Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baked Sandwiches—Redo

 "Ladies and gentlemen, I have been to the Great Wall of China, I have seen the Pyramids of Egypt, I've even witnessed a grown man satisfy a camel. But never in all my years as a sportscaster have I witnessed something as improbable, as impossible, as what we've witnessed here today! "

If you'll recall, I wasn't entirely sold on the baked sandwiches I made a few weeks ago, finding the sauce a tad too sweet for my family's liking. Which was a bit of a shame, because they're so friggin' easy that I'd like to add them to my regular meal rotation.

So last week I wanted to make a simple lunch for Husband and I and I had four leftover rolls and a few slices of lunch meat left from when I made these the first time. I hate wasting food, so I decided to give them a try again, but this time with Italian dressing drizzled over the top in place of the buttery mustard—and—brown sugar sauce. I also went with full slices of cheese instead of halves.

And dude. YUM. They were so, so good. And because I didn't have to cook a sauce, they were actually even easier.

So yeah—if you're like us and not big on sweet sauces, just sub in Italian dressing and do everything else exactly the same. I'll definitely be making these again, especially if I find the rolls on sale for $0.79 like I did last time. 

Baked sandwich with Italian dressing and bbq chips. YUM.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Peek at Our Week

"The dread pirate Steve be in no man's debt. I'll make a barter with ya, true as the North Star. In exchange for your kindness, I'll be sharing me buried treasure with ya... once I find it, that be."

I though I'd offer a little insight into some of the things we've got coming up this week. Bear's last day of school is Wednesday, and I'm really looking forward to having her home with us during the day. We've been putting together a calendar of free and inexpensive activities that we can do this summer, and our plan is to regularly consult it and get the heck out of the house at least once or twice per week.

Bug, peeking at our week. OK, it's a stretch, but what an adorable baby.

Tomorrow night we're helping out at a Ronald McDonald House dinner with a group of homeschool families. I'm hoping that there will be a good turn-out, mostly so that there's plenty of help on hand but also because I'm looking forward to meeting some potential new friends (for me and for Bear).

Bear has been very reticent about homeschool, but I think she's starting to come around. She has a pretty negative disposition anyway (which she obviously gets from someone other than her sunshine-and-butterflies mother), and she also resists change, so this has been a difficult process for us so far. I think meeting some awesome families who share our values and outlook on education will be really good for her.

I didn't tell her it was a "homeschool" get-together because I don't want her to go in having already decided that she hates everyone and everything about it. I explained what RMH is and told her what we'd be doing, and that we'd be going with a big group of people and would hopefully make some new friends and she lit up like a...lighty thing. I don't know. I'm overtired and under-caffeinated. Back off.

So that's Tuesday evening. Friday evening we're going to the public library for the Summer Reading Club kick-off. There is talk of pizza, so as far as I'm concerned it could be the Summer Toenail Clipping kick-off and I'd still go. Bear really loves the library and she loves to read, so we thought it would be fun to actually participate in something.

So that's our week, essentially. There will be lots of free play time, and hopefully opportunities to meet with friends at the park or something for a playdate. And now that she can ride a bike, there's even more potential for fun.

What does your summer look like? Anything cool going on that we should know about?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bear's Bicycle Bonanza

"You know, once I was thinking about quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung, and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and I won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit."

(I am really into the 'B' alliteration with my titles lately.)

So here's an example of how Husband and I are garbage parents.

When Bear turned five, we did what any good parents would do and we got her a bike as her birthday gift. We went to Toys 'R' Us and picked out a cute, pink and purple number with removable training wheels and a zip-up pouch on the handle bars. She was thrilled. We strapped her in to her Barbie helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads and let her zip around.

Our driveway. A few times.

Over the course of the next four years, Husband took her out to practice in the street maybe three or four times, and once we walked as a family to the store and let her ride her bike alongside. What I'm trying to tell you is that my nine year-old was incapable of riding a two-wheel bike because Husband and I are so paranoid and also perhaps a little bit lazy and selfish that we never really took the time to teach her.

