Aug 8, 2014

Let's catch up

I think it's about time we caught up.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Ray family moved! From the city! To the country! Kind of. We left the hustle and bustle of Denver and bought a house in a quaint little rural subdivision, sandwiched in the middle of suburbia. All the houses in the neighborhood are spread out on large properties and are zoned for animals, so if we get a wild hair one day, we are allowed to have 2 "animal units." That is the equivalency of two horses, or one horse and one cow, or ten lamas, or one-hundred chickens, or five alpaca, fifty chickens, one large pig and two-and-a-half goats. The options are endless on the livestock front, really.

We casually started the house hunt back in April after realizing that we were bursting at the seams of our two-bedroom bungalow. We bought that house in 2012 as an investment property and planned to turn it into a rental once we grew out of it. Well, the time came quicker than we expected (spoiler alert: you acquire a whole bunch of shit once you have a kid) and we were ready for a bigger space.

We expected to end up in a suburban neighborhood (because that's what you do when you have a family, right?) so we started our search there. We looked up north where we would be closer to family and in a good school district, but the thought of living right on top of your neighbors in a house that looked like all the rest was fairly unappealing to us so we put the search on hold for a bit.

One morning we got a text from Keane's mom saying there was a For Sale By Owner sign that just went up in her neighborhood (which happens to also be up north and in a great school district). It was a cute 4 bed, 2 bath farm house on an acre of land with a horse barn and giant 2-story playhouse in the back! I assumed there was no way we could afford it because I knew what homes were selling for in that area, but I called on it anyway. I was pleasantly surprised by the price and set up a time to go over and take a look. As the seller took us around the property, Keane and I sent silent messages back and forth via hand squeezes. We tried to play it cool as he showed us the brand new kitchen they just remodeled, the original hardwood floors in perfect condition, the crazy amount of storage space (did I mention we have a ton of shit?!), the apple tree and raspberry bushes, the horse stables, and the fenced-in lot that would be heaven for our baby and dogs. We casually asked if we could take a minute alone to discuss. Once the seller was out of earshot, we both agreed, through various tones of excited squealing, that we had to have this home. We could picture ourselves having more children there, growing into the space and maybe eventually adding on in the future if we needed. That's one of the benefits of having a bit of land and no HOA– there aren't limits to what we can do. And if there's one thing I know about my hubby, it's that he hates restrictions. Since the house was listed FSBO and we were able to get a discounted price by not using a realtor, we had to do all the contracts and negotiating on our own, which was hugely intimidating. Like a couple of rookies perusing a weekend garage sale, we walked back over to the sellers and said, "Uh, so we'd like to buy your house. How do we do this?"

Luckily, the sellers were a dream to work with and it wasn't a big deal not using any agents. We developed a really good relationship with them from the beginning. We learned that we were the first people to look at the house just 12 hours after the sign went up and that they really wanted to sell it to a young family. Fate? I think yes.

With the contract underway, the next step was finding renters for our Denver house. Thankfully, it's located in a really great area so it was unbelievably easy to rent. I posted an ad on Craigslist and within 24 hours I had over 30 people asking to see it before the open house. We chose a few that we thought would be good fits, hosted private showings, and rented it for well over our monthly payment– without even having to do the open house. The whole process went so smoothly and we LOVE our tenants. It's great to know that someone is taking good care of our house and loves it as much as we do.

We've been in the house now for about 6 weeks and are still getting settled. Projects like pulling weeds, hanging curtains and updating brass fixtures take about three times as long with a toddler running around, but it is slowly starting to feel like ours. Life is very different here. In Denver, Liv and I walked everywhere: to get groceries, to meet friends at the park, to get a mid-afternoon coffee. Keane biked to work and we rarely used our cars. His commute now is about 35 minutes and I often feel like a soccer mom (sans minivan) shuffling around town from stop to stop.

But we have space to roam and time feels slower here which is what we've yearned for since moving back from Wyoming. For the first time in my life, I don't have cable and we have no intention of getting it. It is shocking to even say this, but I have no idea what is happening in the lives of my Real Housewives! We even lived without internet for a couple weeks when we first moved in. My priorities are different here. Liv and I sit on the deck and listen to the roosters crow in the morning instead of watching the Today Show. We pick raspberries and check on the baby birds in the barn. We inspect worms and dragonflies and get really dirty. Life is different here. Life is good here.

The dogs are in hog heaven with all the space. We lose Daphne on an hourly basis admits the chest-high weeds in the back and Cash has already killed his first rabbit. I found a 6-foot long bullsnake right by Liv's foot and almost had a heart attack. Keane caught it and released it into the field behind our house. That guy. So humane, it's gross.

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