Category Archives: general

unfaithful

I cheated on our house.

We went to look at another one this afternoon. Not a curiosity visit to an Open House down the street, but an actual appointment with a realtor for a private showing of a recently listed home.

And now I’m home and feeling really guilty about it. Guilty about entertaining the thought of leaving this house behind. Guilty for walking the girls through another space, through bedrooms that can’t hold a candle to their own.

But here’s the thing. I’m really frustrated right now. We’re in a holding pattern on the house project which feels really crappy, and we don’t have a good idea of what the next few months hold on it. With delays come doubt, and with doubt comes anxiety. Are we even doing the right thing? I’m not sure anymore. I’ve had too much time to think.

So when an offhand comment was made about scrapping the expensive and invasive renovation plans and finding another house that already has the things that we are looking to add to our current house, I initially balked at the idea. No way, not a chance.

But the kernel was there, and the thought didn’t leave. The following day I altered my drive home by a couple of blocks and passed a house that we’d always admired with a newly planted For Sale sign in the front yard. Interesting. I forgot about it for a few days, but then remembered it and looked it up. I sent it to M. I called the realtor. We set a time. We saw it today. I feel so guilty.

We’ve always loved houses, and frequently drive and walk through neighborhoods admiring them, wondering about them, talking about how we’d live in them. We love stumbling upon open houses, we used to frequent them when E was little – kind of our Sunday afternoon “thing”. But it’s been a long time since we’ve done that. We’ve been committed to this place and this street and this neighborhood and this city for seventeen years and counting. We have another fourteen or so years before the youngest is through school and college, and I picture us here for at least that amount of time.

This house we saw is large. It has many of the things we love about our current house as well as many of the things our current house lacks. The rooms are gracious and light filled. There is so much potential. There is no kitchen, which sounds strange, but is really perfect. I don’t like most kitchens, and want to do my own, so I don’t want to pay for a kitchen that I have to rip out. That was the main selling point, and the reason we both agreed to set up the appointment.

We aren’t buying the house.

We saw a hundred red flags that signal a significant amount of money in the near future. The house is priced as if these flags don’t exist, but we both see them. We’re difficult buyers, and I freely admitted that in my initial phone call to the realtor. She agreed, and came to our meeting today with a much lower number as a suggestion. After seeing the house in person, she followed up via text with an even lower suggestion. It’s still overpriced. We’ve looked at too many beautiful homes that have been hacked at by owners and flippers doing shoddy work with no plans. It makes me sad. I want to roll back the clock and start with a blank slate like we did here. It’s why we picked our house. It had good bones, but we had free reign to make it as good as we wanted to, and I think we’ve done that. We’re trying to continue doing that, but it’s taking so long.

I should be patient, but I strayed. My mind moved on, briefly, to a new project. That feeling is intoxicating, and can spiral quickly if not controlled. I just want to work on all the houses, I love them so.

Feeling guilty, feeling stuck. Kind of tricky to navigate on a Saturday night, and thought maybe it would help to write it out.

random photos from the blur that was may

Grad 16

I thought I’d post some completely random photos that have been hanging out in the media library of this blog for a month or more. It was such a busy spring, and it took until this past weekend before I felt like I could take a final deep breath and recenter myself on summer. I’m not going to lie, it feels great.

I love these photos of E and family after her 8th grade promotion. We were lucky to have BOTH sets of grandparents come to the Wednesday night event, which made it extra special.

Grad 14

Grad 13

F participated in her spring concert at school – this marks year nine at this school between the two girls, and I think that this was my favorite concert of all. I love this shot M got of her just before they started to play.

Violin 1

M started working on the summer front installation in our bedroom over Mother’s Day weekend. He’s had to do a few repairs to the piece – including fixing the frame which has broken several times, plus cleaning and painting it. Now it just needs some trim, and we can call this project done.

Mantel 1

M and I took the day off one Monday in May to help chaperone an 8th grade trip to Camp Manitowa in Illinois with 95 students. It was such a treat to get to hang out with them all – they really are a great group of kids. E is such a lucky kid to have had such a great middle school experience. I disliked my middle school years so much, and I assumed that was a relatively universal feeling. But E seemed to love every minute of it. If I had to go back in time and do middle school again, I wish I could do hers.

MCJA 1

Girls’ Soccer was a bit of a bust this year. The season is so short in the spring, and we had so much rain in April that they only managed to get one game in, which is really too bad because they are so much fun to watch. E’s been fortunate enough to have been able to play league soccer since kindergarten, but watching her play for her school is a different level of fun. The game we did get to attend was on the Sumner High School field, an amazing historic school in our city. Sumner was the first African-American high school west of the Mississippi, and its alumni roster is extremely impressive. It was our first time hanging out on its campus.