Every summer we made a big vow that we were going to buckle down and really work with her. And every summer we opted instead to stay inside our air-conditioned home and read or watch tv.

But you know what? That's okay, because the kids who live in the cul-de-sac picked up our parenting slack and taught our kid to ride a two-wheel bike in two days. Two days in a row she went outside to play with them and the next thing I know, she's calling me outside to show me how she can zip around on one of their bikes, no problem.

Yep. A group of kids ranging in age from eleven to fourteen just schooled me. And I'm fine with it. Sometimes nature picks up nurture's slack, you know? So now my little girl is outside on her own bike, which we had to dig out of storage, de-training wheel, and pump up with air.

Bear's bitty bicycle

And you know what? That sucker is WAY too small for her. So it looks like she'll be getting a new one for Christmas. We owe her that much.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

One of the Few Kool Krafts I've Done

"This is Patches O'Houlihan saying, 'Take care of your balls, and they'll take care of you.'"

When I posted about Bear's birthday the other day, I forgot to include pictures of the super awesome invitations I made! I was so proud of myself because I am decidedly un-crafty, but these were easy and they turned out really cute.

Basically what I'm saying is that I'm looking for compliments.

I clumsily redacted some of the personal info, but you get the gist. Are you so super jealous of my skillz and creativity?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pinterest in Real Life: Baked Sandwiches

 "Cram it up your cramhole, La Fleur!"

A baked ham sandwich with salt & vinegar chips
On Friday I made these baked sandwiches that I pinned from Simple Organized Living. While I don't mind cooking and am actually pretty decent at it, I don't have a bunch of fancy kitchen tools, so I like to stick mostly with simple recipes that only require the basic pots 'n pans. This recipe fits that bill.

No one in my house likes mustard, but I wanted to stick with the recipe as much as possible and I figured it would be fine since it was in a sauce. However, I didn't use poppy seeds because I couldn't find them at Kroger and they seemed like "extra," anyway. As for the meats, I made some with turkey and some with ham and I just used Kraft singles, halved.

Word of advice—if you try this, assemble your sandwiches first, as instructed. I started the sauce and then began sandwich assembly, but the sauce is ready so fast that I felt rushed and I kept having to stir it.

I baked these for twenty minutes and it was just right. They were lightly crisp and brown, and the cheese was all melty and warm. Yum.

The verdict? They were pretty good. We all found the sauce to be a bit too sweet for our tastes, so I'm thinking of experimenting with bbq sauce next time and maybe leaving out the brown sugar. I'm open to suggestions. I like this recipe because I think there's room for tinkering and getting creative, so I'll definitely make it again. That, and the leftovers have made and excellent lunch for me for two days.  I think these would be good with mushrooms instead of meat and maybe an onion sauce of some kind. Let me know if you make these and what ingredients you use.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bear's Ballpark 'n Bowling Birthday

"Alliteration aside, I'll take my chances in the tournament."

Bear's birthday breakfast
Bear's ninth birthday was last Thursday, and we tried to make it really special for her this year. Last year I was six and a half months pregnant with Bug, so everything was very low-key. So on Thursday I made her the birthday breakfast she had requested (pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and bacon). Then I decorated the car with birthday signs and balloons for the ride to school, and we brought cupcakes from Servatii to her class in the afternoon. 

Thursday evening we went to a Florence Freedom game with my inlaws and watched the home team get stomped :(. But Bear and her six year-old cousin had an awesome time, and it was great to be out on a clear, cool evening with a draft beer and people I love.

Saturday, we had her bowling party for her friends at Sports of All Sorts. Husband was out of town this weekend at Rock on the Range, but in my ever-present overconfidence I was all, "Psh. I got this. I don't need help. Why wouldn't I be able to handle seven sugared-up 8-12 year-olds plus a nine month-old by myself in a loud, crowded venue?"

Thankfully when my uncle and aunt showed up to drop off my cousins, they were all, "Bitch, you crazy!" and stayed to help. And I was really grateful, because although I'm sure we would have made it out alive, it was nice to keep my sanity intact, too. So I sent them home with cupcakes.

