Happy Father’s Day…

Today is Father’s Day.  A day intended to celebrate and honor all dads.  
Every year I try to plan an activity that we can do as a family.  We have had family bbqs in the backyard by the pool and get togethers with friends hiking and BBQing in kanaskis. We’ve gone to Calaway Park and Banff on the gondola.  We’ve gone mini golfing and swimming.  Every year is a bit different.  I like it that way.

But every year is also the same.  We celebrate the fact that my kids have a Godly father.  A man who sets a good example of love and hard work and dedication and concern for his family.  His faith is an example to his children and I.  We are grateful for him and we love him to the moon and back!

Loyalty…

I am by all accounts a very loyal and dedicated person.  I have been at the same job for 15 years.  We have attended the same church for 12 years. left for almost 3 to help start a new church, and have been back for a year now.  I have been married 21 years.  I am loyal, probably to a fault.

However, I am feeling quite guilty about my entire lack of loyalty in one thing.  That is homeschooling overseeing board.  I am committed to homeschooling and adapting it as my son’s needs require.  However, I find myself at the end of year 2 and unhappy with my facilitator.  We changed oversight boards in November when the NDP government tried to close Wisdom homeschooling.  An act the courts rejected, but we had already moved boards.  

Here I am working on my education plan for my son’s grade 4 year and I am just discontent and feeling the for isn’t there between what I’m trying to do and what my facilitator wants me to do.  

So going into year 3 of homeschooling and we will be moving forward with a new school board.  That’s 3 for 3!  I’m really hoping this one is the last one!  

I think it’ll be a good fit.  It should offer him opportunities to make some new friends and practice more of the social skills we’ve been learning the past 2 years.  Skills like self control and not being first.  

In the meantime I will take solice in my husband’s words…I am not disloyal.  I am simply looking to find a school board that can support me in the ways I believe is best for my son to learn at this point in time.  And for me I need a board that sees the value in technology and using it in education and doesn’t try to eliminate all technology from the education process.  There is certainly great things to be had from traditions and the way things used to be done.  And we shouldn’t throw that away entirely to embrace technology.  But there is a balance and Keilan does best with a balance of both, not either one alone.

From the mouths of babes…

Yesterday I was driving Keilan and Karyssa and Kianna.  Karyssa looks at me and says “You will be a great grandma!” Kianna responds “and you wont even give your grandkids candy!”.

I responded, “Oh yes I will! And then I will send them home to you!”

Kianna then said, “Ok, fine.  Then youll be a great grandma because you will come to Calaway Park with me and the kids and you will play with the little ones, while I am the Great Mama and ride all the rides with the big ones!”

I love my kids!  And I plan on being the involved and fun grandma.  But when the conversation is with my 5th and 8th grade daughters it is a bit weird! 

But in the meantime I will continue being the best mom I can and taking time to do the silly little things with them, like having a noon hour bbq for my daughter and her friends…which is what started the whole conversation!

What if we’d waited…

What if we had waited a couple more months to buy our home?  What if I hadn’t been able to convince Jason on March 4 to go to the Livingston Community original open house celebration?  What if we had decided to wait another 2 or 3 months to buy?

Well, I don’t think we would be buying.  At least we wouldn’t be developing the basement.  We for sure wouldn’t be getting what we are.

Our house that we are buying was the last small lot in phase one available through Jayman.  And to purchase the exact same house today would cost almost $50,000 more than when we signed March 6.  

At every turn Jayman has treated us amazingly well!  Yesterday we got our first photo weekly update of our home build.  We have had several issues that have come up along the way and they present us with the problem and solution simultaneously.  We got an enlarged upper floor and a 8 ft garage door instead of 6ft and a poured concrete patio instead of a wooden deck.  Of course all of these upgrades came at no charge to us since they were solutions to various problems that arose along the way.

I am super glad we bought when we did!  Otherwise homeownership wouldn’t be a mere few months away; it would be out of reach yet again!

