Archive for ‘memories’

March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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November 11, 2015

The Charm of Franklin

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.

Franklin before copy   Franklin house nov

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.

Franklin house before side view copy  Franklin house Nov 2015 side view copy

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.

Franklin backyard before copy Side view of franklin backyard in the summer 2015 copy  Backyard photo from firepit copy 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.

May 26, 2015

‘A’ is for Allergies & Assassins

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.

etsy Mystery intruige print copy

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.

May 18, 2015

The TRUTH about LYING.

The other day Arden told me that someone close to her had confessed they had lied to her. She seemed confused about the scenario, so I had to do my best to talk it out. She asked if I had ever lied as a kid. I said I had. Her eyes widened. I explained that growing up we weren’t allowed to have treats. Cake, candy, cookies, pretty much snack food in general, was all off-limits except special occasions. Even sugar cereals were a rare occurrence. As a parent now, I get that they were trying to keep us healthy, but seeing my dad eat a bowl of Breyer’s ice cream every night, when we weren’t allowed to have any seemed unfair. Or when my step-mom baked cookies, yet my step-brother and I were told we weren’t allowed to have any, was kind of mean. So yes, we snuck into sweets. Most of the time getting caught and when I did, I totally lied.

For me, the problem was and remains that, I’m a terrible liar. I have a tell and it’s pretty obvious. I’m straight-forward, so when asked why I lied, I tried pointing out their erroneous ways of parenting. As one might imagine, it was not well received. There was a particular incident where my dad went to get ice cream out of the locked chest freezer and it was gone. He was completely dumbfounded. Listening his utter disbelief while having a discussion about it with my step-mom was practically comical. Like one of those kids movies, where the dad is a bumbling idiot and the mom totally clueless. Except soon enough, we got called before the judge and jury to confess our crimes. I hadn’t even eaten the ice cream, but totally agreed that it was a stupid move to finish it off and throw away the container.

good bad card pic for blog copy

What seemed to eat at my dad the most, was how someone got it the locked freezer. It required a special key, as the lock was oddly round. It’s wasn’t just left laying around either. This highly-prized, tiny bit o’metal was kept away from us at all times. One day though, when the parents were gone, we got creative and figured out a way. It required taking tiny sewing scissors and clamping them on the lock, then pushing in and turning in one fluid motion. It totally took practice, but I was dedicated. A few months earlier, in order to help myself to some Christmas cookies that were frozen for storage, I had gotten good.
After multiple interrogations this particular night though, I cracked. I retrieved the tiny scissors and demonstrated how the freezer could be opened. Part of me expected to be congratulated for my cleverness. For putting an end to the mind-boggling conundrum. Unfortunately, the belt didn’t see it the same way.

Being that Arden is 6, I give her the short version. Yes, I snuck cookies, I got caught, I lied and I got punished. What she almost hilariously fixates on, is the fact we weren’t allowed to have goodies. In Arden’s world, she lives for sugar. It’s permitted in moderation, but she’s a kid and often tries to negotiate more. My reasoning is that she hopefully will have a better relationship with food. To not gorge herself like it’s her last meal, like I did with a dish of M&M’s, at a rare slumber party I was allowed to attend when I was 12. I tell her that it’s hard to understand, but there is a very fine line with lying. Saying that you like someone’s cooking or gift they gave even when you don’t, is okay. That because the person is being genuine and thoughtful, it’s important to keep your opinions to yourself in order to spare their feelings. To purposely be deceitful and hurt others for one’s own ill-gotten gain, well that is not okay.

A few days pass and I’m not sure she understands my point, that is until I pick her up from school. She explains that a classmate/sort-of-friend (who has become known for taking other kid’s things) asked to borrow Arden’s play glasses, promising to bring them back the next day. Arden tells me that she thought about it and decided it was best to let the friend just play with the glasses at recess. Explaining to her that she didn’t want her to forget the glasses at home. She said “She probably wouldn’t bring them back, Mama. So I did not let her borrow them.” I tell her that I am proud of her and she asks “For making up an excuse?” To which I say “No, for not hurting another person’s feelings, while making a good choice.”

April 30, 2015

Today, I made a complete spectacle of myself for one hundred dollars.

chuck norris approved

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. 🙂

99

February 9, 2015

The Story of My Success.

quote-winston-churchill-success-consists-of-going-from-failure-to-759

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…

success-really-looks-like

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.

November 13, 2014

The Bittersweet End~

Our little house! (THEN)

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)

Dfmi Design article in C-Bus magazine

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.)

