Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Countdown

Yesterday afternoon, we took a break from packing and went to the pool for a couple of hours. Emily met a friend and they romped around in the water, while I drank iced tea and leafed through a vacation brochure. In February, Dan and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary by going on a cruise! Our friends (Dan's best friend/best man in our wedding) are celebrating their 25th also, and they're going, too!

Next to me at the pool were two young moms, each with a baby. The babies must have been about a year, maybe 15-months-old. One was just barely walking. I don't think either of the women sat in a chair the whole time I was there. They were in and out of the water with the babies, diapering, lotioning, covering, wrapping in towels. And all the while, chatting and laughing and enjoying their time together. Part of me was relieved to be able to sit and not have to tend to anyone else. And part of me ached with envy. To have my babies back, soft and sweet to hold, and kiss and swaddle in a beach towel, all warmed from the sun. And then, one of the moms was suddenly surrounded by three more, older kids. Digging in coolers, dripping on the dry towels, asking for money for the snack bar. I decided she was the one who deserved the cruise! And I thought back to the days when I schlepped all that stuff to the pool, along with my three kids, and how I would have sold one of them for the chance to go on a cruise! (Well, not really).

Today, it's back to packing. It's been a challenge, but in a good way. I've set up a huge supply of boxes, packing materials and labels and markers. The labels are colored and each floor in the new house has a corresponding color -- green for the basement, yellow for the main floor and pink for the upstairs. I've been writing the name of the room on each label and then the contents of the box somewhere close by. Emily is a master at organizing and packing. With a few directions, she'll pack up a bookcase or a cupboard in no time.

Tomorrow, we have closings on both of the houses, and our big move is on Saturday. All week the kids have been marking time with "this is the last Monday we'll be in this house," or "this may be the last time we'll have supper on our back porch." My thoughts are shifting from how-to-pack and what-to-give-away, to "where will we put the grandmother clock in the new house?" and "how will we arrange the furniture" and, the all-important, "where will we put the Christmas tree!"

For today, though, we're still packing boxes. And cleaning out the freezer. And cleaning the oven. And packing more boxes.

Stay tuned;)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"The house where we used to live. . . "

This is our "old house".

When Dan and I moved into this house on A Street, 16 years ago, we had one child, a large dog and two cats. We were "expecting" our second child.

Since then, we lost the cats and acquired two more children. Other pets have come and gone, but I won't go into that subject again.

For our kids, this is the first time that they'll experience having a "new" home. Joe was only three when we moved here, and as much as I would like to think he remembers his first home and the bedroom I decorated with teddy bears and fire engine wall border and matching comforter, well, now he tells me, he doesn't have much memory of the house at all!

Having an "old" house and a "new" house to draw on for family memories, will round out our history a bit, adding texture to the years and depth to our experiences together. There are so many reasons that I shall remember this house with fondness. It is here that we brought two babies home. With Luke we learned that love grows and multiplies as new family members are added. Besides loving each child just because they're who they are, we love them for the big brother they become or because they are the newest and most tender member of the family. When Emily was brought home, our friends decorated our front yard with pink streamers and balloons. The house that seemed so big when we first moved in, seemed to hug us a little tighter, but we were so busy we didn't seem to notice at first.

When I think back to the old house, I'll think of all the birthday parties and christenings and graduations and even a wedding reception, that filled our home. The happiness of these occasions isn't visible like the bookcases that Dan built for the family room or the new oak banister and railings he put in to replace the dark, boring wood slates. But the happy times make the house shine as much as the physical renovations that we did, like the remodeled kitchen that opened up the house and let in the sunlight.

I think about the things my kids will remember about our "old" house. I suspect that living across the street from where the city's fireworks display was set off every fourth of July will be something they won't forget. They'll remember when we found a house three doors down for some of our best friends. A path was worn between our houses and the kids considered both places home. They'll remember the year that Joe fell out of the tree in the backyard and broke his arm; riding to the library on their bikes; "birdsitting" for the retired couple next door and the time Mom let the bird out and it flew away; sitting on the neighbor's roof across the street and watching the fireworks in the next town; the hamster buried in the back yard; Dad building the play fort in the back yard; Luke testing the accuracy of the police department's portable speed monitor with his pitching prowess -- and the ensuing confession for having broken the glass. I suspect they'll have secrets of their own that I won't know about for years, like the way they fixed up a secret hideaway under the basement stairs, behind all the boxes that stored Christmas decorations, camping gear and old tax files. It was in cleaning the basement that we found a number of things that had gone "missing" -- flashlight, games, blankets and pillows.

