25 July 2014

Declittering

We have a contract on a house we love, on a lot we love, in a neighborhood we love. But, these things aren't over til they're over, so while I hope to be moving in 6-8 weeks, that may not be the case.

You know what? After so long of living in limbo, I finally got fed up and got moving. So we're decluttering (or declittering, as my phone keeps autocorrecting) and paring down and preparing to move only the things that are necessary or loved or both.

While this is one more thing in an already crowded schedule, it's a very satisfying thing because I've needed to do it for so long!

Yesterday we sold our dining room set. We've already bought a new (possibly 100 year old) table...but we don't have chairs, yet. That's something we need to work on--the irony of all of the wood chairs I've collected over the years that we've shared with friends. Sigh. It was satisfying to do a belated spring cleaning on the table...now this morning I have to find a temporary home for all of my scrapbooks & Noble's candy science stuff.


I am giving my heat press and all of the vinyl to a sweet friend who will use it and love it. I don't have time or the love for it that I did before...honestly, once I got going with it I realized that silk screening is what makes my heart sing, but I don't have the time or space for that. Maybe someday, but for today, it feels good to release these things.

They say that sometimes you have to give up good things for better things. That's in the back of my mind as I picture this next year...I picture saying no more, so I can say yes to what matters most.

This is my quiet time view today...projects for this morning
on my work table, unfinished journaling because I can't concentrate, stuff that needs to go to other people and some that just needs a new home after yesterday's decluttering frenzy.

It feels good, this letting go.




It feels good to picture our new home all simple and clean, with only the most important things out and about. I did what I promised I'd never do again...I quit working on the little green house once I decided a move was in order. Furniture shopping this week has been so freeing, and so fun...and so easy because I know exactly what I want! :) Ahem, we. What we want.

I've got to get to work, but I felt like I needed to take a minute and document where I am right now. It's been 16 days since we made an offer on this home and started the process, but in so many ways it feels like it's been months and months. And then in other ways, it feels like the blink of an eye! Time is funny that way, isn't it?

10 July 2014

Reimagining Home

In February, my car was in the shop.  (Ironically, it's in the shop today, as well.  Unrelated.)  James picked me up for lunch and as he was taking me back to the church, we saw a realtor putting up a "for sale" sign in the yard of one of our favorite houses in the neighborhood.  We were not in any position to buy a house, with the car bill, but seeing that sign go up lit a fire in us.  We'd been TALKING about buying a house for years...after we do this, after we pay off that, and most recently, after Disney...but this inspired us to get serious.

So we did.

And then, the next day, I came across the listing for a friend's house that was for sale--a home I absolutely loved.  And we looked at it, and we all loved it, but the simple fact remained:  we didn't have the money in the bank to buy the house.

So we didn't.

But we saved and we searched and we saved and we searched...and here we are, 5 months later.  I know God is moving in this because we thought we needed 6 months to save a down payment, and James got a ton of jobs out of the blue and basically had a down payment in 6 weeks.  Yes, that's right.
God is good.  All the time.

The problem we've had, and it's not a problem so much as a question, is, where do we want to live?  How much house is enough?  What about land?  In town, out of town?  Big or small?  New or old?  That's just the tip of the iceberg.  We told a homeowner yesterday, it's both a blessing and a curse to be so wide-open in this process...we believe that God will lead us to the right home for us.  So we're trying really hard not to picture how the home will LOOK, but instead focus on how we want the home to FEEL.

The irony?  We have made an offer on a home that's HALF the size of the last home we looked at seriously (to the point of bringing a contractor out for a remodel bid...I really, really wanted that house, even though it was waaaaaaaaay bigger than what we need).  The home we're considering right now is less than 100 square feet bigger than the little green house, it's still a 2/1, and the office isn't attached to the house.  But it feels GOOD, y'all.  It feels like a home, and we can totally see ourselves there.  If it's meant to be, it'll be.  And I might be able to tell you in a month or so that the payment totally evens out with the small amount of rent we're paying now--we met with a banker yesterday, and if the numbers we went over hold, our new house payment would be our rent here + the difference in utilities + what we pay for our storage unit.  God is good, y'all.  That's His math.  Now, we're budgeting to spend more, but the cool thing is we can use that surplus to save for the addition we know is coming just as soon as we can afford it.  Or just use it to put in savings for when the AC breaks or the roof leaks or anything else that comes with home ownership.  Those are the things I haven't missed.

