“As we strive through life, we are warned and cautioned about what we cannot do, should not do, better not do. Rarely are we encouraged about the things we can do, must do, because God needs them done and has chosen us to do it.
That thing you have come to life to be, which you do with all of your heart and soul, which you think about in your every waking hour, which brings joy into your heart, satisfaction into your life: that is your purpose.”
- Iyanla Vanzant
I’m not sure if I’ve told you, yet, about the story of our house. The one before we bought it.
We were fortunate enough to find out, at least somewhat.
Our neighborhood was founded by airport employees back in the day, prior to the city being incorporated. Our home was built in 1966 and the city was incorporated in 1968, which I think is pretty awesome. (I have a soft spot for homes, what can I say?) At the time, the rules of the development was that all of the homes needed to be ranch-styled houses and the lot size was a minimum of a half-acre. Our neighborhood weaves in and out of the hills, some areas very wooded and others, more like our own, where it is more suburban, with mature trees. It is a great area to walk with dogs and kids.
Our home’s original owner, Louis, lived here from 1966 (or thereabouts) until he passed away in 2006. He was a very tall man (6’5″, by reports – a pretty large contrast with my husband and I…neither of us surpass 5’6″!) and had trouble with his knees later in life. He used a chair lift on our stairs for some years and spent the last years of his life on the entry level of the house, creating a makeshift kitchen on that level and using the den as a bedroom. Because our entry is flush with the grade, he then had no stairs to worry about.
Louis passed away in our house. Our neighbor, Charlie, told us that he was found in the den. He had passed away in his sleep. My husband swears he hears footsteps in the hallway upstairs from time to time. I have heard them, too. I like to think that he is pleased that the home he built has a family that loves it.
But before that, before then. There was the friendship.
Jack and Louis were best friends. I don’t recall how they met – if they had befriended prior to living here, or after, but Jack and Jan’s house was across the street and one down from our house. They were a bit of an odd couple, big burly Louis and then Jack, who stood 5’3″, at the most, if even that.
“We ran this block,” Jack recalled. “We were the best of friends.” He talked about their kids growing up together and running through the trees or watching deer. “When new people would move in, we would go together to say hello…”
They told them that they were the mayors of this block.
And it was true.
Ironically, we met Jack prior to moving into our house. Our realtor advised that if we were interested in seeing what a neighborhood was really like, it was a good idea to knock on doors and talk with the neighbors. So, that’s how my husband met Jack – and he was excited to meet the people who would be moving into his best friend’s house.
He took special interest in us after that. Telling us how much he liked watching Jayan “mow” the lawn with his green plastic mower. How they would comment all the time to their friends about the cute little guy across the street. He would find me in the yard, (picking weeds, most likely) and would tell me stories. How he met his wife (Catholic school), how he grew up in St. Paul, how Jan was too shy to go out with him at first, but eventually gave in.
I always liked when he would stop out and talk like that. I love stories and the history in things. I love seeing the nostalgia in a person’s eyes when they have an especially good memory.
He was quieter this summer. I would wave from our car when I would drive by, sometimes seeing him inside his screened porch. I don’t know if he always saw me – some days, he just stared straight ahead. He might not have recognized our car. I’m not sure.
Summer turned into fall. I remember the day I saw the ambulance. It wasn’t moving. I wondered what had happened, but was on my way to the office (it was the morning, and, of course, I was late, as usual). I asked my husband about it that night – he hadn’t heard anything.
A few days later, we found that Jack had an aneurism. He was still alive, but only by life support. I was still amazed by how quickly life could turn – most older adults in my life had a slow decline over several years, nothing so sudden.
He passed away on a Friday. The family waited until all of their children could be home before finally taking him off life support.
Even now, I think about him, a few weeks later, and I think about how he said our house had always been gray, even though we can see from the siding that at one time, it had been green. That I wished I would have shown him the inside, again, after we had done more work to it. I somehow think that it would have made him happy to see us taking care of his friends’ home.
I really do think that they are looking out for the neighborhood, now. Louis and Jack. Together again, playing cards – keeping watch over us all. Maybe laughing about our leaves. He always kept his lawn impeccable. I wasn’t sure how he did it. With leaves like ours, you almost have to have a sense of humor. I hope that Jan has someone to help her with her yard.
Our newest neighbors moved into the neighborhood over the weekend. So strange seeing the home with so many cars. My husband laughs at how I keep track of the houses and the inhabitants. I need to stop by and introduce ourselves – we have lived here for four years and were never appropriately introduced to the last people.
It would be nice to know them, this time.
I haven’t written in a while.
I don’t like to do that.
I can’t tell you how many times I have come to a blank screen and thought, “Well, I’m here…now what.”
