holiday road

In just under 14 hours, we made it to New Orleans tonight. If you're making good time (i.e. Sprinkel time) the trip should only take about 11 hours, but factoring in two kids and their eating/pooping schedules can slow things down a bit. Other than sandwiching Catcher and Scout and ourselves into the Explorer without an inch to spare--literally, we had to throw out our sheets and Catcher's sand pail and Scout's diaper basket this morning to make everything fit in the car--everything has gone better than expected thus far. Maybe the secret weapon is that the kids can't see each other (I'll share pics of the inside of the car soon so you can see exactly what I mean).

In case you're wondering, there isn't much going on between Charlotte and New Orleans. I'm glad we decided to stop here and spend two nights for a rest because 1) where in the world would be sleeping otherwise...somewhere in Alabama?! and 2) we couldn't possibly have two days in a row of such good car behavior from the little ones. Besides, I've never been to New Orleans, and I can't wait to try these fancy donuts everyone is talking about!


through the back door

Charlotte Skyline
There have been times in my life, parties I've attended, where I've quietly exited through the back door. Without thanking the host or letting anyone know that I'm leaving, in a moment of "I'm done with this," I'm gone. When this happens, it's usually because I'm somewhere where I don't really know anyone, or I think I'll never see any of my fellow partygoers again. This is how I'm envisioning my exit from Charlotte. Tonight is our last night here, and I feel no emotional connection to this place. Yes, it's where Alex and I bought our first house (look how that turned out--ha!) and yes, it's where we had our first two children, but I've never felt a true sense of belonging here. It has been almost six years to the day that we arrived here, and I'm done with this.

Tonight we packed up the car, had a quiet dinner of sandwiches from our favorite local market, and looked around at our empty house from the comfort of our neighbor's lawn chairs. There were no going away parties or last-night dinners with friends, but that's how it should have been. When Alex and I arrived here from New York City we didn't know a soul (actually, Alex knew one guy) and we spent the first night in our [unfurnished] house much like we're spending our last night. Although the house hasn't sold--we're still waiting to see something in writing from this mystery offer-maker--I know this is the last time I'll be here. There's no reason or thing that I can think of that would bring me back to Charlotte. It's funny because when you leave New York, you know you'll be back to visit. But leaving Charlotte, this is really the end. I would probably be a little sad if I had time to think about it, but I'm so excited about what's ahead that I'm focusing my energy on the future.

Sitting in this quiet living room, I'm reminded of a phrase from one of Catcher's favorite books, An Awesome Book of Thanks, "thank you the end and thanks new beginnings."



Not one to be left out of the action, Catcher eagerly pitched in to load the POD this weekend. He found a dolly that wasn't being used, loaded up his boxes of toys, and dragged them to the POD. He couldn't have been happier, and the heat index of 107 didn't seem to bother him.

In the meantime, my stepdad and Alex were putting their best Tetris skills to the test to create the perfect configuration of boxes inside the POD. It's really amazing how much stuff can fit into one of those things, and I'm thinking that their perfect packing will make for easy unloading once we get to Austin. Check back with me in a week and see if I still feel the same way...


yard crashers

Here's what I learned this weekend: 1) we have a lot of junk, and 2) yard sale shoppers are more inclined to buy Alex's junk than to buy my junk. While I was giving some girl in her mid-20s the hard sale on why she needs my Matryoshka doll pillow by Thomas Paul, Alex was in the corner wheeling and dealing with a pile of posters that has been following him around since high school.

What do you want? You want sports? I got sports! You look like an arty kind of gal, I got a great Van Gogh over here for you...

It's like he had some secret stash that he was selling out of the back of his car or something, but the joke's on me because he made more off of his $2 posters than I did off of the $75 pillow I had to sell for $5. Actually, Alex is the one who ended up closing the deal on that one. He was a strong seller. I'm glad I had him out on the floor.

This is our living room on Friday night before the yard sale. It turns out there were some real "gems" that we let slide because we didn't have enough time to completely empty the attic before the sale. Had we known on Friday night what we knew on Saturday at 11:30am, we could have doubled our money--those framed Cabo San Lucas posters of Alex's would have been a gold mine. 