(Which segues to...)
Instead of ordering a bakery cake or commissioning one from a private baker, I let Bear pick a flavor and I made cupcakes. Much less mess, no cutting, WAY less expensive, and easy-peasy.  I just made a Betty Crocker boxed strawberry cake mix, but I did opt to go with homemade frosting because the canned stuff not only tastes like chemicals, but it pipes like shit and doesn't hold its shape. I used this recipe for the frosting and I think it turned out really well. 

I put them in the fridge overnight and the frosting held beautifully.

Bear declared this year's festivities, "My best birthday ever!" and I'm so happy we could do that for her. She's had a difficult year full of transitions and major adjustments, and we wanted her to feel special and valued on her birthday. 

And now it's back to chore charts and sugar limits. Reality's a bitch.

Friday, May 18, 2012

She Knows About the Bunny

 "I like... unicorns."

Last week while we were driving to the bank, Bear asked me point-blank if the Easter Bunny is real.

Let me preface this little story by explaining that I have never, at any point, told my daughter that there is an Easter Bunny, a Santa Claus, or a Tooth Fairy. Other people did this and I opted not to be a buzz kill. It's not that I think these fun, innocent childhood myths are bad or wrong—it's just that I never saw the point in going out of my way to make them "real". Kids will believe in them until they don't, or until someone tells them the truth, and that's that. I was TRAUMATIZED when my mother, assuming I had it figured out at eleven years old, asked me if I wanted "to help put the boys' stockings together" in reference to my little brothers. I was all, "What the WHA!? Santa does that!" And she was all...


So yeah, I decided a long time ago that while I wouldn't be a Debbie Downer, I also wouldn't flip out if someone slipped in front of my kids or if they caught us in the act of putting gifts under the tree. I wouldn't be running around trying to make it look like reindeer had been on the lawn or rabbits had shit on the porch, and I wouldn't be rapid-firing colorful stories when the questions got too intense. When Bear would ask questions I would simply say, "What do you think?" Sometimes the questions got tricky, but I put a lot of thought into my word choice and it worked well.

Understand, I'm not judging parents who do like to make a big deal out of holiday myths. They're fun, and I don't believe their children's fragile psyches are being damaged because mom and dad tried to make childhood more magical. In my case, I'm just taking precautions. My poor kids will be screwed up enough by things I don't even realize I'm doing, so I have to minimize any known risks. :/

So anyway—the other day she asked me. In typical fashion, I said, "Well, what do you think? What makes sense to you?" She rolled her eyes and said, "Mom, please just tell me. Is the Easter Bunny real or do you make my basket?" Again, I asked her what made the most sense to her, and she said, "It just seems really weird that a giant bunny would hop around with baskets for all the kids."

Ultimately, after coaxing her into really giving it some thought, I told her that yes, I do make her basket. And when I asked her how she felt about that, she said, "Good," with a big smile on her face. She was excited when I told her that I will still be making her a basket every year and that she could now help with her brother's basket, and she understood when I explained that she should do the adult thing and not spill the beans to kids who might still believe.

As we walked into the bank, she said, "I'm not even going to ask about Santa Claus. A man delivering presents makes a lot more sense than a giant bunny, so I think Santa could be real." And then we had a good giggle fit over the mental image of the huge bunny bounding around with baskets full of candy and cheap toys.

And that was that. My baby gave up the ghost of the Easter Bunny and I felt a fresh, gray hair sprout at my crown.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day, Our Way

"Just don't go cryin' to your mommy when I spank you in front of all these people, White."

I really hate people.

Let me rephrase that. I really hate dealing with people. Especially hungry people who have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and very little patience.

You know—people like me.

My custom-built Mother's Day cards. :)
So our Mother's/Father's Day tradition has been to avoid the long lines of families filling the lobbies of every single restaurant in the United States and spend the day relaxing at home instead. The Person of Honor chooses a restaurant and the other spouse goes and picks up carry-out. We eat at home in front of the television, as God intended, and then usually try to squeeze in a nap.

