Monday, May 5, 2014

This is really happening

With much help from many helpful hands we got our house beautified and on the market on April 4th.  Real estate in Denver is pretty hot right now, so we probably didn't have to do as much as we did, but I kinda liked the mindlessness of painting the baseboards, Reid rocked the bathroom remodel, and we all LOVED putting all of the "stuff we don't need" (aka "crap!") into a storage unit.  It made our house feel so spacious!  Reid and I had calculated that we'd need a 5x5 storage unit, but followed the counsel of a friend who said to get more than you think you'll need.  So we went to sign up for the 5x10.  But they were running a special and the 10x10 was actually the cheaper option.  And i'm ashamed, embarrassed, and mortified to admit that we nearly couldn't close the door on that unit when we shoved the last items in!!  You have to understand.  I am a non-practicing minimalist.  So I take great offense to my own hoarding habits.  And honestly, if it weren't for the fact that these are in said unit ...

...I'd probably take a match the whole thing!

(no, i didn't put my kids in there.  Though that would have kept the house MUCH cleaner! I mean the precious Christmas stockings that i hand cross-stitched and show off at every chance i get.  Like this one.)

My mother-in-law came the week before our house went on the market, and she was so extremely helpful i have NO idea what i'd have done without her here.  She read endless books to and played endless games with my littlest ones.  Not to mention all the cleaning and organizing she did!  I really can't imagine a more helpful person to have come to visit at a more helpful time.  Everyone should have a Marie come help get their house ready to sell!

And of course, all the credit for the decor and beauty of my house goes to my friend Gina.  She had already beautified my front room a few years ago, but the rest of the rooms were a little lack-luster.  She brought a van full of flowers, pillows, throw blankets, curtains, art, towels, etc and gave my house an extreme make-over.

As usual, i forgot to take many "before" pictures.  I did snap a few of the kids' room.  These give you an idea of A) how we managed to fit four kids in one room (can u see James' pack-n-play under Grace's loft bed?)

and B) how insanely messy it often was. Do these kids not have any parents???

 And here's the AFTER:

 Here's our Master Bedroom

 the Family Bathroom (Can i just say here how excited I am that our new house has a bathroom just for the kids???)
The Guest Bathroom

I'm going to miss this awesome faucet!
Guest Room (previously known as Reid's office)

 Guest Room/Craft Room

 The Basement

And here is that stage that I believe i promised photos of quite a while ago!  Behind the curtains there's a rod with dress-ups hanging on it, bins with props and hats and shoes, our water shut-off valve, our sprinkler shut off, and the wizard of oz.
 I loved loved LOVED these shelves.  They were a breeze to make, and were quite simply the BEST way to organize my piano music.

The kitchen was ridiculously impossible to live in.  We had to hide our broom, garbage can, dish drainer, dish towels, and everything else we actually use in the kitchen.

The entire house felt more like a museum than a home.  My kids couldn't eat, play, sit or breathe without me yelling at them. I wasn't sure how many days I could possibly live like this, which is why I was so grateful that we went under contract in less than 36 hours!  We had 35 showings in two days, with 6 offers, all at or above our asking price.  That is INSANE!!!  But the market here is crazy.  People all over the country are realizing that it's the best place on earth and flocking here by the thousands!  It is a great time to sell. (not a great time to buy...but that's not what this post is about)

I was surprised at how emotional we all were when it came time to actually accept an offer and sign a contract.  The girls and I were in body-shaking face-wrinkling tears about the whole thing.  The reality that we'd actually be leaving this home that we have loved so much, and the people here who we love so much was such a hard reality to accept.  I truly wanted to just back out, lose our earnest money on the new home, and stay here.  I mean, look at this house now--it's beautiful!  Why wouldn't I want to stay here??

Luckily Reid was coherent enough to ignore me completely and sign our life away.  That really is what it felt like.  Not only have my kids done all of their growing-up in this house, but i really feel like I've grown up in this house.  I've gone through major identity crises, I've loved and lost significant people, I've brought children into this world and, quite frankly, come close to taking them out.  Within the walls of this home are most of the greatest (and hardest) memories of my adult life.  And I am so, so sad to leave.  In our neighborhood are some of the greatest friends and neighbors known to mankind.  At our schools are caring, loving teachers who adore my children.  At church we're surrounded by amazing people, peers and mentors.  

Why in the world are we even moving??? That's what I've asked myself about a hundred thousand times in past few months.  

