I’m still here.

iy iy iy (I hope that’s how you write it out)! I have honestly never been so busy in my life. Between the move and the house and adjusting to being a part time single mommy, catching up with old friends and family, throwing a birthday party for Theo and celebrating Easter, I feel like I haven’t had a second to even breathe.

I’m breathing now. A little bit. Very quickly.

There’s so much that I want to write about and I barely know where to start but of course, I have to start with the house! Homeownership feels a lot like adding a new baby to the family. In the past three weeks I’ve felt excited, overwhelmed, in love, ill equipped, inadequate, overjoyed and have asked myself what have we done, more than once ;)

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We are not completely unpacked, which is pretty uncharacteristic of me, but we have done so much to change this little fixer upper for the better already. I feel like we’ve renovated the kitchen but Josh said that word was a little extreme. Either way, within the first week we painted, updated the light fixtures, upgraded and replaced the appliances, changed all of the hardware, removed all of the upper cabinets and replaced them with open shelves and a wine rack (essential), updated and switched out all of electrical outlets, SCRUBBED the filthy mess (this house turned out to be Christina Aguilera Dirty) and added bamboo shades. Basically the only thing we didn’t do were the floors and the countertops. Overall, I love it and I’m so proud of Josh for how much work he has done already. I helped of course, but Josh has really taken charge and has constantly reminded me that we can do almost everything ourselves.

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One thing I’ve already learned from owning a home is that just because we own it, doesn’t mean everything will work out the way I we had imagined it would. I guess I’ve always thought that I’d love our house so much more if I could do anything I want to it but the truth is there are limitations on what you can do with a space whether it’s a rental or not. There have been a few surprises, both positive and negative, but luckily the good and bad have balanced each other out pretty well (so far).

Remember when we first looked at the house and I complained about the terrible, painted tile that turned out being molded plaster? Well we painted it a high gloss white and I absolutely love it. It looks like pretty square tiles but still has the charm since it’s really plaster. It also looks fantastic because it’s only half of the wall and contrasts the sea foam sort of green that we painted the top half of the wall. On the other hand, I hate the stove we bought. It’s cute (stainless steel flattop) but it sucks at actually cooking. Ha! Form over function, right? But the refrigerator is fabulous (I bought the same one we had in Texas so I knew what we were getting), the ceiling fan is fabulous, the hardware is fabulous (and from Ikea!) and I still love the bamboo floors. Three weeks in and the kitchen is about 90% done already. We have one beam over the sink that needs to be painted and we plan to replace the countertops eventually but everything else is done.

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As for the rest of the house -

  • we’ve painted the dining room and hall way between the master bedroom and bathroom.
  • we’ve changed the light fixture in the dining area to the lantern that may be the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
  • we’ve ORBed (oil rubbed bronze spray painted) half of the heating vents throughout the house. They used to be an ugly gold so rather than buy new covers, we just bought a $12 can of spray paint and made them look new.
  • we’ve updated half of the electrical outlets throughout the house.
  • we’ve updated the dining light switch to a fancy new dimmer switch.
  • we’ve ripped up every single inch of carpeting within these small 1200 square feet.

And all in less than 3 weeks time.

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Getting real with how I feel – it’s very strange. This house is exactly what I wanted. An easy, small fixer upper that mostly just needs cosmetic repairs. I want to do it myself, I want to learn as I go, I like the projects and I want this house to be a good investment. But something about this process just isn’t as rewarding as I had imagined. Basically it’s just this feeling of inadequacy. I see in my mind exactly what I want, we make it happen and then it’s not as good/nice/pretty as I had thought it would be. I’m not kidding myself – it’s not the house, it’s me – it’s my touch of OCD, perfectionism and insecurities. Either way, it’s a buzz kill.

I’m hoping that as we continue to make progress I’ll continue to fall in love with the house and it will start to feel more and more like our home. Since we have so many plans for this little cottage, I’m making a weekly list broken down into daily tasks (can you say Type A?) to help me visualize just how much we’re actually accomplishing in this big sea of projects.

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I’m excited to share everything as we keep chugging along as well as give an update on what it’s like to live separately from my husband for half of the week and an update on what it has been like moving back to our hometown after 7 years away. A lot of fun has also been being had and I’d love to document some of that so hopefully I find the time to pop in more often!

