Renting

Before I drop them off at the orphanage

Today has not been one to win me any honors in parenting. My in-laws showed up ten minutes ago, their weekly Monday afternoon visit, and I am hiding out in my bedroom. I am "folding laundry". I am actually trying to scrape what's left of a Pleasant Demeanor out of the Pit of Furious that is my current state. I am thinking this will take me at least until we meet Phillip for dinner. 

I understand that it's my fault. I ignored them all morning to pick up my house. Landlord sent his realtor over for picture taking and because I am 1) a decent tenant and 2) exceptionally prideful, I had a lot of work to do. I did most of it over the weekend, but certain things you have to do last minute, like hiding of bathroom essentials and sweeping of kitchen floors. I'd also saved my bedroom, aka The Place Where Everything Place-Less Goes To Die, for last. So as soon as the kids woke up they were parked in front of PBSKids and I was marching up and down the stairs putting things away, wiping down, hiding in closets, all that good stuff. 

I finished 45 minutes before the photographer came, which angered me because that was 45 minutes I had to keep everything clean. The TV was still on. 

The photography itself was relatively painless. And I didn't have to use my Grown Up Voice with the realtor, since he immediately and cheerfully acquiesced to my when-he-gets-to-show-the-house demands. (No one gets to visit while Molly (and, preferably myself) are napping. The end.) 

But Phillip took the car this morning - it is becoming more and more and MORE apparent that we are not long for the one car family world - and the weather was icky and OH GOD WE HAVE TO ENTERTAIN OURSELVES. AND IT'S NOT TIME FOR LUNCH YET. 

I kept Jack happy with computer games, graham crackers, more television and puzzles until Molly woke up, but by then I was Beyond Exhausted and just wanted them to play with each other, away from me. But no, there had to be giggling/whining (Jack is gleefully taunting his sister) or tattling (both of them accusing the other of some egregious invasion of personal space) or out of control roughhousing (that will end in tears) or SPITTING and SO YEAH I LOST IT. 

Hence the hiding in my bedroom. I am so tired. I thought I was supposed to be getting over The Tired by now, but I still want to take a three-hour nap every afternoon. And even though I have grandparents here to keep the kids away from me, I'm STILL furious with them! AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH.

Tomorrow morning we have the house inspection, which is half exciting and half a giant pain in the rear since the preschool and one car situations are making the logistics pretty tricky. On the other hand, my brother-in-law (MY BROTHER-IN-LAW!) is going to watch the kids for an hour tomorrow afternoon so I can do something about the shaggy animal currently atop my head. 

GAH. I just feel so bad because everything is going WELL but it's still a lot of WORK and I am totally putting the mom stuff on the back burner (hello PBSKids!) and WOW I SUCK AT THIS RIGHT NOW. 

Aaaand right now the kids are ordering their Ye Ye to go sit in the corner. OMG. I'm going to shut the door and dive under the covers. 


Welcome home, Cheungs!

I know I'm supposed to tell you ALL about our Disney trip and then I could probably write another week of blog posts about moving the kids into one room today and the subsequent disaster area that is my house. But right now all I can think about is that our landlord wants to sell our house, preferably as soon as possible, and I have already eaten all the chocolate. 

Last week sometime the landlord called about bringing an appraiser over. I decided not to think too much into this. Then while we were standing in line for the Storybook Land Canal Boats (cute!) Phillip took a call (not cute!) from the landlord who asked if we were going to be gone long enough for him to install new countertops. UM, YES? Except I was pretty disappointed to come home and see countertops that looked exactly the same, just minus some bubbling and peeling. 

And then today he called to tell us that he wants to put the house on the market. According to Phillip he sounded like he felt pretty bad about springing it on us, and was surprisingly forthright about why - he's losing three thousand dollars a month on his three rental properties and he's afraid of losing HIS house. I suppose I could begrudge him the lack of notice and all that, but the truth is that we're looking to buy anyway and he's been awesome to us so far and dude, it sucks to be losing that much money PER MONTH. Phillip said, "Well, we're looking to buy a house anyway" and the landlord instantly said, "Do you want to buy the house?" and Phillip said, "Well how much are you selling it for?" and while we are not ENTIRELY clear on this, as in, nothing is in writing and he could change his mind and who knows what he'll come back with if we say we want to discuss it further, but he produced a number about the same as what we paid for our townhouse. 

