Monthly Archives: March 2013

What’s yours is yours…

I’m a big fan of meaningful quotes. I used to collect them in high school…seriously, ask to see my quote book if we ever meet up and are at a loss for words. 😛 While thinking about this post for awhile now, I found this quote that just about says it all:

“A star falls from the sky and into your hands. Then it seeps through your veins and swims inside your blood and becomes every part of you. And then you have to put it back into the sky. And it’s the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do and that you’ve ever done. But what’s yours is yours. Whether it’s up in the sky or here in your hands. And one day, it’ll fall from the sky and hit you in the head real hard and that time, you won’t have to put it back in the sky again.” – C. JoyBell C.

You could say that I knew the time would come. But a more accurate statement would be that I fooled myself into thinking I was prepared for it. 

Our humble little abode just went on the market and we’re in the “gotta-constantly-keep-it-spotless-and-free-of-personal-items-since-strangers-are-always-stopping-by-with-little-advanced-notice” phase. We’re really happy with how it shows…it’s amazing what a lack of clutter does for a feeling of spaciousness! But, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies; it’s been quite a long and emotional road to get here…

I’m completely attached and totally biased. Great traits to have as a seller, right? I look around this house and see every inch of space we’ve designed to get it to this enjoyably livable point: walls that have been demolished and rebuilt in more functional locations; closets that didn’t previously exist at all that now house hundreds of items in a neat and tidy way; floors that we started out with one material then changed to another after living with them and realizing we have a dog…a dog with long nails; rooms that hold more memories then I could even try to list.

But, it’s not just the drywall, tile and fixtures that I can’t bear to leave. Of course I love the finishes we chose, but who doesn’t love things like that in their own house? That’s one of the best parts of owning a house – making it what you want! We’ve always talked about moving to a bigger home with a yard, more bedrooms and more living space. So, why the Eeyore face when that topic comes up? Obviously, money talks…and moving to our new house necessitates selling our current one. Paying 2 mortgages isn’t the most sustainable financial situation to be in. We considered renting our house, and after about 15 minutes of discussion, knew it wasn’t the right choice for us.

Ultimately what it comes down to for me, is leaving the walls where so many of my once-in-a-lifetime memories were made. Other than the house I grew up in (which my parents still own and we frequently go back to visit…thank god for consistency there and yay for KP!), this is the longest I’ve lived in one place and definitely the collection of spaces and relationships I’m most proud of. It’s been just over 7 years. Almost a decade…!?!? I moved in right after we got engaged while there was still dark brown paneling and indoor/outdoor carpeting stained with cat pee covering almost every surface. We brought Riese home to this house as an 8 week old puppy and installed a puppy door in the fence so she and Roxie (her sister that lives next door!) could play together. They’re too big to fit through it now, but it’s still there and always reminds me of little energy filled paws bounding around the yard. We celebrated their birthdays on the deck with peanut butter treats and doggie dixie cups (yes, Riese had a 1st birthday party with her sister…and yes that was before we had kids, lol).

After becoming dog owners, we planned our wedding. While we got married up in NY, so many nights and stressful wedding planning conversations were held on the window seat of our kitchen here. We researched vendors and designed the invitations on our enormously comfy living room couch. We had serious conversations about the religious aspects of our ceremony and debated the value in having a typical wedding cake vs. a dessert buffet at the dining room dinner table (for those wondering, we went with the dessert buffet. Definitely the right decision, although we’re still bitter about missing out on a slice of the chocolate ganache cake). We became husband and wife in NY, but came back from our honeymoon to start life as a Mr. + Mrs., at our palace in Patterson Place.

Life as DINKS (dual-income, no kids…in case you didn’t know that acronym, Mom!) was grand – we entertained here all the time as the open kitchen and dining room was perfect for dinner parties and the views to the backyard oasis were ideal for catching up with out-of-town family and wooing Aunt Raq to move here. Haha, did you catch that last part? Yup, my sister moved to Charm City in August of 2010 after multiple visits and we haven’t looked back since. We live 6 blocks apart. We trained for my first half marathon together step by step around the park. We’ve had dinners, brunches, bbq’s, surprise parties, super bowl get-togethers and RH marathons at our houses. We’ve booed Georgetown cheered Syracuse on together and borrowed eggs, milk and orange extract from each other (ok, maybe I’ve borrowed the extract from her…). She’s left more sweet treats and skinny taste recipes in the refrigerator than I can count. She’s the best Aunt to G we could ever ask for; Riese trained her well. 😉

The day we brought Gabriella home from the hospital was quite similar to today…gray, cold, snowy, rainy and wintry. The difference was the feeling of warmth this house exuded with most of our family waiting inside as we emerged carefully from the car. I’ll never forget the excitement, love and anticipation spreading from room to room as we passed our tiny baby girl into one embrace after the other. We had designed and built the house up for this moment, literally. We learned how to be parents alongside some of our best friends. G and I walked to Mother Goose storytime at the library 8 blocks away and came home to nap together during my maternity leave. We took weekly photos on the carpeted floor of her room and went for walks in the park (I would give so much for her to fit in my ring sling again!) when both of us needed some fresh air. Sometimes the only goal for the day was to meet C for coffee at Van Gough Cafe and B (+H!) for lunch at Teavolve and magically, life was better after these outings.

