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.)
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.)
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.
We kinda like it here. I’m not sure you’ve probably noticed.
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.
The day before my husband got home from his two-week business trip, I called in the troops. I am often terrible at asking for help, but I knew that I needed it. Those two weeks had tested me in ways that I wasn’t exactly prepared for. It was even busier than I had planned on (the dummy that I am) and I just couldn’t do it on my own. Luckily, my volunteers kicked serious ass. But my mental health? Well…it really took a beating. It felt like I had been in a constant state of stress since February. Work was stressful. Moving is effing stressful. Solo-parenting is stressful. I honestly felt like it would never end.
Picking up The Dude from the airport made a world of difference. Because, damn, he’s my person. Sure he may aggravate me at times, but we really are a great team. And he just…does stuff while I’m trying to do stuff, too. And things get done! Of course, there wasn’t any time for “Hello! Welcome Home!” because we immediately had to keep going on the move. We really had packed a ton before he left and me and my volunteers had rocked it, but the last minute crap totally adds up. Nevermind the fact that we still had to get the new house move-in ready. Oh. Also a softball tournament. Because of course.
The next morning, we had a bit of a juggling act to deal with in our “regular” life and with the new house. Somehow, we had to get Beezus to her softball tournament (and catch as much of it as we could) and also deal with a scheduling issue with the new house craziness. The carpet guys had finished right on time the day before, but the painters still needed more time. The housecleaners were already scheduled, and we couldn’t push them back. It was a very odd balancing act of staying out of everyone’s way…but could you please hurry up because wet paint is a nightmare when you want things to be cleaned. And I don’t know if you remember, but the house was a ridiculous, filthy mess. Grime and dirt and yuck in pretty much every room in the house. (Degreaser used on the showers. I can’t shut up about that.)
But the paint colors. Holy crap, the paint colors were AMAZING. I was absolutely in love with the colors we had chosen. (Sorry for all the iPhone picture. Wait. Not I’m not.)
Like, wanted to marry every paint color we had picked because it was just too amazing for words.
They were soothing and calm and soothing and calm. The complete antithesis of the colors they replaced.
I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t until the after the painters and the cleaners had left that I finally felt like this could be our home. I spend a lot of random minutes worrying that I was never going to love this house. I mean, there was excitement because I was able to find the silver lining most of the times, but there were plenty of times that I agonized over our decision.
Except for the paint colors. Hot damn, did I mention I loved the paint colors?
Somehow we survived the final weekend of getting ready, and all of a sudden the movers arrived to pack up all our crap bright and early Monday morning. As luck would have it, I had to be at work for part of the day. Luckily, The Dude and our amazing people who put up with us were there to make it all happen. And I don’t care how organized we thought we were, moving day NEVER EVER SEEMS TO END. It just doesn’t. And it sucks. It’s like that last trimester of pregnancy where you just resigned yourself to looking like a beached whale for the rest of your life because that baby was probably not ever coming out. It’s the feeling of despair.
But no, the move actually does happen. And you’re furniture and your things (that are in boxes piled everywhere) is sitting there. It finally feels real and like you kinda sorta belong there because LOOK! That is your couch. And more importantly, THERE IS YOUR BED. (And speaking of which, one of the best pieces of advice from my mom: make sure your bed is ready before you do anything else. A soft place to land after a reeeeaaaaallly long day of moving is the most magical feeling in the world. I had even washed all the bedding, just before packing it, so that it could be taken care of ASAP.) (Magical. It was magical.)
Since moving in a little more than a month ago, we’ve gotten most things unpacked…even the garage is pretty gosh-darn organized. I still don’t have pictures on the walls, but that is mostly because I can’t commit to what I want. I may need to switch out some frames and make different choices. Mainly because we have more walls to fill, but also because I’m still getting to know the flow of the house. That might sound hokey, but the house and I are still getting to know one another. I love it. I really, really love it, but I feel like I need to know the house a little better before we put holes in the walls.
There is still so much to do. It’s almost overwhelming if I think about it too much. Thank goodness the structure of the house is sound, but the cosmetics of it were and are a mess. My dad and my brother (and the gardeners) helped us (okay, helped The Dude) start cleaning the yard. Clearing out SO MUCH OVERGROWTH.
