The house story, part 2

I wrote this post a year ago. I think I was still suffering from Renovation PTSD and decided not to publish it. But things are better now so you get to enjoy the story.

I don’t remember where I left off. Somewhere between, “yay, we bought a house” and “why the heck did we buy this money pit?”

We closed escrow and did some first round updates. You know, the usual things that overzealous pregnant women decide are needs and not just wants. We removed all the carpet and laminate flooring – all 1700+ square feet of 30 year old rental flooring. Plus about 6 trillion nails. We removed and replaced all the baseboards and door casing. We replaced the light switches and cover plates. We replaced most of the overhead light fixtures. We removed 2 walls to open up the entry and living rooms.

ABC_5766 ABC_5765We installed lovely acacia floors throughout. We removed the dropped ceiling in the hallway and added can lights. Also, please understand that every time I say we, I really mean he. As in Sean. Sean did all this stuff. That man deserves a medal, and probably a new wife.  We also got the interior painted. We were so close to moving in. So close. And then, we found this.unnamed5-3MOLD. Black mold. Behind our dishwasher in the kitchen that we were not planning on remodeling for years.

During escrow, we paid for a mold inspection for this exact spot. In fact, the mold inspector looked under that sink right there and noticed mold growing on the wall. He said it WAS NO BIG DEAL. Just spray some bleach on it and call it a day.

We called the same mold inspection company back out without telling this inspector that someone from his company had just been there a month before. This guy said it was SO BAD that I shouldn’t even be in the house because I was pregnant. He said there was no way to just clean it off and that the whole area would have to be professionally remediated. There was no way we could save the cabinets because the mold had grown into the wood and into the drywall and insulation.

So there we were. One week from closing escrow on our condo and our new house was unfit to live in. The only option was to pay $4000 to have our kitchen removed. Obviously we used a different mold remediation company. Obviously. Also, we had to move in with my in-laws. 4 weeks before Christmas.

I cried, you guys. Sean cried. It was awful. I can’t actually explain the level of stress that consumed us. We had no home, no more money (since I spent it all on floors and paint and fixtures) and very little joy. It was the beginning of a really awful year. I won’t even get into it because I can’t adequately describe the depths of despair caused by this project. It wasn’t as simple as just getting a new kitchen. You have to have money to buy a whole new kitchen. Like $30,000 worth of money.

After about 3 weeks of living with Sean’s parents, we decided it was best for everyone to move into our “house.” I use that term loosely. The kitchen had been completely removed, as had all the drywall and insulation. It was studs and that black paper separating us from the backyard. I remember sitting in our living room on New Years Day and we could see our breath in the house. I think I cried then too.

We lived with no walls for 3 months. No oven or cabinets for 4 months. No sink or counters or kitchen/dining room floors for 5 months. And in the midst of all that we had a baby. Never has a hospital stay been so relaxing, you guys.

But I want to end on a happy note. We have a kitchen now. Well, 3/4 of a kitchen. We have a sink and running water and a working stove and every day I’m so thankful. We’ve learned a lot through this process. First, HGTV is bullshit. 6 weeks to renovate an entire house? A new quartz countertop for $1800? LIES! Second, I’m good at many things, but project management is not one of those things. Third, the next house we buy will be brand new. Hopefully that will be soon, because the minute this kitchen is done, we’re moving.

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The Gisele of houseplants

Some plants are just naturally perfect. They’re tall, slender, speak multiple languages, and marry NFL players. I’m talking about the ever lovely fiddle leaf fig tree. And right now you can get them at Costco for $45. FORTY FIVE DOLLARS!! Why are you still reading this?? Run to your nearest Costco and bring home your very own super model houseplant! Unless you live in SLO – they’re gone. I bought them all. Sorry.

Here I am taking my very first photo of Gisele. It felt like a dream – finding the perfect plant at a VERY reasonable price. Don’t tell Sean, but I’ve spent over $125 on one of these plants (RIP my poor first fiddle) so $45 is basically free. It’s like buying designer shoes at Target prices. And I don’t hate that pot either.

