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home improvements:: the long version

In just 48 hours, Dan and I will part ways. The girls and I will load
up the car and head to my mom’s for a long weekend. Dan will board an
airplane to Wisconsin where he’ll join up with his brother, the largest
moving truck you can drive without a commercial license, and ALL OUR
STUFF that has been sitting in storage since we moved two years ago.
And we’ll meet back here sometime Monday, if all goes well.

We thought it would only be a few months. You know, put the Wisconsin house on the market, "it’s so CUTE and has so much charm, it will sell in no time." But like many many
others, we still own the place, pay a mortgage, pay to keep it warm
enough to offset the drafty old windows, pay for a new sidewalk out
front (thank you, city of Sheboygan), and count on a generous ADHD
neighbor with too much energy to mow our lawn.( I’m not making fun, he
says it helps him stay calm and gives his wife a break from his
energy.) But now there are the nicest renters in it you could hope for,
and a new (old) house in our future.

So to make a long story short and to keep from babbling on about
details that would be better shared sitting down together over coffee (that last line is a total joke, get ready for me to go on and on in a big way)….

We have been completely blessed to live here on my grandparents’ farm
in a little two bedroom apartment above the garage and workshop;
blessed to have my grandmother become such a part of our routine and
the lives of my children that my girls tell me that Meemu (my
grandmother) is my best friend; we know to listen for her car leaving
each morning at the same time for Mass; or exactly when to catch her
walking up to the milking barn swinging a bucket of scraps and calling
to a parade of barn cats trailing behind her. We know that we’re
expected for Sunday lunch and Sunday dinner, unless there’s good golf
or tennis on television; and that if we can’t find her in the kitchen
or working in the garden, she’s probably deep in the house, in the back
living room working at her desk, keeping up with her fifteen children
and countless grandchildren all with hand-written notes and special
gifts wrapped in manila envelopes reused countless times.

We’re blessed to be in the hub of activity–never a dull moment, always
someone to see or talk to. The meeting place for all the family that
live in the valley and beyond. A pool to swim in, gardens to wander
through, streams and woods to explore and a big, wide open parking lot
(for all the visitors) that is ideal for bike riding, roller skating,
scooters and sidewalk chalk.

But as bucolic as this existence is, there are still some things that
are hard. The most obvious and most waring is living in a small two
bedroom apartment with three young children. The living room is in the
kitchen, my desk is in the living room, the living room is in my
bedroom and the mudroom is two feet of shoe rack when you walk in the
door. Pull out your tea set, schleich animals, and then decide to ditch
them to draw pictures at your desk, and the house looks trashed.  Don’t
make your bed first thing in the morning? Every visitor knows it. Need
just a tiny breather from your children? They’re right under your feet
and now, unfortunately, under your skin.

But now, the season of living here on the farm is coming to an end for
us. People keep telling me, oh it won’t be that different, you’re just
moving up the street. But I feel like it kind of will. When you live
this close to a place and to a person you’re lives become intertwined.
You become part of their routine, they become part of yours. So, yes,
it will be different. And we’ll have to find our new routine. But, as
bittersweet as it is,  leaving this place, I’m ready and I need this. I
want to be in a house again. I need a place of my own to shape and
craft as my own. I need to get back to my own routine. I need to feel
like I have a little more control of my children’s routines. Once they
walk out the door of our apartment, they are immediately absorbed into
the life of the farm, and I lose a good deal of control. (At least
that’s how I feel and how I think my independent six year old feels.)

So in a few weeks, we’re moving up the road. Almost within view from my
kitchen window. Another blessing come our way thanks to the generosity
of family. A small farmhouse that needs lots of love on the inside and
a good pruning on the outside. A stream, a swamp, a field full of cows
beside and across from us, horses and homing pigeons on the other. A
stone church standing on the hill to the front and preserved farm land
all around. A spring house; the first floor of a formerly two story
stone barn, a falling down stone silo.

Since Christmas Dan has been spending countless evenings and weekends
working on the house. Except for one full day with my brother in law,
every scraped wall, mudded crack, painted sill, ripped out carpet,
rebuilt mantle, and floorboard laid down, has been by the work of his
hands. A carpenter in our former lives in Wisconsin, his skills are
being put to good use. It’s been exhausting, difficult, and sometimes a
strain on our family. But the sacrifice has light at the end of the
tunnel. And now that light is getting pretty bright. We’re almost there.

