful for everyday in my gratitude journal. I have cut out all sugar and pop from my diet.  I am typically in bed by 9:30 or 10 and up at 5:30 or 7 (depending on if I'm running that day).  Which brings me to my next point, things I haven't been, or I feel I haven't been ABLE to do.  I have made it through the first 2 weeks of the couch to 5k program and even though I don't consider myself a runner I always feel better after I go.  What I mean by not being able is the fact that my 3 month old still doesn't sleep through the night... I know I have written about that before, and maybe it's because all my other kids were sleeping through the night by this point.  But for example last night I was in bed by 9:30, up with Kevin from 1-3, finally back to bed, Kyle gets up with him at 4:30, my alarm goes off at 5:30 to run, but I have Kyle go back to bed since he didn't get to sleep till after 11.  So I'm sitting here writing this blog and holding Kevin instead of running getting in some time to myself....And the other area I have been wanting to improve in is piano.  I love getting to play and I love having a piano!  The hard thing is whenever I get a moment to sit down and play ALL 3 older kids suddenly have an interest and want to play too.  It makes it very hard playing the notes I want to with 8 hands on the keys:) We have a little 3 bedroom house all one story so it's not like I can play at night when they go to bed. So I'm still trying to figure things out there.

So overall like I said I feel like I'm doing the really important stuff better, but it is the things that I would really like to do but involves no children (exercise and piano) that have not been happening as often as I would like.  Maybe at this point I need to just be ok with that and realize that is just where my life is right now and one day I won't have any babies to keep me from running and I will wish I had that excuse:) I really like checking off what I did for the day and seeing where I am.  I do feel better overall and I feel like I'm a better mom.

Well I finally got Kevin back to sleep at 6, but here comes Conner strolling out of his room so it looks like whether I'm ready, well rested or not, it's time to start the day!