New Digs

We’ve been in our new house for just over a week now and I have some thoughts.

1. Having a basement is just as awesome as I had made it out to be in my mind. When the kids get rowdy or the in-fighting reaches fever pitch because we’re all stuck inside (because it snowed/is freezing AGAIN), I banish them to the lower level to run it out. When the screeching/screaming escalates, I simply close the door and everything is magically muffled.

Also, we had the movers put every single one of our moving boxes and bins down there so we could unpack at our leisure instead of being buried by cardboard in every room right out of the gate. This turned out to be a great plan but I imagine the moving guys were seriously bummed when they pulled up to our one-story house and then we broke the news that they were going to have to cart everything one floor down.

2. At some point, we are totally going to hit a deer with our car(s). It is inevitable. They kind of just… hang out everywhere – right outside of our windows, at the bus stop in the morning, meandering across the roads all casual-like even though you should really pick up the pace there little buddy because that propane truck is barreling around the corner. It would be cute if it didn’t feel a little like they were loitering. Also, the kids spied a dead deer on the side of the road and the scene involved vultures and oh my goodness, there were some Circle of Life conversations after that one.

It appears I’m a little high strung about the wild animals because Bob, right before he left town for a few days, told me he spotted a coyote walking across the back field. When I expressed incredulousness he said they just look like “big dogs.” I’ve never seen a coyote because I’m not from Alaska (That’s where coyotes are from, right? I’m guessing here.). So, when a husky-ish looking “big dog” meandered onto our front porch yesterday morning, I promptly passed out. Then, I noticed the collar around its neck (name tag and all) and felt like an idiot. I still don’t know what a coyote looks like. There are also wild turkeys out here along with foxes and some aggressive crows that will not leave our garbage alone, making them the squirrels of the bird family.

I want our entire spring to be spent exactly like this - outdoors.

3. We spent a good portion of our time last week outside enjoying the scenery and mild(er) weather. For reasons I find very confusing, everyone ended up with splinters in their hands/fingers. Henry got a couple of splinters from a fence and Charlie said his splinter came from “the ground.” Anyway, I am becoming excellent at splinter removal since Google tells me that splinters can lead to infection, gangrene and then amputation. So, apparently, out they must come. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I have the technique and precision of a Civil War battlefield surgeon. After dealing with Henry’s uncooperativeness over the sewing needle I had to use, I just simply dug Charlie’s out with a pair of Tweezers. Sometimes, you just have to get it done.

4. I have never understood why people on House Hunters always lament when a kitchen in a house they are considering buying is sans center island. Now, I understand their plight. I’ve never had a kitchen island before but I do now and I am surprised by how much I love it. There are no upper cabinets in the way, plenty of light and you can walk all the way around it as you grab things from the pantry and the refrigerator and every other direction, throwing together meals and packing lunch boxes. You’ve probably already discovered the joy of the kitchen island but let me have my moment here.

And, about that kitchen. I’m cleaning our new one with a determination and detail that surprises even me. We found evidence of mice in the pantry and since Bob reacted negatively when I suggested that we sell and move to a house without mice, my only option was to clear and clean the entire space. Drawers have been removed, nooks and crannies have been vacuumed, the dreaded under-sink cabinet has been cleared (it is always the WORST). I come from a long line of people that have been known to break out the Q-tips on cleaning day so I really feel like I’m honoring the obsessiveness found in my family tree with this move. However, cleaning this way takes a LONG time so I still haven’t cooked a proper meal since we moved in. But, the stove is next.

5. Henry’s transition to his new school could not have gone better. I find myself repeatedly underestimating the strength and grit of my children. He has made new friends and joined new clubs and it is all just going swimmingly. Charlie and Millie are also getting settled and seem happy to explore their new surroundings. It helps that we bought Charlie a Gator sized just for him. It is so, so slow which makes watching him from the windows as he circumnavigates the house absolutely hilarious. It’s like slow-motion. There is no way he could outrun a coyote in that thing.

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I still can’t believe we’re on the other side of the move. We worked so hard for months to make the transition happen and I am eternally grateful that it all came together.

Gettysburg (Change of) Address

Charlie has become a bit of a Civil War buff. His mild obsession began when Bob purchased the 1993 miniseries, “Gettysburg.” Charlie has viewed it countless times and legitimately knows almost as much as Bob now about the battle (although, his descriptions tend to be a bit more rudimentary). There is something about those men and that fight that has truly captured his attention. While packing the car on Thursday, after the movers departed, I found him standing on the big boulder that was in our front yard, holding a long stick to the sky and yelling, “FOR VIRGINIA!” as loud as he could.