VSCO Cam-2.jpgThey had single stem fiddles (my preference since they’re tall and draw your eye up and away from toys on the floor) and double stem fiddles. No less than 5 people stopped me on the way to my car to admire my new BFF. Here we are all mashed into my Volvo. Good thing my kids fit in the trunk.

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And here we are, drinking wine and talking fashion. We both agree that my shirt has got to go.

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If you need me, I’ll be in my living room reading to Gisele. If you’re unsure why I’m so excited, open any home decor magazine. See that perfect plant in the corner? It’s a fiddle and it’s fabulous.

 

Awkward and Awesome Thursday!

Hey! Just dusting off the old blog for a moment. No, this does not mean that I will be blogging regularly. Yes, it does mean that I needed to share the upcoming photo and wasn’t interested in getting kicked off FB and Insta. So please no one report me. It’s all in good fun.

So many awkward things have happened in the last, what, year? Luckily my brain is still in full-blown mommy mode and I can’t even remember what I ate for lunch (probably 1/4 of a PB&J sandwich and 4 rogue grapes) let alone what I’ve done to humiliate myself over the past few months. I do want to share a few deeply uncomfortable realizations that I hope will entertain you for at least 1 minute.

Awkward :

Realizing that you do indeed have the exact same buns as your baby.

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Realizing you pretty much have the exact same BODY as your baby. Minus the perfect highlights and overall cuteness that comes with baby fat. Crying emoji.

Being the mom of the kid who picks his nose.

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Awesome:

Being the mom of the kid who picks his nose! And also the mom of the bare-back bike riding baby.

 

Does this leave you wanting more? I’m sure. See you next year.

Viva San Diego!

I recently had the pleasure of spending 3 glorious weeks in my hometown of San Diego. Sun. Sombreros. Swimming. In that order. I decided to get my summer vacation started by driving 330 miles with my dog, my toddler, and my infant. I mean really, what could go wrong? I’ll tell you what went wrong. LA. L effing A. I hate that place, with all its palm trees and people. It took me 10 hours (TEN HOURS!!) of traffic to make it home. The kids did pretty well considering they were strapped in sweaty carseats for an entire day. I can’t actually put into words the level of frustration and hopelessness that was that day. At one point I was completely stopped on the freeway, trapped in the fast lane, not moving, with 2 crying kids. Like really crying. The kind of crying that made the other drivers on the freeway roll up their windows. So I did what any mom would do; I started crying too.

Thinking about that car ride still makes me sweaty and anxious. But when I got home my mom took good care of me and it was better. My sister was visiting from Redding for the first part of my trip, and my brother was visiting from Europe for the last few days. It was a full Brog house. Lots of noise and Fox news and yummy food. Like I like. Except the news part.

We did some fun things. Mostly at home since I was still experiencing PTSD from my drive down. Not pictured are all of the awesome friends who made time to see me! I feel so thankful to have such special relationships with friends who I haven’t lived near for 10 years. The people keep me coming back to San Diego. Also Sombreros. And Ikea. DEF_4766 DEF_4835Finger-paint – 4 minutes of fun, 37 minutes of cleanup.DEF_4865 DEF_4881 DEF_4908 DEF_4927 DEF_4935 DEF_5656 DEF_5677 DEF_5717 DEF_5797 DEF_5841 DEF_5857 DEF_5890 DEF_5919 2015-07-21_0002“Luke, plug your nose.” So close.DEF_5974

In the “cacuzzi.”DEF_5989 DEF_5997 DEF_6002Facial hair runs in my family.2015-07-21_0001Luke should have been punished for hitting EY. But we could not.stop.laughing. Poor second child.

Rain. And an elephant.

You guys. It rained. In California. In July. In the middle of a 5 year drought. You better sort out your salvation because these are the end times.

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We decided to take advantage of this thing called weather. We mashed Luke’s feet into 2-year-old yet never-been-worn rain boots and hit some puddles. Luckily for us we live on a road with a horrible paving job from the 70’s. There were puddles every 5 feet!