The things I have missed, and probably have never really had?  Roots.  I've loved the little green house, but in the past few years I've felt like we've been poised to jump up and move out of here.  So I've quit decorating, changing, updating...it's been stagnant.  It feels stagnant.  And I'm so over that feeling.  I'm over the Texas stars everywhere, and the color scheme of wood & red.  I'm over the clutter, and the dust under stuff because I don't feel like deep cleaning if we're just going to move, anyway.  I'm broken, I know.  

I look forward to dreaming about our new home and seeing ourselves living our lives in a new space.  Will our lives change?  No, but the landscape will.  Here's the thing, and I couldn't have put this into words until this week:  we looked at a beautiful home on a beautiful lot that would have taken all of our money for years to come.  And all of our time bringing it up to code and then keeping it up.  It's not like we have lots of spare time and money, and I'm sure I'm crazy for considering it.  

A few days ago, a friend who bought and loves a fixer-upper put it into words for us:  they spend all of their free time and free money working on their house.  He said it out of love, because that's his thing.  And they have a beautiful life in their fixer-upper that's now a beautiful home that's well-loved and well-lived.  

But it's not our thing.  I'm not comparing our family to theirs and saying they don't do any of the things I'm about to say--I'm just saying our situations are different.  I work 2-3 jobs, James has a full-time job and an almost full-time side job...our time is finite.  Our resources are finite.  Our time with our kids at home?  Also finite.  Sigh.  

Oh, the rabbit trails.

Walk with me, here.  Yes, we want to live out in the country.  But we're thinking now that's a "someday" dream...because we would be on the road back and forth to town a LOT.  There would be no more lunches together on the days I work at home, or popping in to the kids' schools to work on PTO stuff or have lunch.    Living in the country would make us think about every single drive, every trip, every activity.  And if that's what's meant for us, I know God will help us work it all out.  

But truly?  We've released the dream of a dream home on a dream piece of land...for now.  

What we keep coming back to is this:  we are not looking for a new LIFE.  We are looking for a new PLACE to live this life that we love.

The thing that's most important to us:  living a good life, making every day count.

I do have certain things I'm looking for in our next home:  space to entertain, to be able to have more than one family over comfortably.  Space for the kids to have their own rooms (which may be an eventually thing if we get this house).  Space for James to work comfortably, and to have privacy and be able to play his music as loud as he wants while he creates.  Space for us to be together in the kitchen while we make healthy and not so healthy food.  A cabinet for Kayci to store her baking stuff.  A laundry room I can actually walk into (I know).  A garage or decent shed for clean storage.  A carport or garage where we can keep our cars (or at least mine!) a little cleaner, or walk out in the rain and not get soaked.  A yard for parties and gatherings, and places for the kids to just BE outside.  Maybe room for a decent garden, as our commando gardening efforts seem to fail here again and again.

Sure, I'd love transoms...but the homes we've looked at that come with transoms don't come with central air and heat.  Not a deal breaker, but also not where we want to put our limited $$ right now.  Sure, I'd love a fireplace.  I'd love a big ol' kitchen with enough room for my red couch.  I'd love a space to spread out my scrapbook stuff and my craft stuff and leave it out for more than a few minutes at a time.  It'd be nice if the current owners could be mind readers and have it all painted in my favorite colors, too.  :)  But these things aren't deal breakers.

Deal breakers?  

A house that's so big and spread out that our family can choose not to see or hear each other for hours--I don't want us to live separate lives.  And yes, we'll still only keep one TV.  (The horror!) 

A house that will eat up all of James' limited free time and limit what he's able to do with our family.  I love that we quit working at 5 and just spend the evenings together, whatever that looks like.  I love that we nap on Sunday after church.  I love that he doesn't *usually* have to work on Saturdays, unless he's got a job booked.

A house that will eat up all of our money, so we tell the kids no, we can't go, or do, or we don't have enough...not that we don't tell them those things now, but I want to CHOOSE where we spend our budget, not be FORCED to spend it.

A house that I am so proud of that I lose sight of what a blessing it is, and Who that blessing comes from.  

A house that we choose to impress people with what a great step up we're making.  

A house that's perfect, just as it is...is there such a thing?  

Oh, and a house without a garage/shed.  Or with a small, crappy yard.  Or that smells funny.  

I've been thinking and praying about STUFF a lot...and what I do and don't want to move with us.  I don't want to carry over the stuff that's been in storage for 10 years.  Surely if I haven't used in in 10 years, I don't NEED it.  The clothes we never wear aren't making the trip.  The toys nobody plays with will find new homes.  A lot of my work stuff can go to work--or go away.  It literally just. Sits. There.  We have a lot of stuff that we spend a lot of time managing and dusting and moving around to make room for new stuff, and I'm so over that.  

