How I Nest

One of the many preconceived notions I had about pregnancy was to do with nesting: I had the idea in mind that I would want to spend all my free time during pregnancy cleaning and organizing the house. The image that kept coming back to me was scrubbing baseboards. I don’t think I have ever scrubbed a baseboard in my life, but every pregnancy article or blog post I’ve encountered on the subject of nesting has included the standard trope of the pregnant woman crawling around on the floor scrubbing baseboards.

That’s not happening over here, folks. I also feel a distinctly diminished desire to keep up with laundry and dishes, to make the bed in the morning, or to take the recycling out. Instead of spending my time and energy perfecting state of the house, I’d be happy to let it all fall into disarray while I nap. And shop.

Perhaps shopping is my nesting. Some real shopping, some compulsive window shopping. I can’t tell you how many “twin baby registry” articles I’ve pinned in the last few months, but…it’s a lot. I keep wondering if there’s some magical item I’ll need to feed the babies or help them sleep or keep their little butts clean. So I keep scouring these lists and reading reviews and asking people questions and adding things to the twins’ registry. (Help, am I missing anything?)

It’s not just baby items I think I need, though. I have become a shopping monster. Maternity clothes! Household items! Books! (Surely I’ll need my Kindle app to be fully loaded with reading material, right? Don’t laugh. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to read during my maternity leave.)

I think some of this shopping, both the real shopping and the online window shopping, is just my way of dealing with anxiety. In the same vein, I tend to get ready for a new school semester by (doing my necessary course prep work and) over-thinking what I’m going to wear on the first day. If I’m dressed right, I will create a good impression and set the right tone for a good semester, right? Perhaps I am over-shopping for maternity clothes in the hopes that if I’m dressed right for pregnancy, I’ll stay pregnant long enough for the babies to grow and ….oh, I’ll just leave off this lame psychoanalysis. I think we all get the picture — and I’m probably not alone in using shopping as an anxiety coping mechanism. At least a lot of it is just window shopping, aka “research,” which does not actually cost money.

At any rate, yesterday’s nesting/shopping mission involved the purchase of two key items that are sure to make the household more ready for the arrival of two little newborns: a dog bed and a cover for the ironing board. Well, fine. They may not be all that relevant, but see how comfortable Egon is in his spiffy new bed?

This spoiled old dog has a new bed. I think he likes it.

NB: I would also like to take this opportunity to suggest that if you are looking for pet beds that you try out places like TJ Maxx. I never would have thought of it, but they apparently carry tons of them at good prices. This type of dog bed seems to cost anywhere from $50-100 in all the other places I have looked, but was only $30 at TJ Maxx. I was psyched, let me tell you.

The ironing board cover was a surprise for my husband, who STRANGELY didn’t seem too excited by it. He irons a shirt for work every night before bed, and the old ironing board cover was all scorched and raggedy and the layer of foam padding was coming out and constantly tearing, bunching up, creating lumps, and getting in the way. It was a nightmare, which I noticed when I did my semi-annual ironing of a shirt last week. (What can I say? I’m a wash-and-wear kind of gal.) So imagine how pleased I was to find a PREMIUM, DELUXE, SUPER FAWNCY ironing board cover for a mere $10. It was the kind with the padding quilted in, scorch protection, and adjustable bands for tightening it to just the right fit. An ironer’s dream. The Cadillac of covers. I hate ironing and only do it twice a year and even I was super excited about this awesome ironing board cover. But yeah. My husband was all like, “When you said you got me a ‘surprise,’ I thought it was going to be something … cool.”

Harrumph. At least the dog was excited!

Advertisements

Home Snapshots

We are currently 98% settled in to our new house, so I figured it was time to take some photos to preserve how it looked when it was just us here (you know, before it gets filled with babies and their related items). I really love it.

One of my favorite things is how great the paint colors turned out. The main light gray color is Sherwin Williams “Latitude,” which we found via trial and error after trying first a shade darker (“Morning Fog”) and then a shade lighter (“Olympus White”). Compared to the dark brown of our old rental house, this color seems so clean, cool, and light to me. I honestly think our things look nicer in the new house, with this color and the many windows, than they ever did before.

