peace

I just wanted to pop in and wish you all a Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, as it may be. We are having a quiet, lovely little holiday here, just as we wanted. Damon made lasagna (our Christmas Eve tradition for many years), we watched a heart stopping Pats game, and opened stockings.

Tomorrow I’ll make popovers for breakfast and then we’ll watch the Celtics season opener while Josh builds the Lego sets he’s not expecting to get. We might even take naps, (well, at least two of us will!) Does it get better than that?

Honestly, as much as we would love to see the rest of our families, we’re glad we made the decision to stay home this year. Josh has had a cold for a couple weeks that’s morphed into a bad cough. He would have been miserable if we were traveling. Been there, done that, and not doing it again!

I hope that you all are exactly where you want to be and with those you love the most this weekend. May you all be happy, healthy, and have lots of chocolate things to eat. 🙂

xoxo

on death, you know, that thing we don’t talk about

I have had every intention of writing here over the last few days but I just haven’t been able to get the words down. You see, Sunday was the first anniversary of my father’s passing. It just really sucks to write about so I’ve been avoiding this space. Of course, there’s no way to avoid actually thinking. I can’t shut off my brain as easily as I can my computer.

It is easy enough not to talk about it though. Most people don’t really want to discuss death and dying. It’s too messy, too hurtful. It hits too close to the heart, so we gloss over it. I’m fine, I’m fine, we all say, rather than speak the truth, that a piece of you is missing, gone forever. We’ve all experienced it, haven’t we? So why the silence? It’s because hearing about someone else’s pain makes us think of our own. A grandparent or parent lost, or some other dearly loved one. Avoid. Avoid. Mortality bites.

I believe would all rather think of death in generic terms. Sad events happening in far off places are easier to cry over than cancer in the house. I can bawl at a sappy scene in a movie but real life hospital rooms and funeral parlors just make me numb. I can only assume I’m not alone in doing that since no one actually speaks of such things.

Well, at this moment I’d like to speak of my father but it’s easier to write it here than to say any of it aloud. Who was he? A father of seven, he was Pop to us. A husband of 50 years, yes, they made it to 50 last August, with three-ish months to spare. Grandfather of 17, soon to be 18, and with them Pop became Pepere. Catholic, always and forever. Engineer, artist extraordinaire, fixer of all things. He and flawed and kind and wonderful. I say all of this because these words describe him, but yet he was so much more than a few nouns and adjectives. He was the sum of years of 77 years of life, and love, and light.

I can’t look at a sunset and not imagine him painting it. I can’t pick up the phone and not yearn to call him. I can’t go to their house without glancing at his chair, expecting to see him reading, or well, snoring there. I can’t hold a broken electrical anything and not laugh at how he would have stashed it away for parts. I can’t help but for wish we’d had more time with him, for myself, and for my son. I can’t stand it, no, I hate it that he’s dead. Dammit.

So.

I hope you don’t think I’m crazy or depressed. (Well maybe a little crazy but not so much certifiably.) Sometimes grief just looks like this. It ebbs and it flows like the tides, and it’s not a bad thing to let it loose once in awhile.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, you could do me a favor; don’t tell me how sorry you are. I know you’re sorry. You can’t read this kind of a brain dump and not feel some sadness. Instead, I’d rather you tell me a little something about someone you’ve loved, and and miss, and hardly ever talk about. Even though it hurts. Writing it down helps, I swear.

In return, I’ll show you one of my father’s paintings, one of my favorites:

and one of my recent photos:

Sunsets. It’s a family thing.

one car family

It seems like I drive a lot these days.

Back last spring when Damon got this  job offer in Boston we knew this was the opportunity we’d been waiting for, working for, to make a major life change. You already know we dramatically downsized our house and our possessions, (on purpose!!) so we could live a simpler lifestyle. Well, we also chose to ~gasp~ get rid of a vehicle and make do with just one. ONE car.

We specifically chose to live in Braintree for two reasons, the schools for Josh, and easy access to the train station for Damon. It’s like city life without being in the city. It’s a place where having one car is really possible.

You’re thinking well sure, lots of people make do with one car, or even no car! But not us. It’s just something we never even considered before. We both grew up in MAINE, and there is practically no such thing as public transportation in Maine. You certainly can’t walk – everywhere you need to go is like, 110 miles away, or more. Okay seriously, I pulled that number out of nowhere and then I looked up how far it is from my hometown to the Maine/NH border and it’s 113 miles! Not even kidding.

