let's talk about happy christmas things

1. Real tree or fake tree? This is a hard one. Probably fake. I've had fake trees more than real. I know real trees have their downsides, but as a kid we went up in the Sierras with friends or family and cut down our Christmas tree. It was magical. I would give anything to go back to those forests with snow so deep it came up to my waist, finding places to sled with my friends, and drinking hot chocolate out of a thermos. 100% pure childhood magic. For now, we have a janky fake tree and it gets the job done. Next year, I think I'm going to buy a white tree. I've always wanted one! And it would look so good in our retro house.

An actual photo from our tree cutting days. Isn't it magical?

2. Favorite Christmas cookie? Good old fashioned sugar  cookies with icing. I make them every single year, but I'm not sure if it's going to happen this year since my kitchen is still in chaos and my favorite cookie sheet doesn't fit in the small wall oven.

3. Home on Christmas morning or travel? Technically both. We always spend Christmas at my parents' house, which always feels like home to me, but we do have to travel to get there. Boo.

4. Clear or colored lights? I have strong opinions on this! Color, BUT. I haaaaate the modern LED neon colored lights. I love the more muted, old fashioned colored lights. Especially the big bulbs. Clear lights are fine, but I'd rather have colored. They just feel more festive to me.

5. Send Christmas cards? Every year! I didn't send many out this year, though. If you didn't get one, I'm sorry. I ordered fewer than I should've. 

6. Favorite Christmas present received? I will never forget the Christmas my parents surprised me with my MacBook Pro. 7 years later and it's still going strong! 

7. Favorite Christmas present given? Hmm. I dug around antique stores for months and finally found a specific old Pyrex pattern my mom had wanted. That was fun to surprise her with

8. Stockings or no stockings? Stockings are highly underrated. 

9. Christmas PJs? Absolutely. Gracie gets anywhere from 1-3 pairs every year. I usually buy myself some Christmas pajama pants from Old Navy when they're on sale, but it didn't happen this year. 

10. Favorite Christmas carol? O Come O Come Emmanuel. O Holy Night is right behind it. 

11. Favorite holiday tradition? Our traditions have morphed and changed so much over the years. I have no idea! Watching Christmas movies and baking cookies, probably. I look forward to both every year even though I'm not sure I'm going to get to baking this year. Last year we started a tradition of driving through the Christmas light display by the Mississippi River with my family. We keep things pretty simple. No complicated advent activities or creeper elf on the shelf for us. I'm stressed just thinking about both of those things.

12. Early shopper or last minute? I'm forcing myself to become an early shopper. 

13. Favorite Christmas movie or t.v. show? White Christmas. Not only is it my favorite Christmas movie, it's my all-time favorite movie. Christmas Vacation and Elf are not far behind, because I'm a girl who loves her comedy. Also, every Christmas episode of The Office. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-ca-ching!

Unpopular opinion: I hate The Family Stone, Love Actually, and The Christmas Story is just ok.

14. Favorite holiday beverage? An eggnog latte. Don't judge me.

15. Cookies and milk for Santa? I did that once or twice as a kid. I might have Gracie do it just so I have an excuse to eat cookies ;) 


there are more car puns to be made, but I'm too EXHAUSTed to think of them

In case you haven't noticed, I've been having quite the week. It's been one of those weeks that will go down in history and has provided a large sum of stories to tell about the days after buying our first house.

Unfortunately, things have yet to calm down. Thankfully, they've been slightly less terrible. At least I can laugh about them, which is what I did when I called my mom laugh-crying after obliterating my passenger side mirror trying to back out of our garage.

Oh yes, that happened.

I woke up Wednesday feeling a bit more positive after spending the evening before with a good friend, but then I had to leave to pick up groceries. I had barely lifted my foot off the brake, and the car was very slowly rolling backwards out of the garage. I thought I was perfectly in line, so I let the car go straight back. I turned my head to the left for a split second, and then I heard a loud CRUNCH. I snapped my head to the right to find car parts bouncing off the windshield and hood and onto the garage floor. I screamed.

We have a two car garage, but we have two separate garage doors. Both openings are SO NARROW, and I drive an SUV. I knew in my gut this was going to happen eventually, so I've been so careful and precise except for the split second that I wasn't. I would've put my hand on a Bible and sworn that I had at least three feet to go before that part of the car was near the garage door.

