Family

List Love: Remembering 1223 Park Street

list love

Whelp. We’re moved. There are some repairs that need to be made at our new apartment, but on the whole we are unpacked and settled. All that’s left is to purchase new bookshelves (my flimsy Target ones didn’t survive) and hangup artwork/pictures and we will be done.

Our last few weeks at our old address were tumultuous to say the least. Dealing with our landlord’s son — he is basically the property manager for his mother — was anxiety inducing. He threatened to evict us after we turned in our notice, which makes no sense at all. He was in our yard at weird times “fixing” the lawn (the inside of the house is crumbling, but whatevs). This all culminated on Sunday. We told our landlady we could be out by the first. We paid August’s rent, which meant we were renters until 11:59 pm on Sunday, 08/31. At 4pm on Sunday they wanted to know why we weren’t out. Sam explained that he had to work and we were still moving, but he was coming over after the kids went to bed to remove the rest of our belongings and vacuum. When he arrived at our house — because it was still OUR house — all of our stuff was on the lawn. Sam thought about calling the police because the landlord should not have touched our belongings. He didn’t because we were just ready to be done. At the end of the night, the landlord spoke to Sam and made several comments not grounded in any sort of logic. Sam was told that the landlord “wasn’t a maintenance man.” He was told that houses are different from apartments in that we should have PAID for and made repairs. Then he back pedaled and said basically that this 65 year old house couldn’t be “nice.” I think of non-leaking roofs and basic plumbing as essential, not upgrades.

Anyways we are done. Done with the entire place. It about broke my heart. I’ve cried and cried and cried. I don’t know if it is because my parents lived in the same house from the time I was six years old until I was twenty-five, but I get strongly attached to locations. I didn’t go back to see the house empty. Sam handled all of it. I couldn’t bear to see hollow, empty rooms and garbage bags and that man touching my children’s toys.

I was excited to move, but I wanted to hold on to the positive aspects of our time at 1223 Park Street. Today I present my list of my favorite aspects of living at 1223 Park Street. When I start to dwell on the negative end to our time there, I pull out this list in my journal and focus on the positive.

1. Beginnings: We moved in late May of 2010 to 1223 Park Street. We had just passed our four month wedding anniversary and I was three months pregnant with Atticus. This home saw the beginnings of my marriage, Hope transitioning from a tween to a teen, and two pregnancies and births.

2. Location: The house is smack dab in the middle of the city. Less than a quarter mile from the University and less than a half-mile from the hospital. You wouldn’t know it because the house is on a little side road and surrounded by trees.

3. Wildlife: deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, wild turkey, raccoons, and turkey vultures lived on our “nature preserve.” The vultures were the coolest. They show up to roost late summer of every year. In fact, Sam and I rescued a fledgling vulture on year.

4. The mantel and fireplace: It held my owl knickknackery and looked so lovely at Christmas with all the stockings and lights.

5. Built in bookshelves: My Viragos lived here along with mounds of kiddie lit and toys.

6. Large windows. This home was full of light. There were large windows in the living room. We would sit and watch the deer wander by on early mornings.

7. My study: I had a place of my own. A little blue painted room lined with bookshelves across one wall. It was my own and I could retreat to the study for much needed solitude.

8. The sun room: My favorite room of the house. I put the dining room table in that room . We would east all of our meals with the light streaming in and in the winter the darkness was a blanket enveloping the warmth of our meal.

9. The pantry: I had shelf after shelf after shelf to store so many cans of green beans and boxes of pasta. I had room to stock up and I did.

10. My rosemary bush: I planted it when Atticus was born and it has grown every year. Atticus likes to crush the leaves in his hands to make his fingers smell like spaghetti.

We have some beautiful memories to cherish and we are ready to make our new apartment a home and fill it with new memories.

