Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Without the Tree

I'm not so good at winter.  The dark and cold weather get me down.  I prefer sunshine and warmth.  Focusing on the holidays and Eliot's birthday, though, get me through half of January.

Usually after Thanksgiving, we start hanging the lights outside.  We pick out a tree.  We hang the wreaths.  I enjoy having about a full month of Christmas.  However, since we're moving right before the holiday, we won't be doing any of our Christmas traditions here like usual.  This makes me sad not so much for myself but because I was really looking forward to Eliot being more aware this Christmas.

I am trying to keep myself excited about sharing Christmas with Eliot anyway.  Even though we'll be really busy packing and getting paper work together, there are still many parts of Christmas that we can share.

Christmas portraits at a Christmas tree farm.  It sounds silly, but Christmas portraits are important to me.  I love taking a photo in front of our tree each year--and we have since we got married (expect for our second Christmas because we were out of town for Christmas and didn't even put up a tree).  Just because we're not having a tree doesn't mean we can't have a picture....  Maybe we'll just awkwardly set up our tripod at a local Christmas tree farm and take some shots.
Our first married Christmas in 2007.  Babies.

Simple decorations.  We're pressed with time to pack, so I won't be busting out all of the decorations.  I do plan to decorate the mantle some with our usual lights, garland, and stockings.  I can leave those up until we move at least!

Going on campus.  If I start missing the lights on our house, we just need to drive to campus!  They have lights all over the place and a big, big tree.

Mistletoe market.  Each year downtown, they offer carriage rides.  It was a bust last year, but maybe it can work out this year.

Lights in Chesapeake.  We will be going to Chesapeake for at least the house inspection.  In this time, I'm sure we can sneak in a trip to the Botanical Gardens or the boardwalk to see their lights.

Shipping presents.  I don't know how I'm going to do Christmas shopping.  I don't know how I'm going to move all the presents along with all of our stuff.  It seems like an extra load.  I bet my mom won't mind if I use her shipping address instead of my own so the presents arrive in Chesapeake instead....

A late tree.  We close on the new house on December 21.  It will be late, but we will try very hard to find a tree for those few days.  Even if it is small or dying, we just want something to string some lights on.
Back when the house was tan and I was pregnant in 2010.

It's going to be busy and exciting and stressful, but Christmas isn't going to be cancelled this year.  Maybe I can even host Christmas Eve dinner this year!  (Yeah right).  And at least I know where Eliot's birthday party is going to be this year!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Chris kind of wanted to go to Chesapeake for Thanksgiving this year, but I said I was kind of tired of the drive (ha).  Plus, my parents' kitchen is still in pieces due to their renovation.  It looks like we'll be making the drive down there in a few days anyway for the inspection on our newww house.  We have a few more trips on 460, but then we will be done with that highway for a while.

The day before Thanksgiving, we spent hours signing forms.  People always talk about how you sign soooo much the day you close on a house.  Well, I have closed on a house before.  On Wednesday, I signed way more forms than I ever have in my life.  It took two hours (and that wasn't even with a lawyer explaining each form like when you close on your house).  I'm not complaining--just saying.  There is so much more signing to do when you're buying a house from a re-location company since they have so many rules.  And disclosures, like stating that if a dam breaks near your house, it could damage your home.  Fortunately, our real estate agent here was able to help us out by printing everything, faxing it for us, and just being there in case we had any questions.  She even entertained Eliot when he grew bored.  She said she had never seen so many air quality disclosures--we signed about three, I think.

On Thanksgiving, we spent some time with Chris's parents at our house before heading to Uncle Scott's house.  There, Eliot played football in the yard with his grandpa, Chris, and great uncle.  Last year, we got a picture of Eliot and granddad.  This year, he was much more involved and excited.

Eliot was not about to eat dinner at the table.  He wanted to run and play and chase the cats.  It was hard even keeping him inside.  I don't know what we're going to do with that boy sometimes.  I really feel stressed and helpless when he gets in his independent moods.  Suddenly, everything is "NO!"  He knows what he wants and will accept nothing else, especially when he is at someone else's house.  I want to apologize for him and explain that he is a sweet boy, but he's figuring everything out. He's testing the limits more and more; I just don't know how to show him where those limits are.  I'm sure I was probably the same way.  One thing is for sure:  high chairs are a thing of the past--all booster seats from here.

