Time flies

Today marks three years since we moved into our current residence. I can honestly say that it has only begun to feel like home over the past year or so, and I think Honey would say the same.

We still don’t have everything the way we want it on the inside, but we have almost completely redone the outside of the home since we moved here. New windows, roof, gutters, doors, front porch, back patio, steps, shutters, and landscaping. Construction on a roof over our patio is supposed to begin later this week.

So, yeah. I love it. Honey loves it. The cats love it (as far as I can tell). We may not live here for the rest of our lives, but I don’t think I would be disappointed if we did.

2010 in review

In 2010:

  • We sold our existing home and bought a new one
  • We bought a ZTR mower
  • Honey suffered a concussion and spent a few nights in the CCU
  • I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas at his parent’s home for the first time
  • We went to Holiday World again
  • We toured Springfield, IL – hometown of Pres. Abraham Lincoln
  • We began extensively remodeling our new home, which included a new roof, HVAC unit, and tankless water heater
  • I met Honey’s sister, brother-in-law, and niece for the first time
  • I talked to Jim on the telephone (!)
  • I bought my first truck
  • We finally got a storm shelter
  • I got my first smartie-pants phone – the Droid Incredible
  • We had a white Christmas!!
  • I saw David Gray and Ray Lamontagne in concert
  • This blog has its highest number of page views in a single day (11,539)

Plans for 2011:

  • Go somewhere fun for vacation (maybe Washington, DC)
  • Get a lot more done on the house
  • Pay off my car loan
  • Save more $$

Real estate update

stjosephkitWe are closing on the new house today, and I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Things would be much less stressful if we didn’t still own our current home – which we finally got around to listing on the market last week. I’ve lived here for just over 11 years (five years for Honey), so even typing that feels really strange.

This is the first time I have ever tried to sell a home, and I’m expecting the unexpected. I really, really hope that it is a fast and painless experience, but given the current market, I am worried that we might have to sit on it a while. Making the payments on both homes shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but our plan is to use the equity that we have built up in the current home to make improvements to the new one. Things like a new roof, new appliances, and new central HVAC unit. At least paint is inexpensive.

My friend, Ruth, suggested that I purchase a St. Joseph Real Estate kit. She swears by them, so I hurried out and bought one at our local Christian bookstore. The kit includes a small statue of St. Joseph that one buries in the yard of a home they are trying to sell. After St. Joseph helps sell the home, he is dug up and placed in a new home for good luck.

I know it sounds wildly superstitious, but it can’t hurt to try.

Comfort zone

I held my breath; I stepped outside and let the change begin.
I took a step and with new strength I’d never felt before,
I kissed my comfort zone goodbye and closed and locked the door.
– from a poem titled “My Comfort Zone,” author unknown

Change is never easy, however, I would be hard pressed to point out times in my life when I’ve taken a risk and not been rewarded in the long run. Knowing that still doesn’t make those first few steps any easier. In fact, the older I get, the harder it is to make potentially life-altering decisions.

comfort_zoneWe are currently in the process of buying another home. Moving was the last thing on my mind a couple of months ago, but I apparently got the fever after looking at the house I discussed in an earlier post. I discovered one that looked much more promising on a realtor’s webpage, figured it would be worth a drive-by, and promptly fell in love.

I couldn’t wait to tell Honey about it, and he also really liked it. Although it is only two and a half miles off the highway, it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere. It sits on over 4.5 acres, has no close neighbors, and there’s even an old-fashioned red barn! I would be living the same distance from work, but we would be a bit closer to the city where we drive for church and leisure.

Although this house won’t require near as much remodeling as the first house we looked at, it will need quite a bit of updating. We love the floor plan, but the interior is still sporting a 1970’s look – complete with pink tile in the bathroom and floral print wallpaper in the kitchen. Nothing we can’t correct with enough time, money, and willpower.

As excited as I am about the possibilities, it feels a little bittersweet knowing that we would be leaving our wonderful neighbors. Even though Mrs. J no longer lives alone, I was terribly anxious about breaking the news to her. We procrastinated as long as we could, but we wanted to make sure that we told her before our current home was listed and a “For Sale” sign went up in the front yard. We told her Monday evening, and she took the news surprisingly well. We assured her that we would only be 5 minutes away and available anytime she needs us.

In the meantime, I’m sitting on pins and needles. I’m excited about the prospect of buying a fabulous piece of property, but I’m also apprehensive about the changes that are going to take place in our lives. Honey describes his feelings as “unsettled.” I’m sure we will both feel that way for a while, but trust that we will come to love and cherish the new home just as much as the one we have now.

Facebook has an application called “Gods Wants You to Know…” that I have seen several of my friends using. During the process of making the decision and negotiating all the details, I decided to try it out for the first time. This is what it said: “On this day, God wants you to know that all is well. All is going according to plan. Trust that there is a bigger picture. Trust that life is unfolding as it should.”