Anyway, our plan, and we all know how well plans go, was to keep our old crappy SUV right up until it was time to move and then quickly get rid of it. About 3 1/2 weeks before our closing date we made a decision to donate it to a good charity instead of trying to sell it. Believe me when I say it wasn’t worth much, certainly not even worth the hassle of a craigslist ad!

Three days after that, the dang truck died on the side of the road.

Sigh. I had three weeks of transfer station trips/school pickups/extraneous moving errands left to make. Gah.

Anyway, we gave up, donated it to the Epilepsy Foundation (hello tax break!) and we’ve only had one car ever since. That was four months ago, and I haven’t murdered anyone yet. Wahoo!

Every week day now, I drive Damon to the train station, drop Josh at school, then go home and work until it’s time to pick up Josh again at 3. (No he doesn’t ever take the school bus, but that’s another story of it’s own.) We come home and get homework done and dinner ready, then at 5 we go out yet again and pick Damon up at the train station.

You guys. I feel like I’m in the car ALL the time. But here’s the scary thing; I don’t mind it. Josh gets reading time, or we all actually get time to TALK to each other. It’s quite a nice novelty! One I hope doesn’t wear off.  🙂

On weekends, we plan our time carefully, if one of us needs the car the other gets quiet time at home. We’ve been doing a lot more things together as a family too, even if it’s just errands. That’s a good thing!

The other really fabulous thing? Is how much money we’re saving. Think about this: no car payment, no car insurance, no registration fees, no tax, no maintenance, no extra gas. At MINIMUM we’ve estimated we’re saving around $5000 a year, but in reality, it’s probably 7 or 8. Um, yeah. I’m okay with that. I’ll just keep on doing all the driving, thanks.

Have you ever thought about downsizing to one family car or going car-less completely? Is it even doable where you live? Scary thought isn’t it?

We’re doing our best to make it work. We said we wanted try it for a year. I think we can, and if we get through the winter, maybe even longer!

 

wherein I admit to being a sports loving crazy woman

So. I did something this weekend that I’ve been wanting to do ALL of my life. I finally went to a Patriots game!! You guys. It was freaking awesome. We had seat ONE row from the very top of the stadium. It was insane how high up we were. The climb up the stairs was dizzying!

I loved every second of that game. I admit though, it was some pretty exciting football in general, so it might not have been as much fun if we had lost. 😉 I yelled, and screamed, and cheered, and clapped so much that afterward I could barely speak, my head was pounding, and my hands were raw. See? Awesome.

I told Damon we need to get on the Patriots season ticket wait list. I was only half kidding. The wait is only about 20 years long. By then we might be able to afford it!

You probably all know by now that I grew up in Maine, which to the outside world might not seem like it’s deep in Patriot territory, but oh, it is. It’s just in the air up there. We love our Pats, our Red Sox, our Bruins, and well, the Celtics too. The only time we don’t love Massachusetts teams is when we’re talking college ball! (Go UMaine!)

The problem with growing up a New England fan in Maine is that’s it just too freaking far to ever go to a game. So I just never did. We always had sports on TV though, (did I mention I have 4 brothers??) and there is really nothing like sitting in the sunshine on a hot summer day listening to the voice of  the Red Sox on a little transistor radio. That. Was. Childhood. Bliss.

I didn’t go to a Red Sox game until I was 26. My second was a couple of weeks ago, when we took Josh to Fenway for the first time. I only just went to my first Celtics game three years ago. But now I’ve been to a Pats game. And next month? We go to the Bruins! I know!!

I might be getting a little bit spoiled living here. Oh wait. This IS why we moved here. Instead of buying stuff, we’re having experiences. This. This.


new school jitters

Mine. Not his.

So yeah. We moved to a brand new city, a new state even, and that means a whole new school for Josh. He seems FINE with it. While I’m trying not to admit that I’m a bit of wreck!

I’m one of those people who spent her whole life in the same house, the same town, with the same kids, at the same schools. I loved that life. I had good friends and a happy childhood. I want the same thing for my son, and yet I can’t help wondering, what if this new place changes all of that for him?

So far, everything about this move has been awesome for all of us. We looove it here. Of course we miss our friends but we are just SO much better off now.

But what if, WHAT IF, his new school is the ONE thing that isn’t great?? That is, in fact, horrible? What if we’ve made a terrible mistake? What if he turns into a different kid here? What if he has trouble making friends or fitting it? The what-ifs are killing me. Aaack!