I don't need a holiday to remind me to be thankful.  I stop and reflect on how thankful I am about every hour.  Multiple times a day, I say aloud, "I am so thankful for our boy.  I am so thankful for my job.  I am so thankful for everything."  I guess it hasn't always been so easy for us, so I can definitely recognize that I should never take any of our blessings for granted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Moving For Real!

About a year ago (or longer?!), I wrote a post about how things were going to change in the next six months.  We were putting our house up for sale; we were hoping to have another baby.  Those plans didn't work out.  Our house has been on the market since March, over eight months.  We'd have so many showings and wonder, "Is this it?!"  We were continually let down.

We didn't realize just how bad the market was in Lynchburg.  While the rest of the country seems to be recovering slowly, Lynchburg is an isolated market.  Everything was selling for less than when we bought three years ago, which was after the first housing "crash".  When we listed our house, we thought we were going to make a lot of money, especially since our next door neighbor's house sold way above city assessment--this would be the source of our downpayment on our second home.  Months later, we learned that we'd be lucky to walk away clean.  So, we spent the summer saving up and now have enough for a new downpayment.  Since we're moving back home to Chesapeake, houses are much more expensive.  Like, double or triple.  So our downpayment had to be much, much more than for our first house.

Selling our house has been stressful.  So much emotion goes into your home, especially when you completely renovated it like we did.  We grew offended by each person who said it was too small or too big or "incomplete" (WHAT?!) or that they preferred a ranch.  "Why did they even look?!" we'd always shout.  We didn't understand.  It is hard not to fall in love with our house.  Why was no one else seeing that?  And getting the house spotless and packing a toddler and two dogs into a car for an hour is no easy task.

Somehow, though, we just found the right people.  Or they found us.  Or found our home.  And they fell in love with it.  And they put in an offer yesterday afternoon!  We spent the evening getting the contract settled.  Here's the thing:  they want to close December 20.  That is really fast!  I feel like we won't really have Christmas this year, which makes me really sad because Eliot is getting to the age that he would really enjoy it (I'm not saying he'd completely understand it, but he'd have fun).

And where are we going to live?  Fortunately, we had found the perfect house for us last weekend.  Actually, we have been staring at it since it went up in July and watched the price drop slowly.  We knew it was just right for us and got to be such a good deal that it would go fast.  We were so afraid that we'd miss it that Chris wasn't even going to look at it with me--it was just going to be me and my mom--but he changed his mind last minute.  I'm glad he did!  It is a large, open, updated ranch with everything important new (AC, roof, tankless water heater, and so on).  And it has a pool, which Chris really wanted!  Best of all, it is priced very low for the area.  We are dealing with a re-location company instead of an individual (that is what makes the house so affordable), so there is a lot more paper work and strict rules to work through.  In fact, they were not too excited about our offer being contingent on our house selling (even though we have an offer), but somehow they accepted it anyway! 

Honestly, I think our house didn't sell earlier because it wasn't the right time.  Our "right" house wasn't at the right price yet.  Earlier in the process, we looked at a home that was $50,000 more than this house.  I didn't feel good about it, but it was such a deal that we might have made the wrong choice and put an offer on that instead.  We could have made it work financially, but it would have been hard.  It wasn't what we were supposed to buy.  However, this house is absolutely perfect for us.  I even prefer it to the more expensive home!  Even if it is hard to understand at times, you just have to rely on God's plan, not your own.  This is a lesson that I am constantly re-learning.

Amidst all the excitement, I discovered from my credit report that Target thinks I have a card with them.  And I don't.  And they think the card was opened in 1996--when I was 10.  Not possible!  I called about it, but they said I have to send them something in writing.  That has been a whole different set of stresses and worries.  Fortunately, it is not damaging my credit because the person has been paying the card off, so I think it was an honest mix up, but I do not want to be connected to an account that is not mine.

