Tuesday, May 31, 2011

And here we go....

A few posts ago, I was whining and throwing a little pity party about being discouraged that our house hadn't sold after a week and a half on the market. Boohoo poor me, right?! I know, in this market, it takes TIME. Apparently in our case, it took 15 days. 15 days after we listed our house, WE GOT AN OFFER, which we accepted! Whoohoo! Let me back up...

Last week, on Tuesday, we had some strong storms that were expected to roll into town. Our neighbors to the north got the worst of it, as it would turn out. But that morning I had already been preparing for a "just in case" showing, knowing that it was a long shot that anyone would want to look that day because the weather was just not looking good. I had spoken to Cole, who was at work in Louisiana, and we agreed that Ava and I needed to "evacuate" to my parent's house (they have a basement) in case the weather became really bad. So as I was getting ready to load up the car with Ava and our dogs, the phone rang. It was the appointment center calling to schedule a showing for that evening. So I readily agreed and decided that I would leave Ava with my dad during her nap time and come back home to really clean and get things ready for a showing.

After I fed Ava lunch and put her down for nap, I came back home and got things ready, then I went back to my parents house. About 30 minutes after getting to Little Rock, the appointment center called to cancel the appointment due to weather. Which, being married to a pilot and being weather geeky people anyway, I totally understood. Then about 15 minutes later, we get another call saying that the people changed their minds, they wouldn't be able to look again until next week and they really wanted to see it before then, so they were coming afterall! So that evening after the scheduled time, I got home, put Ava to bed, and started looking around....

I kind of like coming home after a showing. I intentially leave things a very specific way so that I know if they looked at something or not. HA! And these people not only looked but really inspected and even sat at our table! A good sign!!! But we didn't hear any feedback for a couple of days. Our realtor finally was able to talk to the buyers agent, who said that her buyers really liked the house and were considering it. Then a day later, they asked for the disclosure. Another good sign. We knew that they were not going to be able to meet with their realtor until Tuesday (at least that is what we were told) so we were really shocked when our realtor called and told us that she had an offer on our home!!!! WHOOHOOO! It was a clean offer, though a little lower than we really wanted. But they didn't ask for much in closing help, so we were able to accept and remove our contingency on our Cannes house!

In this post I explained the deal about that...but long story short, we are the backup offer, so there is another buyer that also has a contingent offer on the home and they have 24 hours to remove their contingency or it is ours! So now we are just waiting on the clock, to see what happens. We haven't heard anything yet, and don't know when they were notified to start their 24 hour clock. But it should run out by tomorrow, if not sometime today. Waiting waiting waiting!!!!

So that is where we are. But it is a bit scary because our house is basically sold! Our buyers could still back out, but we don't really expect that. But I know you never know. We are not worried about the appraisal at all- we are well within the sold comps- and our realtor feels certain that the buyers financing is secure. The inspection is nerve racking, as all are. But we have a brand spankin' new roof, a foundation system that has a lifetime transferable warranty, and all of our major systems have been serviced recently and are in good working order. I don't think there is anything that would make someone walk away, especially since I feel like it is a really good deal for them. But you never know.....

But back to what I was saying, our house is basically sold. We went to see some other homes, looking for a backup to our Cannes house, and none really spoke to us. We are just really sold on the Cannes house. Ugh. Time will tell....

One thing I have been praying this whole time is for the Lord just to let things fall into place and show us what to do. Well our buyer wants to close on June 24th (a friday), and has graciously given us that saturday and sunday to move out without paying them anything. Well, Cole will get home from his next hitch on the 23rd!!! Talk about timing!!! I was so worried how that would work out, but it seems to be falling in place. I know the Cannes people want to close ASAP as they have already moved out, so I don't see us closing that day for them being a problem!

Keep us in your prayers...this is our first house to sell and it is a difficult thing- financially, emotionally, and physically!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rest In Peace, Easy 40

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I know most of you are planning family BBQs or (if you are in Arkansas) trips to Riverfest, or maybe time on the lake. But as a military family, and the home of a combat veteran, this is more than just a long weekend in the Brewer home. Cole and I are very determined to teach our children of the importance and true meaning of Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day. I think it is important for all Americans to understand the purpose of these federal holidays and to observe them and pay respect and honor to those that they are meant for...and I think teaching that early to our children is important.

Memorial Day is a day that we take a moment and remember those who have sacrificed everything to ensure the rest of us can live in a free country. In January 2007, however, Memorial Day took on a whole new meaning....