They were also able to tame all of the fruit trees and grape vines that were seriously out of control. And, most important to Jill, cut back any tree branches that were touching the house. Because NO MICE PLEASE IN MY HOUSE. (OMG, I almost can’t even talk about it.) We also had to get the pest company out to our house immediately because…well, there were so many bugs with all the fruit trees and overgrowth. Plus, strange water bugs that weren’t actually in the water? Just hanging around the yard? I don’t even know. But wow with the bugs.
The pool has also been a HUGE challenge. We immediately hired a pool service, but it has taken a lot of hard work to get that pool looking awesome. The pool took a beating, really. And I’m super excited that we’re finally getting to a point where it’s not so crazy. (And can we talk about how we put up some lights in the yard and around the pool for Beezus’ birthday and holy crap, it makes me happy?)
My house isn’t decorated by any stretch of the imagination. I have a couple things done here and there, but since we’ve focused so much time on the “fires” that need to be put out, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to work on the pretty. And honestly? I’m just excited that we’ve gotten as far as we have in such a short amount of time. We couldn’t have done it without amazing family and friends. And I seriously couldn’t have done any of this without The Dude. That guy makes shit happen.
There are moments when I chuckle to myself at everything that we seemed to “ignore” when we made our offer on this house. It is honestly how I know that it was meant to be. We were blessed with the gift of temporary-house-view-blindness. Or rose-colored glasses. Whatever it was, I’m amazed that we looked past the yuck. But I’m more amazed at how perfect this house is for us. And I didn’t even know it at first. This house is nothing like what we thought we needed to buy. We never set out for any of this. But those unanswered prayers you hear about? Yeah. That’s this house. It it this amazing space that has room for all my loved ones. (I haven’t tried to fit all my loved ones in the house at one time, but CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.) I can share these blessings with all of them. My family fits. (MY FAMILY FITS, YOU GUYS.) And it just makes me so happy to have them all there. And going through all the stress and gross and craziness and gross…well, I think it just makes it that much more worth it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. The busy season at work. The all things moving and unpacking and settling in to the new house. We have a little break in most sports-related things.
But unfortunately, this also brings the ending of summer and lazy evenings and no homework. It’s time for us to go back to school shopping and figuring out new schedules and routines, especially in the new area. We have a new school to figure out…nerves are out in full force. We need to reevaluate our routes to work and to the school that didn’t change. There is drop-off and pick-up to worry about and fret about.
I mean…and then there’s just the regular life that keeps going on and on.
This isn’t new. This happens every year. I get very overwhelmed and anxious as we head into fall and a new school year. I feel regret for all the time I’m not able to spend with my kids because of the busy time at work. I worry about the upcoming school year…getting used to new teachers, expectations and schedules. Plus, there’s just so much to DO. It’s pretty much impossible to get everything done. But before I get lost in a sea of “what-ifs” and wishing some things could’ve been different, I want to remind myself of all the things that meant so much to me. I want to document the summer memories and traditions we started and loved, even when everything else was catawampus.
Moving is hard. It’s hard to move away from a neighborhood and people you love and adore. It’s only 20 miles away, but it seems so far sometimes. And packing, and unpacking. And I haven’t even wrote about all that needed to be done to the house before we could move in. All the work we still have to do to clean up all the different messes the previous owner had made. But you guys? I love our new home. It is everything that I never thought I would ever have. My kids love it. The Dude and I love it. Paisley even loves it. (I can tell. I think.) I have this great space for the people that I love. We’ve already hosted several family events and get-togethers. I can’t help it…I absolutely love it. Which is good. Because that first mortgage payment is probably coming out of my account as I type this.
One of the best parts of this summer is how much time we’ve spent with family. My sister was in town during the week we moved in to the new house. We had family visit from Mexico. It feels like we haven’t stopped with events and what-not, but it’s been amazing. Exhausting, but amazing.
New Blogging Adventures
After all these years of quietly blogging and writing, I had never ventured to any sort of blogging conference. But this year, I actually went to two. I need to sit down and actually write about them, but for now I’ll just tell you that I’m so glad that I went to each of these conferences. Both events fell at the worst times to be heading to the Bay Area, but it all worked out.
I also had the chance to work with and meet up with the lovely people from SodaPop PR and Tillamook and also attend the Sunset Magazine Celebration weekend. I had a blast meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people. These people are so wonderful.