Did I mention I’ve had a stiff neck and shoulder for almost two weeks? Ya think that might be where I’m holding my stress??

Oh, those dang doubts. They sure do creep in when you least want them to. Like 4 am.

I had a dream last night (I NEVER talk about dreams but I had to this one time!) about Josh’s new teacher. Who we don’t even know yet! She was this faceless entity whose idea of a reward for the kids was to let them sing or dance in front the class. Not a punishment, a reward. I swear, THIS would have been my worst nightmare when I was kid! And my kid is soooo much like me! In the  dream he started to hate school. Josh hate school? Aaaand then I woke up. I felt horrible!

Now okay, I know it was just a dream but what if it was really some freaky premonition? If Josh comes home from the first day of school and tells me his teacher made him sing in front of the class? Duuude. I’ll be homeschooling the rest of the year.

Have any of you moved your kids midway through school or did your parents move you when you were a kid? What was positive and what was negative? Do you have any ideas on how I can help him transition? Or should I just leave him the heck alone and he’ll get through it? ~ahem~

Believe me when I say he does not seem worried at all. (I hide my issues well.) His new principal gave us a tour of the school already. He saw his classroom, although he hasn’t met his teacher yet. He knows exactly where he has to go at morning drop off, how to go through the lunch line, where the gym is, those kinds of things. He loved it there. Honestly, I don’t really thing he’s going to have any problems, but, but…what if?

We have one more week until school starts. By then my head might just roll right off my shoulders. Ow. Where’s my heating pad?

end of a yard sale queen

There’s not much I loved doing more than getting up early on a sunny Saturday morning, planning my route of attack, and hitting as many local yard sales I could. Whether I was searching for Legos, yarn, furniture, tools, or just out looking to see what was there, I spent an awful lot of time picking up lots of useful treasures. While I may not have been a hoarder level yard-saler, I certainly had more of such treasures than I ever could use. What’s the harm? Not much in the way of cash. A few dollars here, a few there. My wallet was not where it hurt.

The real cost, well, that was in the overwhelming amount of stuff in my home. It was also in the time spent, keeping those items clean and organized. I had a nice big house with a spare bedroom and three different family rooms. They all needed furniture and decorations. And they all needed to be maintained. (And you all know how much I hate to clean!!)

I spent time and money on storage solutions for craft items I never used, jewelry making supplies, paper crafting supplies, and far more yarn than I could use up in ten years. So, I gave most of it to charity. I kept only what yarn I had a real plan for, as well as the painting supplies handed down to me from my father, and released the rest of it. I haven’t missed any of it, not for a single moment, and I won’t buy ANY more until I’ve used up what I have.

The 3 family rooms worth of furniture? That’s now down to one. Three bedrooms down to two. Two dining areas down to one. We don’t have a garage or a shed. We have a tiny outdoor closet that just fit the bikes and a few small tools. We don’t even have bureaus in our bedroom – if it doesn’t fit in the closets we don’t keep it.

I haven’t checked the local paper for a single yard sale, and I don’t plan to any time soon. As much as I love the concept of yard-saling; reusing things instead of throwing them into landfills, saving money buying used instead of new, and helping your neighbor make a bit of spare cash, well, I just can’t do it right now. I don’t need anything, and I don’t want anything, and I have no space for anything – that’s what I keep telling myself!

Now, whenever I have a free Saturday morning, I hit the Farmer’s Market instead. I’m still supporting local merchants and I’m getting good fresh food for my family. I can’t buy a single thing there that could clutter up my house! I come home with this instead:

settling in

I officially live in Massachusetts, (whoa!) and I have a license to prove it. Not a license to kill, but a license to drive. Although around here those 2 things seem to be one and the same! I’m learning to drive in city-ish traffic all over again – this is soooo much like the area in Virginia that we used to live in, it’s actually kind of strange. Learning the layout of Braintree and the surrounding towns has been surprisingly easy, although I’ve yet to attempt a venture into big bad Boston by myself. Can’t be any worse than the DC beltway, right?

I was extremely out of the loop for the first week and a half  we were here – we had no home phone, no tv, and barely any internet. Oh, and the worst cell reception in any house I’ve lived in, well, ever! I couldn’t talk on the phone or text unless I drove to the nearest grocery store parking lot! If you know me you know how seriously awful this was.

We were surviving with only an itty bitty MiFi. Just enough so I could keep up with work but not enough to keep up with the rest of the world. Yeesh. Me no likey…

Anyway! The FIOS was worth the wait and for this past week I’ve been reveling in all things internet again, (except apparently, blogging) and can I just say: hurray for streaming video with no buffering!

