Friday, July 18, 2014


(1) Began looking at houses yesterday (9) and will look at more (4) today. Second runs on Sunday. Decision by Tuesday? Offer Wednesday/Thursday? Move in mid-September!
(2) House hunting is horrible. I've seen things I've liked, but I'm no good when it comes to balancing tradeoffs. There are no perfect homes - with whose flaws can I live?
(3) In my continuing saga to make everything as complicated as possible, we have decided to home school. (More on this later.)
(4)  Personally, I would like to begin H.S. in August, so that the kids don't need to attend public school at all. We'd be changing school districts anyway. Jon is not convinced of this decision - he feels they should start out in school so that I get free child care while packing. It is today's mission to gather enough information to persuade him.
(5) Weather wise, it feels like a Canadian summer lately. So nice. Certainly not pool weather, though.
(6) When viewing properties, my head continues to be turned by bright, shiny things (faucets! new appliances! shiny floor!). This is unwise, so I'm utilizing a 40 point checklist to write down information about more substantial things. One problem: my handwriting is horrible.

So, lots of changes/decisions/etc. etc. etc.
Overwhelmed, but on-task. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Two posts in two days. You'd almost think I had free time.

Happy Canada Day! It is bright, sunny, and incredibly muggy today. I see a swimming pool in our immediate future.

This is going to be a "catch up" post. There's been a lot percolating around here, but nothing has really happened. Jon is still waiting for his job paperwork to click through the bureaucratic gears, and so we are still waiting to buy a home. We've actually tried to get a loan pre-approval without the final job offer, but this has not been successful. The uncertainty of the job timing coupled with our upcoming lease deadline, means house hunting could happen very quickly month, or not at all until mid-winter. I am quite done with renting. Beyond the financial loss, we're all just ready to emotionally and physically invest in a home. And plant fruit trees. I really want to plant fruit trees. And then live there long enough to eat some actual fruit. 
The big choice is whether we get a single-family house that needs work, or a nicer town home. What do you think?

Pros of single-family:
bigger yard (fruit trees! garden! trampoline!)
possibly more square footage
less concern about neighbors (although right now, we're the loud neighbors)
lower HOA fees

Pros of town home
more kids in the immediate vicinity (due to higher density)
newer, therefore less up front time/effort/money needed for repairs, renovations
bigger windows
very minimal yard maintenance

It's a tough call.

Anna will be sorry to leave our neighborhood. She's made friends and loves to play outside and ride her bike with the pack. There's a variety of ages in the local pack, and I think it's great that she can go outside and play with a variety of kids. Having said that, I do harbor some reticence. Overall they're good kids and some are quite sweet. But they tend to be less supervised and given more freedoms, compared to what we think is appropriate for our own kids. Of course, it is good to have variety in our friends, and I'm so proud of my extroverted daughter for being able to get along with everyone and that everyone likes her. The (potential) issue is that this has become her primary peer group, simply as a function of proximity. Already she is becoming influenced more than she is influencing (her top "must haves" suddenly include an ipod, laptop, and ipad). It may not be a big deal now, but will become a larger issue as she grows. Anna seems too willing to give up control for the sake of social inclusion.

Isaac, on the other hand, is too willing to give up social inclusion for the sake of control. As much as he wants to tag along with his sister, he is reticent to take part in the local pack when there are too many kids. Part of this is his introverted nature, but at the same time he doesn't want to lose control of the situation. The practical result is that he tags along with his sister for a bit until things get too crazy for his liking (which doesn't take much), and then whines and cries that Anna isn't playing with him. The benefit is that he's relatively cautious, and won't follow the crowd just because it's a crowd.

Another interesting difference between the kids is that while Anna is more friend-polygamous, Isaac engages in friend serial-monogamy. Is this gender? intro/extroversion leanings? different stages in the capacity to engage in friendship? I dunno, but it's pretty fascinating to watch.

Other happenings:

Isaac is officially a two-wheel biker. I credit the balance bike for this seamless transition. Anna has also improved a lot, and I'd like to find a nearby bike path that we can enjoy together.
After I tune up my own bike, that is. The chain grew a nice layer of rust within 24 hours of moving here, and I haven't fixed it yet. Lazy lazy.

My parents made not one, but TWO visits in the past few months. During one visit we forayed to D.C. for two days. Highlights: excellent food, rolling down the hill in front of the Capitol, seeing the city lit up at night, a near escape from the human crush at the Natural History Museum, watching the kids' interpretive dance in the Lincoln Memorial.
Another time we returned to Amish Country, and the amazing model trains at the Choo Choo Barn. It's very calming out there, although avoiding the buggies on the road can be harrowing.
Jon and I also took a night and visited St. Michael's on the eastern shore, to celebrate my birthday. We biked and kayaked and tasted wine and watched the sunset over the bay. We also spoke in complete sentences and had uninterrupted conversations. I read a book, and slept through the night. Meanwhile, my folks took the kids to Chuck 'E Cheese, in the ultimate example of grandparental sacrifice.

In May, the kids and I piggy-backed onto a conference that Jon was attending in Florida and enjoyed some time on the beach. Anna favored the ocean, while Isaac was more of a pool boy. (Again, that control thing.) We all got sunburned, but this did not diminish our enthusiasm. We explored Sanibel Island and collected shells and ate ice cream. Jon's folks met us there, and we all stayed in a condo in Naples for a couple of nights. It was fantastic to get away and to see more grandparents. I've never considered myself much of a beach person, but this was fantastic. As totems, we left behind Jon's poster tube and our health care cards. Or maybe we just lost those.

The kids finished up school, ending on strong notes and well prepared for next year. One was ecstatic to be done; the other said she was ecstatic but spent the afternoon of her last day sobbing into my lap. Transitions are hard.

More recently, we camped in a rollicking thunderstorm, beginning with a fierce wind that nearly BURNED DOWN THE CAMPGROUND according to Anna, and ended with Isaac passing out (rear end in the air) amidst the chaos of our soaked tent around 11 p.m. In the interim, Jon spent hours bailing out our tent, Anna cried that she wanted to go home and sobbed more when we discussed going home, and Isaac threw around the bedding. But did we give up? Almost. It was close. But we persevered and things sort of dried out. There were night swims, day swims, a boat rental, scootering, and a fish peed on someone. We also had a scavenger hunt, collecting unicorn horns, fairy clothes, a gnome hat, witches wands, the roving eye, ancient writing, and an enchanted troll. Isaac was more interested in fire than water, and my attempts to teach him how to chop wood nearly resulted in the loss of a lower limb. We took a break after that.

So it's been a very busy spring and early summer. We have many more things planned: mystery adventure days, various VBS events, and lots of swimming. In the background lurks many questions and the specter of packing up and moving on. Until something is certain, I will enjoy the moments with my lovely children.