one more night

As the children at their last supper in the house on Grooms Street, it occurred to me that Tillie was only five months old when we moved in here. And then it occurred to me that Catcher had just turned four when we moved in...and Tillie just turned four herself earlier this month.

Tomorrow is moving day, so I suspect I'll be off the grid for a bit. It always takes a while for us to get ourselves back in the 21st century. I'm glad February has an extra day this year--we're going to need it! 


knocking down walls

Meanwhile...back at the house...

Some time after Waco but before Oxford, Alex carved out several good hours of bathroom demo. I've been up to my eyeballs packing in the meantime, where I've almost reached that I-don't-care-where-this-goes-I'm-just-throwing-it-into-a-random-box phase. Catcher and Scout show up at the new house every now and again--usually when we're going to pick up Dad who's been slinging the sledgehammer all day--while Tillie has been my design assistant and knows all the guys at the Tile Guy by name.


super tillie

Let's not forget that in the middle of packing and excluding rodents from our new house and tearing up the bathrooms (just wait for those photos), we're in the middle of an unseasonably warm February--even by Texas standards. The other day when I needed a break from my to-do list, and Tillie was looking particularly cute in the princess/superhero ensemble she had put together, we stepped out into the sunshine for a moment that can only be made possible by a four year-old. It's too bad I didn't get the plastic heels she was wearing in the shot.


inspiration for our renovation

Before we could tackle a renovation project of our own, Alex and I figured it only made sense to visit the Fixer-Upper capital of the world--Waco, TX. And speaking of worlds, the line to get into Magnolia Market was longer than some of the lines we encountered in Disney World. Needless to say, we did not come home with any amazing finds--I get anxious in crowded shopping environments--but the caramel corn we purchased in lieu of unnecessary knick-knacks was worth the trip as far as the children were concerned. The outdoor play/chill area was pretty chill as well.


daddy's girls

In the midst of all the closing excitement (if you want to call it that) taking place last Thursday into Friday, there was something even more monumental on the horizon--Scout and Tillie's first Father-Daughter Dance. The girls had been talking about it for weeks, and last Friday evening they were finally able to get dressed in their Valentine's Day best and do the Whip and 'Nay 'Nay (I'm not even sure if I'm writing that correctly) in our church basement. Scout wanted to wear her tube socks with her dress, by the way, but I talked her out of it at the last minute.

Meanwhile Catcher and I had a date of our own (not pictured) at a cozy little Italian restaurant down the street. We went early and dined with the folks who go out at 5:00pm because we had to get home in time to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire before the girls returned.


howdy neighbor!

This morning Alex and I took the kids by the new house, which officially belongs to us after funding went through at 4:26pm yesterday. There was one last snafu yesterday (because why wouldn't there be?) when the title company realized they had not included a paper that the seller needed to sign in his mobile notary pack. Lucky for us,  he was able to get himself to a Kinko's and have it signed and notarized by close-of-business. Finally we're homeowners, and this morning we went to check things out since we got cheated out of our final walk through due to Traingate.

But I suppose all the drama was worth it in the end because 1) We're homeowners again; and 2) one of our neighbors left a bottle of sparkling rose on the doorstep. It was quite a pleasant surprise at 8 o'clock this morning, and now Alex doesn't have to get me a Valentine's Day present.


almost isn't good enough...

except in horseshoes and real estate (if you're lucky and praying there's no FedEx catastrophe tonight).

"It's like going to the hospital and coming home without a baby," is what our realtor said when we walked into the closing office of the title company this morning. She was dead on. The perky receptionist had already rubbed me the wrong way, and I might have lost it if one person uttered "congratulations" as we were signing the papers that would make us homeowners once again. Because we were simply homeowners-in-waiting at that time. The only thing inhibiting the process, of course, was the seller who hadn't completed his end of the deal. Every time I saw his name etched under the line "Seller," my stomach dropped.

After several toy train jokes and thirty minutes of signing, Alex and I went on our way as homeowners-in-waiting. We were both feeling oddly depressed and thought that a trip to Home Depot would perk up our spirits and get the creative juices flowing. Word to the wise: if you almost, but not quite, become a homeowner one morning, do not (do not) go directly to the Home Depot. We walked out with $20 worth of boxes and a pack of Mentos.

Meanwhile, back in Seattle (or Salem...or Portland...or wherever); actually I don't know what was happening at this time out west, but I imagine our seller was waking up to his artisan-brewed coffee thinking what a beautiful morning it was. He wasn't thinking about the family he sent into a tailspin less than 24 hours earlier. He probably wasn't even thinking about his toy trains that meant so much just hours ago. Alex and I were bummed, but we had the law on our side.

