We’ve officially been in the new house 1 year. Well, at least had started painting it and had our first meal, sitting on the floor in the living room a year ago today. It was (and still is) a fixer-upper-in-progress. When turned over to us, it was a bit run down and A LOT dirty. We’ve put so much of ourselves in to it, to make it our own. Franklin (who I think of as a girl house, LOL.) still has a way to go, but that is usually the case with a 95 year old house. (It may be older, but the records show it was first sold in 1920. Before I go off on my litany of complaints about how the previous owners did things, let me tell you all about the awesomeness that is, The Craftsman.
I couldn’t find my ‘before’ pic that was worse, but here is the Google Earth pic.
Before we had officially closed (after the owners had moved out) I had started putting in my free-off-Craigslist stone and planting my end-of-the-season discounted plant stash and it paid off! The front flower beds look fantastic for being around such a short time. We have a garage, but I love parking out front. Walking up these 9 giant steps makes me feel fancy, like I’m about to enter a grand palace. Though I’m usually lugging a baby, with a bunch of stuff in tow, it makes it exciting to be home.
The original 9 foot wooden door was a bit marred up, but nothing several cans of metallic bronze spray paint couldn’t fix! Using this, made even the bits of wood putty and old brass kick plate look cohesive while keeping the natural wood grain.The lovely and spacious porch has only been partially painted so far, but has made a tremendous impact. The historic grey covered up the sloppy and mismatched toned tuck-pointing. The cool mint green makes the house’s accent pieces pop. The aqua blue porch ceiling is happy and relaxing when we sit out and enjoy hearing a neighbor’s band play on a porch swing that a friend was so cool to give us. My plans were that all the painting would have already been completed, but I step back and see all we accomplished thus far and try to be patient. Some day we’ll dig out the orange spray foam that the former owners used to fill in window sill cracks, (instead of replacing the wood ) and put on a slate roof to replace the current red nasty one, but the curb appeal has already been improved considerably.
Now onto the side yard.
Not as drastic a change as the front, but a much needed one. When Joel’s family came to visit his brothers and dad helped ripped out the chain link fence along the street and put up part of the wooden one. By the next week, Joel had built the back gate and we had the rest of the fence completed, then finished staining it in the Spring. It’s given us piece of mind to be able to let Arden out to play in the back yard (without wandering off!) and to have privacy when entertaining guests.
Lastly, there is the backyard, which was completely void of landscaping aside from a couple trees and some overgrown bushes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good completed backyard pic, but here’s some snippets. We brought in a trailer load of flagstone we removed from the Dresden flower beds before the sale. (Good thing, as the new owners got rid of the rest of it!) It went to define the outer portion of the firepit, as well as to line all the bushes. More loads of mulch, dirt and bags of stone were brought in to complete the fire pit, build new flower beds and a raised garden.
While there is still so much we want to work on, like tearing down the raggedy, half-assed built raised deck to put in a pergola and eventually a roof top garden on the garage (some day!) We are extremely happy with our choice to purchase this home and live in this neighborhood. We have met so many pleasant people and become the best of friends with awesome neighbors Christine and Tim down the street, who share our passion for rehabbing houses. We also have a wonderful next-door neighbor, Karen, whose frequently visiting granddaughter, is a fun little girl for Arden to play with. It’s nice to be a couple blocks from 3 parks (The Franklin Park Conservatory, Wolfe Park and Jeffery Park & Nature Trails), and to live around so many beautifully built homes. This is the first time either of us have lived somewhere that we feel like we belong.
Seasonal allergies hit us pretty hard this past weekend. Between the heat and the breeze, the seemingly innocent, white cottonwood fluff whirled around everywhere. We laughed at the black Chimney Swift that lives in our eves as it attacked a puff floating by. With it’s nest near, it turns out, it clearly had the right idea. Later than evening, while trying to escape a slight fever, sinus pressure so bad it made my jaw ache and a nose running like a faucet, I finally fell into a fitful sleep.
The next thing I knew, I am part of a small team of highly trained, covert, black-clad individuals planning a sneak attack. It turned out that one of our people had defected from our operation. There was a high probability that the perpetrator was going to deflect to the enemy lines. We had many adversaries, each being more deadly than the last, so we were sent on this mission to take out the rogue. Good intel led us to an abandoned mining entrance on the side of a mountain, where our former colleague was in hiding. We moved quickly, checking for possible traps and mines along the way. The defector didn’t anticipate our arrival, at least not so soon. Working together, my team was able to take her out adeptly.
