Monday, April 21, 2008

Things Decided

I feel like a completely different person now.

I hadn't even realized it, but for years the questions of what school we'd send the kids to next and what kind of house we'd be able to afford when we move have been on my mind. I guess it's just part of being a military wife. You always know you'll move eventually. And you always wonder what your new life will be like.

But for the next chunk of my life, those questions have been answered. Even if the answers aren't perfect, it feels so good to know.

I have a little game I play with the kids whenever they need a distraction. (Distraction techniques are probably 85% of good parenting.) I ask them what their most favorite things were about that day, event or trip.

On our way home from our house hunting/school finding trip my son's favorite thing was spending the day at his new school. My daughter's favorite thing was finding the "perfect" house.

That's a pretty good summary of our trip to Virginia.

First of all, we visited two schools. The kids took tests and had tours of each school and they spent the day at one. It's funny because the school I had an ehh feeling about the last time we visited ended up being the school I had the best feeling about this time around. Considering that it has a 25% acceptance rate, I just felt like it was kind of weird that they seemed so eager to have us.

They are lacking in a couple of programs that we're used to, like violin lessons, class musicals, and computer lab time for first graders. But when it comes right down to it, I think the kids' personalities fit better there. In fact, it just feels like we're a perfect fit. Maybe the reason they are so eager to have us is because they can sense it too.

All three of the schools we visited in the last few months have been great. But we decided to choose the second school we visited. In the end, it turned out that it was the only school that had room for both kids, so maybe it was just meant to be.

I cannot even explain how relieved and happy I am.

Now we just need to come up with the down payment. The tuition numbers make me feel a little queasy. But it's worth it.

Speaking of money, our mortgage numbers are making me a little queasy too.

We looked at almost thirty houses in two days. Thirty! That's insane. Unfortunately, at least five of them got sold right out from under us. We've been looking at these same houses sitting on the market for months, and once we get out there to start looking, they start selling like crack. It was a bit frustrating.

It was also frustrating to see really beautiful, brand new houses built into tiny lots in crappy old neighborhoods. We saw at least a dozen of those.

In the end, of the thirty houses we saw (that weren't sold) only one really fit our needs. It was a house that I've had my eye on for months, based mostly on its location and the huge backyard. If all goes well with the VA appraisal, it will be ours on May 15.

It's a little sad to see how much less house we can get for our money out there. We will definitely be taking a step down. But besides the small kids' bedrooms, it's really pretty perfect. (Or it will be perfect once we put in a pool.)

It's funny because whenever I talked to locals about where we should live or go to school, they kept explaining to me the different cultures of Norfolk versus Virginia Beach. It seemed strange to me that two towns so close to each other could be so different. But they were right. The problem was, I wasn't really sure if we were Norfolk-type people, or Virginia Beach-type people.

Now I know. We're beach people. Through and through.

Like the kids, I have a favorite moment from our trip too. On our last day there, we went to the school to buy the kids' summer workbooks. While we were in the bookstore, two little girls came rushing in with their arms open to hug my daughter.

"I'm going here!" she told them. And they hugged harder. The smile I saw on my daughter's face as she spotted her new's going to stay with me for a long time.

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