The tools we need… and yet.

photo-1416339276121-ba1dfa199912Several years ago my mother began saying the things that parents begin saying, about how everything that was hers is actually mine, and how this one antique is mine, that piece of furniture is mine, etc. Being her only child, it was kind of a given, but this was something she wanted to talk about when ever she got into that taboo-topic-of-funk, which was quite often…

Then, a few years later we made a trip down to see her because she had a double mastectomy. While we were there, my husband decided to play handyman around her house. This meant he had to go into the tool shed which had once been my step dad’s. These tools hadn’t been used in years. My husband was amazed at what lay in there and said something to my mom about a few of the things. She immediately grew irate about how these were her tools and we could not have them, when she was dead then we could have them. (Two key things to note: 1- my mom, bless her heart, is a possessor. She loves to own, collect and have things. Her things. 2- no one asked her for the mentioned tools, my tool-loving husband merely said something like “Hey mom, you’ve got some nice *insert tool names here* out there.”)

Was he hurt? Meh. We’re used to the often abrasive and totally unpredictable way she can be. It will all a bit silly and we’ve learned to just laugh to ourselves, shake our heads a bit and move on.

The ironic thing is, we’ve spent the last 10 months turning our lives completely upside down so that my mom has somewhere nurturing and safe to live that is not a nursing home. At her insistence, we’ve entered into a risky mortgage  and the levels of stress we’ve taken on are beyond high. We did all of this willingly because we believe it’s the right thing to do. Throughout this time she is sorting her things and selling them, etc. Except for one or two things it hasn’t been an issue because I am not much of a possessor/collector… One thing she has been adamant about though was having my husband come down to New Mexico to go through my step dad’s tools to see what he wanted. Finally they agreed this could be done over the phone and the date was set for this past weekend. Imagine my mother’s shock when she went out to the shed to find most of those tools gone…

On one hand we’re grateful we didn’t spend money we don’t have on a plane ticket for nothing. On the other hand we’re sitting thousands of miles away facing the reality that someone has been robbing my unwell, living alone mother, for God knows how long. She admitted the shed hadn’t been locked in “quite a long time”, and all we can think, as she continues opening her home to people while selling her things and downsizing is “what happens next? Will they grow bolder?”

A few years ago, Chw tried to tell my mom she had some really nice tools out there. Rather than sell them, or share them with someone who could use them, she kept them hidden away because they were hers. What could have blessed her financially or through other ways now only leaves her vulnerable and a victim. It’s much like this move situation… 18 months ago she knew she needed to start preparing for the “next phase” of no longer living alone, but she chose, after a fresh bout of depression, to ignore it. When the topic came up again last summer, we were called to action and she agreed enthusiastically to move here UNTIL we bought a house dependent upon her coming (the sale of the home she lives in, that we own) and she changed her mind. She has since changed her mind again and agreed to come, but set so many stipulations that are NEVER going to be met, and time is running out. We’ve made it very clear to her the damage she is causing and she tunes it out, like a child. Once again, she keeps herself in a vulnerable situation where she will end up either forced into a facility or seriously injured from a fall beforehand. (there have been some close calls the past couple of months already.) She should be TERRIFIED not to move forward, but she isn’t.

And I want to shake her and knock some sense into her, but isn’t she just human? Don’t we all have things in our lives where we do know better but we still pretend otherwise? We text while driving, we drink while driving, we smoke, we eat unhealthy, we cheat on our spouses. We __________. (For the record, I’m not saying I do ANY of those things, nor am I saying that because I don’t, that I’m any better than someone who does.) We all don’t make the choices that are in our best interest, in the moment, because it feels easier to stick with the familiar and we love easy… but the result is a lot of the time we hurt ourselves SO much more in the long run. We have all the tools we need to make our lives better, and yet we choose our unhealthy ruts 9 out of 10 times.

Here’s to cleaning OUT our sheds of the stuff we need, sharing our excess with the world and moving on to something better when it’s what is truly better for us, even when we’re scared! 

that one time at my surprise pity party…

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There are a dozen-hundred things mulling about within my brain. It has been an awfully long month of march. Emotionally exhausting things which I, to tell you the truth, hadn’t expected to take their toll on me emotionally.