Here’s the living room:

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

We bought the sofas, rug, and white bookshelves on moving in. We’d had a hand-me -down couch in dark sage green that was very comfy but didn’t go with the look we wanted, so it was time for something new. The bookshelves are my favorite, favorite thing. They almost look built in, but they’re actually three separate bookcases from Ikea. God bless the Swedes.

We’d still like to add a table lamp on the side table and perhaps a small rug in front of the bookshelves (we anticipate putting the baby swing/bouncy seat there), but otherwise this room is finished.

Similar to our old rental, we decided to make the dining room into a reading room. We don’t have a big formal dining table anyway, and we just loved the shape of this room and the light and we thought we’d really enjoy using it this way. This is our old living room rug plus a couple of our old chairs (my Ikea chair has a new gray cover — it used to be red but I love it so much more now).

Reading Room

Reading Room

Here are some details of the things on top of the shelves. CW’s plants are so beautiful.

Reading Room
Reading Room

This room has turned out to be a really nice space for either quiet reading or an afternoon drink. This room is finished for now, but I can imagine when we have toddlers toddling around, we might revise it a bit into a playroom-type space so we can keep an eye on them — it is open to both the living room and kitchen, so it would be an ideal spot for them to play while we’re cooking, or something.

The kitchen colors photographed horribly, but trust me, it’s light and pretty in person. The green wall (“Parakeet”) is one of my very favorite things:

Kitchen Kitchen

We’d like to eventually have a round wooden table for the breakfast nook, but this old rectangular glass-top is doing the job okay for now.

Kitchen
Kitchen

I love love love our new refrigerator! When the sellers put this house on the market, they’d already moved out and taken their fridge with them, so we went into the purchase knowing we’d need to get our own. It is a little stressful to choose an expensive appliance, but we’ve been really happy with this one.

The kitchen is as finished as it’s going to get for a few years (except the possible new table), but eventually we’d like to replace the laminate countertops with something else, level the island to be all at counter height, and add pendant lamps above it. That’s a very long term goal, though.

The house has three bedrooms, so we have a master, a future nursery, and the third one is doing double duty as a guest room and office for both me and CW. It’s a little crowded in there, but we’ve managed to make it work:

Guest Room Window

My Workspace

Can you guess which desk is mine and which is my husband’s? It’s probably not difficult.

C's Workspace Guest Bed

We still need to decide what artwork will be hung over the bed, so this isn’t totally finished,  but it’s good enough for now.

Our bedroom is similarly almost finished. We’d like to get a headboard for this bed and also figure out what artwork to put over it. It’ll likely be the fox painting in the right corner there.

Bedroom
Bedroom

The paint colors didn’t photograph particularly well, but the lighter walls are the previously mentioned “Olympus White” and the blue wall is “Blue Jasmine,” which looks fabulous in person. The dressers are part of a set that I bought along with the guest room bed, but that bed is a double, so we are using a non-matching queen bed in here, along with side tables that are also part of a set — they came with our coffee table. I don’t mind the mix of random furniture so much, but one day it would be nice to have a matching set in here.

I don’t have anything to show you from the nursery so far because we’ve done essentially nothing there. We have a futon there for lounging and feeding the babies (a regular glider would be too narrow to hold two babies at once, we think) and my old 4×4 Ikea Expedit shelf, which will be used for books, toys, etc. (Why did they change the name from Expedit?! I refuse to call it by the new name.) We still need cribs, dresser/changing table, lamp, and decor. All that will be figured out, ah, some time, I’m sure.

Home

Succulents

We did it! We are here. No thanks to UHaul, who did not have the truck we reserved, nor in fact ANY truck for us to use. No thanks to the local moving crew we booked to load and unload the (now nonexistent) truck, who kept pushing back their arrival time hour after hour until we finally had to cancel them. Big thanks to our friends, who pulled through in the last minute and brought a pickup truck and towed a flat/open trailer full of furniture we loaded and unloaded ourselves.

We are home and I am never leaving. We don’t have our sofa, love seat, living room rug, or internet yet (those will all be here by Tuesday), but our bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and reading room are all set up and ready to go. Let’s agree not to discuss the mess that is the guest bedroom at this time, okay? Okay.

"Hmmm. Yes. All of this is now mine. I think I like it."