As cheesy as it sounds, somehow that made me feel better.

Fixer upper

Yesterday afternoon we went to see the house that I mentioned in my last post. Honey has been warming up to the idea a little, so we thought it wouldn’t hurt to call up the realtor and see how the place has held up over the years.

I was appalled at the condition of the property. The beer cans strewn all over the lawn should have been a good indicator of what we could expect inside the house. Most people trying to sell a home would attempt to make it as presentable as possible, but this seller is the exception to the rule.

The inside and outside of the property has been so neglected that it’s virtually unlivable. The bathroom sink has been removed and is lying out in the driveway. Buckets are positioned to catch rainwater that seeps through the ceiling, and large sections of the bathroom floor covering have been ripped up. Central heating and air conditioning registers are missing from the ceiling and cover plates are missing from electrical outlets. It reminded me of the homes that get flipped on HGTV.

I know the house still has potential, but it would cost several thousand dollars to bring it back to life. It needs a new roof, new central unit, complete bathroom remodel, new appliances, paint, and who-knows-what-else.

On the plus side, it has a great location, three acres of land in the county, a full basement, and real hardwood flooring. The lawn would be beautiful with some TLC and I would thoroughly enjoy working on it.

When I called my sister to tell her about the condition of the house where we spent most of our teen years, she reminded me of all of the bad memories associated with the place. My parent’s marriage was crumbling, our parent-child relationships were tumultuous, and it was there that I overdosed and subsequently came out to my family. The few good memories have become cloudy over the years.

Part of me feels a need to save the place, since it was the site of so many important events in my personal history. The other part wonders if looking to the past is really the best way to achieve a happier tomorrow.

Honey actually kind of likes the property and thinks it has a homey feel. He said if we bought it, we’d make our own memories.

Right time, right place

One of the homes that I lived in with my parents when I was a teenager is on the market. Dad and I drove by it today on the way to my sister’s home, and I immediately began fantasizing about purchasing it, doing extensive remodeling, and turning it into our dream home.

The house is quite small, but sits on three acres of land in a rural location. I imagined how we’d add onto the existing structure, landscape, even dig a pond. I was so swept up in my fantasy that I was certain Honey would feel the same way.

After arriving home and telling him about my amazing discovery, we drove out for him to see it in person. Where I saw potential, he saw a mountain of debt. As we discussed the amount of work and money it would take to whip the property into shape, I realized that he was right.

I seem to have an emotional attachment to houses or neighborhoods where we lived while I was growing up. Maybe that is why I currently live in the house that’s only two doors down from the home my parents lived in when I was born. It was over eleven years ago that I discovered this house was for sale, and I couldn’t buy it fast enough! Perhaps my eagerness over the house we looked at today is more a testament to my sentimentality than anything else.

Sitting at home with my dreams dashed, I began to pout a little. Then the phone rang. The neighbor’s son was calling to ask if we could get his mom up off the floor. As familiar as this scenario has become, it never fails to elicit feelings of panic and dread. We scurried over to find her in the kitchen floor, wincing in pain with blood dripping from two open wounds.

We cleaned and bandaged her scrapes and helped her into the recliner – reassuring her and her son that they can call on us anytime they need help. That’s when I realized that we’re probably right where we need to be – at least for the time being. The dream house will just have to wait.

2009 in review

This year has been both terrible and wonderful at the same time. That’s probably typical of every year, but this one had some exceptionally low lows; the kind where you know you’ll be a changed person when you finally recover. On the other hand, I’m blessed beyond measure. I have a wonderful partner, a great job, a comfortable home, friends who love me, and three fluffy kitties to cuddle up with on cold winter nights.

Here are some of the highlights from my life over the last year:

  • We finally had central heating and air conditioning installed in our home.
  • Michael Jackson died, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. I cried practically every day for a month and still tear up occasionally when I listen to him or watch videos. I wish so badly that he was still with us, but I’m also thankful to have been alive during the time that he made history and for having the chance to see him perform live.
  • We gave the inside of our home quite a makeover, which included ripping out the old doors and trim, painting, and a completely new color scheme in the living room and bathroom.
  • We upgraded to HDTV and bought a 46″ Samsung that is beyond amazing.
  • We joined our church – over three years after we started attending.
  • We met Barb.
  • I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal.
  • I moved my blog from WordPress.com to self-hosted.
  • I stopped keeping up with the news.
  • I bought a new car.
  • We went to Florida on vacation.
  • Honey graduated from college and I met his parents for the first time.
  • An ice storm disrupted our lives for eight days.
  • We got a Wii.
  • We went to see Kathy Griffin in concert.
  • Finally made it to Holiday World and thoroughly enjoyed the Voyage roller coaster.

All in all, a pretty good year. Here’s hoping our next trip around the sun is filled with joy, prosperity, and love. Happy New Year, kiddos.