1223park street

Goodbye, July

July2014

Despite the fact that I loathe the hot, humid weather I’ve had a pretty good month. I accomplished quite a bit:

  • The house is semi-organized! The new planner is a huge help and the chore charts seem to be working. We’ve taken several loads of junk to the Goodwill and I sorted out the kids clothes and determined what everyone needed for back to school. Oh yeah, and — miracle of miracles — the study is cleaned, organized and has stayed that way!
  • My marriage got stronger. We made some decisions on moving later this year and we had a few arguments that actually led to some great conversations that improved our relationships. Sometimes you need to freak out over a fruit cobbler to get the bigger things straightened out (long story).
  • I kicked Facebook to the curb which has been amazingly freeing. I may be a bit more active on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest but it isn’t consuming me and it isn’t negative. As a result, I’ve spent more time with friends and family and I’ve had more time for reading, writing, and creating.
  • I found a blog “schedule” that has been working for me. I don’t post everyday, but there is a rhyme and reason to my posting and I find that my thoughts seem to be less scattered.

There have been other joys this month: cozy time with the kids, a date with Sam, outings with friends, thrifting, and so much coffee.

So what’s in store for August?

The big news is that Friday is Sam’s last day of full time work. On Monday he will be on a part time schedule and working at night. This means adjusting our budget and schedules. We’ve known about this change since May and that’s allowed us to save and plan so we’re ready. Sam works as a janitor right now, but he is attending school and majoring in Art Education with the goal of working with middle or high school students (he is especially interested in working with high-risk youth). He is able to attend university for FREE because of my employee tuition waiver. Free bachelor’s degree? Yes, please. He needs to take classes during the day and he would like to ramp up to full time so he can graduate sooner. So that is what we’re doing. He is a full time student and part time employee and I think it will work out well. He is also prepping for an art show in September and that will take a fair amount of time.

August is an odd month for me. It really feels like prep time for the academic year. In August the faculty return, the library gets busy, and we have loads of mandatory meetings, trainings, and “social” functions. Hope is starting high school in exactly one week, Atticus moves to the “big” side of the daycare and Persy will begin weaning (slowly, no cold turkey weaning). Lots and lots of changes and busyness. With all of that comes simple meals, shopping, streamlining tasks and work and home and treading water until September when everyone should be settled into a routine.

I guess this means that my goals for August include transitioning, accepting change, and surviving until September when I’ll be ignoring the warm weather, drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and pretending it is autumn.

 

Home is Wherever I’m with You

home

Click the picture to purchase this print from Argyle Academy. It is beautiful!

Several months ago I blogged about our basement being flooded with poo-water, a crazed landlord, and our frustration with our rental home. We are still having issues with repairs not being made in a timely manner,or not at all, and our landlord’s son still pops over at all hours despite our asking for 24-hour’s notice per our lease agreement. We deal with the landlord’s son because our landlord is an 80 year old lady, from here out “the landlord” refers to the son. Here is where they get us: we have — and always have had — a month to month lease. We only have to give 30 days notice that we’re moving and they only have to give 30 days notice to boot us out. They have been so antagonist about repairs about repairs and we are hesitant to complain too much.

Let me give you an example. Last Monday morning I woke up to Persy throwing up. Sam went into the bathroom to get me some towels and he noticed that the bathroom ceiling was leaking. It was raining outside and inside the bathroom big, fat droplets were falling from a cracked-looking seam in the bathroom. We put a trashcan under the leak and immediately called the landlord.

He came over that afternoon and could find “no sign of a leak or moisture.” I showed him the four inches of rain in the trashcan and he said that the roof was replaced seven years ago and “what did we do to the roof?” What do you mean? How could we damage the roof? While he was there I asked him about the slow-draining bathroom sink and the tub caulking that was supposed to be handled two months ago. He said “what are y’all doing to that sink?!” The sink that he informed us was slow draining and had to be cleaned out once or twice a year when we signed the lease. He then informed me that it was the pipes in the wall messing up (okay then we definitely didn’t do anything to the sink) and that he wouldn’t be repairing that or handling the tub being caulked. He called Sam later threatening to raise our rent and acting like we are terrible tenants.

