Thursday, November 26, 2009

One Year Frenzy-versary Part 4: Blink! The Title Is Ours

Yup, that's right. No joke. On Black Friday of last year, the 28th of November, we settled on the house. Somehow, in the last two weeks of November, we managed to scoot the original early December settlement date up and close before the end of the month - decreasing our interest pre-paid out of pocket at the outset. It definitely helped that the sellers had not been living in the house for the last six months, so they didn't need time to pack and move their things out. Very handy :)

My sister and her husband watched the children for us while we went to settlement and then headed over to the DMV to have our driver's licenses changed. The sellers were out of town for Thanksgiving, so we just signed our end of the papers and that was it. The agreement was that we would receive the keys on December 8th, after they returned. December 8th. Do you remember that we first saw the house on November 9th???

They had our signatures. They had our money. We had just bought the house.

Ready for the funny part? We still didn't have our current house on the market, yet. We had to pack everything up, move it, paint a number of rooms in the "previous" house, finish staining a deck (did I mention it was December?), do some exterior painting, finish a half-done landscaping project, interview a few realtors, and then put the house up for sale.


So, you could pretty much say that the next two weeks (at least) were pure adrenaline. Well, okay, you're right - 90% adrenaline and 10% insanity. God is very, very gracious.

After we picked the children up from my sister's house, we went right home and got crackin'. Little Dude went down for a nap, and we went to work on our rather alarming list of things to do in order to get the house "show ready". These photos were taken on November 28th of last year.

Sam decided that a high of around 50 degrees was good enough for some staining (and it actually took fairly well, although dried slowly).

The girls and I headed down to the basement to try to sort through the junk down there. What to keep and take with us? What to give away? What to donate? What to pitch?

Then, I lugged the "what to keep and take with us" pile up the basement stairs, moved the living room furniture out of the way, and started using that front room as the official space for our packed-and-ready-to-go stuff.

The packing and moving plan was as follows: we had already been packing since our contract had been accepted (around November 19th), and we had ten more days to pack before we got the keys to the new house. So, we'd pack, get the keys on the 8th, clean the new house, gradually move smaller things over to the new house between the 10th and 13th, rent a moving van on the 13th and move most of our larger furniture; however, we did decide to leave some of our better pieces so the house would not have to show completely empty. Then, Sam would have to paint at the previous house while I focused on unpacking at the new house. We'd be at around a 2 week countdown for Christmas - and Sam's Mom & Dad were coming to stay with us for a few days.

I'm cracking up as I'm typing this. Did we actually do all of this?

That was the plan. And, can you believe it, that's what we actually did.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for... Today

Are you busy cooking goodies for tomorrow? Getting the house ready for family to arrive? Or are you the family that will be arriving?

We're heading over to my sister and her husband's home tomorrow to share the day with them, their 13 month old little girl, and my parents. Today is full of cut out sugar cookies, stuffing, and other goodies. Plus, some morning lessons thrown in for good measure.

Around here before noon today...

Math, handwriting, spelling, and...


With camo-bear pj's, of course :)

Haven't managed to dress Little Dude, but at least the rest of us are out of jammies. My tootsies like to stay comfy, though :)

Mr. Breadman Ultimate kindly offered to take care of the bread for the stuffing. Can you see any screws on the door back there? More on that soon!

Plenty of good books...

... and the promise of something sweet.

I have a fancy camera, but crummy camera skills. Otherwise, I might have managed to get all four children in focus in just one shot ;]

So, now the cookie dough is chilled and ready to roll out. We'll throw some lunch together and hopefully get the cookies baked before nap. We'll be icing them later this afternoon. Yum!

Thanksgiving Week 2008 was a BIG deal in house terms. Look out for a Frenzy-versary post (or two) on Friday. Oh, and Monday and Tuesday of next week will be a BIG deal of their own, so check back in after all of your turkey eatin' :)

May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving, and may your heart draw near to the One from Whom all good things come. I'd like to leave you today with part of a Puritan prayer:

"Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water."

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

One Year Frenzy-versary Part 3: You Put A Contract On It?!

I shared a few weeks back about how we had first come across this house, and how we were not at all thinking of moving at the time. We first saw the house on a Sunday in early November (the ninth, actually, my birthday). After determining that we could, technically, swing two mortgages for a while we decided to schedule a showing with a realtor. The way that I remember it, we saw the house with the realtor two days later on Tuesday.