And then, there are our friends. Since all of our relatives (except for my sister) live a few hundred miles North, our friends mean the world to us. It’s hard to put into words the incredible influence they’ve had on our lives as a couple and a family. Holiday meals, backyard cookouts, “we’re-having-a-baby…surprise!” announcements, halloween games, cookie exchanges, happy hours at Bistro, coffee dates at the Perk, birthday parties, apple/pumpkin picking outings, vacations, doggie playdates, concerts in the park, runs in the neighborhood and CSA veggie shares…just some of the moments I’ll never forget.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this house is so much more to us than just a set of walls, stairs and square footage to upkeep. To say it’s been a labor of love is an understatement. I fell in love with Anthony as each new piece of drywall was loaded by our hands into the Jetta and carted home to hang up. I fell in love with a wrinkly-faced Riese as she galloped across the floor chasing her puppy toys but stopping at the stairs since she knew we didn’t let her up there (and to this day, she doesn’t go upstairs…ever)! And my daughter… taught me to smile through the exhaustion, breathe through the unknowns, giggle while throwing food on the floor and love more. This house will always be our home…and one day soon, hopefully we’ll begin to have a similar feeling about our new house.

Until then, I’ll just be singing this to myself as we fall asleep in the comfort of the house we’ll never stop loving…

“From the beginning
We’re all looking for a happy ending
Every dream of winning
Every love we’ve been in
Right from the beginning
We’re looking for a happy ending

We’ve come here with nothing
And take it with us the day we leave
The first and last breath don’t matter
It’s all the ones that are in-between”

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March 26, 2013 · 2:29 am

Month 13!

So rather than be on time with G’s Month 13 post, we wanted to stay consistent and bring it to you as we’re heading into Month 14. Cool? Good, great, here we go!

Since it’s the start of a new year for Gabby and we’re still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that we’re parents to a toddler, we haven’t yet mastered the art of taking her monthly photo. The first 52 weeks were easy (relatively speaking) since we had a setup, a routine and a stationary subject. This time on the other hand, I hope you’re not expecting 1 perfect shot. Instead, we were lucky to get 4 cute quick clicks (say that 10x fast!) before she toppled over, grabbed the fabric off the wall and turned away from the camera.

This is my new favorite thing to watch… downward dog? handstand prep? positioning herself to walk!

And as for Miss G-Strausy’s recent accomplishments…

  • she not only walks EVERYWHERE on her own, but sometimes runs, toddles, throws herself on you and giggles all while moving on 2 tiny feet.
  • “bubba-bah” (bubble bath!), “goh? [turns hands to face up toward sky and looks for birds…]” (where’d they go?)
  • drinks out of a sippy cup with a straw – “cuck!” (cup) and uses a fork to eat her dinner (with determination!).
  • no more twice-a-day naps…we’re lucky if she takes one.
  • at school she loves to read books – her teachers have told us, sometimes she wanders up to the bookshelf at the front of the room all by herself while everyone else is playing, and grabs a book, hands it to her teacher and says “booh! booh!”. it melts my heart that she loves books – we still read together every morning before work/school. books are her toy of choice while in the car and on the changing table. we’re gonna need to go to the library soon to keep up with our little bookworm, especially since she already has her own library card!

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Appliances.

With so many options out there, shopping for appliances was very overwhelming.  You could literally research makes, models, and reviews for days and still not know exactly what you want, or at least we didn’t.  And if that weren’t enough, figuring out where to actually purchase them was another headache. We decided that President’s Day weekend was when we’d venture out and make our purchases.  It was an added bonus that in MD that weekend, there was no sales tax on energy star refrigerators and washers.  Random?  Yes.  Happy to save money?  Absolutely!  We priced out some options at the typical blue big box store, but didn’t really see that many options, so we actually took a chance and headed to Hhgregg instead.  Neither one of us had ever been to Hhgregg but we had heard good reviews of the shopping experience that others have had there.  After a little reading, we found that their employees work on commission.  At first, I was turned off by that, disliking when salesmen pester you the minute you walk in.  But after some more reading, found that the employees are constantly being educated about the products that they are selling.  Because we had so many questions and weren’t exactly sure what brand of anything we wanted, we headed out after G’s nap with a full bag of food, snacks and sippy cups.