I called James in a state of panic and hysterics and apologized over and over. It could have been so much worse. It's not the end of the world at all. I would much rather drive into my garage than another car, but I was already so uptight after the week that it felt like the worst thing ever in that moment. My mom just did the exact same thing with her car at her new house, so I called her and she laughed so hard she couldn't breathe, which got me laughing, and we commiserated about how we can't understand how we both managed to wreck our cars just backing out of the garage. At that exact moment, an entire flock of birds flew overhead and all pooped on the car at once. I had to laugh. It felt so symbolic of the week I've been having, but it felt good to laugh about it for once.

Nothing major happened today other than a few minor issues and dealing with a sick babe, so I started to let my guard down. James started painting the rest of the kitchen, and I went in to see how it was looking since I'm a much better observer than I am painter. If you've visited my new house, my baseboards will confirm this. I had just told a friend about how Gracie had basically rolled herself on a wet wall and ruined her Christmas pajamas when we were painting the living room. Wouldn't you know, I tripped and fell in the kitchen, landing directly on the freshly painted yellow wall and covered myself in yellow paint from head to toe.

I started to joke that I felt like I had a target on my back this week. And then I looked in a mirror (not the one I smashed) and realized, I do have a target on my back. It's in yellow paint.


God promised never to flood the earth again, but He didn't promise not to flood my laundry room

I don't even know where to begin.

We moved into our new house on Saturday.

Well, we partially moved in. But more on that later. 

The movers showed up bright and early in the morning and got to work. Things seemed to be going well until James overheard one of them saying they weren't sure how they were going to get everything loaded, driven, and unloaded at the new house in 5 hours. We had been told they would be moving us all day, but apparently they were only scheduled for 5 hours. With an hour drive to the new house, that gave them 4 hours to load all of our earthly belongings into a truck and then unload them. 

Gracie and I holed up in her room upstairs with blankets while everything was carried out of the townhouse in 17 degree weather. It was then that I started hearing the F word screamed over and over and over so loud it was shattering my eardrums. It was 9am on a Saturday, and I'm sure my neighbors did not care to be bothered or awoken in such a state. One of the movers put on a very offensive and profane podcast and paired it with a speaker he put on our front porch. For several reasons, I didn't feel comfortable going downstairs and telling him to turn it off, and James had left to run a quick errand. 

Not much longer, James got a call from the moving company. One of the movers had called and complained that we were "making them" load too many "loose items" that weren't boxed. You know, thinks like a carseat, tower fans, a tricycle, patio furniture, hampers, storage baskets, suitcases. You know. THINGS THAT DON'T FIT IN A BOX. For that reason, they left a lot of things at our townhouse and told us they were leaving for the new house. Once I walked around and realized the large amount of things left behind that, I called the company. Assertive is the very last adjective anyone would ever use to describe me, but you better believe I chewed that man out. He kept saying "Ma'am, I already spoke to your husband" and I firmly said "BUT I HAVE MORE TO SAY AND YOU NEED TO LISTEN." I have never EVER in my life (actually one other time) spoken to a stranger like that. But I did it, and it felt so good and I have no regrets. I was never mean or rude, but I let them know how they wronged us. We've already gone back for multiple carloads of things and still have many left to go. I'm so angry about it I can't even tell you.

James left at the same time as the movers so he could let them in at the new house. I stayed behind to survey the damage and try to wrangle up some food. I got a call an hour later that James realized he couldn't get in the house. We have a different key for every door (we'll fix that eventually) and he had the one key that opens the door from the garage into the house. But no garage door opener. I drove up in a hurry since the movers were waiting on us and already had limited time, and by the time they started unloading it was blizzarding outside. These are only about half the problems we dealt with that day. I haven't even mentioned when I realized I was stranded with no food or falling while carrying boxes and ripping my toenail off and a dozen other sagas. Saturday was not a fun day.

The movers were in such a hurry they piled every box in the kitchen and took off. I'm still trying to dig my way to the kitchen sink. I would've made more progress if yesterday hadn't happened. I thought Saturday was a hard day, but then yesterday came around.

It started so well. I woke up to lingering snow on the ground, literal frosted windowpanes, the Christmas tree, and a gorgeous sunrise through the front window. I felt so positive and ready to keep unpacking.

The internet guy showed up at 8:00 am to set up the internet. I was banking on a 15-20 minute appointment. Instead, within minutes of arriving, he was donning a vest and hardhat and scaling the utility pole out front. He wound up needing to rewire the cable to the house since it was in bad shape and had been done incorrectly. It's the grace of God it took him so long to finish, because when he told me he was leaving out the back door, he suddenly started screaming "YOU'VE GOT WATER! YOU'VE GOT WATER!"

