From Spring to Summer to Fall

It was spring and we moved to a townhouse. We sold our house. We bought a new one.

It was summer and we waited for our new house to be ready. (And waited and waited.)

It is almost fall and we are in our new home, getting settled and feeling happy about where we are.

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Many things happened in between there – construction delays, vacations, weddings, soccer games, furniture shopping, beach days, concerts, and lazy mornings.

To list them all would be a dull, long, post, with much whining about the stress. But the other day, as A and the kids played upstairs while I cooked dinner in the kitchen, dancing barefoot to Wilco’s California Stars, I realized how good things were. How settled we felt (even without a couch) and how happy I was we were finally to this point.

This summer seemed both very long, as we waited to stop being in between, and short, with the focus always being on when we would be moving. But now it’s fall, and things are good. And we are happy. And I look forward to sharing it with all of you again.

Spring into Summer into Fall

 

Living Life Vertically: An Update

Things we’ve learned in the past month or so:

  • Moving is a big undertaking
  • Moving with kids is a really big undertaking
  • Selling a home is stressful and busy and not easy and did I mention stressful?
  • You may not sleep for 2 weeks, but this too shall pass

We’re in the townhouse we’re renting for the summer and I’d say about 85% settled in. It is still an adjustment but we’re making it work. Every box that is going to be unpacked has been unpacked, the rest stored in the garage, not to be unpacked until we move to our next “real home.” And while we’re unpacked, there are still some things to be worked out – like where are the tissues or the Clorox wipes or the cutting boards. But, day to day, we’re doing just fine. Though living on four floors is a change. We’re hoping our butts look really good after climbing stairs all day this summer.

The house officially went on the market on Wednesday. (Wanna live in Seattle?) We’ve had a good response, but we won’t know anything for sure until Tuesday when we review offers (which we will hopefully have received by then). It’s hard to not obsess over every little thing and try to decide if a certain number of likes or “x-outs” mean anything. We’ve made it to the weekend with ballet and gymnastics classes, as well as basketball games to distract us.

That’s the brief update. Until Tuesday we’re pretty much living, breathing and sleeping the house sale. Trust me, we’re as tired about talking about it as everyone around us is tired of hearing about it. But it’s a big deal, a big undertaking and a big chance we took. So bear with us for a few more weeks, hopefully the next words you hear from us will be sold!

 

Moving in the Right Direction

The past month has been hectic, to put it mildly. We had known that we wanted to find a new family home in 2015. I laid in bed on New Year’s Eve and thought – wow, we are going to sell our house this year. And buy a new one! Not that I stayed up until midnight (because #old) but it definitely gave me some sleepless moments. After looking at many open houses and consulting with our real estate agent, we decided for a multitude of reasons selling our house first, then finding out next home, was the best option for us. (Note I didn’t say easiest.)

So we’re renting a townhouse for the summer – starting today! – and putting our house on the market in about 10 days. It’s been a whirlwind of to dos and house fixes and contractors and moving plans and contracts and OMG what are we thinking for the past 30 days. We’re crossing things off our list, and one way or another, we’ll be in the townhouse by Tuesday.

But here we are – getting ready to move out of the home we’ve lived in for almost five years. The home we brought our babies home to. Sometimes I’m ok with this. I know our family needs more space and a house that works better for us. And I know that the house isn’t what is important – it is the people, pets and moments inside it that are special. Good news – those are all coming with us! I have moments of sadness and nostalgia, but after moving across the country five years ago (and surviving!) I know that a move within the neighborhood is something we will all survive.

On to our next adventure: our family in a townhouse, less space and things than we are used to but a summer adventure. My kids love open houses and will probably be disappointed when we finally do find the right home for us, so I know they are enjoying the ride. As for A and I, we’re just hanging on and trying to take the move one day at a time (or one box at a time as it is this weekend).

There is no place like home, but where is that?

