This has become a The Marshmallow Studio tradition. Every year, I put together these RECAPS posts that outline everything we did the prior year. They are nothing but pure happiness and fluffy goodness.
I’m sorry to say, this annual recap is a quite a bit different 🙁
2016 was a very difficult year for us. That’s personally speaking not for the company. It challenged us physically, emotionally and mentally. I took it especially hard.
This post is meant to not only celebrate a new beginning but to also hopefully help someone who may be passing through a dark place.
Almost immediately after moving in, our neighbor’s house across the street was robbed. A few months later, we got into a major car accident just a block away from home. Next, thanks to the massive city budget reductions and lack of good management, the surrounding area to our gated community went downhill fast. Daily, we began hearing gunshots, sirens, car accidents and residents reporting suspicious activity and crimes through a local neighborhood Facebook group. These were things that didn’t exist just a year before when we decided to purchase a home. These are things that you expect to see in other parts of Las Vegas, not where we purchased or where the price range of homes is higher than most other places.
On June 18, 2015 we put our house on the market. It finally sold on July 25, 2016.
Not without taking a toll on everything in our lives!
We waited until the two houses next to us had sold before we put ours on the market. The day after our sale post went up, a neighbor in the same neighborhood (only 30 houses within the gated community) with the same floorplan put her house on the market too. Next, our neighbor across the street, also with the same floor plan, put her house on the market too. She is the one who ended up LITERALLY stealing my buyers the day they were going to come place an offer on our house. I was packing my house when I saw them in her garage signing documents. Really! It was like out of a horror movie. At the beginning of the year, another neighbor in the same block put her house up on the market.
You can see the pattern here… we were not the only ones trying to escape.
A few months later, we found another set of buyers. They placed an offer and we accepted it. Just as we were ready to move forward, the bank red flagged some stuff and the deal was off! We immediately received another offer and that one fell out of escrow too.
During the time the house was for sale, we had over 70 showings. The builder was offering brand new built homes with our same floor plan a few blocks away for $50K less plus incentives… it was impossible to sell. There was brand new construction all around the valley in all price ranges and styles. Demand was low and supply was high! Buyers didn’t care that we had already installed many major upgrades including a designer-grade backyard, high-end wooden rolling shades and upgraded custom wood flooring. The feedback we were receiving from agents and buyers was often ridiculous and offensive, to say the least.
We ended up selling for a lot less than what we bought the house for. It didn’t matter anymore, though. Our peace of mind was priceless. We had endured enough.
I became a different person. Always negative. Always sad. I cried nightly. I was glued to my cameras. I became obsessed with crime reports, I was paranoid, I lived in fear and hardly left the house. If I did leave, I would have anxiety and panic attacks.
We couldn’t talk to anybody about it because we were criticized as being exaggerators and unable to manage fear. You know, the whole victim blaming perfect scenario. During this time, I lost some friends, made new ones that felt the same fear I did, I grew apart from loved ones; aaaannndddd my work also suffered.
One day while my husband was away in WA, I drove up to a squatter trying to scoop out our house. When I confronted him, he looked nervous and lied about being interested in purchasing a house. He said he had been looking at the house and that he stopped to grab a sales flyer. My cameras showed him peeking in our windows, trying to open the front door and trying to go into the backyard.
This day, I was so excited to find a front row parking spot at Costco that I snapped a photo and sent it to my husband who was living in WA at the time. There are only three Costco in Las Vegas, so being able to find parking is difficult, let alone anywhere near the entrance. (Long story short – we paid for a month-long rental house in Camano Island that was for us to live once we move to WA and were looking for a place to buy. The buyers of our Vegas house pulled out of escrow on day 9 for no reason at all. We were unable to get our money back from the rental. My husband ended up having to go away in order for us to not lose that money. While he lived in that rental, he researched areas and toured many houses. Meanwhile, the kids and I were left alone in dangerous Las Vegas dealing with more showings.) Anyway, I went in with all three kids and did all my shopping. I came out of Costco, pushed the cart across the parking lot and safely buckled the kids in the van. Next, I went to the back of the van to unload the cart into the back of the van. Before I even knew what was happening, I car at full speed was coming my way to run me over. The driver was able to turn the wheel and her bumper ended up missing my legs by a couple of inches. I would have been pinned against my van’s bumper with my legs cut off probably. I get tears in my eyes just remembering this day!