Cole was serving in Iraq at the time, with the (then) 1-111th Aviation Razorback Medevac. For those that don't know, Cole serves in the Arkansas National Guard as a Blackhawk Medevac pilot. He has served three year+ long tours overseas, and has performed numerous search and rescue operations on US soil, including rooftop rescues after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. (I am just a LITTLE proud of him!!!) So Cole was in Iraq, and we were engaged at the time. It was a weekend. A Saturday. I don't remember what time it was here, but I know that it was during the day- late morning or early afternoon. I had been instant messaging with Cole. Now if you know anyone who has served overseas, you know communication is not always the best. I would get an email from him every few days, and a 15 minute phone call once a week. But that was usually it. This was before magicjack and Skype came onto the scene. It just so happened on that day that his Internet was working really well and he was able to keep a connection to IM with me. And being a Saturday, I was off work.

We were chatting, not about anything in particular. The wedding, his leave, how things were there, what I was doing at work. The usual stuff for most people, but conversation that was so precious to us. All of the sudden, in the middle of a message, I saw something like this... "I have to go. I am okay. I love you." And I knew. Something had happened. Something bad. When someone dies in a war zone, all communication is cut off for those connected, so that the families have proper notification and rumors are not spread. Totally understandable. And I thank the Lord all the time that He allowed us to be chatting (a VERY rare occurrence during that deployment) when we heard the news, and I knew that he was okay.

After he logged off, I immediately clicked over to CNN and saw it. My heart literally hurt. A deadly blackhawk crash. 12 aboard, all believed dead. Helicopter from Arkansas National Guard. I knew that my love was safe. But I knew that for some women not far from me, their life had taken a tragic and unbelievable turn that would change them forever. I was physically ill after I read the story. I sobbed in my mom's arms, my heart breaking for the newly widowed wives, children who would never see their daddy again, parents and siblings who would soon get the news...

The helicopter, call sign "Easy 40" had been shot down. It was an assault bird from Arkansas. The crew were friends and acquaintances of my husband and his father (who also was a pilot with the ARNG).

We see so often on the news that more troops have died. But until it hits close to home, I don't think we give it a second thought. I never did until I met Cole. Now every soldier that is reported fallen, I pray for his or her family- and thank the good Lord that it wasn't my husband. Because it so easily could have been.

My grandfather, Paw Jim, was a Marine in WWII, and was on Guadalcanal. My grandmother has a picture of his unit before and after the war. Before, there were probably 200-300 of them. After, maybe 30. Heartbreaking. This country is founded on the blood of those who sacrificed for our freedom. Please do not forget to take a moment to remember them. Not just this weekend, but every day.

For those that are interested, here is the story of Easy 40's final flight. Get a tissue....

US Features

Black Hawk down heroes
By Pamela Hess Feb 16, 2007, 17:48 GMT

BAGHDAD, Iraq (UPI) -- Twelve U.S. soldiers died Jan. 20 when their Black Hawk helicopter was shot down northeast of Baghdad.

A U.S. Army press release details their names, hometowns and ages but it does not tell what happened that day. That is left to their friends, who protected and avenged them but in the end could not save them.

It was a day time flight for this National Guard unit, 1st Battalion, 131st Aviation Regiment of the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade. It was a dangerous but routine mission to ferry soldiers from one base to another. Black Hawks are the safest means of getting around Iraq. Vastly more soldiers are killed by roadside bombs than anything else in Iraq. Getting them up in the air is the easiest way to avoid them.

Black Hawks fly in pairs. On Jan. 20 Easy 71 was the lead aircraft in the formation.

'I remember we were doing an ordinary transit mission, a routine mission carrying passengers across Iraq,' said 1st Lt. Craig D. Neely, 25, the lead pilot on Easy 71.

Easy 40 was flying behind when it was hit by machine gun fire from three insurgents in the back of a truck below them.

'We heard (Maj. Michael Taylor, the company commander) talking to (his) aircraft. He yelled out he was hit; there was no question in his voice that they were hit. Myself and Sgt. Evans were able to see him and see his aircraft,' Neely said.

Sgt. Terry L. Evans, 33, is one of Easy 71`s gunners.

'We saw the aircraft get hit initially. I saw they were in trouble. I told (pilot-in-command Chief Warrant Officer Max Timmons) -- I told him they were hit. I immediately started returning fire and Mr. Timmons banked left toward Easy 40.

'Easy 40 was on fire and we knew they were in trouble. We had moved into a position where we could possibly help them if they went down. The aircraft impacted the ground. That`s when I told Mr. Timmons and Lt. Neely to put our aircraft on the ground so we could go secure the aircraft,' Evans said.

They landed 75 yards from the burning helicopter but Evans and gunner Specialist David L. Carnahan, 33, jumped out before the bird was even on the ground. Armed with just pistols, the two raced to Easy 40 to rescue the wounded and protect their aircraft from ground attack.

But everyone on board - four crew and eight passengers -- was dead.

They ran around the aircraft to see if they could pull bodies out. They couldn`t. Evans went back to Easy 71 for his rifle and then returned to Carnahan and the burning helicopter.