It's only when I talk to my friends who are on the tail-end of child-raising that I feel more confidence in our choice.  And when I think about our little hobby farm and orchard and gardens.  And when I imagine my kids getting bigger (which I am in real denial about), enjoying the bigger spaces to spread out and invite friends over.  I do think this is the right and best move for our family.  But i'm sure glad that there were contracts and deposits involved, otherwise I'd have backed right out. A hundred thousand times.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dream House

After 1+ year of searching and making offers and getting denied, I'd started to wonder if I should give up on my dream of having a little land, and just settle for a house with a little more space and sunlight to grow a garden.  The market is so crazy right now that houses are going to so fast, and there just aren't many out there.  And I wanted to be close to the schools, and I wanted Reid to be able to bike into work.  The houses that we were looking at didn't offer all of our criteria, and I was giving up.

In early February we'd made an offer on a house in the boondocks and it was, yet again, rejected.  I was so discouraged, and so sick of hearing myself talk about all of this.  And then i checked the MLS for the 14th time that day, and voila!  There was a house in a great location in the little town of Foxfield.  It's on about 3 acres, and close to the schools! I called immediately and set up a showing to go see it the next day with the whole fam.

Now, for better of worse, we've included the kids in this entire process. They've seen more houses than Reid, and know more about mortgages and septic systems than most kids their age. Sometimes they loved the houses, sometimes they inexplicably hated the houses.  But at the end of the day I knew that if I was going to pull them away from their friends and classmates here, I was going to need their stamp of approval, or I'd hear about it for months, maybe even years.  And honestly, apart from one house last summer, there hadn't been a house that 100% of us loved.

When we walked out of the house in Foxfield, Reid asked everyone who loved the house to raise their hands.  I will never forget the thrill and excitement as i looked around and saw everyone, including James, had their hand in the air.

Everything about this house (well, almost everything) is perfect for us.  And the things that aren't perfect can be changed (like the carpet).  The house is charming, with wood burning fireplaces, exposed brick and beams.  It's a little bigger than I'd wanted (have I mentioned that I don't clean?) But  Reid loved the size and the vaulted ceilings (which i hate, but can live with). Reid can bike into work on trails, not busy roads!  The kids can walk, bus or drive to school!  And there's a SuperTarget and Sprouts about 1/2 mile away, along with a 24 hour fitness...where I believe I have a long-forgotten membership!  It's zoned for 3 large livestock and 12 poultry, including a rooster.  There is ample area to plant our orchard, and a big old garden.  It's everything we wanted.

We prayed about this decision, and felt really, really good about it.  We made our offer and found out that there were 5 other offers that came in with ours.  So in our offer we included a little letter about our family and what we love about the house and how long we've looked for the perfect house, yada yada.  We even included a family photo :)

 Then we waited. and waited. Two days felt like two years! The girls would come home from school and shout "have they accepted our offer yet???"  And Reid called about 100 times from work because he couldn't think about anything else.  I spent countless hours reading about goats and chickens and pasture and fences and fruit trees and bees.  It was a very unproductive few days.

And then the call came.  The broker told me that they'd received an offer quite a bit higher than ours, but they're choosing us!!  The screaming in the house was unlike anything I'd ever heard.  We called Reid on his way home to tell him the news, and at first he couldn't even hear what we were saying--only screams.  He was thrilled, and we all were elated.

And then the reality of it all set in.  I started to think about our life here, and all the millions of memories we've created in this home.  I started thinking about our neighbors and church friends and my girlfriends and all the people who've seen my babies grow from infants to sassy little kids.  I started looking around at our little home and missing everything about it.  I started to cry.  And cry.  Then the girls joined in.  And by the time Reid walked through the door, ready to celebrate with us, we were all a mess.  He was, of course, speechless.

And so have been the past 6 weeks since we went under contract.  An emotional roller-coaster.  I have doubted this decision and freaked out and wanted to back out ALMOST as much as I am in love with the house and the area and our future there.  It's been exhausting and exciting and scary and thrilling.  The sellers needed some time to find a place so it's been a long process, which I've actually been grateful for. I've needed this time to go thru my ups and downs.  Not to mention that our kids want to finish the school year at their school here, so the later we close the better!  Right now the closing is set for the end of April, but I wouldn't be surprised if that got pushed back a bit.