This is still so fresh in my mind that I can hardly write it without wanting to cry. I ran to the laundry room and found inches of standing water. AN ACTUAL FLOOD. IN MY HOUSE. I screamed my head off. It was panic like I've never known before. Aside from fire, a flooded house is my worst nightmare. I knew I would have absolutely no idea what to do. I'm not the person people turn to in an emergency; my fight or flight instinct tells me to run every single time, and I usually listen. Seriously, it was providence that this man was at my house. He said he used to work with appliances and immediately turned the water hookups off, but the water kept gushing. I was about to call the plumber when he told me it wasn't a plumbing issue, but a washer issue. A seal must've broken underneath the washer. That was somewhat of a relief, because don't forget we just dealt with a broken water valve and burst pipe. However, it didn't take away from the fact that my house was flooding. 

At this point, he had to leave and I ran through the house screaming frantically and crying and calling almost every contact in my phone trying to find someone to help. Not one person answered. I'm telling you, I've never known fear like I did in that moment. I had NO IDEA what to do.  The water kept gushing out of the washer and I couldn't stop it. I couldn't find the towels. I found a few and threw them on the floor, but it was like dropping a washcloth in a lake. It just added one more sopping wet item to the floor. I finally opened the back door and swept the water out with a broom. It was in the teens outside and I was barefoot in cold water, but I didn't even notice. I swept water out of the room for an hour and a half. Gracie was crying the entire time, completely confused as to why I was in such hysterics. She ran toward me and slipped and fell in the water and hit her head. I picked her up to comfort her and hit her head again on the wall. It was one of those moments where things just kept going from bad to worse.

I finally got ahold of my parents, and they both helped me calm down and walked me through what to do. The water eventually stopped after dumping out a full load's amount of water, and I put down clothes and set up fans to help dry the floor. To say it was traumatizing would be the understatement of the century. I put the soaking wet towels in the dryer to dry them out, pushed start, and nothing. It made a tiny noise like it was trying to work, but it couldn't. Just like in The Notebook,  the washer and dryer held hands and went out together. I called James and told him we were buying a brand new washer and dryer that night, because I am not risking this happening ever again. He knew better than to disagree with me.

If only I could've rested after that, but Gracie had a pediatrician appointment for her cough that suddenly took a bad turn again. I was so worn out from the morning that I could hardly function, but I loaded the dripping wet towels and blankets (do you know how heavy waterlogged towels are? My goodness) in the back of the car, knocking all the bikes down on the way and scaring myself and screaming so loud the neighbor came by to check on me, and drove an hour to the doctor. Well, first I stopped at our townhouse to wash the towels and then put them in the dryer. We made it to the doctor and were surrounded by croupy kids and kids with the flu, and if we don't get sick from this visit it will be a miracle. The nurse noticed my new address--an hour away--and told me her grandma was my neighbor. She said something about growing up in a different town, and lo and behold not only are we from the same town, we went to the same high school. I had classes with her brother and graduated with her sister. Her dad was my dentist. I HAD NO IDEA SHE EXISTED. We just stared at each other like this is weeeeiiiiirrrddd. After the day I was having, nothing surprised me.

Poor Gracie was diagnosed with a nasty sinus infection. We drove back to the townhouse to grab the towels, but they needed another cycle in the dryer. We had to leave them, which means I've been drying myself off with washcloths after my showers. Once we got back home, James put Gracie to bed and I went to Lowe's to pick out a new washer and dryer. I was fully prepared to buy them on the spot. 

I finally found the worst salesman in the history of Lowe's. I told him my sob story and that I needed a new washer and dryer immediately. He laughed at me and said "you'll be lucky to have them delivered in a week." I reminded him that the website promises next day delivery. He laughed again. "Yeah, we don't actually do that." After the last few terrible days, I burst into tears and walked out of the store. In hindsight, it's a good thing it didn't work out because I had forgotten the coupon. 

So far, nothing has yet to leak or flood or burst today, but you better believe I'm terrified to walk in the kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom. My friend down the street is letting me do laundry at her house until we get a washer and dryer. The house and I have not been getting along since I moved in and I've even had bouts of missing our townhouse. Horrible, I know. I want to run back to the comfort of the maintenance men, but this is a good, as they say, character-building experience. And the more we unpack and work on the house, the more like home it will feel. I hope. 

I wonder if I can convince the internet guy to get a job at Lowe's. I have a feeling he'd give me the hook-up with a washer and dryer.

