Friday, August 29, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Nine months ago, Benny and I took the girls skiing for the second time.


Because we're good parents like that.... living in an outdoor mecca with three ski resorts within 30 minutes of our home and we go skiing a total of two times. We put the kiddos in lessons and had a fun day of skiing.  After lessons were over, we skied a few times down the bunny hill with the girls, before The Bean lost her ski while we were riding the lift.  I had to carry her down in my arms - demonstrating all kinds of athleticism and strength that I didn't know I still possessed -  and we decided that it was time to call it good and head home.

On the way to the car, we ran into a friend who had put his house on the market back in September.  The price at the time was a leetle (read:  COMPLETELY) out of our price range.  So, despite the fact that I've coveted that house for oh... 10 years, or so... we didn't even bother looking.  What would the point have been?  BEHOLD!  EVERYTHING YOU WILL NEVER HAVE BECAUSE YOU WORK IN ATHLETICS AND YOUR HUSBAND PLAYS WITH FISH!
No thank you. 

So, when we asked him who bought his house, he mentioned that it was still up for sale and that they had reduced the price.

I looked at Benny.  Benny looked at me.  And because we've been married FOREVER we both knew what the other was thinking.

"We better call Rob."

Rob Moser is our friend who also happens to kick ass in the real estate biz.  He's with Equity Real Estate and I cannot say enough about the work he did for us in this process.  He answered every call and text immediately with customer service second-to-none.  His background in construction helped us determine issues we may not have noticed otherwise, and also help brainstorm solutions to issues that we wouldn't have thought of and would have likely passed on the house because of.  He sat with us in the house at noon in mid-February as we went through the pro's and the con's of 1) buying the house, 2) taking on a bigger mortgage, 3) fixing the house and 4) selling our house. He never pressured and was able to help us work through our concerns on our own... with professional feedback and advice.  Also?  He's easy on the eyes and that's super important for Benny.

Anyway, I recommend Rob to anyone who is looking to buy or sell.  And yes, I know a lot of people in the real estate business.  They're my friends and neighbors and occasional shoulder to cry on. And yes, I know that they are very good at what they do.  This is not a comment on them.  This is a comment on Rob, whom I have known for a long time AND who does The Crossfit with me.  It was Rob's wife, who helped me realize that I was stronger than I thought I was.  It is she who is partially responsible for my 301 dead lift a few months ago after she texted me in the middle of the night and threw down the gauntlet by telling me that she had lifted 290 to my 285.  So... you know... I owed them both one.

So, this house... it's absolutely our dream. It has everything we've ever wanted in a home. Indoor-outdoor living, wide-open living and kitchen areas, main floor laundry, an actual pantry, bigger bedrooms, master bathroom, pseudo walk-in closets and the view?  KILLER. It also has a garage which we've never had and was never really on our list of wants but hey, I won't kick it out of bed, you know?  The previous owners had opened up the living area by taking out a couple of walls and adding a master bathroom/closet.  They also added a beautiful little porch area in the front where we can enjoy the view in comfort. It's heaven. 

Those were the pro's.  Those were the things that just made my soul sing.

The con's... well, they were pretty big.  For one, the previous, previous, previous owners - the ones who had invited me into their home originally which began my obsession with the house 10 years ago - had installed some really nice features. The kitchen was updated and they had a pizza oven in the atrium.  Ten years ago, that's all I needed in my life.  An oven specifically for pizza.  A previous owner to them had enclosed the back porch for more living area, and added the garage.  I'm not sure which owners added the bar tile roof, but yea... it has a bar tile roof. But all of those elements, while nice, were done incorrectly, which caused some serious foundation issues that showed up via cracks in the ceiling of the atrium, and on the wall of the garage.  The doors that lead to the backyard from the atrium have been so affected by the settling and water damage from poor gutter installation that they were difficult to close and open.  We knew that we were going to have to fix the entire back wall of the atrium because the footings were not done correctly.  And I don't know much about construction, but it sounded like that was kind of a big deal.  The new bar tile roof was placed on top of the two previous layers of roof, which overloaded the structural capacity of the house which was built in the 50's and wasn't capable of handling that much weight... so much so that the roof trusses in the garage had buckled, causing the roof to sag in the middle.  

So said the structural engineer that we had come out and look at it.  At least, that's what Benny tells me he said.  All I heard was "Cha-Ching!" We found out later from other real estate agents that they had never been in the house, but had been directing their clients away from the house because of its problems. We won't even talk about the water issues around the perimeter of the house... mostly because the "Cha-Ching!" above is going to cut into my maple whiskey supply significantly and I don't want to even think about the water drainage issues on top of it.

For a while, I was convinced that we were going to pass on it.  I didn't want to get into a money pit and you know... foundation problems?  Not. Interested.