I am sad to leave Lynchburg.  I do not regret buying our house.  We loved our time here.  It is a beautiful little cottage.  We learned a lot.  We built memories.  We brought our baby boy home from the hospital to this house.  About two weeks ago, someone knocked on our door.  The lady explained that she had lived in our house in 1978.  She said they brought their baby girl home from the hospital here too.  Chris offered to let her come inside, but she said no.  Chris and the lady chatted about how the house used to be.  In our time here, we pulled out this giant, horrible hedge with poison ivy entwined.  The lady told Chris that they had pulled out a nasty, thorny hedge too.  As we prepare to leave, we were a part of something in the history of this house--more than we'll ever know.  That's the thing with historic houses:  we added to it and it added to us.  We made it better.  And maybe it made us a little better too.  One thing is for sure--we will never find a neighborhood hill as awesome for sledding as the one in our neighborhood here!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dear Eliot: 22 Months


You are getting mighty close to two years!  I'm not too to pieces over it (yet) because you still seem small to me.

The things you are doing, though, are not "small".  We have funny little conversations sometimes as you put words together.  When you have had one too many smelly dog kisses, you shout, "Ew! Go go go!  OUT!" 

This month has been all about fall and trying to make the most of our last weeks before it grows cold.  You have enjoyed days at the park, carving pumpkins, picking apples, and running around in your Halloween costume.  You were a dinosaur!
I'm a little sad to say that we did not take you trick-or-treating this year.  We planned to, but it just didn't work out.  I think you'll forgive me, though, because instead we saw family members in town and you got to play with THREE cats.  Cats are definitely your favorite animals.

You are also the world's worst backseat driver.  Not only do you boss the driver around, but you tell the driver to do very dangerous things.  While sitting at a stop light or stop sign, you yell, "Go go go go!"  Not safe, little friend.  However, when a car almost hit me once, you picked up the phrase, "WHOA, WHOA!"  You have added this phrase to your driving instructions.
Speaking of safe, it was time to get you a new carseat!  Your baby head hit the top of your current one and it was time to get you a bigger one.  This new one should fit you for years to come.

Eliot boy, you have weird, adult tastes.  Your dad got two shots of decaf espresso with whipped cream on top.  You demanded to try it, so he gave you a sip.  You loved it!  What?!

You are recognizing letters.  Maybe not specific letters all the time, but you know when you see letters.  You point and say, "E-E-O-E-O-O" as if you were reading the letters aloud.  We are working on more your letters and bought you an alphabet puzzle a couple of days ago.  I think you can already recognize E, O, and T--maybe more.  You'll be spelling your name in no time!  Also, I think you said your first full sentence yesterday.  You said, "I got the ball!" as you crumbled up a wrapper into a ball. Very fitting.

I am always impressed by how observant you are.  Whether you are pointing out a dinosaur on a character's shirt on TV or pointing skyward at a distant bird, you tell us what you see.

This month, you ran your second race.  This time, you raced big kids and three kids about your age.  While the older kids clearly out ran you, I think you beat the other little ones.  You get so excited to race.  You crouch down and take off running the whole time.  I wonder if you make the connection between seeing your dad run races and then you lining up to run with other kids....  Maybe you'll look back on this and think we were silly.  Maybe it is silly, but I like to think that running is something that you will enjoy.
We were getting a little worried because you were acting super cranky for a few days.  It seemed like we just could not get you enough rest or satisfy you.  I didn't know if those two-year molars were coming in or if you were still thrown off by the time change or if you were asserting your independence or what....  Maybe you were feeling kind of sick (your dad has had a cold) because you are mostly back to normal now.  Phew.  I knew you were too sweet inside to be that grumpy all the time.

One of the cutest things you do lately is say, "Momma.  Dada.  Baby."  You say it with such affection when we are all together.  It's like you recognize that we are a family and are happy to be with us.  The three of us together makes me happy too, Baby.  I never knew how close we could all be until you came around to make us into a family.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Warm Weekend

I have felt so zapped of energy lately!  When Eliot takes his afternoon nap, I usually rest along with him for at least half an hour (as much as I'd love to, I never manage to fall asleep during the day).  Maybe it is daylight's savings time that is throwing us off.  Eliot is waking up earlier and earlier every day, and his bedtime is impossible to determine.  7:00 pm one night and then 9:30 pm the next.  Sigh.

The weather has been quite cool lately making me an even more boring, sleepy parent, but Chris has worked hard to bundle Eliot up and take him to the park anyway.  Then we had some warmth this weekend!  Chris and Eliot played in the leaves and Eliot's little wheel barrow.  "[S]o much depends upon. a red wheel barrow. ..."  Sorry.  Couldn't help myself there.  William Carlos Williams just had to creep out a little.