What really sucks is that we are amazingly awesome tenants WITH the exception that sometimes our front lawn isn’t mowed as often as it should be. For the past four years we have never been late with the rent, we’ve notified them of repairs, none of the repairs have been due to our carelessness or clumsiness, we’ve even gone and checked on our landlord’s 80-year old mother (and owner of the property) during snowstorms and bad weather. We are quiet, respectful and never have tons of visitors or do anything to disrupt our neighborhood. Every year there is a tray of handmade goodies with something knitted or sewn or lovingly crafted for the mom and the son. We’ve tried to be not just tenants, but neighbors.

We have even offered to make some the repairs ourselves if we could take materials off the following month’s rent. We were laughed and mocked for that and accused of trying to scam the landlord. We’ve made a few small repairs on the DL just for the sake of our health and to avoid arguments. For example, the Christmas I was pregnant with Persy Sam ripped moldy wall paper out of the bathroom, spackled, and painted the bathroom with a mildew/mold resistant paint. We’ve repaired drawers and replaced door knobs that were damaged and locking our kids in the bathroom/bedrooms. Sam has pulled nails out of the floor and cut off sharp, broken edges of the linoleum. We just cannot afford to do costly repair like roofing, plumbing, and flooring issues (and we shouldn’t have to do any of this). I should take pics of all the repairs needed and show you all.
 

Yes. It is time to move. Originally we had planned on buying a home. I qualify for a no-down payment Georgia Dream loan since I work in education and we could probably buy something at the end of the year. However, I don’t want to feel the pressure to buy a home and make a decision we’d regret. We’ve decided to wait a year or two and then explore buying a home. Next year Atticus will be in pre-school which will save us about $500 a month in childcare AND we will have our van paid off. Having an extra $700 a month will help when purchasing a home. Also, Sam and I are credit card-free and we’d like to keep it that way. That means we will need to save for repairs and emergencies so we don’t find ourselves sucked into relying on credit cards.

Okay, buying is out for the time being. What about renting another home? Alas, we simply cannot afford it for several reasons. Our current home has crazy cheap rent for the size home we rent and the area we live in. Other houses in the area rent for double what we’re paying (although they are in much better condition). There is no way we could pay double what we’re paying now. Also, renting a home ends up being higher on utilities. It costs more to heat and cool, there is lawn maintenance, trash pick-up, water, etc…. Once we crunched the numbers we realized that we’d have to shell out $850 to $1,000 more per month. I cannot do that. Let me be totally honest, that’s two and half weeks of my pay and I’m the “breadwinner.” Unless one of us becomes a stripper there is no way we can shell out that cash.

Our only option is to search for an apartment. We are tasked with finding a three-bedroom apartment, in the same school system, in a good neighborhood, and for the amount of rent we can afford. We’ve found two complexes to look at. They are slightly more than we are paying right now for our house, but include several utilities and they will cost less to heat and cool. We have to wait for Sam’s student loan check to hit in early September so that we will have the cash to apply for apartments, cover the pet security deposit, and move in. That puts us moving in mid-September to early October.

We feel uncomfortable and insecure in our current home. Then I read about The Goodwill Librarian’s potential homelessness at the hands of a rotten landlord and I felt really insecure. Although I’m frustrated and ready to move, I know I will be heartbroken when we leave. We thought we’d be in this house until Hope was in college. I brought home two babies from the hospital to this home. We moved in just after four months of marriage and when I was three months pregnant with Atticus. In four year’s time, we’ve built our lives around this shabby little house. I’ll miss it.

I am approaching our upcoming move with a good attitude and a sense of adventure. It will be nice to declutter. We will have the security of a lease and know that we aren’t going to be booted out for asking for repairs. We will have a timeline to plan our home purchase to suit the best time for us and not with a ticking-timebomb of a deadline. Yes, this will be good. Difficult but good.