We were considering buying a house with enough rooms for a guest room JUST to have a place to put this extra bedroom set we have.  Seriously??  

So, all this to say:  I don't know what's next.  We may be right here a year from now, which would be okay because that'll give our down payment time to grow.  Who knows.  

But what I do know is this:  wherever we are, we'll still be US.  

And that's enough.  


23 June 2014

Summer 2014--my camera roll so far :)

Summer 2014, so far, has been pretty good.  I was picturing a summer off (except for a few hours at the church on Wednesdays & Sundays), but that isn't at all how things have turned out.  It's turned into a summer of continuing to commute 1 day/week, working way more than a few hours at church, and trying to give our kids lots of downtime in between.  And swimming, lots of swimming.  So it's not what I pictured, but it's been a good summer.  Every day has been it's own kind of adventure!

Today, for instance, I was supposed to commute.  So we made plans for the kids to stay with Grandma (that has made a HUGE difference in our Mondays with me working!).  But, it turns out I'm driving in on Wednesday this week, so we stuck with the plan and took the knuckleheads to Grandma's at bedtime last night so I could have an uninterrupted work day and they could DO something instead of waiting for me to be done working.  

I was reminded this summer of the mornings that first couple of years after Noble was born, when I'd get everyone where they needed to go and then take an hour to put the house back together, blog a bit, and catch up on errands, etc. before starting my work day.  I've got so much on my mind right now with both of my jobs (job #3 kicks in next week...pray for me?) that I'm just not at a point to sit down and put it on paper.  Well, on screen.  So I gave myself some time this morning to get things done and blog a bit and run a couple of errands...you get the idea.

And here I am.

I suck at blogging right now.  And documenting with Project Life.  But I still snap pictures when I think about it for when I have more time for documenting life instead of just doing my best to live every minute.  :)

Here's our summer so far...

The first day of summer for the kids was NOT a day off for me.  But I juggled things so I could make it a day at home when they could do whatever they wanted.  After hearing the week before about how I skipped breakfast one day at work and grabbed a Snickers bar instead (go ahead and judge me, I would), they decided that THAT would be a fabulous way to start summer, Snickers for breakfast.

So they slept in, had some screen time, and had Snickers for breakfast.  It was not, however, all they thought it would be.  I haven't had any further requests for treats for breakfast, or for Snickers.  Hee hee.  My evil plan...


 

While it's summer for the kids and kinda summer for me, DaddyBoy's schedule hasn't changed.  He has met us at the pool a couple of times during his lunch hour and we've had lots of meals on the deck and he's got more work time since we don't have to get the kids off to school in the morning, but summer's been a little hard on my Boy.  There's no place he'd rather be than here with us, and I appreciate even more the fact that he gets up every day, works for a few hours, then goes off to his day job while we do whatever we're doing.  Thanks, Boy, for being a great provider!


I don't think this picture shows it well, but we've been minimizing screen time this summer and spending time watching TV as a family when we're able.  This was Noble's balloting one night, when we were choosing between "I Love Lucy" and "The Cosby Show."  Lucy (Loosy) was his clear favorite.  That night we watched the chocolate factory episode and loved it!


I've got lots of pictures like this.  Swimming wears my Bubby out, and he often naps in the afternoon.  Kayci enjoys the quiet time, and I enjoy the time to get things done (and I took a nap myself last week--it was pretty awesome!).  


A group of friends from church hangs out at the lake each week.  We'd like to go more, but we'll make it when we can.  Love the fellowship, and we all love Matt's jet skis!


Swimming at the Country Club is still their favorite activity.  See Paper Jesus in the picture?  Brenham Bible Church is doing the Paper Jesus Project again this year, and while it's a lot of work, it's so rewarding to SEE the kids growing in faith and knowledge.  Makes my heart happy!


Told you.


One of the Paper Jesus pics I can share since it doesn't have someone else's kids in it.  It's so cool each week to see what families send in!  If you want a Paper Jesus, let me know!


One night after dinner on the deck, DaddyBoy noticed something flying around.  Turns out, it was several bats.  I never got one on camera, but it was pretty cool to sit there and watch!


Our boys went camping one Friday night with a couple of other Dads and their kids.  I think it's a toss-up as to who had more fun.  Love this picture of our little guy who wants to be just like Daddy.  I think that's a great goal, Noble.