Soccer 6

Soccer 4

F wrapped up her second grade year. It was a good one, but challenging in many ways. Learning how to navigate peer relationships has been a big focus for F this year. We saw tremendous growth in her, and her reading skills have really taken off. I catch her with a book under her arm quite a bit now – sometimes she’ll ask me to turn off NPR in the car so that she can concentrate on her reading. This summer she’s getting to do some new bigger kid camp experiences which will be great for her. She’ll be joining her big sister (in E’s final year) at College for Kids on one of our local community college campuses – the one where I used to teach. The students sign up for four classes a day – eight classes total over two weeks – and they move from class to class and building to building, taking science and art and theater and math and computer courses in college classrooms and labs.

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As soon as school was out, the girls headed to KY to hang out for a week with their grandparents and cousins. M and I had a chance to catch up on a lot of work, watch a movie or two, run in the cooler morning temps, and meet up with friends for drinks and dinner. It was nice to have Memorial Day in that week, maybe one of the only days in the last 13 years when we’ve had a day off of work and no children in the house. We slept in, read books, went on a sixteen mile bike ride, and even went to the grocery store TOGETHER. It was nothing short of magical. We’ve got another one in July, when the girls head up to the other side of the family. Grandparent Camp rocks!

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Cruising along through June now, deadlines behind me, a stack of books in front of me, and vacation on the horizon. I’ll take it.

feeling nostalgic

MCJA 1

I’m feeling oddly nostalgic these days, although I’ve been busy enough to be able to tamp down those feelings for the most part. E’s middle school years came to an end last week, and now we have a high schooler in our midst. That feels big to me.

Montage 6

I don’t post as many things about the girls on the blog. They are getting older, and we share more than enough on Instagram with close friends and family. When I started this blog ten years ago, a good portion of it was devoted to E – every drawing she made, each book that she read, the funny and sweet things that she said and did. She seems so little when I look back to those early posts – just look at this first blog photo and then the photo below (upper left corner) taken last Friday!

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Montage 7

It seems like ages ago, but here we are on the sidelines, watching her lead her team to victory with goal after goal after goal, all arms and legs and high fives and smiles.

Montage 8

I think she mastered middle school in a way that I never did. She managed high academic expectations, a busy schedule, clubs and sports and events, and the very real work of navigating these tricky years of early adolescence and group dynamics with a dimpled grin on her face and a heads down work ethic when it was required.

Montage 4

Now that we’re on the flip side of middle school (for the first kid), I’m wondering what I’d tell past-me – the mom of an upcoming sixth grader beyond “it will be fine”? It’s always easier to reflect on experiences once they’re finished, once the nerves are eased and the jitters subside. But I still think it’s a valuable exercise to do as I think about the coming changes over the next four years of high school.

Montage 3

I’d tell past-me to trust these guiding principles – they work. I’d tell her to lean into the new and the different. Look for opportunities that offer new perspectives at the fundamental level, not ones that reinforce the familiar. Sign her up for camps and classes in neighborhoods we rarely hang out in, with people that she’s never met. Drop her off at the door, don’t linger. Read and reread the mission statement of the organization, but ignore how the building looks from the outside (or even the inside). Seek out the scrappy – they are innovative in ways that ample budgets don’t always allow.

Montage 5

Expose her to experiences where she is not the presumed leader, where she might be the odd one out. She will walk quietly into new rooms and listen. She will find her voice and insert it when she wants to. She will become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and then she’ll seek that out on her own. She is the center of the universe in this family, a featherbed to collapse into, spent and spinning. But out there you want it to be different – you want her to assume nothing and test everything. At times this might be trying, but she will know herself to the core.

Montage 2

You have done this for her since the moment she took her first breath, so trust it. You exposed her to an ever-widening circle of people unlike you so that she would understand that love and respect and nurture comes in a million different packages, all vital and important to our collective soul. You wrote it in a letter penned before she broke the surface of the earth. You promised to love her first and fiercely, but to not hoard control of her raising. You swore you’d let her know the love of as many different people as you could, and you’re doing it. Keep doing it.

Montage 1

I cannot slow the days, I know this. That hits me in my core some days; I catch my breath on it. I revel in the time I took to collect these little snapshots of her year and I promise myself to collect more in the coming years. She’s ready for high school, her joy is catching.