It's glorious.

So I didn't cook, I didn't clean, I changed only one diaper, and I slept in. Past nine. When I got out of bed there were happy, breakfasted children and a smiling Husband waiting for me with homemade cards. When we were ready for lunch, I called in our order to Olive Garden and Husband picked it up while I snuggled my munchkins. And then we just did a whole lotta nothin' for the rest of the day.

Maybe someday we'll do the whole bbq-and-cornhole thing, but for now, while our kids are young, I prefer just to hang out with my little family and forgo the majority of my responsibilities for a day.

What are your family's traditions? Do you gather the generations in one place? Do you go out or stay in? Is there chocolate?

Monday, May 14, 2012

We FINALLY Had Our Yardsale

"In thirty days I'll be bulldozing that shit-heap you call a gym into permanent nothingness. And I can only hope that you, and the mongrel race that comprise your membership, are inside it when I do."

After weeks and weeks of weather setbacks, we finally managed to have our yardsale on Saturday. The weather was gorgeous—sunny and warm, but with a light breeze. Our neighbors joined us in the space between our houses at 7:00 a.m. to begin setting up. We had clothes. We had toys. We had books. We had electronics. We had change for some decent sized bills. We had signs and online ads.

The only thing we didn't have on that most glorious of yardsale days was buyers.

If there was a dead cat or twelve in there we could be on Hoarders.
Oh, we saw a little traffic here and there. Bear made about $10 on her lemonade stand, mostly because she fearlessly approached people to peddle her wares and just about everyone tipped her. In item sales, we cleared about $60. Not a total flop, but we have a TON of stuff left.

My plan was to take everything that was left to Once Upon a Child, Half Price Books, and Goodwill, but we have so much left that we've decided to give it one more shot in two weeks. As long as that hag Mother Nature behaves herself, we're thinking that a non-Mother's Day weekend might work better.


I'm so over this already.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why I Decided to Write this Crap

 "'Okay, I'm not sure where you're going with this.' 'Well, I'm not sure where you're going with this.' 'That's what I said.' 'That's what I'm saying to you.' 'All right. '...Touché.'"

Not my family.
This is that post that probably should have been the first post but it couldn't be since I was still sorting out in my mind what exactly I wanted this mess to be.

When I first began seeking information about home building and the process, I was disappointed at the dearth of real-life accounts. Sure, I found plenty of builder reviews and horror stories, but I couldn't find a place where anyone had sort of chronicled their experience as they went through it. Even though every home building experience is unique and there is no "one size fits all" how-to model, I wanted to hear about someone else's process. Maybe I was using the wrong keywords or something, but I kept coming up short.

So I figured that since my family is going to be doing this thing, I may as well step up the plate. Next year when we put the house on the market, buy our land, and begin narrowing down our choices for contractors, the focus here will shift more toward that process. Right now I talk a lot about the things we're doing in our daily lives, and I want to keep doing that because that's part of this whole life-building process. But yeah, when things really take off and we actually do Get the Hell Out of Here, I will begin talking more about the heavy lifting of building our dream home/life, and I hope some of my experience will be helpful (or even just mildly entertaining) to some of you.

That's really where we are for now. Just moving forward, trying to make good decisions that will help us reach our goals without forgetting to live in the present.  Thanks for going along on this crazy adventure with me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting the Hell out of Here: Part Eight

 "I'm explaining to you because you look nervous."

Build the Dream House

This is the accumulation of what will likely be two to two and-a-half years of hard work and upheaval. Once we've sold this house, found the land we want, and spent a year to a year and-a-half saving and preparing, we'll finally break ground on our dream home.
This is where the shit will really hit the fan. There'll be contractors to interview, codes to review, a slew of tiny design details to work out, and compromises to be made. We'll go in with a budget and a dream and whittle away at both until a satisfactory plan can be made. We'll have to decide where to splurge and where to save for later upgrades. We'll have timetables and setbacks and frustrations and moments of elation.