Here is our living room Sunday afternoon after Alex and my parents worked like Oompa Loompas to get the house and most of the PODs packed up. I was "babysitting" the kids to keep Catcher from climbing in the POD and Scout from grabbing the TV that is now within her reach.

More later. It's time for me to stuff a chair in the POD.


the waiting is the hardest part

We wait...and wait. The guy who put the offer on our house is taking his time in letting us know whether or not he agrees with our terms. Basically we're meeting in the middle (if all goes according to plan) which means he's getting a pretty good deal. We won't be making any money on the house, and if you count all the cash we've sunk into it over the past two years, we're in fact losing money. But I'd rather be leaving for Austin without the worry of our home in the Carolinas, so we'll just chalk this one up to a bad investment.

Time to get back to work. There's a POD that needs packing.


the 11th hour

On Wednesday morning, Alex and I received an email from our realtor's office saying the couple that had filled out the application to rent our house had passed their credit check and signed the lease. All we had to do was sign the lease and fax it back to the office and everything was all set for our renters to take over on August 1st (actually, July 30th because we agreed to let them move in two days early). I printed the lease and put it in my bag so Alex and I could sign it that evening.

On his way home from work on Wednesday, Alex received a phone call from our realtor saying we had received an offer on the house. Really. It was a low-ball offer from a developer, but we had a bite. And we also had a dilemma on our hands. If we signed the lease and then we were able to come to an agreement with the guy who made the offer then we could potentially be in violation of the lease; if we didn't sign the lease we could run the risk of losing the renters. That night Alex and I were up to our elbows in yard sale preparation and surprisingly not stressed or anxious about the situation.

Today is Friday and we're currently volleying with the offer-maker. He made an offer; we countered; he countered; we countered again with our final offer--which really isn't our final offer, but he doesn't know that--and now we wait.

And just to make things a little more interesting, we have a showing (by a potential buyer) tomorrow morning. I hope they won't be distracted by the yard sale in the front yard, the dining room littered with boxes and the three relocation cubes in our back yard.


one is fun!

This time last year I was in the hospital recovering from my non-epidural, 12-minute delivery. Your memory is funny, though, because I don't really remember the pain I felt during the 8 minute car ride to the hospital (although Alex probably still has scars on his arm from where my nails were digging in). In fact, I didn't remember the pain 20 minutes after Scout was born and I was ordering french toast from my hospital bed. In case you haven't heard the story, you can find it here.

Tonight, in contrast to Scout's cannon ball entrance into the world, we had a low key celebration consisting of mac n' cheese and cake. Although this was the first time Scout has had cake, she knew something awesome was about to go down when Catcher and I came of out of the kitchen singing Happy Birthday. She began waving her arms excitedly and bouncing herself out of the high chair before I even had time to cut the first piece. 

If you can't tell from the drugged-out look in her eyes, it was like feeding her baby crack. When the fun was over, I had to pry her sticky little hands from the high chair amid squeals of protest.

Yay, cake!!


the sorting room

We're approaching ten days until our 19-hour journey to Austin, and it's time to get serious. Last night Alex began Adventures in the Attic. Among other things, he discovered we still have those IKEA shelves that I made him buy and hang in our bedroom only to have him take them down six months later when I freaked out one night thinking they were going to crash down on my head. He also found a box of hand-me-down clothes that we never opened and a bunch of coozies that will make someone's day for 10 cents at the yard sale. Speaking of the yard sale, that brings me to the current state of our dining room. Check it out:

I'm calling it the sorting room right now. Although nothing is actually sorted, per se, I have big plans to begin "TX" and "NC" piles. The Texas group will be transferred into our POD this weekend; the North Carolina stack will end up in our front yard on Saturday morning. I guess it's a good thing the kids wake us up at 5:30am on the weekends because we'll need the extra time to haul all this crap out of the house. Too bad Starbucks isn't open that early. We don't have a functioning coffee pot at our house, but we did find a semi-working toaster oven in the attic. I'll sell it to you for 5 bucks.


