Family

Staycation Update

Tomorrow I head back to work. Sam will split his day with online courses, a part-time janitor job, and teaching art at a local summer camp. Hope leaves with the church youth group for a week of camp. The two little kiddos start “summer camp” at daycare. In other words it is back to reality for we grown-up people and the kiddos will have a summertime blast.

Staycation was marvelous with minimum tantrums from kids and adults. Hope didn’t really participate. She started her first job and has spent a fair amount of time working, but I did get to spend a morning out with her shopping. Staycation began with a trip to the grocery store wherein I bought Things I Never Buy: SODA. The week was busy, but laid back. A birthday party, a picnic, trips to the library and the park, a trip to the water park, dinner with friends, and plenty of playtime. It was a nice break, but I’m eager to get back to a schedule.

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Alrighty folks, on to the real world!

Goodbye, February and Hello, March!

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February is such a busy blip of a month. I felt like it flew by too quickly. This was very much a month all about family. We spent so much time together, which is a good thing (for the most part).

Here’s a quick run down of what February looked like for me:

  • Persy turned two and Hope celebrated her 15th birthday. Big milestones for my girls!
  • Persy, Atticus, and I survived a major stomach bug at the beginning of the month.
  • I finished Atticus’s rainbow blanket, crocheted a baby blanket, embroidered two baby bibs, and started a knitted scarf for Sam.
  • All that making stuff meant a HUGE dip in my reading. I only read three books in February: Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, Frost in May by Antonia White, and Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton
  • Another factor in my reading dip was inclement weather. Tons of ice and really unimpressive snow. We had six days total of weather that left the kids out of school and cooped up in the apartment. I can stitch and knit while the kids are mucking about, but reading just didn’t happen.
  • I started co-leading an addiction recovery group at church. New territory. Super fun. Kinda intimidating.
  • I hosted my first AND LAST swap. I had planned on hosting a swap every other month, but after chasing down people to send gifts and relaying “yes they sent it” and “no they didn’t get it” messages for four weeks I can honestly say that I’m not doing it again.

I suppose instead of meh swap experience and a wee bit too much family time and that one pukey weekend February rocked. No really, it did. This was my least depressing February in a long time (why does February always seem sucky?)

On to March!

  • I am reclaiming my reading this month. Cedar Station’s March Madness is going to help get me there. I’m behind on posting my TBR picture, but I haven’t picked all my books up from the library yet. My goal is to read seven books this month. My TBR thus far: In Chancery by John Galsworthy, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Her Highness, The Traitor by Susan Higginbotham, Mr. Fortune’s Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, and French Milk by Lucy Knisley.
  • To help reclaim my reading I am bringing back my early morning reading ritual. I was up at 5:30 this morning reading and my goal is to start waking up at 5am to get in a solid reading hour.
  • I don’t have many events scheduled for this month. Sam is busy with school and it is the height of track season for Hope and planning things just isn’t working. The one exception is this weekend. Sam and I are going on a mini-trip to see Gogol Bordello. Hurrah for gypsy punk music!
  • As far as thread goes, I’d like to finish Sam’s scarf and start another embroidery project.

Alright March, let’s get this party started.

List Love: Remembering 1223 Park Street

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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.

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Goodbye, July

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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

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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.