For one, while I knew that it would be challenging living in a partial renovation state, I underestimated how utterly exhausting it would be. When we work on a project, or bring some-little-something to the state of completion, I am elated. I feel a calm wash over me and a reaffirmation that we can do this. As my husband jet sets off to yet another business trip, and I’m here surrounded by boxes, tools and equipment though, this defeat rises like bile. It isn’t that I want it done right now, as much as I just want something done. Some space that is finished. Some area where I can drink it in and take solace that we’ll get there…

Then there is love… Though it’s not love, nor is she pretending it is, for which I am glad. My youngest has a crush. It’s months upon months old, but it has reached a dramatic climax over these past few weeks and emotionally I’m wiped out. Young hearts are being shaped and molded and her heart is special. She has certain struggles that others might not understand… Going through this has been so much more difficult than I’d expected.

I’m so far behind on a work deadline that I laugh and joke about my *insert air-quotes here*deadline because honestly I just want to curl into a ball and cry about it. I’m taking on another work project that I’m so unbelievably excited for, but I’m just a ball of ooey-gooey something over all of it… It is the right thing to do. Both are. They are my Best Yes decisions…  But I’m not sure how to get from here, (here= complete unorganized, overwhelmed and unsupported chaos) to there.

And of course- I’m so lonely. I desperately miss, not so much Idaho home (though the restaurants and boutique shopping here do not compare) but my people… I miss my people. March marked two years here and I’ve made a few surface connections. I am so not a surface relationship girl. Having a birthday and realizing that if I were to want a party (I didn’t), there is no one to invite (again) is a pretty crappy feeling… I want to be happy here. I love our house. My husband so completely loves his job. My youngest is likely as connected and adjusted as she’ll ever be. I want to not be sad for me, but it creeps up on me. My birthday month was really hard for that reason.

Then lastly, there is the whole birthday thing. I’ve never loved them. Not really. Not mine anyway… My preferred celebration is dinner with my husband and kids and time out with friends. So when neither of those can happen (I really, really miss my other two kids too) and my husband KEPT asking me what I wanted to do- I had nothing… No input, no opinion. Nothing. What I wanted to do was work from dawn til dusk on the house so the day sped by and we accomplished something, but he was only really home for a couple of days and that wasn’t fair to him. I realized, as I turned 39, that I have a list of things I want to accomplish before I’m 40 next year. I thought I’d share…

1) a getaway with my best friend. (so needed!)

2) complete a 5K. (either walking or running. Jury is out on whether my knee can run.)

3) speak in public. (even if it’s simply giving a toast or testimony)

4) do something that absolutely terrifies me. (ha! Other than speaking in public.)

5) become a regular at a restaurant, coffee bar or bookstore.

6) chase my dreams (career wise) without fear, this year.

7) travel somewhere I’ve never been before.

8) have a weekend away with my husband.

9) learn something new. (skill)

10) try hot yoga.

11) Make a new friend.

12) take a photo everyday for a year.

13) Take Gen to the DIA. (I love it there, but she’s never been.)

14) go to Mackinac.

15) get a new tattoo.

16) find a volunteer job.

17) make homemade ravioli.

18) can a season’s worth of produce.

19) get my passport.

20) write down my fears and then begin working on confronting them.

21) learn how to build a fire from scratch.

22) ride on a train.

23) mother/daughter weekend with my girls.

24) 40 random drinks or meals bought for 40 strangers.

25) go skydiving.

26) host a dinner party. (I used to do this all of the time, back when I had friends. LOL)

27) get to know our neighbors.

28) repurpose a piece of furniture.

29) publish a book.

30) get a new wedding set.

31) acquire a ping-pong table.

32) play real tennis, even if I’m laughably awful.

33) take 365 walks.

34) read 40 books.

35) see a concert of someone I really, really love.

36) see a Broadway show that I’ve never seen before.

37) attend a conference.

38) spend time with all 3 of my kids- together- and have family photos done again.

39) ride a horse (it’s been since my early 20’s)

40) make someone’s life consistently brighter/happier/more joy-filled/less stress-filled.

