Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dream -e- House

Excited.
Exhilarated.
Exhausted.
Emotional.
Empty.

That's how we feel as we've gone through our house search. Patrick didn't really want me to blog this so that I wouldn't take you with me through this emotional roller coaster, but I need blog therapy! The two of us agreeing on a perfect house has become next to impossible. Also, our must-haves list became a moving target. All these amazing houses (and more!) were ones in which we were seriously considering putting down an offer. We only managed to put one down, and got outbidded.

Enormous.
Immaculate upgrades. Larger than a single family.
Not a single family.

Landsdowne


Enchanting.
Single family. Enchanting porch. Does not have a large yard.
Brambleton

Elderly.
Has a huge yard. Backs to trees. Twenty years old. Low ceilings.
Ashburn Village

Elegant.
10 ft-ceilings. New. Has a good yard. No porch. Doesn't back to trees. Too snooty.
Leesburg - River Creek Golf Community

Equitable.
Not too snooty. Has a good yard. Huge house. Great price. Outbidded.
Potomac Station in Leesburg

Expensive.
No bidding in new construction. Has a yard. A porch. Backs to trees. Not snooty. Rooms too small.
Ashburn-The Glen at Loudoun Valley

Earth-shaking.
Large rooms. Has a yard, a porch, backs to trees. Almost perfect. In the flight path (red zone) for a future runway at Dulles!
I AM NOT KIDDING!!!!
Arcola

It doesn't appear that we'll EVER find that dream home, that matches all of our criteria. We've come so far in this search, that we're also unwilling to compromise what we know we want if this is our forever house! As frustrated as this may seem, I do earnestly believe that God does have the perfect house with everything we want. What I'm unsure of is whether or not we'll be sane by the time we find it! :) Thanks for letting me data-dump on you. I always feel much better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

First off, I want to give thanks to all of our military who gave their lives in the past, and those doing so now, to protect this country's freedom. Escaping a war-torn country full of corruption, I for one, understand and appreciate the freedoms that I have here in America. In the Ring family, I am proud to say that Patrick's dad, Roger, served in the Navy and his brother-in-laws, Everett and Eric, both served in the Marines and the Army. Thank you guys for all you've done, and do for this nation!

So, how did we celebrate our Memorial Day Weekend? Well, by pursuing the American dream! For starters, we put an offer down on a ridiculously priced house in Leesburg. Here it is! 5 bedrooms, 3900 square feet, 1/4 acre and listed at $419,000 (for those not in the DC market, this house is assessed at $537,000.) It's a foreclosure, and five other offers are on it. Please pray that we get the house God has for us!!!

Then, we celebrated Natalie's first birthday. Natalie belongs to Jenny, a mom that I became friends with in our mom's group since Micah was 10 weeks old! They had the sprinkler on for the kids outside.


That evening, our community had their annual "summer kickoff" where local vendors served food, and kids could go on moonbounces or rides. We picnic'd with some of the square pegs.

Micah had his first funnel cake.

Caelan zonked out from the heat, and fun.

And the Newtons invited us over to their Memorial Day backyard barbecue, and more fun was had in the kiddie blow up pools. Micah and BFF, Liam enjoy a wagon ride.

And to top the icing on a great weekend, we also had a visit from my mom and both kids got quality time with grandma.

Quite a memorable weekend! Thank you God for all the liberties we have, and the innumerable blessings that we often take for granted!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Micah Man is 2 and one half

It's simply amazing. That we survived half of the terrible two! Micah can definitely be very trying with his insistent "No, Mommy! I NOT do that!" Or his public tantrums whenever we leave a play date. Or his bedtime delaying tactics, his pickiness with food, and just his downright defiance when we ask him to do something. It can take 10 minutes (or more) to get him dressed and I grit my teeth because he doesn't want help, but he can't do it himself. When he used to hardly get spanked, he probably gets a good dose of discipline once, sometimes twice a day.

Daily, I get into these power struggles and feel I have a moral right to win them. Most of the time, the harder I push, the more my toddler will resist and the more frustrated I get. I am learning perspective though, and instead of giving the terrible two's the bad reputation it gets, I am seriously trying to embrace it. And the best advice I've ever been given as a control-freak mom is to just lower my expectations.

There is something quite beautiful about this age. To name a few, Micah is a little person with thoughts, opinions, and a will of his own. If I ask on a hot summer day to wear his sandals, he vehemently says, 'No, I want to wear my NEW shoes.' He tells me exactly what he wants to eat and that the food on his plate is not acceptable. And it's not just any book at nap time, it's a specific title book and tells me which shelf it's on so that I may reach up to get it. He reports in detail to his dad what he did that day, and who he did it with. He's refreshingly honest.

And that baby whose needs I catered to day and night, now wants to care for me too. One night, I was staring off into space, and he turned to me and asked, 'Mommy, what are you thinking?' I couldn't believe it. I've been trying to get Patrick to ask me that question for six years! And every night at dinner, he always asks his dad, 'How was your day, Daddy?' So endearing.

And he just loves to learn! Teachable moments are everywhere at this age, and I don't need to worry about pursuing formal learning experiences (that's good because we're too poor right now to send him to preschool) but Micah speaks like 8-word sentences and he conjugates! Our conversation the other day blew me away.

"Micah, Will you eat?"
"No, I won't."
"You will."
"No, I can't."
"I think you can."
"No, I won't."
(I put some strawberries in front of him, and he immediate starts eating.)
"Hmmh...I think you are."
(licks his lips)
"I think I am."