At noon, as I was releasing my frustration by furiously packing all the books in our house, our realtor texted us to say the seller had agreed to meet the mobile notary at 1:00pm (3:00 our time) at the Starbucks in some place Oregon. My memory did not fail me, however, as I recalled this was a repeat of yesterday's episode. I wouldn't let myself believe that this time it would be different.

By 3:55pm (our time) I was wondering if "no news was good news" or no news was bad news or no news was just no news. And then the text arrived. Our realtor let us know that he had signed. I laughed out loud. Literally. Laughed. Out. Loud. I sometimes laugh at inappropriate times because I'm not sure what emotion I should be feeling. This may have been one of those times.

And so the story ends. At least I hope that is the end. The only thing that could go against us now is the FedEx package with the signed papers getting lost somewhere overnight before it makes its way from Oregon to Austin. But what are the chances of that happening? I think our story is good enough already.


this will make a great story some day

A wise friend once told me that any time he and his wife come across diversity in their lives they look at each other and say "This will make a great story one day." Alex and I are currently in the throws of making a great story. I don't know where to begin other than "in medias res," or "in the middle of things," as great writers (Homer, to name one) have done before me.

The text came in at 6:35pm last night. The seller was back from Colorado and upset that $10K worth of toy trains were "missing" from the casita (the detached studio in back of the house). Alex and I had a chuckle--via text with emojis included because he was working a basketball game in Kentucky last night--and thought it would all be cleared up by closing on Thursday. The real kicker? Those missing trains had been stored in the shower. Let the record show I never opened that shower door for fear of some critter jumping out at me (I swear by it, Austin PD). Let's pause here and wonder who stores $10K worth of anything in his/her shower?

Today during my English class I drop my phone on the floor and noticed I have four unanswered texts from my realtor. The last of which reads "Can you all give me a call?" It turns out that our seller has once again skipped town. This time he's in Oregon and proclaiming he will not go through with the closing until his trains have been recovered. Again, I wonder what is the deal with these trains? But then I snap back to reality and think, "Is this going to screw up our closing?" The rest of the story is comedy. Larry David couldn't write it any better...

It turns out our esteemed seller has, in fact, fled town. He called his listing agent and blessed her out about the missing trains and wants names and numbers of every person who has been at the property since it went under contract (bring it!). The title company, meanwhile, has sent a mobile notary (apparently there are such things--you learn something new every day) to meet up with him at a Starbucks in Salem, OR so the papers can be signed and FedEx-ed back to Austin prior to closing tomorrow morning at 10:00am.

There is no word from the seller.

At approximately 3:00pm our time, the seller sends an email to the title company saying he has to "cancel the meeting." He has contacted the Austin Police Department and the closing will be placed on hold while they conduct their investigation into the missing trains. The seller also notes that once A) the trains have been recovered or B) he has been reimbursed, he is "ready, willing and able" to close. At this point I'm starting to get a little suspicious, aren't you?

Scout had soccer practice at 5:00pm. Between the time I get home with the children at 3:00 and had to leave for her practice at 4:45, these are the things that Alex and I had to accomplish (and Alex did most of the dirty work): cancel the HVAC energy audit that was scheduled for the new house tomorrow afternoon; cancel the rodent "exclusion" that was scheduled for Friday morning; contact the City of Austin and Texas Gas to let them know "our bad...looks like we won't be switching the utilities over to our name tomorrow." In the meantime our realtor had her people looking into crime reports on the property and found a lawyer who represent us if it came to that. I also had to craft an email--for the purpose of establishing a paper trail--stating that we're sorry for the homeowner's loss and are willing to cooperate with the police department in their investigation; however, we must close tomorrow. I have already packed up half of our house, and we have to be out this place by February 29th, per the agreement we signed with our landlord. And if the seller does not uphold his part of the contract we will be forced to seek legal counsel. Thank you and goodnight.

That is the last correspondence that has taken place on this matter. I'm assuming that the seller has not yet signed his papers, which must be sent via FedEx by 9pm PST (if indeed he is in PST right now), in order to make it to the closing tomorrow morning. For our part, Alex and I are moving forward to ensure that everything is aligned with what we laid out in the contract. We will be at the closing tomorrow. We will sign the papers. We will wait to find out what the hell happened with those supposed trains.

I told you this would make a good story some day.


old sofa, new look

I know exactly how long Alex and I have had our sofa because I know how long we've been married, and I know it was the first piece of major furniture we purchased together. The faux suede chocolate brown made have been hip eleven years ago, but I was not about to drag that thing into our new house with eight years of dirty kid prints covering it.