The moral of my March, and what I learned is that I don’t want to be sad about the sad things. I want to learn, love and grow. I learned that even when life is beautiful and there is a lot to be grateful for (and there really is) sometimes circumstances will be a little unpredictably sad and catch me a little off guard… but a new day, (or in tomorrow’s case, a new month) will come and brighten the prospects a little bit…

luck & home…

photo-1414541944151-2f3ec1cfd87dThis house adventure we’ve been on and made me introspective. Buying an older home, (built-in the late 60’s and needing quite a bit of updating) has been at times frustrating and consistently enlightening. C & I’s relationship with homes has been a bit lackluster. We were ideal renters for years, always being the ones who kept the peace, paid on time, cleaned up after ourselves and left places nicer than when they became ours. Our first adventure into home ownership tragically came to an end about 6 months after we signed the papers. We were young and this had been a personal transaction between family that came with strings which complicated things greatly. In the end, it was easier to give the home back. Though I loved it a bit, those months had been so full of sad and our marriage was coming to an end. It was time…

After our reconciliation we stepped up our rental game and renovated a beautiful home in New York for a landlord. It was an absolutely fun experience which tragically resulted in a job transfer out-of-state as the reno came to a close, so we never got to enjoy the home we had poured our hearts into. After moving we went into an apartment complex where the manager actually said “You guys are dream tenants, people like you don’t exist.”

It was after that lease that we explored the buying route again, and we got so lucky! We bought a beautiful condo in a beautiful development. We had amazing neighbors and loved absolutely everything about it. Nothing went wrong, decorating was a dream… And then the economy crashed and our fixed mortgage came to an abrupt expiration. You know the tale by now, so many were telling it- the value had dropped and no one would refinance. No condo is worth a four thousand dollar monthly mortgage payment, nor could we have afforded even if it had been worth it. I still, eight years later, cannot look at photos from that home.

We rented again, jaded and broken. Our property management company loved us. The owner of the house we rented constantly asked my husband to do improvements because he knew C was capable and he liked us staying there. When we transferred to Michigan in 2013, it was fast. We’d had so much of a life in that little house, it was sad to leave it. Last year when we visited, we drove by and it was a wreck. The landscaping destroyed, the pergola a wreck and trash everywhere. Sad. I wanted to climb out of the car and lay a hand on its siding, to apologize for the abuse it had seen after the love we’d given it. That house had held our love and laughter; it had held family…

Buying again has been terrifying and exhausting. Plus, I’m so tired of moving… This house though, from day one has decided to set itself apart. Things have gone wrong from the beginning. We’ve replacing plumbing, water lines, every faucet, nearly every appliance, some electrical stuff and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This was ALL unexpected. I’d wanted my tiny budget (which we well over exceeded) to go to pretty things like paint and art. Once a renter… Ha! I guess you could say, so far, we’ve been unlucky. But, if you think about how lucky our rental reno went (and then we had to move), or how lucky our condo adventure was, (and then we were unlucky and lost it) maybe this unluck is our luck. Confused? Me too… I think it’s the stress and endless amounts of money pouring out that has made me dizzy and delirious…

In all of this sleepless chaos, stress and such though, I thought I’d share a bit of how our February went…

– I haven’t been to the gym once.

– I threw my back out. (true story.)

– I have moved more boxes, packed and unpacked more stuff, cleaned (DEEP) more stuff than ever in my life.

– I didn’t need to go to the gym.

– Moving a ginormous dinosaur fridge with your husband, at 10 o’clock at night can actually be a really funny thing.

– My husband is the hardest working man I know. He’s incredible.

– Parenting is HARD. Parenting in stressful situations is a million times HARDER.

– We moved in the WORST weather imaginable (with injuries to prove it). It’s a great story now, but BRR!

– Home Depot is somewhere I spend far too much time.

– In fact we went four weeks without grocery shopping while making seventeen emergency trips to Home Depot.

– Spotify keeps me sane.

– We switched from Comcast cable to Direct Tv. The customer service has improved a bazillion times over, but we REALLY miss their on demand service.

– We have had no time to watch TV, but we realize this anyway.

– Even the small changes we’ve made, since most of our energy has gone to moving, cleaning/painting the rental we moved out of, or the unexpected repairs are amazing! We LOVE this house!