And after all that, we'll have our beautiful, custom home. We'll move our family in and settle into new routines. We'll decorate and cook meals and play games and fight and learn and grow. It's going to be awesome.

In preparation for this entire process, I downloaded this really helpful ebook that outlines a typical home building process. It's not claiming to be the end-all-and-be-all of home building, but rather a nice guideline to prepare for some of the possibilities. I really enjoyed it and found it helpful because it gave me a nice idea of where to begin and where to go.

I've already begun compiling a shortlist of possible contractors based on reputation and the information on their websites, and I imagine we'll try to narrow it down to three or so to interview. We have an idea of where we feel our money will be best spent and where we can save for later upgrades and I want a builder who will offer his or her experience and insight without making us feel pushed. I'd love to find someone with experience building Craftsman-style homes, as that's what we want and I want it done right. But most of all, we want a builder we can trust not to use shoddy materials in the structure. I'd rather put in builder's-grade cabinets and counter tops and fixtures and put our money towards quality building materials, but I need to know that the contractor is actually going to follow through on that plan and not go with the cheap shit while pocketing the rest of the money.

So yeah, that's a little scary. This is our forever home and I don't want it falling apart five years in.

I'd love to hear about your building process or plans. How did it go or how is it going?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pinterest in Real Life: Sour Cream Chicken

 "Aaaaaaaaaas youuuuuuuuuu wiiiiiiiiiiiish!"

Okay, so I get a D- for presentation, but it tasted really good!
I made this sour cream chicken recipe for dinner Friday night and it was awesome. I had some chicken breasts thawed and no idea what to do with them because I am so super bored with most of my go-tos, so I popped (I typed "pooped" at first) onto Pinterest to see if I'd pinned anything useful at any point.

Lo and behold. This chicken was delicious. It was even still pretty damned good re-heated. The recipe is super easy, but here's what I did differently:

  • I am out of garlic powder, so I used onion powder. And I am just-now-as-I-type remembering that I have fresh garlic in the cabinet. Fail. 
  • I don't usually keep stuffing on hand unless I'm planning to make meatloaf, so I used Kroger brand Italian breadcrumbs instead. They worked perfectly. 
  • I did not make two pounds of chicken. I'm only feeding two adults and one adolescent girl with a questionable appetite (except when she's sneaking and killing bags of chips behind my back), so I just made one pound.
  • I didn't measure anything but the butter. I just slapped some sour cream on there, nice and thick, and then carefully poured the breadcrumbs over it. 
  • I did not cook this for an hour. My oven cooks fast anyway, so I always plan to check things well before the recipe indicates. The chicken was absolutely perfect in 30 minutes.
The flavor was fantastic, the chicken was moist and juicy, and I will definitely make this again. The butter did leave weird discolored spots where it melted into the topping, but that didn't cause any non-cosmetic problems. I don't need my chicken to be pretty, so I don't really care. But if you're going for presentation, maybe try to find a way around that step in the directions. I'm not sure how the recipe person avoided the butter pock-marks, actually.

In conclusion, I will definitely be making this recipe again, and I suggest you do, too.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Simplifying Our Lives/Home: Book Stacks

 "When I was your age television was called 'books'."

I come from a family of avid readers (bodice rippers for my mom, sci-fi and fantasy for my dad) and I always loved that about my family. Husband prefers to kick back in front of a movie than to crack a book, but he enjoys a good audiobook in the car. Bear absolutely loves to read, and almost anytime she sees me reading, she'll grab a book and climb up next to me. She also loves to read to Bug, and will do so any chance she gets. Those are some of my favorite moments.

So not surprisingly, we've acquired quite a library. Both Bear and I are really into series, so we end up with entire collections of one author's work taking up a foot or more of shelf space. I also like to go on trips with my girlfriends once or twice a year (though that's on hold while Bug is little) and I read on my flights. There are times that I spend eight or nine hours between destinations because of layovers and delays, so I've always packed three or four books.

