Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Simple Life

One night last week, as we were brushing our teeth, Rich stated that he wished to lead a simple life.  I agreed.  Simple would be nice.  What we have right now doesn't seem to meet the definition of simple.  I even tossed in the idea of moving to a more remote, less crowded area.  But in the next breath, we both brought up the antique farmhouse for sale in the same neighborhood as our first home and the price and the restorations that could be made.  Technically, flipping a house but we both know that we are restorers, not flippers.  That's not so simple.  The thoughts constantly running through my head aren't simple either.  It's not that I enjoy complications but there's a certain layer of complexity there that keeps me going.  I thought about "a simple life" for a few days.  Is it really simplicity that we crave or is it happiness?  Do we believe that simple will lead to happy?  What can we change that isn't simple or is it merely our point of view?


This morning, Emily asked if she could tell me about a book they read in class yesterday.

My response as I eyed the clock:  "Okay, but it'll have to be quick, sweetie.  Can you do it in a minute?  I need to get upstairs and get ready for work."

I could see the disappointment on her face.  "I'll just tell you later."

"No, no.  Tell me now.  I have a few minutes.  It's okay.  I want to hear about the book."

I still had to keep an eye on the clock because Emily can talk nonstop for ten minutes and I'm tied to that train schedule.  She thoughtfully summarized the book (in a timely manner) and it was clear that she had learned from it (always a good thing).  It's hard to squeeze in those moments amongst the morning chaos.

I've been holding on to a reserve of vacation days but with the end of the year approaching and use 'em or lose 'em looming over me, I decided to take some time off this week and a few days before Christmas.  I still have some days unscheduled that I'll use for school events in December, as those always seem to pop up at the last minute.  I'm looking forward to some extra time with family this week.  I'm also looking forward to stuffing and pie.  And not having to cram laundry into one day.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

This week



Christmas cactus




Aaaaaah, Tom, you seem to be missing some of your uniform.  (Yes, Tom Brady is a frequent visitor.)

Not too much out of the ordinary going on here this week.  I can't believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  October felt like a long month but now, bam, November will be over before I know it.  We had a spectacular sunset here Sunday night.  I had just popped a turkey meatloaf in the oven and when I glanced out the kitchen window, pink was reflecting off of the clouds.  And that's not even where the sun was setting.  I ran outside and snapped some photos before I turned to the front, where the sun was sinking.  I've learned with a setting sun, you need to move fast as the sky can change in a matter of minutes.  




For this one, I wanted to capture the bright pink between the trees but without a zoom and without venturing in the neighbors' yards, it wasn't really working.  The color was captured though so I cropped and ended up with something else.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We're in this together

(A third grade update)

Emily pulls her lunch sack from the depths of her backpack.  As she walks across the kitchen, she unzips the sack and removes an unfrozen ice pack, which is promptly placed back into the freezer.  She then packs a snack for the next day and sets the newly packed lunch sack on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.  It's a weekday evening about a month or so after the start of the new school year and I'm pleasantly surprised to witness this act of responsibility.

Over the past few years, we've come to terms with reasonable expectations.  I don't expect my eight year olds to be completely responsible for everything school related.  On the other hand, coming from a household with two full time working parents, I don't think Rich and I should be held accountable for remembering everything either.  We can't.  I have to-do lists and reminders scattered around to jog my memory.  Something is bound to slip through the cracks if this isn't a team effort.

So we're in this together.  The kids and the adults.  I guess you can call it a shared responsibility.  Is it always perfect?  No. But as long as we are putting forth our best effort, no one can ask for more.

The girls have never been what I would call late sleepers.  Sure, sometimes on the weekends, there won't be stirring until 8:00 and I suppose this is to our advantage because during the week, they are up on their own.  Most mornings, Emily and Allie dress before they even come downstairs.   Yes, there is one (ahem) who may need to be reminded to get ready for school but overall I've seen a lot of growth and maturity this school year.

(Emily brushing her hair and reading on a school morning.)

I've also noticed a shift in responsibility at school this year.  As third graders, the girls are considered "bigger kids" now and not turning in homework has more serious repercussions.  I'm not sure if there is a set rule amongst all teachers and it definitely wasn't highlighted at curriculum night but according to the girls, repeatedly not turning in homework will result in a loss of recess time.