Now that it’s March, we see a light at the end of the tunnel, and some form of normal coming… Resuming podcasts are insight and I’m thrilled! Any reno peace of mind, encouragement or wisdom to share? I’m also open for distraction to, don’t get me wrong…

Sleepless in Michigan…

My husband, God bless him, is a perfectionist. To say that he likes things done well, would be an incredibly major understatement. The man likes things done well, exactly how he would do them, done by him. The problem with that, when you are taking on a huge number of home improvement projects in a tiny amount of time, is that he realistically can’t do everything…

After a week of some rather tense moments, frustration going around and him coming down with a violent case of the stomach flu, I finally talked him into allowing me to help with paint & primer. Even after he conceded, we didn’t accomplish half of what we needed to by last night. It was with major disappointment and frustration that we put our tail between our legs and left the house for the evening, realizing due to scheduling and work stuff we will not be able to work there again until this weekend…

Every moment we’ve spent there, we’ve grown more in love with the house itself. We were hit with a huge snow storm last week and the way nature is there, and the views from our windows really inspire me. Even Gen has said the house is “growing” on her, but honestly I suspect that’s because she sees it changing and realizes maybe we aren’t crazy after all. Despite all of this though, it has certainly been one of those one step forward, three-step back-journeys…

-install new faucet, hosing is wrong. Buy new hose, another piece is missing. Return to Home Depot for that piece…

– replace kitchen light, need a mount kit. Go buy mount kit, need another piece.

– replace kitchen hardware, mid replacement there is an issue with drawer faces and the majority of the screws. Back to HD. (pretty much every story ends with HD.)

– remove curtain bracket to prepare for painting, bracket is bolted into wall, turns into huge hold. Back to you-know-where to buy more patching stuff.

– remove a built-in that turned into a multi-day project. (we had allotted a few hours.)

– hot water heater is bad. Former owners “fixed” it as per inspection, but it’s not fixed and the hot water isn’t usable.

– new fridge was delivered. Measurement for space we were given was wrong. It does not fit. We have to tear out and rebuild cabinets.

– most of the walls are curved.

– there was a bug infestation in the basement.

– we had a cabinet in the kitchen which wouldn’t open, turns out it was a “fake” cabinet with a metal back. Very weird. Had to remove that. VERY challenging.

– throw in the stomach flu, lots of paint, rollers, removing chair railing that was unnaturally attached to the wall thus taking the wall with it, (hello HD and MORE patching stuff), lots of repair/service people and the removal of lots of wall paper and this summarizes the last 11 days.

Hard, tiring and we are all so sore… BUT, it’s coming along. We’ve done little bits in every room because every room needs lots of work, so I don’t have anything too exciting to share yet (photo wise) but I’m putting up little things on instagram…

Keep us in your thoughts! It’s been a (mostly fun) journey, that’s just getting started… Chw keeps responding to every new issue with “I don’t know how to take care of that”, to which I say “then we shouldn’t have bought another house, eh?” ha ha… Wish us luck!

My belated January nutshell…

What I learned:

– I can’t do it all. I may want to, but I can’t. saying “no” to things is ok. Saying “this isn’t right for me” is ok too.

– I have tremendous patience for the people in my life and their behavior, but no one is excluded from the limit it reaches, and when that limit is reached, it does sadly alter our relationship.

– This isn’t a learned as much as a reaffirmed, but Parenthood really was the absolute best tv show I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing/seeing/experiencing/watching.

– An organized, well designed kitchen is worth more than the newest/fanciest home features.

– Home Depot has an answer for almost any dilemma.

What I’m into:

– Have been reading the same book all month. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s that I’m packing and working and struggling to find time to read. That being said, when I do find the time, I really enjoy it.

– Did you watch Selfie last fall? It started off a bit iffy, but it turned out really fantastic. Such a relevant and really well done show, for today’s society… sad they cancelled it. There are efforts to get people to revive it. Fingers crossed.

– My home reno idea Pinterest board…

What I loved most, this in January:

– I’ve talked about it here before, but it was one year ago this month that I discovered this product and I fell in love all over again this month! Crabtree & Evelyn 60 second hand repair kit

– Really loved the movie American Sniper.

– The North American International Auto Show. It was a lot of fun to go with Chw. While there we were introduced to the Honda Uni cub and this music video. I love Ok Go anyway, but this video is amazing!!!!

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What about your january?