Grossed out into a teaching moment…

This afternoon I took my son on a nice long walk and scooter ride and woods exploration along the Elbow River down by Lindsay Park.
We explored the river and learned how rocks make rapids and bees pollinate flowers and that makes our fruit.  We explored the deep growth along the river banks and ventured into dark bits of forest.  The exploring always calms my son.  The exercise and the green of the nature and sounds of nature are so helpful to his well being.
Then it happened.  Mama my shoe feels funny….

He’s stepped in human poo.  The stench was tremendous.  If I stayed calm I knew he would too.  So doing my best not to puke, I took his scooter.  I showed him how to drag his foot in the grass to try to clean his foot.  It was no use.  It had gotten on his ankle and his foot inside his shoe.  Luckily we were by the pool, so I took him inside the girls washroom and set him on the counter and cleaned his foot and shoes.  He was a trooper.

And the whole time we talked about how lucky we are to have a home and a washroom.  We aked about dignity and how it must feel to not have these things.  

In the end a disgusting situation could have led to him seeing homeless people on a far different light than he does.  He sympathized and empathizes and doesn’t blame anyone for the unfortunate disgusting thing that happened.  

Today we reonforced compassion and sympathy.  That is a good day indeed!

The overly generous gift…

Last week was Jason and my anniversary.  My mother-in-law happened to be visiting for our son’s High School graduation.  
Jason and I appreciate that money is uncertain and quite tight for her and so decided it was our goal to make sure she didn’t spend any money while at our place. 
Anyways she gave us a very generous gift, we felt it was too generous but it would hurt her feelings if we returned it.  So we went for dinner and I put the rest in my wallet for an emergency.

Tonight I went to Costco for some meat to bbq and a salad for supper.  When I was driving out of the parking lot, there was an older woman holding a sign.  As I got closer I could read the sign.
it said “My husband passed away.  Please help.”  She was weeping.  

It so happened I had that money in my wallet.  I pulled back into the parking lot.  I called Jason and asked him if it was ok if I give her the money.  He said yes.  So I pulled out my wallet and pulled out the $100 Bill.  I walked over to the weeping lady and handed her the folded up bill.  I gave her a hug and she thanked me.  We talked for a couple minutes, mostly her apologizing for crying and not being able to pull herself together and needing to do this and missing her husband of over 20 years.

So the very generous gift from our mom was used to bless this woman who was just starting the long journey of grief and loss my mother in law began 2 months ago.
God works in amazing ways!

Our House Building Journey…

We have been dreaming of home ownership for 2 decades.  But we had tons and tons of student loans and debt.  We plugged away for years paying that down. Finally a couple years ago we made a plan to save our down payment.  Then, our kids went to the orthodontist and there went the plan!  All our money earmarked for house savings were going into our kids mouths.

A year ago we made yet another plan to save for our down payment.  We hit lots of road bumps along the way because of the tanked economy and Jason constantly getting paid late.  However, in late February we had met our minimum agreed upon goal of savings to start looking at homes.

We had already long since decided what neighborhood we wanted to live in, that we wanted to build, and that we wanted a basement suite we could rent out.  So we were well on our way.  We knew the non negotiable things we wanted and the negotiable ones.  In fact we knew the exact house we wanted to build!

So, late February there was a huge open house for the new neighborhood we wanted to build in.  We had just met our minimum savings goal and had some more money coming in from some old outstanding monies owed us from child tax benefit.  As well we knew we would be getting a decent refund on our tax return.

So, we went to the open house.  We had already narrowed down our builder to Jayman.  A choice I haven’t regretted for a second so far!

However, when we went into the show home of the model we had our hearts set on, it was WAY above our budget.  It had all the bells and whistles and every upgrade available.  The upgrades were to a tune of about $130,000.  Even without a single upgrade we wouldn’t have enough money in our budget to develop the basement.

