New house, vol 3

Things are really coming together, and the countdown is on!

We have a closing date of February 14. I can’t think of a better Valentine’s Day present than to be in our new house.

The latest progress: the air conditioning system, carpet, appliances, and fencing.

The AC isn’t too pretty, especially without the grass around it, but it is a necessity. It’s hard to imagine needing it right now, with the brutal “winter” we’ve had in Houston (yes, all you Northerners can laugh. I know we are winter wimps).unnamed

Brown carpet to hopefully hide all the dirt that will inevitably tracked into this loveliness.

Another shot of my favorite feature — the curvy banister. The dark wood compliments the Kilim Beige paint and the brown carpet just as I’d hoped.unnamed

An aerial shot of the downstairs tile, now that it’s uncovered. I’ve no idea what the black tubing on the left is; if anyone knows, tell me.

Guys were installing the side fencing as took these photos yesterday.


Hopefully the fence will contain this naughtiness.unnamed

Big job,that.unnamed

The back fence will be shorter and wrought iron, to give us a view of our bayou and woods. Once this brutal “winter” ends and the trees leaf out, we won’t be able to see the houses on the other side of the bayou.unnamed

One more feature almost finished: the seat in the shower. Cute, huh?unnamed

The much-anticipated kitchen appliances are in! Hooray!unnamed

My favorite girl, aka The Little Chef, was uber excited about the ovens, and in her excitement she didn’t realize that the blue color comes from the plastic shield covering the stainless steel. She thought we were getting blue ovens! That’s her, on the left, reflected in the ovens. She has already claimed this spot of the kitchen and will spend many hours baking up deliciousness.

Something tells me we will see more of this flour-coated pig in the new kitchen:unnamed

Come on, February 14th! We can’t wait!


new house, vol 2

New house update — finally!

I’ve been remiss in posting pictures but am remedying that now. Things look a lot different than they did in this post.

Without further ado…the staircase. We’ve been very eager to see the wrought iron. Love it!unnamed

The curvy balcony is my favorite part of the house. unnamed

The downstairs tile is looking good!unnamed

Aerial shot of the tile all covered up neatly. My favorite girl got nervous when I pulled up some of the paper to take a picture of the tile. I keep reminding her that this is our house and we’re allowed to do such things. She’s still nervous.unnamed

Kitchen cabinets are hung and the backsplash is in. Oh, and the countertops, too. unnamed

Close-up shot of the cabinets. Love that cocoa glaze.unnamed

Here’s where the stove and microwave will go. unnamed

The island before the countertops went in. unnamed

Love that rope detail on the cabinets.unnamed

Countertops in the master bath. unnamed

Bricking the entry.unnamed

Bricking the sides.unnamed

The frame for the driveway and walkway. unnamed

Very exciting!

New house, vol 1

I’ve been totally remiss in posting about our new house. Building a house is a long, complicated process. Moving out of one’s house is a long, exhausting process. Moving out of the only home my kids have known was especially exhausting. Existing with most of our worldly goods in storage has been interesting and has been a study in “how much stuff do we really need?” Living in a temporary house, generously provided by our dearest friend Eddie (known for his wise comments on this blog), has been a challenge, but dare I say we’ve risen to that challenge and perhaps even thrived within it?

It’s been a long process. We signed the contract on the new house April 15th yet construction did not begin until July. A booming housing market and a shortage of skilled labor have created even more delays (gotta love the great state of Texas and its bustling economy!).  Tired of waiting, we broke ground ourselves, unofficially. If you ever needed a contrast in my children’s personalities, here it is. photo

Our lot, all green and lush in the late spring. Seeing the house staked — at last — was very exciting!

photoAfter it was staked, the plumbing stumps went in and the foundation was re-barred. While it looks like a giant tornado is about to level our long-awaited progress, it’s just a cloud. photo

The foundation is nearly finalized here. photo

The view out our front door. The Port-a-Potty will stay the whole time the house is being built, so it’s featured in a lot of photos. We’re working a deal to keep it, but on the side of the house, for the teenage boy who resides with us. photo

We have a foundation!photo

And then it gets framed!photo

Once the framing is done, the house starts to take

With windows and a roof, it really starts looking like a house!photo

Once the outside of the house is done, they can start working on the inside, and that’s when the real fun begins. Stay tuned.