How much of real life can go onto a blog. At what point does it become over sharing. I saw a YouTube video recently that had the presenter talking about the benefits of keeping a journal on paper, rather than go to the likes of Twitter or Facebook (neither of which I put too much on…), but the principle was that some of the stuff we put online shouldn’t be there.
She was saying this because she was annoyed at reading melodramatic postings that were, yes, I’d say inappropriate for the audience. Maybe something more appropriate for a notebook in a drawer, than in public.
So I think about things, and honestly? When I blog, a lot of times I will do so, so that someone will listen.
Our son was recently assessed by our school district and although not a medical diagnosis, everyone feels fairly confident that he falls somewhere on the autism spectrum.
This, I had expected, but it is different to actually be working through things. The past few weeks have been a blur of assessments and meetings. We are now putting together an IEP.
It is good to see progress, but still overwhelming. I try not to think about everything at once. Talking with my aunt, who had helped her autistic grandson through the process, helped me to feel better.
One step at a time.
I have been pouring over docs online to see what I could have done to change things. Things I could have done differently – not that those things matter, now, but I’m the type who studies up.
The more that I read and find, the more I can see smattering of characteristics across my family both sides. It is strange how much you can notice when you look at things in a certain way. No conclusions, of course, just interesting.
One frustrating thing that happened is that we were trying to open enroll our son in the school district where he is currently in daycare. Note the “were” part of the sentence. We found out last week that the district was over capped for their special needs department and weren’t accepting any new students.
So, the past week, we have been desperately searching for a home daycare in our home district. We have been interviewing the past few days and are pretty sure we have our choice figured out, but it will also involve rearranging our work schedules, etc.
So much in such a short amount of time.
Unrelated, but related, it’s really stupid, but I have also had issues with the name of my blog. I registered it way back, but have never completely identified with it.
I don’t feel brave. I’m definitely not a girl, anymore, either. But I don’t feel a strong pull toward anything else.
But, I’m posting, so there’s that. I can’t help but wonder if posting somewhere else under a different blog name would help with my motivation to write? Something to consider, anyway.
Maybe it’s not that uncommon of a thing. Dooce might curse her choice of name every single day, for all I know. (Does she still write? I haven’t followed her in ages.)
Anyway, I’m going to post this, now, rather than have it sit in my drafts.
We have been living in our house, officially, four years, as of Memorial Day weekend. Crazy how fast time goes! (And how many colors I have painted the walls in that amount of time…I’m still debating colors, actually.)
I do think that it’s completely satisfying to see how much things really have changed since we moved in. So…here are a few pictures from the real estate listing and what the rooms are looking like now. Pretty wild.
The Family Room
The family room – this is the deep gray wall color that I have a love/hate relationship with. :) I love it when I’m home in the evenings – it’s a great, cozy color. But on the weekends, it’s a little dark. We still need to get curtains for the east window and the candle holder (on the floor on the right) is now up on the fireplace. And the glass lamp on the left has been replaced by the match to the other lamp.
If you are wondering what it looks like normally, add a gazillion toys on the rug and there you go. :)
The Dining Room
This photo is really dark, but the color is fantastic. Kind of a rusty red. :) I would love to have a photo display on the wall. I’m picking some photos from one of our trips to Nepal – just need to get them printed and up!
The dining table is glass and is MUCH larger than it looks. It’s 60″ across, so we can easily seat ten people! Oh, and I highly recommend leather chairs for in your dining room, especially if you have kids. So easy to clean up!
The Living Room / Office
This is the living room side – the office side is too messy.
This room is still pretty mis-mashy. My hubby would love a sectional in here and maybe a bar set-up. Then, I’ll move this sofa up to the family room.
Taking down the panelling was one of the first things we did when we moved in. (Before we moved in, actually!) We were lucky in that it was drywalled behind it, so we just needed to mud and sand the walls. Maybe at some point we will lay some slate tile in here. But that will be a huge, MESSY job. (Not to mention tough!) So we’ll probably never do it. :)
I’m also planning to paint the double doors black – I painted them white, so I can do that.
There wasn’t pictures in the listing of the bedrooms, so I’ll add a few pics of Jayan’s room. We haven’t bothered to take apart the crib since he was a baby here. Whoops. My mom made the quilt for him and I love having it displayed. She also painted the wall and did the trellis stenciling with painters’ tape – I had saw a nursery on HGTV’s site that had something similar and copied it. I love it.
And you can see that I need another coat or two of paint on the door. I’m okay with things being in-progress. :)
The twin beds and the dresser were my mother’s uncles’ set from back in the 1940′s. There are cut-outs of oak leaves on the headboards and footboards. I painted the side table – it used to be an el cheapo maple nightstand from Target. The tiger on the wall was from my bedroom when I was a kid.