We’ll see…

 

 

 

Family things.

I think one of the sweetest parts of being in a family are all of the little things that belong only to you. You know, the things that you remember when you grow up, being specific to your mom or dad. For some reason when I was little I always used to pick up on the things other families said and did and some of them stuck with me. For example, the mother of the family I babysat for all throughout jr high and high school always told her girls, “I love you so” and it just melted me. Adding one little word to the end of a phrase that everyone uses made it seem so much more personal and powerful. I still follow along with her and her girls on Facebook and every once in while I’ll smile when that little sentence pops up on my screen. And I won’t lie. I have been telling my kids that I love them so for 8 years now :)

Ice cream dreams are a thing I’ve passed on from my childhood. I used to have nightmares a lot when I was little so when I’d wake up in the middle of the night, scared and crying, my mom would come into my room and list off all of the good things I should think about to help me get back to sleep. She would say, “Just think of good things like ice cream cones and you won’t be afraid anymore.” Our kids don’t often have nightmares but every night as I leave their room I always say, “Have sweet ice cream dreams.”  I realized that this was definitely one of our things one night when I didn’t say it and Theo got out of bed to remind me that I forgot to wish them the ice cream dreams. Isn’t it incredible how strong the connection you can make by doing something so small?

It’s not just words, things can be anything really. When Josh and I were in high school, before we were comfortable saying I love you, we would do this hand thing where one of us squeezed the other’s hand 3 times. A sort of morse code I guess. Even after we said the words to each other we continued to do the hand thing anytime we were in a group setting and didn’t want to say it out loud. Cheesy, yes, but sometimes that’s what makes the best kind of thing. Of course we don’t do it much now but every once in a while those three squeezes still mean something. I’ve also let the boys in on the secret code although I don’t get many opportunities to use it with them anymore.

Josh and I also call each other buddy. I don’t remember where it came from but for as long as I can remember it’s been our term of endearment for each other. He’s even listed under “Buddy” in my phone. We’re not big into lovey names. Sweetheart is my way of saying asshole, honey was my dog’s name and I’ve never once called a grown person babe so I guess buddy was created out of necessity :) Regardless, I love it because it’s so personal.

All of these things, whether stolen from someone else, passed on or created by us, make up a kind of club. They’re part of our binding. A legacy specific to the 5 of us. That’s why it’s so important to me.

Family can be so tricky but has been especially for us, because of circumstances and our lifestyleFor us, things haven’t had the chance to occur naturally outside of our circle of 5 because we’ve never been consistently surrounded by our loved ones. It has been easy for relationships to stunt when they should have been growing. When I was little my grandma lived 10 minutes from me which meant we were given the chance for things all of the time but mostly because she never missed an opportunity to make memories with us. Our thing was taking drives on roller coaster road every Friday night. I think of her every time an unexpected hill “gets my belly” and when our kids, whom have spent the majority of their lives in flat NJ and TX, cackle with laughter over “the roller coaster road” (what they’ve designated  the hills of Ohio without any help from me). While it makes me sad that our kids have missed out on creating those things with other loved ones, I am more sad for the other loved ones who have missed the opportunity to create those legacies for themselves. But hopefully moving home will open up more chances for growth and things :)

 

 

 

The house and house and house and house.

I can’t sit still. I am so beyond excited about getting through this weekend and getting into our house on Tuesday! In case you were wondering, since I haven’t given an official house update since I expressed my concerns with the appraisal, we’re legitimate homeowners now! The appraisal went through without a hitch and we actually closed a week ahead of schedule! We went back to Ohio last week and closed on the house but since we closed early, the previous owners were not prepared to leave until March 31. Of course this was fine with us because we’re reasonable people.

If you remember, we had planned to have Josh go back before us so he could refinish the hardwood floors, but I can’t wait. I want to move! We’re all going back together, getting the boys enrolled in school and then playing by ear while Josh finishes the floors. We’ve decided that we want the original natural wood floors so since he won’t be staining them, it should only take 3 days. We’ll try to live upstairs (all of our downstairs furniture will be stored in the garage in the meantime) until it’s no longer possible and then the kids and I will just go to a hotel. We should be good to go by next Friday/Saturday.