But at the end of the day, we decided we would be able to make enough out of the sale of our old home to pay for the most necessary fixes of the new home.  The fixes that would make it safe for our kids. Honestly, it's not sexy... fixing a foundation and a roof.  Sexy would be updating a kitchen or a bathroom but those things have already been done... and beautifully done.  So... whaddayagonnado?

Really, the only things we needed to do prior to moving in was paint the girls rooms.  I tried to talk The Bird into a purple and green room.  She insisted on pink.  So, I convinced her to let me do it purple and pink... so that my eyes didn't bleed every time I went in there.  Of course, The Bean would need something just as special.  I tried the purple and green line on her, but she insisted on orange.  Which... NO.  So, The Bean has the same colors as The Bird and she seems perfectly fine with it.  Both of their rooms are soooo much bigger than their previous rooms.  And The Bean finally has a closet... which she doesn't use because, as we have established, she only wants to wear shorts and short sweeves.  She has no use for dresses or shoes other than her pink sneakers.

The best part?  The girls have their own bathroom that's PINK!... and they love it.  Which means the Mommy and Daddy have THEIR own bathroom that's NOT pink and OMG, we've never had our own bathroom.  At the old house, Benny used to have to go downstairs so he could shower and blow his nose without waking up the girls.  And me... well, I've never had a legitimate shower that didn't have a curtain on it so I'm super pumped.  I'm not super pumped about keeping the glass clean, but I suppose it's part of growing up.  Double sinks in the bathroom mean that Benny and I have finally become that couple that brushes their teeth together. That only took 11 years.

Our new home has so many unique features, including an exhaust system, hardwood floors, low voltage lighting from The Land Before Time and so much storage I don't know what to do with it all.  Seriously... we've gone from a house with little-to-no storage ANYWHERE to a house that has so many shelves, cupboards, nooks and crannies that I could accidentally put something somewhere and NEVER find it again.   Like my children, for instance.   

Rob did an amazing job of showing our house and after just a month, we had it under contract. I always thought that I would be super sentimental and sad to leave our old house.  We really did plan on living there for our entire life because we had a killer mortgage and we loved the neighborhood.  In the rush to get moved into the new house, I didn't have much time to reminisce.  But, during the cleanup and staging of the old house, I had the chance to walk through and think about what that house has meant to us.  I'd lived in that house for over 14 years and had a specific memories for each room.  Hazel's bedroom was where I spent my first nights as a new mama...  The corner in the living room is where Millie first rolled over in her gym...  My bedroom where the cat brought in a live bird and played with it while I slept... Millie's bedroom where she managed to poop on the door from 7 feet away on the changing table... The laundry room which used to be a kitchen/laundry room for our tenants...  The garden that I gave up on because I was tired of fighting crab grass... "Nights of Thurnder" in the basement where we had friends come over to play quarters in on my grandmas old table with the orange swivel chairs (pre-kids)... The kitchen that flooded when I was 8 months pregnant with The Bean and gave me no end to the already significant heart burn... The driveway where both girls spent hours drawing with chalk... The basement that Benny remodeled by himself in time for The Bird's birth... The sidewalk in front of the house where they learned to ride their bikes...  The great room that Benny created by knocking down walls and surprising me after work... The teeny-tiny pantry that we could just never keep organized... The wall decals that I had lovingly put up in both girls rooms before they were born - the ones that I couldn't bring myself to take down when we moved because it was just too hard.

Yea, well... now here come the tears.

The kids enjoyed running through the house after we had moved out.  We had concerns that maybe it would be traumatizing for them to go into the house and not see anything in it... not their beds or their dressers.  But I think that they enjoy their new larger bedrooms so much more that it didn't bother them in the least. And they liked the echos they made in the now eerily empty house.  I think I was most bothered by the fact that we had to leave the tree that we planted when Hazel was born.  But still... other than a little wistfulness at a less complicated life that we no longer have, I didn't get too upset.

Until we sold the house and I drove by and saw the people who bought it moving in.  As if they just had every right to park in MY DRIVEWAY and put their furniture in MY HOME.  I found out later that they were repainting every room and I started to hyperventilate.  Why in the world would they do that?  THAT HOUSE IF EFFING BEAUTIFUL!  

Yea... so, I may have been a leetle more attached to it than I realized.  

But seriously... how will they ever comprehend just how special that house is? Will they know of the memories that were made there??  The laughter, the tears, the joy, the sadness... but mostly the love?

I don't know the family that moved into our old house, but I hope that they can feel the love that those walls contained for us.  And more importantly, I hope that they make their own memories filled with joy, laughter and love.

Even with new paint on the walls.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Doing The Best I Can

When I got to work today, I turned off the car and sat in the parking lot... mentally calculating how many arguments I had already been in that day.

Fifteen.  Fifteen arguments between 6:45 and 8:30 this morning.  And that just sucks.  Even worse, the arguments were between me and two little girls that just recently stopped pooping their pants.  For the most part.  

