The Home Buying Process: Part 1

I figured I would write a little about our experience during this home buying process. We had NO idea where to start as first time home buyers and I'm hoping our experience may help some people? That being said, I am not even close to an expert, and this is just our experience :). I am going to break this up into parts because it is pretty long and overwhelming.

We did a bunch of surfing the internet and driving around the 'ville before we even considered buying a house as a viable option. My dad has always pushed buying over renting because you are investing your money instead of essentially paying for space. I know it doesn't work this way for everyone, but we are both pretty happy in our jobs and where we are, and started to look at buying as an option.

Fortunately for me, my future husband is a whiz with numbers (and a budget... this is good and bad, ha!). He made spreadsheets of what we make a year, what our take home is per month, what would be a reasonable amount to spend on a mortgage, insurance, etc. [As a side note,I know we are pretty young to be buying a house, but we were both incredibly fortunate that our parents were able to pay for college, so we don't have any debt we are paying off currently. I don't say this to "brag" or anything of the sort, I just wanted to put that out there so you can see where we are financially.]

I started by searching the internet once he gave me a good concrete number as our highest. Fortunately, we have had an AWESOME experience with our Realtor and her website actually lets you put perimeters on what you're looking for: I put in the area we were looking, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, our budget range, and their system sends a new email as often as you want. I chose everyday because, well, I like to be in the know ;). This ended up working out for us tremendously ;). If you are looking in the Charlottesville/Albemarle County area, I highly recommend Valorie Ford - she has been AWESOME to work with, and has been really patient with us as first time home buyers. 

We also drove around A TON looking in the neighborhoods we liked. We actually ended up talking to a lady who was out playing with her kids in one of our favorite neighborhoods and asked a bunch of questions. Asking around was a big help.

So - the first steps we took were:
1. Deciding we wanted to start looking.
2. Setting a budget - you can do this in excel, and we also used an online house buying budget estimator that includes taxes for the area, insurance, etc. It was SUPER helpful.
3. Asking around about neighborhoods. Neither of us are from the area, and while Stuart went to school here, we weren't familiar with every area. Asking our colleagues at work, our insurance agent, and even driving through neighborhoods and stopping to ask questions were all helpful.

Next - how we found our house, and the process of getting a loan :).

P.S. I am happy to answer questions about any part in our process so if I haven't bored you to tears, shoot me an email :).

This post was scheduled ahead of time - just dropping in to say my heart and prayers are in Oklahoma right now. 


It's the Final Countdown!

Happy Monday, friends. Hopefully this will be the last Monday you are at work for the month of May. It will be for me, and I could not be more excited about it!

We had a great weekend filled with friends - and I have absolutely no pictures from it. I worked Saturday morning, which wasn't as bad as I anticipated. I got up super early and grabbed Bodo's Bagels for all of my families coming to visit (and the few other people in my office) and had a great morning chatting with potential students. 

It was a bit cray because it was graduation weekend, but other than that, not an issue. I even got to dress up one of my colleagues and a graduate for our Ajani celebration. Ajani is a celebration for students graduating who have participated in diversity programming and inclusive excellence. I didn't get to go to the ceremony, but I tied a big ole southern bow for the headwrap for my colleague. Everyone that goes to Ajani wears traditional African attire. Its awesome!

(See that bow on Britt, the one in the orange. That was my contribution ;) )

Saturday night we headed to Richmond to have dinner with a friend from high school and her husband. Dinner was delicious and it was so nice to spend time with another couple. We don't have hardly any couple friends in the 'ville and it was nice to relax and chat with them!

Yesterday we spent all day watching The Office. Nope - I had never seen an episode until Friday night. I am a little late to the ballgame on these things. After sucessfully doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, we went to dinner with one of Stuart's groomsmen, Sean. We LOVE Sean and it was awesome spending time with him!

Right now I am counting down for a few things (but still trying to enjoy the moment - hard for an impatient one like me):

  • The beach with our closest friends - 4.5 days!!!! I cannot wait to be down in Duck for the weekend. The beach is CALLING MY NAME PEOPLE!
  • Closing on our house - 11 days!! I cannot wait to just SEE it again. I may or may not drive by a couple times a week. And I cannot wait to start getting my hands on projects!
  • S family wedding weekend - 12 days! I love weddings in general, and I am excited to spend some time with S's extended family :).
  • Our wedding - 167 days and counting! I couldn't leave that one out y'all.
Enjoy your Monday!


Wedding Wednesday: The SUPER LATE Edition!

We have about 52 minutes left of Wednesday here on the east coast, so I am just sneaking my Wedding Wednesday post in ;).

I have a ring dilemma over here. 

First of all, my beautiful ring is in the "shop." I am super clumsy and hit my hand on stuff all the time, and that caused one of the prongs to loosen a bit. Fortunately, I took my ring to be cleaned before our engagement pictures and the lady noticed when she inspected it. Right now I am sporting some b-e-a-utiful fake bling from Belk.