Both of my kids had great softball seasons this year. Ramona had a wonderful regular season and then had a great run on the All-Star team. She did so great!! Beezus has done great with her high school team, and had a dang good season with her travel team. It was a lot of fun to watch both girls push themselves and to improve and grow. We honestly had a blast. And having wonderful parents on both teams was a HUGE bonus.
Trip to UCLA
Back in June, we made a whirlwind of a trip to cheer on our dear, close family friend as she graduated (with honors, I might add) from UCLA. We had such a great time celebrating her accomplishments. So proud of her! I’ve been celebrating her accomplishments since she graduated preschool, and I have loved being there for all these big milestones! And, I’ll be honest, I was surprised at how beautiful the UCLA campus is. It’s STUNNING. So glad we were able to tour the campus and see the sights.
Yes I realize they’re dead last right now and they kinda suck. But damn, we had good seats and had an absolute blast.
Here’s the thing: Campfire Wednesday saved my summer. From my parents’ backyard, I felt like we experienced summer even when the deadlines were looming, the move was happening, and the stress was ridiculous.
I love my family. I love hanging out with my family. And creating this summer tradition was everything I needed to feel like we actually did have some fun this summer. I hope to enjoy a few more before we have to put away the marshmallow roaster sticks. Because I love everything about it and I’m not ready for it to end.
I’m having a hard time knowing that this time next week, Ramona will officially be back in school and that our summer will be on notice. Beezus heads back to school the week after that, so I feel like we have so much to accomplish in the next few days. And by accomplish, I mean have all the fun possible. Be lazy. Swim more. Eat more s’mores and ice cream. We really have so much to do!
I hate when my brain gets so stuck that I feel like I can’t do anything else until I spill my guts. Or word vomit all over the computer screen. I have stared at this task or this problem or this other thing I need to take care of and can’t seem to make my brain work it out or get it done. I’m stuck. So here I am…hoping that if I write it all out, I can get the rest of this crap done.
We bought a zoo house.
It’s officially ours. I have the keys and everything. And when I got the phone call letting me know all was completed and done and over with, I didn’t feel excited. I just felt…tired. Really, really tired. Like, the only thing I wanted to do to celebrate was take a really long nap. (There’s no time for napping, btw.)
I know that I’ve put my mind and my body through a lot lately. I feel like I have been in a constant state of stress for a few months now. And, honestly? I have felt that an elephant has been sitting on my chest for the past several weeks. And so when a huge (and long-awaited) stress is lifted, I guess I just realized how tired I was from carrying it around. Elephants are heavy, yo.
I know I will be excited once this is all over. But there is still so much to do before we move in. This house needs a bit of TLC. And just the thought of everything that needs to be done makes me tired all over again.
When we first started looking at houses (in February) we weren’t in any hurry, and we knew we could be patient…and picky. We wanted a very specific area (school district) and we knew that it might take some time to find the house that would be ours. And it did. Four months and four offers later, we finally have OUR house. And it is NOTHING like we set out to buy. It’s better. Yes, every wall needs to be painted and some of the flooring/carpet need to be finished or replaced, but this house is going to be more than we ever thought we could have.
There is a part of my brain that won’t let me get all the way excited about this house. And is probably why I wouldn’t tell anyone for quite some time. Like maybe like it’s too good to be true. But every so often, I let myself think about how this house will fit all of my family. In those rare moments, I also think about how much love this house can hold and share. I think about my kids and their friends and cousins…my family and our friends, who are part of our family. I think about all of them in this home that will BE that place that I’ve always wanted. A place where everyone is welcome. Where everybody knows your name! (I will be your Sam Malone.) (I don’t *have* to be Diane, do I?) (Maybe I’m Coach.)
I’m not quite ready to dive into why it’s so hard to believe this is mine. I guess the easiest way to say it for now is spending a lot of my life not believing I “deserve” it. Or going without and sacrificing for so many years and just believing that we always would…because we had “messed up” and this is how it would be.
That’s a bunch of hogwash and malarkey, but it’s hard to change a mind after it’s been stuck that way for so long.
So I think the proper thing to do is to pick up some cupcakes, go over to the new house, and celebrate something I never thought I would have. With (some of) the people I love the most. Because maybe for a minute, I’ll actually let myself be excited and proud and believe that it’s actually mine.