Chris's mom rode the train to town again to check up on Elizabeth, visit his grandma, and (of course) play with her favorite Eliot.  We tried to feed the horses, but none of them would come and get any carrots!  Eliot stuck his little arm through the fence yelling, "Hissy! (horsey).  Food!  Nom!"  I think we might try again today.

We keep on having more and more house showings.  Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and today.  Every other day.  It sounds weird, but I feel like I can't get my house cleaned all the way from all of the quick pick-up sessions.  I mean, I get it tidy, but I don't have time to really deep clean and organize everything like I want to because I'm focusing so much on the overall appearance.  Does that make sense?  Oh well.  We continue to get good feedback but no offers yet.  I think people just aren't that serious or something.  In a few days, we'll be on the road to Chesapeake again.  It'd be really nice if we could get a dang offer before we leave so we could pick out a new home on our trip....  Ah.

Tonight is our first Liberty basketball game of the season!  I'm so excited to take Eliot.  He loved it last year, but he wasn't walking yet, so I'm a little nervous that he might want to run up and down the bleachers the whole time like he does at football games.  Then again, he might simply be even more into the game this time.  And I'll get concession stand food.  My favorite.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Over the Past Week

I haven't updated in a week!  We've been in Chesapeake for Chris and Eliot to run a race.  Then we came home to a lot of grading and a boiler with too much pressure (which means shaking pipes and horrible banging--HORRIBLE--so we went without heat for a little while).

I guess I should start with Halloween....  I wanted take Eliot trick-or-treating, but we just didn't.  There are only few houses in our neighborhood that hand out candy.  Eliot wouldn't quite get it yet anyway, so instead we took Eliot to see Chris's grandma, to play with Chris's uncle's cats, and then had Chris's sister over for a little while.  It was kind of like a dinosaur parade.

Eliot loves dinosaurs and to run around roaring, so that is what he was.  This costume was actually a size four-T (there weren't any smaller dinosaur ones!) and the hat part was way too big for him.  Instead, I safety pinned it to his collar so it looked like a hoodie.  There's my crafty fix for the month.

The next morning, we voted by absentee ballot since we thought we might still be out of town.  Then we did laundry, packed, and cleaned the house ready for our showings when we'd be gone.  We had to be out by 2:45 pm; unfortunately, at 3:45 pm, we got a call saying that the people didn't even come by due to lack of time.  What a waste of stress.  Oh well.  We wanted to get on the road in time for Eliot's afternoon nap so he'd sleep about an hour of the ride--which he did.

Over the weekend, we went to the aquarium,
Chris ran his 5k at the Virginia Beach Town Center and Eliot ran a little tot run (and did amazing!),

we learned that Chris got FIRST PLACE for his age group (20-29) with a 6:48 pace and 10th place overall so he got an engraved medal,
and Eliot did great in his race too--he crouched down for the countdown and everything,
Eliot played with new baby friends,
and old friends,
and we came home.

Here is where I grumble some....  With the pressure off in the boiler, we had to decide if we were either going to freeze at night or stay awake listening to that horrible, horrible sound.  We chose somewhere in between and set the heat to 60 degrees.  Ugh.  I hate it.  In the morning, I made a service appointment.  Fortunately, the guy was here by noon, did some exploring, and has it all set for the next few days until a new gasket comes in that he will replace.  He didn't even charge us yet!  So, we have heat, the boiler is totally fine, and we'll get it all set with a tune up sometime late this week or early next week.  Phew.  The process sure is stressful at times.

On top of all of that, we had a showing at 4:30 pm, so we had extra pressure on us to get it fixed fast.  I feel like people are always looking at our house.  It's nearly every other day.  I wish someone would just buy it already.  We get so many "I love it, but I want to keep looking" reactions.  And then by keeping an eye on the listings, it doesn't seem like those people actually buy anything.  Goodness.  We do have a couple of people who say it is their first pick, but they want to think about it a little (which is fine).  Maybe it will result in something.

I'm glad we voted early because it would have been hard to yesterday!  I'd like to write a bunch of political things, but it just would make those who agree with me happy and those who disagree with me unhappy.  What's the point?  No one is changing anyone's mind; I don't even want to.