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    Friday
    May012015

    Bought and Sold

    Although it’s been a long while since I’ve dabbled in real estate, I do know this:  No deal is complete until closing.  Between the bid and the closing date, any number of things can go awry.  Finances can fall through, appraisals can be low, people can change their minds … there are quite a few possible scenarios to keep you up at night.

    So I am saying the following with fingers crossed while knocking on wood:

    Yesterday we bought a house.

    And then a few hours later?

    We sold a house.

    It was crazy.  For the past three weeks, every waking hour I haven’t been at work, I have been consumed with getting our house ready to sell.  Making repairs, packing things to take to storage, painting, cleaning … it’s been exhausting.  Even with the help of paid professionals and my expert cleaner friend Christine, I feel like I’ve been going non-stop.  So I was super excited when, at 3:30 yesterday, the realtor showed up to take pictures because I was finally DONE.  And I was all set to share those pictures with you today, but then at 4:30 she showed the house to a couple who insisted on seeing it before it went on the market.

    I guess they liked it, because they made a great offer which we accepted.

    Isn’t that the craziest thing?  The market around here is an optimal sellers’ market, but still!  We didn’t even put a sign in the yard.

    Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Rich finally came to terms with the seller of the property we wanted.  It is also a sellers’ market there so that was a tricky but both sides gave a little and we have the ball rolling.

    If you’re thinking that this is all going just a little bit too smoothly, I am in agreement with you.  It’s making me nervous.  But for today I’m just going to revel in having nothing to do. 

    Because tomorrow I get to help Reagan move into a new apartment.

    Sigh.

    It was nice while it lasted.

    I’ll leave you with some shots of the property in Minnesota.  The inside of the house will need some revising to suit us (I’m sure the people who are buying our house are saying the same thing) but the outside of this place? It’s just about perfect.

    Monday
    Apr272015

    My Weekend On Craigslist

    It would have been a good idea to have a garage sale this month.  However, I have neither the time or inclination to do so so we’ve been bagging up clothing and small items and donating them and then, this weekend, I put some of the bigger items on Craigslist.

    Craigslist never fails to entertain.

    I posted nine items, priced to sell, on Saturday morning and got the first call 11 minutes later on this belt sander.  Within the hour, a nice older guy showed up to get it.  We had a little chat about his retirement hobbies and he also took 3 collapsible saw horses I was going to throw out.

    Score one for me and one for our overworked trash collectors.

    These speakers elicited a texts from three different people who didn’t speak English very well and two calls from pubescent sounding males.  If I had known they’d be that popular I would have priced them higher.  Who would have guessed that in this age of teensy sound systems that people would want large, old school speakers?

    Not me, obviously.

    The first guy to actually show up to claim them was too old for the saggy style pants he was sporting.  He spoke with a middle-eastern accent and peeled off the $20 from a large roll of high dollar bills.  He then gestured to the pile of trash I had set out and asked if it was garbage.  I shrugged and gave him permission to go through it.  

    Then I went inside and laid on the floor beneath the living room window to spy on him.

    He took all of the deflated soccer balls, the rusted Razor scooters with the wheels that don’t work, a bead set and enough other stuff to empty a trash can.

    Another score for my trash collectors.

    I also sold one of Hayden’s old bikes to an older Asian gentleman who doesn’t like to buy new bikes for kids who will just outgrow them (smart man.) I sold our picnic table to a guy my age in a Pink Floyd t-shirt and one of the girls’ old bikes to a man missing a couple of teeth.  He buys old bikes and fixes them up and re-sells them.  I gave him another bike that I was just going to throw out and he was glad to have it.

    The best sale of the weekend though, was these boards.  I don’t even know how long they’ve been in our garage but they’re big and heavy and I just wanted them gone, so I priced the whole lot at $30.  I only got one email about them.  The guy who showed up was tall with a long, fuzzy red beard and ear gauges bigger than quarters.  He explained that he’s a sculptor who mostly works in metal and he is going to use the boards to build pedestals.  He was genuinely pleased with his find.

    I was genuinely pleased that he took them away - along with every other scrap of wood and metal in our garage and from the trash cans.

    Also?

    I’m now an official supporter of fine art.

    Our trash men had it pretty bad this morning - a toilet, rolls of carpet and padding, four full cans plus many bags and boxes.  It was bad enough that I ran out and handed them some cash when they picked it up.  But, were it not for Craigslist, it could have been so much worse.