Tonight as I walked from my office to the car, the beautiful heat from this short preview of Seattle summer reminded me of living in Old Town Alexandria. Specifically, walking on King Street at the end of a hot day, on our way to meet friends for an evening of dinner, drinks and all the things childless couples do. It made me think about how much I missed it. That I missed “home.” The idea that the Other Washington is “home” is a funny thought at this point. Four years ago last month we decided to move to Seattle. Four years ago Memorial Day weekend we packed up our condo and pointed the car west. On July 27 Lucy will turn 18 months and it will mark four years since we closed on this house. Four years in one place is the longest either A or I have lived in our adult lives. And yet? That whiff of heat and the thoughts of strolling King Street made me homesick. So when will Seattle feel like “home”? In many ways it does – after all this is the only home our daughters know. It is the place they were born, the house we brought them home to, where their friends live and where they have learned to play on the swings in rain or shine. When we moved out here we thought we’d give it two years. Two have turned in four. One more to five and then are we really Seattle-ites? Will I one day return to Old Town and stand in a sunbreak and think “I miss home”?

Change is Gonna Come

We’re in the process of making some changes to our home. Our kitchen needs some minor updating and we figured while we were doing the kitchen, we’d update the baths too.  My number one wish list item is getting rid of the plush chocolate brown carpet in our bedroom that shows every piece of pet hair and cat sand (dragged in from the laundry room), as well as repainting the bright blue walls.

So we headed to Home Depot this weekend to look at counters, sinks, carpet and paint. You’ve been to Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon? What about Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon with a 2 year old? Let’s call it an adventure. I thought Lila would be as interested in the sinks and counters like I was. Look! Shiny black granite! This one is silver! The answer? No. No she was not.

It took a while but we’ve at least reached a preliminary decision on the kitchen counters and work to be done there. (Quartz with new single bowl sink and an above counter microwave to free up counter space.) We’re going to leave the guest bath as is. It has tile counters, but is nice looking. The master bath has matching colors to the master bedroom, so it needs to be repainted. So we’re going to do new counters there as well. Currently the fixture are two toned (brushed silver with gold). I’ve hated them since we moved in. They will be one of the first things to go.

All of this sounds like we have it together, but I don’t have a clue. I don’t know what “designs” I may need or what color paint will go with the carpet (which by the way I have no idea what carpet to get in the master. I wanted hard wood but have basically been talked out of it by everyone.) I watch a lot of HGTV. You’d think I’d be better at this. This is all to say – expect photo. And questions. And thoughts on does this carpet go with this paint? Do I need to redo this backsplash? What about the shower? Better yet, I’ll keep searching for home improvement show casting notices in the PNW. . .

Life and Stuff

I like to blog.  My absence from blogging lately is not due to any lack of desire or interest.  Just you know, life.  Just like everyone out there in the big world, we’re busy, trying to fit 28 hours of activity into 24 hours a day.   Here’s a peak at what we’ve been up to:

– Summer!  Tradition states that Seattle summer begins on July 5, but mother nature did not get the memo this year.  Weather has been fantastic and this past week it has been real, honest to goodness summer.  Not just the glorious 75 degrees and sunny Seattle summer, but hot!  85-90 degree days.  Sun! Sun! Sun!  I’ve been loving it, as have the girls.  Here they are straight chillin’ in the weather.

Bathing Beauties

 – Commuting.  My office moved locations a few weeks ago so instead of us all working/going to day care within a 6 block radius of each other, I’m about 3 miles away.  In the grand scheme of things it is not that bad, but we’ve had to rearrange our commuting schedule.  With the change in car pool route and day care drop off/pick ups, A’s commute in the morning is about an hour and my commute in the evening is about 90 minutes.  If you weren’t tired before you left work, 90 minute commutes and wrangling two kids out of day care will certainly make you tired by the end.

– Computers.  My old laptop heaved a big sigh and breathed its last breath this past week.  After trying to coax it to log in remotely to my work computer, fire up the blog or just update Twitter, I realized the inevitable, I needed a new laptop.  After some research last weekend, I ordered a fancy new Windows 8 machine (with touch screen!).  It had a quirk that required a trip to the Microsoft store to fix but now, good as new. I’m still figuring it all out but it is quite fancy looking, light and functional (best of all).

– Two year olds.  Have you tried to rush a two year old?  Or get them to move on anyone’s schedule but your own?  If so, then you know where the bulk of our time is spent.  If you don’t, well I probably have a few choice words about the amount of free time you must have and wondering whether you are trying to save the world with all that time.  But that’s just the bitter toddler mom speaking, don’t mind it.