Which... see, this is where my mind gets blown a tiny bit. It is a number so low that it seems incredibly foolish not to say YES WHERE DO I SIGN? The houses we've been looking at are priced significantly higher. Of course, we've been looking at updated four-bedroom houses with over 2000 square feet and this house is... not that. We actually have no idea what the square footage is - maybe 1600? And there are only three bedrooms. And no dining room. And a really old, outdated kitchen. And two bathrooms that could use some remodeling. And slopey floors. And a hideous, unfinished laundry "area". And dingy blue carpet. And ancient windows. On a busy street and right next to an odd-looking duplex building - no fence between us at all. 

Still, it's kind of an amazing price. So amazing that we could definitely do some remodeling. A LOT of remodeling. 

Because we also kind of love this house. We LOVE the neighborhood and how close it is to pretty much everything. The schools are excellent. I'm always thinking about how awesome the backyard would be if I OWNED the house and felt that the work and money would be worth it. It's got a playroom downstairs. It has cool skylights and a wall of windows in the kitchen. I have spent extensive time daydreaming about how I would remodel this house (but never seriously, since I never thought we'd have the option to buy it). It's light, it has character, it has that 1920s craftsman look. We've been really happy here. 

But I never wanted to remodel anything. Phillip and are not DIY types at all. We're not into that kind of thing, have no talent in it, and if we ever attempted a bathroom remodel we'd probably end up getting divorced. That's why we're not looking at houses that need serious work. It's just not an option for us. 

SO WHAT ARE WE THINKING? I'll tell you. First of all, if we buy this house for what the landlord owes, which is the number he gave us when we asked what he'd sell for, we could hire an architect and contractors. We'd still be living in a construction zone, but we wouldn't be doing any of the work ourselves. And the second thing is that I'm really drawn to the idea of making all the decisions. That house I went to see before we went on vacation put a lot of dreams into my head. It was beautiful and modern without being the same old same old you see in every suburban development house. It was creative and beautiful and I really admired the imagination that went into planning it. It TOTALLY EXCITES me that we could have the same opportunity. 

The scariest thing is that we'd want to add at least two bedrooms, and we have no idea if that's even possible. One of the first things I'd want to do if we owned the house is knock out the walls of Jack's former bedroom (now Phillip's office) and make space for a dining room. Which means losing one of the three bedrooms. Which means we'd definitely need more. So we're not just talking a kitchen remodel, we're talking about MAJOR WORK. Additions, build outs (I'd LOVE to bump out the front and create an entry way), who knows what else. 

Our real estate agent is coming over in about 20 minutes because we want her opinion. We want to know if the estimated selling price is as awesome a deal as we think it is. We want to know her opinion about resale value, given the busy street and rental next door. We've also left a message with our architect friend, to see if it's even possible to add on to this house (and if it would bankrupt us). And I think after we talk to those two people we'll have a much better idea of what we want to do. 

Because if we don't buy this place, we're looking to buy a house within the next several weeks. And this makes me ill. 

Let's look at pictures of happy!

P1020539

Here is what Molly looked like when I finally took that lollipop away:

P1020541

I seriously have a thousand things to say about this trip (you = on tenterhooks), but right now let's think cheery thoughts for my husband who is stomping around saying things like, "We're RIGHT back where we were a year ago!" and perusing (and CALLING) rental listings. 

ETA: 

Realtor said the only real way to expand is to add a second story, which would most likely blow through our remodel cash pretty quickly. Hmm. Now to talk to the architect...


Let us put on our Backyard Thinking Caps

There was sunshine today! Lots of it! I know the rest of you are buried under forty-seven feet of snow, but I think a Seattleite gets to gleefully clap about sunshine whenever she gets the opportunity, regardless of the rest of the country's misery. SO THERE. 

It was cold, but Jack and I have been SO. BORED. in the afternoons and we spent Hour Three of Molly's nap outside in the dirt. I wielded the big shovel and Jack wielded his plastic yellow Fisher Price shovel and together we dug out the tigerlily sprouts from the layer of weeds and leaves and last year's yard refuse. 

I was out there for a long time, digging and scraping and raking and trying to figure out what we're going to DO with this backyard in the spring. Then I gave up and went to the front yard to dig out THOSE tigerlily sprouts and it occurred to me I probably should have raked leaves this fall. Oops. I raked a lot (though you'd never notice) to the side of the fence, and now I am sitting inside watching out the window as Jack and Molly pick up handfuls of leaves and throw them straight into the air. It's like picking up all the Legos after dinner, only to have the preschooler INSIST on playing with them right before bedtime. 

