Houseaversary: Year One

Last week we celebrated a year of living in our house. And by ‘celebrate’ I mean that I’m pretty sure we had dinner that day together. I think. It was a really busy week, I can’t be sure and I don’t really remember. (I think we’ll celebrate this week. Maybe. Okay, next week for SURE.)

new house
Our House. Right when they accepted our offer.

When I think about this time last year, all I can remember is STRESS. There was so much of it. I mean…SO MUCH. There was all the regular moving stuff like packing and cleaning and OMG the paperwork from hell. Plus, a LOT had to be done before we could move in. Do you remember the old paint? Holy ugly. (But kinda fun to look at. Since it doesn’t look like that at all now, duh.)

newhouseoldpaint

newhouseoldpaint2

But you guys, the past year has been pretty great. I mean, we have this space that felt like home as soon as our paint was on the walls and our stuff was in the rooms. (Also, the new carpet. Because YES TO NEW CLEAN CARPET.) It so amazing to share this space with our family and friends. It’s been so special to see my kids build a life here. This space, this HOME, that I never thought I would have.

newhome

We kinda like it here. I’m not sure you’ve probably noticed.

newhome3

Every so often, The Dude and I worry that our kids never had a house that they lived in for the majority of their childhood. We’ve only lived here for a year and the kids are 12 and 16. But somehow I know that they will remember this house as home base once they’ve gone off to college and started their own lives. We have happy memories from wherever we’ve lived. And I’m so, so glad for that. But there’s a part of me that hopes they (especially) never forget how much fun this past year has been and love the memories we’re making here. It’s been pretty gosh-darn wonderful.

Dance Parties, Walls and Finding Home

When my kids were little, living room dance parties was just something we did and a huge part of who we were. I can vividly remember the girls being so little and getting down and getting funky as only toddlers and preschoolers can. The Now and Then soundtrack was on constant rotation back in those days. Sugar, Sugar was our jam. (There is also sugar IN jam. So that sentence seems oddly appropriate.)

Life happens in strange ways sometimes, though. We found ourselves selling our house and, not long after, we moved in with my in-laws. My husband started a business and went back to school. Nothing was the same and everything was up in the air. Our routines were 100% disrupted. Traditions that we used to have went by the wayside. Being a parent in my own home became difficult.

Just being myself became difficult.

During that time, very rarely was I a “relaxed” mom that could have fun with my kids. I have a lot of regrets about the kind of mother I was back then, but my biggest regret was not being able to let my guard down. If ever I want to drive myself to the brink of insanity, I can try to imagine the mom I *could’ve been* if I could’ve been the mom that I started out to be. In fact, just typing that sentence caused an elephant come sit on my chest. Regret is an ugly, ugly reality.

A tragic casualty of not being able to be myself was the lack of dance parties in our family. It just wasn’t the same. *I* wasn’t the same. Letting go and letting loose wasn’t something I could do under the circumstances. I realize that you can still be a decent and wonderful human being without dance parties, but it was more than that. It was almost like we lost the ability to truly feel joy. In my opinion, dancing exemplifies joy. And when you are lost in life, you don’t always know what joy looks like. Even if you know that it used to look like dance parties, etc.

I was devastated the first time I realized that I had allowed this part of my girls’ childhood to be locked up. I remember times that I tried to get them to dance at a wedding or a party and it was like I was asking them to pull off their own toes. I already have plenty of guilt of being such a young mom and how hard it was to raise tiny humans. Now I found myself feeling guilty for so much more.

Years passed before the four of us found ourselves with a little more freedom to be ourselves. It was a breath of fresh air, but it would take quite some time before we could feel comfortable with letting our guard down. In fact, it would take years. There’s even a part of me that believes that a shift began to happen when Paisley joined our family. I know, I know…that sounds a little nuts. But that fuzzy little muppet thawed something inside all of us. Being completely goofy over a pet can help tear down some pretty strong barriers.

But it’s when we bought and moved into our new home last summer when I saw the biggest shift of all. Even with all the weirdness and orange walls, we somehow knew we were home from the beginning. To this day, several months later, I can’t explain how much I love coming home every day. When I turn on our street, I breathe a sigh of relief. The gratitude is immeasurable. Because everything I ever wanted for my family (and was never sure I would get) is in this home. For 16+ years, I dreamed of having this feeling. For 16+ years, I wished and prayed for this soft place to land.

