8.31.2021

august


I want everyone in the room to close their eyes. 

Imagine that it's the peak of summer. 100 degrees. The sun has a personal vendetta against you. It's so humid that you've sprouted gills and it feels like you pulled your bra straight out of a hot tub before putting it on. You're sitting on a weathered, splintery picnic table on a tiny stretch of grass sandwiched between a McDonald's and a Kroger gas station. The picnic table is infested with some sort of bug you've never seen before, and they sting. You're rubbing cortisone cream all over before you pull the first french fry out of the bag. One kid is squirming on your lap, fussing because a chicken nugget is too hot, and the other is trying to feed her pet bunny, who is on a leash, the "happy meal" that she packed, consisting of weeds from the backyard of the house you just sold. Later that night, you'll discover that some of the stinging insects flew up your shorts and left souvenirs of central Indiana.

Ok, now open your eyes.

Now you know what it's like to drive across the country in the blazing heat of summer with two kids and a bunny while your husband stays behind with the movers. 

Technically that was July, but it was the very end of July. And I am still recovering. Never in my life did I expect to go on a road trip with a bunny, but here we are. A lot of people went home to tell their families that they saw a rabbit on a leash at the gas station, drinking water out of a dog bowl.


So, August! It's finally over. As everyone on Instagram knows, memes are my thing, and I've seen a lot lately about how August went by in 5 seconds. Allow me to gently disagree. When you're living with your parents for the first time since early college, with your husband and 2 young, feral children in a house with A LOT of steps and stairs and a massive ravine in the backyard and waiting to close on your new house and also there are two full weeks in which it is over 100 degrees every single day to the point that you wonder who you can murder to make it stop....August crawls.

In fact, I think it went backwards at a few points.

 

It hasn't been all bad or anything like that. Just slow. Lots of fielding complaints about toys that are packed in storage, trying to learn the new city, and driving past our new house so often I fully expect to get slapped with a restraining order. 

August is my least favorite month, anyway. Up there with February. I am completely fed up with the heat and sweat and mosquito bites at this point. It still feels like an eternity before cooler weather is here. When I was younger, it also meant school started which is something I was rarely excited about. Nothing good happens in August. It's a month of misery and sweat. The plants and leaves start to look dry and brown. Even they're sick of August.

I want to be in my new house so I can do important things like get a library card.

We move in next week. Next week!

I'm so excited but also dreading that awkward, frustrating period when you have so much to unpack and everything is out of sorts and you question why you kept any of this and what do you even do with the box full of random index cards and old journals and cords that probably belong to your 2007 era digital camera. You have to find spots for everything and can't figure out where to put the kitchen towels or the laundry detergent and don't even talk to me about what pictures to hang where. It's exciting but just TOO MUCH TO PROCESS.


The last time we moved into a house, the water main broke and we had no water for a few days, then it flooded, and then I crashed my car into the garage. So pardon me if I have some nerves.



On top of moving into our house and unpacking and settling in and figuring out which light switches do what and what the creaky sounds at night are coming from, I have to start school with Gracie. It was so easy last year when Clara would nap the exact amount of time we did school. We have a lot more work to do this year, and Clara is no longer crawling, but running and climbing and finding new sharp corners to hit her head on as she trips and falls. The Lord did not give her the gift of calm, but rather blessed her with more energy than an entire power grid and the confidence to believe she can achieve her harrowing dreams. How people tackle phonics and math with Barnum & Bailey in the background, I don't know. I guess I'll find out.

I am completely burned out from this summer of transition, and my homeschooling mojo is somewhere back in Ohio. 

One thing I've been doing, which--as an Enneagram 13--goes against everything I believe in, is signing us up for everything. I've signed up for so much through our church that I've forgotten. I don't have the energy to be a recluse anymore. Plus, my kids need to find their place here as much as I do. 

When you have a baby, they tell you you're going to lose sleep and make financial sacrifices and lose all your free time, but no one warned me I'd have to socialize. 

We had our first meeting of our homeschool group a few weeks ago. I felt PANICKED when I walked in and everyone knew each other and we didn't know a soul. There's nothing I hate more than being the new kid, except maybe being the shy parent of an extroverted new kid. We have another meeting this week. I think it will be good. I'll be teaching a hymn study at some point and dusting off my piano skills.