Packing up

It’s out last week in our house.

Things have been pretty busy around here, hence the silence on the blog front. Hopefully that will change as we get settled in our temporary quarters and construction begins on our new house.

Among the purging, organizing, and packing that’s gone on lately, I thought it appropriate to take a moment and reflect back on the time spent in this house. When we moved in 9 years ago, Trevor had just graduated from Duke University with his MBA. Second from the left, he was all smiles. I was too, because we were leaving North Carolina — which was nice for a couple of years — and coming home to Texas. Trevor's Grad. 5-04 - 022My favorite girl and my #1 son enjoyed graduation day, too. Trevor's Grad. 5-04 - 086

After a weekend house-hunting trip fraught with complications — including a case of pneumonia for my #1 son — we found a house. newhouse

When we left Durham, my favorite girl was in the throes of the terrible two’s, and my #1 son had just turned 5. The days were long but the years were short. I’m pretty sure I was too tired to envision our life 9 years later, with a girl preparing for middle school and a boy — ahem, a teenager — getting ready to start high school, and yet here we are. Trevor's Grad. 5-04 - 011_2

Those busy, exhausting days continued in our new house. My favorite girl looked like this as she got settled in our new abodePayton Kindergarten 029

and my #1 son headed off to kindergarten two months after we unpacked. Wearing his beloved Nomar jersey and light-up tennis shoes, that child looks like such a baby. His profile is the same nearly a decade later, as is his signature cowlick on the back of his head.

Payton Kindergarten 022

Those kiddos had some good times in our new house. Looking at those tiny hands and feet takes me back, yet I hardly recognize those little to scrap 089

Dinnertime usually included a show; my favorite girl was the ringleader and my #1 son was along for the ride.Payton Kindergarten 025

He drew the line at following her love of body paint, however. She was on her own for that.fall o4 035

pics to scrap 011

DSC00024This was a common scene as the little darlings splish-splashed in a shared tub (heavy on the bubbles, of course).
pics to scrap 049

It was in this house that Mr P lost his two front teeth — on the same dayteeth! 002

and learned to ride a bike (barefoot, of course, because that’s how he rolls).team party 010

He never did learn to love having his picture takenPayton's 6th bday 013_2

misc 05 013

but he did learn to be a good sport about it.

It was across the street from this house that he caught his first fishP's fish 003

and decided that the fishing was a lot more fun than the eating.P's fish 005

He enjoyed baseball more than fishing, and that first season of Little League seems like a million years ago. Baseball was so simple back then —  they didn’t even wear cleats that first year!baseball 003

pics to scrap 009

We did graduate to cleats and batting gloves the next season, however.IMG_4850

but back then, the idea of a $400 bat would have made me laugh out loud. IMG_3415

That investment paid off, though, and Mr P collected his bounty for this first home run. $20 and a beer was the going rate back then (although he made the same face when he tasted the beer as he did when he tasted the fish). IMG_0149Little League is a distant memory, and home-run bounties no longer exist. Fancy bats and the big fields are our current reality.IMG_1421

It was in this house that these kids saw snow in Houston — something they may never see again!christmas 04 010

christmas 04 008

Not long after that, we embarked on a much more appropriate project for Texas: building a pool.100_0369

We had a very diligent foreman on the job.100_0366

She babied the gunite and ensured all was well with the plaster. 100_0492

That tiny foreman made it through preschool and headed off to kindergarten from these front steps. Her backpack was nearly as big as she was.100_1168


Now she’s sporting braces on her teeth and blue streaks in her hair.IMG_1383


We’ve seen a lot of changes in the last 9 years. This house has served us well as we navigated the twists and turns of life with two young kids. I can’t wait to see what adventures await us in the new house. IMG_1270

IMG_1141Right now it’s a vacant lot, but before long there will be a foundation and walls and rooms to hold the next decade of memories.

It’s been too long!

I’m finally back in my blogging chair, after 3 weeks of prep for selling our house. It’s been a busy, exhausting existence as I cleaned out closets, touched up paint, boxed things up, and whipped our house into “show palace” quality.