'We were going to attempt to get (Maj.) Taylor`s body out,' he said.

Unspeakable things happen to the bodies of dead American soldiers here if they are not protected on the battlefield. Evans and Carnahan would not allow that to that to happen. The two, with their rifles and pistols, set up a defensive perimeter.

It was instinct that drove them out of their helicopter and onto the killing ground.

'You don`t think about people shooting at you,' said Carnahan. 'For me it was a pretty traumatic experience -- to watch a helo go down with people from my unit. You don`t think about yourself at the moment. You think about the people on the other aircraft.'

By this time, two other Black Hawks flying had received Lt. Neely`s mayday call. They were overhead.

Easy 53, commanded by Chief Warrant Officer Jerry D. Sartin, 41, and flown by CW3 Michael Hodges, 37, was just a minute behind Easy 40 on the same flight path.

'We started to land to lend aid and assistance when we noticed a truck moving at a high speed,' said Sartin. 'We took off to engage that vehicle.'

Black Hawks are not attack helicopters. The machine guns that protrude from either side are meant for self-defense.

'We practice aerial gunnery (on a range) at least once a year. The only difference is the targets at the range don`t shoot back,' said Staff Sgt. Gary L. Smith, 32.

Easy 53 made five passes around the truck which was now firing on them with the same weapon that brought down Easy 40. After the first pass, one of the insurgents pulled out a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

'He was neutralized,' said Sartin.

This was one of Smith`s first combat engagements.

'It`s nothing that you really think about. It`s more of an instinct. We are there to protect our brothers. We will do anything it takes. If it means putting ourselves in the line of fire to attack them that`s part of what it means to be a soldier,' he said.

'When we started making our runs on the truck I really wasn`t thinking. It was more just acting out, engaging the truck, following up targets. When the weapon was out of ammo, the actions of reloading, getting the guns back out the window when it was your turn to fire again engage the enemy. There really wasn`t much time to think,' he said.

His first response was sadness at seeing Easy 40 hit and smoking, then anger when he heard the mayday call and realized it was an aircraft in his own battalion. Then adrenaline took over.

'Once we started engaging the truck all that flew out the window and we paid attention to engaging targets,' Smith said.

The Black Hawk gunners killed the three shooters during a 15-minute fight.

Apache attack aircraft arrived just minutes into the battle, allowing the two Black Hawks in Easy 53`s flight to land with Easy 71.

'We had that place swarming. The enemy had nowhere to run,' Neely said.

The crew and soldiers on board formed a defensive perimeter around the four helicopters now on the ground while Evans and Carnahan did what they could to put out the fire and pull their friends from Easy 40.

Ground forces were on their way to secure the scene, but it would take time to get there. The route in had been thoroughly booby trapped with improvised explosive devices, an Army official said this week.

The Black Hawks were running low on fuel. With Apaches overhead protecting the site and ground forces on their way, they decided to take off together, leaving the 12 men on Easy 40 in others` hands.

They flew together to the U.S. air base at Balad where they delivered their passengers, completing their mission.

'The crew of Easy 40 is very brave and they did heroic things,' said Neely, naming and memorializing each of the downed crew. '(Maj.) Taylor was our company commander from Arkansas. I`m a pretty young pilot. I`ve only been flying for two years and we flew together quite often.'

'Capt. Sean Lyerly was at the controls,' he said.

'They made every effort to talk to us, to let us know what was going on. They were controlling that aircraft to the ground,' Neely said. 'We saw them smoking and burning and heard (Maj.) Taylor`s voice on the radio, talking to Capt. Lyerly, controlling that aircraft.'

'(Sgt. Maj.) Thomas Warren and Sgt. First Class Gary Brown, the crew members in the back, were doing all that they could as well,' he said.

'The crew of Easy 40 went down fighting. They are the true heroes in this. There is nothing we can do to bring them back. But we can make sure the world knows these guys were total professionals,' said 1/131 battalion commander Lt. Col. Zachary Maner.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keeping my chin up...

I would first like to say that this is a selfish, whiny post, and I am sorry. Prayers go out to those impacted by the recent tornadoes, and to those who will be enduring rough weather the next few days.

So we have been on the market one week and two days. We have had three showings and no offers. I am told we are doing pretty well for the market. I am told the Realtors who have seen it say that our house is "fabulous" and that the price is right to sell fast. I am told to be ready to move. But I am still fighting discouragement! I just KNEW that we would put a sign up one day and have an offer the next! Oh, reality, how you stink!!! Ugh... I am not a patient person. Never have been. And this is not a good trait to lack when trying to sell a home in a slow market. Cole recently returned to Louisiana for work, so he has been gone for the past week. He left the day after the sign went in the yard. Which actually was a blessing because he is a wonderful husband but lousy housekeeper! HA! I had really hoped to have an offer waiting on him when he got home this weekend. But I am not sure that is going to happen. I know that people keep their homes on the market for months and I just don't know how they do it!!!