Now, the real issue. Once we started looking at rings, I fell in love with the split-shank setting. I didn't have any thought to wedding bands. FAIL. Although I LOVE my ring and I wouldn't pick anything else, finding a wedding band is not a simple task at this point.

I don't have a picture of it, but the top and bottom of my ring almost have an "Eiffel Tower" look to them with raised circles of gold with diamonds in them. You can see it on the right side of my hand in the picture above. This means I will never get my rings sautered, which is fine with me; but, it also makes it difficult to find a band that both matches and sits flush.

People have told me I don't need a wedding band - but I want one, silly as it is! It means something to me, and I want to have that ring exchange during our ceremony. 

I have done some research, and I think I am going to have to go back to the jeweler that designed my ring and see if he can design something that will match and fit well. I also want something I can wear alone if I want to take my engagement ring off (like at the beach). 

I have thought about a solid white gold band, but I think that will look goofy with my ring, and I think if I end up with an infinity band (what I am leaning towards) it needs to almost match the bands on my engagement ring!

Any suggestions, friends?

(P.S. I know this sounds totally absurd, and obviously I am happy just to be getting married to my best friend! But, this is something that has been weighing on my mind and I want to record it/see if anyone else has a similar situation!)

Happy (almost gone) Wednesday!


Recap: Coley Becomes a P!

This weekend was crazy, exhausting, exciting, wonderful and full of love for my Coley :).

I kicked Thursday off by getting a mani/pedi and a spray tan before picking one of my best friends, and one of Nicole's bridesmaids, Heidi, up from the airport in Richmond. We immediately started chatting and found a local Mexican hotspot for some dinner before heading back to the hotel. When we got to the front counter, we had THE MOST ADORABLE baskets waiting for us, complete with water, snacks and even a Starbucks giftcard for Friday am!

Friday morning we were up bright and early because both of us were anxious to get to the beach to start the wedding festivities with the bride! We stopped by Michael's for Heidi to get a frame for a gift for baby Hallie, hit the Targ Starbucks up for some java and hit the road!

When we arrived Friday, there was lots on the agenda. First - Heidi and Hallie met and it was precious. I know Heidi was DYING to meet her. Then we headed into town to hang signs, get floral arrangements and make sure the cake arrived at the reception venue. Here are Heidi and Nicole banging some signs in ;).

Friday afternoon, the rest of the bridal party showed up and we tried to get things together for the rehearsal. The boys grilled dinner downstairs while we talked to the minister and tried to get things lined up. It was SUPER windy and starting to get chilly, but we made it through. We all ate dinner together and hung out before the boys headed back to the guest house for the night.

The beautiful bride with the perfect monogrammed wine glass made by bridesmaid Katie!

The happy couple, moments before they saw each other for the last time as single people!

Friday night we did gave Nicole some wedding night apparel and just hung out talking. We all finally headed to bed around 2 and Nicole got some good rest before the big day!!

Saturday AM I relieved Katie from Hallie duty and got to spend some time snuggling her and talking to Nicole's parents. They are so sweet to me and I love the whole family dearly - they have really made me feel like a part of the Carroll clan!

Then - we were off and running! Ariella, Nicole's cousin Jamie's girlfriend is a professional hair stylist and showed up to get us all looking beautiful. We munched on a DELICIOUS brunch Nicole's momma prepared and then we were off and running. We spent a bunch of time up in the Master bathroom hanging out while each girl individually got her hair done before the guests started arriving that afternoon.

The precious flower girls and junior bridesmaids showed up and we got their hair straightened and everything together. I think I spent a majority of my day running up and down the stairs ;). Fortunately, my amazing momma came up and was the mistress of ceremonies, and my daddy helped Nicole's daddy get things together on the beach. My parents were also Miss Hallie's certified babysitters during the reception.

Stuart and Paul (Heidi's boyfriend) picked up a last minute necessity - a white baby blanket to wrap Hallie in for the ceremony. It was cold and babygirl need to be nice and cozy! Stuart also played "DJ" for the ceremony music. Heidi and I got dressed and we grabbed this pic - the necklaces were part of our gifts from Nicole. 

We got Nicole in her dress and I was lucky enough to pray over their marriage with just us, the other bridesmaids and her momma in the room. It was such a special time and I was so glad to be a part of everything!

The ceremony started and it was beautiful - right next to the water. It was a bit windy though, and at one point I had Josh's wedding band on my middle finger, both bouquets, hers and mine in my hands, and I was holding her veil :). I looked a little cray cray. But - they were married!!! It was perfect!

After the ceremony, we came back up to the house, did some freshening up and I remembered to burn the first dance song on a disc - never a dull moment!

Somehow, my sweet fiance ended up with Miss Hallie for a few minutes and I got my momma to snap this sweet picture. I love it - definitely a framer for the new house!