One mom is teaching scouting and mapping, and she had us draw a map of our house and yard, which was maybe not the best timing for this lesson. Gracie and I were trying to decide if we should do our old house, my parents' house where we're staying, or our new house. We went with new house, and drawing it from memory from the two times I was quickly in it 2 months ago was not easy. We're supposed to draw a map from the house to the grocery store this week, and let's just say that Gracie won't be the only one learning how to find the nearest grocery store.


Her favorite part was gym time, where she had her first kickball experience. She ran up to me afterwards and said "Did you see how good I was at baseball? I got a hole in one!"

I'll teach her about sports just as soon as I learn where the grocery store is.




I fulfilled my lifelong Girl Mom dream, and Gracie is in a tap & ballet class. She has never loved anything more. Her goal is to make it into the class where she can wear a blue leotard, because that's her favorite color. They let me watch the first class, but now thanks to the governor and his new mandates (refraining from saying a lot of unkind things), I'm not even allowed in the building. Which is a shame, because there is just nothing cuter than little ballerinas. 





Hopefully she'll get a hole in one in ballet, too.

8.05.2021

some house before & afters

Now that our house is just about officially sold, I thought I'd finally share some updates we've done. We bought our house knowing it was a total fixer upper, and it was even more exhausting than I imagined. We also did more than I figured we would in 4 years.

I loved a lot about this house, but I hated a lot about it too. I felt like we were at war with it from day 1, when our realtor showed up to closing and said the water main had broken and we had no water until we could get a plumber out to fix it. And then it flooded the day after we moved in, I crashed my car into the garage, we had constant plumbing drama for the first couple years, and so on and so forth. The house had only had one owner, and she had not maintained it well. So we replaced just about everything. I always thought people who sold their house after renovating it and making it their own were crazy. I would never do that! You spend all that time and money just to hand it over to someone else? Never. But here we are, and honestly, good riddance.

For what it's worth, our house was nowhere near finished. There was a lot more we wanted to do. If we had planned to stay longer, we would have eventually gutted the kitchen, added a fireplace, added on another bathroom, etc. That money went toward all new windows and furnace and water heater and flooring instead. You know, the fun stuff. 

I know all the bright colors may be shocking to some of you who worship at the altar of all neutrals. Let this be your trigger warning. 

Here's the living room before. It's all bad, but the worst part is the Live, Laugh, Love decal. The first thing I did after we got the house was rip that down. 


And after! Ignore the weird paint splotches. There's a story behind those. I wanted to rearrange the shelves around the tv, but it was one of those things I never got around to.


The kitchen is probably the most drastic change. It was so bad guys. So bad. Please notice the grotesquely stained carpet. That fridge leaked constantly and we had bowls in the back of the fridge to catch dripping water. We painted the cabinets, and had we stayed longer, we would've replaced them because they're not in great shape. The terrible countertops had gold glitter and were falling apart, too. 




We never got around to update the awful lighting, which I regret. But we were basically broke from replacing the windows. 




You can’t see under the nightmare that is those curtains, but there were wooden windows that were painted shut or broken. Some of them were cracked. They were covered in Saran Wrap, and I think the Saran Wrap protected from the cold air more than the actual windows did. The best thing we ever did was replace them.  


I LOVE how the bathroom turned out. It was my favorite spot in the house. The only thing I really miss about the house is the bathroom floor. Please notice the carpet in the before photos. It was hiding some horrifying secrets. 


This was the master bedroom when we bought it. Hideous blue carpet straight out of 1964. Chocolate brown walls. The insides of the closets were painted mint green. What's not to love? This was our bedroom until we had Clara. We still needed a guest room/office, and the other bedrooms were too small for both of them, so we moved the girls in here and made it their bedroom/play room. It worked out perfectly. Their bedroom was so cheerful and fun. I was really sad to take it apart.




This was the guest room, then it was the guest room/nursery for Clara, and then we made it our bedroom. I LOVED the built in shelves. There was a lot I wanted to do to this room, like rip down that painted over wallpaper and paint, etc. I forgot to move the fan for the photos and the bedding was driving me crazy. Who cares, our house sold anyway.