About a month after school started, we received notification for the first book project of the year.  The first step involved selecting a "just right" mystery book and having a parent sign a slip to be turned into the teacher stating the book choice.  Emily had a book read and the project basically finished before the due date for the slip.  The due date for the completed project was three weeks later.  All three finished their projects without me asking or reminding them to.  They are all very independent and didn't want any help from me either.


I'd say the school year has been going well thus far.  There have been zero social issues, which is a huge relief, especially after last year.  Yes, there is some chaos, mainly regarding math homework and tests, but we're keeping it together for now.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

This and that, here and there














We're savoring these remaining days of fall, the calm before the storm, so to speak.  It's already been chilly enough to necessitate the wearing of winter wear.  Which reminds me that the girls will more likely than not need new snow pants this year.  Yesterday, as we were driving, Emily asked when the radio stations would begin to play Christmas music.  I'm sure it will be before we know it.  Speaking of the radio, I found a station (I'm talking basic car radio here, not satellite) that plays mostly 90s music.  Do you know how happy that makes me?  So I had that station on the other day with Emily and Anna in the car with me.  A song from Live ended, followed by a song from Pearl Jam.  Emily asked, "Is this a country music station?"  No, sweet child.  It's a real music station.

I have a list of sewing projects lined up, beginning with Christmas items.  I had planned to start today but the day ended up mainly dedicated to laundry.  We host Christmas dinner and I've wanted to whip up cloth napkins for at least two years now.  Some of the girls are also asking for Christmas themed skirts and I have a new pattern in my head that I want to test out.   

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The story of a home


A year before Rich and I were to be wed, we purchased our first home, which was an antique Victorian.  Flipping houses was all the rage back then and while that wasn't our main motivation in choosing that house, it was in the back of our minds as a possibility.  This particular house was the least expensive single family home listed in the area - for a reason.  It was built in the late 1800s and while the current owner had made a few updates twenty years earlier, the house was in need of some major TLC.

I'd always loved the character and history of older homes and we jumped right into restoration and renovation, preserving as much of the original detail as possible.  We replaced the roof, electrical system, front porch, and horse hair plaster walls.  The kitchen and bathrooms were ripped out and updated with new meant to look old.  The radiators were detached, wheeled out of the house and sandblasted to remove years and years and years worth of old, crusty paint.  Original wide pine floors were uncovered and brought back to life.  Everything (and I mean everything) was repainted.

While we didn't consider it our forever home, we had no definite plans on how long we were going to live there.  With one kid?  Sure, it works.  With two kids?  Maybe, while they are little.  We intended to be there for some time so we went all out when it came to quality, purchasing higher grade wooden windows, using mahogany for the front porch and installing beautiful light fixtures throughout the house.

I hate to think that we moved out simply because we had triplets but that is what happened.  To say that we were overwhelmed after their birth is an understatement and the sudden addition of cribs, strollers, clothes, all the gear that comes from having three babies at once created space issues.  I know that many make do with far less space but we made the sleep deprived decision to move to a slightly larger, much newer house where it would be easier to live with three babies. 

The antique Victorian went up for sale and the real estate market proceeded to crash. 

With two mortgages and an outstanding line of credit, we opted to take the house off the market and rent it.  We knew that the market would eventually turn and by renting, we could build equity.     

Eight years later . . .

Our most recent tenants moved out a few weeks ago and with the real estate market strong, we've decided to list the Victorian cottage for sale.  Once again.  In order to get the house ready to list, I spent the better part of the past two weekends cleaning.  The front hall saw such a transformation that the girls asked if I had put a new floor in.  By the way, when we did have the girls there while both Rich and I worked on clean up/repair, the girls played House Hunters.  Like it was a legit House Hunters episode.

I ended up spending a lot of time there by myself as it was easier for me and Rich to take shifts and I had assigned myself the burden of cleaning everything.  I returned home one evening and just felt sad by the whole thing.  Our first tenants really cared for and respected the house.  Unfortunately, I can't say that for all the tenants and when you do a deep dive clean, you notice things that you wouldn't on a walk through. 

And then there's Abbey.  I know when you move, you should think of the new memories you'll create, not what you are leaving behind, but for us, that was the only physical space where she ever existed and it feels weird knowing that it will probably be out of our hands soon.  Maybe if we had sold the house sooner, I wouldn't want to grasp at it like it's the only thing I have left.