Dan and his brother will haul our stuff out here over the weekend and
then Dan’s brother, also a carpenter, will stay on for a week to do
things like install the wood floor, put in doors and who knows what
else. And after the week, we’ll evaluate and hopefully have a good idea
of when the real move-in date will be. Hopefully, just one or two more
weeks away.

I’m excited.  I’m eager. I’m anxious. I’m ready.

And I’m ready to be reunited with my belongings that have been in
Wisconsin. I think I may just shed a few tears when they carry my beat
up old Crate and Barrel sofa, with a torn arm and stained cushions, off
the truck. Because it’s MY sofa!! Dan says there are so many things he
knows I’ve forgotten about. It’s going to be like Christmas. Maybe
better.

So I’m realizing that maybe I should have been sharing all these
details with you guys a little more along the way. There’s too much to
say now, and believe it or not, more I could have said in this post.
Maybe if I had shared more it would have made the time go by more
quickly, or eased some of those hard nights when Dan had gone to work
on the house again and I was trying to shove down feelings of anger,
frustration and exhaustion at another night without him. And probably
you could have shared in those little butterflies of excitement
fluttering in my stomach.

But I think what I’ll do, is not force anyone to read this post. I’ll
stick it on its own page, and if you dare make it to this point, wow.
Thanks, friend, for caring to read this far.

I hope no one thinks I’m ungrateful for this tiny little apartment,
nestled in a beautiful rural spot on the Maryland map, because I’m not.
I’m absolutely thankful that life brought us here. I’ve learned so much
living in this small space. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about my
children and about what I really need in life. And I’m grateful for all
the ways living here has fused relationships between our little family
and the extended family that live all around us. Those are
irreplaceable. The way this post is going it sounds like we’re moving
to Alaska. It’s all probably silliness, I know. We’re just moving around the corner. I’m getting too sentimental. But that’s me.

Life will be different. But life will be good. I’m looking forward to a
new season, a new home and settling into our new routine.

In just 48 hours, Dan and I will part ways. The girls and I will load
up the car and head to my mom’s for a long weekend. Dan will board an
airplane to Wisconsin where he’ll join up with his brother, the largest
moving truck you can drive without a commercial license, and ALL OUR
STUFF that has been sitting in storage since we moved two years ago.
And we’ll meet back here sometime Monday, if all goes well.

We thought it would only be a few months. You know, put the Wisconsin house on the market, "it’s so CUTE and has so much charm, it will sell in no time." But like many many
others, we still own the place, pay a mortgage, pay to keep it warm
enough to offset the drafty old windows, pay for a new sidewalk out
front (thank you, city of Sheboygan), and count on a generous ADHD
neighbor with too much energy to mow our lawn.( I’m not making fun, he
says it helps him stay calm and gives his wife a break from his
energy.) But now there are the nicest renters in it you could hope for,
and a new (old) house in our future.

So to make a long story short and to keep from babbling on about
details that would be better shared sitting down together over coffee (that last line is a total joke, get ready for me to go on and on in a big way)….

We have been completely blessed to live here on my grandparents’ farm
in a little two bedroom apartment above the garage and workshop;
blessed to have my grandmother become such a part of our routine and
the lives of my children that my girls tell me that Meemu (my
grandmother) is my best friend; we know to listen for her car leaving
each morning at the same time for Mass; or exactly when to catch her
walking up to the milking barn swinging a bucket of scraps and calling
to a parade of barn cats trailing behind her. We know that we’re
expected for Sunday lunch and Sunday dinner, unless there’s good golf
or tennis on television; and that if we can’t find her in the kitchen
or working in the garden, she’s probably deep in the house, in the back
living room working at her desk, keeping up with her fifteen children
and countless grandchildren all with hand-written notes and special
gifts wrapped in manila envelopes reused countless times.

We’re blessed to be in the hub of activity–never a dull moment, always
someone to see or talk to. The meeting place for all the family that
live in the valley and beyond. A pool to swim in, gardens to wander
through, streams and woods to explore and a big, wide open parking lot
(for all the visitors) that is ideal for bike riding, roller skating,
scooters and sidewalk chalk.