Our Kindles. Obviously.
All that changed when I got my Kindle last year. It was a gift from my mom for my graduation from college, and I love it. I can load it up with all the books I want and stick it in my purse for flights, waiting rooms, nursing time, or whenever.

Bear saw how much I love my Kindle, so she saved up her money and bought her own. Rather than linking a credit card to her Amazon account, we just load up gift cards. 

We've since gone through all of our physical books and really purged the hell out of them. We've kept anything that was signed by the author or that we know for sure we'll re-read, but we've cut way down on the number of physical books.

How has this simplified our home?
  • Fewer books collect less dust, saving time cleaning and reducing allergens.
  • We have more storage space for things we need.
  • Our move will be that much simpler with less (heavy stuff!) to pack.
  • We used the money we got from Half Price Books to buy fun craft supplies at Michael's.
  • We'll make money from the rest of the books if we ever get to have this damned yardsale.
  • We can take all the entertainment we need with us anywhere without packing more (there are even free games you can load).
  • We can borrow books for free from the library without ever leaving our house (no late fees or gas money).
I'll never lose my affection for a crisp new book, and eReaders are not for everyone. This is not an endorsement of Kindle or Amazon, either. It's just one way we've cut back on some of the clutter and stress in our lives. 

Do you have an eReader? What do you like or dislike about them?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pinterest in Real Life: Homemade Donuts

 "She doesn't get eaten by the eels at this time."

I will literally gnaw your hands off over this shit.
I am a girl who loooooves me a donut. I don't eat them very often because I also loooooves me a pair of jeans that fit. Still, sometimes I just want a f%&#ing donut and if anyone stands between me and said donut, I make no promises about what I will or will not do. Except to promise that I will charge like a bull and send them sprawling to the floor in a heap of MOVE IT, ASSHOLE!

So when I came across this delicious looking recipe on Pinterest, I gently wiped the drool off of my keyboard and pinned it for later reference. Last weekend was "later".

These donuts are really delicious, really easy, and really terrible for you. Husband informed me that I was going to need to make them for him every single day for the rest of our lives, 'cause he thinks he has power (adorable), and Bear killed off most of the donut holes*, plus her full-size donut. Husband gave Bug a little taste of the sugary coating and Bug tried to remove Husband's finger with his gums.

I followed the recipe exactly, which was easy because it was a pretty laid-back recipe. The chick is all, "Just toss some sugar and cinnamon and shit in there. Yeah, like that. And pop a hole in the middle. Or a star, or like, a toucan. Whatever. Puff, puff, pass, bitches."

Okay, she might not actually be a stoner, but I humbly submit that anyone who comes up with this recipe has recently smoked something left-handed. I'm just sayin'.

In conclusion, while I will not be making these every weekend, it's not because they aren't awesome. They are. It's because I want my family to survive the next year or so and we can't do that if we're going all Hunger Games on each other over the last donut hole. So I'll make them again in a month or so, maybe with a homemade fruit glaze in place of the cinnamon and sugar. Yum.

*We do not waste donut batter in this house.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We've Got the Bubons

 "You've been mostly dead all day."

Due to an unforeseen and incredibly inconvenient illness sweeping my house, illness is the only thing sweeping my house. My to-do list has become more of a, "should probably get to that" list as I sit and hack while Bug sleeps off a nasty ear infection and cold on my lap. I kept Bear home from school yesterday because I thought she had pinkeye in the morning (which seemed likely, as I had it last weekend), but after an initial cleaning it never recurred, so she basically got a free day off to hang out at home.

Which was fine, because I'd rather not send her to her school any more than necessary, anyway.

Husband is picking up some overtime this week, which is great financially, but it leaves me alone with a sick, miserable eight month-old all day. He takes the little dude when he gets home and naps with him in the morning, but the sickies do make for a long, challenging day.