Pun intended. 


emotional rambling instead of packing

When we moved into our townhouse, I was 24 years old, married for 2 years, and a few months into a new job I was actually enjoying. I was all about traveling and concerts and trying new restaurants.

We're moving out and I'm 28, married for 6.5 years, and the stay at home mom of a giggly 2 year old. The last concert I went to was a year and a half ago, I don't know the last time I traveled that wasn't to visit family (which is still fun!), and what are restaurants?

What I'm trying to say is, a lot has changed since we moved in here!

We have lived so much life in this place. Friends and family from all over the country have stayed here with us or come to visit. I hosted multiple blog friends here who I had never met before. I found out I was pregnant here, survived months of nonstop vomiting, and brought our baby home from the hospital. I nursed her in bed while James played the guitar and we watched the sunrise through the 3rd floor window. She took her first step on the carpet between the living room and kitchen. I spent the last few months of my pregnancy putting her nursery together little by little every evening after work. I rearranged furniture and pictures every year. And when we signed our first lease here, we planned to be here only a year. Haaaaa.

I worked so hard to make this place feel like home, and now we're packing and I have to undo everything I worked so hard on. IT IS SO HARD. It's for a good reason, it will be worth it, but it's hard to pack up the place that holds such strong memories. I know I'll still have the memories, but they feel less tangible when it's not the same space. I packed up Gracie's room tonight and I thought it was going to kill me. I have such strong memories of putting it all together. Every evening I would put furniture together or hang something on the wall or make something, and it helped ease the anxiety of having a baby. Her room has changed a little since then and I have plans for her new one, but it's still sad to close this chapter of her life.

I'll miss our vaulted ceilings, close proximity to everything we love, our wood burning fireplace, the neighborhood where I took my nightly walks for years, THE MAINTENANCE MEN. Who will fix my fridge if it dies on Thanksgiving morning again? Not having maintenance men feels like moving out of my parents' house. Suddenly we have to be responsible and figure things out and it's a little unnerving. I say this half joking, half serious.

I've moved many times and it never gets easier. However, this is the first time I can say that we're moving for a good reason and I know good things are ahead of us. No more crying in my closet while the movers load the boxes in the truck! Well, that might actually happen. I'm overly nostalgic and sentimental because that's just who I am. So thank you for reading my emotional thoughts on leaving Gracie's first home and the place I nearly burned down when the pot neighbor was still living here.

Actually, you probably aren't still reading, but that's ok.

I knew I was going to do this. I knew I was FINALLY going to buy a house and then get emotional about leaving. So let's all go to my new house and jump on the floor and scream because WE CAN BE AS LOUD AS WE WANT.

But if you could bring some air fresheners, that'd be great. It still reeks of paint and old churches and I'm afraid it will smell that way for all eternity.


the trials and tribulations of owning a home

First of all, thank you all so much for your kind words on my posts last week. So many kind comments and emails that I appreciate more than I can say. I will get back to all of you. I've been spending the last 4 days painting and getting ready to move this weekend. Be patient with me!

The last few days have been...chaotic. And wonderful. And stressful. And so, so tiring.

Our realtor rushed in during closing and told us a bathroom pipe had burst. We were literally in the middle of signing the papers. It had started the day before when he took it upon himself to fix the leaking tub faucet, which led to him fiddling with the main water valve to the house, which led to it breaking which meant the house had zero water. He called an emergency plumber to come fix it while we were at closing. The sellers happened to come by during their last 30 seconds of owning the house and KICKED THE PLUMBER OUT. This was just as he was checking an issue under the bathroom sink that led to a burst pipe, which he couldn't fix because he was kicked out. But on the bright side, the water was still off so at least there wasn't a flood. I was in such a state of heightened emotion that the closing agent brought me her secret stash of chocolate from her desk.

The funny part is that our sink at our townhouse was plugged and not draining, so we were having plumbing issues at both homes. We rescheduled with the plumber for the next day. I woke up the next day with a dental emergency. I had an infected abscess brewing on my gum over the tooth I had gotten a filling in two days prior. I immediately called the dentist, because I've been down this road once before and it led to an emergency root canal. The only time they could get me in was when the plumber was going to be at our house. God bless our realtor for stepping up and letting him in for me.

The dentist doesn't think my infection is from the filling since it would be a bit soon and it's in a weird spot, but he has no idea what happened. He was so perplexed he gave me his phone number and has texted me to check on me and see how it's doing.  I'm on antibiotics, but if things don't improve soon I'll be dealing with another root canal. If you're wondering if I handled that well, I didn't. If PTSD from prior dental trauma is a thing, I have it. It's all I can do to get myself to a cleaning. My root canal at 12 years old was completely traumatic and I have no desire to relive it.