– House Hunters.  Somewhere in the past two weeks between the end of the NBA season and a complete lack of interesting television during the week, we discovered the 10pm House Hunters and 10:30pm House Hunters International.  We used to be huge HH fans before buying our house.  In fact, but for new jobs that didn’t allow for taping schedules, we were totally going to be on HH when we moved to Seattle.  The problem with HH is it makes you want to buy a house.  We even went to open houses last week.  We fell in love with a house.  And then we came home and tried to imagine getting this house ready to sell.  I can’t even blog once a week, how would I stage a house??  So we’re doing some minor renovations like redoing the bedroom and installing new counter tops.  (and by “we” I mean some very nice people we will hire.) (BTW, HH Intl is really the best hate watch out there.  There is no one easier to hate than a family looking for a luxury condo with comforts of home in Nepal.)


So, that’s life in a nutshell right now.  I’m hoping for glorious summer weather all weekend as well as some quiet nap time that I can spend blogging and catching up on things.  How’s your summer going?

A Toddler Walked Into Ikea. . .

 

 We took LC to Ikea yesterday.  It was not her first trip, but the last one was July, 2011 so there is quite an age and ability difference since our last visit.  We are continuing to re-purpose some of our rooms in anticipation of a two child household and wanted to look at the day beds, as well as some toddler items.

As we arrived LC was asleep in the car so I did a solo recon visit first.  This helped a great deal when we brought LC into the store we were able to be more targeted in our shopping and less wandering trying to figure out where we needed to be (always an Ikea hazard).

Once LC and A joined me, we put LC in the BOB to walk around.  First of all, the walk from the parking lot to Ikea is about half a mile and I couldn’t have her wimping out on us before we even got there.  Add that to the mass of humanity (if you can call your fellow Ikea shoppers “humanity”) we were about to enter, and it just seemed best to use the stroller.  As we made our way to day beds, LC had a dazed look on her face.  She stared at all the people passing by, no one having any situational awareness as to where they were walking or to others around them.  She seemed to think, where have you brought me?? Do you not love me?

Shortly after that, she began to sense possibility in Ikea.  Beds, furniture, things on low shelves.  She requested that she be allowed out and then the real fun began.  Like everyone else on their first trip to Ikea, LC soon realized MUST. BUY. ALL. THINGS.  Three different toddler tables?  YES PLEASE.  Small stuffed animals?  I’LL TAKE FIVE.  The prices, all so reasonable!  She ran ahead of us from display to display, happily touching everything.  It was no surprise that she threw a temper tantrum when I placed her back in the BOB as we proceeded to the warehouse to pick up our goods.  After all, is it really a trip to Ikea if someone doesn’t end up in tears?

Remodeling

A and I are taking tomorrow off to begin preparations for BE2.  We’re doing a sort of puzzle shuffle in the house, getting rid of some furniture, relocating others and changing room uses a bit to make room for the baby.  It definitely won’t all be done tomorrow, but we have to start somewhere – and it is very difficult to get this sort of stuff done with a toddler running around, hence doing it on a day when she will be at day care.

The big plan is to make the current office/family room into just a family room – moving the desk and other officey items into the guest room.  The current guest room will become a guest room/office – we’ll downsize the queen bed in there for a pull out couch or day bed and move the desk in there.  This will make room in the office/family room for some toys and books from the current nursery – which will stay a nursery but will now be the sleeping quarters for two little girls.

While there is much to do before we get to the decorating phase, I am already trying to decide how to decorate the nursery.  We didn’t change any paint or curtains in the nursery when LC was born, though I always had dreams of painting it gray with pink or yellow accents.  While we didn’t repaint, we did add some cute touches like this rug from Land of Nod and lots of dog and cat pictures, including this one, which LC loves to talk about every morning as we get dressed:

LC loves the dogs and cats so part of me feels really bad that on top of changing her entire life by introducing a new sibling to her life (and her room) that I will take away the dog and cat pictures she loves so much.

But then I spent some time on Etsy today and I really started to fall in love with a literature theme.  There are so many great wall decorations with this theme.  For example:

 

You can see my dilemma – these are just a few of the really awesome prints I found.  The other option would be to take down all the decorations, photos and personal items we currently have on the wall in the office/family room and completely transition that to a full time family room.  This would be the least disruptive to LC, we can still add some details to the nursery to welcome BE2, but still have a great decorated room with children’s literature in the family room.  It would definitely be another step towards to loss of our pre-baby identity, but to be honest I’m not how much of that is left at this point any way!