It wasn't so much that the house was gorgeous. The house we were living in at the time was only 4 years old and much nicer, really. We were the only ones who had ever lived in that house. We bought it when it was 4 months old. It had 2800 sq. ft., lots of light, everything was brand new, and the subdivision pool was only a short walk away. There were walking trails, a fishing pond, and shops built at the entrance. It was a quiet neighborhood, nice families, a gazebo on the main boulevard, for pity's sake. In a lot of ways that whole housing development had the Charmed Life thing going on...

So, what were we thinking leaving it all behind? Well, it's a little complicated to explain if you haven't been in our shoes, but our house was 30 minutes away from the rest of our life. Literally. My sister and her young family were 30 minutes away. Sam's job was thirty minutes away. Our church was 30 minutes away. My closest friends were 30 minutes away. Everything else in life (except for our house and parents) were in the same town, 30 minutes north of where we were living.

We had moved to Ohio from a suburb of Washington, D.C. At the time, living 30 minutes away seemed like a dream. What a luxury to only have to drive 30 minutes! Sam had all too often commuted an hour and half one way in Virginia. My closest friend there lived 45 minutes away! After a few years of living in Ohio, it was becoming clear that not everyone in our new home was used to that kind of driving. Friends confessed that our house felt like a looooong drive away, and the two hours on the road each Sunday (a morning and an evening service) were starting to feel long to us, too. My sister had gotten married and moved away the year before. She had also had her first baby in early October. I missed her. With four kiddos of my own in tow, 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back was a little hard to work around with regularity. This "new" house was a 2 minute drive from her home :)

We weren't considering buying this house because it was bigger, prettier, fancier, or better in any way other than its location. We wanted to buy this house so we could be closer to so much that is important to us. Family, friends, church, and closer to work could mean less time driving and more time home. We knew that by moving to that town and by owning an older, less attractive home, there would be some losses materialistically speaking. But, those losses didn't even begin to outweigh the gains for our family as a whole. 9 foot ceilings gave way to a 25 year old tri-level... in just the right place.

In just a few words, we knew life isn't all about big houses and stuff. They can be nice, don't get me wrong. A part of me does wince a little to look up from these photos of our previous home only to be face to face with our real life home - damaged wood floors and sparkly gray toilet seats from 1983. There's so much still to be done, I can wonder why we made the choice we did. Ultimately, though, I know it was the right one. These few years of WORK making this house more our own will be nothing compared to all of the benefits for many years to come. Ours was a case of giving up the good to get the better.

So, after getting a quick preapproval for a loan and after having some "financial people" double check our numbers for us, we put a contract on the house. I can't remember exactly when, but it was within 10 days of that initial visit. It was quickly enough that, when we told our friends and family, they all unanimously responded with the proper level of shock. "You put a contract on it?" We did. And, after a little going back and forth to get the price down to where we could swing the cost, our offer was accepted.

It was about 10-14 days after we first saw the house on November 9th. That means it was around November 19-23rd. We were scheduled to close at the beginning of December, so packing started immediately. Crazy, crazy.

Happy Frenzy-versary :)

P.S. We like to keep our actual city of residence on the down-low. If you live in our area and have a pretty good idea of where we've lived or are currently living, please do not name the cities in your comments. Thank you!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Style Injection: Kitchen Door Before & After (Part One)

The Inspiration

The Reality (tip: the door is metal)

The Plan






Looking good, right?


Sunday Morning...

I don't have a photo, but trust me - it was sad :(

We woke up on Sunday morning to discover that the lovely door we had said "goodnight" to was not the same door we said "good morning" to. Several of the boards had buckled and nearly all of the corners had pulled away from the metal base. We think it was the cold. What now? We went to church and completely avoided the topic for two full days. Then...

The Second Monday (night)

We tried a nail gun. No dice. The nails went into the door, but they weren't strong enough to hold the lattice on. So...

The Second Tuesday

... Sam got a little extreme. But, really, what did we have to lose? He screwed the wood to the door. I'm cracking up looking at this photo.