Even worse than that?  I'm not sure that I, at 37, won any of the arguments.  Sure, sure... raising kids is not about winning or losing.  EXCEPT THAT IT IS.  And anyone who wants to argue that point with me can go ahead and bring it.  I'm already at 15 arguments today.  What's a few more?

To say that this morning was not my best parenting moment is putting it lightly.  I mean, I didn't yell.  And I didn't scream... but was there joy?  Was there peace?  NO.  But there was me impatiently explaining for the fifth time this morning that it's raining outside so tennis shoes are required because I'm tired of hearing about your feet getting wet in your sandals.  And also? You already have a sore throat and I don't need to roll the dice on you getting sicker.  And also?  Pants and long sleeves will not kill you.  I know you think they will, but no one has ever died from pants and long sleeves instead of shorts and short sleeves or a dress.  NO. ONE.  Unless it's the mother who just said screw it and drove off a cliff after the umpteenth argument about it.  And no... see, I've already played that game with you about wearing what you want and suffering the consequences.  You know who suffered the consequences when you were cold?  ME.  I had to listen to the whining and crying about you being cold... and yet, here we are.  Fighting about this. Again.  Because contrary to what everyone says will happen if I try this little parenting trick on you, NEITHER OF YOU HAVE LEARNED.  So, I've now taken the choice out of your hands.  Because I'm tired of it.  There's going to be tears and a fight anyway, may as well do it while we're at least warm and dry.  And no... you asked for oatmeal.  That's oatmeal.  I don't care if it's in the wrong bowl.  Eat it.  You! Please. Sit. Down. and eat your breakfast before blood starts coming out of my eyes.  No!  I already told're wearing tennis shoes today.  Because your other shoes gave you an owie on your toe.  And  it's raining outside.  No.  You cannot have Mommy's breakfast.  BECAUSE THE LAST TIME YOU HAD SOME OF MOMMY'S BREAKFAST, YOU DIDN'T LIKE IT AND SPIT IT OUT... BACK INTO MOMMY'S BOWL.  Just eat your own breakfast please!!  It's fine that you don't have the same cup as your sissy.  YOU WILL SURVIVE.  Yes.  We have to brush your hair.  Because we haven't brushed it in 4 days and people will start to talk. No.  You cannot have fruit treats right now.  We only have fruit treats in the morning when we're camping.  No!  You cannot take your play computer to school.  Leave it here please.  Because I said so.  Oh! You don't want to go to school?  That's SHOCKING.  Please get in the car.  I don't care who gets in first, one of you get in, the other one follow! We don't have the Frozen CD in the car right now (because I hid it for my sanity). I'm sorry.  I'M SORRY.  That's life.  We have a gazillion other songs, let's try one of those.  No.  I'm sorry you don't like it, but that doesn't mean you get to scream the whole way to drown it out.

And that was my morning.  So, when I pulled into the parking lot at work, I was more than a little frazzled and disappointed in what the morning had been.  So often I find myself sitting alone - either in the car or on the toilet... JUST KIDDING!  I never get to sit alone on the toilet! - and thinking about what kind of mother I had envisioned myself to be... back when I didn't have kids.  And it's just not meshing with my reality.  And honestly... that's a huge, depressing bummer.  The kind of bummer that leaves you sitting in your car in an empty parking lot and getting teary-eyed because SHIT.  This sucks. I suck.  The whole world just SUCKS.

That's when my girl, Tracy Chapman, joined me in the car.  She put her arm around me with a few versus and let me know... this is okay.  You're doing okay.  You're doing the best you can.  And at this point in your life, that's okay.

Well, actually what she said was:

"At this point in my life, I've done so many things wrong.... don't know if I can do right. Put your trust in me... hope I won't let you down. Give me a chance... I'll try. See it's been a hard road, the road I'm traveling on.  If I take your hand, I might lead you down the path to ruin.  Had a hard life... I'm just saying it so you'll understand. Right now, right now, I'm doing the best I can. At this point in my life, although I've mostly walked in the shadows... I'm still searching for the light. Won't you put your faith in me, we both know that's what matters. If you give me a chance, I'll try. You see I've been climbing stairs, but mostly stumbling down. I've been reaching high always losing ground.  You see I've conquered hills but I still have mountains to climb. And right now right now I'm doing the best I can. At this point in my life."

And if that's not a parenting motto that everyone need to sing to themselves once a day... maybe in an empty parking lot when they finally have a moment to themselves, I don't know what is.  At the very least, it's the soundtrack to my life, right now.  Which is good because we all need a good soundtrack to get us through the day.

So, tonight... we try again. 

I try to find the joy that was missing this morning.

 I remember that it's a journey.

I remember that my children... they're also doing the best they can.

At this point in their lives.