So yeah. As far as any kind of housekeeping this week, we've managed to do the bare minimum in dishes and laundry, changed the trash when it began to overflow, and I think I may have swept once. We still have so much to do before the yardsale this weekend, which is happening come hell or high water (high water being a distinct possibility). Sunday looks to be nice and I am not ashamed to tempt people away from church with an early-season yardsale full of kid stuff. The massive pile of stuff in my living room is causing me serious anxiety and I feel like the crew from Hoarders is going to show up any minute to stage a misplaced intervention.

Bear has been a huge help this week. Today she even made me lunch. I've just started letting her use the stove on her own to make frozen pizzas and things, so she heated me up some chicken fry thingies that I could eat one-handed while Bug nursed and slept. In between sucking down hot tea to soothe my very sore throat and trying to keep my house just clean enough to avoid having my children removed by the state, I cram in a game of Words With Friends or work on a blog post.

Fortunately I don't have any paid deadlines looming, so I have about a week to get my shit together. But today I must grocery shop or my family will starve, so off I go. I'm taking the night off from tumbling because if I flip upside down I think my brain might actually fall out on the spring floor.

Thanks for letting me bitch a little. Imma go have some Starbucks and buy food for these demanding children.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Getting the Hell out of Here: Part Seven

 "'Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?' 'If there are, we'll all be dead!'"

Move into an Apartment for 1-1.5 years

"But Jen! Why you want move to apartment? Why you no just stay in house?"

What a terrific question. Let me share the answer with you now.

Selling this house is probably not going to be the easiest thing we'll ever do. When we first started talking about building our dream house, the fear of finding ourselves with two mortgages hung over us, making the whole idea seem impossible. Not to mention that we need to save up for some kind of down payment for the new house. And as it is currently, we are sharing one of the two bedrooms we have with Bug. Bear has her own room, and that's not going to change. And if we found ourselves really stuck here, we could potentially make the family room a third bedroom. But we'd like to avoid all that.

So we decided to rent an apartment for a twelve to eighteen months. It's a great solution for several reasons:

  • For about the same amount as our mortgage payment, we can rent a three-bedroom apartment with more square footage than our house. That means we may not need to even rent a storage facility for any of our stuff.
  • In that cost, some utilities are included.
  • The apartment we're looking at allows large dogs, so we don't have to make arrangements for our girl, or allow her to continue to destroy our yard. We'll just have to walk her more often and take her to the bark park for exercise.
  • The apartment we're looking at has a month-by-month leasing option after the first year. That means that we can spend a year saving up for the dream house (with no toxic debt sucking up our money!) and then build the house with the option to move out of the apartment as soon as the house is ready. 
It's the perfect solution, really. The apartment is even several miles closer to the grocery store we like to use. We have time, flexibility, and adequate accommodations without the pressure and stress of selling a house strangling us, because we can just move whenever the house actually sells. No staying with relatives, no's perfect.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stretching Out: My Soul

 "You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles"

Stretching out your soul? Really, Jen?

Sounds super pretentious, right? I know!

Whatevs. I'm over it. Moving on.

 I read this on FIMBY yesterday and it resonated with me:

"I love making plans and looking with anticipation to the future but this present moment, right here, is where I need to live with contentment. Not in the "if and when" future. I've got a lot to learn in how to live this way.

To have a foot in the future, always moving forward (because we have some awesome plans), but to be content with the present.

And I need to remind myself, daily it seems, that today I'm living yesterday's plans and dreams."

I think it's a great reminder that if we're always trying to "get there," it's easy to forget where we are. I am as guilty of this as anyone. I'm always thinking, Once X and Y are done, Z is going to be so awesome! 

Come on—smell me. You know you want to, baby. (source)
I love using this blog to chronicle A-W, and hopefully I'll remember to stop and enjoy some of those yellow brick letters, because I don't think the Emerald City ever really appears. Once we move into the new house, I'll want to start thinking about landscaping. Then I'll think, Once the yard is done, we can finish the basement! And during the basement work, my mind will turn to...who knows. But it's unlikely that it will be focused on the beauty of the process in front of me. And that's a shame.

I need to meditate on this idea a bit. It just struck me so suddenly and with such ferocity that I had to share it.