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…

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Whose Idea Was This Again?

We are six weeks away from The Big Move. Six weeks. Both interminable and breakneck. There have been times over the past two weeks that I have been so overwhelmed with the task of once again relocating our family that I can’t even manage to literally take a deep breath. It’s like my lungs are just as panicked as my brain. I’m in need of some serious relaxation techniques and am regretting quitting that yoga class after one lesson back in 2005.

Everything seemed to kick into overdrive last week; mortgage lenders, insurance companies, assorted inspections, contract negotiations, school registration. It all was happening and all at the same time. The phone didn’t stop ringing and my email inbox was filled with Things People Needed. I finally took some time this past weekend to make one huge to-do list in an effort to not let anything fall through the cracks over the next few weeks. If it’s on the list, I won’t forget to get it done. I may or may not have written down “shower regularly.”

The only thing keeping me from complete full-body panic is perspective. After all, it’s JUST a move. I’m not facing some horrible, unpredictable and unexpected life event. I mean, we kind of brought all of this on ourselves so the stressful finger-pointing only comes full circle. How do people do this with frequency? My best friend moves every two to three years TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY for her husband’s career and she has four school-age children and I basically need to get a grip, is what I’m saying.

Much like animals, children can sense when you’re weak. When your defenses are compromised. When your mood is precariously balanced between “lots to do” and “imminent doom.” And, our children have been a mess lately. There is whining, complaining, in-fighting and general non-compliance. Everyone has been thrown off routine through a combination of multiple snow days and big-changes-are-coming angst. I know their behavior is a direct result of our own anxiety but it still seems egregious, amongst everything else on our plate, to have to so fiercely police the boys as they come to blows over one (1) individual Lego. Thanks for piling it on, little people in our care.

It was a good thing then, that my parents drove out for a last-minute visit last week. Their presence elevated the mood in the house immediately. There is something about the way my mother and father are always so incredibly positive about big life events that makes you feel you can accomplish anything. You need to talk, call them anytime. You have a problem, they will offer you a solution. You need something organized/installed/cleaned, they will be right over.

Not only did the number of crafts completed in the house increase by 100 percent during their visit, but the amount of packing increased by the same. In six hours last Thursday, my dining room went from completely bare to this:

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This is only one half of the room. Also, I will never part with that infant bouncy seat. I can still hear its nerve-rattling jingle in my dreams.

Apparently, if you want something done? Stick two retired people on the task. My father was running around to stores buying boxes as quickly as my mother could pack them. At one point, she took an actual thing out of my hand that I was actually using to wrap it in paper and tuck it away in a box. There are no pictures on the walls and no knick-knacks anywhere. All packed. The boys were bored this weekend and I told them to grab a game to play from the cabinet but, surprise!, they couldn’t. Because my dad had packed them all. I couldn’t believe all the progress they made in ONE DAY. They really are the greatest generation.

Of course, now that they’ve departed, I’m back to just staring at the (empty) walls feeling overwhelmed again. However, I do have a new-found confidence that it will all get done. And, if it doesn’t get done, I’m pretty sure it will get done eventually. Right? Maybe don’t answer that.

About That Laundry Room

Approximately five minutes after I wrote this post about our lofty laundry room ambitions, Bob told me he wanted to move back to Northern Virginia. Instead of painting that Labor Day weekend, we spent the entirety of it on our front porch discussing Big Changes.

Our move away from Alexandria in the spring of 2012 was the culmination of years of plotting, planning and hand-wringing over how to move away from the hustle and bustle of the city while maintaining Bob’s career with the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. We wanted his job but we also wanted different schools, a different house, a different experience for our kids than our little bricked-over urban backyard could provide. And, I wanted out of the metro area completely. It was a tough place for my Indiana heart to live and once I had children, my desire to find a neighborhood just like the one I grew up in reached fever pitch.

We found everything we were looking for – the schools, the neighborhood, the lack of migraine-inducing traffic – in the far west end of Richmond. For the first year we lived in this area, I would marvel every single time I left my house at how EASY it was to get around, how beautiful the southern pines were, how large the grocery store was. Honest to goodness, it felt like we were on vacation all the time.

We have used our prime location as a jumping off point to explore much of Central Virginia. From battlefields to beaches to campsites, everything is so close and so accessible. Richmond is a wonderful place to live.

The only thing it is missing is my husband.

For the almost two years we have lived here, Bob has worked a few days each week in Washington while I hold down the home front in Richmond. We rented a cozy apartment for him up in Northern Virginia so he wouldn’t have to commute daily. Some weeks he is home more days than he is at work but, as he explained to me last September, he feels he is not home nearly enough. He misses his family.

And, we miss having him at home. While taking care of our three kids on my own during the week has proven incredibly challenging at times, the four of us have muddled through. Everyone is fed and clothed and schooled on time with a minimal amount of Bad Words.

My biggest issue during Bob’s absence is not how tired I am or how solo-managing the homework is killing me slowly, it is actually how life always feels on pause during those few days each week when Bob is working in the city. Since not everyone in the family is present, it feels like the rest of us are in a type of holding pattern, waiting for him to arrive home so we can all spend time together as a complete unit. This means weekends are crammed full of errands, activities, intense quality time and playing catch-up from the days he is gone in addition to me trying desperately to find some quiet time before his next departure. It is an interesting cycle.

So, when Bob said, “This isn’t working,” I said, “Let’s go.” It was one of the easiest big decisions we’ve ever made. We have a buyer for our home here and have found a home up there and while everything isn’t finalized until it’s finalized, we are working hard towards a smooth transition in the next several weeks.

I surprisingly don’t feel regret about our stint in Richmond. As Bob pointed out, “people try new things.” And, that’s what this was, an experiment. We’ve met many, many families that have figured out how to make a Richmond to Washington living arrangement work. We just weren’t one of them. However, Henry was able to spend two years at an award-winning school, Charlie found his comfort zone at a fantastic preschool, Millie grew into her own little person and our family explored and enjoyed the ease of living in the area. We made friends, true life-long friends, during our time here. So, I couldn’t possibly regret such an integral part of our family’s story.

More importantly, we think we are headed for something amazing in our new town. An experience we would have never considered two short years ago. Somewhere that only a detour through Richmond could have landed us.

And, just to close the loop on the laundry room, it did eventually get painted.

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The lack of staging in this photograph is why I will never be a DIY blogger.

In November. Around Thanksgiving. Three months later. When my father drove here from Louisville to complete the task. We are good at many things but home improvement is not one of those things.