In a stunning twist of the plot, it seemed not everyone in the group was apprised of whom exactly it was that we were hunting. Upon seeing the fallen female, a male member lost composure, suddenly turning and firing on the rest of us. We later learned that the two had recently begun seeing each other on the sly. Fraternization was strictly prohibited for this very reason. It was sad, but with heavy fire coming my way, there was no time for sympathies. I had to act fast, because at this point in the game, it was each person for themselves.
I stumbled out of the rocky caverns back into the blinding daylight just in time to see the new foe make his escape. Quickly starting my hidden ATV, I sped after him. He was surprisingly fast, using the rugged mountainside to his advantage. Seizing an opportunity when a lone flatbed truck passed by, I sped up and jumped my 4 wheeler directly on the back. The landing was a bit turbulent, but this option offered me a chance to focus. We engaged in a Western type shoot-out, me using my vehicle as a type of shield, while barely balancing on the edge of a moving truck. My gun was an odd combination of a taser and a mini-harpoon. It was around a turn when I finally nailed him. I watched as he fell down the mountainside and landed on the rough pavement. I’d have to send a fresh team to ensure he was dead. I didn’t need any surprise visits seeking vengeance in the future.
At this juncture, I awoke when Arden popped her head in our room, before heading to play with Cam in his crib. I excitedly relayed my adventures to a groggy Joel, then stumbled downstairs listening to Arden happily chat about the newest addition to her Camping/Planetarium diorama. Bathrooms with no toilets. Because she doesn’t know how to make a toilet out of paper and the villagers can just wipe it up as they go. (Ugh!) While Joel brings Cam down and runs to the store, I begin making fried potatoes for breakfast. In a few minutes, I check on Cam only to find that his diaper is so overly full that the inner gel balls are leaving a sticky trail behind him as as he quickly Army crawls along the floor. Scooping him up, I peel off his pajamas to wash him in the kitchen sink and resign myself to thinking that (for now) only in my dreams, am I a badass.
For years, Mother’s Day has always been a reminder of the one I lost. It was difficult and has always made me angry and resentful. I’d see friends photos, smiling with their mothers or hear them say about how they practically talk to their mom every other day and wonder what that was like. Intrigued, to have someone that cared to hear about my life and accomplishments. To lend a hand or give me advice. Who was totally on my side and there to guide me as I tried to figure out life and how to navigate it. Who, if I made a mistake would say it was okay and that I could just start over or try again. I don’t know what that’s like, nor will I ever. I have always felt exposed. Out on a pinnacle. Alone.
When I was in my early 20’s, I read a book titled ‘Motherless Daughters’. The only thing I can recall from that book, was that once I had my own child, my own daughter, that I would start to heal. I wanted a daughter so badly, not for that reason, because I didn’t actually believe it. Although when I see her play, at times I see myself. My little girl self. What I would be like just having fun, enjoying life and not worrying about my mom being sick and who would take care of me next, if anyone. It’s bittersweet. I am glad I can give that to my children, but deep down still crave it for myself. In my mind, there is a part of me that feels like my mom gave up. Like I wasn’t worth living for, even though my adult self rationally knows how badly ill she was and how it consumed her.
I can tell you, that having children has done wonders for me. It has brought me back to myself and continues to do so. It’s a daily struggle though. Part of me always thinking I would be the mom that plays and always has fun. In reality, my practical side is making sure Arden has worked on her homework, gotten in the shower readying for bed or dressed for school. It’s me telling her to stop playing with her brother and finish her dinner. I’m always hurrying, trying to be on task and it rather sucks. The other day, she was singing and my thought was “Oh my gosh! Just be quiet, life is not a flippen’ musical!” At that mere thought, my hand flew over my mouth, because I have ALWAYS been of the opinion that life should have a soundtrack, just like in movies. It genuinely disappoints me that doesn’t really happen, so I try to help it along and play music all the time instead. That thought though, left me panicked, horrified and so relieved I hadn’t said it outloud.
Yesterday, we started out having the best day. Joel has always gone out of his way to make Mother’s Day special for me. There was brunch, gifts, a nap, the park. And then we pushed it. We went out to dinner and it was a disaster. Cam sat in his car seat fervently grabbing and kicking a laminated drink menu beside Joel. He would screech if you tried to take it away or offer him a bottle. Arden, despite advisement not to, managed to eat 4 rolls, which she threw up all over herself as we were getting ready to pull out on the street heading home. As I water boarded my daughter in the parking lot in front of onlookers (because her hair was full of vomit), I couldn’t help but feel that this was not how my special day was supposed to end. Annoyed and frustrated with smelly, crying children.