suitcase living

When Alex and I first moved into this house we lived out of a suitcase for four months. Literally. We had a giant suitcase on the floor of our bedroom where we kept all our clothes that wouldn't fit into our tiny closets. At the time, I didn't think much of reaching down to the floor every morning in search of a clean tee shirt, but maybe that's because I was relieved not to be living in a hotel anymore. This past Sunday, a feeling of nostalgia washed over me as I watched Alex haul the dresser out of our bedroom to deliver it to a girl who had purchased it from Craigslist. Back to the floor. This time it's Scout and me who've been relegated to suitcase living (Alex and Catcher will be next, however, if we manage to sell our other dresser). 

Just like six years ago, I have to admit that I don't mind the whole suitcase-on-the-floor-of-our-bedroom thing. Moving into it forced me to pack up a bunch of clothes I won't need for the next two weeks, and I feel like I accomplished something this weekend. I just hope these walk-in closets I'm dreaming about in Austin are as big as they appear in their pictures, or else it's more suitcase living for us...


laundry day

One thing about going on vacation is coming home (or bringing home) a pile of laundry this big. The washing machine in the kitchen thing has never really been an issue for me since I process the laundry on a regular basis, but today it really stacked up (pun intended) and the kitchen/hallway became a breeding ground for pukey, sandy, sweaty, poopy vacation clothes. As of 7:20pm, the pile is down to about 1/3 of its original size following two loads. My average would be better, but the drying component takes about 4 times what a normal dryer would, so I have to wait...and wait...


la playa

We left for Mexico on the morning of Catcher's third birthday. As is our tradition--a tradition because it was the last thing I had to eat before my water broke and we went to the hospital to have Catcher--we had Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast. Then we headed to the airport and took off for Playa del Carmen. The flight was relatively uneventful (if you skip the part where Scout went Baby Matrix in my arms and knocked my coffee all over the gentleman sitting next to me) and we were through Customs on the other side before most college kids are awake. Although there were hurricane-like rain showers when we arrived and we were flooded out of our first room, and Scout threw-up at dinner--causing me to miss Catcher's ice cream birthday celebration--the trip was great. I didn't have to cook, clean, do laundry or get the kids to and from daycare for four days. I got to take afternoon naps under the shade of giant umbrella with the warm ocean breeze blowing over me and swing from the hammock on our balcony at night. The kids loved the water (and the sand) and they were out before dinner was even digested. I got used to the wild calls of the Mexican birds waking us up every morning and the coffee that Alex would bring me in bed before the sun barely peeked over the horizon. It was exactly the vacation we needed before packing up the house, driving 19 hours through the southern United States to arrive at a vacant apartment in Austin where we'll wait approximately 1-2 business days for our precious belongings to arrive.

But back to Mexico...here's a look at some of the fun:

Don't let the rain fool you. Our vacation may have started with a flood, but it was all sunny skies and fruity drinks after that.

Catcher and his dad woke up early the morning after his birthday to watch the sunrise.

Sandcastles and beautiful blue waters.

Scout enjoying her afternoon nap with Dad.

Alex and Scout enjoying happy hour.

Catcher enjoying happy hour. Should I be concerned that when he woke up at 6:30 the next morning the first thing he asked for was a daiquiri?

Another day...another afternoon nap for sleeping beauty on the beach.



pardon our appearance

While we were in Mexico, our flowers died. The window box now holds a bunch of shriveled-up flowers and a giant cobweb; the herb garden is nothing but a pot full of brown nothingness; the geranium is beyond thirsty. And just like that our curb appeal is gone. I'm not really that concerned, however, now that our house is off the buyer market and on the renter market. I don't think a renter looks at the house in the same way as a buyer, so what if the flowers have died? That's less work for the renters to keep up anyway, right? We have two showings tomorrow, and maybe I'm just feeling over-confident because we already received a message while we were in Mexico that someone is interested in renting the house, but in lieu of a frenzied cleaning tonight, I placed the above note on our dining room table. I was even wondering if I should add a postscript: this table is for sale...and so is the dresser in the master bedroom...and the one in the kids' bedroom. You know, just in case they want this house and they happen to like our decorating style and they happen to need a piece of furniture or two. I also think the smiley face is a nice touch. It shows we'll be great landlords.


