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It’s something, huh?

James and I are in the midst of all the joy and stress of buying our first house. I’ve lived in rental properties (four different ones) since graduating from Calvin and never really even considered buying. It made sense to do so now, a major reason being that if we do eventually decide to buy a house in England we want to have some equity built up as housing costs there are astronomical – at least compared to West Michigan.

So about a month ago we contacted Linda – a friend of my aunt and uncle who is a realtor and has helped a few other members of my extended family find houses. She faxed me a list of about 34 properties in the general area that we had specified (in short, within about 10 minutes walk of central Eastown). We selected a few to look at and were at first a little discouraged about what we were finding in our price range. But then a couple came along that we were more optimistic about and could see ourselves in. We started taking second looks, and then we found it: The House.

I fell in love with it immediately upon entering and just got more excited as we walked around. The listed price was toward the top of our price range but it was in such great condition. There was nothing that needed doing immediately; the floors, paint, appliances, roof, yard – all in great shape! James was excited about it but didn’t have the immediate emotional reaction that I did – which is okay because he’s a guy. 🙂

Next comes the securing of a mortgage lender which ended up being a pretty easy process for us. One of my co-workers highly recommended her and her husband’s mortgage guy, and after meeting with him and finding out that this was actually going to cost us a lot less per month than we were expecting, we were ready to move forward. [Side note: my conversations lately have been peppered with all kinds of terms that I hadn’t had a clue about a month ago like PMI, ARM, disclosure statements, etc.]

The day that we made the offer I had to work, but James and Linda spent a good two hours in the house looking around and writing up the offer – after which James was really excited about the house too. They came over to my office around 1:00 that afternoon so I could sign the offer papers too. Linda faxed them to the listing agent shortly after. And we waited. And waited. And waited… The offer expired at 10:00 p.m. Linda called us at 10:30 to say she still hadn’t heard anything. At midnight we finally went to bed. Thankfully I managed to sleep despite the suspense. Linda called at 7:30 a.m. to let us know that there had been a counter-offer. We decided to accept it. Later that evening Linda called us to let us know that she had heard from the listing agent and we were all set. Pending inspection and all that, the house would be ours.


The tentative plan is to close sometime after July 23 and take possession the last weekend in August. I think it’s going to be a little frustrating not to be able to move in earlier, but it will all work out. We’ve been doing some furniture shopping now that we know what sort of space we have to put the furniture in. It’s a lot more fun that way!

It’s kind of strange that I’m so excited about having hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. I kinda think this is worth it though.


James here. I’m commandeering Kari’s blog as she’s away for a few days and would, I suspect, appreciate the link to our initial set of wedding photos appearing here more quickly than that may allow.

For those following the various immigration intricacies, I’ve posted something on the experience of finding a doctor over at my blog.

Several people have asked me if I’m Kari Stewart now. The answer is, “Not yet.” Although I’m wearing my wedding ring, I’m not going to change my name until after our October 22 celebration. After that I will officially be Kari Lynn Stewart.

Really, we just wanted to confuse the heck out of as many people as possible. 😉

…I thee wed

Well, we managed to go ahead and get ourselves hitched last weekend.

James’ mum and brother Matthew arrived on time in Chicago on Friday evening. (Unfortunately due to heavy Chicago traffic, we did not. Oh well – we weren’t too terribly late.) Although they managed to make their connection in Raleigh with only a 45 minute layover – pretty tight when customs and immigration are involved – their luggage did not, so they had to wait until the following morning to have it delivered to the airport in Grand Rapids. Thankfully they didn’t have to go the whole weekend without it!

On Saturday James and I took his mum and brother and my mom to a number of places around Grand Rapids – Calvin College, Church of the Servant, the Comfort Inn where our guests will be staying in October, Target so they could buy Oreos for James’ sister Susan, Schuler Books and Music, Art of the Table (which is owned by friends of ours), and finally Martha’s Vineyard – a neighborhood specialty beverage and grocery store. Then back to our apartment to do a little decorating and pick up my brother Jeff before heading out for a lovely dinner at the Bluewater Grill. My dad joined us back at the apartment after dinner as he had had to work that day.

We went back and forth a few times on whether to do the wedding ceremony inside or outside on the deck. The day had been overcast and it had rained a bit off and on. It was still sprinkling a little when we finally decided at the last minute to go ahead and do the ceremony on the deck (which we had decorated with white lights and flowers and plants – pictures coming soon). Thankfully, the rain stopped just as we got started. And despite the weather, we had a lovely little ceremony on the deck with the seven of us. The liturgy was based on the Church of England’s wedding service with a few tweaks to make it suit us better and involve the participation all of those present.

After the ceremony we went back inside and signed the marriage certificate, then celebrated with wine, cheeses, chocolates, fruit and a few other delectables. In all, it was quite a lovely evening.

My parents and Jeff took Mum and Matthew back to Chicago on Sunday night where they joined up with my sister Dana for pizza at Giordano’s. Matthew and Mum flew back home on Monday morning so it was a really quick trip for them, but it was so wonderful that they could be there at all. Our families really enjoyed meeting each other too.

James and I headed up to Traverse City on Sunday for a few days honeymoon. We stayed at the Park Place Hotel that night, wandered around the Old Mission and Leelenau Peninsulas on Monday stopping at a few wineries including Chateau Chantal, Bowers Harbor, and Chateau Grand Traverse. We attempted to camp on Monday night but due to rain and a deflating air mattress that turned into a bit of a disaster. We managed to survive it.

So we’re really truly married. We have a marriage certificate and everything. Now to get James a greencard…