Well, this isn't going to be a significantly detailed review, but it will touch the highlights of the year I guess. God definitely did some significant things this year...many of which I just have to share. So here goes, the year in (fairly quick I hope) review:
The year started out with Brian still laid off from work - carried over from the end of the prior year. He started working at the beginning of February out at Bechtel (Hanford area), at the Vitrification plant, on a maintenance crew. Basically his job is to help keep the area maintained while the other workers build the Vit plant which isn't supposed to even be operational until 2019 or something like that. So, there is a chance he might be employed for a long time...but there's really no telling, since that's just the way things are out there.
Let's see...I know that at the start of the year we helped lead a class for Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey) that was held at our church. After going through some significant debt payoff over the past few years, we were asked to kind of be "apprentices" for the class, and now we are actually leading the class this year. It's cool to be able to share our experiences, hopefully God will use us to encourage others in their quest for Financial Freedom.
The summer was different this year; we didn't have the "luxury" of a layoff this summer (we did for the past two summers), so I had to really cut my work hours so I could be home with the girls. It was wonderful for me, I loved it. Work, on the other hand, didn't like it as much. My employers are awesome though, very flexible and they just worked with me so I could be home with the girls and then what probably averaged out to about once a week I would come in to work, bring them with me, and get some work done. It worked out well, since my employers are a husband and wife who run a business out of their home. I'm very thankful for their flexibility!
The biggest thing in the summer was that we decided to put our house up for sale. This was quite a roller-coaster ride to say the least. But God is faithful and got us through it. We weren't sure what to expect, but wanted the most out of our house so we decided to sell it "by owner". We purged the house of extraneous clutter, and two little 5' x 10' storage units later, put it up for sale on July 16. After only 10 weeks on the market we had an interested buyer! So we ended up signing the sale on October 30, and I think it closed on November 3.
During the whole selling process, of course, we were trying to decide where to live next. We have loved a certain house for probably over 8 years; another Aho Construction house plan. Our first house was built by Aho, and we've always loved it. So long story short (too late), we decided to have Aho build another one for us. We found a lot we liked with a flat driveway (Brian's non-negotiable), and gave them the go-ahead to build that house plan we've always loved. It has a laundry room upstairs where the bedrooms are (my non-negotiable), 4 bedrooms, and over 2500 square feet of space - as opposed to our first house which had 1089. We even opted for the 3 car garage with a 4th "bay" in the back, to make even more space for Brian to have his workout equipment.
Keep in mind that all of these things were not decided on easily. Our final lot choice was the 3rd one. We had put earnest money down on one lot, then moved our choice, and then we took our money off completely until we decided for sure whether we wanted to do it. I think God needed us to stop making decisions on our own and let HIM lead them instead. We learned a lot this summer about waiting on God. Wow. But God saved us the perfect lot! It's huge and across the street from a park and has a nice view of the Tri Cities.
So, we told Aho to build our house on October 25 I think. Then it takes them 3 months to build a house. We thought about trying to rent an apartment, but apparently renting has died and now you have to lease a place for 6 months or more. So much for that idea. However, Brian's parents graciously decided to make room for us and we were able to stay there while the house was built! We are so thankful to them for allowing us to do that. It was such a blessing! The girls loved living with Gramy and Grampa, and we were relieved not to have to pay a huge rent bill and to have a roof over our heads.
We drove by our house almost every day - in the morning I would take the girls by and see what they were going to do that day, and then after school we would see all the progress and sometimes get out and walk around. It's amazing how fast a house goes up. Check out the pictures - they're dated and you can see how fast some of it went. Sometime in November we got a letter saying our completion date would be January 20 - less than 3 months after we signed the contract. Pretty cool.
The holidays went by quickly as always. We stayed here for Thanksgiving and traveled to Oregon for Christmas. That was another adventure in itself. On Monday the 22nd we drove from Tri-Cities to The Dalles and spent a night there since the freeway was closed at Hood River. That trip took about 3 hours, only 1/2 hour longer than normal. Then the next day the Gorge opened up and we drove from The Dalles to Dallas. Normally a 2-1/2 hour trip, that took 6. WOW! I think you can find pictures from Christmas if you go to my house albums and then look at the other albums I have posted there. I got some great snow pictures.
When we got to my parents' house, there was still no electricity (hadn't had any since the weekend before), so we got to "rough it" a little bit. That day was my mom's birthday so we went out to dinner that night. The next day was Christmas Eve and we got power back that evening. Christmas was great and we had a good time. The drive home was closer to the usual 5 hour trip.
The last few weeks have been spent planning what to do, when to move, packing things up again, and last weekend we actually got to move into our house. We signed papers last Thursday, got our keys on Friday, and moved in on Saturday. We had lots of help (thanks everybody), and I'm making headway on the unpacking process. It will take a while but we'll get done eventually!
So that recaps the last year pretty well. God really did some cool stuff last year! It's fun to see how some of the things have worked out, especially when I remember how we wondered HOW things would possibly work out at the time. There was so much more detail to most of the stuff I have written but I guess if you really want more detail, you'll ask.
Happy New Year!