Besides having fab download speed, there are many, many, many things we love about this place. Love. The Pool. Oh, the pool. We’ve been here 18 days, and we’ve only missed going to swim about 5 of them. To say we’re making the most of our condo fees would be an understatement!

Did I mention we don’t have to touch a single blade of grass here? Nor trim a tree, or rake a leaf? Ahhh… Yes, come this Fall I’ll be thinking of those poor suckers who bought my old house ringed with massive trees that endlessly rained down ridiculous amounts of leaves – some of them bigger than my head. Oh, OH! While we’re on the subject of “things-I-don’t have-to-do-here” just wait! Wait until Winter comes and I get to rub it in over and over how they shovel all way up my walk right to my front door!!! Ahem. Please excuse my giddyness, you’ll be seeing it again, I promise.

Do you know what we get to do here when we aren’t doing summer yardwork?? (Or Winter snow removal…) We get to GO PLACES and DO THINGS! Seriously. LOVE.

Highlights so far:

Did I mention I love it here? More to come soon, I swear!! Especially an update about the whole decluttering thing. For now let’s just say it’s a good thing we did it. 😉

ps. To my NH peeps, yes, I’ll come visit soon, and I miss you too!

the calm during the storm

He has no trouble relaxing amid the chaos.

I, on the other hand, am going insane.

Movers come tomorrow at 8 am to load up. We close on both homes on Thursday. The movers arrive at the new condo at 8 am on Friday. I might not survive this…

Make the Bed

I’m spending quite a lot of time this week keeping the house perfect for the showings we’ve had. I’m getting really good at fluffing throw pillows and hiding things!

I’m starting to believe there are really just two kinds of people; make-your-bed-everyday-faithfully-people and don’t-make-your-bed-ever-unless-you-have-company-coming-over-people. Really, I think that about sums everyone’s personalities.

I’ve always been firmly in the latter camp. Making the bed seemed so pointless. I’m only going to mess it up again anyway! I’ve  just kept a pretty coverlet handy just in case I needed to throw it over my whole mess nest in a hurry. Does that horrify you?

I am also the type that doesn’t fold laundry before I put it away. I hang shirts as often as possible, and sometimes I pair up socks, but most of the time clothes just get stuffed into the appropriate drawer. You’re judging me now aren’t you?

I’m lucky I have the kind of kitchen floor that looks clean when it’s dirty (and unfortunately also dirty when it’s clean) and the last time I vacuumed inside the couch was probably the last time I wrote about it. In 2008. There are constant piles of stuff on my kitchen table and counter – newspapers, mail, receipts, school papers, things that never have a home. I always usually clean up after the cat when he pukes but the fluffy bits of fur he sheds often stay around for awhile. Okay, even I think I’m getting gross.

I am, admittedly, one of the worst housekeepers on the planet. BUT…

I can’t be that right now. My house has to be perfect ALL the time. I fluff the many, many, many throw pillows around the house. I vacuum when it needs it instead of a week later. I dust, I mop, I find a home for every. single. little. thing. And the first thing I do every day is make my bed.

Today we don’t have a showing and I’m home by myself — and I still made the bed. I fluffed pillows. I put away the dishes. I picked a speck of cat fur off the carpet. I made the house perfect.

Is it possible to become the other kind of person?? Because I’m starting to like this.

Do you make your bed everyday?

Next time: organizing closets, and who wants to come do mine? Heh. 😉

on the market

After weeks and weeks of slaving over this house, it’s finally on the market today!

We put in new carpets, painted almost every room, cleaned every inch, (okay well, I hired someone to clean every inch) got rid of almost everything we own, and staged the heck out of the place. Not to mention all the the yard work we’ve done to add a little curb appeal. My fingernails are still black from planting tons of flowers. (It goes really well with the white on my elbows from painting trim!)

Did I mention my realtor also stages the house as part of her normal routine? Love it! She’s the only realtor I interviewed that does that. But people! There are fake plants in. my. house! Let’s just say they’re growing on me… 😉

Really, the whole thing came out gorgeous, if I do say so myself, and yes, I still want to move!

George thinks I made things nice just for him:

I am so ridiculously tired. Can I have a nap now too??

Tomorrow I clean the laundry room. Oy. Anyone want to come organize my pantry or clean the inside of my refrigerator? ~sigh~

ps. If you want to see the actual listing leave a comment and I’ll email it to you. 🙂

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