Now that we've had the idea of buying a house on our minds for the past year or so, we are finally at the point of making it official.  We are pre-qualified for a loan and have gone on bona fide house tours with our realtor.  So far buying a house is both super-exciting and well... kind of scary.  Our net worth will obviously take a hit and we'll be tied to the area.  However, we have talked about all these things over the past year and have decided that this is exactly what we want to do and we are SO excited!  Oh the joy of being able to paint your own walls...

We are taking a pretty conservative approach to the price of the home and the area.  We do not want to be house poor or have to stress about being over-extended at all.  On the other hand, we want to be in a good neighborhood with positive resale values.  We will probably end up being one of the less expensive houses in the neighborhood we end up in just because we'd rather have a smaller house in a preferable neighborhood than a bigger house elsewhere.  

Of course you shouldn't rule out looking at a house just because it has or doesn't have something specific you prefer, but we think (and hope!) that we can find exactly what we're looking for, we just need to be patient.  I have a feeling this whole house-hunting process will be a great learning experience for us :)

So anyway, as we begin our house-hunt, here are a few things on our lists of "must-haves" and "would-likes."

3+ bedrooms
2 1/2+ bathrooms
2-car garage
good neighborhood & school district

bedrooms close together
updated appliances
hardwood floors
laundry room upstairs
back patio

The items on our "Would Like" list are projects we can definitely tackles ourselves so no big deal if our house doesn't come with these criteria.  Heck, I think it might even be more fun to DIY it anyway!

Oh, and my idea of a first home?  Mmm... something like this:

Found on Pinterest, originally from here.
What?  That doesn't exist here?  That's OK, I know our perfect little first home is out there waiting for us to find it.  Wish us luck and I'll keep you posted!



A couple of weeks ago, Ryan told me not to make any plans for the morning of this past Saturday.  He gave me a couple of hints and while I have to confess that I figured out what the surprise was because of those hints... the. surprise. was. amazing.  It actually came from his little sister, Lexi.  She came across a deal for a hot air balloon ride and was sweet enough to give it to us!

So we got up suuuper early, drove down south and did one of the coolest things we've done in awhile.  We rode for about an hour and our guide? operator? was great.  He took us between trees low enough so we could grab leaves off of them and high enough to see for miles.  It was a crazy sensation moving over the ground so smoothly.  That was the most interesting part if you ask me.  You're just gliding over the earth, you don't get that from a car or boat or walking.  

Once we landed, the crew told the story of how hot air balloons came to be.  The story ended with the fact that the French landed in unknown territory, and when they did, they were greeted with angry farmers trying to kill them.  However, being the good French men they were, they had several bottles of champagne and used them as a peace offering.  To this day, farmers will come out when you land in their fields expecting a glass of bubbly.

It was such an amazing experience, something I've always wanted to do but didn't think I would for awhile.  It was a perfect morning.



We just re-vamped the budget.  And by re-vamped, I mean went from spending money and then tracking it, to getting a free online budget tool from mint.com and creating actual dollar amounts for what we want to spend per month on food, groceries, entertainment, etc.

Although (I think) we're pretty conservative when it comes to money, it's good to know exactly where it's all going and if it's compatible with our goals.

Aaaand now we're going to celebrate by drinking a bottle of wine.  And since we made it ourselves, we saved money!  Yippie!



So it's almost bedtime (yes, we're like old people and go to bed early) but I thought I would check in and give a little update.  We just got back from my parent's house to see my mom, who just had surgery, and is doing great.  Prayers are appreciated.  Besides that, as always, we've been busy lately, good busy.  I know that's a common theme, but I do see things calming a bit for the next several months, which will be lovely.

We got back from (another) Florida trip a few days ago and had the best time.  We celebrated my grandma's 80th birthday, got to meet the newest member of the family and relaxed.  I always have the best time with the Insalacos and feel so blessed to have the family I do, perfect for me.  We have fun, and I mean serious fun.  We laugh and are just so real with each other.  It is very comforting to be with people like that.  Whenever a vacation ends with them, I'm always a little sad.  But then I'm grateful to have had that time and look forward to the next vacation.  Summer 2012!
Summer has gone by quickly but it has been a blast.  I feel an end-of-summer party coming!  Anyway, pictures of vacation to come, along with some that I've been taking on my new camera, WHICH I LOVE.  Oh, and some of our casa!  Now that we've been here for over a year, it's about time.  Come back soon!