2015-07-20_0001We splashed and we got soaked. But not electrocuted. Thank goodness.DEF_6124

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DEF_6165And here’s how a conversation about weather goes these days:

Me: Look! It’s raining!
Luke: How come it’s raining?
Me: Because the clouds brought water.
Luke: How come the clouds brought water?
Me: Because of high pressure or something.
Luke: How come there’s pressure?
Me: Good question. No idea. Look! Lightning!
Luke: How come there’s lightning?
Me: Do I look like a meteorologist?
Luke: What’s a meatrolist?

This little guy can’t really control his neck yet so he missed all the puddle jumping. But he did grasp his elephant toy and take a bath so he had a nice Sunday too.

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Awkward and Awesome Thursday!

You guys, I’m not good at blogging on a regular basis. I accept that. And I’m sorry. It’s just not easy to set aside time to sit at my computer and rehash the awful fantastic things that happened to me over the past few days. Especially when I have a 3-year-old asking to sit on my lap to watch “wideos” (we have a little issue with the letter “V”) and a 2-month-old who pretty much just cries and cries and cries. And cries. You guys. He cries allllllll the time. So no computer time for me unless it’s 2 am and I finally have some much-needed alone time. And during this precious, no, sacred time I choose between two options: sleep or Mad Men reruns. I think we can all agree that watching Netflix beats sleep every time. No wonder I’m a walking zombie. Anyway, on to the awkward. Awkward:  I was walking through Target and Luke sneezed so hard that green snot started running down his nose (life as a mom gets more and more glamorous). I rifled through my purse and only had two items suitable for nose wiping: those spare panties I told you about before, and a panty liner. To avoid embarrassing him by pulling out my giant undies, I wiped his little snotty nose with a pink, scented panty liner. I’m all about what works these days. Watching the movie Still Alice with Sean. He prefers comedies and was fast asleep within 6 minutes. Anyway, this poor lady gets Alzheimer’s disease at an early age and you watch the emotional devastation of her disease and degradation of her mental abilities. And then I started thinking. “I can’t remember where I put the keys either. And last week I left an entire bag of groceries in the car. I don’t ever remember to move the laundry from the washer to dryer before it starts to smell. What’s the word for the thing that makes water come down from the shower? I don’t even know the last time I washed my hair. Ahhhhh! Sean, wake up! I have Alzheimer’s!” Being 30 and still getting pimples. What the heck, hormones?! And even weirder is trying to decide which lotion to put on before bed: the kind for preventing pimples or the kind for preventing wrinkles. Because they exist in the same space these days. My weird bod. It still screams, “I’m not fat – I’m having a baby!” Except I already had that baby and he’s nearly 3 months old. It sure is taking a while for this weight to fall off. Isn’t that how it happens? It just falls off while you sleep and cuddle your new little babe. Waiting… Awesome: My little workout group. We exercise one day a week for about 40 minutes and then we go drink beer for a few hours. Still waiting for this weight to fall off… SUMMMMMEEEEEERRRRRRR! Even though I’m not in school and my kids aren’t in school yet (sigh) I still love that it’s summer. Now we have a legitimate reason to eat ice cream every day and just lay around in the sunshine. Still waiting, skinny body… MY NEW KITCHEN!! I’ll post pictures someday soon. Right now I’m enjoying the benefits of living in the first world again. You know, running water, refrigeration, drywall. I’m like a Queen. xox PS Here are some gratuitous pictures of my cute children. DEF_9900 DEF_9769

Awkward and Awesome Thursday!

Oh man. Post-pregnancy is nothing but weirdness.

Awkward

Going to the gym for the first time in seven weeks months and the instructor starts the class with jumping jacks. Right, because let’s get this party started by peeing ourselves.

The sniffing that comes along with having a newborn. Sniffing his bottom for poo, sniffing my shirt for old milk, sniffing my hair for poo and old milk. Life is glamorous these days.

Abandoning cart at Trader Joe’s mid-shopping trip because you’re wearing a screaming infant and your two-year old decides to start ramming into strangers with his mini cart. But you already opened your chocolate covered pretzels! Do you steal them, or leave them, or eat them all really fast which is also stealing? Ethics and parenting.

