Thursday, April 21, 2016

Marching On

"The sun seemed like a stranger, and for a whole week persisted before its warmth could be felt through the cold grip of the dying frosts. In very bad winters such as this Demelza felt a little anxious lest--who knew?--the miracle of spring wouldn't happen. It seemed to her that whoever controlled the weather was absent-minded, busy perhaps with some other world; he turned his back and forgot about it; then, at the last moment he remembered and turned round and pulled a lever like those which started the engine of a mine, and behold there was a gentler beginning to the next day, and a bird sang, and softer rain fell, and the daffodils lifted their wrapped heads looking for the warmth from the sun, and it was going to be spring after all."
                                                            -Winston Graham, The Loving Cup

Well, March came in like a lion ... and went out like a lion, or at least, not at all like a lamb. I know that every year I say I've never anticipated spring more, but I'm for real this time, and for completely different reasons. Namely, I just want to pack up my winter stuff for good! I can't tell you how many times I've pulled out a scarf or sweatshirt after packing it up the day before. When it comes to the upcoming move, I'm just aching to DO SOMETHING. I've got one box packed so far. A box of books for storage. And that's the extent of my Hawaii move prep.



Happiness: eating at my favorite restaurant with some of my favorite people. Sadness: wearing a scarf in April.
But it's not just the weather holding us up, we've got all sorts of sickness and disease swarming our house this spring (that isn't.) Pretty much any childhood ailment you can think of, we've dealt with this month--pink eye, impetigo, ear infections, uber-ear infections, the flu, the stomach flu, some weird burning throat plus fever that is not strep throat, and then a non-sore throat that actually was strep throat ... And those are just the contagious ones. Joci also suffered a second degree burn plus whopping blister. And Jack ran into a tree and then two days later attempted a too-high jump at the school playground. Basically, the school nurse has us on speed dial. Sooo fun.

This is what the past two weeks have looked like at our house ...


You know it must be bad when she falls asleep IN THE MIDDLE OF SWINGING!
But every time another kid starts running a fever or complaining of a boo-boo tummy, I just remind myself that this is a GREAT time to be under the weather. Because the weather isn't fun anyway. And, oh yeah, we're in that sweet spot between being under contract and attempting a massive overseas move. So go ahead kiddos, get it all out of your system--build that immunity! We should be one healthy family by the time we board that plane in June.

Yay, it's in the mid-60s!!
Speaking of being under contract, we've finally got all our inspections out of the way. I'm so thankful we only had that one-and-done showing, because once we were under contract we also had 3 different inspections and the appraisal--all occasions when we had to be out of the house while leaving it in tip-top shape. Gratefully, the kids were up in Pennsylvania for the majority of these. The main inspection was a doozy. It took over 3 hours. Jon and I went on a date that night and they were still here when we got back.

The chimney and septic also took longer than we anticipated. I had the girls (and the dog) while the boys were at school, and since it was the first day back after spring break, we weren't very well prepared. We took an unnecessary Target run, visited a new (and questionable) donut shop for a treat we didn't need, attempted the park while it was entirely too cold and windy, and drove around the block about a half dozen times.

We had some work to do after the inspections, which meant visits from the chimney people (or firemen, as Julia calls them), roofers, and a electrician. Instead of being out of the house for these occasions, we just all huddle in one room and try and stay out of the way. This is challenging enough with kids (very social kids that want to be friends with everybody who walks in our door, I may add), but throw an anxious, emotional dog into the mix and things just keep getting better and better.


"Monkey" enjoying the island life!
But we are now good to go for our closing in a few weeks. Just wish that Zillow would get the message so creepers can stop driving s-l-o-w-l-y by the house and turning around and doing it again. Yeah, not uncomfortable at all.

Getting all practiced up for those .07 acre Hawaii yards!
But going back to our very un-spring-like spring break, despite the lack of warmth and flowers, it was a lovely week. The kids spent a few days at Marmie and Poppa's and then a few more days at Nonnie and Poppie's since the grandparents are trying to squeeze every extra minute they can out of these babies before we move far, far away. Meanwhile, Jon and I spent a quiet week at home. A VERY quiet week at home. We had the house all cleaned up for inspections and then it pretty much stayed that way all week, on its own, because--no kids.

It's so exhausting watching all the cars drive by...
What does one do when one's 4 children are suddenly absent? Well, not much. A lot of reading and resting. Jon fixed my Kitchen Aid, which had been broken since the big blizzard...

The good news is, we were able to fix it ourselves with a YouTube video plus replacement part from Amazon. The bad news is, it was a royal mess!!
And I decided to cut my own hair. And then I was like, well while I'm at it, might as well try highlighting it myself too! Now I just got to work on this tan and I should be ready for the beach life!

Before ...

... and After. Also, the day of Jon's promotion--something we've been waiting on for over 18 months!!
And then we celebrated our anniversary. 10 years, baby!!! That's a big deal. And it was supposed to be a big celebration. We had been making plans to take a trip to Germany. But that was before we knew we were moving. And way before we knew we were moving overseas. So we had to trade in our big adventure for something on a smaller scale. We had also thought about using our anniversary as an excuse to go house hunting in Hawaii. But considering how quickly the rental market moves there, it wouldn't have made sense. And I also didn't want to drop thousands of dollars to visit a place we'd be living in a few months. So we decided to stick a little closer to home.