Egon is finding his footing on the hardwood floors (he prefers carpet) (and also is in desperate need of a nail trim), so I let him explore on his wheels this morning. He has surveyed his domain and declared it fitting. His only problem is that, in the absence of a couch, he is suffering a distinct lack of couch snuggle time with his two humans. We were watching movies in bed last night (on DVD! So old school!) and he was not allowed in bed with us, so he just sat with his blankie outside the bedroom door, watching us to make sure we were still there. Poor guy. He will be much happier when the couch and rug arrive.

Flannery, not pictured, is doing her usual cat-settling-in-to-new-house routine of finding small enclosed spaces in which to hide, alternating with sad, lonely meowing. I think she slept all last night inside her litter box. Dear kitty, the box is to be used for other things, please and thank you.

Since we’ve got such a big, private yard in a quiet neighborhood, we are going to try letting her explore outside if she’s interested. Today she checked out the back porch for a few minutes before retreating back indoors. We’ll see how it goes.

Our hummingbird neighbors better get excited.

There should be plenty out there to amuse her, really. Our cutest neighbors so far are the hummingbirds, and we’ve already bought them a present. Isn’t it delightfully gaudy? It’s hanging on the back porch and can easily be seen from both the kitchen and bedroom. I watched it for a while this morning before getting out of bed, but didn’t spot any avian customers yet. We shall see.

More snippets soon.

Moving Notes

We are now less than a week from our move-in date and I cannot wait to be in the new house. I hate moving and packing (though I do enjoy unpacking, organizing, and arranging), and this is one of the slowest moves ever. I fee like we’ve been moving for weeks already. I prefer packing everything during the days before a move and then moving everything all at once. What we’re doing, however, is the slow and painful process of moving a carload of small items at a time, putting them away, and then reusing the boxes to move more things. It’s agonizing.

Before we moved anything, however, we made a huge trip to Lowe’s for paint, a refrigerator, and some other supplies. After a half day taping and a full day painting, our living room and hallways were all this lovely color:

All day painting. Phew. (No filter.)

That’s Sherwin Williams “Morning Fog” you see there.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. The color had come out a little bit darker and bluer than we had intended. I still liked it and was fine with it, but my husband, the most picky and meticulous person I have ever met, simply could not take it.

Paint color drama. I don't even want to talk about it.

The next morning found us back at Lowe’s buying “Olympus White,” a color two shades lighter on the strip (on the bottom in the above image). We brought it back and tried it and … it was too light. Back at Lowe’s, we then tried the color in between the two, “Latitude” (on the top in the above image). It was perfect. Over the rest of the day, we painted over everything we’d already done, taking it one crucial shade lighter to the pale gray (not slate blue!) we’d intended. I wanted to cry about the whole situation — a full day’s backbreaking work, all for NOTHING! — but it really does look better now.

When I say the work was backbreaking, I pretty much do mean that literally. I’d been having some minor SI-joint issues lately and after two days of painting, I could barely move without feeling like I was being kicked by a steel-toed boot directly in the butt. Not only was it painful, but imagine explaining this to your chiropractor. He couldn’t stop laughing at me.

My husband had to finish the rest of the painting himself, including the dining room and guest room (more “Latitude”), the kitchen accent wall (“Parakeet”), and the master bedroom (“Olympus White” and “Blue Jasmine”). He really didn’t complain at all about having to do the rest of it himself, even though I’m sure it was not necessarily fun. I spent the time resting my back and doing some light packing and such at home.

The great book organization project, halfway through. Consider this a PSA about what happens when two English professors get married.

It’s been pretty fun for us to think about how we’ll set up the new place — everything from choosing paint colors to deciding where to hang our art to (finally) merging our big book collections is a fun project. I keep getting excited anew when we bring items from our current house over to the new one and they suddenly seem to look better and nicer in our new place than they ever have in our current one. Our old rug, for example, looks so much prettier in our light an airy new dining room than it ever did in our dark and shadowy current living room. A painting of CW’s which I’d always thought of as drab and dreary is suddenly light and exciting in the brightness of our new living room.

This little corner is coming along nicely.

We generally like the same colors and styles, with minor differences of opinion here and there. For example, we both think this gorgeous rug from Anthropologie would be perfect in our living room. Sadly, it is both ridiculously expensive and unavailable anyway. Damn you, Anthropolgie.