Our house is going on the market in 8 days.  The count-down is on.  Homes in my hood are selling like hot-cakes, so i shouldnt feel too stressed...but i do.  The list of to-do's is slowly shrinking.  I've painted all the baseboards upstairs (why didn't I do that earlier? it looks awesome!) And I've had my brilliant designer friend over to stage the rooms.  I'm stressed about all that is left, and I needed every single minute this week.  Which is why it was particularly bad timing to catch grace's awful stomach flu today.  My fever won't break, and my subconscious won't let me expel the contents of my stomach. In fact, i'm not sure I'm in a state of mind to be blogging right now, but I'm so bored out of my mind that it seems like a good idea.  Thankfully Reid was able to work from home and be the dad and mom.  He's amazing, he really is.  We're in the middle of the world's worst Spring Break, and the kids have been at each other non-stop.  Yet today?  they did great.  He really should be the stay-at-home parent.  And the bread-winner.  Is that asking too much?

Anyway, here are a few photos of the house. Maybe it's not everyone's cup 'o tea, but we love it :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

As I type I am sitting in the dark on a hard chair in a corner of a very small and variably hot/cold motel room.  I shift positions so as to rotate between my rear end falling asleep and my tail bone aching.  (I am an old woman.)  Abby and Reid have already conked out.  James is singing "Angels we have heard on high" in his pack n' play, Grace and Eliza have collectively used the bathroom 5 times since we "put them to bed" an hour ago.  There's no one to talk to, no TV shows to veg in front of, and no projects to work on. This is apparently what it takes for me to sit down and blog.

We are on our way home from a wonderful Christmas and New Year's trip spent with both of our families.  (We'd hoped to get home today, but between the snow and the traffic, we decided not to push our luck.) We spent eight days with my family in Provo, then 3 days with Reid's in Salt Lake. Yet the highlight might just be the few hours we spent at this little motel.

Hopefully I'll get around to blogging about our trip--I no longer make such promises.   But for now I have at least enough wherewithall to cut and paste a letter that we gave to Reid's parents as part of our gift this year. It's a summary of the year's events, written largely by Reid (I take credit for anything clever).  I've deleted photos that are already on this blog, and added more than was necessary.


2013 will forever be remembered as the year of the budget and the home search.  In an effort to payoff our student loans and because we're not crazy enough, we lived off an extremely tight budget this year.  Despite this belt tightening, we spent much of the year looking for a new house. Makes sense, right?  Alas, our dream (well Emily's dream) of starting a hobby farm was not to come true this year. Fifty-three showings and two offers later, we’re still at our same house.  Luckily it is a wonderful house with amazing neighbors. If only it had more sunlight, garden space, ditch rights, a pasture, a chicken coop, fruit trees and a barn we'd stay there forever.  Even with the budget cuts and the rejected offers, we still had a wonderful and eventful year.
January.  Abby turned six and celebrated her birthday with her friend Maya at Chucky Cheese.  Emily rose to the challenge of the budget and started couponing (which she despises) and mastered frugal fun.  Our favorite date was playing racquet ball at the rec center.  All the girls did gymnastics at a local gym (at different times throughout the year) and really enjoyed it.  Emily cooked beans from scratch and took on a piano student to pay for their classes.     
February.  We welcomed our first family pet--Blue Jay the Beta fish. Emily hosted book club and made the most decadent chocolate coconut scones. Emily also made it to the post office to mail two 10" ponytails to Locks of Love.  Fortunately hair does not go bad, as these ponytails were lopped off of Grace and Emily's heads in late 2011. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Reid went to Washington, D.C. for the annual LDS lawyers conference.   Emily did not attend.  Justice Clarence Thomas and Elder Jeffery Holland spoke.  How romantic.  

March.  Reid turned 34.  When Emily gave him a birthday kiss, the girls surely said, “Let me be the first to say: Eeewww!”  (This is one of their favorite responses to their parents kissing.)  In March we were moved into a different ward/congregation thanks to a boundary change.  We've met some wonderful people and made new friends. Also this month Abby and Grace were coerced volunteered to perform at their school talent show.  Practice apparently does not always make perfect.  Someday they’ll be able to talk about it without crying.
April.  Grace turned eight!  For her birthday, we had someone come over and manicure her and her friends’ nails and make cotton candy.  Days later we traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend Aunt Karen and (new) Uncle Tommy G.’s wedding.  It was awesome and the temple grounds were beautiful.  The girls were thrilled to announce, “now we have three uncle Toms.”  While there, we had lots of fun with the Staceys and spent some time at Gettysburg and  the D.C.  monuments and museums.
May.  Grace was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Grandpa Ashworth, Aunt Julia, Uncle Nathan, Grandma and Grandpa Allred and Karen and Tom Gadberry were all there.  As were a lot of Grace’s friends, including her school teacher.  It was a wonderful day.  We are so proud of Grace.
June.  Emily and the kids went to Boise, ID to help Aunt Jana and Uncle Tom with their new twin babies.  They had fun, but Emily still has not recovered  from the 12-hour drive.  Reid stayed home and worked.  He biked to and from work (12 miles) all summer and enjoyed being fit (and was a little mortified to look back at pictures of himself during law school).  James turned 2.  He requested an "Elmo happy cake."  I invited a few little boy his age over, and he cried the whole time.  It was his party, afterall.  We also took lots of family bike rides and enjoyed trips to the zoo during the summer.
July.  Emily turned 35.  We celebrated her birthday with friends and BBQ, after we walked as Mormon pioneers in the Fourth of July parade.  We also went on a family campout with friends, hoping for a relaxing mountain getaway.  Instead we got a visit from the police and fire departments, had to run to town to buy propane, and were up all night in a wind storm—the tent blew over, pack ‘n play and all, in the middle of the night.  In spite of this, the dutch-oven food (courtesy of Reid) was amazing and will keep us coming back for more sleepless campouts.