Daddy snapped this sunset picture the night the kids and I stayed overnight in Houston so I could work 2 days in a row.  That same day, on my drive in, I got a phone call that I'll never forget.  One of our parents (the parent of a student), committed suicide.  She was beautiful and strong and a wonderful advocate for her child, and it breaks my heart for all of them.  When James sent me this picture, I was in the middle of a conversation with my boss, trying to figure out the best way to honor this parent as we go forward in training our teachers.  When I look at this photo, I see hope.  And that's what we have to hang onto.


On that same work trip, I managed to get my car stuck not in a ditch, but across a ditch.  Long story.  It all came out okay, but when I got back to the office I saw this...so I must have wedged it in there pretty good.  Only me.  And then a couple of days later I noticed that my bumper was pushed out and I got all indignant, thinking someone hit me and didn't say anything...then I realized that I did it in the ditch.  Oops.



The kids were good sports about the 2 day work trip.  Dinner with Lynn's family and a night in a nice hotel were great incentives, and even though they had to be there for the aftermath of the parent's death, it was a sweet time for us.  Selfishly?  I'm glad they were with me.


We have a few of these from this summer, too.  Summer wears him out, y'all.


Hee hee.  So, a few days after the ditch incident, I managed to slide DOWN a hill and into a ditch.  In the car.  Luckily Caleb was there to rescue us, no harm done to us.  But sorry about your new road, man.  Needless to say, the kids were suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper freaked out.  I'm just glad I didn't roll the car with us in it.  It's already a funny story--Caleb told me to go slow but not too slow, and I knew as soon as my tires left the rocked part of the drive by their house that I was going too fast, but when you're sliding down a hill in the mud, a heavy car doesn't slow down.  Whoopsy.


Oh, Noble and the cats.  His new thing is talking in the cats' voices, which for some reason are 3x as loud as Noble's voice.  He especially likes to "talk" to them early in the morning.  For the love.


I can't believe our girl is 11 already.  She planned her own party, and we let her go with it.  She even did her own invitations (like, did the wording, etc. on the computer).  I'm so impressed by her!

And back to me...this is the SECOND birthday party in 2014 when I didn't plan it, didn't send out invitations well ahead of time, didn't get to go all out with a theme...my kids are growing up, and I love seeing what THEY choose.  Sniff.  I guess.


We had a bit of drama when the kids went to work with me that week--they kept leaving their stuff laying around.  Sure enough, when we got to the hotel that night, Noble's iPod was nowhere to be found.  It was a rough week for him, but I think he learned his lesson.  Luckily, he'd left it in the storage room at my office.  Whew.  That's a lot of money to leave laying around, and we were not going to replace it!


I've been, um, scheming to get rid of this HUGE microwave for a long time.  It's James' from college, and while I'm so grateful to his Dad for buying it, I've always, always hated the finish on it.  It's weird and rough and never looks clean...seriously, I've hated this thing since the day James moved in with it.  So we gifted it to my mom, who needed a microwave (the sad thing is, it's a fantastic microwave!).  I didn't think we used it much at all, and figured we wouldn't miss it.


It turns out, as soon as you get rid of your microwave you want popcorn.  And melted butter.  Which is fine by me, because I don't buy microwave popcorn, anyway.  The only real inconvenience has been the kids' breakfasts (I cook sausage, pancakes & french toast and keep it in the freezer so they can have "real" food for breakfast whenever they want).  Now we have to plan ahead and turn on the oven, but really, that's not such a big deal.


The kids have enjoyed cooking and baking.  I've enjoyed eating it.  :/  Hence the current cleanse.  I also enjoy a good adult beverage when we're sitting on the deck or watching TV after the kids go to bed, hence the current cleanse.  Dang, but I'm bloated.


Noble's sunflowers should be sprouting soon--it's been fun to watch their progress!


And did y'all see that we had a second wave of bluebonnets this year?  Who's ever seen such a thing?  These were in our flower bed...that was a lot of fun!


I signed the kids up for "Kids Bowl Free" and bought the pass for James and me, too.  So far we've only gone once, but it's a great program and a fun way to kill a couple of hours!


The kids wanted to make popsicles.  These are fun after the pool, because they're more likely to "eat" a popsicle than drink something.  We're pushing the water and they do well, but they don't drink it all day like I do so I worry a bit.  I have to worry about something, right?  It's water.  And processed food.  Don't get me started.


Daddy & kids snowcone date...


Family date at the new Dickey's.  Yum.  (See cleanse note above.)