On Saturday, we went to our house to start painting over the brown and red walls. I was tense from the past few days of stress and not in the best frame of mind. The laundry room light didn't turn on, and I immediately assumed something was wrong with the wiring and OMG WE HAVE TO PAY FOR THIS NOW. James was like "Michelle, it probably needs a new lightbulb." We also found a crack in the bedroom we had both somehow missed the half dozen times we've been in the house prior. I had nightmares that night that it was due to water damage and termites. No one can ever accuse me of assuming the worst! On opposite day.

James determined it was a simple drywall crack and filled it. Yesterday, I flipped a switch to turn on the garage (I HAVE A GARAGE) light on, and the laundry room light came on. The switch I had been using was turning on an exterior light. And then there was the debacle with the 1964 window that we had to eventually close from the outside. I went to wash my hands Saturday morning and realized we had no hot water. I knew our water heater needed to be replaced soon, but I wasn't expecting to replace it this soon. After a frantic phone call to my realtor who seemed to know everything about the house, he told me how to turn the water heater back on. This house has a steep learning curve and I am clearly no expert.

Other than that drama, I've calmed down and am now greatly enjoying the process of fixing up our house. I've been harboring secret dreams of a dark teal living room for awhile now. It's risky, it's bold, it's a bit scary, but if I'm going to do it, now's the time. I dreamed about paint swatches and lost sleep wondering if it was a terrible idea. I decided to go for it. I know it's not most people's thing, but now that it's almost finished I couldn't love it more. It's cozy and moody and so me. James wasn't sure at first, but now he's sold. Clearly I am not one for the all white trend.

We painted half the kitchen a light, sunny yellow. We covered the dark red walls and we'll tackle the rest of the kitchen and attached laundry/mudroom after we move in. Our bedroom had the same ugly tan/chocolate brown walls as the living room, and we're painting it a very light grey.

On Saturday night, I came home and cried. Something about moving and change flips me inside out, no matter how much I've wanted it. When we moved into our townhouse, I was happy about it but cried the entire evening after we moved in because I'm that terrible at adjusting to new things. The house still smelled like a musty church and it didn't feel like ours at all. I was so scared something would go wrong and we'd have to find a way to pay for it and maybe we even bought the wrong house. It didn't help when we drove 45 minutes to the house Sunday morning and realized we both forgot the house key.

My friend sent me some Bible verses Sunday morning, and it hit me that I was dwelling on fear and had my eyes on my circumstance and not God. That sounds trite and cheesy, but it's true. I had a full attitude adjustment, mostly after we drove back home and got the keys and then drove back to the house, and that combined with getting more painting done made a huge difference for me. The more we paint, the more the house starts to feel like ours. I pulled down the chicken curtains that were covering the big, beautiful windows and it's so much lighter and brighter.

These days together have been so nice. We've been painting like fools, eating pizza on the living room floor amid the paint supplies, and painting until we've pushed Gracie to her limits and we have to go home. We listen to Christmas music in the car and come home to watch a Christmas movie. Gracie runs around, having pretend conversations with Mickey and Goofy, and constantly touching or leaning against the wet walls no matter how much we tell her not to. When she's napping, we listen to sermons or podcasts. We're all covered in paint and I don't even care. We've dripped paint all over the carpet and I don't even care, mostly because I'm hoping then I can convince James to replace it sooner rather than later. Carpet should never, ever be in the kitchen. James accidentally hit the stark white ceiling with his roller covered in teal paint. I can't be mad since I've basically ruined the baseboards with paint splatter, but it cracks me up every time I look at it.

We've been to Lowe's more times this week than in my life combined. There's a giant inflatable Nutcracker Mickey, and Gracie has to hug him and talk to him every time we go for another can of paint, or a mailbox because we discovered ours has been smashed. I got carsick on the way to the house this morning, and it was one of those rare times it never fully went away. I painted a few minutes, and then would have to curl up in a ball on the greasy carpet and wait for the worst of it to pass. If nothing else, I reaffirmed my promise to myself to never get pregnant again. But it's been really special to work as a family to fix up our first house, the three of us together. I know we'll look back on these days fondly.

Let's just hope I can stay away from the dentist for awhile. If I don't stop having dental issues, we'll never be able to afford new kitchen floors.