I just realized I don't have any before photos, but it looks essentially the same. All we did was add a ceiling fan and put in new windows. 




The guest room/office wasn't exciting, so I'll leave that out.

And that was our little house. It was good to us and we enjoyed living there, but we had definitely outgrown it. I'm so proud of the work we did to it and also so glad we won't have to do it again in our new house.

7.27.2021

a life update and story of God's provision



I'm sitting here on my last day in Ohio feeling very emotional, so I'm typing this out to remind myself that this is a VERY GOOD thing and there are good things ahead. I know that announcing buying/selling a house before it's final is like announcing a pregnancy before the second trimester, but I want to have it all written down to look back on, because it's a crazy story. And this is what will be consuming my life for awhile.

We're moving to Illinois. 

We’ve been thinking about this for awhile. It wasn't in the cards for many reasons, but then the pandemic hit, which has been a curse, but in ways I couldn't imagine--a blessing. We were stuck in our house for months with a 5yo and a newborn while everyone was so scared of germs they wouldn't even drop off a promised meal. I had no one to hold my baby so I could take a desperately needed nap. I couldn't go to the doctor to get help for my raging PPA/PPD because they wouldn't let me take my nursing newborn, and the doctor is an hour away and I could not and would not leave my newborn/had no one to leave her with anyway. We were our most isolated at our most vulnerable. Then James lost his job. Last summer seemed to go from bad to worse, and we knew that life like this was not sustainable. We need family, we need support, we need people who will help us and not live in fear. And not that we don’t have wonderful friendships, but they all have their extended family around that they needed to keep safe. We did not. Then he started working remotely full time, something that would not have happened without the world shutting down.

I had second thoughts about moving every other day and nearly backed out of it all until the day the For Sale sign went in the yard. On my morning walk one day, I asked the Lord to either stop us in our tracks or make it crystal clear we're doing the right thing, so we can move forward with no regrets.

Within the first day of our house being active on the market, we had 15 showings and multiple offers. I knew in this market that we'd get activity, but since we live in a rural area and our house is small with no basement and only one bathroom, we were a little nervous. Our realtor even thought it might take longer to sell than most houses because of those factors. But it's a cute and updated house with a huge yard, and if you put this house in the county exactly one mile away, it would probably nearly double in price. 

I'm not someone who has often felt the urge to pray for something very specific, but as we were getting our house ready to list, I felt a strong urge to pray that it would sell for a certain number. I thought there was absolutely NO WAY. I ran it past our realtor, and he said it was possible but not likely. I couldn't see it happening, but I prayed anyway. And I prayed and prayed.

The first offer we got was for that number I prayed for. It was such a solid offer I wanted to accept it then and there. We had another one come in higher, which blew my mind, and we wound up accepting that one. I had a very unsettled feeling about it even though they were strong buyers, but I figured everyone would think I was crazy if I said I wanted to accept the lower offer, so I tried to ignore the weird unease I couldn't shake.

We drove to Illinois two days later to find a storage unit, meet with realtors, maybe look at houses, etc. On the way, I texted a realtor who had called me a few weeks prior. She said we could look at houses the next day. There was truly hardly anything on the market. There was maybe one or two that would pop up in a week, and most of them wouldn't work for us. My hopes were not high.

On that Tuesday afternoon, Clara was napping, and we had about 30 minutes before I needed to wake her to meet the realtor. I got an email for a new listing and looked at it immediately. It was a beautiful house--it looked like a little brick cottage with daisies in the front yard. I had been praying daily for a house oozing with curb appeal. My house isn't ugly, but it's your standard 1960s ranch, and it's just kind of boring. I've always wished it had more character out front. I flipped through the photos, and each one checked off another must-have. I had a lot of must-haves. I refused to buy another fixer upper. The last 4 years have been exhausting. It was so rare that a house like this even popped up that I was practically vibrating from excitement. It had literally every single thing we wanted and needed in a new house. I sent it to the realtor and asked if we could see it.