I have ten million thoughts going through my mind and keep thinking of all of the ways I’ll be able to start working while Josh does the floors. We’re not doing the upstairs yet (it’s carpeted but we plan to do hardwoods eventually) so I can work on the kids’ bedrooms, and the kitchen floors are brand new bamboo so we won’t be touching those either meaning I can probably get a little done in that room as well. Speaking of the kitchen, remember how I told you about the painted tile that goes halfway up the wall? Well we found out the story behind those. It’s actually molded plaster, a common feature during the 1920′s which is when our house was built.  We laughed when we learned that’s what it is because we had watched an episode of Rehab Addict (obsessed) where she explained molded plaster and Josh had said, “Oh, maybe that’s what the tile is.” It is.

So what do we plan to do with the molded plaster? Personally, I love original detail so I don’t want to cover it up. We considered putting up board and batten or beadboard but I can’t hide something that’s so unique! I’m going to continue on with my plan to paint it white but I’m going with a high gloss paint to try and make it look a little like tile.

Apparently we bought the house from the world’s nicest people because the day after we closed, they offered to walk us through the house and give us the low down. Isn’t that super sweet? That’s how we learned about the kitchen walls and also how we learned that the quirky door that leads to the roof of our garage (the issue we were concerned with for the appraisal) was also a 1920′s feature. I guess it was common back then to create a sort of “deck” over your garage and while there isn’t railing on the roof anymore, there used to be. It was so cool to hear the previous owner tell her childhood stories of performing shows on the deck for the neighborhood kids below.

Oh yeah, that’s something else I forgot to mention. The previous owner was the only owner ever. Her dad built the house with his bare hands. She grew up in the house and then had it passed on to her when her father died. Something about that just makes me feel like we have an extra responsibility taking on this home. I have so much respect for history, family heirlooms and the passing of the torch, so to speak.

Here’s our little house :)

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First thing’s first. I’m ripping down the awning immediately and replacing that tiny little light with a big, beautiful, black lantern. Won’t that little step modernize the house so much? I’m debating on taking down the railing too but Josh seems to think it’s a necessity for code purposes as well as insurance reasons. “What if the mailman slips and sues us for not having a railing?!” If I don’t take it off for good I’m at least going to spray it black.

The bane of my existence, at least when it comes to this house, is the outdoor space. Josh thinks we can make it something but I can’t see it. Perhaps it’s because I am not a landscaper/gardener whatsoever, but either way I’m hoping to come up with something for in front of those three windows. I also hate that the house sits on a hill but I’ve been told it would cost thousands to remedy that and it’s just not something I want to spend that kind of money on right now.

You can’t see from this picture but the front door is absolutely beautiful. It is a rounded solid wood door that I won’t do anything more to other than clean and treat. I googled similar doors and found that it’s probably worth upwards of a thousand dollars +. I’ve always wanted one of those bright red or teal or yellow front doors but this beauty does the trick too.

From the front view of the house you can see where the roof pitches. That is the front facing wall in both the boys’ room and Ruby’s room, which creates a really dramatic shape to the bedrooms. Of course it creates challenges for furniture arrangement but like I’ve said, I love character and this definitely adds to it. Also, if you notice the sort of triangle on the left side of the chimney – that’s the attic and while it’s unfinished, it is insulated. There is a small door that leads to it from the boys’ room so we’re excited for the potential of finishing that big space. We’re hoping to (phase two :) ) blow out the majority but keep a small portion of the wall to create a sense of division for either each boy to have their own space or a bedroom/hangout space.

Kind of like one of these,

PicMonkey CollageOh, also, we bought the first upgrade for the house today. This light fixture from World Market.

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I have been in love with the Ballard Designs pendant lanterns since I got the chance to take a tour of the Ballard Designs Bosch house* in Serenbe, right outside of Atlanta (Josh’s aunt lived in Serenbe and it is truly one of my favorite places in the United States). The Bosch house featured the Eldridge Rectangular Chandelier and sparked my dreams of one day having that light hang over my dining table. It doesn’t get any more beautiful but with a price tag of $500!!!!! I couldn’t convince Josh that it was okay for a light fixture to equal one month’s mortgage payment (seriously). I thought it was a lost cause as I had never seen anything remotely as lovely at any other shop but today my lucky stars aligned and YHL did a feature on upgrading their hallway lights with Ballard knockoffs from World Market. My fingers sprinted to World Market’s website and after texting Josh to get the go ahead (he knows that I’m going full speed ahead with this house so he’s asked that I consult him before I make any purchases ;) ), I bought this lantern. It felt really exciting, not only to make a purchase for the house, but also to have it shipped to our new address. Truly exciting.