KnotMeeting15_OH011704

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

Arden with sandwich copy

arden and Cam, cam on bed sept 2014 copy

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)

Room for Color contest Apartment Therapy

ty3 cropped blurred

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.

(AFTER) Walmar ready to sell copy

http://www.kingthompson.com/property/details/162760/MLS-214042813/3335-Walmar-Drive-Columbus-OH-43224.aspx

July 31, 2014

MISSION: Dresser make-over for nursery

Just because we weren’t working on Hallie, didn’t mean we had idle hands. As a matter of fact, it might be a condition. I’m not sure we really know how to relax. However, this sort of motivation does help us get a lot accomplished. Originally, we planned on buying a different house. A larger house. One that had more room for activities. Because we were having trouble figuring out where we were going to put this baby. The problem was, we weren’t really finding what we were looking for AND we needed to at least get Dresden sold. The upstairs here at Walmar is by far the largest room in our 1100 sq.ft. house. It has served as my work studio for the past almost 11 years. Joel has a desk that doesn’t get utilized very often and the space also provides a play area (much to my detriment) for Arden’s toys. Mostly though, upstairs is my domain with rows of printers, massive shelves of cardstock and envelope boxes stacked to the ceiling.

I like to be organized, but when it comes to my studio somehow that eludes me. Over the years, I have acquired a lot of crap. Cardstock isn’t a recyclable material, so I hold on to the bigger scraps in hopes that one day I will find a use. That also goes for misprints, ribbon remnants and handmade paper left over from orders. It adds up and it takes up space. Space that unfortunately, I had to come to terms with clearing out a bit, otherwise this kid was going to end up living out of a basket in our room.

One of the more enjoyable tasks for getting ready for this baby was redoing a crazy-looking dresser. I have had this thing for over 5 years, sitting in the garage after a neighbor put it out by the curb. It was an eyesore, but rather unique. Even though it was missing drawers, it was well-built and I saw potential.

Cam's dresser before copy

The front is a little unusual, as it curves in. The remaining drawers fit well, but had the odd blocks of wood screwed on the front of them. I was left to assume these were used as the drawer pulls. Joel made the executive decision to keep them on and as you’ll see, it paid off.
So I started with the priming. Then I painted the interiors without drawers pale blue.

Cam's dresser primed copy

In a shocking twist, I refrained from (mostly) pushing my aqua/teal fetish onto this child. His whale bedding we chose does have a hint of it, but I decided to go with a dark grey with pale blue accents for this piece. The weird looking fronts soon appeared to be waves, though were still lacking something to really set them off. Enter these super cool anchor knobs from Anthropologie! anthro anchor knobs copy

At $8 a piece, it caused me to pause. However the more I searched, the more I liked them and really feel like they tie it all together! After much searching, we found great felted storage bins at Lowe’s that fit perfect.

Cam's room dresser after copy

Here it is, all put together. Granted the walls don’t coordinate very well, because it’s a cozy corner of my workspace, but it’s what we are working with for now. 🙂

June 16, 2014

*~Ode to a Stepdad~*

day of regal roofing and restoration

It was just this past year that Arden started comprehending that Joel was her step-dad. Around the time when it was her turn to bring in photos to school for ‘All About Me Day’. Explaining to the class about herself, her family, her hobbies and favorite things. It was due to having to answer her classmates questions of who was in each photo with her. There was one of her and I. One of her and her dad. One of her and Joel and several of the 3 of us from our wedding. It was easy to say “Oh this is my Daddy or Mama’, but as it turned out, not everyone has a Joel.

joel and arden christmas day 2010

So I tried my best to explain this title of ‘Step-dad’ and in the end nothing much changed. She knows she has 2 main men in her life that love her. Except now she knows how to refer to Joel in case of introductions. Up until this point though, when she was 4, almost 5, she would tell me stories of how Joel held her in the hospital when she was born. I thought it was so sweet that I didn’t want to burst her bubble until I really had to. In reality, he came into our lives several months before she turned 2. So as far back as she can remember he’s always been with us.

happy

Joel and I got married right after Arden turned 3. While most of her youngest memories have been wiped clean, she still recalls that day all.the.time. “I remember holding Joel’s hand and waiting for you to come out to the backyard with us”, she’ll state proudly. (Referring to the music playing as I walked down the aisle.) It’s truly her memory talking, as we don’t have any photos of that actual part of the ceremony displayed in the house. Just this morning she asked me if she had been my flowergirl. When I said “Yes”, she demanded to know why she hadn’t any flower petals to throw, as that was what flower girls did. Honestly, at the time she was so busy entertaining the guests by running in circles and making funny faces that there really seemed to be no point.