Anyway. I’ll post other progress shots at some point – once I remember to take pictures AND upload them. My current project is the hallway – it’s mostly painted the same gray from the family room – but I haven’t finished it because it’s super dark up there, now! So, I’m rethinking the color.
More paint! Whoo.
I’m becoming a nosy neighbor.
The home across the street from us recently sold. (My “across the street” is relative, as we’re on the inside of a circle – we have, like, four houses that I would classify as “across the street.”) Anyway. It was on the market for four months or so – probably overpriced, as my neighbor Nancy speculated – and sold about a month ago.
The old neighbors, we never saw. They were snowbirds, spending their winters somewhere down south and we never saw them when they came back during the summer. In fact, the only times we even knew they were there was because a few times per summer, their driveway and the street would be filled with cars, because their kids were home with their kids to use the pool in the backyard.
(Nearly all of the houses in our neighborhood had an in-ground pool at some point. Did I mention that? Ours never did – most of the pools are filled in, now, so people can have more lawn, even though our lots are all in-range of a half-acre.)
Anyway. I mention my nosiness, because my theory is that the new neighbors aren’t really new neighbors, at all. I’m thinking that they bought the house cheap and are gutting it to resell. A flip.
There is a dumpster outside, now. In the past week, there have been several days where there are ten-plus cars at the house. And there has been a “decorating/painting/handyman service” car there a bunch of days, too. Last night, someone was chipping away at brick. Or, that’s what I was speculating by what I could hear from where I was at.
There’s too many trees in our neighborhood. I can only see so much.
So, maybe they’re just ambitious and are hiring out their renovations before moving in. Or they have lots of friends and family to help?
Or…my thought, that a bunch of people bought into the house and are going to do the work and then split the profits however many ways when they find a new buyer.
We’re in a pretty nice neighborhood – quiet, for sure. I guess I’ll just need to keep my eyes and ears open, until I actually meet people to find out what’s happening.
The listing agent for the property actually lives a few houses away, at the end of the circle. (Their yard, by the way, is pristine – I am so jealous.) I like that an agent would refer people to their own neighborhood – plus, that the neighbor would give business to another neighbor. I heard that the people who bought the house have two kids, but I haven’t seen any kids, yet. The backyard is almost all pool, so if it were me, I’d look at filling that in, if I was moving in with little ones.
But…I’m still thinking it’s a flip. I guess we will find out. I suppose, if they sell higher, it will help my property value. :)
I started painting our uppermost hallway. I carried the Behr – Amazon Stone from the living room – I think it’s because the lighting isn’t great and maybe a little because I’m not completely done, but it’s looking really dark. I didn’t think that I would mind – hallways are already dark with little natural light, but it does have an overhead lamp, which our living room has none, so I’m surprised it’s so dark.
And, of course, this makes me rethink things.
Since I have the paint already, I’m just going to continue and hope that it “lightens up” like my dark paint tends to do once I have a full wall painted out. I do really like how cozy it makes our north-facing living room feel – much better than the original off-white did, so maybe I’ll feel similar about the hallway.
I have had good luck with thrifting.
I found a pretty sparkly wreath (this style) at Unique Thrift Store in Burnsville last Friday. It’s a golden color and quite big – at least 24″ across. Much better priced than, say, during the holiday season. :) Jayan was with me, so he took home a bunch of construction toys. Unique has very cheap toy prices (like 65-80 cents a toy), so we were lucky, there. He was only good because he would have something new to take home.
It was raining as we left, so we ran through the parking lot, splashing in puddles, to get to our car. We were soaked. But such good deals.
I went to Goodwill yesterday and found the twin to my beloved terra cotta lamp. I bought the first lamp at Unique in January (I think) and found this one five months later. The finish on the base is slightly different (more of a matte finish versus the original), and the harp is a little taller, so I might need to switch that out, but it’s pretty close. Thrilled that I found it. Yay for a matched set.
I also found a large octagonal-shaped mirror at Goodwill. It’s an old-gold color. I hung it on the stairwell wall off the entry. It fills the space well and looks so good! Thrilled.
And…we finally hung our metal candle holder / wall sculpture on the fireplace. I had found this candle holder on Craigslist – I’ve been admiring it at Pottery Barn’s website for close to three years, but couldn’t justify the price and shipping. Fifty dollars and a short drive and it was mine – plus a full set of candles thrown in. Can’t get better than that! Now, I’m itching to add a mantel – thinking about reclaimed wood from an old railroad tie?
I’ll add pictures once I can wrestle my phone away from Jayan. :)
Sometimes it’s easier to talk about the weather.
It’s commonplace in Minnesota. I haven’t lived anywhere else (at least not for long, outside of business and personal travel), so I’m not sure if it’s the same everywhere else. Probably is.
Anyway. It was in the mid-seventies this weekend. We are supposed to get snow, again, overnight. It is such an odd spring. Kind of like winter just doesn’t want to let go.