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The employees at Trader Joe’s in Templeton. One nice man offered to take my nearly full cart and put everything away since I was clearly not going to make it to checkout, and once super nice lady took Luke by the hand and coaxed him out to our car. Salt of the earth. Just like those salty chocolatey pretzels…

The way Luke can’t pronounce the letter “L” yet. He refers to himself at Woot and to his brother as EY. Nicknames for children – check.

This kid. He looks like an angry old man with a receding hair line. And I just love him and his chunky 12 pound body.

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The house story, part 1

Sean and I always wanted to upgrade from our sweet little condo to a real, grown-up house. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garage for the husband, a yard for the kids, and a walk-in closet for the wife. You know, the stuff dreams and sitcoms are made of. We’d been looking for years and knew exactly what we wanted and what we could potentially afford. His list was pretty simple: a yard, a garage, and a little privacy on the West side. My list was not as bad as you would think: single story (our condo had 87 stairs… never again), 3 bedrooms, lots of light, and needs work. The “needs work” part was essential, partly because we’re not millionaires and mostly because I am ridiculously picky and want to choose every single finish, color, and material that goes in my house. And Sean is really, really handy. That guy can build, fix, or rig anything. So it made sense.

In September of last year we finally found our little fixer upper. Three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (um, this is a technicality since our master bathroom is like 9 sq ft), cute layout, on 1/3 of an acre just down the street from the lake. With lots of help from family, we became the proud owners of a little slice of Atascadero. It was a very fine day. And our condo was in escrow, so we had time to do some renovations while not living through renovations. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Ha. Ha ha.

Here’s our little gem of a house the day we closed:

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Very professional photos, am I right? Wish I knew someone who had a fancy camera…

Also, I NEVER took a family photo of us in front of our new place. I kept forgetting! This makes me so sad. But I would probably look back at the photo and think, “What are you suckers smiling about? There’s MOLD in there!”

We were pretty excited about cleaning the place up, and we wrote a little list of potential updates to be made before we moved in:

  • Scrape the acoustic ceilings
  • Replace outlets and covers
  • Replace toilets
  • Replace carpet with new carpet/laminate?
  • Replace baseboards and door trim?
  • Remove wall(s) in entryway?
  • Raise ceiling in hallway?
  • Paint interior?

There are so many question marks on that list because I was dreaming and Sean was calculating. He wanted to move right in with pink walls and brown carpet and slowly update one room at a time. But I was like, “Now! We have to do it NOW!” Well, if you give a mouse a cookie, she’ll destroy the whole house. But let me explain myself.

We were for sure scraping the ceilings. And once the new texture was put on, it needed to be painted, so why not just paint the walls while you’re at it? Seems obvious. And if we’re painting, we may as well not worry about the carpet because it’s scary and scratchy and 40 years old. And if you replace the carpet, you have to remove baseboards and who really wants to put back the 2 inch wooden baseboards from the 70’s? And if we have to get new floors, we better make sure we have the layout we want because it’s not easy to go back and add strips of flooring….

So you see how it’s like a rabbit hole; a deep, dark, never-ending rabbit hole? Poor Sean. We bit off more than we could chew but it was going to be ok. We had 2 months before we had to be out of our condo, so nights and weekends could be spent working on the new house while we slept in the clean comforts of home. And it was fine. It really was fine. Until it wasn’t.

And I’ll tell you all about it Monday, or possibly Tuesday. Wednesday if this baby decides to be born this weekend. Fingers crossed. Have a nice day, you guys! And if you’re free on Saturday, please come over and help us install our cabinets!

Awkward and Awesome Thursday!

I know I promised this weeks ago. Forgive meeeeee!