After all, do I need a pantry? Or a study? Or a large yard for kids to run in? No. Those things are nice, but that doesn’t make it a home. Sam, Hope, Atticus, Persy, and Beau the cat make my home home. My best memories are ones were we are all piled into the same room all together. Even though Sam has a “man cave” in the basement and I have a study upstairs I just have to think of my FAVORITE memory to know that we don’t need the space.

My favorite memory: The weekend of February 2nd and 3rd of 2013. The weather was icy and gray. I was super pregnant with Persy. Hope was on the couch “chillaxing,” Sam was playing playdoh with Atticus at the dining room table, I was cooking soup and knitting. I made oatmeal cream pies earlier in the day. Atticus and Hope played with an empty diaper box for hours drawing on the outside and making “furniture” out of it. I remember feeling like at that moment I had everyone I loved the most close to me. It was a good feeling. So that is what I’m going for, everyone I love close to me. It will be good.

5 Things I Loved About This Week: 06/21/2014

Discover. Play. Build.
My sweet niece, Evie Rose

My sweet niece, Evie Rose

 

1) I finished The Game of Thrones this past week. It was so good!!! After I finished I vowed to take a break from epic fantasy for a few weeks. I picked up a classic, Charlotte Bronte’s The Professor, and I was worried I’d have issues getting into the book as there are no dragons, swords, or gnarly deaths. I shouldn’t have worried! I’m really enjoying The Professor and it is certainly making me long to re-read Villette and Jane Eyre.

2) Book Sale!  I picked up a lovely stack of books for less than $6. I brought home Barnaby Rudge and Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens, Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, The Claverings by Anthony Trollope, The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor, Poor Miss Finch by Wilkie Collins, and The Son Advenger by Sigrid Undset. Score!

3) Chocolate eclairs. They were delicious.

4) Sam is done with classes… until Monday. It isn’t much of a break, but I”ll take that 48-hours of Sam free of study and homework. Right now he is taking the kids to the spray ground so I can have some time to read and blog. He’s a peach.

5) Yesterday I went to Mom’s house to spend time with my sister, Becky, and my adorable niece, Evie Rose. I haven’t seen Becky and Evie since December of 2012 (when I was pregnant with Persy). Evie and Atticus played well together and even took turns riding the big wheel with no tantrums. They are only 4 months apart and I’m so glad they play well together. Becky had a grand time with Persy, although Becky has raging baby fever now. It was a wonderful day. We’re hoping that Becky’s husband, Jon, will get a law enforcement job in the North GA area so they can relocate. Becky is too far away in South GA!!!

It was a good week.

Babies

I cannot believe that May is over and we are full-swing into June.  For some reason, I feel like both of my babies have grown-up far too quickly in the past month.

Mid-May marked the end of elementary school for Hope and it was such a busy time for our family.  There were tests and parties and forms and meetings.  It didn’t really hit me that my baby girl was growing up and entering a new phase in her life:  Middle School.  It didn’t really hit until I went by the school office to drop off an updated vaccination record and the school was chaotic.  It was the second to the last day of school and that school was having an “honor walk” for the fifth graders.  Basically all the teachers stood in the hallways and the fifth graders walk through the school with Miley Cyrus music blasting and everyone cheering.  I saw Hope with her little gaggle of friends.  Her blonde hair stylishly swooping over her face, her giggly grin, her sheer happiness.  She looked so…. grown-up.  It hit me that my baby girl is now a young lady and I stood in the school office, looking out the office window, and weeping happy, proud, bittersweet tears.  Later that day I told Hope that she has grown to be such a young lady and she replied “but, mom, I’ll always be your baby.”  Then she crawled up into my lap and gave me such a great big hug.