Lo and behold, she immediately responded that it was actually her listing, she was currently on her way over to put the sign up, and we could meet her there. I had such low expectations of ever finding a house in a reasonable amount of time or getting an offer accepted with the crazy bidding wars that I almost said not to worry about it, the baby was sleeping and I couldn't bear to wake her after she had skipped all naps the day before. James urged me to go see it, but for some reason I was afraid I would love it and get my hopes up, and it would all just be a disappointment. I was being an idiot, but I think I was trying to protect myself since I'm still jaded after the 2.5 years it took us to buy our first house. I said a silly little prayer that Clara would wake up if we needed to go see it, and that very moment I heard her wake in the monitor. That got my attention, so I told the realtor we'd meet her in 20 minutes.  

When we pulled up to the house, I audibly gasped. It was so much cuter than it even looked in the pictures. I walked inside and immediately felt at home. It has teal walls, just like our house. It had literally every single thing I wanted, including a gorgeous wood burning fireplace, tons of large windows, a finished basement with an office, a swing set out back, and on and on and on. The realtor was very clearly trying to keep my expectations in check, reminding me that this house has been on the market for not even an hour, and it's already booked completely solid with showings for days. It will go immediately, and it will go over asking price. All of which I assumed, but it felt like a punch in the gut.

We looked at some more houses that day in the same price range, and they were a disaster. There wasn't one that was even a remote possibility. The highlight of the day was when we were at the last house, it was 100 degrees out and we were all sweaty, exhausted, and disappointed by house after house, and as we were loudly and emphatically bashing the house and mincing no words, we suddenly heard a door creak open. The owner was still there, had heard every word we said, and walked down the stairs wearing nothing but a towel.

I was so mortified yet laughing so hard that I ran out the door crying from laughter. Our realtor was frozen in place in horror. We all made it outside, completely stunned that we had just BLASTED this house in the rudest way possible with the owner hiding and listening the whole time, when suddenly the man who my mother and I lovingly refer to as Tattoo Jesus with his long, flowing locks, tattoo sleeves, and his towel, came back outside and asked if we wanted to see the rest. I was very much hoping he was referring to the house. We passed. We had seen more than enough, in more ways than one.

Long story long, after much agonizing and discussing and overanalyzing, we put in an offer on the house we love. I said very proudly to my whole family that there's no way we'll get this house, so I'll just put the offer in and not think about it anymore. Famous last words!! I was up all night.

The sellers had until 7pm Wednesday to respond. Instead, they asked for an extension until Thursday afternoon. To my shock and surprise, the realtor insinuated that we had a very strong offer and had a good shot at getting the house.

Thursday morning dawned bright and early, and I woke up in a great mood thinking that we might actually get the house. And it was all so easy!!!! 

Once again, famous last words.

Our realtor in Ohio called James and told him that the inspection came back and had scared our buyers off. Our house was out of contract. The inspection wasn't even bad! We just spent 4 years updating and replacing everything, so we hadn't been too worried about it. I won't get into the details, but the inspector apparently has a terrible reputation (we didn't pick him). He scared off our buyers over literally nothing. There was only one small issue in the attic, which is something we never could've known about, and we immediately had a contractor fix it.

So there we were, expecting to hear our offer was accepted when our house just fell out of contract. And then I suddenly remembered that exactly 24 hours prior, our realtor had us sign a back up offer just in case. It basically meant that the person who had put the other high offer on our house wanted it so badly, that they submitted an offer saying they would automatically go into contract on our house if the first deal went bad. Our realtor had them do it just in case, something he normally wouldn't do, but he said he had a nagging feeling he needed to. We had signed it and not given it much thought. Well! 

It was my mom's birthday, and I was taking her out for brunch in the midst of all this chaos when the Illinois realtor called and told us that they had a last minute offer come in that beat ours. She was giving everyone a chance to submit a best and final offer by 4pm. I didn't even know if we would be in a position to submit another offer, let alone if we wanted to throw any more money at the situation, but it bought us the time we needed to get our house straightened out.

We had to wait for the backup buyers to go over the inspection report and make sure they could see through the ridiculousness of it all, which felt like an obstacle we might not make it over. We had until 2pm to hear from the backup buyers, and then we had to turn around and decide what to do with the next house by 4. To say I was a WRECK would be an understatement. 