Today is a new day and I tell Arden that we all start over. I try to explain that I know that 4 rolls is too many and try to prevent her from getting sick by telling her so. That moms know lots about cause and effect. She is intrigued. I hope she will listen next time, but she probably won’t. And in that moment, I realized that even if my mom had been around to give me advice, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.
Let me explain.
We’ve been in contract with people to buy Walmar for 2 months.
Today was the day it finally, officially sold.
The entire process has been such an extremely trying debacle.
We pick up back in January, when we started working with our new realtor. She swore she could get it sold. However, after having it on the market a few weeks her optimisim completely faded and she wanted to drop the price. This was hard for us, because now it was under what it was originally purchased for. An offer did eventually come, of course even lower. The realtor insisted we accept. I declined and countered. I also sent over the receipt of a brand-new high-effeiciency furnace/ac installation after the buyer’s realtor stated that it was old and needed replaced.
Well fella, I rememeber that day very well, the day the furnace went out. Arden was only a few months old. I put her in a furry, little, cream snowsuit to keep her warm, quarantined off in a bedroom with a space heater. I froze my butt off, being upstairs working on an order, while the new install was taking place. It was before Joel. Ironically, he could have installed it for a fraction of the price and time. It cost over $5000. I rememeber it well and no, I wasn’t about to get short-changed over it. For those that don’t know, furnaces last a lot longer than 6 years, more like 25.
The realtor did nothing. She offered no support. She acted like it was her first sale, asking us if we had previous comps for sales in the area. (Wouldn’t this have been done first thing?!) It was at this point we realized once again we were on our own. I declined the buyers requests for new windows (for the few we didn’t replace) and for a new hot water heater. There wasn’t anything wrong with the existing one, they just wanted new. We pointed out that this was why the Home Warranty was being provided. Finally an agreement was reached with the buyers. Unfortunately, they were in a lease and either we could pay for them breaking it or continue paying the mortgage and utilities for the next couple months. So we did the latter.
Fast-forward to today. Our realtor was too busy vacationing to bother to show for close. The guy from the Title Agency was going over the price break-down for what was owed. He obviously wasn’t excited to be dealing with us. I’m sure my reputation of difficulty had preceded me. He explained how we had to have taxes pro-rated, escrow refunded and then he reached the Home Warranty. The price was inflated from what the realtor originally quoted. He argued that I had signed the contract and it was binding. When I disputed it, he then managed to find the counter offer, where I had previously requested a lower Home Warranty (because the realtor had tried inflating it before.) In a split second decision, I explained that I would not be signing the rest of the documents until it was corrected. Let me just say: AWKWARD. They told me the sale would fall through and that I could get sued. I said to get the realtor on the phone and get it fixed. After 10 minutes they came back fast-talking how they indeed managed to talk to the realtor and find a lower warrenty and how I would be refunded $100.
It’s not a huge victory, I know, but it’s my money. It didn’t effect their paychecks. (They probably all met for drinks after work to talk about that crazy *itch they had to deal with.) It’s not okay though. I’m taking a stand on being taken advantage of. (How often do they try to pull that with other sellers that don’t notice?) Afterward, as I called each utility to have them shut off, I could see the invisible ropes of my burden getting untied. One by one, they separated from me until an enourmous, unseen weight was lifted from my shoulders.
I may win my group’s weight loss challenge after-all. :)
I started out in life thinking if I could just turn 18, I would be an ADULT and things would be amazing! I wouldn’t have to follow rules, do chores and listen to parents. I knew better. If I could only get my own place. If I only had a car, I wouldn’t have to ride my bike everywhere, even in the winter. If college applications didn’t go off the parent’s income even though I lived on my own, I wouldn’t have to wait to start when most people were finishing. If I didn’t have to work AND go to school, it would be so much easier to graduate.
Life is supposed to go a certain way, right? The idyllic childhood, the partying, yet scholarly trip through college. Which of course enables you to land a perfect job, IMMEDIATELY, because that is what college is for. To ensure that you, me, people in general, succeed in life. All that money paid out, all that higher learning is supposed to give you an edge. A step up.
From there it gets even better. It’s TRUE! You just have to meet the ONE. The right person you will spend your entire life with. (But do it in your 20’s or it will be too late!)
Once you find THAT person, it will be magical! There will be singing and dancing (at least in my version) and everyone is happy and life is easy. If you really want to achieve ‘The American Dream’ , then you get married AND buy a house! To add a completely blissful cherry on top, have children. Then your life is truly complete. And apparently there are no more goals to reach until you die.