So how long does it take to select and purchase a refrigerator, range, dishwasher, washer, and dryer…with a toddler?  4.5 hours.  Yes, more than 4 hours of questions, answers, rocking, swaying, and opening and closing appliance doors saying ‘wwhhoooooaaaa’.  It was quite a bit longer than we had anticipated, but G really was a trooper and in the end, we are very excited about what’s being delivered to the new house in April.  Ready for the goods?

Samsung french door refrigerator

Whirlpool Convection Oven (with Aqualift cleaning technology- VERY excited about this!)

Frigidaire dishwasher

Samsung 4.2 cu ft. washer and 7.2 cu ft. dryer

The staff was very helpful in showing us the differences between all the products and was respectful of the price range we were working with.  We went back and forth wondering if we should have all the same brand of appliances in the kitchen but what we found was that we always felt like one of the set was exactly what we wanted and that we were just settling for the others.  In the end, we decided to choose the appliances that we really wanted, regardless of the brand name.  They are all match since they’re stainless steel, so we’re happy (we currently live with 2 out of 3 appliances being stainless steel and one pure black, so we decided to upgrade to have a matching family this time!). We also talked quite a bit about a front loading washing machine.  After considering the issues of odor, mold, and build-up, frankly it seemed like more of a chore than worth it.  The price point for a similarly sized capacity unit was also more than we really wanted to spend, so we stayed with a top loader.  It’s larger than our current and has more specialized settings.  The glass door options were also on sale that day so we went with those! In the end we stayed under budget and can’t wait to start using these bad boys.

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Wired.

As promised, here are some updated photos of what’s been going on at the house.  Walk in and select a switch:

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To control one of these little beauts:

Living room ceiling

The kitchen is getting some love too:

Kitchen Ceiling. Overkill? Perhaps, but no one likes a dark kitchen!

Of course the big move is happening in the basement.  We are upgrading the house to 200 Amps and a large new panel comes with that:

New Service Panel.

All of the existing outlets throughout the house are also getting the upgrade to 3 prong grounded and some of the fixture boxes are being replaced with new standard ones.  We are still working out the duct and furnace issues but are hoping to wrap that up shortly so that the work can be done and the house can FINALLY have heat!

Aside from the electrical, the crew has been hard at work scraping and re-plastering the upstairs.  Not having heat has caused delays in the dry-time of the plaster, but the work is still moving forward.  They primed the entire upstairs after scraping all the surfaces to help seal in what was left on the walls and also provide some extra bonding of the new plaster to the existing walls.

Master Bedroom.

Bedroom 1 (Gabriella’s future room).  Here you’ll notice the absence of the PINK!  Feels so much better and bigger already.

Bedroom #2. The ceiling in here was really in bad shape but it’s looking great already.

You may not be able to see it, but it is amazing how the plastering is really making the walls and ceilings of this 90+ year old house feel clean and new.  And because the full bath is only getting cosmetic updates after the ‘heavy lifting’ is done, it looks like this:

While the water’s off, the tub makes the perfect storage spot. Let’s hope they didn’t chip anything while loading it up!

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Demo progress.

So demo work has slowly been progressing on the house the past week or so, we just haven’t had a chance to post any of the quick photos we took during our visits with the contractor.  Thought it was about time to show you what our little homestead is looking like.  I took a few of these last Sunday during a quick visit when I brought Riese to test out the new yard!  I should have taken a picture of her joyfully galloping around but I was too caught up in running around with her and showing her all the new spaces to explore and didn’t think to break out the camera.  Seeing her run around definitely confirmed that this will be a good move for us, she was THRILLED and it was great seeing her exploring.

Ok, back to the house…

Remember this wall between the kitchen and the dining room?

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well….BOOM!

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How much of an improvement is that!?  And yes, those duct lines directly in the middle of the wall, yup, those were a nice surprise.  While they were taking out the wall, the contractor also decided that it would just be easier to take out the back kitchen wall which had been terribly laminated with 1/4″ drywall, in order to run all the new electric and plumbing lines there.

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Rather than patch new drywall into 1/2 of the living room ceiling, the contractor also decided it was easier to just remove the section that was left and re-drywall the entire thing after all the new recessed lights and wiring are put in.  This will give you a good idea of what the house was looking like:

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Yes, that is the only wall which is remaining intact on the first floor.  You can also get an idea of how the first floor will flow from one room to the next once those duct lines are removed.  We wanted the house to feel open yet retain the distinction of different rooms within the house.  We’re pretty pleased with how it’s shaping up!

The rest of the house has been scraped in preparation for plaster patching and looking like this:

Sorry for the iPhone photo

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And it’s not a real project until your living room is full of trash bags:

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So that brings you up to just a few days ago.  I was at the house today for a meeting with the contractor and foreman to walk though the electrical and mechanical questions.  With all the recessed lights in and 90% of the walls primed (bye-bye nasty pink room!) you can really start to imagine the house put back together.  We’ll be sure to take some photos to share this weekend when we are back at the house to check in.

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