Truth be told, however, I had a mind to change the sofa before we ever signed the contract on the house. In fact, it was having our offer declined right before Christmas that propelled my eagerness for change forward. I found an amazing deal on a designer remnant fabric online (Fabric Guru is the place if you're looking for a steal) and snatched it up right away. The fabric sat propped up against the kitchen wall in its shipping package until last week when Alex and I hauled it, along with our outdated sofa, to our upholstery guy. We have a guy, and he works fast. We had the sofa back in time for our Super Bowl party on Sunday, but I wouldn't let anyone sit on it and ended up covering it with a blanket so I wouldn't stress over guacamole and salsa stains. Was I crazy to get a white sofa? The kids are totally mature enough not to destroy it at their ages, right? I mean...just look at these little angels...


farkles forever

By happenstance we've come to celebrate Tillie's last two birthdays with a Super (Bowl) Party. Yesterday as we cheered for the Broncos we also cheered for our firecracker who turned four on Saturday. Watching her sheepish grin as we stood around her and sang "Happy Birthday," I saw the toddler slip away in slow motion.

Over the past few weeks, Alex and I have both noticed how articulate Tillie has become. When did she start saying "Scout" instead of "Shout?" And do you remember when everything was a "bobby?" Now she uses conjunctive adverbs in everyday speech and actively participates in dinner conversations (as long as it isn't pasta night and she's slurping spaghetti from her bowl).

But there's one thing that she still says, and I'm really going to miss it when it's gone: farkles. There are farkles on her princess gowns and she loves to drink farkling water. I know we can't hold on to everything, but I will always see those farkles in her eyes.


wahoo the loo

One area in which I'm struggling while preparing for our move is deciding on what shower curtain to purchase for the kids' bathroom. I know it's a first world problem, but it's a first world problem we've never encountered during our married lives. Alex and I have never had more than one bathroom in our dwelling--I'm not counting the time we first moved to Austin and rented an apartment in a building sandwiched between a highway and a strip club--so I have to get used to this whole master bath idea. Let me be clear, lest you think "master bath" sounds highbrow and highfalutin, the bathroom that Alex and I will share is simply an outdated loo (I wrote that to sound fancy) connected to our bedroom. There's no claw foot tub; there's no marble; there aren't two sinks. The toilet is leaking and needs to be replaced and the tile is outdated (but not in a cool vintage way).

However, simply the thought of having more than one bath in our home has left me in a quandary. The children's bathroom is the "hall" bathroom, which will be, by default, the bathroom guests use when we entertain (I'm imagining us as great entertainers in our new digs). This only becomes a problem when I start to over-think things from a decorating perspective. For instance, I want the bathroom to be just "fun" enough for the children to enjoy on a daily basis without being childlike or juvenile (for all the guests partying it up at house). On the other hand, I don't want the room to be stuffy or fancy in a "we're fancy people" kind of way because 95% of the time it will serve as a child's bathroom. I'm thinking of something sort of whimsically sophisticated. Is that a thing?

Either way, Alex gave me the big thumbs down when I suggested the shower curtain below. I thought it was right in line with my aesthetic, but he thought is was an obvious attempt at my brainwashing our children to attend the number one public university in the country. I don't see a problem there.


phase one

Alex was home for approximately 36 hours from Sunday afternoon to early this morning, and I informed him we were entering "Phase One" of my headache-free packing strategy. Phase One involves cleaning and decluttering. This is a necessary step in the moving process because you don't want to move things that you don't want/need/use anymore. So if something has been sitting in a box since we moved to Austin five years ago, and you are not able to identify what is in the box and/or you aren't missing anything essential from you life, whatever is in that box probably--which actually means definitely--has to go. Also included in the "must go" category are rollerblades (yes, rollerblades) you haven't worn in 11 years along with mold-covered sandals you found in the back of your closet. While you're at it, this is a great time to go through that closet and discover moths have destroyed three dresses, two of your favorite sweaters and a poncho. Thanks, moths, you just lightened my load.

Phase One also involves taking down all pictures/art from the walls. While you're at it (if you're me), you might as well go ahead and order prints that you would like to hang in the new place to update the gallery wall during this burst of energy. Before you pack up the gallery wall, swap out the old pictures for the new ones, and you'll be psyched to have something new as you inevitably unpack a box or two that leaves you thinking why did we keep this? at the new place. (The plan is not fool-proof.) During Phase One you can also order draperies for the new living room and sneak the shipping box in with your packing boxes. No one will ever be the wiser. What's one more box?

Phase One is nice. It's not chaotic. It makes you think you're ahead of the game and super-organized. Your boxes and things look neat and tidy stacked against the fireplace and you're able to convince yourself this move will be a cinch. I love Phase One.