In the last 24 hours I've seen signs of spring. Good signs of greener grass and outdoor cooking. While Axel was drawing the cutest chalk-giraffe I've ever seen and I was planting the first round of flowers (we literally bought Menards out of the ONE rack they had yesterday) our dog was tackling the "shade vs. sun" decision for the first time this season.
Last night was Jahred's final overnight shift. I have to say there's no bitter there...just sweet. Although it means he'll start the hour+ commute to his new job on Monday I'm still feeling hopeful that our house will sell and things will continue to move forward for us.
Axel lined up last night for what I hope was his first of many races. Although it doesn't feel like Earth Day this weekend with the mounds of snow (we were lucky enough to get 12 more inches) the race did go on and the 1000 kids that participated seemed not to notice the cold.
Layered like he's seen Tyler dress a hundred times, he lined up with his age bracket alongside his coach. I had the full service tonight as coach/uncle/brother even took Oliver on his back during the race so I could get pictures.
Of course he was the one to totally botch the starting line...but he got back up and finished with only a few tears in his eyes. He looked a little tough crossing the finish line, but he did it all by himself and I was so proud. I was pretty sure this was his last race...until he got his medal...and I THEN asked, "How was it?"
Looking at his medal he said, "It was GREAT!"
Note: Axel did not finish with his shirt off...a classic move by his coach. We'll have to see how Axel's little career progresses throughout the summer.
Ollie discovered "thunder sticks" at the race Expo. If you're new to the racing world, you may have to google "thunder sticks" but let's just say...he's in LOVE. I have this little fear that Oliver will be the LIFE of the party...
Let me preface this by saying...I am not the first to blog on Tumbleweed Houses. After being made aware of this company yesterday by my brother (not the brother I would expect it to come from – but one who no doubt has moved, much like myself, as frequently as a tumbleweed for much of his adult life) I have become instantly obsessed with an idea that I feel is as true to my own definition of "home" as anything I've seen.
Tumbleweed Homes is famous for their micro-home on wheels. The tumbleweed is much like a camper...but a structure that many people have actually chosen to LIVE in. The micro version of their designs is made to sleep 2 humans, the books they love and all the basic amenities of home.
While my initial excitement was "Wow, I could totally do that," my brother reminded me that I am indeed responsible for more than 2 humans and his reply to me was, "Yeah Jen, I think they are specifically designed for families of 4. You know they have a loft...probably more than you need really."
Ok, so the dream of a micro home is out the proverbial window, but upon further investigation they do make house plans that include up to 3 bedrooms (minus the basement that could undoubtedly have another). They keep the square footage low, the functionality high, include a porch (a must have for urban living) and are extremely eco friendly. I love the idea of limited storage because I am always aiming to store NOTHING and use EVERYTHING. I relish the thought of less than 1000 sq. ft. to clean. Cozy, calm and planted in a urban space. I can see myself in the yellow 3-bedroom below. Gardens and all...in this I would plant the roots of my tumbleweed and stay a while.
The estimated cost to build a three-bedroom is $53,000. A modest sum.
Like I said, I know the tiny house movement has been in full swing for some time and I've been awed by the renovations on HGTV involving small living spaces. I can't say for sure if a tumbleweed is in our future, but for now I'm just glad to be a family in which something like this looks like a beautiful possibility.
Above: 3 Bedroom on a permanent foundation.
Below: Home on wheels...Mom and Dad? I'm seeing retirement by the sea...or in the mountains.
It seems that ever since I returned my thrift store painting to it's original owner a few months ago, I've been obsessed with reuniting the past with the present. This morning as I was beginning to pack things around the house I found these. A collection of letters, collages, photos and funny anecdotes written – from what I can tell by my very sophisticated carbon-dating system – some time in the mid-1950's to a reverend/"father" traveling abroad from a parishioner. To the best of my knowledge they were tucked inside a book I thrifted years ago.
I find it so interesting – having read all the letters – the way this person is addressing a member of clergy. So informal, with jokes and a collage in tribute to cigarettes.
They aren't folded which makes me wonder if they were ever sent?! They are bound together in almost a book-like way. I can't seem to find any specific dates, locations or last names which may make my hunt for these connections a bit more challenging, but it just might be something I chip away at over the next few months.
Famous for my purges, it's a wonder I hang on to the things I do. The painting aforementioned, this collection of letters – something keeps them around and safe from the landfill/craigslist. While I've got a lot on my mind these days, the secret within these letters is a nice distraction for now.
So in the end...you need to sell your soul to sell your house. After the realtor open house, where 6 distinguished realtors stopped by. There seemed to be one common theme...get rid of the chalk-board wall (too progressive) and ditch the canoe (too earth friendly). There was also one realtor who thought if I used nails instead of my ultra-sleek gallery tracking my house would look more "eligant." Holy cow. Grave spelling error aside...what about my house allowed her to assume I was going for "elegant?" Or that elegance is in style? I believe the term for that motif in the 21st century might be luxe or formal. Elegance is for Downton Abbey.