I am feeling Torn all over again about the yard. I loved living here in the spring - being able to see the kids playing outside from nearly any point in the house, the multiple places to play, the completely fenced in yard, all the different plants, actually using our patio furniture, oh and stringing up the tiny lanterns I bought on sale at World Market last summer. I LOVED having an outdoor space we could actually use. And I'm feeling like we'll be waiting to while to buy a house, like maybe we'll find a few we like this spring and then wait to see if prices drop. (A GIRL CAN DREAM.) And it has flaws, but I like this house and I can definitely see all sorts of silver linings to living here another spring and summer. (Preferably not another fall/winter. The heating bill about killed me when I opened it last week.) 

BUT WHAT DO I DO ABOUT THE YARD? Here it is:

Photo (13)

This is the part that confuses me. I took this picture with my back to the house. That half-dead looking thing is a very cute Japanese maple in the spring, and it's the only thing I am not allowed to move and/or kill. Not that I would (even though it's in sort of a strange place.) To the right of the maple is a rose bush (not that you can see it). And then along the stone wall and fence on the left side is the row of tigerlilies. These are really pretty until they bloom, they then look nice for all of one day, then straggly and half-dead. No like. But I won't be killing/moving those either. That doesn't seem very nice. Oh, and this is also the part of the patio where we put our outdoor furniture. I had sunflowers along the edge (Jack's seeds grew!) but that was also an awkward planting spot and we won't be doing that again. I strung the lights from the house to the maple to an evergreen you can't see - it was awesome. 

But BEHIND the maple...

Photo (14)

HMMM. 

I laid out all my tomato stakes to see if I wanted to do a garden again. So I would mulch over everything that isn't in that little square. But. That's what I did last year and it was SUCH A PAIN. When we moved in this entire area was covered in bark and I spent an entire day scraping it off to make room for my garden. And my garden was lovely until the weeds went wild. I like weeding, I really do, but I could not keep up. I don't think this yard has been weeded in a hundred years. I don't know how many times I ended up just scraping off the top layer of dirt and piling it up in the corner because of the weeds. The weeds killed almost everything except the tomatoes, which were killed by aphids. IT WAS AWESOME.

So no garden! Except. That seems SAD. I LIKE having a garden! I am not particularly GOOD at gardening, but I ENJOY it. 

But I am not doing that weeding again. I am not going to spend another spring and summer embarrassed and upset with myself because I can't maintain my tiny little garden. I am now considering CONTAINERS, which feels 1) more manageable and 2) smarter as a renter who may or may not be moving soon. But I still want to do something with that space. I think something kid-friendly because I also spent all last year yelling at the kids to stay out of the garden. 

I can mulch over the entire thing and then just let the kids play up there. I'll be able to control the weeds, and we can put up the cardboard playhouse or the wading pool or whatever in that spot. Or I can just put bark around the flowers and plants and leave the garden space open for kids to dig and be crazy. Or I can do nothing. All that fixing up is not cheap, after all, and I MAY OR MAY NOT BE MOVING!

I think the cost of bark is worth it to me though. Even though I have to buy a TON of it (for the back yard, the sides AND the front yard) it makes everything look so much nicer and I wouldn't feel like a total Yard Maintenance Failure every time I looked out the window. For those of you wondering, I did kind of sort of bring this up in a conversation with the landlady... just kind of asking what she'd like me to do with certain areas of the yard and what my thoughts/options were, giving her plenty of room to say "OH WE'LL TAKE THE COST OF YARD MAINTENANCE OUT OF YOUR RENT!" But alas, she did not offer it. 

Oh, I could also grow GRASS there, which is what I think I would do if I owned the house - or do some serious gardening and/or weed destruction - but then we would have to mow it and we don't have a mower. (Or a place to rent a mower which is what we did in the old house!) We DO have grass in the front yard, but the landlord sends a mowing service to do that. I'm pretty sure EXTRA grass costs EXTRA and I just don't want to deal with that conversation. LA LA LA!

THOUGHTS? What would you do with this space? Could I put my containers out there? It's just sort of... AWKWARD. 