I hope they have lots of fond memories of Christmases and sledding in the park near our house. Of the blizzards that piled the snow so high they could jump from a certain part of the roof and land safely. Of the town's annual parade starting off at the end of our street. Knowing that the local pool had opened from the sound of shouts and laughter that floated across the open space.

There'll be some things that I won't miss. Yelling at the kids to turn down the volume on the TV because the family room and my computer are located right next to each other. The way the basement door and the garage door open into each other, and how it never fails that someone comes in through the garage just as I'm coming up the stairs with a full basket of laundry.

But I will miss the huge cottonwood trees in our front yard, and the view from the bay window in the living room where I can watch the trees change with the seasons. I'll miss the way I can sometimes still feel my mother's presence in this house, because she was here so often when my kids were small. The last conversation we had together, I was sitting in the rocking chair in the living room, chatting with her on the phone, and noticing how the trees outside were beginning to sprout their tender new leaves. I'll miss the memory garden that I planted for her in my back yard. But I will take some of the plants to my new home. And I'll take a clipping from my grandmother's rose bush that I started from just a clipping years ago when we moved in here. I'll plant it in my new garden and it will carry some of the memories from our old house. And beside it, we'll plant new things to go with the new memories that we'll grow in our new home.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Survey of My Interior II

It's time to take a break and sort things out in my head. I took this idea from Mel's blog Actual Unretouched Photo. If you haven't met her, you really should go on over and introduce yourself. Her blog is funny, heartwarming and honest to the core. It's been eons since I posted my first survey. What do I think, need, dream, love, hate, like, dread, need to do? I think I need to make a to-do list for today. I think sipping a cup of homemade coffee, first thing in the morning on my back porch, is better than any Starbucks. I think I'll be glad when the inspection is done on our house today. I think I'm really procrastinating packing for this move. I think I'm really going to miss the view of the mountains that I have from my office window when we move to the new house. I think we have a busy day ahead of us and I'll be relieved when baseball/softball season is over. I need quiet time on a regular basis. I need coffee to get me going in the morning. I need my children to pick up their things. I need girl friends and am sooo thankful that I have them. I dream about my new sewing room. I dream about going to New England some day. I dream about very weird things if I eat ice cream right before bedtime. I love watching "my" Swainson's hawks that nest in our back yard, soaring to and from their tree, the wife screeching at husband, the kids screaming for more. I love that the daisies in my garden are in full bloom and giving me one last show before I leave. I love that Dan surprises me with text messages throughout the day and I know he's thinking of us. I love vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, lavendar scented soap and freshly bathed babies. I hate that my nails are so brittle. I hate big slabs of onion on hamburgers. I hate flights that are late, long lines at the bank and high gas prices. I like that my son calls his mother at least once a week:) I like watching my elderly neighbor take his dog for a walk every morning at 8:30. I like having a nice, big window to watch the neighborhood while I work (or play) on the computer. I like that my sister-in-law has become a stay-at-home mom, so we get to see each other a lot more. I like OPI's fun names for nail polish like "An Affair in Red Square," "Chick Flick Cherry," "Java Mauva" and "Senorita Rose-alita." I dread having a colonoscopy. I dread packing up the storage area in our basement. I dread the day that Jan Karon finishes writing books about Mitford. I need to get some laundry going today. I need to find Luke a ride to his game this afternoon. I need to put in a couple hours of work today. I need to meet the inspector at the new house at 10:00. I need to figure out a better way to balance my days. I need to get Emily out of bed. I need to weed the rose garden one last time. I need to have another cup of coffee.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pesky Puppy; Final Chapter