From there we headed onto the reception. We were at an old bed and breakfast called "The White Dog Inn" in downtown Mathews County, VA. It was ADORABLE and perfect! The owners just bought it a few weeks ago and it is divine. The food was delicious - I am dreaming of that Caesar salad!

The bride and groom - they are married!!!!! 

After dinner we headed out and I gave my MOH speech - I was shaking the entire time! I think I survived and Nicole got teary so I think she got my point ;).

We spent the rest of the night dancing away, they cut the cake and we headed out. I was happily passed out in my bed at my parent's house by midnight Saturday night.

I am so thrilled for Nicole and Josh (and Hallie) and I am so glad I got to be a part of their big day! When we were at dinner, Josh was already trying to plan out who was going to keep Hallie for our wedding - so I think it must have been a success!


6 Months - A long post!

6 Months from today we are getting MARRIED! I can't believe it. It seems like an eternity and such a short time all rolled up into one. 

We have knocked a bunch of the big stuff out like:
  • My dress
  • My veil and accessory
  • Asked bridesmaids
  • Asked groomsmen
  • Bridesmaid dresses
  • Pastor
  • Reception venue
  • Caterer
  • Day-of-coordinator
  • Bartender
  • Musicians for the church
  • Cake baker

The things we have left to do are:
  • DJ
  • Flowers
  • Reception decor (I have started collecting stuff, I just need to decide with the flowers how I want things)
  • Stuart/my dad/groomsmen attire
  • MOB dress
  • MOG dress
  • Rehearsal dinner plans (taken care of by S's parents)
  • Cake design
  • Bridesmaid gifts
  • Groomsmen gifts
  • Finish pre-marital counseling
  • My shoes
  • My jewelry
  • Finalize guest list
  • Book a block of rooms for out of town guests
  • Order invitations
  • Send invitations
  • Seating chart
  • And I am sure, various other things I am forgetting as I make this list off the top of my head - if you think of things I forgot, let me know!

The good news in all of this is, I get to marry my best friend at the end of the day. It is easy to say that six months out, I am not super stressed right now. I have been blessed with a wonderful mama that has taken care of a lot of things for me since I live two hours away from "home" and the town we are getting married in. 

But I want to remember this mantra through most of the wedding planning and the wedding day. Things are gonna go wrong. During our first pre-marital counseling session, our pastor (who is also mi padre's best friend and someone I have known my entire life), told us that the things that go wrong are the things we will talk about later and laugh about - if everything goes right, it is harder to remember exact moments. 

Stuart and I's entire relationship has been goofy and things have gone wrong - and I love that about us! Our proposal was hilarious because every time he tried to say something sweet about me and us, a family with screaming kids would walk up the mountain. It was about to rain so everyone was fleeing the orchard/vineyard! Ha! 

Point being, I hope I get to laugh about stuff when it is the wrong flowers or I sneeze during the ceremony or I lose my earring or Stuart's best man drops the ring when he is giving it to him or whatever else may go wrong. As long as I get to walk away his wife and no one is seriously injured - I am calling this wedding a win. 

Check back with me in five months, three weeks and a few days and see if I still believe this. ;)

( For example, they were having a party on the lawn where we wanted to take some pictures, so we rolled with it, grabbed some empty solo cups and joined in with the fun - a hilarious memory, even though I wouldn't have planned it that way - I wouldn't have planned that chin either - WOOF! Haha!)

P.S. Stuart - thanks for wanting to marry me. I cannot WAIT to be your wife and call you my husband and show you my dress. You know that not showing you my dress is KILLING me right? We are awful at secrets, but I am trying my damndest not to tell you anymore about mine that has already slipped. Its purple feathers, Boots ;). See ya down the aisle in 6 months. And don't remind me about this post when I am going cray over wedding stuff - remind me of it after I calm down ;). Love you to the moon and back!


What I Am Up To Wednesday

Worst blogger in the history of all time - sorry y'all. I would be happy to tell you about how I have spent the last month calling, emailing, texting, carrier pigeon-ing and tweeting students, but that would bore you to TEARS!

Happy May Day friends! For us in the admissions world, today is the National Deposit Deadline, meaning those students better send in their deposits to ensure their spots in the class of 2017.

This weekend I got to do laundry - and it was so relaxing, ha! Between becoming Aunt Meg to the most gorgeous baby girl in the world, work, Maid of Honor duties and house stuff; spending a Saturday doing laundry and then moseying out for drinks after Stuart played golf, it was GLORIOUS!

We had a quick lunch at Whole Foods (so Charlottesvillian, let me tell you!), to kick off the day:

And I found a great afternoon snack to tide me over til dinner. Thank goodness watermelon season is back! (Yes I did eat it with a spoon!)

Today kicks off my MOH duties and I could not be more excited to see my Coley tie the knot!

A night out at TOTS with the bride and one of my FAV pictures of us  :).

I will be back with a house update and a wedding recap early next week - EEEKKK!!!