She has changed so much… her life is filled with friends, a first crush, nail polish, music, and fashion.  She’ll be playing the trumpet in band next year with her best friend Brianna and she has a summer filled with roller skating and swimming.  Even though she seems so grown-up now, she is still my Hope.  She is silly and sarcastic and smart and the sweetest girl ever.  I know she is going to make her mama proud.

out and about in Athens

Her little brother is also filling-up my days with equally bittersweet moments.  Atticus is seven-months old and has been growing-up WAY TOO FAST!  In the past few weeks he has experienced his first round of antibiotics for an ear infection, mastered crawling, said “Da-da”, and he has started pulling up.  He is a chubby, happy, funny little boy.  He is almost always laughing and chattering.  He will most likely be a class clown — he loves making silly faces and blowing raspberries.  The stage is so delightful and fun, but a part of me still wishes he was a snuggly, newborn.  The photos below are blurry because this little man is always on the go.

Reading with big sister

on the go!

Yup.  Both babies are quickly growing; all I can do is squeeze in plenty of hugs and cherish each moment.

A kid-free 24 hours

On Saturday — at approximately 11:30am — Sam and I had weekend get away.  Although we were gone for only just over 24 hours, I came back relaxed and well-rested.

First we went to our local Michaels so Sam could pick up some new canvases.  Next we were on to the local Thai restaurant; I had a bowl of Tom Ka (coconut soup), a spring roll, and some Masaman Curry.  Sam had the same except he opted for the Yellow Curry.  Then we were off to Athens, Georgia.

We stopped off at a local thrift store, but didn’t find too much.  It was close to check-in time, so we went on to the Holiday Inn.  Then we went our separate ways for a bit.  Sam and I work well together because we both know that we need time alone.  So Sam went to a comic book convention and enjoyed some PBR (ewww) and I went book shopping at my favorite bookshop, Jackson Street Books.

I behaved very well at the bookstore.  I purchased four titles — all Viragos — and then went in search of a coffee shop for some reading.

Sam met me at the coffee shop and we strolled back to the hotel to change for dinner.  It was nice getting all dolled up in a dress, and jewelry, and tights, and boots (because that’s how I roll).

We walked to dinner at this lovely place called Farm255.  They grow their own food and raise and butcher their own meats.  We enjoyed homemade bread, fries, and burgers.  Afterwards we walked to The Grit for coffee and cake.  I had an orgasmically good vegan Death by Chocolate Cake.

With our happy and full bellies we walked back to the hotel.  We showered, hopped into bed, and watched Cupcake Wars until we fell asleep.  OMG y’all, I slept sooooo much.  We went to bed just after 11 and I woke up at 5am and freaked out because I didn’t hear the baby.  Then I remembered that the baby was with the coparent and I was with Sam in a hotel in Athens.  I WENT BACK TO SLEEP.  I slept until 9:30.  It was heaven.

Around 10:45 we checked out of the hotel and went back to The Grit for brunch.  Sam had the breakfast burrito and I had the potatoes and vegetables.  We both had grits, toast, and coffee with our brunch.

After we finished with brunch, we drove back home to the kiddos.  It was a wonderful weekend.  We’re going to a Memphis wedding in August, but we’re hoping to get away for a longer weekend trip in January on our two year anniversary.  Hooray for mini-vacations!

Things I’m Loving

The past week has been about 80% shit.  Some stuff happened on the weekend, work is busy, and Sam’s truck broke down.  Not really that bad — but it has been a stressful and emotional week.

My reaction to this week has been to be a complete bitch to all the people I love.  I’ve been sullen, selfish, and not a very likable wife and mom.  Yesterday, I decided to try to focus on the positive things in my life.  The little things I love that make the day wonderful; there is almost always something sunny on a cloudy day.

So here we are, the tiny wonderful things that occurred on a Wednesday:

coffee in a Shakespeare mug

Office art created by Hope

Having lunch with Sam.  I told him I wanted to take a picture for “the blog” and this is his more than thrilled expression.

My sweet girl doing her homework

Silly cereal face

Talking to duckie

Sweet Potato Fries!!!

Reading Jane Eyre in the baby room while rocking Atticus to sleep

That one, semi-clean space on Hope’s floor

Gigglebox

Baking bread

There we are, all the happy little moments in one place.  All in all yesterday was a good day and I’m sure those other horrid days wouldn’t have been quite so bad if I had thought about all my blessings.