July 28, 2015

Before Bed

I rarely bathe my kids. It might be laziness or a pseudo-hippie affection for funk (my own showering schedule is a little suspect!), but that window between dinner and bedtime is always such a chore that a bath is the last thing on my list. Instead, I fill that hour by getting outside. In the past we've loved walks around the block, collecting rocks and leaves, but now that we have a newly fenced tiny little yard of our very own, I can simply turn them loose. What a revelation! It may not be the fields and streams and forests of my own childhood adventures, but a hose bib and a few square feet of turf is plenty to save all our sanity at the end of a long day.

P.S. I know it's crazy how big these kids are. Where did my babies go?!

July 21, 2015

A New House

We are still deep in boxes and far from settled, but our new house is starting to feel like home. It's been hot, crazy heat and humidity and we have abandoned the single air conditioning unit that we used to keep in the kids' room. I think it must be some kind of New Englander's self-torture, but I am always convinced that we have all the more appreciation for the shift in seasons after suffering through the extreme winters and heat waves. Our big activity today was an afternoon bath brimming with over-sized ice cubes, we are ready for a cool front.

James and I work on the house and unpacking in every free moment, and I sometimes wonder what the kids will remember about this time. I think they are enjoying it, or they might recount in future therapy sessions the time they were forced to stay up late because mama was hacking apart a crib mattress, cutting out six inches from the width, and sewing it all back together again in the name of fitting a vintage 'big girl bed'. I have such a clear vision for every room, and I thought I was being very practical and time and budget conscious with my plans... but it's a lot. Someday we will have face plates on our light switches and the cardboard will vanish, but it's definitely going to take more time than I'd hoped.

However disorganized, I'm proud and excited by what we've done so far. We plan to stay put in this home for the long haul, and it's pretty surreal to bond with a place with that kind of commitment in mind.

Also, I picked up my camera! Thrilling! A few more 'smiley' kid faces from tonight to follow, and hopefully a sign of things to come.

July 10, 2015

Then and Now

I finally located the box that contained my computer, and this is what I found. Snapshots from three weeks ago, or more. No evidence of boxes piled high or giant dust bunnies unearthed in previously hidden corners or beloved stenciled walls painted into oblivion. Moving has been rough, in no small part due to various travel and work commitments that ruthlessly stole big chunks of our precious time. We made some choices that probably weren't wise, but they are behind us... and so is our long loved apartment that I documented so thoroughly here. It's painful to look back at pictures of a 'home' that no longer exists when we haven't yet had the time to establish our new house as any home. We are still in boxes, paint on the walls and locked Pinterest boards holding the promise of a really lovely place for our family... we just aren't there yet.

The shift has been tough on the kids, who both seem to be every bit the 'nesters' that their mother is. We need the safety of a home base to bolster daily adventures in the wide open world, and we've all felt fragile and cranky... and like watching old Mr. Rogers episodes for generous blocks of the day. 

James has been burning the candle at both ends, but aside from some serious sleep deprivation, is far more pragmatic in his attitude towards the move. 'Nothing is how I want it to be', I say... 'We just moved', he says... 'I just want it to look like a real house', I say... 'I give us 'till September', he says... 'September?!? No way am I living like this until September! Get your drill and meet me upstairs!', I say... 'I'll give you an hour', he says... and that is pretty much a transcript of us at 10PM every weeknight for the last two weeks. I'm hoping to snag his attention for a whole week-end in the near future, and really get some shiz done!

Pictures will come. I thought I would want to document the transition, but I'm finding that I need the chaos to be slightly more reigned in before I can relax enough to want to lay eyes on my camera. I can't bring myself to go back to our old place, it's not how I want to remember it... and I am feeling similarly about the pile of boxes that fill my current living space. If I don't take a picture, in a week they will be gone, and then they never existed. Some transformations just don't need a record.

I miss this journal a lot, miss the archive of the kids growing... Roo is a whole different creature, so spunky and verbal and very deserving of a dedicated blog post. Here's hoping, my virtual friends! 