The driver had her windows down and yelled out “sorry” as she sped away almost hitting other pedestrians in the parking lot. A couple of Costco employees saw what happened and asked if I was okay. My hands were shaking and my blood was pumping but I had my legs and my children were safe so I was okay. They said that she had just tried to steal several TVs and got caught so she was trying to get away before the cops arrived. It made sense because as I was in line waiting for my receipt to get checked off, I saw her with a bed cart by the entrance arguing with the employees who were checking her receipt. I didn’t think anything of it at that time. As she drove off, I was able to see a car seat in the back seat and a man sitting in the passenger seat. I pray that she didn’t, in fact, have a child in the car that day.
I will forever be grateful that I placed my kids in the van first; otherwise, who knows what could have happened. I finished loading the van and got in the driver’s seat. I broke down. FULL ON break down. It took me about 30 minutes to feel ready to drive home. My kids witnessed this; they heard me tell their dad how I almost died.
On top of all this, our boys were in such a horrible school district. The elementary school they were enrolled in had so many children they couldn’t handle it. On two occasions I had to pull them out early because we were traveling; when I went to the office, they were released to me without even asking me for an ID or having me sign an early-out sheet. This meant anyone could have access to my kids! In a small town this may seem normal but for a large metropolitan city with only 1 school district that has over 315,000 students, 35,000 employees and 336 schools – IT’S A DANGEROUS PROBLEM. I was afraid everytime I dropped off the boys. I won’t even tell you how much of a nightmare pick up and drop off was like because you wouldn’t even believe me.
We lived this way for months. At home, we had no furniture, no decorations, no distractions and no desire to do anything other than to LEAVE.
Turns out, when you’re depressed… creativity just doesn’t come to you. I was incapable of coming up with ideas, with marshmallow designs, with recipes. I spent all my time studying the real estate market and cleaning my house to have it show-ready within minutes. If you’ve ever tried to sell a house, you know how horrible it is to live this way. It’s like you’re homeless; a guest at your own house.
For Keiran’s 5th birthday, we decided to celebrate it at Legoland. We couldn’t have a party because our house was empty and couldn’t afford to deny a showing. Plus, we wanted to brighten up our current depressing situation and make fun memories with the kids. This weekend was so much fun!
On our way back to Nevada we stopped at my parents’ house. They surprised Keiran with a little birthday cake and mini celebration. He loved it.
On April 22, 2016 – with this photo we said goodbye to our Las Vegas house and hit the road toward a brighter future.
The house was still on the market and we had no offers on the table either but it was time.
We had purchased a house in Camano Island, Washington. It was amazing!
We arrived on April 25, 2016. The sky was blue, the grass was green, the air was clean and the darkness within me was gone.
We were home!
Now, to work!!
We all pitched in to make this house our home.
The inside was in desperate need of new carpet, new wood flooring, new paint and a few improvements.
We pushed through and did it all ourselves. I walk around the house feeling proud of how much love is in every room.
We had reached the light at the end of this long dark tunnel.
I have never been happier. I never knew how much I was always meant to be here until now.
My heart is full knowing that Kyle and I we are now able to raise our children in a better place.
Here, they are free. They can play outside, they can explore nature, they can go to a school that cares about them, they can experience seasons and they can be safe.
For Aiden’s 7th birthday, we had a couple of family members fly in to visit and celebrate with us. I poured all my love into this fun Minecraft cake and I was so proud of how it had turned out.
Oh yes, and then as I was moving it to the table to photograph it ……. the cake pedestal fell over and the cake went splat on the table!
I almost cried 🙁 but my son came over and said “it’s okay mommy it’s still nice”. My heart melted and all was okay again.
The Las Vegas house had sold, our new house was feeling like OUR home. Many of our pressing house projects had been completed and the weather was absolutely gorgeous…
We were all together, healthy, happy and I was smiling again.
The creative juices were coming back to me and I was aching to get back into the sweetness of things! I finished off the year with more done in three months than I had done in the other nine.
Here are the VERY FEW posts we did in 2016. I hope to have more for you in 2017 🙂
NOTICE how the feet are upside down?! Yes, that’s what happens when your head is not where it should be. This was an epic FAIL that I will leave up as a reminder to myself to never give up regardless of how challenging it seems. I’m sorry.
No-Bake Treats by Julianne Bayer
Thanks for reading my blog and for allowing me to open up.