wedding371 holding hands with Arden cropped

The first time Arden met Joel, she was so small, but took to him immediately. She called him by his name as soon as I told her what it was. Which was impressive, because she was just starting to really talk in 2 word sentences. In return, not having kids of his own or really being around any, he talked to her like she was an adult. He asked her how her day was or how she felt about something. Which thrilled her beyond belief. He made her feel special and never, ever excluded her. Whenever we’d hug, she come over and wiggle around to be picked up so she could get in on the hugging action. She still does. As she got older, she started calling him ‘The Joel’. When is ‘The Joel’ going to be home from work, or I have ‘The Joel’s’ nose, Mama. (Again, not looking to have to explain that in more detail, til I really have to.)

This past Father’s Day, while we are expecting our son soon, but also wanting to tie in our lives up until this point, I had this keychain made for Joel. The etsy seller, Bonnie of DieCutMetalCreations was fantastic and worked fast to get it to me. I am SOOOO thankful for her hard work. The look on his face was priceless when he opened it.

joels father day gift1 copy

To all you step-dads out there, that are entered into people’s lives and changed them in amazing ways. The world is a better place because of you. THANK YOU!

(Wedding photo taken by Lisa Penzone of Pellegrini Penzone Photography)

June 3, 2014

Dresden : For Sale

It took us 3 straight months to complete. During which time we had to put our duplex rehab project aka ‘Hallie’ on hold. On April 4th, we bid ado to the house we had lived and breathed our nights and weekends in. Ironically, I actually felt a little sad about the whole thing. We’d put so much work into it, pushed, pushed, pushed and was sort of left with an empty feeling once it was done. All our hard work passed inspection and the renters moved in.

THEN…
DUN DUN DUN.
After several weeks, the couple’s relationship fell apart and the woman moved out. Supposedly, taking some of the next months rent and his car with her. By the 2nd month, the guy couldn’t pay the rent in it’s entirety. After the previous renter, we weren’t interested in sob stories. That may sound mean but ultimately it comes down to us being responsible to the bank for the mortgage payment. We’ve already lost several thousand in unpaid rent, though thankfully insurance miraculously covered the repairs since they were considered vandalism. To say we are a bit tired of people trying to get a free ride off us is an understatement. So the agreement was, the next renter that was even slightly late on rent, we were going to put the house up for sale.

The renter was pissed, none-the-less. He said we were inconveniencing him (and a new girlfriend he moved in without signing a new lease, so he could get the utilities turned back on in her name.) He declared we were leaving him homeless and lots of drama ensued. We hadn’t evicted him, we let him know we’d honor the lease if he’d like to stay, as long as he paid. Obviously, that wasn’t an option, because after excessive scratching of walls/paint and floors he abruptly moved out. Receiving only a small portion of his deposit.

Now we had the arduous task of getting it sell-worthy. If you recall, the basement that was once crammed with garbage and filth was cleaned, but really needed painted.

BEFORE: Basement hallway
dresden basement trashed copy

AFTER: Walls painted, carpet ripped up, steps painted.

mms_20140603_4 basement hallway after joel painted copy
BEFORE: Basement after trash removed, cleaned up, new lights put in.

mms_20140603_5 bestment before paint copy

AFTER: Walls & floor painted. (This oil-based paint is some hard-core stuff. Poor Joel probably lost some brain cells those 2 days. I gallantly was spared.)
mms_20140603_2 basement after joel painted copy

The yard and flower beds were completely neglected. And of course, the interior needed cleaned and paint touched up in every room. So here we were again for several more weeks. The result is quite charming.

BEFORE:
This is a very unfair before photo. Taken in winter when the lighting is poor and there is zero greenery. It’s like those stupid weight loss ads when the before/after actors don’t even remotely resemble each other. Back then, I had all proudly trimmed up the bushes and did what I could without running water to clean up the front. It was a tremendous improvement at the time.

Front of Dresden after bushes were trimmed copy

AFTER: We rehabbed all the flower beds (creating a new one around the tree). The front was extensively power washed, as was the sidewalk and fence. The four black scroll metal pillars on the porch got a dose of white paint, which lightened up the entire front tremendously. We also painted the mail box, added a few cute details, like the wreath to make it more homey and there you have it.

Dresden, front view after landscaping , powerwash & paint

Finally, here’s an after of the backyard flower bed.

mms_20140603_3 back flower bed copy

Please send some good selling vibes our way!