But, it worked! I took this last photo this morning. The boards have been solidly attached for nearly 48 hours. Now the question is just whether or not we can sufficiently hide the screws ;)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Painted Terra Cotta Pots

I picked up a few terra cotta pots for $7 total last night at Michaels. I knew they were an ugly orange, but that was okay, because I had plans...

See, after we had put up the white IKEA curtains and hung the new light fixture with the white drum shade in the kitchen, the little white pots I had on the window ledge just looked boring. The whole thing was lacking interest.

So, while the kiddos played outside this morning, I took my three little ugly orange cheap pots, a damp artist's sponge, and three different colors of satin paint, and had myself a lovely time on the driveway. I used a damp sponge because I didn't want any paint strokes and because I wanted the paint to look smeary. A clean, damp rag would work too - but, I had the sponge. I started off smearing Sherwin Williams "Attitude Gray". After smearing that on each of the three pots I went right into smearing on Benjamin Moore "Fieldstone" without waiting for the first coat to dry. Then, I added SW "Balanced Beige" in right on top of the other still-damp coats. I worked quickly with the damp sponge, trying hard to not leave any actual sponge marks. Added a little of each color all over again and inside, too, until I got the smeary, slightly aged look I wanted. Then I sanded a bit and smeared a bit more, scratched them some with my finger nail under a paper towel, and then smeared them more. Basically, I just messed with them a whole lot until I liked the way they looked :) Finally, I decided to rub them some with a bit of the children's white chalk to get the look I was going for. Rubbed most of it off, just leaving the hint of chalkiness behind.

Since I was doing this outside on a warm day, the thin coats of paint dried very quickly. When they were dry to the touch, I wrote "Rosemary" on one, "Thyme" on another, and "Catmint" on the third in chalk. Then, like before, I rubbed nearly all of it off so the words were very, very faint (but, not quite as faint as this photo makes it seem).

They turned out nicely, I think. It was fun, at any rate! (The photos get larger if you click on them). It's hard to tell in the photos, but the 3 different paints gave the pots a depth that a single color wouldn't have given. I still might add an antiquing glaze as a topcoat. Given the fact that I used hardly any of the paint I had, I'd say the only cost was the price of the pots. The "Fieldstone" paint is going to come in handy for another project going on around here this weekend...

And Sam is finishing up his own little project tonight and Saturday...

Remember to come back and check us out on Monday. We'll have pics for you :) Until then, Bye Bye - and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Favorite Season

I had heard that the home and design blogs basically went wild for two full months before Christmas. I admit, though, I was still a little surprised when, right on November 1st, several of my regular reads busted out the yuletide cheer. I've never started Christmas decorations that early. Sure, I have ideas in the back of my head. Yes, I've already been compiling a Christmas Decor Idea folder of photos on my laptop, but I'm not actually ready to decorate for Christmas when we're still seven full weeks out.

This isn't because I don't like Christmas. I love all of the lights, the sparkle, the warmth. I think it's mostly just that Autumn is still my favorite season, and I like Thanksgiving so very much. I love reading books about the Pilgrims and Squanto to the children. I love spicy pumpkin pie smells and the promise of a huge, juicy turkey roasting. And I love the still pleasant days followed by crisp nights. Fall is just the best.

So, I'm not ready for Christmas yet. I'm still enjoying my favorite season :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

One Year Frenzy-versary Part 2: November 9, 2008

Last year, November 9th fell on a Sunday. Little Dude was still pretty under the weather from a recent sicky bug, so Sam and I decided to switch off for church. By that I mean that I went to Sunday school, then he came and went to the morning service with the three girls. In the meantime, I needed to figure out what to do with Little Dude for over an hour (we lived 30 minutes from our church at that point).

Before I go on, I should probably give you a little background information about our market history. Between Spring 2006 and Winter 06-07, we had our house on the market twice. We took it off the first time because I was pretty sick with the first trimester of Little Dude's pregnancy. We went back on the market when I was up for it again, but then went off two weeks before I was due to deliver him. We wanted to move to the town where Sam worked, our church was, and also a large number of our friends and family lived. But, it just didn't seem like the time. Our house wasn't getting much traffic and we weren't finding a house that we were excited about buying. We wanted land, but we wanted to be close to other families. Things just weren't lining up. We took the house off the market, had our son, and decided to settle in until the housing market improved.

