One Week

November 23, 2012
We bought our house in August 2009. We had only been in the market to buy a house for about 4 days. On day 3, we walked through a house listed at $300K (we were in a recession then, but $300K will buy you a mansion in Chico now) and Scott and I still laugh about that house. The floors were so uneven one could consider them ramps between rooms. Among ancient looking family heirlooms and dust bunnies, we saw discarded oxygen tanks and cannulas, which honestly just made me feel sad that some elderly folks had to sell their home. A heavy heart isn’t exactly what you want to feel when you buy a house. 
Anyhow, the rooms were small, painted dark colors as I recall, and had an odd pattern of all connecting within each other. Like a small maze-house, great for hide-and-seek. As we braved the walk through a treacherous kitchen and out the back door, we faced a jungle. Kind of a cool jungle, but a jungle none-the-less. Gardens grew within old furniture and antique car parts, and small paths braided their way around the back yard with no rhyme or reason. It was several times the size of the house, and had a similar disorganization. There was an awesome greenhouse (where Scott saw multi-bike storage potential), but the dense foliage between the house/gate/greenhouse would have prevented any bike entrance. Conclusion? At least $20K in renovations and months in clean-up, for a house that was about 4 blocks out of the neighborhood we wanted.
And then our realtor called us, not 24 hour hours later, bubbling with excitement about a house that would be put on the market in 2 days. Tomorrow, he told us, was the day all the realtors could come view it to make their listings, but he had already peeked inside and wanted us to see it ASAP. 
We were wary, after the previous day’s adventure, wondering if we were up to buying a home. But it was in our price range, smack dab in the middle of our desired neighborhood, and it had a fireplace. We agreed to check it out, and with realtors glaring, we walked in and saw this:

Large, uncluttered living room. No paint needed! No velvet curtains to remove!

No visible lean! 
We walked through all 5 rooms of the house, circled the yard, and ended up out front. We promised our realtor we’d put a bid in the following day. The asking price was below what we had agreed on for our budget of $300K, so I wanted to offer the asking price for the house. I didn’t want to lose this turnkey charmer due to a couple thousand dollar squabble. But my father-in-law, who is far wiser than I, talked us though the process of putting in offers and counter-offers, and with his complete guidance assistance, I was able to get over the anxiety of offering less, and we were able to secure the house for $15K below asking price.
4 weeks later, we came home:

I had always wanted a green house with white trim. I don’t know if this stemmed from a subconscious desire to be Anne of Green Gables (although I suppose her gables were green, and her house white) or if I truly have a sensible home decorator side that is buried in there somewhere. Regardless, I was so proud when we got our home painted, the lanterns out front replaced, potted plants properly placed, and a beautiful adirondack chair on the porch. 
The last checkbox on my dyslexic Anne of Green Gables homeowner dream wish list was a Christmas tree. I impatiently waited two months, and then a few weeks before Thanksgiving started mercilessly pestering Scott about when we could get a Christmas tree. Lucky for him, Christmas trees aren’t actually available until Black Friday (today, incidentally), so I had to practice that patience thing. If you’ll recall, I’ve had struggles with patience.
Anyhow, I finally got my Christmas tree (and a small fortune worth of lights and ornaments), and I finally had a window to place it in front of so all the world could see that I had created the most fabulous of all trees (under 7 feet tall), and that my house was the cheeriest of them all!
Half the reason I buy gifts for other people is so I can enjoy looking at them under the tree

I have enjoyed nearly 3.5 wonderful years in this house. We’ve had 3 Christmases, including huge holiday dinners. We’ve had 3 insane Halloween parties. There’s been several great cocktail hours, and several hangover inducing nights with friends. We’ve had perfect date nights at home, in front of the fire place, snuggled up drinking wine. We’ve enjoyed our 5 chickens, Scramble, Omelet and Quiche (RIP), June and Hop. They’re absolutely hilarious, and if any of you think chickens are just stupid birds that can’t fly, well you’re kind of right. But they’re so fun to watch, funny to pester, and eggs from your own back yard really are the best (and make you feel just a tad superior to all other egg eaters.)

We move out one week from today.
I love it here so much, it’s such a reflection of who we are (big bike storage, great party house, no room for kiddos, ha!) but I’m calm because I know that even though we’ll be on the other side of the world, this little house, this little piece of Chico, is ours. Scott tells me we have great renters, and he is a fantastic judge of character. Our neighbors and friends will keep an eye on the place. We have a great property manager. We can’t take it with us, but it’s in great hands.
So off to pack more boxes I go. Theres one week left, and so much to do. Those of you that know me, know I’m overly nostalgic, so you can be sure that packing this place up is a wine-assisted process. We’ll be extremely hard-pressed to find a spot this nice in NZ (although not hard-pressed to find a spot like this with single-pane windows and imaginary insulation). We don’t have plans for chickens at this time, and houses with fireplaces are are rare commodity reserved for rich folks. 
But I do promise here and now, there will be a Christmas tree.

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