It wasn't until almost 3 that we got the call that our house was back in contract. There is no relief like that relief. I had gone back and forth all day on whether or not we should put in a higher offer. We didn't know how much higher we needed to go, but thanks to some hints, we had a general idea. We could afford it, but was it worth it? We are not the people who will throw any amount of money at houses or pay for appraisal gaps. We knew this put us at a serious disadvantage, but we are serious with our money. For most of the day, James firmly didn't want to, but I was leaning toward trying one more time. It was barely more money than we had already offered, and I knew I would regret not fighting. I thought we had until 4, but we actually only had until 3, and our realtor was literally showing the sellers the offers as we texted her our final offer.

She responded and said she'd call me with the results by 4.

4:00 came and went. So did 4:30. And 5. And 5:30. By this time, we were getting ready to go out with my whole family for my mom's birthday. I was so nervous and flustered I couldn't think straight. I was driving everyone insane. We had just sifted through offers, and I knew from experience it doesn't take that long to decide which ones are contenders and which one is the best. It doesn't take 3 hours! Something must have happened. 

We were sitting in the restaurant at 6:00, while I was trying to figure out how on earth I was going to eat when I was expecting at any moment to get a call with bad news, and then I'd have to try not to ruin my mom's birthday by crying at dinner. I had gotten so emotionally invested against my better judgment, and I knew I couldn't go through this over and over until we finally got a house. The whole day had pretty much broken me.

Finally, she called. Another offer had come in at the last second, right when the seller had told her to call us and officially accept our offer. They had gotten a verbal Hail Mary offer, even though they said offers were no longer accepted, but it was such a good one that they waited for the written version to come in. The buyers spent 3 hours panicking and wondering what the house would appraise for and getting cold feet. They eventually backed out. All while I was pleading with God to fight on our behalf. 

We got the house. 

We went from thinking we'd get it, to our house falling out of contract, having our offer beaten twice, our house going back into contract, and having our offer accepted. This all in a matter of hours. 

And here's the kicker: James hadn't even seen the house. The entire time, I was mildly terrified that he would hate it and I'd made a huge mistake. He trusted me to choose the right house, and since he was working (he was in IL with us but couldn't step away from his work to see a house during the day), he had let me make the decision. My mom had seen it with me and had told me over and over that she could see me in that house, and that was the only comfort I had that I hadn't gone temporarily insane. 

We took him to see it the next evening, and it was even better than I remembered. It had things I hadn't noticed the first time. I had to be pried away; I was ready to move in that second. Before we had gone, I told my dad it's a house that is begging for hydrangeas, and I needed him to help me find the perfect spot to plant them. He agreed, and he said it needs apple trees too. When we pulled up to the house Friday night, we explored the yard. There's a creek at the bottom of the property I'd never noticed before. A creek! I followed the creek to a hidden corner of the yard, and what did I see but a small little orchard of apple trees. And a peach tree! And hydrangeas. I started crying. It felt like such a gift. Such a relief after the most intensely stressful week of my life. I've never seen such clear, tangible answers to prayer.

James loved the house even more than I expected. We all agreed it was worth every penny we had offered, and then some. It's 15 minutes from my parents, close to a bunch of coffee shops, 5 minutes from Target, close to a library, as well as many other things. The realtor told us the sellers had been praying for a Christian family to buy their house and were so relieved and thrilled when they found out who we are. 

When we got back to Ohio, we noticed the evil inspector had disconnected our downspouts and left them that way. There had been huge storms while we had been gone! But that's nothing compared to when I walked into the kitchen and realized he had LEFT THE STOVE ON. The stove! On! It had been on for THREE ENTIRE DAYS. 

We've spent the last few weeks packing like mad. James has gotten hit with huge projects and deadlines at work, the girls got very sick, and my MIL wound up driving up from NC to help us. She saved my life and packed a huge chunk of the house, helped take care of my sick kids, and made us food. I am so grateful. We've had a hundred different hurdles to get past, and everything has worked out so far. 

July has been the longest month of my entire life. Our house wasn't even on the market at the beginning of the month, I was still wondering if I wanted to go through with it all, and now my entire house is in boxes and we bought another house 500 miles away. Our friends here have been so helpful and supportive, and we will miss them so much. The goodbyes have been horrible, but I am also eagerly looking forward to what lies ahead. 