There are two basic techniques for removing bandaides. The first: Gently rub the adhesive ends with baby oil. Carefully pull the edges up, very slo-o-wly, so as to gradually remove the bandage without ripping off too much hair with it. Check the wound and be sure it's not being disturbed. Continue to slowly and carefully pull on the ends of the bandaide until it's almost off. Then one more gentle pull and - - - there. It's done. Put a little ice on it. Grab a tissue to dab at your smarting, teary eyes. The alternative: Pry up one of the adhesive ends with your fingernail. Close your eyes, hold your breath, and pull that sucker off. Scream. Dry your eyes. Put a little ice on it. It's done.
******
For the dog lovers and soft-hearted among you, you might want to skip this post. We had the best intentions when we adopted Pesky Puppy. My daughter wanted a small dog to love. She wanted a chihuahua. We said no. They're hyper and they bark a lot. Hubs put his foot down and said, if we're getting another dog, I want to choose the breed. I've always wanted a Jack Russell.
I wasn't enamoured with the idea, but his track record for choosing pets is a lot better than mine. Our first dog was my choice. A rottweiler. She was a lovely, even-tempered, perfectly dispositioned sweetheart. But she was BIG. And as we added children to our family, she grew even bigger. Soon she was 500 lbs and taking up what little space we had. When Bruni passed on, Hubs said, NO MORE BIG DOGS. So then we went to the animal shelter and he found Abby. She's a medium sized dog. She's a sweetheart, perfectly well-behaved, and we all love her. Score one for Hubs.
But Abby decided long ago that she is my dog. So, we decided we would find a dog for Emily, because she is the animal lover in the family and has not had the fun of having her own puppy.
To make a long story short, Pesky Puppy was not a good choice for us. He is cute as a button. But he has the energy of a rubber ball in a racquetball court. My daughter loved the stuffing out of him, when she could get him to calm down long enough. We knew we had a decision to make. I should explain here that we tried. We had family meetings and discussed training techniques. We bought books. We investigated every website we could find, to try to understand this little guy. We spent money on toys to entertain him, treats to bribe him and books galore. But we finally realized that, as crazy as he was making us, it was only half as crazy as we were driving him. He didn't want to be the sedate little lap dog that we were trying to train him to be.
Since I am typically The Terminator in the family when it comes to undesireable house guests, Hubs agreed to take matters into his own hands. We had discussed the idea with Emily that perhaps this was not a good fit. She kinda, sorta, half-heartedly got the point. But she was hardly convinced
Yesterday, Hubs came home from work and announced to me "I'm going to do it today." I bit my tongue, resisting the urge to tell him, be gentle with her, work up to it. He left the room. He returned 15 seconds later. "It's done," he said. "You told here??" I asked, in disbelief. Here I'd had a pit in my stomach all day, and it was this eas?! "What did she say?"
"She burst into tears and ran from the room," he said matter-of-factly.
"What did you say?"
"I said, 'We're giving the dog away.'"
Oh, for crying out loud. Leave it to an engineer.
"Well," he said, defensively, "She didn't give me a chance to finish. I was going to explain it all just like we said."
By the time I got to Em she was on the phone to her best friend and, bless her heart, the friend got to our house from down the block in less time than it took Dan to break the news to Emily.
They were locked in an embrace on the sofa.
I wrapped my arms around Em. "Sweetie, I'm SO sorry."
"I know we talked about it," she hiccuped, "but I didn't know it would be TODAY!"
Wanting to remain planted firmly in the middle between my husband and my daughter, I stammered, "Well, men aren't always very good at explaining things. . . " to which she replied, giving me an incredulous look, "Ya think???!!"
I know that Pesky Puppy is in a good place. He will have owners who love him for his enthusiam and energy and for who he is. In my husband's haste to break out the door, a few of PP's things were left behind. I have to admit, a lump came to my throat when I found one of his little "kong toys." I called his new residence and offered to send it up, explaining that if they fill it with peanut butter, he'll calmly chew on it for hours three minutes.
*******
Yesterday morning, Hubs and Luke left for a weekend trip. Hubs has a business trip back east next week, so they will spend the weekend bonding as father and son, seeing the Mets play at Shea Stadium in what will be their last season before they move to a brand spanking new stadium next year. Emily and I are spending the weekend getting haircuts, pedicures, watching girl movies and eating popcorn, snuggled up on the sofa.
Ice on the wound.

Friday, July 11, 2008

In brief . . .

I'm finding it hard to blog these days. It's the age old -- well, it can't be age old, because blogging isn't that old -- problem of when there's so much going on in your life, so much blogging fodder to draw from -- it's hard to find the time to sit down and put it all together. The best I can do is skim the surface.


