Summer has now come and gone, and Autumn is upon us. This is Jesse’s favourite time of year – the sun typically shines brightly during the day, still sending its rays to warm us, yet not so warm that we seek shelter in the shade. The crispness of the mornings help energize us for whatever the day holds. Cool evenings are perfect for sitting around a bonfire. Chillier nights assist in a better sleep.

In “The Reveal” post, we shared with you about Corissa’s surgery and our relocation choice.

At the beginning of July, we had an appointment with Corissa’s surgeon, Dr. Islur, who reluctantly gave us the go-ahead to move to Pembroke. Corissa’s abdominal incision wound was healing, but slowly. He wanted to keep an eye on the wound, but knew that we had done all we could to speed up the healing, we now had to let her body do the rest. Corissa implemented nutritional strategies that boosted her immune system and healing factors, and by the time she saw Dr Islur again, the wound was almost healed. It was at this July appointment that Dr Islur asked Corissa if she’d be willing to collaborate in the video with Courtney Martin of Surgical Studio. Within a couple of days, Corissa was sharing a snippet of her breast health journey with the world! It was an incredible, yet nerve-wracking experience. Our purpose in publicly sharing Corissa’s story is to help other women, and thus their loved ones, know that they are not alone, others have walked this path, and to advocate for and educate women in their options.

During the heat of the summer, we moved Jesse back to Pembroke so that he could begin – or RE-begin? – his position with the Department of National Defence (DND) at Garrison (CFB) Petawawa. It’s a long drive from Winnipeg to Pembroke area: 24 hours. Longlac is the half-way mark, and we have found a small, yet functional and clean, hotel that always has room for us. The longest part of the trip seems to be that first day. We count how many more kilometres until the “next” town. And when dusk settles, our vigilance at spotting wildlife makes us both anxious and jumpy, so that when we do get to Longlac, it takes awhile to calm those nerves enough to sleep.

We made it to Pembroke a week before Jesse was to begin work, and settled in at Jesse’s brother and sister-in-law’s home (Evan & Vicki). This was not the first time they opened their home and hearts to us, and we are incredibly grateful for their generous and welcoming spirits. We really enjoyed being part of their family.

Our goal during that week, was to find us a home. We met with our realtor (Brad Chubbs) and his associate, and viewed approximately 25 houses that first week! While we had a list of homes we wanted to see, we also viewed homes that were not on our radar – which brought us to the one we ended up purchasing. Jesse and Corissa had similar, yet sometimes different tastes and opinions on what we, as individuals, thought was best for us – as a couple.

Corissa liked unique homes, while Jesse was content with cookie-cutter ones. We both wanted a big yard, yet Corissa wanted more country living – but close to amenities – and Jesse thought that a big yard in town would suffice. Jesse also wanted town living for the monthly expense factor – most places in the country heat with oil or propane. Natural gas is less expensive than either of those fuels, but was only available in town. Corissa understood his logic, but that Dixie Chicks song, Wide Open Spaces, played over and over in Corissa’s head and heart 🙂 {see below for a link to the music video}

It wasn’t that Jesse needed convincing to live in the country, it was that his head kept calculating the dollar signs of monthly expenses. Once he could see the benefit of living on a bit of land, with neighbours close but not too close, with trees and flowers, birds and other wildlife, room for gardens, and space to host our family and friends, he knew that the extra dollars spent per month was worth the joy, peacefulness, and contentedness of country living.

Our other dilemma was “tiny house living.” While in Costa Rica, we dreamed and discussed what we each thought would be our ideal home. Since we knew we wouldn’t be having children together, it made sense to us to dream “small” – maybe a two bedroom home, with a kitchen just big enough for the two of us to work in together, a one-car garage so that Jesse could have his workspace/workshop that he’s always dreamed about, and maybe an unfinished basement so his nephews and guy friends could play floor hockey or watch the game. We also figured that a small home would cost less upfront, and cost less to maintain on a monthly basis. Smaller footprint on the planet.

When we started looking at homes, it became clear to us that a) a small house was not good for re-sale (not too many others have bought into the small house movement!), b) there were not many small homes on the market that were built and/or maintained well, and c) we want to entertain – very hard to do in a small house.

As discouragement was setting in – we had looked at 20+ homes without one that we BOTH agreed on – our realtor brought us to 3604 B Line. The first thing our realtor told us was that it was a one-owner home: the original home owners, who had the house built for them, were the ones selling it. The house was built in 1979 – they had been living in the home for decades. We were blown away by the home – it is solid, top to bottom, and was carefully and lovely maintained, AND it was on 3/4 of an acre.