August.  By summer’s end, Emily had run three 5Ks.  We had fun as a family at the BYU-sponsored event she ran in August.  Grace started 3rd grade (with Ms. Mercer for the 3rd year out of the last four).  Abby started 1st grace (with Ms. Tash).  And Eliza is in pre-school (with Ms. Michelle).  Eliza turned five.  She had a small Rainbow party that she insisted take place "during school and James’ nap time." Clever girl had her mom all to herself for the whole party! Grace and Abby played soccer again this fall (in addition to playing during the spring).  They play well.  Reid coached Abby’s team—for the last season.  Reid’s cheerleading skills are no longer cutting it as the league becomes more competitive.  Tom and Karen, in all their newlywed splendor, visited us on their way back to Utah from St. Louis.

September.  Emily had a well-deserved and fairly frugal weekend get-a-way with some girl friends.  Reid also had a well-deserved get-a-way...though his was of the less thrifty variety.  He spent a weekend in Utah with the Darringtons playing in the Strainer Head golf tournament, which he won.  The day before, he rented a bike and rode all over Deer Valley ski resort with Emily’s brother, Nathan.  After the tournament, he went to the BYU’s vs Texas game, which BYU won!  Emily encouraged him to sell a golf club to pay for it all.  The kids survived his weekend away.  He almost did not.  

October.  The girls sang in the church primary program.  They are talented singers.  And Abby especially knew ALL the songs and kept the primary on track.  In fact, when Abby was in charge of Family Night activity before the program, she had us all practice the songs.  More than one person has referred to the primary choir as “Abby and her back-up singers.”  We visited a local pumpkin patch with some friends and went roller skating, which especially Grace loved.  Reid and Emily attended a western-themed fundraiser dressed in cowboy attire—a first for both.  We danced together as Lone Star performed live the very song we danced to at our wedding—Amazed.  Also amazing was borrowing ALL of our kids Halloween costumes.  Thank you Lindsay and Gina--the budget and Emily's broken sewing machine thank you.

November.  All the girls continue to excel in school  Grace’s favorite subject is reading.  Abby’s favorite subject is math.  And Eliza’s favorite subject is show and tell.  James had a verbal outburst this year.  He began the year with a vocabulary of about 20 words and is ending the year with about 2000 and a repertoire of more than 100 songs.  He also mastered the art of giving glares.  We cooked our Thanksgiving turkey in the smoker this year.  It was amazingly juicy. We also made our own butter.  It was amazingly buttery. Speaking of crazy culinary ideas, we didn’t buy sandwich bread once this year, thanks to Emily’s delicious homemade bread from freshly ground wheat.  (The budget says thank you.)

December.  It has been a month of crafts.  Emily finished James’ Christmas stocking—she has cross-stitched a stocking for each family member.  The girls have also started cross-stitching.  Eliza has enjoyed it the most. We wondered how to make Christmas special while on this crazy budget, but things just worked out.  Emily finished knitting a sweater her mom started years ago for her little brother Jared, (whose name she had this year) and crocheted and sewed stuffed animals for the kids.  She made reusable paper towels for sisters-in-law.  The girls gave most of their dress-ups to their two neices (one on each side).  Emily won an Amazon gift card by taking some surveys.  And multiple friends gave us some awesome toys they were getting rid of.  In other words, the season was filled with Christmas Miracles and is one we'll never forget.  

If 2014 is half as good to us as 2013 was, we'll be as happy as a pig in an orchard.  And if things go as we hope, we'll end this year actually owning a pig...and an orchard...and maybe a goat...and some chickens...and a huge garden...with ditch rights.  :)  
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!