Pedey Dog is especially exhausted by all the pre-moving festivites

Pedey Dog is especially exhausted by all the pre-moving festivities

The house went on the market Friday, and we’ve had 8 showings and are entertaining 2 offers. Gotta love the red-hot real-estate market in the great state of Texas.

Please tell me the prospective buyers looked in this linen closet, which hasn’t been this tidy in years. IMG_9096

Ditto the pantry, hall closet, and downstairs linen closet.

I defy any member of this household to say they can't find what they're looking for in here!

I defy any member of this household to say they can’t find what they’re looking for in here!

Closets this neat & orderly fill me with a crazy amount of happiness.

Closets this neat & orderly fill me with a crazy amount of happiness.

I'm tempted to leave the closet door open!

I’m tempted to leave the closet door open!

In the process of getting this place ready to sell, we’ve taken the age-old real-estate advice of “de-personalizing” the house: removing personal effects such as framed photos and the collection of assorted clobber that migrates under magnets on the refrigerator door. While I haven’t packed up every personal artifact, a lot of it is gone.

The former "gallery wall" has been cleared and is now part of a spacious, but boring, hallway.

The former “gallery wall” has been cleared and is now part of a spacious, but boring, hallway.

The “after” picture is a lot less When I shared this photo in celebration of my #1 son’s birthday last week, my friend Michelle texted me to say “Wow, your house looks empty!” and my friend Christy said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen your kitchen desk totally cleared!” 935156_10201180197613955_485530324_n

It’s true. I always have a basket on the corner of the desk full of papers, unopened mail, magazines I intend to read, etc etc. Somehow the pile in the basket would just grow taller as more things were added but the papers and mail sat undisturbed and the magazines grew dusty. Every once in a while I’d empty the whole basket in a frustrated purge, but the basket itself was a mainstay.

Not anymore. This house is still occupied, but the everyday detritus has been ruthlessly culled. Box after box of stuff we don’t need in the near future went out the door and into storage (thanks, Ed; aren’t you so glad you have a pickup truck and extra space??). Tons of stuff went to Goodwill, where shoppers will be “poppin tags” aplenty with the pile we donated.

I'm so glad this stuff is at Goodwill instead of in my office!

I’m so glad this stuff is at Goodwill instead of in my office!

While I was aggressive in my culling, I did also try to forecast what we might need access to and at what point in this process. It’s rather like a triage; the stuff we definitely won’t need (holiday decor, specialty baking pans, and winter clothes, for instance) got boxed up first and were out the door. Stuff we may need between now and when the new house is ready at the end of the year went out the door as well, but is a bit more accessible. I’m not usually a big-picture thinker, but am trying hard to forecast what we need at the ready versus what can go into the deep recesses of storage. The one thing I did not account for was the crazy-cool weather we’ve been having. Field Day at my favorite girl’s school dawned with the temperature a mere 42 degrees — down-right cold for us thin-blooded Texans. She wanted to wear one of her cute hand-knitted scarves, and was a bit peeved at her overzealous mother when she learned that the winter accessories had been packed up and shipped out. How was I to know that Houston would have the coolest temps in the history of weather recording?

With the end of the school year approaching, our needs and our schedules will be much more flexible (and if we need a scarf at any point between now and the end of the year, I’ll take full responsibility for my short-sightedness). A big plastic bin of summer clothes, a few swimsuits, and a pair of flip-flops will suffice from June through August. But once school starts, we’ll still be a few months away from moving into the new house, so we will need a slightly bigger wardrobe, a more structured schedule, and the ability to find things when we need them.

It’s an adventure.

My favorite girl said she hopes the house sells fast, so she can go back to living like a slob. Both kids are sleeping on top of their comforters, rather than under the covers, so it’s easier to make their beds every day. I’m on constant patrol for any stray item not in its proper place or any rogue crumbs not wiped from the kitchen counters.

The one family member who has not yet been disturbed by the flurry of recent activity in and around the house is Piper. She’s thoroughly enjoyed her car rides when prospective buyers have come to look at the house. As long as her food bowl is filled twice a day, she doesn’t care what goes into a box or is moved to storage. 21169_375804029207062_1452133213_n