We're still house-hunting.  And dreaming.  And praying.  And waiting.  It'll come.


Speaking of dreaming...this would be a dream come true!


A friend introduced me to iced caramel macchiatos.  Um, yum.  (See cleanse note above.  Sigh.  Dammit.)


Father's Day at church was lots of fun, but dang it if I didn't take any pictures.  SERIOUSLY??  I love that Kayci helped me with the signs!



Mom made lunch for us, with James' favorite strawberry pie.  Yum!  (See cleanse note above.)


We had a Father's Day get-together at a friend's pool.  James enjoyed grilling 60+ hot dogs.  And a cold Shiner.  (See cleanse note above.)


Monday was an early commute day, but it was such a satisfying day at work.  Getting stuff on the calendar for next year feels so good, even though everything we put on the calendar means more work, right?  I can't get this picture right.  Forget it.




We did VBS at Champion this year.  It was AWESOME!  I loved teaching the Missions rotation, and both kids had a blast.  Most importantly, it was a great curriculum.  Well done, Champion! (And Lifeway!)  I seriously can't believe I didn't get any pictures.  At all.

Kayci's birthday was different this year, as I didn't decorate the night before.  And, she didn't want birthday donuts.  It's okay, those things are traditions, not law.  That's what I told her, and I pretty much am okay with it.  Mostly.  The one thing I did do--a picture of every birthday.  :)


Kayci's "big" gift was a real camera.  Can't wait to see what she does with it!


Kayci's party was wonderful--the colors don't show up well, here, but I love that she did the decorating herself.


The birthday menu...build your own nachos, build your own ice cream sundaes, build your own pancakes...



We celebrated Kayci's birth minute with confetti poppers.  The next morning, I found some that I missed.  Made me smile.


24 hours with her closest friends was a long 24 hours.  But I hope they had fun!  (In the picture below, see Noble on the far left?  :))  Heather and the boys and Daddyboy met us at the pool for a junk food lunch.  (See cleanse note above.)



We left all of the blankets out and let the kids spend the night in the living room the night after Kayci's party, as well.  It was sweet to wake up and see them curled up like puppies.  I love that they love each other!


Kayci got tons of gift cards for her birthday, and our rule is that you have to write thank you notes before you can spend the money.  So, the next day, she knocked them all out.  I don't have a picture of that, but here's one of Bubby writing thank you notes for his limo ride.  "Thanks for the ride!" is what most of them said.  Very inspired, sir.


Noble was invited to the inaugural meeting of the Brenham Lego Club.  He's pretty psyched!


Those boys again.


Daddy put the training wheels back on so Noble could ride his bike whenever he wants.  Right after I snapped this, Noble found out why we ride bikes with shoes on our feet.


Saturday morning dates = two cups of coffee (instead of our usual one) and some "Psych."  I'm a simple girl.


Lynn sent James a happy!  Mikey likes it!


We went shopping in Houston on Saturday so Kayci could spend some birthday money, Daddy could get some new jeans, we could get a picture frame for the family auction and Grandma could return some stuff.  It was a fun trip!  Jhido met us and took us to lunch at Panera.  (You know what to do.)



James got me a fitbit last week.  My friend Amy has one and I've been wanting one (not so secretly!) for several weeks.  I'm hooked!  The kids were so fascinated by it, Kayci opted to spend all of her Target birthday money on one for herself.  And we got one for Daddy, too.  And Noble got a "perdometer" of his very own.  Dang kid gets more steps than all of us, but he cheats by banging the pedometer on stuff.  Dork.  :)


We went to an awesome Washington County wedding Saturday night, and spent time with great friends.  The kids were playing hide and seek while waiting for dinner to start, and Noble found that he could hide under my maxi dress.  





All that dancing wears a guy out.


I'm biased, but aren't they gorgeous?


It's another week.  Time to work on Paper Jesus Curriculum, work on getting ready for the 14-15 school year, and do some major planning.  


Last night was the first Financial Peace I've attended in a while (I'm usually doing the childcare since we've been shorthanded this summer), and ironically, the topic was real estate.  Um, we're not going to have 100% down or even 20%, and I'm okay with that.  We have reached critical mass in the little green house, and it's just a matter of time until we find the right new place for us.


While I was at FPU, Daddy & the kids went to a birthday party at Horseshoe Junction.  A good time was had by all.  And one day, he'll ring the bell at the top of that wall.  


Happy summer, y'all.  We're still alive, no news is good news.  Hope you're doing well!