A quick recap of my day. This morning, after giving them each a kiss and a hug and instructions to take pictures, I waved Luke and Dan off to the airport where they caught an early flight to the east coast. Dan has business there next week, but first they're having a father/son trip to see the NY Mets play at Shea Stadium. It's been a dream of theirs (Luke is a die-hard Mets fan. Not sure how that happened as he is born and raised in Rockies territory) to see a game at Shea, and this is the last season that the Mets will be playing there. Next season they'll have a brand spanking new place to play.

While the two of them are bonding over baseball, Emily and I are having a fun girls' weekend;) We went to Brueggers and had bagels for breakfast, watched my niece play volleyball, got a haircut for Em and then had pedicures. I have to admit, her "Catherine the Grape" purple polish with the little flower painted on each big toe is so cute, that I'm jealous. My choice of "Bing da da Bing Cherry" isn't nearly as fun.

My sister-in-law, Jenny, and my niece, Elsa are staying with us this weekend. Tonight, my sis-in-law, Lois, and my Aunt Ann came over for dinner. Along with my favorite three-year-old-in- the-whole-world, my nephew Tommy. The kids watched a movie and the ladies sat out on the back porch for happy hour, sipping Mike's Lemonade. When we got hungry, we ordered out for Thai food. Such a treat. No one had to cook, the dishes were easily rinsed and put in the dishwasher. By the time supper was over, there was a cool, soft breeze blowing. Ice cream for dessert was just the ticket. Before we knew it, it was nine o'clock! Tomorrow night, we're going to do the same thing, all over again -- with a different take-out, at Lois's house.

It was nice to take a break today from all the details of preparing to move. That pretty much filled up my day yesterday. We have a mover scheduled, the inspection for the new house scheduled, found a place to store our camper until we decide what to do about it, and I've made a new to-do list for the next three weeks. Tomorrow our house will be inspected by the buyers, so please keep your fingers and toes crossed and send up a prayer if you're so inclined.

During the day tomorrow we may go watch my niece's volleyball games again. Emily wants to see the American Girl movie, but I think we might have blown our wad with the fun we had today, so we may just end up going to the pool. Since it was 99 degrees today, that might not be a bad idea!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

We chose house number. . .

One! (ala HGTV's House Hunters. . . get it?) We have a contract! We're closing on July 31st. Sorry to keep you all in suspense, but yesterday was spent ironing out a few details, and I'm superstitious enough that I didn't want to "jinx" it by saying anything too early.
I'm excited to "show" you the new place in pictures. It has a little more elbow room for all of us with a beautifully finished family room in the basement, in addition to the family room upstairs. The 3-car garage has lots of room, so Dan will have room to tinker on cars and put his workshop. I LOVE the kitchen! Lots of space, an island and a nice big window that overlooks the backyard. The best thing is, it is freshly painted (in colors I might have chosen myself -- except the dining room, but it's no emergency), and there's no "fixing up" to be done. We'll want to give it our own special touch, but overall, it is just fine. Yay!! This is a first for us. Our first two homes came with project lists a mile long.
Honestly, I prayed my way through this, which has to be the only reason we found a buyer for our place in eight days and then found a house that we love. It's a slow market. Houses can sit for months and the inventory is so low.
So, now I'm all about making lists. Three weeks doesn't seem like enough time to pack up our household in boxes and get it moved. And we're just going across town. I can't imagine traveling across country and starting over with doctors and schools and . . . hardest of all, friendships. I'm such a homebody, that this move is major enough for me.
Stay tuned:)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pins and needles

I've been on pins and needles all day. We've made an offer on a house and we should know something by the end of the day. Last week, we accepted a nice offer on our house -- with the condition that we find something to buy for ourselves. We spent the weekend looking at a few new listings and then going back to one that we thought we liked, but weren't sure. And when we stepped inside the second time, we knew we liked the house -- it has everything we had on our list. Our only hesitation was that it wasn't in our first choice neighborhood, but rather our second. And that's okay. It would mean I will still drive Emily to school and that we're about 1/4 mile farther from family rather than closer. But, on the positive side, the house is linked to some wonderful bike trails that lead right to our old neighborhood and Emily's friends. So, she would be happy with that.
Soooooo. . . we'll see what happens. Keep your fingers crossed;)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, America!





Thanks to all the brave men and women in our military for their service to our country and for protecting our freedom. And 'specially to my brother, Matt. Love ya, Matt! We're counting the days until you come home:)