Awkward:

Standing in the checkout line at Target, searching frantically (and in vain) for my RedCard, when suddenly an enormous pair of nude, full-covereage cotton panties comes flying out of my purse and over the counter. The horror on my face and poor teenage cashier Will’s face at the realization that there is now a giant pair of flesh-toned underwear just sitting on the conveyer belt. Just sitting. Right there next to my toothpaste and nail polish. Just sitting for me and Will and the cute college girl behind me to see. And then there’s the thought bubbles that I KNOW must be popping up in their sweet, young heads: why on earth does this slightly disorganized yet seemingly normal woman carry around spare panties in her purse? Wait, are they WORN? Eww. That will never be me. I will always be young and attractive and in control of my bladder. Dream on kids. And pass me my briefs.

Needing to carry around extra Fruit of the Looms because you’re freaking huge and pregnant and can’t be bothered to practice your kegel exercises three times a day. And what if you’re out running errands and suddenly there’s a puddle and you need to jump over it? Or what if you laugh, or cough, or sneeze? Better to have a spare pair than have to run home for the third time in the same day.

Google searching any question that ends with “during pregnancy.” Because you know what the answer is, every single time? Oh, that’s completely NORMAL. Chin hairs? Normal. Skin tags? No worries. Night sweating? Absolutely. Day sweating? No big deal. Memory loss? Part of the package. Blonde hair turning brown? Yup. Bloody noses? Sure. Sciatic nerve pain? Yes. Huge puffy feet that can’t fit into tennis shoes which is fine because you can’t bend over far enough to tie them anyway? All completely normal symptoms of carrying a human in your womb. So ladies, please enjoy your new normal.

Our outfits these days. Atascadero-chic.

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Awesome:

Finally being able to share these awkward stories with someone other than Sean! Because he is just not my target audience and he doesn’t get it. A good-looking man who has never peed his pants in public will not understand my pain.

The fact that our kitchen cabinets are going to be installed this weekend (all fingers and toes crossed)! This has been, like, 5 years in the making so I’m equal parts totally excited and absolutely expecting that something will go wrong. Hopefully it’s the former and I’ll tell you all about it next week. 🙂

This flush faced cherub. He has no idea we’re living through the most challenging time. He’s just all happy and all boy and all relaxing on our concrete floors.

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Oh, hey again

I try not to be too hard on myself when I fail at something. After all, life is busy and grace abounds. But radio silence on this blog for like 2 years? That’s downright awful. So there, I feel bad. Really bad. Terrible actually.

And now I’m over it. So let’s begin again, shall we?

Obviously a few things have happened in the past 20 months. Highlights include Luke growing into a funny and energetic toddler, expecting our second McBaby, and buying the worst house in the world that is sucking our souls and our bank account dry our very first house.

Luke is awesome and clever and everyday he surprises me with the things he says. I read in a book somewhere that you should give toddlers choices so they feel like they have control over certain aspects for their lives. For example, you should ask your toddler if he wants to wear the red shirt or the green shirt. Easy enough, right? Not for us. I’ll say something like, “Hey Luke, you have two choices. Would you like to take a bath now or in 8 minutes?” And he’ll respond with, “I want to play with cars or watch TV. Those are my choices.”

Close. Yet so very far from what the parenting book endorses. But here he is being super cute with fashionable Gpa.

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Here’s a recent selfie of me glowing sweating. 34 weeks and I am not feeling awesome. You truly forget how uncomfortable the last few weeks of pregnancy can be. I’m not complaining. I know how blessed I am to be carrying this sweet boy, and I felt great until a few weeks ago. This time around has been easier in every way – I threw up way less in the beginning and have actually been a little smaller… until I spent two weeks in San Diego and ate all that home cooked food and Sombreros. I gained 8 lbs while I was down there. So unless this baby weighs in at around 15 lbs, it’s the Mexican food. IMG_8926

And here’s our very own money pit – feast your eyes on this beauty. We really do love this house, but we also hate her. I’ll go into all the reasons in future posts, but in the meantime, just know that when we bought the house in September, we had 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and two living rooms. Now we’re down to 1 bathroom, 1 living room, and no kitchen. But hey, we have a house and for that we’re very thankful. By the way, this is the only photo we have of the exterior. I kept meaning to take one, but then I didn’t. Sorry for the squinting.

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See you guys tomorrow for Awkward and Awesome. I know, I know. It better be good.