In which I need to do Pilates just to go grocery shopping

Today's work out consisted of sticking both kids in one of the car carts at Safeway and maneuvering through the narrow aisles and the poorly laid out produce section and trying desperately to avoid the numerous elderly people who were too deaf to hear us approaching. Which is REALLY deaf since my kids were singing at the top of their lungs nearly the entire time. It was embarrassing. And requires more core fitness than I have. I kept crouching down and hissing at them, threatening bodily harm and all that, but they kept it up. Enough people smile and wave at them and they must find it encouraging, but the people who DON'T smile and wave are looking at ME. Like I should find the OFF button and press it, pronto. 

We also ran into a man who goes to our church. He has two teenage daughters who, as far as I can tell, are pleasingly perfect in every way. He's really nice and complimented my haircut of all things (people my DAD didn't even notice I cut my hair, so this guy gets major props) and then made all sorts of vaguely supportive yet also not comments about my immediate predicament: two children, car cart, singing, mile-long shopping list. I just kept responding with the Empty Laugh and Half Smile and kept the rude gestures to my imagination.

I meant to go shopping yesterday, but we went to open houses instead, and then I sat in traffic trying to get to a volleyball game (in which I was CLEARLY the team liability, despite my new magic shoes.) Oh, and then there was the Battery Acid In The Server Room Incident, which meant I couldn't leave to go shopping. Hence the FORCED bringing of children to the grocery store, and the FORCED using of the car cart. WOE.

Also, can I just say, I hate my Safeway. I LOVED my old Safeway. But my new Safeway is old and cramped and full of college students in pajama pants and cranky employees and the produce section is horrendous. I don't even LIKE most produce and I am disappointed in the selection. But every time I shop at the NICE store, with the three-times-as-large produce section and the million varieties of everything and the yogurt I like and the FREE PLAYROOM, I spend so much more money. And if there is one chunk of my budget I'm good at, it's the grocery chunk. So it kills me to go to the nice grocery store if I know there are pricey items on my list. And besides, the kids are snotty-nosed cough machines these days and I knew they wouldn't be allowed within ten feet of the playroom. SAFEWAY IT HAD TO BE.

I SHOULD have gone yesterday instead of going to open houses. Because, well, disappointment abounds! We went to see a Suburbs House that was almost as beautiful as its listing pictures, but was on a kind of busy-ish street and didn't have a basement or playroom area and I don't know, I just wasn't FEELING it. I have friends up there, the schools are awesome, it's REALLY not that far away, but every time we go to look at a house there it just doesn't FEEL right. It feels like MARS. 

Then we looked at a completely renovated 1915 Craftsman in a fun neighborhood that was laughably out of our price range. It had 1915-style closets (which is to say, closets in name only) and no garage and slanty floors like my rental. And some of the renovations weren't quite my style (I HATE most kitchen remodels, but then again if I were doing my own I'd shoot for white everything with, say, aqua appliances). But it felt more like a house I would like living in. I think. I DON'T KNOW. And the point is moot anyway because seriously, NO WAY we can afford that house. 

I wonder how many readers I've lost due to my incessant house handwringing. SORRY!

Oh, and then this Sunday was the big Yay! Catholic! Schools! Sunday and all the kids wore their uniforms and the church was packed because all the families who never go to church decided to put in an appearance and there was MUCH self-congratulatory Yay! Catholic! Schools! talk and it put me in a Funk. They asked Catholic school students to stand up, then former C.S.S., then parents of, then teachers, then people who've supported a C.S.S. and seriously, by the end Phillip and I were the only people still sitting down. Liz leaned over and whispered, "THIS IS TO SHAME YOU." Bah!

 


Schoolicious

Okay, let's do this. CATHOLIC SCHOOL. I might not send my kids to Catholic school. WHAT WHAT!

I wrote about this maybe a year ago? Am obviously too lazy to look that up. But I remember some "Catholic school is VERY important to us" comments and a few that seemed surprised there were other options, as well as a handful of former varyingly scarred former Catholic school students. So THAT was helpful. 

Tonight I was sitting here looking up all the numbers. If we want both kids in 3x a week preschool next year, we're looking at a price of We Could Just Barely Pull That Off, I Mean, JUST BARELY. We would do it knowing that we would only have two kids in preschool at the same time, so it would be only one year of JUST BARELY. 

Except what if we send Jack to kindergarten at a Catholic school? What are we looking at then? And after a bunch of Googling and calculating, I realized that if we sent both kids to our parish school, which claims to be the least expensive Catholic school in the city, we're looking at $800 a month. Which. Well. Hmm. 

(Note: This would be in-parish tuition. If you are not a parishioner, it's more like $1200 a month for two kids HOLY CATS.)

