Friday, March 18, 2011

Closing week chaos

Closing week went something like this:  work, pack, work, pack, work, pack, find more boxes, work, pack, pack, pack, find more boxes, pack, pack, find more boxes, pack, take care of your kid, and control your mixed feelings/mental breakdowns about moving all at the same time. 
Night before close:  pick up u-haul, final walk-through with new owners of old house; pack up u-haul with boxes until 1:00 AM
Day of close:   Final walk-through of new house, hubby waits for movers to show up, go close on new house, then go back to old house where movers have arrived to destroy your furniture and walls while working as slow as molasses.  Then you go to the new house and help direct the movers while hubby unloads an entire uhaul of boxes by himself.  Movers are still moving furniture.  Hubby takes uhaul back so we don’t have to pay for another day but has no one to pick him up because movers are STILL moving furniture.  10 hours after they started, movers are done.  Moving company supervisor cannot do math so you have to figure the bill out for him.  Go pick up hubby where he has been waiting for the past 2-3 hours, go clean old house as best you can in the dark, and then go back to the disaster that awaits in the new house.
10:00pm:  Make yourselves look as presentable as possible and then go to the neighborhood party that is going on that night because everyone is excited to meet you!
Final step of the week before collapsing from sheer exhaustion:  Make a good impression by drinking way too many cocktails with your new neighbors.  After all…you can do this because you can WALK home!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Time Capsule

As I mentioned in my last post, the “new” house was a time capsule.   It was built in 1965 and still had its original owner.  The owner's wife had passed away the year before and the house was simply much too big and too much work for him, who was now 80—albeit a young 80.  Many people have asked me if he went into a home and the truth is that he actually met a very nice woman and he moved in with her—at 80!  Life is short,  you know? 
We had the great advantage of not only having a home that has never been “remuddled”, but also having access to the man who built the house in 1965!  We are very lucky indeed.
Take a look at pictures of our house when it was on the market using the "Before" link on the right hand column.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

“Our search is over…”

My hubby and I got married in Jan 2010. We are a "blended" family, with each of us bringing children from our previous marriage. We lived in a home that I had purchased as a single mother 5 years before. It was a beautiful storybook cottage, in a leafy old neighborhood, fantastic school district, near EVERYTHING, yet quiet and peaceful. Hubby loved it too. But what was my former dream house suddenly seemed very cramped with our new family of 2 adults, 2 teenagers, a tween, and guests that visited from out of town fairly often. We needed some space to breathe. We considered an addition. But it would have been difficult, expensive, and frankly, I just don't think we were really up to handling that kind of stress.

So after thinking about it for awhile, we began to contact realtors and to look at homes. Hubby and I really wanted a home that had character (read: older) with established landscape close to the city. We wanted a home that we could make our own—not something brand new in a cookie-cutter development. We loved our "too-small" house and its neighborhood so much; finding a suitable replacement wasn't going to be easy. There were a few homes for sale near our old one, but they were either a)too small, b)money pits—maintenance issues that were too far gone, or c) way out of our price range.

When I make a decision about something important, I dive into it head first—that's just how I am. So my early mornings and evenings were spent looking for houses. I looked a hundreds online and probably 20-30 in person. One day about a month later, I saw an interesting house online included in a list of houses that just came on the market and were having open houses that Sunday. It wasn't in the area that we were focusing on, but it was close to the city and had a good school district. It was also a ranch home (which I hadn't considered), and it looked like it was decorated in the 1960's. Still, there was something about it that I liked—and I (jokingly) sent hubby an e-mail with the subject line "Our search is over…"

Out of curiosity, we went to the open house that Sunday. We were the first people to arrive. Hubby and I didn't want to be rude but we honestly couldn't stop laughing when we were walking around the house. Yes, it was amazing. Actually, it was spectacular. Everything was clean and immaculate. But it had pretty much been decorated in 1965 when the house was built and never changed. It felt as if we had walked into the set of the Mary Tyler Moore show. Or Dick Van Dyke. The open house attracted a LOT of people, many of whom had the same reaction as us. But it was done well, and it was obvious that the owners had spent some serious $$ in 1965. Still, we loved it. I started imagining all the things we could do with the house, and how our new family could LIVE in the house and make it our own.
We were still unsure…because it wasn't in the town that we loved, mainly. Plus, we still thought that maybe, somehow we could make it work in our "too small" storybook cottage. In the meantime, we kept looking, hoping that a house like that would pop up in our town.

Weeks later, with nothing new on the horizon, we realized "who were we kidding"…houses like that don't come on the market often. The kids had seen it by that point and loved it. My daughter was comfortable with switching elementary schools. My husband's kids go to school where their mother lives so a much bigger home was all good to them. So we bit the bullet and listed my beautiful storybook cottage, put a contingent offer on our new dream house, and hoped for the best.