I know this is a crazy housing market, and it's taking people forever to find a house or get an offer accepted. I've heard some amazing stories of God making a way, but I truly did not expect it to happen to us. Let it encourage you that when God has a plan, there is no thwarting it. That is my ultimate comfort in this move and in all things to come.

7.15.2021

I wonder if there's a synonym for cinnamon

This entire week has been....whatever a synonym for "dumpster fire" is. Google is telling me "chaotic mishandled situation" is a synonym (I keep forgetting the y and autocorrect is trying to change it to cinnamon--Jesus come quickly.) This would also be an accurate description, but for once I am not the one chaotically mishandling the situations. Or maybe I am. You can be the judge.

I thought today was going to be a brighter day, but after lunch things went downhill in a lot of different ways. I was cleaning out a closet, and I pulled out some old bedding and blankets. I also threw out a large canvas photo of us with our wedding party, because I have other wedding photos I like better, and I just don't want to display this one anymore. James and I were joking around that seeing the trash pile on the side of the road with a wedding photo next to the For Sale sign would probably cause some divorce rumors to swirl amongst the neighbors.

In a plot twist I did not see coming, I was walking toward the door, my arms full of blankets and linens and the canvas when I tripped. Something caught my toe and ripped it open. There was blood everywhere. A truly horrifying amount. I had no choice but to use the blankets to mop it up and clean off my foot. If you drive by my house right now, you'll see bloody blankets, a wedding photo, and a For Sale sign by the side of the road. If I wind up on Dateline, this is my statement that I am INNOCENT of all wrongdoing and merely the victim of clumsiness. Please refer to the viral true crime podcast I’m sure will be made about me that exonerates me. No need to lie and say that I have a million friends and light up a room; we all know it’s not true.

But I digress.

By 3pm, I was lying on my bed propping up my foot and recovering from my youngest child fighting her nap/ripping her sleep sack off and then getting her legs stuck in the crib slats/crying for an hour and a half. My oldest walked inside with cupcakes from our next door neighbor (how did she know I needed cupcakes?!). She brought me one in bed as a surprise and then left to go watch Inspector Gadget. 

We had a man scheduled to come this afternoon to give us an estimate on some work we're having done soon. In the chaos of the afternoon, I had completely forgotten he was coming. James had let him in and I had no idea he was here.

And that is how a strange man walked in on me eating a cupcake in bed.

Feel free to leave that detail out of the podcast.

6.23.2021

currently, june ed.




Feeling: like spring cleaning! I cleaned windows during naptime today. Who am I and what have I done with myself! I think I’m going to post some before and afters of our house sometime soon. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but our house doesn’t look even remotely similar to how it looked when we bought it. 

Loving: OUR FAMILY PHOTOS. I could share a million, but I won't because no one will ever care as much as I do. It was 94 degrees, we were pouring sweat, and one child kept trying to sneak her favorite toy into the shots while the other constantly kicked her shoes off, but it was still a raging success. The photographer is a friend of ours, and we all celebrated with iced coffees after.







Reading: Katherine Center novels. I just finished Things You Save in a Fire and it was gooood. Her novels are so consuming, and I can blow through them in 2-3 days.

Listening to: the Find Your Puffed Sleeves podcast. My old blog friend Jenny who started Carrot Top Paper Shop has a podcast now about how to find your personal style. I am the least fashiony person ever, but I've had more of an interest after having two babies and suddenly not recognizing myself. I've had a semi-capsule wardrobe since having Gracie, but this has been a fun podcast to listen to for more inspiration on having a wardrobe I love. 

(Not) Loving: that the week our fridge warranty expired is the week three different shelves inside spontaneously broke. HOW DOES IT KNOW. 

Enjoying: trips to the splash pad. It's a whole different world with two kids.



Cooking: burger bowls and iced tea. I used spinach from our garden and now I'm a homesteader. 

Making: s'mores in the oven. We had some at a friend’s house last week, and now Gracie and I have one occasionally while Clara naps as a little treat. I didn't make them today, but I did eat some of the dark chocolate.