Yes, there is tuition assistance blah blah blah, but like Phillip said when we were talking about it tonight, if we applied for assistance we would then feel guilty every time we went out to eat or bought fancy new computer equipment (him) or a fabulous pair of boots (me). So. Hmm. 

If I want to send my kids to preschool/pre-K at my parish school, I have to start making my decision NOW. So this time next year, I will be required to make my decision about kindergarten. You see why I want to hurry up and find out where we're going to LIVE. (Note: preschool/pre-K is marginally less expensive than our current preschool, and lasts an hour longer each day, but I don't know if I LIKE that extra hour and I think I've mentioned that we LOVE our current preschool.)

OKAY SO ANYWAY. Here's my deal with Catholic school. I basically know nothing about it. Other than what I learn at my various churchy meetings and quick conversations with school parents, I'm completely in the dark. My mom went to Catholic school, but that was in the Dark Ages (sorry Mom) when nuns were still smacking you around with rulers. My handful of friends who went to Catholic school have different experiences, most of them not so great. And the youth minister at my church swears up and down her kids will go nowhere near a Seattle-area Catholic high school. SO ENDS MY CATHOLIC SCHOOL KNOWLEDGE. 

But when I think about it, I think it would be SO NICE. Especially in K through 8. I feel that I'm sorely lacking in a Catholic Foundation. I don't know so many of the really basic things you're supposed to know, and I have this idea (incorrect perhaps?) that Catholic school would give my kids what I don't have. I LIKE that there is prayer in school, I like that religious holidays are observed and celebrated, I like the uniforms and school Masses. Our school has very small class sizes and lots of music and art. It's for sure a better education than they'd get in some of the neighborhood schools, but we ARE focusing on neighborhoods with better schools (and the suburbs we're particularly interested in are known for their excellent school district). So I don't know that this is about making sure they get a better education so much as preferring a CATHOLIC education. 

However. EIGHT HUNDRED BUCKS A MONTH DEAR GOD.

And you know, because I've mentioned it nine thousand times, I come from a Proud Family of Public School Teachers. Not that THEY think one is better than the other, they know there are too many factors involved to generalize, I just mention it to show that I'm pretty positive on public schools. 

What if we buy a house with a Just Fine public school two blocks away, but the Catholic school is across town? Or if we stay where we are even, with a great public school, a different parish school five blocks away, and our parish school farther away? Is it bad to say proximity is kind of a big factor with me? It just makes sense somehow, and I'm all about Being Part Of The Neighborhood. What's funny ("funny") is that if we could somehow swing a house near-ish to our parish school, we'll no doubt be spending all our school money on the mortgage. 

I wish I felt strongly one way or the other. Instead, Catholic school just seems really NICE, like a BONUS, but public school would be totally fine too. Phillip is less inclined towards Catholic school, precisely because of the cost, and maybe that makes me a little bit afraid of deciding to insist on Catholic school. 

Maybe it's because neither of us went and we don't exactly have a context for it and we never really thought about paying for it. I know there are ways to make it work. Our priest goes on and on about how they don't turn anyone away and so many people just ASSUME we are sending our kids there. That's what you DO. So maybe I feel a little guilty too. (Well, obviously.)

ANYWAY. A couple of you have emailed/commented with the same sort of dilemma and I honestly don't know what we're going to do. I think on the preschool front we're going to send in the applications and the nonrefundable registration fees and just see what happens. We'll either find a great house and possibly lose our registration fee, or we'll stay and our kids get to go to an awesome preschool. It'll work out either way. But the SCHOOL school issue keeps bugging me, and while I understand I can't really make any decisions yet, I wish I knew what decisions I'd LIKE to make! 


I'm sorry, I just can't help writing all this out ALL THE TIME

So hey, thanks for all your comments on Sending Molly To School ASAP So I Can Have Some Peace And Quiet In My House. I am not alone! Then we were at the library this morning and there was an article about this precise topic in the local free mommy magazine so that was validating as well. What wasn't was getting the registration forms and tuition rates for preschool next year: OUCH. Perhaps Molly would like a ballet class instead? Run out of a friend's basement? Ballet slippers and tutus and recital costumes optional?

School is this huge deal in my brain lately and it has everything to do with buying a house. IF we buy a house. There's nothing we want on the market right now and we don't have to move. I think if we OWNED this house there would be a million things driving me crazy, but because it's temporary-ish and the godawful kitchen floor is ultimately the landlord's problem not mine, I don't even notice half of it. I love WHERE it is and it just works for us right now. We really want a place of our own, a place as permanent as you can reasonably expect to be, but there's nothing forcing us to do that NOW. So we wait. 