I try really hard to not have regret. I do. I really do. I try to be present and be grateful for all that we have now. But there is a piece of my heart that is broken for all the years that we didn’t have this feeling of contentment and peace. I feel sadness for the years that our family was so uprooted and a little bit lost.

The past few months, the shifts and the changes that I’ve seen in my family have been something to behold. I hesitate to use a word like magical, but it just the word I want to use right now. Life isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not supposed to be. But when you can visibly see walls that were built up start to crumble, you take notice. When you can see your children allow themselves to be a tiny bit more vulnerable and open, there’s this sense of relief that can’t be explained. And while the dance parties haven’t returned quite yet, singing at the top of our lungs has. It’s different than our loud music days in the car. It’s wearing your heart on your sleeve, pure joy in a song, belting out as loud as you can singing that only comes from being silly and the freedom if being ourselves. And being ourselves feels so damn good. I’ve really, really missed it.

House of Insanity – Part 1

photo courtesy of metrolist
I’m not sure…but it’s a lot of orange. (Also, not my furniture…)

When we decided to put an offer on the house, we knew we would have some work to do. Every homeowner is…different. They probably loved their (horrible) orange and green and yellow colored (and sometimes sponge painted) walls. And, honestly, it sounds like it wasn’t an easy time for them, so maybe the general care of the house and backyard was just too much for them.

OVERGROWNBACKYARD
a never been pruned or trimmed backyard

So we knew that for us to feel comfortable, we needed to factor in the various “home improvements” into our costs and into our offer. Looking back, I’m actually pretty surprised that we were able to look past all that we did. This was our fourth house that we had put an offer, so ignoring the ugly was meant to be. I’m just still not sure how we did it.

SPONGEPAINTEDGREENBATHROOM
sponge. painted. walls.

On the day that we got the keys, The Dude had already been gone for a week on his two-week business trip. (Yes, let that sink in for a minute. A super stressful time and I was flying solo? Yeah. I’m really not sure how I stayed as sane as I did.) So with my parents and family along for the ride, we walked into this new house that had just become ours. The painters and the carpet guys had already been scheduled for that next week, but we were excited to just be able to see the house. Except…as soon as I walked in, I felt more overwhelmed than excitement. I actually started to feel sick to my stomach and dangerously close to tears.

MASTERBROFHELL
all photos courtesy of metrolist

The house smelled…funny. The pool hadn’t been taken care of since we had gone into contract and it was a GLOWING GREEN mess. Somehow I hadn’t focused on the yard the few times I had been to visit. But now, all the fruit trees and grapevines and various other NEVER BEFORE TAKEN CARE OF plants were staring me in the face. And, well…fruit trees attract critters. Critters that scattered throughout the trees when the sun goes down. And now my stomach turned as I worried about mice in my (new) (but dirty/gross) house. I was so quiet as I surveyed everything that needed to be done. I had never before hired housekeepers…but now I was more grateful than ever that we had already made that call. I knew that if it had been me to do all the cleaning, the image of all the filth would’ve stuck in my brain as I tried to cook dinner or take a shower in a bathroom that was less than desirable. And by “less than desirable” I mean a shower that needed a degreaser (that’s de-GREASER) to get the grime off. Yowsa.

I honestly don’t know how I didn’t have a panic attack right there in front of everyone. I guess scary quiet Jill was close enough. My mom could see the look on my face and I’m pretty sure she is what kept me sane. I did not lost my shit right then and there even though it was a very, very close call.

The next week was a blur of meetings with painters and carpet guys and regular insane life stuffs. I was lucky that we had decided on the carpet before The Dude had left on his trip, but the paint colors were up to me. Thankfully, I had a general idea what I wanted and a Sarah who talked me off of every paint-color-ledge there was. She also stopped by the new house to be there when I needed to meet with the owner of the pain company. He was an absolute ass and I’m pretty sure if she hadn’t been there, I would’ve lost my shit. Another close call.

Moving and packing is hard enough. But since I was without my partner in crime, I had a lot to deal with all on my own. From wiring the remainder our down payment and closing costs to picking out paint colors. Getting the keys, and making arrangements for the carpet guys. Softball practices, etc for Beezus? A conference out of town? 4+ All Star games for Ramona? Just part of the deal. And it was a mess. An exhausting, messy mess of all messes. In a state of absolute panic, I called on the people who kept asking me how they could help. And I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without them.

This move was happening fast and I was about to get knocked over by the stress of it.

…to be continued…