That was how the version in my head went. I’m not sure exactly where I came to have those exact standards or ideals, but it turned out it was all kinda bullshit. I lived my life in sort of earnest, trying to become something. Someone important. Once I made it to California, I would be an actress. Once I had my invitation business, I gave myself 5 years, then I was going to be featured on Oprah. I wanted public acknowledgement that I was good at what I did. If only I had more money for advertising. If only I could get more exposure. If I just had unlimited resources and time…
I’ll say one thing for getting older, it’s like a fantastical discovery. There are no set rules, there is no “I’ve been through so much crap that I should be good and have it easy for the rest of my life’. Believe me, I wish that were true. If you are one of the few whose life has gone exactly according to plan, then kudos to you! For the rest of us, it’s about learning. Joel and I were just half-joking the other day, about how we felt like we were all filled up on Life’s massive learning experiences for awhile. Because you know, they are rather all-consuming and overall just plain exhausting.
For now though, success to me equals getting Arden to school on time, fed breakfast. Her lunch and backpack in hand along with finished homework. It’s helping her navigate all the drama of getting along and interacting with other kids. It’s getting Cam fed solids as he flops around in his Bumbo seat, then to sleep when he’s extremely irritable. It’s working on the orders I do have, while dreaming up new ideas. It’s getting the insurance to finally pay the claim that collectors have been calling on for almost a year. It’s jumping through all the hoops to file with the City for our flooded duplex. It’s getting another room in the new house repaired/organized/painted/cleaned/livable.
The secret of my success is never giving up. Forever and always, persistent, stubborn and determined. It’s appreciating what I do have and respecting how far I’ve come. It’s knowing that I’ll accomplish so much more, as long as I keep trying. It’s being thankful for the support I have from Joel, who’s always amazing. (and that there IS the singing and dancing that I’d always hoped for!) It’s excepting that while my life isn’t a made-up ideal, it is one heck of an adventure that I’m fortunate to be a part of.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.
When I was little, my dad would say “That was another lifetime ago.”, when asked about certain topics that he’d rather not discuss. For the longest time, I had no idea what he was talking about. But as we get ready to say good-bye to Walmar Drive, it all makes sense. I moved into this house the fall of 2003. In November. Almost exactly 11 years ago. It was my first house after all my apartment living. After leaving the house I grew up in. I claimed the entire upstairs for my work studio. With it’s gloriously well-made, built-in bookshelves, it would be perfect for all my cardstock I was quickly acquiring. My budding invitation business would steadily grow here. I met with countless clients in this room. Brides and grooms bursting at the seams with excitement to start their lives together. I would greet them at the door, “This place looks like my Grandma’s house!” many would say. It was true. On the outside, it rather looked kinda like my own Grandma’s house. A simple Cap Cod, built in the 1950’s. Then they would come inside and love the decor. It’s always been bright and colorful and happy. (Photo taken by C-Bus Magazine, an article about my business: dfmi designs)
I’ve hosted many dinners here and parties and get-togethers. I was always paranoid when the guest list would swell, more friends wanting to attend than declining. I worried how I’d fit them all. I’d try to rationalize it in my head. Thinking back to when I went to college parties with friends, people always crammed together and no one seemed to mind. Of course, there was beer involved, which did nothing for me and my introversion, but worked well for everyone else. Now though, good food and camaraderie is what ended up bonding all these guests together. First, it was wedding planning. Nothing was better than discussing your dress or reception with a bunch of other girls that were headed down the same path. Eventually, over the years the talks turned to meal planning, how to save money, kids and raising families. (This photo is from January 2004, in the hallway going upstairs.)
I brought my babies home to this house. Cam will never know what it’s like to live here. Arden, however, is excited for a bigger room. She’ll now have a walk-in closet and lots of space for toys. (Which means they will no longer be threatening to take over my work space.) For her nursery, I had chosen a bright, cheery green. As she got older she begged for it to be blue, because that was her favorite color. I thought for sure when I asked her what she wanted her new room to be she’d now pick pink or purple. But she requested the same green. Some days she’s excited and some days she’s apprehensive. I think it’s to make it feel more like her other one. As long as she has a magenta door too. That is the stipulation. LOL
I had my wedding in the backyard here. It was intimate and lovely. Just our closest friends and family. It was tons of work to pull together, but even more worth it once it was featured on Apartment Therapy. Random strangers commented on how cool it was to see Columbus represented and it almost won for our region in the ‘Room for Color Contest’. Which was even more impressive, because it wasn’t even technically a room. (Wedding photos taken by Lisa Penzone)
There are so many memories, so much time spent here. It is comfortable, but we have outgrown it. It is hard to say good-bye.