Which means I don't know where my kids are going to school and yes, it's a LITTLE early, but not THAT early. I have about a year before I have to decide on kindergarten, and the preschool wants us to reserve next year's spots NOW. We totally lucked out with this school and of course I want Jack to go there again next year, but if we move to the other side of town I'm not sure I love it enough to trek back three times a week. But who knows if we'll move? Or when? Dilemmas! And the elementary school issue is enough to drive me (or at least everyone I talk to about it) crazypants. Some of the public schools are excellent! Some are rotten! It all depends on where you live! But then we could always send them to a Catholic school, most of which have great reputations and we are, obvs, Catholic and this would make all kinds of sense. Except, again, I'm not trekking halfway across town to stick my kid in our current parish school if there is a closer one (which means switching parishes, which we wouldn't necessarily do if our kids were attending public school.)

I'm sort of cramming all of this important-ish stuff into a half-assed Thursday night post, but I JUST DON'T KNOW. It seems like we should at least prioritize a few things, ie: We want to live in a neighborhood within walking or short driving distance of a Good School. That seems refreshingly normal, right? But that may (MAY) severely limit our options for city dwelling. So then, is our priority: Finding A House We Can Afford In SEATTLE. Because then we have to think hard about good/bad schools and public/private. Or maybe the priority should be: Doing What Most Of America Deems Best For Children and buying a nice biggish house with a yard, a half hour away, in a fabulous school district. We could totally pull that off. If we wanted. Which we are not sure about. 

Our future real estate agent is going to hate us. 

Right now I feel like our "plan" is to Luck Out. It's early on in this game. Prices have dropped. Maybe there's a big enough house in our price range and near enough to our church so that our kids could reasonably go to the parish school. This is my ideal, but it seems pretty pie in the sky considering our church is in a crazy expensive area. Or maybe we'll find a house in our current neighborhood, which has an excellent public school, and is totally close enough to keep attending our church (though not so close that I'd be up for driving kids to school every morning, not when there's a Catholic school about five blocks away. LAZY. Well maybe. I DON'T KNOW. SEE?!)

And for all of you wondering, we think Catholic school sounds NICE and would be GREAT, but we aren't so sold on it that we wouldn't consider a good public school option. Feel free to convince me, though that should probably be a whole separate entry in this Catalog Of Neuroses. Actually, I would LIKE to be convinced. Yeah, okay, I'll write about that later. AHEM. No seriously. Save those comments!

So anyway, Phillip is working late tonight and I have three loads of laundry to work on, so perhaps I should focus on ACTUAL priorities instead of rhetorical ones. 


We bought a driveway and a swingset and a dog

I'm sitting here thinking about houses and neighborhoods and what will happen and then Jonathan Coulter's "Shop Vac" song comes on Pandora* and now I can't possibly move to the suburbs.

Actually, I'm not thinking about moving to the suburbs so much as moving to a very different neighborhood. This neighborhood is so far away, so unfamiliar and so not a part of my Seattle experience that it might as well be in Idaho. So I don't know why I'm sitting here with Redfin scoping out every house in our price range, especially since 1) we are living here until next summer OR LONGER and 2) the whole point of waiting is so that we are for sure as we can possibly be about WHERE.**

But I don't know. There's just something about that part of town that interests me. I was interested in it a few years ago and Phillip was all, "Dude. We don't know anybody there. We'd never see anyone. So, uh, NO." And he had a point. We are very close, by which I mean practically codependent, on numerous friends, all of whom live fairly close. It would be very sad to think I couldn't just hop in the car and go five minutes to spend the morning with a friend. Right? 

AND YET. I look at houses.

The fact that I'm considering it, though, leads me to believe I'm in a Good Place. For the longest time I've sworn up and down that I am not leaving. I am not leaving my neighborhood or my church or my friends or my grocery store or my favorite walk, because for a long time I was so anxious I needed all of these things to steady me. Change is bad. And hadn't I spent most of my life moving around and losing friends and making new ones? For the first time ever I felt like I had roots. I felt that these roots were literally holding me upright. If something bad happened I could call this person or that person and they would be with me in minutes. My house was safe. I knew all the back streets. I knew things and I was known. 