I hate myself for admitting this...but I took their suggestions (minus the "eligant" one). That is how badly I want out of this weather pattern we're in. You see, like the weather this year in the north land, I feel my trip around "greater Minnesota" has been the never ending winter. We spent 10 years in southern Minnesota, educating ourselves to the tune or $100,000+ dollars, hoping to contribute to society in a meaningful way. We then moved to northern Minnesota because this is where Jahred received his first job offer (and after aforementioned accumulated debt we NEEDED that first job).
Jahred has spent 2 years wiping and kissing ass (not in the same sense...the wiping and the kissing) but has really worked through the trenches as a new grad and has accomplished a remarkable reputation and is well respected in his field. Respected and experienced enough to have finally secured the job he wants in the city we wish to live in. We are finally financially secure, carrying very limited debt and can afford something respectable. The only problem? This perfect carrot, this spring to our winter, is dangling in front of our noses and the only obstacle is to sell our house. We're SOOO close.
So considering my 10 years of experience with the culture of greater Minnesota it shouldn't come as a surprise that when it comes to the feel of a "home" the rurals and I just don't speak the same language. I mean this in no disrespect to the people who call this area home – everyone does seem quite happy here...it's me that's the fish out of water. I have truly tried to make myself love this area and have found pockets and people that will be missed dearly. I wish I could love the safety of this community, a peaceful life without traffic and nights where you can see the stars from every house in this city. It just isn't working for me.
Did I get a bit offended at the comments by the realtors? YOU BET YOUR FROZEN BUNS I DID. I took it hard. I repainted that wall with every once of venom I had. I painted over my artwork, I took down the canoe that we rescued from the county park and I retrograded every aspect of my house to fit the cookie cutter mold that will inevitably sell in this area.
I staged my house and now I'll wait for the phone to ring.
This morning I typed "house staging" into Pinterest. One of the first images to come up was an image of an entire chalkboard wall. You can lead a horse to water...but in the end it's just best to ditch the horse and head for the land of public transportation.
While we've made the announcement to close family and friends, we've yet to let the world know that we're on the MLS again.
House number 5 is on the market and we're looking to the Minneapolis area to find number 6. Will it be our last? Lucky number 6? Seems almost to require a number 7 eh?
Although selling a house is never easy, I pretty much have it down. By now I can emotionlessly part with all things "house" and have just enough "home" to throw in the back of a truck and take along with us. Thank "St. Joseph" I've inherited the "get something – get rid of two things gene." If I had accumulated 5 houses worth of furniture and clutter I'd be in some serious trouble.
Why the move? It just seems right. Jahred was in search of a better work schedule...check, I was in search of more weekday activity options for the boys...check, Axel was in search of a Kindergarten with the right amount of diversity, culture and global awareness...check, and Oliver...he's still in search of himself (hopefully a more content version).
The pill that's hard to swallow this time is that we'll be leaving a huge yard, large house and quiet community for hustle and bustle, small house, postage-stamp lot and complete sticker-shock. While we joke about living in a trailer or a van down by the river...behind the joke is the truth. We value our time together more than being "house poor." Even after a successful meeting with a mortgage broker this morning we're still planning to spend at the bottom of our budget. Find something "liveable" where we can live, still have financial freedom and not feel the pressure of any "what if's."
We have an open house tomorrow (serving lunch for the local real estate bunch). Fingers crossed they have the perfect buyer in mind. I'll be cleaning to Pandora for the remainder of the night. If you're moving this season, feel free to commiserate. "Cleaning with Kids" – could be a horror film.
We went in search of spring this last week since it refuses to come to Minnesota. After rescheduling our usual winter vacation so Axel could be a cast member in Charlotte's Web, I finally took that trip south, this time without Jahred but with plenty of "boy" in tow. Highlights and challenges were both present with my brilliant little Axel and my firecracker Oliver. Here are our "Florida Final Four" moments.
4. Sports (Can you believe I'm saying that?) - Axel had a chance to swing both a bat and a club. There's hope for his athletic-self yet (however Bocce Ball is still more his speed).
3. Pools! No surprise here. Axel loves to swim and made lots of goggle-eyed friends.
2. Stroller rides. Oliver was a different kid in his stroller last week. Whether if was grandpa behind the wheel or the warm Florida breeze blowing through his mullet I can't be sure. He was happy. Nice to see.
1. The BEACH. You only get to put your toes in the ocean for the FIRST TIME once in your life. After that you're officially a child of the world. For me this was Oliver's baptism – when as a parent I realize that the world is so much greater than even my most fantastic children. That the power of the earth matches pound for power my love. Nobody knows what happens when we leave this place but when you spend time at the sea you can be sure that we always have been and always will be made from microscopic bits of carbon and lots of water – the same water that washes away the shores and gives life to our fields.
We and the sea are but one chemical equation...configured differently...or are we?
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