When a few nights between house closings this past weekend left us with no base camp, we decided to capitalize on the time off and head up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania so Charlie could fulfill a yearlong dream of reenacting Pickett’s Charge on hallowed ground. Bob had also promised him a new musket. So, that was a strong motivating factor as well.

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I had been to Gettysburg on a couple of occasions but only to the museum and visitor’s center – never to any of the monuments. And, despite the miniseries airing on a near constant rotation in our household, I knew nothing of when the battle took place or who the major players were. My Civil War knowledge was limited to central Virginia and even then, mostly just the area between Petersburg and Appomattox.

After spending the entire day Saturday at Gettysburg National Military Park, I now know when the fighting at Gettysburg took place (July 1-3, 1863), who made a bad call (Longstreet acting on orders from Lee) and how many casualties were suffered in battle (51,000).

I also know how high an unsuspecting museum-goer will jump when she turns around and sees a four-year-old carrying a rifle.

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There are a lot of different ways to explore the park but we chose to skip the museum (young kids), hit up the gift shop (aforementioned musket purchase) and head straight for the self-guided auto tour (less guilt over keeping your kids restrained in their car seats while you enjoy the scenery because: HISTORY, KIDS!). The auto tour winds through both the Confederate and Union lines with stopping points that give a true appreciation for the conditions and topography the soldiers were fighting against those three days that became the turning point in the war.

And, the scenery was breathtaking. I don’t know what I was expecting or if we hit the right combination of mild weather and low crowds but the battlefields were very moving. It was easy to imagine the tens of thousands of soldiers gathered there and to appreciate their bravery in charging across open fields and up ridgelines.

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One of the benefits of touring by one’s own car is that we could stop frequently and let the kids run around. It was super windy so Millie had some challenges staying upright at times and Henry could be found frequently inquiring about the availability of Legos during the 1860s, but Charlie. Oh, Charlie. He finally got to lead that charge.

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Goodbye House

We have lived in our Richmond home for just shy of two years. This morning, we signed the paperwork to sell it.

We are way too tired to be emotional or reflective or to feel anything other than brute exhaustion right now. The movers will be here tomorrow so we’ve been packing non-stop for days and eating far too much Chipotle and plopping our children in front of way too many electronic devices that are probably ruining their vision and destroying the best parts of their brains.

So, in honor of the end (the sweet, sweet end to all of this), a picture post of some of my favorite rooms of this home. Because, if you’re anything like me, you will never turn down the opportunity for a house tour.

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The bright kitchen was one of the things that really sold me on this house when we purchased it. Lots of counter space. Lots of storage space. I was pumped, in theory, for the double ovens but it turns out, I have absolutely no real need for double ovens. So, they were kind of kitchen overkill.

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We ate just about every one of our meals at the table in the kitchen. I could have vacuumed underneath this table three times a day and it would never have been enough. There were always crumbs. Always. (Related: we need a dog. I think this is how everyone else solves their Crumb Problems.)

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One of the coziest spots in the house was right off the kitchen. We converted the dining room into my office and turned the formal living room into a formal dining room. The big yellow chair is where the kids would curl up with books they grabbed from the bookshelves close by.

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I will certainly miss all of the built-in bookshelves and cabinets this home has. We tucked a lot behind these doors in our family room. Our new home has none and I am bracing for a basement filled with boxes of books until we can have some shelving built. (And, when I say, “built,” I mean, “taken out of the flat-pack box from Ikea and assembled.”)

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My favorite of the bedrooms was the room that belonged to the boys. It was the only room that really felt finished while we lived here. I am quite positive the new owners will be finding tiny Legos in the corners of this space for years to come.

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Since the new house won’t have a dedicated guest bedroom, all of the furniture in the current guest bedroom at this house is getting turned over to Millie for her new room. (But, don’t let that stop you from visiting! We promise you’ll have a bed! Even if that bed is a sleeping bag on a cot! I can tell you’re already planning your trip!)

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We had big plans for this house – new kitchen, new baths, exterior makeover. And, as a house enthusiast, it’s hard to leave a project unfinished. However, sometimes, big plans are best abandoned in favor of something entirely different.

Our new adventure awaits…