But these last two years I've been introducing myself to life without anxiety. Any significant anxiety, anyway. And it's... I don't really know how to describe it. It's like I built this big scaffolding around me - and the scaffolding was a good thing, you know, it was helpful, it propped me up - but now I'm realizing maybe I don't need some of it. Maybe I can put some of it away. I can always get it out again if necessary, but right now, it's blocking my view. I'm curious. 

So I think about what we'll do next. One of my good friends is considering a move overseas and at once I'm jealous and confident that's not in our cards. We've got the only local grandkids, we're very close to our families, we love our city and state, Phillip has opportunities, we have roots. We're not going anywhere. But this small change could make a huge difference. It'd mean a different church. It'd mean making some new friends. It'd mean identifying with a completely different part of the city. And I can't help but be attracted to that amount of change. It sounds exciting. 

Am I picking our next house based on excitement?

Our house money would go farther in this neighborhood, which is attractive, obviously. It has my required parks and water, just different parks and water. It's quick and easy access to downtown for Phillip, probably much better than where we live right now. It's closer and an easier drive for our families while still living in the city. My sister is likely moving sometime this year, and this neighborhood would be much closer to where she hopes to be. It's so much more diverse than my chunk of town, which I feel is part of the reason to live in the city. I have no idea what the schools are like, a growing concern on my radar***. And we really do have to hang out there a bit before I can declare that yes, I'm done with Familiar, I'm ready for New. 

But I want new right now. I want invigorating and fresh and anything-can-happen. It's probably not a good thing to indulge these thoughts since I've got a whole second year of grad school ahead of me, and again, WE'RE NOT MOVING YET. Maybe if I use enough caps I'll stop looking. 

*my usual Pandora station is based on Fountains of Wayne. I write really well to Fountains of Wayne, but I need to tweak it because there is WAY too much Weezer.

**Phillip feels that there are other reasons besides WHERE but since this is the only one that matters to me, this is the official Blog Position.

***Is this a growing concern on YOUR radar? Of course, I've done nothing about it except Fret.


Things I Want To Know

Does anyone else think hot tubs are gross? Is it just me? I'm not your typical easily-grossed-out kind of person, I don't worry about germs, spiders do not bother me at all, when the kids find something to eat off the floor I am ashamed of my housekeeping but not terribly concerned about the ickiness they've consumed. Swimming pools don't gross me out (much). But when a friend emailed to say she was excited about hot tubbing this weekend (we're staying overnight downtown to celebrate a birthday, a birthday that does not occur till December, maybe we are just Taking Advantage Of Our Husbands?) my immediate reaction was, "Ew." I have yet to meet someone who feels the same.

I often put Molly's hair in what I call ponytails, but everyone else and their mothers call pigtails. Two, on either side of her head. And Molly is learning to call them ponytails too, since whenever we do her hair I ask her if she wants "clippies or ponies". (I love doing Molly's hair.) But I thought pigtails were BRAIDS. I know that you, the Internet, will correct me if I'm wrong. 

Can you wear black shoes with a navy dress?

I don't know what to do about the weeds in my yard. I really don't. If this were my house, I would be spending a whole lot of time, effort and money turning this Backyard Of Potential into something truly awesome. As it is, we don't plan to be here much more than a year or two, and while I'm totally willing to put in the time and effort, spending as much money as I think I'd have to spend seems ridiculous. That said, I'm OVER digging up the top layer of dirt in my garden every week. And I can't control the weeds in the rest of the yard at all. AND I LIKE WEEDING. My garden is about to be Un-Organic, is what I'm saying, unless anyone has any great ideas. 

Molly, while incredibly stubborn, ornery and willful in nearly every way, has always been an angel about going to bed. Not once have I rocked that kid to sleep and yes, there were those months when she wouldn't go to bed until midnight, but when she DID, she slept through the night and slept late. It's always on her terms, but the girl practically DIVES into her bed when she's ready. Not so for the last two weeks, however. Going to bed is now a huge struggle, and she often wakes up two to three times in the night, hollering for her pacifier or, and this is the most enjoyable part, just waking up for the day at four in the morning. Pleasant! I am blaming two-year molars, even though I can't see or feel them in her mouth. Phillip is blaming the onset of Two. Either way, we're both stymied. Crying it out, always the best tactic with Jack (who I rocked to sleep until he was WELL over a year old), is not even an option with Molly. When she cries there is something WRONG, and even now, all we have to do is hold her/sing to her/find the perfect toy or book to hold in bed and she finally nods her head when you ask her for the seventieth time if she's ready to go night night. We just wish we knew what was wrong. 