But as bucolic as this existence is, there are still some things that
are hard. The most obvious and most waring is living in a small two
bedroom apartment with three young children. The living room is in the
kitchen, my desk is in the living room, the living room is in my
bedroom and the mudroom is two feet of shoe rack when you walk in the
door. Pull out your tea set, schleich animals, and then decide to ditch
them to draw pictures at your desk, and the house looks trashed.  Don’t
make your bed first thing in the morning? Every visitor knows it. Need
just a tiny breather from your children? They’re right under your feet
and now, unfortunately, under your skin.

But now, the season of living here on the farm is coming to an end for
us. People keep telling me, oh it won’t be that different, you’re just
moving up the street. But I feel like it kind of will. When you live
this close to a place and to a person you’re lives become intertwined.
You become part of their routine, they become part of yours. So, yes,
it will be different. And we’ll have to find our new routine. But, as
bittersweet as it is,  leaving this place, I’m ready and I need this. I
want to be in a house again. I need a place of my own to shape and
craft as my own. I need to get back to my own routine. I need to feel
like I have a little more control of my children’s routines. Once they
walk out the door of our apartment, they are immediately absorbed into
the life of the farm, and I lose a good deal of control. (At least
that’s how I feel and how I think my independent six year old feels.)

So in a few weeks, we’re moving up the road. Almost within view from my
kitchen window. Another blessing come our way thanks to the generosity
of family. A small farmhouse that needs lots of love on the inside and
a good pruning on the outside. A stream, a swamp, a field full of cows
beside and across from us, horses and homing pigeons on the other. A
stone church standing on the hill to the front and preserved farm land
all around. A spring house; the first floor of a formerly two story
stone barn, a falling down stone silo.

Since Christmas Dan has been spending countless evenings and weekends
working on the house. Except for one full day with my brother in law,
every scraped wall, mudded crack, painted sill, ripped out carpet,
rebuilt mantle, and floorboard laid down, has been by the work of his
hands. A carpenter in our former lives in Wisconsin, his skills are
being put to good use. It’s been exhausting, difficult, and sometimes a
strain on our family. But the sacrifice has light at the end of the
tunnel. And now that light is getting pretty bright. We’re almost there.

Dan and his brother will haul our stuff out here over the weekend and
then Dan’s brother, also a carpenter, will stay on for a week to do
things like install the wood floor, put in doors and who knows what
else. And after the week, we’ll evaluate and hopefully have a good idea
of when the real move-in date will be. Hopefully, just one or two more
weeks away.

I’m excited.  I’m eager. I’m anxious. I’m ready.

And I’m ready to be reunited with my belongings that have been in
Wisconsin. I think I may just shed a few tears when they carry my beat
up old Crate and Barrel sofa, with a torn arm and stained cushions, off
the truck. Because it’s MY sofa!! Dan says there are so many things he
knows I’ve forgotten about. It’s going to be like Christmas. Maybe
better.

So I’m realizing that maybe I should have been sharing all these
details with you guys a little more along the way. There’s too much to
say now, and believe it or not, more I could have said in this post.
Maybe if I had shared more it would have made the time go by more
quickly, or eased some of those hard nights when Dan had gone to work
on the house again and I was trying to shove down feelings of anger,
frustration and exhaustion at another night without him. And probably
you could have shared in those little butterflies of excitement
fluttering in my stomach.

But I think what I’ll do, is not force anyone to read this post. I’ll
stick it on its own page, and if you dare make it to this point, wow.
Thanks, friend, for caring to read this far.

I hope no one thinks I’m ungrateful for this tiny little apartment,
nestled in a beautiful rural spot on the Maryland map, because I’m not.
I’m absolutely thankful that life brought us here. I’ve learned so much
living in this small space. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about my
children and about what I really need in life. And I’m grateful for all
the ways living here has fused relationships between our little family
and the extended family that live all around us. Those are
irreplaceable. The way this post is going it sounds like we’re moving
to Alaska. It’s all probably silliness, I know. We’re just moving around the corner. I’m getting too sentimental. But that’s me.

Life will be different. But life will be good. I’m looking forward to a
new season, a new home and settling into our new routine.

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