    Friday
    Apr242015

    Predominant Thoughts

    Now that I’ve typed the word “predominant” I’m not entirely sure that I know what it means and that I’m using it correctly but I’m too tired to truly care so I’m going to run with it.  Here are the thoughts at the forefront of my brain this week:

    1) Ouch

    Moving furniture and pulling up carpet and yanking what seems like 2,000 staples from the floor isn’t really what my 45 year old body is meant to do.  Of course, I don’t think it was meant to do that at 35 or 25 for that matter, but I’m pretty sure it hurts more now than it would have then.  I’m oh so grateful to have strong, able bodied teenagers living in the house to help with it all.

    2) Just Get Rid Of It

    When faced with the choice of packing, hauling and finding a new spot for any number of items currently in my house, this tends to be my go-to answer.  The mismatched sheets that we haven’t used in 10 years? Get rid of them.  The 15 year old leather couch that has been well abused by kids and pets? Take it away.  A stack of board games we don’t play?  Let’s find a new home for them.

    Baking pans I use once every three years and other specialty kitchen items?

    Box ‘em up.  I’m taking every last one of them.

    3) I Don’t Know Where I’m Living In June

    I know the movers are coming in June and they are taking all of our stuff and putting it in a truck and heading to Minnesota.  I just don’t know where they’re going to unload it.  This is causing me some anxiety.  I’m a nester and lean toward introversion.  I need to know where I’m going to lay my head and bake my cakes and take care of my people and avoid everyone else. 

    We are moving into a very tight housing market.  There is exactly one house there that I want to buy and it’s not even my dream house by a long shot, but this is the back yard:

    So if we can come to an agreement with the sellers on what they think it’s worth vs. what we think it’s worth, I may be living there in June. (Which will mean a list of renovation projects that makes me shudder.) If not, and if nothing else comes on the market, I will be living in some sort of rental.

    Not sure if that will be an apartment or a house or in what condition it will be.  Scary.  I just keep telling myself, “God knows where I’ll be living in June.”

    Thankfully these three predominant thoughts are able to keep this thought at bay most of the time:

    4) I’m Abandoning My Babies

    Hands down, the hardest part of this move is leaving Reagan and Hayden here.  Yes, I know that many kids their ages leave home for college or whatever and that it’s perfectly normal to live in a different city than your young adult offspring. 

    But.

    In the typical scenario, children leave and the parents stay put to provide a home base.  The fledgling adults know that no matter where they go, home and family are waiting for them.  In this case, we are selling off “home” and leaving the kids to fend for themselves.

    I know - they’ll be fine.  Home is where the heart is. They’re only a day’s drive away. It’s not a big deal. It will probably even be good for them.

    But I kind of like them.  I like knowing they’re nearby and that we can help if they want it. And … ok, well now I’ve got myself crying again so I’m going to quit.

    I’ll go find some furniture to move around and go back to thought number one.

    Tuesday
    Apr212015

    No Reasons To Whine - And Yet I Shall

    Right after I bragged the other day about the cleanliness and organization of my kitchen, I had to empty the contents of my china cabinet.  I don’t want to pack the contents, because I am sure the movers will do a much better job than I could, so I had to put all those delicate items somewhere where they would be out of the way of the people coming to lay carpet.

    The only room not being recarpeted?

    My kitchen.  Where the counters now look like this:

    Which is to say that my kitchen is no longer clean or organized.

    So it fits right in with the rest of my house which is in varying states of dishevelement and disarray as we shift furniture around so we can rip out the old carpet and get staples pulled.  This, by the way, is not a fun job because 8 year old carpet in a house filled with 5 messy people and all of their pets is not the cleanest stuff in the world.  However, the company installing the new carpet wanted $900 for removal and I am way too cheap to pay for that when I can do it myself.

    Doing it ourselves though requires that we do it ahead of time, so most of my floors now look like this:

    Hayden is limping today because he has a splinter in his foot and all of us are feeling discombobulated due to not knowing where anything is.

    So I’m whiny.  And yelling.  And generally unpleasant to live with.

    My parents moved out of their home of 30+ years last fall so I called them last night to complain and commiserate.  My dad answered the phone.  He listened to my tale of woe involving workmen who don’t show up when they say they will and the carpet story and the painting stories.

    He wasn’t impressed.

    “Well, you have a bed don’t you? And your refrigerator is running? Then you’re fine.  It’s not a big deal.”

