Monday, March 26, 2012

Two years ago...

Two years ago today, on a sunny Friday afternoon, we closed on our new house.  It set off one of the craziest weekends of my life.  There was actually a good, solid week of insanity surrounding it...and that's being conservative.  I know I was nuts for a good couple months leading up to it, but the actual end of the packing and the move itself were overwhelming.  The aftermath wasn't particularly fun, either, but the exciting "newness" and being in a house we loved helped a lot with that part. 

I thought I was pacing okay on packing, and then the night before I totally panicked, even with my mom there to help.  Craig was working that night and the next day, which didn't help, and keeping Jacob occupied during waking hours was no picnic, either.  I knew that in the end it would all get done one way or another, but there's no denying that moving is incredibly stressful regardless.  I freaked out when my super-fragile boxes ended up on the moving truck, and probably swore up a storm while trying to take apart our giant desk while movers buzzed around me.  Jacob had a meltdown mid-morning, and I was barely capable of spending a precious few minutes with him to chill him out. 

I despise living out of boxes, hate all of the awkward, last minute stuff that can't really be boxed up, and abhor the post-move cleaning.  Once my stuff is gone, the last thing I want to do is clean up the remaining mess that was left behind.  I remember being practically in tears cleaning each of my old apartments (which needed to be considerably cleaner than a "broom-swept" house), knowing that I just wanted to be done and go start unpacking the pile of stuff in the new place.  Our last move was no exception.  A big difference was that someone else moved our stuff this time (well worth every penny, by the way), and yet I was still so stressed out by the end of the day that I refused the suggestion of our helpers (some members of my family) to leave the house for the night and come back in the morning.  No, I wanted to get it done NOW.  I wanted to be able to walk in the next day, do one last check, and leave the keys.  And so we did.

Two years later I think we're quite pleased with the decision.  Not having to worry about the many improvement projects we had lined up at the old house has been a godsend.  The thought of redoing the insulation, re-roofing, fixing up that ugly kitchen, replacing the ancient shed, or figuring out how to reorganize to cram another person into that house make me shudder.  Yes, we're paying a bit more each month, but I feel much better doing that knowing we're in a house that should fit us for years to come.  And what's better, we haven't been spending that money on endless stressful projects.  God forbid this post jinxes us, but in the two years we've been there, our emergency expenses have been minimal.  We do have to deal with the pool, of course, but not having a bunch of problems to worry about all the time has been nice.

I think the house fits us well.  The living room is perfect for Jacob, and I still love the soaring ceiling and the look of the fireplace, open stairs and landing.  The kitchen, despite being a little tight on floor space, has a ton of storage and plenty of natural light.  The bedroom sizes are much better than the old house.  The upstairs bath is a little small and probably the biggest downside, but we've made it work and IT'S NOT PURPLE.  The basement is turning into a solid alternate play area for Jacob (a.k.a., where the Legos live), and while the purchase of a laptop has left the office less used than expected, I'm still happy it's there.  And oh, the crawl space...how I love thee.  And no, it's not even close to full yet.  Perhaps I don't gush as much in my head as I should, but I do still love the house and feel lucky to live there.

In spite of the fact that I still drive by our old house periodically, I don't really miss it.  I miss the idea of it, perhaps, as the first house we ever owned and the one we brought Jacob home to.  Once in a while I miss some of the projects we did.  I miss the little things I did, like the entryway I retiled with Dollar Tree tiles or the bathroom border I did myself.  I miss a lot of what we did that's possibly nicer than we have now, like a new front door, garage door opener with motion sensor (so you're never in a dark garage), new hot water heater, new stationary tub.  I wish we would have gotten more use for our money with other things we did--windows, garage door, central air, glass block basement windows.  But ultimately, I don't really miss the house itself.  I have some good memories, and it will always be our first house.  But I know what we have now is better.

But now that we've been there for two years, I am really starting to amass a list of things I'd like to do.  First and foremost is the carpeting in our bedroom and Jacob's future room.  They desperately need to be replaced, and I'm having a bit of a mental hurdle figuring out how we'll deconstruct both rooms at the same time, considering we don't have a lot of room upstairs to move things...and I don't really want to carry it all downstairs!  I would like to replace the sink in the bathroom, as it is the same pain-in-the-butt-to-clean old-style sink we replaced in our old house before we moved.  I'd like to replace the light fixture in the dining room to something a little more modern (the brass just doesn't fit).  The front storm door is old and doesn't seem particularly childproof, so I'd like to replace that.  I'm really tempted to bring in a contractor to see how much it would cost to tear out the paneling in our basement.  It would update the space considerably and make it feel less like a basement...perhaps because I still have visions of our old 70s era basement, which was cool in its own way, but far from modern.  I think there's a chance there's already drywall behind the paneling, but even still, I have no idea what that might cost.  In my ultimate dreams I think about pulling down most of the wallpaper (kitchen and bathroom, mostly) and replacing it with something more my style--even if it's just updated paint.  Small parts of it are peeling or ripped, so at some point that may have to happen.  Most immediately, I can start small and refresh our landscaping mulch.

These projects were all the driving force behind the "discussion" Craig and I were sort-of having yesterday when Jacob sensed that I was going to yell at Craig.  When Craig works every weekend and needs a day to recover when he's not, it makes it hard to get a little support for things like this.  We'll get there, I hope, and I look forward to the day when the projects start making the house feel a little bit more like our own.  We're at home, of course, but instead of just feeling lucky we found a house we could live with as is, I want to live in a house that we made our own.

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