The kids cleaned out the minivan as an anniversary gift!
As a birthday/Christmas/anniversary gift, Jon's parents bought us a stay at Moonshadow, a bed and breakfast in New York. But not just any bed and breakfast. This one just so happened to be located in the old family homestead--the house where Jon's great-grandparents lived and where his grandpa grew up. The house hasn't been in the family since the 70s, but the current owners recently decided to use it as a bed and breakfast. I'm so glad they did!


Sunrise over Keuka Lake.

Views from our bedroom window.

Sweetness down to the smallest details--like the handmade pottery at our breakfast table.

Ya'll know I've been wanting a card catalog for ages. The B&B owners have this one in their kitchen! I about died.


Views upon views.
We spent our anniversary weekend there, on Keuka Lake, in the finger lakes region/wine country area of New York. Now, March isn't exactly prime vacation time in upstate New York. It was still wintry and most of the tourist attractions weren't open yet. But we enjoyed just spending time together, just the two of us.

This was the restaurant we ate at on the lake ... totally desolate.

I think the chef was extra-happy to have some guests to serve that night, because the food was phenom.

Jon re-enacting his childhood--skipping stones at his great-aunts lake house.
We spent most of Saturday exploring the region. First stop, a few antique shops. I actually found a card catalog!! ... but it was too little and the price tag too big for what I wanted. Oh well, we had fun anyway and came home with a set of old oars for our new digs.

Antique shopping--our favorite thing to do without kids!
We drove the whole way around the lake, stopping off in the middle at Garrett Chapel. Although the inside was closed, the views were amazing and there was plenty to see outside and on the grounds. *sigh* I love old things.












From there, we drove to the very tippy-top of the bluff and found this gem of a farmhouse way above all the rest.



Part of me is all, "I could so live here!" and the other part of me remembers how often we run out of toothpaste and toilet paper and thinks should probably live a little closer to civilization.

So while the big 1-0 wasn't exactly what I had pictured, it wasn't without it's glitz and glam either. Because my husband surprised me with diamonds! And not just any diamonds, but my grandmothers' diamonds!


Apparently he'd been working some time on combining both my grandma's wedding diamonds, along with the gold from their wedding bands, to make me this beautiful symbol of our love. A diamond for him, a diamond for me, and four little chip diamonds for our four little sweeties. Baby, you are so much better than any farmhouse on a bluff!!

And while we're on the subject of big, momentous occasions that get squished into all-encompassing blog posts ... we celebrated another anniversary that last week of March. Anyone remember our fancy-schmancy lodgings from our 9th anniversary?

Johns Hopkins Medical Center.


It's only been a year but all those tears and fears of my baby facing open-heart surgery are so far behind us I hardly think of them. (Except when she's acting extra-2-year-old. Those days I'm convinced the surgeon added an extra little umph to her heart before he stitched it all back up.) But we'll never forget what makes this little miracle girl so special!

And that's not bad for a decade of marriage. We've come a long way. I'm so eager to keep going farther. I can only imagine what the next 10 years hold!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The calm after the sturm and drang

We really weren't planning on anything resulting from this showing, since they were originally coming to the neighborhood to view the house down the street--a house that is very different from ours and in a higher price bracket. We just saw it as a good opportunity to get the house ready and sharpen our showing skills.




So when I contacted our realtor the next day to schedule the photographer and plan our actual list date, we were a little surprised when she suggested we hold off since an offer was coming. And then when she emailed the next day with the actual offer, we were even more shocked. And then when she came by the house that evening with the best offer we could possibly want, all written out in paper, well, we were floored.

"Take a photo, it'll last longer" never rang so true as when it's photos of your house and you have 4 kid.



Personally, I was a little apprehensive. Things were moving a bit too fast for my slow, methodical personality. I mean, we had signed up for the whole deal. I had a plan, and that plan was suddenly stopped in its tracks. Call it the middle-child in me, but it just didn't seem fair that we'd never actually list the house and give the rest of the world a chance to see our sweet abode. So my first thought was to stall.




But then the realtor handed me a letter from the potential buyers and I melted. A letter! As in, my love language!! We learned about the couple and their daughter, and they life they envisioned for their kids growing up in our house and neighborhood. They talked about their vision of a "dream home" and how our house had met all their criteria. They mentioned our "joyfully functional" kitchen and pointed out so many things about our house that I love but was afraid no one would notice. And then they asked where we got our dining room table. Done. Sold!

We signed the paperwork, listed the house that night as a formality, and then were under contract the next day. Craziness.




And that's it. Now we just sit and chill until June. And by "chill," I mean downsize and pack up for an overseas move.

I'm having a bit of a harder time than I imagined. We bought this house knowing it was just temporary. We made updates with future owners in mind. We're moving to Hawaii for goodness sake! And yet, you just don't spend half your marriage and raise 4 babies in a home without getting a little nostalgic. There seems to be a precious memory lurking in every nook and cranny, and I can't turn my head without acknowledging them.




So for now, we're just going to finish out these final 3 months of homeownership strong, and keep on making memories in our favorite dwelling. Jon is still mulching the gardens, even though the house came under contract without mulch. The kids are still working on building a city in their sand pit and fixing the stick fort that the blizzard took out. And I'm watching spring arrive a bit more intensely than usual, because I've never noticed its presence more poignantly than I have in this place.

They never want to play in the ACTUAL sandbox.
This has been a good, good home. I continue to be thankful for the way that God led us here. And now I marvel at the way He's leading us onward and answering our prayers beyond what we could have imagined. I can't wait to see how He provides in this next move!
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