    And he’s right.  It’s not.  I even have flushing toilets.  So really? I can just shut up.

    Which I shall do.

    As soon as the new carpet is in.

    Probably.

    Sunday
    Apr192015

    What I Would Tell Myself in 2002

    You guys.

    Right this very minute, my kitchen is cleaner and more organized than it has been in 15 years.

    My secret?

    I boxed up most of the contents and put them in a storage unit and slapped down a whole bunch of shelf liner.  Only 23 more items on the checklist and we can get this house listed.  Which means I have projects looming.

    Which means I’m in high anxiety mode.

    Which means I’m procrastinating!

    So I was delighted to receive an email from a reader this morning because it has given me an excuse to park myself on my bed with the cats and blog which is so much better than painting.  This email (which I’ve edited to protect identity) said,

    My son was recently kicked from preschool which sent us down the winding road of therapies and psychiatrists and lead us to ADHD … Would you mind sharing with me any tips or tricks? I have a baby on the way and I’m overwhelmed with how to manage him in the midst of all this. 

    Oh goodness.  That word, “overwhelmed” brings back memories.

    I’ve written about Hayden’s ADHD in the past.  Now I’m getting ready to celebrate his high school graduation and send him to college.  Here he is heading to prom last week.

    From this spot, I have to say that all in all, raising a kid with ADHD isn’t all that different than raising one without it.  There are (many) days when I’ve enjoyed him and (a few) when I really didn’t.  He’s had successes and failures and some tasks he really struggles with while other things come easy to him.  I’ve laughed with him and cried for him and prayed over him.

    I could say exactly the same thing about my kids who don’t have ADHD.

    But for this sweet reader’s sake, I will share what I wish I had known when he was a preschooler:

    1) Don’t let yourself get embarrassed.  It’s so hard when your kid is the one who is always causing a ruckus and misbehaving to not flush deep red and start apologizing.  Don’t.  Don’t let yourself feel shame over the way your kid is wonderfully and perfectly made.  If he makes a mess or hurts someone, clean it up and apologize just like you would for any other kid and move on.  Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed or like you have a “bad” kid because your sweet baby will feel that shame and catch on that there’s something “wrong” with him.

    There’s nothing “wrong”.  There’s just something different and that’s ok.  Breathe.  Embrace who he is and help him become the best version of himself with what he’s been given.

    2)  Structure, structure, structure.  Hayden thrives when he knows what his parameters are.  He needs a schedule to follow, deadlines to adhere to and predictability.  When situations are open ended or expectations are not clearly defined, he flounders.  Set a tight schedule for wake time, meals, snacks and bedtime and adhere to it whenever possible.  Follow routines as much as possible - you’ll see a difference.

    3)  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  For years, we did not eat out at restaurants.  Expecting Hayden to sit still and keep quiet for a meal in the midst of the sensory overload that restaurants provide was too frustrating for everyone involved.  We ordered in or got take out but rarely went to a sit down restaurant to eat because he just got into trouble and I got angry.

    If there are situations your child doesn’t do well avoid them.  Generally, these are places and times that involve a lot of noise, a lot of people, a lot of excitement and not much structure where a rambunctious kid is going to get into trouble.  Go to zoos, not museums.  Plan a quick escape route from the family reunion.  Movies at home are going to be a better bet than the theater.

    4) Work with your school.  ADHD kids are hard to have in a classroom.  They just are.  Hayden probably would have benefited from being homeschooled, but he got me for a mom so that didn’t happen.  The best I could do was to team with his teachers to make the best situation I could for him.  A good IEP or 504 plan are beneficial here to make sure everyone is on the same page.

    5)  Make sure you have a plan to take care of yourself.  If you are tired and frustrated, you’re not going to be the best mom you can be for any of your kids, but especially for your kid who may be the source of the frustration and fatigue.  Figure out how you can recharge.  Put on a movie or a video game and take 30 minutes for yourself to read a book or take a shower or journal or get a quick nap in.  

    Find a person or people who get it and hang out with them.  I was fortunate enough to have a friend or two with kids in the same boat.  If you don’t, maybe find an online group.  Find somewhere where you can vent and talk things through with people who won’t judge because they’ve been there.  Avoid the judgmental people who seem to have all the answers to your problems.  They may mean well, but at the end of the day they just add to “overwhelmed”.  

    I hope this helps my reader and anyone else who is on this wonderful journey of raising the most energetic kid on the block.