The snow is nearly gone from our yard – remaining just in-front of the rock garden in the front yard, where the shadow of the house falls. (Our home faces north, so our snow is some of the last in the neighborhood to finally go.) I have been looking forward to it being all the way gone – hopefully the colder temperatures won’t kill the grass off. It was finally starting to green up.
It was nice to have the warmer weather over the weekend. Felt so good to open the casements and feel the breeze flow through the house. Be able to walk outside without a jacket – without shoes, even.
Jayan found our abandoned snow rake from earlier in the week and had great fun pushing it around the yard. He was pretty fast. He said he was “pushing the leaves.” (Half the oaks lose their leaves in the fall and the other half in the spring, so there were lots of leaves to push around.) He circled the house, barefoot – just he and the snow rake. He lapped the house several times until he finally quit, wet with sweat, feet filthy.
But, he had a good time. And had really good exercise, especially considering we live on a hilly lot. :)
I keep checking on the hostas I planted last fall to see if they come back. I hope so. I planted a row of them to flank our house in the area where we just can’t grow grass last fall, just to see how they would do.
Our house is on the inside of a circle, so like Kate at Retro Ranch Revamp alluded with her own yard, it’s kind of like having two front yards. The problem? Is that our side yard is sadly neglected and doesn’t get good light, either, so we’re pretty clueless as to what to do with it. (Not a very welcoming front yard!)
So, I debate filling the whole area with hostas. I love them – they love shade. Maybe it will be a win win? Plus, less mowing, especially on the hillside. The neighbor boys like to play in our trees, there – I would hate to plant hostas around the trees, only to have them trampled. Benefits to having a fence, but our neighborhood is decidedly “fence free,” at least for us on the “inner circle” and I wouldn’t want to be the first one to add it.
I suppose I can add the hostas to the side yard, anyway. See what happens. Worry about it afterwards?
Looking forward to doing lots more landscaping this year. (And hopefully painting our house! I have been looking at color combinations for three years! It drives my husband nuts. :)) Our house has no landscaping whatsoever in the front yard and just looks a little sad. A few colorful planters and some actual plants in our beds will help! We were thinking that some hydrangeas would look good in-front of our house. We need something, put it that way.
I wish I wasn’t garden clueless. This summer will be good to actually go to the greenhouse and ask for recommendations.
Once it stops snowing, anyway.
It is absolutely beautiful outside, today. It was yesterday, too.
So hard to believe that there were six inches of snow on the ground Tuesday morning. I took a picture of it that morning, through my car window, as I was pulling out of my driveway. My best girlfriend from work, Beth, told me she did the same. As did quite a few others.
My girlfriend Maria told me over breakfast Saturday that that morning, she was digging her car out, alongside a neighbor in her building who was not happy at all to be moving snow. “I took on her energy,” she told me, as she sipped her coffee. “I started out okay, but by the time I started driving, I was so cranky and bitter!”
But then, she went on, traffic slowed to a stop. She was livid. But it gave her time to look and really see – she said just at that moment, light poured through the snow covered trees and it was just spectacular. She felt lucky to have seen that and it changed her whole outlook.
The past few days have been in the high seventies. (Welcome to Minnesota.) I think the late snow has helped so many people appreciate the spring weather so much more-so. It’s like the whole neighborhood is waking up after hibernating over the winter – I spent 40 minutes Friday evening chatting with my next-door neighbor Nancy, who I hadn’t talked with since probably last November, before the snow fell.
There is a new house up for sale down the block and I heard that the nice two-story house across from us will be going up for sale in the next few weeks. The house across from us that just sold is slowly being moved out of – I heard that a family is moving in with two children. It will be nice to have more kids around.
Hopefully the people that move in take care of their houses – there are a few houses at the entrance to our neighborhood that just aren’t maintained well from the curb and because it’s at the entrance to the neighborhood, you can’t see how nice of a neighborhood ours is until you drive in further. (By the say, is there a nice way to tell your neighbor, “If you’re hoping that someone will take your junk off your hands, it helps to put a FREE sign on it”?)
So here’s hoping.
My husband and his cousin took Jayan to the driving range this afternoon. (Jayan loves golf and hitting balls.) He should enjoy it, provided he is patient enough to let someone else swing. :) It’s good for them to do things on their own, every once in a while.
I have my own cousin’s funeral tomorrow. He passed away at 41 following esophageal cancer. He was an amazing man and was a great example as to the impact that a positive outlook and an outward energy can bring to others. I am saddened by the loss of a wonderful individual, but am happy in that his downturn was relatively short in comparison to all of the living he did in the past seven months since his cancer was deemed terminal. He truly lived without regrets – something that I think we all can strive to do in our lives, however long or short.