Thursday, November 12, 2015

In which we move the vast difference of one mile, sell our old house, and all grow slightly older

Goodbye, old girl.
In August we moved across town. The move was arduous, in part because we are no longer invincible twenty-somethings, and in part because we had intended to grow old in this house and we had stopped keeping portability and future moves in mind when we purchased furniture and items for our house.

The new house is amazing. A larger footprint, with closets and a basement that has never ever flooded. A safer neighborhood that has streets that are easy to push a baby carriage in. Ceilings with right angles were confusing the first few mornings when we woke up.

In October we closed on our house sale. Our house was a unicorn (in a Concord suburb, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, move-in condition, in the under-$150K price range) so it went very quickly, and to a nice family that knows how to keep up an old house and do things like trim doors so they fit in settled door frames. I hope they enjoy the park across the street. I'll miss that park.
At a paintbar for 30th birthday celebrations.

The morning of the closing I dropped by the house to walk through it for one last nostalgia trip, and to drop off muffins and a 'Welcome home!' card for the new buyers. I walked through the front door for the last time. I admired the tall windows for the last time. I hung out in the bedrooms where we had had plans to raise our children, and looked at the closet I had designed. This was the room I was going to grow old in. Here was the lovely large bathroom. I looked out the back door at the beautiful private deck surrounded by rhododendrons, and remembered how I had received the screen door as a gift for my 28th birthday. I stood under the graceful maple trees in the wide backyard, and remembered how the front pear trees showered petals in a fluttering white rain in the spring. I have fond memories of the beautiful kitchen, with the polished and glowing wood ceiling and the expansive counter space. I had doubts about selling.

Upon completing one full revolution around the sun, Calvin was rewarded with cake.
And then I tripped over the sloping floor, and whacked my head against a slanted ceiling, and caught my hip against the ancient door latch catchplate that sticks out an obscene amount, and the door knobs wobbled in my hands, and I remembered how cold the tile floor was in the cold cold bathroom. And how the kitchen needed that much cupboard space because there was NO storage space in the whole house except a difficult to reach attic with nail tips reaching out to scratch at your scalp and face if you dare to try to stand. "Charming" sloping ceilings where you lost about 20% of usable space. Doors that didn't shut.
At Ryan's wedding in June.
The move was not fun, but it was over in a day. And while we're still digging out from the boxes (let's not talk about unpacked boxes), we have closets and a basement, and the only thing we've whacked our heads on is the chandelier in the dining room, before we put a table underneath it. The strong water pressure is lovely, and I remembered what it was like to live in a warm and well-insulated house*. Living out of boxes while my parents finish moving 30 years worth of their life into their apartment has been a challenge, but it also shows you what you are really able to live without**.

Since we still live in the same town, every now and then I find myself by the old house as I'm running errands, and take that street instead of the more direct route, and I smile to see how quickly the new owners have made it their own home. There are blinds in the big picture window now, and pumpkins on the stoop.

What else did we do this summer? We went to weddings, we flew kites. Calvin turned one, and followed his cousin, Bryce, around at the family Fourth of July get-together. Elisabeth turned 30 and got a visit with her cousin Thad for the first time in over a decade. (Liam also aged, of course, but he didn't hit a milestone birthday, and he dislikes celebrating his birthday.)
Silly cousin pictures are more interesting than serious cousin pictures.

*when I was growing up, I thought that people wore long sleeves in the winter because long sleeves in the summer were too hot, so by default you had to wear them in the winter. I also wore short sleeves in the winter. I wore whatever struck my fancy. It did not occur to me that most people wore long sleeves in the winter because it was cold, and you NEEDED long sleeves to stay warm. This is a testament, I think, to the excellent insulation in my childhood home. Moving out after college showed me that pretty much everyone else spent their winter in a permanent state of almost-shivering. And that was when I started wearing socks around the home instead of bare feet and short sleeves.

Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height.
**Except my knitting needles. Where is my binder of circular knitting needles? We haven't found the box that it's packed in, and I'm getting antsy to start new projects. I have a dragon wing cowl I would like to start knitting. Replacing $200+ worth in knitting needles (accumulated over twenty years) wouldn't be fun. It seems something goes missing with every move. We never found out what happened to that drill five years ago, or why ALL of our pie pans that disappeared seven years ago. We still haven't remembered to replace our pie pan, although we discover its loss and complain about it every few weeks when we're trying to make dinner and end up using a rounded casserole dish instead.