*I Googled the Bosch house and randomly came across this blog. I may, or may not be the person in the 5th photograph down. Ha! 

I could keep going. And going. And going. But I’ll stop for now since I think 1300 words is plenty for one blog post. Obviously I’ll have much more about the house to come but the next time I pop in I’ll probably be doing a recap of our trip to Cape May. That’s right. Last stop before we move back to our hometown is the only other home we’ve ever had. :) Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny quirks.

I need to take a minute and make myself laugh. Stressed because of the move you ask? Feeling overwhelmed you ask? No, not at all. Actually I just read the comments section of a HuffPo article that featured me. I never even knew that I was quoted in this particular piece so that was a fun little surprise but reading anonymous opinions about {a tiny little chunk of} me is rough.

Oh the life of a famous writer.

Kidding. But seriously, I would NEVER want to deal with the criticism that comes with being a real blogger. People who hide behind a keyboard can get nasty! If you don’t believe me, Google GOMI.

So let’s lighten my mood and embarrass myself a little.

Numero Uno. When Josh and I got our very first apartment together, we hated to clean but especially loathed doing laundry. Sometimes I would literally run out of clean undies so I would, ahem, borrow Josh’s. But that’s not all. If I was really desperate, you know, like Josh was out of clean undies too, I would hand wash them in the sink and dry them in the microwave!! Okay, Okay, Okay, I know. Awful. But 1. I was 18. and 2. It works. Ultimate resourcefulness if you ask me. No quarters needed.

Number Two. I am a super happy drunk. Super happy, sappy, nostalgic, thankful drunk. There is a joke between two of my friends about “Morgan doing her daily affirmations” because I admitted to them (one drunken night) that sometimes when I drink, I look in the mirror and think of how wonderful my life is. Sometimes I even say those thoughts out loud a la Jessica -

Number Three. love how Instagram looks when you click the “home” button. You know, when all of the pictures scroll super fast back to the top? It seriously makes me happy. And not just because it’s a practical feature. [weirdo]

Number Four. I would rather push a baby from my nether regions than a. have my wisdom teeth removed. or b. get an IV. For reals. When I was being induced to deliver Ruby, I was so nervous about the IV that I couldn’t even speak. The nurse who was administering it asked me where our other children had been born and I replied with Ohio and November. I have no idea where November came from since that’s not even one of their birth months but those needles are scary as shit!

Number Five. Certain words make me cccccrrrringe. And not words you’d imagine. Normal words that normal people find to be normal. Like slice, fresh, and plug. There are about ten million others but I’ll spare you.

 

Springtime thoughts.

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It’s 20 something degrees and will be April next week. Yuck. I guess maybe since I’ve been a little bit removed from real winter weather for so long (last year we were in Houston and the 4 years before that were in Cape May which generally has mild, albeit windy, winters) I forgot how cold and looooong they can be. On the upside, it’s supposed to be in the 60′s in both New York and Ohio next week.

I hate daffodils. They’re filling up my Instagram feed lately and I can’t help but wish for tulips or hyacinths instead.

March is insane with birthdays! We have 7 birthdays this month including Theo’s and Ruby’s. I mentioned this to Josh and he said, well what’s 9 months before March? The 4th of July! ;)

Our family is passing around a tiny stomach bug (early spring is always when we get sick). It’s not anything that knocks you out but it’s actually kind of worse because it comes and goes randomly. Ruby and Josh are recovered but now it’s my turn and it sucks. At least it’s this week and not next. Exactly 7 days until our moving truck arrives!

We’ve moved so many times now that it no longer bothers me at all. I actually like taking inventory on all of our belongings, purging things we don’t use/need and starting fresh somewhere. Obviously this move is especially exciting since we’re officially homeowners.

Actually, buying a house is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced. Josh and I have so many plans and ideas for this little house and I can’t wait to get started. This is my thing. For about 6 years now I’ve been really interested in real estate, renovations and home decorating. I even took a real estate appraisal course a couple of years ago, just for fun. Eventually when my career in mommyhood becomes just a part time gig I plan to start something in this field.