This was it! The ONE home we both agreed upon, and it was in our price range. We put in an offer, subject to all the normal things like inspection, financing, etc., the sellers countered it with a different price than what we originally presented, and we accepted their counter offer.

Now the “fun” began – inspections and financing.

In Manitoba, when selling a home, the sellers only get the money 2-4 weeks after closing due to the transfer of the land titles. The buyers must submit the purchase funds in order to get the keys, but the money sits in limbo until land titles has changed over the name of ownership.

For us, this meant getting a interim loan, or bridge financing, so that we could purchase a home in Pembroke without the actual cash-in-hand to do so. After the sale of the Winnipeg house, and before we left Winnipeg, we had met with our bank and got the approval for a bridge loan. Once we had an official offer in place for Pembroke, we had to submit all the offer-to-purchase documents to the bank, and they’d set up the financing.

Sounds easy, right?! Well, it didn’t turn out that way. It seems that there was an outstanding debt Corissa had that she was never told about (and this was around the time that Wayne was actively dying). No letter. No phone call. No email. Just went straight to collections.

The initial check at the bank did not reveal this alleged outstanding debt; it was only when the bank’s underwriter (the person who clicks “yes” or “no” to providing the loan) did some deep digging that it popped up. We were told this a mere 12 hours before the deadline of acceptance of the B Line offer-to-purchase!

Corissa scrambled to work through this – which turned out to be an error, not on her part. Yet, at this point, the damage was done, and we had to rectify the situation – QUICKLY. We did, but not without a few choice words and tears 😉 And when we needed the bank to provide the funds, they did. That’s all that matters now.

As for the inspections, we hired an inspector that was referred to us by our realtor. Corissa met him that morning at the house, and they spent 4 hours going through each and every aspect of the home. The consensus? The home itself was solid, better built than 90% of the homes in the area, according to the inspector. GREAT! Just what we wanted to hear.

The 3 main concerns: the hot water tank was 28 years old (WHAT??! they last that long??), the oil tank was over 10 years old and the steel was “too thin”, and the septic system failed inspection on multiple points.

NOT what we wanted to hear!

In order to get house insurance, we needed the above items fixed PRIOR to closing, but the sellers refused to work with us on this, except that they provided a small cash discount on the purchase price – which didn’t rectify the not-eligible-for-house-insurance issue.

So many people told us to forget the house, but we couldn’t. We looked at other homes after this point, but kept comparing them all to 3604 B Line. Then it came down to how hard we would fight for this house. We decided to exhaust all possibilities before we gave up on it.

Here is where we relied on others to help us: our house insurance broker in Winnipeg was Mario Reimer of Lakeview Insurance. He stepped up to the plate, made a few phone calls, and VOILA! We had insurance. Which meant that WE GOT THE HOUSE! Yes, the insurance is conditional on us fixing those items, but now we could move in and get them done after closing.

All that scrambling, then we waited. Still another month until we could move in. But during that month (most of August), Corissa returned to Winnipeg to have revision surgery – nipples (YAY!) and fixing her abdominal incision, which healed up her wound. She also got the Winnipeg house closed up and ready for the new buyers, and to move all our stuff to Pembroke. We hired movers to cart most of the big stuff, and she loaded up the CRV with personal and fragile items. She then made the 24-trek AGAIN, from Winnipeg to Pembroke, but this time by herself. No one to keep her company and to share the driving. But by this time, she had driven the route, by herself, at least 3 times since we met.

Now we have moved into this big house, and it feels great. It’s OURS. We’re not sharing a house or building with anyone else. And it’s so peaceful here … the above pic is looking down our road 🙂 Beautiful.

To celebrate, we had a HomeComing Party on September 12. Sooooooo many people came out to show their love and support! We were overwhelmed, to say the least.

What’s next in this one (un)expected life? Not so sure. Jesse is really enjoying being back at DND, and has many opportunities to grow and expand his career. Corissa has begun doing things just for her and her own self care, including YOGA! (her surgical recovery increased dramatically even after the first class) She’s thinking of career options, including looking into being a Health Coach. And now that we have a HOUSE to look after, she’s busy finding projects – such as painting, looking for furniture to fill this big house, and gardening. We have also greatly enjoyed hanging out with our Ottawa Valley friends and family, and want to do more of small group/one-on-one connecting, but also BIG groups – stay tuned for Halloween Party details 😉

Comments? Questions? Encouragement? We’d love to hear from you. Click on “send us a message” above, PM us on FaceBook, or send an email to cdlevair @ hotmail.com

Thanks for reading!

Sing along: Wide Open Spaces: Dixie Chicks