Friday, July 24, 2015

In which Sirius Black forgets how to Cat

"Prrrpt? Meow."
Liam scoops up Sirius The Cat and rubs his face into the cat's soft belly. Sirius goes limp. He is used to this. He lets his 14 pounds hang mostly limp and observes the room from a different perspective.

"Honey, you've got to trim his claws again, they're like talons!"

Sirius purrs. He is upside down. This is a novel experience for him.

"Seriously, look at these! Hawks would be envious of these claws! They'd be like 'Holy smokes, dude! Where do you not get your nails done!'"

Sirius lazily rolls out of Liam's arms and thuds to the floor, crouching. He checks the food dish. The Food Fairy has refilled it. We contemplate the idea of nail salons where eagles and hawks go to get their nails *not* filed.

Two weeks later

Liam comes home from work. Sirius the Cat wanders down the stairs to greet Liam at the door, and flops at his feet, face disinterested, but belly conveniently arranged from rubs. His ears betray his anticipation. Liam stares for a moment before swooping down to aggressively rub and razzle the cat's fur. His fingers sink knuckle-deep into black fur. Sirius barely twitches an ear, and lays his head on the ground.

"If I were an eagle, you would be dead," Liam informs the cat.

Sirius purrs, unconcerned.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In which we recognize that owning a house is a bit like Stockholm Syndrome.

Owning a house is a bit like Stockholm Syndrome.
"I love my house," one says. "It is full of charm, and it is Mine."
This keeps up until one has an opportunity to leave said house, to end the mortgage and find a better place to live.
"I hate this house," one says. "Nothing is level, and that cabinet sticks, and it's cold and tight and cramped, with no closets or basement or storage space, and an inefficient heating system and insulation, and I had to hang the curtains crooked just so they would look level!"
We're selling the house this year and moving across town to the house I grew up. (Well, we're hoping it sells quickly, that awful Thanksgiving snow storm tore down several large limbs on our flowering pear trees and crushed our rhododendrons, and honestly I'm pretty annoyed that that happened to some of our selling features only once we had decided to sell.) My parents are building an in-law apartment behind the house, downsizing from the two-story house that is ideal for raising a family but not ideal for the long-term plans of retirement (this works out ideally for Liam and I, as we are, indeed, at this moment, raising a family). It's a return to multi-generational living that was the societal norm before the 20th century brought the Postwar construction boom! We get the space, they get the security of independent living with family right there to help out (I'm sure my father is thrilled that he'll no longer be solely responsible for the front yard and the driveway). We're delighted to have the opportunity to have Calvin grow up with his grandparents right next door, convenient for sneaky cookies and play. We are also excited for a house with closets.

Here is a picture of Tomoe being cute.
This decision couldn't come at a better time, as we just got Calvin's routine one-year lead levels bloodwork back, and his lead levels are at the highest possible measurement that is still technically in the "normal" range. Did we mention that our current house is 140 years old, and probably full of lead in all sorts of spots that we didn't realize? All those "charming architectural details" that dazzled us when we were naive first-time homebuyers are suddenly a lot less charming now that we've lived with them for three years.

Friday, June 5, 2015

In which Elisabeth finds herself with more "free" time than she is used to filling.

Last night was my last night at the NHTI Library. Today, for the first time in 7 years, I only have one job (plus minding a baby full-time). I find myself a little bit lost. What does one do with "free" time? How does one stay focused without the constant threat and stress of missing deadlines, and getting to see your family only 1 1/2 evenings per week? It's a little bit baffling and a whole lot of overwhelming.