The best part is that my two year old is teaching me some of my most important lessons. One day Micah was driving me crazy most of the morning and I was so frustrated with his behavior. At the end of my rope, I yelled at him harshly. And then I saw his shoulders drop, and his spirit just crushed. I had never yelled at him like that. I walked over to him, got down to his level, and said, 'Micah, Mommy is so sorry I yelled at you. I am such a bad mommy.' And he looks up with big tears in his eyes and says to me, 'that's okay mommy, I was a bad Micah.' And then the tears came because my son taught me grace and forgiveness!

So, I guess the two's aren't so terrible after all. Okay, maybe a bit premature...check back with me in the next six months! :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How Tall is Jesus?

At our house at dinner time, we encourage Micah to eat meat and vegetables so he can be as tall as our good friend Steve. Almost always the conversation goes like this:

Daddy: Micah eat your meat and vegetables
Mommy: So you can be big and tall
Micah: Like Mr. Steve!
Mommy: Yes, just like Mr. Steve
(Amazingly, this line of thinking works better than any other tactic we've used to make him eat his food.)

So one day, he runs into my arms and says:
Micah: Mommy, I'm scared!
Mommy: Why are you scared?
Micah: Monsters!
Mommy: Silly, monsters aren't real.
Micah: But Jesus is with me!
Mommy: Yes he is, Jesus is always with you.
Micah: I'm not scared. Jesus is big and tall.
(after a long pause)
Micah: (Excitedly) Mommy! Jesus is taller than Mr. Steve!!!
Mommy: Yes, he is baby, Jesus is much taller than Mr. Steve. (He gets it!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Celebrating Mother's Day

I'm pretty sure I don't have enough space to write how much of a blessing it is to be Micah and Caelan's mom. I pinch myself each day thanking God for my life, and how I get to be with these two to watch them grow, and to train them up to eventually change the world. I can't wait as they get older to be able to show them their significance, and give them a secure love. There is a love I can pass on to them that is steady, sure, and available to them, whether I'm here or not, and that's the infinite love of God. It will be there for them when they face public school!

Do not get me wrong when I say that motherhood has tested me to the point of insanity, but every time I get to that breaking point, I always remember how at my worst, I was given grace. And it gives me strength to be a grace-based mom, remembering to view them the way God does.

I remember about six months ago, Micah ran one of his toys across the coffee table. I went to check, and sure enough there was a scratch across it. I was so mad! I disciplined him, and after he said he was sorry and "no do it again", I couldn't help being angry for weeks that my table was forever destroyed. Then just last week, the boys were with their dad and the house was quiet. I grabbed some coffee, and sat by the coffee table. Then, I saw it. That dreaded scratch. Surprisingly, I smiled. It was a reminder that I have a beautiful boy who is two, and will continue to leave marks all over this house. I ran my fingers across the deep scratch, and then my mind fast-forwarded twenty years, and the kids are all out of the house, and the silence is deafening. Suddenly, that scratch is a fond memory of a time that was so precious. And so fleeting!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We're Back in the Saddle Again

It's beginning to be a crazy ride. The latest update is that we are back on the house hunt! To give you an abridged version -- we took our house off the market to really evaluate a couple of things - how much could we really afford, and what house did we really want? Having been through this experience, we can firmly say we are no longer property virgins who react in panic and sign contracts without getting counsel, and miscalculating hidden fees with selling, closing, and commissions.

Since I didn't have pictures, I thought this one was appropriate of us in this situation: property virgins, young and green! This was taken six years ago, when we first married.

After we foolishly locked ourselves into a new house, we started to feel a lack of peace. We then decided that the Lord didn't want us to spend this much money on a house, so we submitted to His authority, and gave up a dream of a new house. So, we backtracked, and tried to do this the right way. I truly believe when you decide you will honor God, He blesses you, and throws money your way!!!

We took all our accounts to a Crown certified financial planner who surprisingly came back and told us not only could we have afforded the house, but we actually could have afforded more! You can imagine our surprise, and my delight! Also since that time, I found a new realtor who is willing to give us a HUGE rebate, 2% on the buying and 2% on the selling, and would negotiate our new construction house with no closing costs (also giving us back another 3% of the new home value) and possibly buying down our interest rate. So Patrick did the budget, we know exactly what we want....now, we just need to pray that He will show it to us!
Older and wiser (can you see the gray hair?)

This whole thing has taught both Patrick and I so much about ourselves, our marriage, and how gracious God is to us! It was incredibly stressful, but looking back, we're grateful for His sovereignty that we didn't have that house with that price tag!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Alysa has it Twice As Nice

Or is it double the trouble? I spent the first part of my birthday weekend (Friday) celebrating with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Alysa, whom I've known since the seventh grade. It's a rare gift to have a friend put up with me this long. I am praying even now, that Micah and Caelan both have opportunities for amazing friendships that are life-changing, and long-lasting. She just gave birth to two beautiful twin boys, Seth and Tobias. They are pictured below, with Caelan, who is pulling his "I'm too sexy for this shirt" pose.
Alysa's firstborn, Noah, is two weeks older than Micah. Seth and Toby are are six weeks younger than Caelan. Interestingly, Alysa and I are about 2 weeks apart too. Here is a picture of us when we were six weeks pregnant with our first. We thought we were so big then....

As we sat around holding our babies, and watching our big boys play together, it was a surreal feeling to remember back when we were 13 and wondering what it would be like to know each other when we have kids. Now we do!

Alysa is handling life as a working mom of three boys and a dedicated wife, with such competence and grace. She is going back to work next week (she is an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission) and there will be even more adjustment ahead for her. As with everything, she will do great!

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