Springtime is the beginning of a new running season and I can’t wait to get back into it. Last spring I trained for a half marathon but have only run a handful of times since. I’m planning on a full comeback. Actually, I need a jogging stroller to accommodate Miss Ruby and I’m leaning towards a BOB Revolution. One thing I really want are iPod speakers on the inside so Ruby can listen to music while we run but I’m not sure if BOB’s have that feature. I’d love any suggestions or recommendations.

Happy Spring!

 

 

 

iPhone photos from a really great day in Central Park.

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Bring on Spring and Summer! With 60 degree weather today, we had to get out of the house and decided to go to Central Park since we won’t get too many more opportunities to just go whenever we want. The boys love Heckscher playground and have dubbed it “the best playground” they’ve ever been to “besides Firestone Park!” ha! Firestone Park is the little park in our hometown, which obviously pales in comparison to Central Park but does go down in history as one of the best back home.

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One of the best things about Heckscher is the giant boulder that the playground is built into. The kids are encouraged to climb the rock and the views up top are gorgeous.

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After playing for a good long while, we stopped at an ice cream truck and then walked down the mall and into Bethesda Terrace where a woman was singing opera. This is what I love and will miss about New York. It was beautiful.

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Walking through Central Park on one of the first nice days of the year is electric. Everyone is out and everyone is happy. We saw wedding parties, performers, musicians and no less than 1,000 dogs. Ruby seemed to enjoy the city more today than she ever has and even ended up walking completely by herself (since she refused to be carried) nearly 40 blocks throughout the day. We went into Manhattan today with the idea that it may be our last visit before we move. We were not disappointed.

 

 

Confessions (A zero picture post).

1. Christmas gifts that are purchased based on a knowledge of the person rather than asking the person what they want, are 10 million times better. It’s true – it’s the thought that counts so actually think about the gift you’re giving

2. I want to lose 15 pounds. The amount of weight I’ve gained since moving to New York. But I also love my new found “joie de vivre” that goes with eating what I want and enjoying it without guilt along with drinking a couple of nights a week. I’m settling for 4 pounds (what will put me in a lower “10′s bracket”) by the time I move back to Ohio. The truth is that Josh is completely my enabler and I know that losing 10 lbs once I only live with him three days a week will be a piece of cake. Plus I’ll start running again. Which I really miss. 

3. It’s starting to sink in that I won’t be living with my husband throughout half of the week and it makes me sad.

4. Josh and I, while settled on the idea that we’re done with the Coast Guard, still have moments of wanderlust where we feel like we’re not ready to settle down just yet. I guess buying a house is the perfect way to test the waters.

5. I deleted the blog’s Facebook page because I want to keep it more private again. I never really wanted this to become “something” and the more followers I got, the more creepy I felt about the whole thing. I do miss the interaction that I had from the Facebook page but I’m glad I can better control who reads what I share.

6. Josh – this is a reminder that I want you to surprise me with a date night before we move. Dinner at Balthazar followed by a visit to the Met. Your time is dwindling. Secretly check my phone for the babysitter’s number. Don’t forget ;)

7. I’m blogging right now because Josh is getting caught up on Banshee and I’m not a fan. Up until last Sunday we had been logging into HBO to go via a friend’s kindly given username and password. Yes we were cheating the system. The problem was that we couldn’t watch anything in real time so even though our favorite tv show ever in the history of television (True Detective) aired on Sunday night, we couldn’t watch it until Monday. Last Sunday I couldn’t handle it anymore and even though there were only two episodes left, I made Josh call Time Warner and order HBO. He got Cinemax as a package deal which brings us to how he is getting caught up on a show that we started in Texas.

8. Every damn person I ever spoke to prior to having a daughter told me that girls are so much easier to potty train! Yeah. Right. Ruby is officially the oldest of our three children to have never used the potty even once.

9. I failed at my “read a book a month” goal and it’s only the beginning of March. In my defense, my February book just plain sucks. I’m not quitting yet.

10. Theo’s teacher told me today that he tested into the first grade reading level. I know Theo’s a smart kid but it’s a relief that he’s doing well in school because he has absolutely zero ambition and no desire to do homework or read. Actually, his mid year assessment showed that he is above average on everything except “interest in reading.” I may or may not have told him that Josh failed 1st grade because he wasn’t a good reader which was due to his lack of interest in reading. I think it made an impact.