I guess having our desired home on the line adds to the stress. Because we are a back-up contingent offer, we must sell our house before the other contingent offer does, and before anyone without contingencies comes along and snaps it up! No pressure! But at the same time, I think our current home is lovely. We have put a lot into it- money, time, work, and I don't want to (nor can we afford to) just give it away. We are priced close to our bottom line as is, in an effort for a quick sale. So I am trying my best to disconnect from "our new house" and look at other homes for sale in our desired price range and neighborhood. Problem is, the ones we like are either more than we want to spend or we would have to compromise on things we really really want. There is one that I have loved forever. I used to lay in bed and dream about it. Then our realtor took me in...and I still love it. But OH MY STAIRS! STAIRS everywhere!! Stairs up, stairs down, stairs stairs stairs! Which explains why it has been on the market for so long with no offers. We are talking almost 3 years people! Donna (our realtor) says that they are just priced too high for the obstacles that it has. AKA the stairs. The home itself is pristine and beautiful. The backyard would need a fence, and doesn't have many trees like we like. But I think we could make it work with some work, and the inside needs next to nothing done to it, so it could work...

I am talking myself into it, see?! I just want to LOVE my "for long time" house and not have to talk myself into a home. That is what I did with our current home. And while it worked out for us, I don't want to settle again!

Just need to pray for everything to work out the way it is supposed to!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

House Update and MLS Link

Well we are officially on the market!!! For some bizzzaarrrooooo reason, Blogger decided to delete my last post. So who knows if we will ever see it again. But here is a recap...

  • Happy Mothers Day, blah blah blah (yes, it has been a while. I have been BUSY!)

  • We decided to explore the idea of moving and started checking out homes.

  • We found a house that we LOVE. This House-

  • Our Realtor showed another client our house as a "test" to see what she thought. She is a single, older lady, and loved our house except the hill that you come down to get to our Cove and the majorly HUGE backyard (things we can't change). But her feedback was encouraging enough for us to take the plunge!

  • We started getting our house ready every waking second we could. We even ***GASP*** HIRED some work out. If you know me, you know that is NOT something I do. ;)

So that pretty much brings you up to speed. Now, we got a call Friday night that another contingent offer had been made on our house, and they were countering. But that they would entertain other offers also. So we put ours in and "technically" listed Sunday afternoon, although today was the first day we were ready to show. Our offer was accepted as a backup contingent offer. Basically we just have to sell our house first. Which I am hoping we will because I know that the other people are moving from a city with a slower real estate market than ours. That said, who knows! I know we will end up where we need to be. Where the Lord wants us. I just hope it is that house. HA! Cole tells me all the time that I can't change the Lord's mind. But that doesn't always stop me from trying!

We had the Realtor's tour today and about 16 people came through, and we also had our first "real" showing this morning also! I am anxiously awaiting feedback from our realtor. Oh how I hope they all liked it and hope we get an offer! That would be AWESOME!!! But I know I need to be patient in this market.

This is the link to our MLS for our house. You might note some paint changes. Bleh. My beautiful blue dining room and red foyer is gone. :( But I know my Brookline Beige is more appealing to the masses. Don't worry...Aegean an Teal WILL make an appearance in my next dining room. It might just become a signature color for me. I don't know. ;)


Monday, May 2, 2011

On the death of a mass murderer....

So we went to bed last night to the news that Osama Bin Laden, mastermind behind the worst terrorist attack in US history, had been killed by US forces. As the wife of a US Soldier and combat veteran, this was a huge thing for me and our family! It is a big win for the USA. And yes, I know that it doesn't mean the war is over. And I know that the war on terror will continue. But I do think this was a BIG win- and I think that it will greatly weaken their organization in the long run.

Of course, FB was ablaze with everyone's opinion. Opinions that we feel compelled to share with the world. :) And I had SO many of my friends who, as Christians, were appalled that everyone was rejoicing in this man's death. And even saying that they were sad that he has met his eternal fate. Yes, a man is dead. And yes, as a Christian I believe that he is most likely in Hell. And I believe that the Lord can soften and change ANY living soul, even one as evil as his. But he was an evil man who wanted to do evil to our nation. A nation that was at least founded as a Christian nation.

I was confronted and even a little attacked because I wouldn't feel sad about feeling relieved and even a bit giddy that he had been "neutralized." I even asked Cole this morning if we were bad Christians for being happy about his death. Then a friend posted a link to this blogpost that was written by a former professor of her's at Master's College in CA. And when I read it, I just wanted to shout "YES!!!!" and fist pump!!!!