The problem is that when it comes to picking the next best available rug, we have some differing tastes. More critically, we’ve been unable to agree on the size of the rug. I’m a huge proponent of the idea that at least the front legs of the furniture should sit on the rug, thereby having the rug tie the room together and ground everything. My husband, who loves our hardwood floors, wants the rug to float in the middle of the furniture, with only the coffee table on top of it and the edges freely uncovered by couches/chairs. He says with a larger rug like I’d prefer, we’d be covering up the wood floors too much and the rug would become tantamount to a carpet. I contend that a small, floating rug in the middle of No Man’s Land would look chintzy, cheap, and amateurish. Neither of us seems willing to compromise at this point, no matter how many interior design articles I show him. Please keep us in your thoughts during this difficult time.

The moving truck comes for our furniture on Saturday. Deep breaths.

Transitions

A Note about Password Protected Posts: I’ve been feeling the need to keep some kinds of topics here more private recently, especially as I have been wanting to write about family planning and other more personal topics. I’m just not comfortable posting about that where anyone with Internet access, including people who work(ed) with me and with my husband, can read it.   So, if you’ve noticed some of those protected posts showing up lately, that’s what’s going on. Thanks for your understanding! 

In news that’s fit to share, the school year is rapidly coming to a close. Today marks the first day of finals week. Time to take a deep breath, tighten my grip, and hang on. A week from today, I will be submitting grades for all my courses and, with completely dry eyes, bidding the semester adieu. I’ve just got to get through all the final exams and the grading between now and then.

And then, summer, glorious summer! This year will be the Summer of The New House! Our closing date happens to be the last day of finals, but we’ve got a few things to get done in the new house before we move in. Mainly, we need to paint and to buy a refrigerator and have it delivered. We also are in the market for a new couch and some bookcases. Possibly also a new dining table. But the paint and the fridge are the only things that need to happen before the move, so we’re thinking the end of May would be a good target date.

I am both eagerly anticipating and anxiously dreading the process. There’s always so much to do — no matter how well prepared and organized I think I am ahead of time, by the end of the packing process, I inevitably find myself disheveled and cursing as I shove random leftover items into a garbage bag. Sure, this assortment of coat hangers, cleaning products, dog leashes, and flower pots can all go in this bag!  That makes perfect sense! Dammit.

You know how it goes. Moving is the WORST, am I right?

PaintYou know what is the BEST, though? Setting up the new place. That’s my favorite part. I can’t wait to do that.  (Well, except the part where I have to help CW hang up the art and he does like 87 unnecessary steps in his measurement calculations and then asks me endless questions every time he moves something by a quarter inch — but I digress.) The two of us have been looking at photos online to get some inspiration for paint colors and this past weekend we finally went and looked at paint chips at Lowe’s and found some good options. I expected this to be a lot harder than it actually turned out to be. I think we are pretty much decided on the color palette, but need to iron out the details of exactly which color goes where. I am also grateful to be able to say that we did not kill each other during the discussion. Even though we often have vastly differing opinions about those things in the beginning, we usually wind up agreeing before too long. The Wrong person just has to come around to seeing the Right side, is all.

One thing that’s sort of stressing me out a bit is the thought of all our stuff and where exactly we’re going to be able to put it. The new place is the same size and number of rooms as our current rental house (3 bed, 2 bath, living, dining, kitchen, laundry), but we’re going to be configuring it differently. At the moment, we have a master bedroom, a guest bedroom with my desk in it (90% of the time this is my office, but when guests are here, it becomes a guest room), and the third bedroom is exclusively CW’s home office, and also the room where his closet is.

In the new house, we’ll have three bedrooms again, but we are planning to just go ahead and plan for the future we want, setting one of the rooms aside for Future Baby Wicklet. So we’ll have a master bedroom, a guest room with two desks in it (shared office 90% of the time, guest room when needed), and a future baby room. It’s going to be a tight squeeze to get both our desks into the guest room, and — perhaps an even bigger issue — CW won’t have a room to be his own space anymore. All our separate office stuff is going to have to share one zip code, so that will take some creative arranging, but I think we are up to the task.

Sharing a closet, on the other hand? Nevermind. I don’t want to talk about it.