June 9, 2015

Jumping In

When I was eleven years old, my mom bought our first house, still her home today. We had been renting a charming little cottage from my best friend's family for a decade, and while she had taken pride and invested in that space, I was ecstatic at the thought of a place of our very own, with two floors and a giant porch. The night she first came home with the keys, we got Chinese take out and ate on the rainbow colored carpet of her future bedroom. I ran through the front door and up the stairs, play acting at my new after school routine. I have such clear memories of my fantasies in those early days of home ownership, and in part they are lasting because they're so different from how we came to occupy that space. The view of the river seated cross legged in the middle of my mom's floor, only possible without furniture, the route through the front door that I would rarely repeat as we park in the back, the darkness in the hallway and kitchen, both of which we would open up, wallpaper and carpet and light and sounds that would all be altered in a matter of months. 

That farm house was a true fixer-upper, and for a child enthusiast of This Old House, it was heaven. I took satisfaction in steaming off wallpaper and attempting to sand floors, I loved having the buzz of workmen and watching my surroundings change everyday, these childhood  memories are some of my fondest.

When James and I set out to buy our own house, initially I was envisioning a total fixer-upper so that my own kids could get an early introduction to all the fun of transforming a home. I had no idea that the market would be so insane that contractors were waiting on curbs with cash deals for every 'diamond in the rough'. And so we settled on spending more than we wanted for an old house in pretty good shape with plenty of room for cosmetic improvements. Eventually we have plans to gut the kitchen, reconfigure the dining room, and add a deck, but for now the work will be basic, and largely DIY.

We have a list of small projects that we want to complete before moving in (in two weeks!); wallpaper that is literally in every single room has to go, walls need to be patched and skimmed and painted, light fixtures and hardware swapped, a few closets reworked... and of course we wasted no time getting cracking. Little Smith could not have been more excited to rip, peel, and scrape wallpaper. I only wish he was old enough to help with the steamer, he would have loved it! Roo has mastered going up and down the stairs and attacking floors and walls with any sharp object available, and James and I are seriously very very tired.

A few days ago, a friend noticed my car parked in the driveway and popped in to say hello and take a look. She quietly walked from room to room and then paused at the front door before leaving to add, 'Wow, it's a lot of work though'. The comment was somewhat deflating, we only have a couple weeks before we move in, we have a little travel mixed in the schedule as well, and this was supposed to be a house that did NOT require much work after all (which is why we chose to spend alll our money on it!)... But it also filled me with an (albeit nervous) excitement. We are already changing this home, a home built in 1930 and only owned by two families before us. With every sheet of wallpaper we pull off, we discover careful notations from the last owner, who was a cabinet maker and raised three children here. I have scrubbed and chipped away at every wall, and I can see all the different types of plaster used, water damage from old plumbing, and where walls were added and changed. We have only owned our house for two weeks, and already I feel a part of its story and know that the Little Smith will remember these days for the rest of his. It's the kind of relationship that you just can't build with a 'move in ready' house. I'm exhausted and worried about getting everything patched and painted before we move in, but I'm also totally head over heels in love with our new place, and all the changes yet to be imagined.

Now if anyone wants to come over and pack our old place, we haven't packed a single box... living on the edge!

June 2, 2015

A Diversion


At the moment I am taking the night off of my current project; scraping wallpaper and holding my breath that the whole wall doesn't come down with it. We closed on our house almost a week ago (hurray!), and it has been a frenzy to try to get those paper covered walls stripped, patched, and painted before we move in a few weeks. It's an exciting and slightly overwhelming task, my hands are blistered and sore from peeling and pressing spray bottles a thousand times over through the night. James and I have been alternating nights since that's the most productive kid-free time. We are both slightly delirious, but we both love the house and feel so lucky that it's actually our's. I will definitely share pictures (there are way too few... time crunch!), but tonight I really need a break. 

And so I am remembering my birthday dinner, a month ago now, on a hot May evening. James did such a sweet job preparing a fondue feast (the idea seemed funny in warm weather but it was heaven, I want it right now!), making an amazing cake with a custard filling and dusted with coconut shavings, and probably the greatest gift, he made it all with Little Smith while Roo and I napped the afternoon away. 

I am already missing this dining room. It's my favorite spot in our current place, and also my least favorite room in our new house. Long term we'll fix that, but in the meantime, I know that I will be longing for this light, paneling, and hutch. We've had some good years and wonderful memories here, and while the time I have to maintain this blog is increasingly limited, knowing that I can always turn here for a zillion pictures of my beloved dining room makes me strive to return. And you thought it was about the kids ;)

I'll be back as soon as I grant myself another break from wall prep!