(Kids are SO. DIFFERENT.) 

Sometimes I think it wouldn't be so bad to move away. Not to a different state or anything, but away from the city. Have a huge yard and trees and not be able to see into the neighbors' kitchens. There's a lot of beautiful scenery in Washington state, and sometimes I wonder if life would be easier, slower, more peaceful if we lived far away from the freeways. Maybe if we could see a mountain range from our upstairs windows. If we had big spacious rooms and enough grass for a touch football game. Mainly I think about this when I'm wishing for quiet time to write. 

Did you think Edward was kind of a drip when you read Sense and Sensibility? I've read it before, I've seen the movie, but it was so long ago that I pretty much forgot what happened. And as I read I found myself thinking, "I'm supposed to root for HIM? REALLY?"

I'm reading a new book now. It calls. Good night.


On houses and bath time

NO I'm not going to FRB's show tonight! Sheesh. 

I am actually Single Parenting tonight. The kids are in the bathtub and I am perched on the toilet seat, shielding the laptop from errant splashes. There is no situation like Bath Time to show me that I am the laziest mother on earth, you guys. Basically I do not care what they do in the bath tub as long as they are 1) not fighting and 2) not drowning. Like, I have told them about forty-seven times not to drink the bath water, not to slurp the bath water, not to put their MOUTHS in the stupid WATER. But they keep doing it and I think to myself, "At least they are not 1) fighting or 2) drowning." And I go on with my typing. 

For those of you aghast that I am Blogging Whilst Bathing, I have my feet kicked up on the tub. I have negative twelve feet to cross to whisk anyone out of any precarious position. I'm pretty sure I would even throw the beloved laptop aside if action were required. 

I don't see how I can feel like it's been a long week when we were on VACATION on Monday and it's also not even Friday. That's three whole days of parenting for me, and two of those days contained large amounts of Other People Entertaining My Kids. The Bride was up here this week with her new husband and if I hadn't had such a great time I'd be embarrassed of how much we ditched the kids with New Husband so we could talk. So we're sitting in a park and snacking on Rainier cherries while New Husband kicks a ball around or takes them to throw rocks in the lake. Or we're hanging out at the table finishing giant slices of chocolate cake while New Husband plays hide and seek in the backyard. "But he LOVES kids!" she kept saying. Worked for me!

Maybe it was just today that felt long. We had no plans, no one to see, no errands to run. We went for a long walk in the morning, but Jack ruined it by acting out in the grocery store where we stopped to buy fancy overnight pull ups. (PSA: do not use swim diapers in place of pull ups. Just go to the store and buy some more. Unless you like laundry, that is. I hate laundry.) So he was a brat and I used my Mean Mommy voice and then he started to howl, in public, and I managed not to die until we were safely back on the trail, away from People Whose Children Always Behave. 

But the repercussions meant Jack was remorseful enough to behave through "quiet time" and the rest of the afternoon. There were sprinklers and peaches and running around in underpants. It's not supposed to stay this warm, so we tried to take advantage. Even if "advantage" sometimes means watching back to back episodes of Sesame Street in the basement where things are twenty degrees cooler. 

It's days like these, even with the Mortifying Grocery Store Episode, that make me think I couldn't possibly be doing anything else. 

While the kids ate dinner with Elmo, I trolled Redfin for an in-advisably long time. The prices are dropping, making me in-advisably optimistic. We're not planning to buy any time soon, and we intend to be exceedingly picky when we do, but it doesn't hurt to look, right? Quite a few oldish-but-updated houses popped up - the kind I like, in neighborhoods I love. Of course it'd be a major stretch to afford those, but I looked at them anyway, favorited them anyway. 

I hate the kitchen floor in this house. I loathe it. Every time I sweep it I think: if this were MY house this stuff would be ripped up in a FLASH. But then I remind myself that it's not my house and, therefore, not my problem. And something about that makes the permanent dirtiness more manageable. Same with the lack of dining room, the ugly carpet, the awful front door, the laundry room, the claustrophobic shower and the losing battle I am fighting with the weeds in the backyard. The fact that these are not my problems to own makes them infinitely more bearable. It also makes hunting around on Redfin a frequent event. What WOULD the house-that-is-all-mine look like? 

I can wait, though. I don't need to be responsible for discolored marked up kitchen floors any time soon.

And oh look, SOMEONE is trying to drink the water AGAIN.