After Little Dude's first birthday, though, my friend Dayna kept on us. Whenever a house would go up for sale in her neighborhood, she'd pipe up and tell us all about it. At that point we had decided that a move was put on the backburner for a while. We had tried. It hadn't worked. We weren't really feeling like being on the market for forever in this economy. I kept telling her, "no dice", and she kept mentioning new houses.

So that Sunday morning, Little Dude was coughing and too gunky to take to church, so he and I wound up driving through the country and through the town our church is in. Dayna had recently told me about another house up for sale in her neighborhood. I drove all around her house, but I couldn't find the home she had told me about. So, I drove down the main road a little further, toward my sister's neighborhood.

There was a large wooded section along the left side of the road. I wondered aloud whether there might be any homes for sale that backed up to that property. You know, just out of curiosity and just to kill time. I turned left and drove along the wooded neighborhood street. A little more than halfway down, there was a "For Sale" sign. The sign said "Four bedrooms" and it backed up to those woods. Hmmm.

There were two men out in the front yard, hanging shutters up on the front windows. They saw me looking at the house and came over to the van to see if I had questions. Now, before you think I'm a complete nutso, you'll just have to know that this is a safe neighborhood in a pretty safe part of a safe Ohio town. The safest we've ever lived in. The crime rate is nill here. Anyway, to make a long story short, Little Dude and I wound up walking through the house while the men waited outside. It was larger than it looked from the outside. It had nearly an acre. We knew the street, and had admired the neighborhood when we were previously looking for homes, but there hadn't been any homes for sale in this neighborhood then. I took an information sheet with me, thanked the men, and went back to pick up Sam and the girls from church.

When Sam came out to the parking lot after the service, I was reading the information sheet. They were definitely asking too much for the house, but it was intriguing nonetheless. I had timed it - this house was a 2 minute drive from my little sis and her husband. Interesting.

Sam thought it was more interesting than I expected. We all wound up driving back over to the house so he could get out and look around, too. The men were still outside and very politely let him in to check it out. When he came out, I could tell his wheels were turning.

We didn't have our house up for sale at the time. We had no intentions of moving within even the next three years.
But, that night, all we could think about was how close we'd be to everything - and an acre of woods. Our kids would think that was heaven on earth. Just for fun, we did some number crunching that night and were surprised to discover that, if we got the seller to come down $20,000 in price, we could carry both the new mortgage and our current mortgage at the same time. We wouldn't be able to add to our monthly savings and we'd have to make some cut-backs, but we could do it. Once we figured that out, we began to think more seriously.

As I remember it, we went to bed that night (the night of my 33rd birthday - we had celebrated the night before) with a tentative plan to go see the house "officially" with a realtor. As we talked in bed, we said things like "well, it's worth checking out, I think" and "You know, just to see". But, deep down, we were starting to feel the adrenaline creeping up.

5 minutes from work.

7 minutes from church.

2 minutes from my sister.

An acre of woods.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

House Tour: Living Room (Before Pics)

Have I shown you all the "before" photos of the living room, yet? I can't remember if I've posted it. Well, at any rate, I cleaned it today and figured it was a good chance to get some photos up. On any given day, if we aren't in the kitchen, we're in this room. It's where the books are, after all :)

It's the room you see straight ahead as you come into the entryway through the front doors. Right now, we've done absolutely nothing to this room except for putting our stuff in it. The previous owners had replaced and painted the trim in the main level rooms and this pale yellow wall color hasn't been too hard to live with for the last 10 months. We figured we'd wait to paint until after the new windows go in. Curtains are coming, too. Even with the hodge-podgey furniture in here - thrown together from the move - paint, curtains, and new windows are going to make it look so much better.

I honestly don't mind this room the way it is right now, though. It's comfortable and cozy. The view is lovely. The light is good (in the morning, especially). It's pleasant. But, it will be even more of all of those things when it's a little more put together. I think we're going to really love it when it's done.

That last one is my favorite :) I'm not sure when we're going to be getting to this room. Painting the floor is going to be a BIG deal. Not sure if you can tell in these photos, but it's really in bad shape in places. At the very least, we'll be getting the curtains up before Christmas. This is where our tree goes, so I'll show you the tree and the new curtains later this month!

That's exciting :)