However, the other show home they had was a smaller version with almost no bells and whistles.  It was the basic package, with only 2 upgrades.  The upgrades were a bigger kitchen and a center bonus room.  The kitchen was perfect and the center bonus room wasn’t.  We wanted the standard front bonus room because it would be a bedroom for 2 of our girls.

The price was right.  They could develop the basement for us and we would still remain in budget.  It was the house for us.  We decided in a month we would come back and start the process of buying one.

However, that month timeline changed when we talked to the saleswoman.  Robyn told us that CMHA interest rates were going up on the following Wednesday (10 days).  This was Saturday.  Also there was only 1 more lot left in phase 1 of the smaller (and cheaper) size.  So we decided right then to move forward and see if we could get approved for a mortgage.

We met with Jordan the Jayman mortgage broker on the spot and started the process. It took 10 days to get approval.  But we got it and saved almost $2000 on the rate increase.

Next we had to let Jayman know what we wanted for the basement development.  So we did this and waited a couple weeks and got some plans for the development.  Jayman did a great job and we only had minor changes.  Mostly we wanted a tub downstairs so they changed it from a luxury shower to a tub shower combo.

Then we had to wait to get into design center where you choose your exterior and interior finishes.  Our appointment was 8 weeks after we started the whole process.

By the time our appointment came we had visited every Jayman show home in North Calgary.  We knew exactly what we liked and didn’t.  And in fact, we had simply confirmed that we did really love the show home.  We went into our appointment with a solid budget and a very good idea of exactly what we wanted.

We knew we wanted pretty much everything but the kitchen sink and faucet.

So, when our appointment came we were prepared.

Our first of four meetings was with their interior design company. The gal was to show us window coverings.  We were both stressed out!  We didn’t know how much money we would be spending other places, so we were quite hesitant to spend any here.  But even here we knew exactly what we wanted.  We have south facing windows so the house will get quite hot and we knew we needed to deal with that.  We told her to only show us heat saving options.  We considered 3.  But quickly narrowed it down to one.  It was the one we had originally wanted anyways.  Although window coverings were on our list to get we didn’t know if our mortgage would have room for them.  So we got the quote, knowing we could always reject it at final sign off.

We then were to move onto exteriors, but the couple in front of us were having trouble making decisions.  So instead we had a break and were brought warm oven fresh cookies.  Delicious.

The electrical consultant came early so they sent us to him.  Jason whizzed through the appointment adding wiring for 2 mounted TVs and several future outdoor cameras.

Then we went to exteriors.  We took maybe 20 minutes to make our choices. Although later we would discover that the developer had rejected the entire thing.  However, our consultant remedied the situation by talking to them directly and finding out what the problem was.  Apparently our neighbors had already chosen grey and they felt it was too much.  So we changed our trim color from grey to white and our 3 smart panels from black to white and it was approved.  We didn’t even have to go in again.

Then we had a half hour before lunch.  They served delicious salad and Coco Brooks pizzas.  We took the half hour extra break to browse through the options for the interior.

Following lunch we met Kim, our interior designer.  We told her to get the show home binder and we began.  We started with the kitchen  sink because we had already chosen a sink and faucet from their showroom.  The sink it turned out wouldn’t work with our laminate counters.  But we had an option 2.  So we went with that instead.  And incidentally saved about  $1500.  We ended up changing the carpet to a darker color and removing carpet from the great room.

Then I added a bunch of shelves to the laundry room and pantry to maximize storage.

Finally, I asked if they could possibly enlarge the linen closet in the bonus room to make a real closet for the girls.  She went to check on that and came back asking if we wanted a door on the bonus room.  So for $500 we got a door and for $96 a large closet.

A week later we signed off on our upgrades.  Now we wait.  We wait for the final drawings to be made and then a final meeting before the ground is finally broken.

I am super happy so far with Jayman homes.  Every step of the way they have been excellent.  They have treated us like family and helped us make good choices and stay on budget.

Stay tuned for more updates…more when they break ground…

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