This transition to Only One Job (plus baby) is exciting (I'll finally be able to give both my job and my lonely child proper amounts of attention and interaction) and terrifying (oh jiminy cricket, that's 4 nights less a week of adult interaction where I am Elisabeth instead of Mummy, and what does one DO with a child all day when you're not constantly distracted and hoping he can entertain himself for ten more minutes while you frantically finish a press release?*). It comes as a good time, and Calvin seems to have skipped the Toddler stage of childhood and skipped straight to the lesser known Runner stage of childhood. This morning alone there were several terrifying moments where I feared for his safety, the worst being during my morning shower when I heard a loud thump from upstairs, which I immediately assumed was him somehow climbing out of the safety of his playpen and crashing to the floor. I then flew upstairs in a flurry of soapsuds, hoping to catch him before he toddled (read: ran) out of the bedroom and fell down the stairs. (This story concludes with me finding him still safely ensconced in his playpen, methodically flipping through an upside-down board book, and he was very happy to see a silly wet Mummy in the doorway, Mummy let's play now, Mummy, Mummy, MUMMY I DON'T WANT TO BE IN THIS PLAYPEN ANYMORE, MUMMY.) All unknown noises in the house are usually assigned to the cats. Sirius came trotting into the room with a hair tie moments later, begging to play "fetch". I blame him.

Liam will not need knee surgery, we are happy to report. His awful knee pain was fixed nearly immediately by purchasing a new, different pair of work shoes, with cushy padding in all the right places. This was thrilling (hurray, no surgery! no more pain!), and also incredibly frustrating (seriously? all this time and it was that easy a fix?).

In a short week, we shall be celebrating surviving a year as parents (the child survived, and even thrived, as well). In anticipation of our party (seriously, he won't remember the party, we're claiming the party as our own), I have purchased a bubble machine**. I wish I could say that I purchased the bubble machine for my child, that it was because I got light headed from constantly blowing bubbles, but the truth of the matter is that I have had my eye on bubble machines for some time, and only pretend to be a functioning adult. One of the benefits of having children is that people assume the childish amazing things you buy are for your children.

*(The answer to this is apparently finger painting, in case you were wondering.)

**It is shaped like a little round robot and moves around the room on little self-propelled wheels, like a roomba vacuum, spewing bubbles as it goes.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

In which our little potato becomes a People

Well, it's happened. Our small child, The Hatchling, The Sprogling, Grasshopper, Player 3, Calvin (of the House Jewell, Slayer of Sleep, Destroyer of Avocados, the first of his name) has taken his first steps.

It is a reminder that the year anniversary since his birth is fast approaching. (When people say "they grow so fast" I suspect they mean "A year of my life passed so quickly, without me noticing, because I was paying attention to Someone Else" and honestly it sort of freaks me out that a year of my own life has slipped past with little accomplished except Keeping The Small Child From Dying, which is no small accomplishment, to be sure.

Our little person is now developing things that People like. He has preferences (bathtime splashtime, yay!) and acts on them (he crawls to the tub multiple times throughout the day and tries to climb into the dry and empty tub, good luck, buddy). He has a favorite book (Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin) and seeks it out, and carefully (and enthusiastically and imprecisely) turns the pages over and over and makes happy noises. (This book has also grown in thickness by about double, now, what with all the taped rips in the pages and binding.) He does not like shirts being pulled over his head, because they cover his eyes.

On that note, Liam and I have started planning Calvin's first birthday party. By "Calvin's" first birthday party, we mean "Our Party To Celebrate Surviving a Year as Parents, In Which The Small Child Also Survived and Thrived". Let's be honest, he won't really remember a party, and we are due for some fun with friends. He may end up with a cupcake of some sort. We will probably still have a pirate or dinosaur theme, but that's mostly because we like pirates and dinosaurs, and now that we have a child in the family we are more easily able to pretend that we are buying ridiculous things for him. We're uncertain if there will be an eyepatch dress code, but please plan accordingly.

Liam has just finished six months of on-the-job shadowing and training, where he learned the credit union's different job functions in-depth by practicing them three days a week on top of his normal job of trainer and putting together financial literacy fairs. It's been a long six months of unreliable schedules while we tried to arrange babycare coverage between our schedules, and long hours and heavy work loads, but it's over and he made lots of friends among his temporary co-workers, and he now has a very good overview of what his trainees need to learn when he brings in a new employee.

Elisabeth has had lots of exciting authors at her bookstore events, most recently two Newbery Honor winning authors in one week as she hosted Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted) and Katherine Applegate (The One and Only Ivan). Charles Simic (former Poet Laureate) also stopped in for a poetry reading in April, his second visit to Gibson's.