i think we need a bigger bag

Ever since I lived out of a backpack for six months while traveling through Europe after college, I've considered myself a pretty decent and efficient packer. Until tonight. Tomorrow is the first time we've gone on a major trip--outside of the US, no less--with both children. Kids come with a lot of stuff. After I loaded the diapers and the butt paste and the sunscreen (about $100 worth because we have very fair-skinned babies who will not like the Mexican sun) and the life jacket and the floaty thing into the suitcase, there really wasn't room for much else. Our carry-on luggage is for the essentials like more diapers and Teddy Grahams and Goldfish to keep the kids quiet and happy (and fresh smelling!) on the plane. You seriously need a caddy with you on these trips...and I only have two kids (not counting Alex). After miraculously jamming all of Catcher and Scout's clothing into one tiny bag, I moved on to my own pile. If you'd ask me right now, I could not tell you what I packed for myself. Oh, I did manage to fit these wedges in somewhere:

Are they completely unnecessary? Perhaps, but I have to have something other than one pair of flat sandals for the trip. You can't expect any woman to go anywhere with just one pair of shoes.

So I'll be off for a few days...but hopefully I'll come back with some good pictures and interesting (but not too interesting) stories.


i had this great idea...

We leave for Mexico on Catcher's 3rd birthday. We're meeting my brother and his wife and their four children there, so I had this great idea to create custom t-shirts celebrating Catcher's 3rd birthday. Everyone would get one, and the back of the shirts belonging to my brother's tribe would say "Team Sprinkel" while ours would say "Team Wheat." I can't remember what my brilliant idea for the front of the t-shirt was, but it was definitely not cheesy and did not look like this (although I am a big Survivor fan):

But, alas, in between finding a place to live in Austin and finding something to do with our place in Charlotte and packing (the house) and packing (for Mexico), the whole thing slipped my mind. Sorry, Sprinkels. So now I have no birthday present for Catcher--if you don't count the trip to Mexico--and no party favors for the cousins who are celebrating his birthday with him. At least there will be tacos and beers and swimming pools and hammocks and the ocean...


suenos de mexico

We're leaving for our Mexican vacation in three days, and these are the three things I'm dreaming about today:

Everybody loves them but is a little embarrassed to drink them in normal social settings: umbrella drinks! When you're on vacation--and I don't care if it's Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean--the fruitier, more colorful and more decorated a drink, the better. Bonus points if your drink is served poolside; double bonus points if your drink is served via swim-up bar in the pool; triple bonus points if your drink is served in a swim-up pool next to a drunk, obnoxious, sunburned American raving about religion, politics and terrorists.

A giant straw hat, because without it I would be the obnoxious sunburned American. I'm also dreaming of SPF 75 because it's taken me years to get this pasty and I don't want to ruin it with a few days in Mexico.

And of course I'm dreaming about the beach, and the palm trees, and the relaxing sound of waves crashing on the shore. Is it Saturday yet? Better yet, is it Saturday following an early morning plane ride with a toddler and a baby, customs in Cancun, a 45-minute cab ride to Playa del Carmen and check-in at the resort...now where's that fruity drink?


first one to go

Happy 4th of July! I celebrated my independence today by working while Alex celebrated his independence by taking care of the kids (yikes!). He also managed to sell our china-buffet-hutch, so cheers to the beginnings of our moving slush fund (and cheers to getting rid of the first piece of furniture neither one of us was excited about moving). Although I loved our china-buffet-hutch when I found it at the Habitat for Humanity Restore a few years ago, I never had the time to refinish it as I had planned, and the drawers didn't really work once you weighed them down with your belongings. Plus, I'm confident I'll be able to find a suitable replacement in Austin when and if we ever buy another home.

Here's one last look at our mid-century find of the century:

The current state of our dining room (below). Please excuse the mess. If you didn't believe me before, you can see I was serious when I said I've given up on having our house "show ready." The table is up for grabs, too, so I hope it goes next and we can turn our dining room into the packing room.