All the decisions have plenty of time before they have to be made – tomorrow we tackle closets and try to start the purge that needs to happen before we welcome another tiny person into our lives.

 

Am I Too Old for Friends?

This recent article in the NY Times asked the question why is it so hard to make friends after age 30.  As someone who has been trying to figure out just where her social life has gone, the article definitely spoke to me.  When we relocated two years ago, I knew it would be difficult to basically re-start our lives here on the West Coast, but I have to say, I didn’t expect it to be quite so hard. 

The article brought up many factors that make finding new friends at a certain age hard.  Timing was a huge one discussed.  For me, that worked in two different ways.  I found out I was pregnant with LC about two weeks after we arrived in Seattle.  This clearly changed our lives and how our future in Seattle looked.  Timing – as in the lack of time – is probably the biggest obstacle to having a social life right now.  One of the biggest thing I miss from our life in DC is my knitting group and friends.  I’ve discovered a knitting group here in Seattle, but just haven’t figured out how to make the time work to go knit each week.  (Or knit period.  And trust me I have lots o’yarn to be knitting.)

Having kids both introduces places and ways to meet people (and potential friends) while at the same time being a huge barrier to having a social life.  We’ve met people through PEPS and day care – all very nice – but no one who I feel I can call on for a girls’ night out.  Part of this is because the only link we have is that our children happen to be the same age, so friendship may be a little forced.  However, at this point in my life, having friends who understand what it is like to have a child the same age running through your house (and why bedtimes at 9pm are a pretty good idea) it really nice.

One of my own theories involves the ease with which we can stay in touch with people from other parts of our lives.  I talk to my friends from DC daily.  We shared pregnancy tales by email and gTalk – and when our kids were born, we were able to share photos of the babies within minutes of their birth.  All of this both keeps me in touch with my friends (and feel less alone in Seattle) but I think it may reduce the effort I put into finding friends here, though I’ve yet to figure out how to participate in dinners or book club via the internet.

I don’t know what the answer is to why it is so hard to make friends after 30.  (And for the record, I don’t think the NYTimes knew either.)  But it is, it definitely has made having a life out here more difficult than I thought it would be. I try to keep in mind that our lives in Seattle are so much different than our lives in DC were – after all, we have a kid and a house.  Both of these things are time and energy sucks (I mean that in a good way, LC, really) so going out for drinks starting at 8pm on a Saturday night and roaming bar to bar until last call is no longer our reality for many reasons.  (Mostly being that I now consider a Saturday night where I am not in my pjs by 8pm a total failure.) But I’m beginning to reach this point in our lives here in Seattle where I really need a social life.  I want to be able to find people who I can chat with both about my kid, but about other things too (like Emmy noms, because these are important things).  I know so much of this has to do with me and my social inactions, but seeing it in print in the NYTimes certainly made me feel a little bit better about myself.  (Though I did think, if all of us over 30-somethings are out there trying to find friends, we all just need to do a better job of seeking each other out.)

Overwhelmed by Life

I am having one of those weeks/months when trying to get it all done is proving to be too much.  LC’s been sick, A and I have had cold symptoms for weeks, generally making everything more difficult to complete.  A is headed out of town again next week, which required reshuffling schedules and making this week a lot busier than anticipated.  We’re having work done on the house that we’ve been putting off for months but really needs to be complete.  All of this results in my having “worked from home” (or planning to do so) 5 out of 12 days. 

I’m very lucky to have a flexible job that allows me to work from home when I have a sick kid or have to supervise home repairs.  But being the one with the “flexible job” means you are the one who leaves in the middle of conference calls to pick up the baby from day care when she has a fever, the one who meets the contractor at home and who works from home almost 50% of the month of May. 

I feel pulled in many directions – to be a good mom and taking care of my daughter when she is sick, to be a good wife and pick up the slack when my husband’s career doesn’t allow him the same flexibility (or he forgets to mention an upcoming business trip), to be a good homemaker and manage the home repairs, dog walker, grocery shopping and lawn care.  But it is a lot.  And it is overwhelming. 

The big picture is by next Wednesday many of these distractions from our regular life will be done and we’ll be preparing to get away for a long weekend.  So for now I will focus on the short term-ness of this current stress, focus on climbing the hill in front of us and hope that the downhill on the other side is easy and relaxing.  And if climbing the hill currently in front of me requires a triple chocolate cupcake from Trophy Cupcakes, so be it.