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?

how friday turned out…

photo-1414541944151-2f3ec1cfd87dFriday morning, at 8:20, we were in our new house. It’s interesting really. The couple who lived there is retired in a much, much warmer state and we don’t know if they rented the house in their departure or what happened, BUT they left behind some very interesting things. Gen was mesmerized by a 1958 class photo which she literally spent hours staring at and talking about. Chw is over the moon at the John Deere riding lawn more, the painting scaffolding and numerous tools. We never really paid attention to the things that were left scattered in the house because we assumed they’d be removed before everything was finalized… There was some miscellaneous furniture, random glass doors, and the most eclectic array of oddball things. It’s very interesting, to say the least.

Our weekend was an adventure, to say the least. It’s a toss up whether we spent more time at Home Depot or the house. There were frustrations, elations and disappointments as we worked. PSA- wallpaper removal is a real joy kill. It was going smashingly well in Gen’s room and then our arrogance carried us into the bathroom where all joy came to a screeching halt. NOTHING seems to be working! We did discover a huge crack in the bathroom wall so we have to essentially strip it down and reenforce it. Wah Wah… It’s already feeling a bit like home, at least to Chw & I. Gen still hates it, but perhaps she at that age where you just can’t please her. At any rate, she’ll have to get over it.

We took a break, and braved the white out blizzard (which lasted ALL DAY) to go see Pippin yesterday. It was incredible! We enjoyed it so much! (We are a broadway show loving family so this wasn’t altogether unexpected, but we did love it more than we expected.) My husband was headed out on a business trip this morning but his flight was cancelled, of which we aren’t complaining! over all, not an awful weekend, and I get a much needed snowday with Gen. She was beyond happy at this.

It was a bit of a surreal weekend honestly. Suddenly here we were, working in a house which is ours. We sat trying to explain to Gen, mid light fixture mount, about how she should want to invest herself in this home because this will be the house she has her first boyfriend in, and the house we meet her husband in. This will be the house she’ll bring her children for holidays to. As hard as the last 6 months have been, (SOOOO stressful!) it was so surreal to be there… And then so odd to just abandon the work to spend the afternoon at a show. (of course, we’ve had the tickets since November, back when we had no idea that house wouldn’t pan out and our house hunt would be like this.) All in all though, walking through this house, I think C & I are glad it’s this one… Despite all of the teenage angst and negativity, we know there are so many reasons this is a better home for our family and though it’s a lot of work, it’s so worth it.

Through it all I’m trying to remember to intentionally savor the journey! (I’ll start pictures on the blog soon, but I will be putting snippets on my instagram feed here and there!)

Home sweet home…

GOMY9CQSvmjKLxigsfxg_AtticNearly three months ago I was spending my days wrapping belongings in bubble wrap and newspaper, preparing to move into a home of our own. This home wasn’t one that I loved, and the room I feel should be most beloved (the kitchen) was actually the room I flat-out couldn’t stand. The negatives aside, the market wasn’t great, it had a lovely outdoor space, a nice fireplace and beautiful appliances… I was plotting, and planning, ready to put my touch on the home where I could, learn to live with the rest, and settle in.

Six days before Thanksgiving (three days before we were supposed to close) when that fell through, I was a mix of disappointment, hopelessness, sadness and yes- relief. We needed a house, but I wasn’t sad that it wouldn’t be that. Most of the other feelings stemmed more around the money lost, time lost, and tremendous frustration/stress.

I un-bubble/paper wrapped some things and we set out looking again, discouraged. We found a house we absolutely loved. We loved it in that this house meets so many of our needs and wish list that this will never actually work out way, and sure enough, after almost 5 weeks of sitting on the fence and not giving our offer a definitive response the Homeowners chose to lease the house for a year. We had a back up house that had been the we will never actually live here, there are things about it that could work but oh my gosh this house needs sooooooooooo much work house.

Anyway, we finalize on the second house Friday. Funny isn’t it? I kinda want to laugh, I kinda want to cry. Mostly I want to fast forward through all of the renovations, money shortages, tensions, fights, squabbles, etc that will happen until it’s all done. It didn’t do great in the inspection. (surprise, surprise) and I keep thinking this would be a bad time to rent Money Pit for family movie night. (Funny side note about house number 2- Genny’s response was “I hate that house. I am embarrassed by that house. I don’t feel safe there, I would NEVER want a friend to come over.” So that’ll be fun to deal with… ha ha.)

I love interior design. We surface renovated a house in New York back in 2003 and loved it. (Not as much work as this.) I spent some time consulting for a friend who had an interior design business, some years ago, and enjoyed it. It’s a passion. That angle of it invigorates me… As we go along, I’ll update you guys here. EVERY ROOM needs stuff done, so it’ll take time. Cheer me on, you guys. I’ll need it…

(and no, this window is not from the house, though I would have loved a room like this! PERFECT office, but alas…)