On Negotiating

House hunting/buying continues to unfold at a rapid pace. After seeing several other houses comparable to the one we really liked, we just could never find any others we liked as much. This made it seem pretty clear to us that this house had something special about it. The floorplan, the lot, the way the house is situated — it just had something about it that the others didn’t. Our crush only deepened.

So we went ahead and made an offer. We started pretty low, but after a few rounds of back and forth with the sellers, we settled on a deal that made everyone happy. Negotiating is a bit nerve wracking for me. I am of the personality type that hates asking for things, because what if someone not only says no but also hates me — clearly this is completely logical, right? My husband, however, professional rhetorician, very much seems to enjoy the process. It’s all so dramatic, though. Are we insulting them by starting low? Is their high counter-offer a “real” counter-offer, or “a fuck you”? How many times can we go back and forth? What if they walk away? What if we walk away? No fun. But we got it settled and we’re happy, so that’s that.

The next step was getting a home inspection. There are a few repairs we asked the sellers to take care of, figuring they might not say yes, but we’d try anyway. The seem to be fairly tough negotiators, actually. I was not looking forward to having another negotiation process on top of the price. To our surprise, though, they’ve said they’ll take care of all of these small items. We’re now just waiting to get a report from the termite bond company. I’m not sure if this is standard everywhere, but part of our contract states that the sellers are responsible for getting a termite & fungus inspection, and treatment if necessary, obtaining a bond from the servicing company stating that the house is free from both, and transferring that bond to us upon the sale. This basically acts as insurance if we have any termites or mold in the future — and it’s done at the sellers’ expense. Once we get this, we can go ahead with the appraisal, and as long as it appraises for the full purchase price (a condition of our contract), we will be good to go.

I am excited, to say the least.

I have plenty of other updates I’ve been meaning to share here, including a recap of our fun trip to Florida, some things I’ve been watching and reading, a recipe, and a trip to Atlanta to see The Decemberists this past weekend. I hope that this week, being just slightly less crazy than the past two, will afford some time for blogging. Fingers crossed (for that, and so many other things).

House Hunting Madness

Is house hunting turning me into a crazy person?

CW and I have recently aquired the services of a real estate agent and a mortgage lender and the hunt is officially on.  We’ve spent ages poring over the MLS, looking at photos online, and have finally started seeing houses. So far, we’ve seen three in person and will see five (!) more this afternoon. Here’s the thing: one of the first three we saw, we really, really like. We both keep thinking about it more and more and liking it more, not less, when we consider it. It’s listed at just a bit more than we’d like to pay and we don’t love the particular shade of brick, but otherwise, we basically love it.

I just keep hearing that you shouldn’t fall in love with the first house you see (it was the third we saw, but the principle still applies, I think) and that you for sure shouldn’t fall in love with any house until the inspection. Of course. And, I mean, I don’t know. Are we in love, or is it just a crush?

At any rate, the five houses we’re seeing this afternoon are all similar to the object of our crush, but priced a little better. Online, none of them looks quite as great, but we’ll see. Maybe you get what you pay for, I keep thinking. Maybe they’ll come down on the price, I keep thinking. If we don’t like any of these other houses as much in person as we like The One We Like, we might just make an offer.

It’s funny: this whole house hunting project has me (well, both of us, but this is my blog so I’m not going to write about my husband’s feelings) — it has me really evaluating what I want, and finding that it perhaps wasn’t what I thought I wanted initially. I’d always pictured specific neighborhoods and older houses that could be fixed up: places “with character” that I could “make my own.” I think I may have been overestimating exactly how cool I am. I may also have watched too many episodes of Property Brothers.

When moving from hypothetical dream fixer-uppers to potentially real purchases, real dollars, and real work, I suddenly find myself less and less interested in doing much renovation. Painting and changing certain fixtures? Sure. Replacing all counters, cabinets, flooring, and appliances in a kitchen? No. Anything that involves (re)moving a wall? Absolutely not. We are two busy people who work full time and are trying to procreate. Ain’t nobody got time for that. So it turns out that rather than an older fixer-upper in an established neighborhood, what seems more attractive to me now is a newer house that might not be in the center of town but that requires very little work to move in. Basically, a house in a subdivision: the antithesis of cool. I’m not even sorry.

The whole thing has the feeling of being a gamble, too. We started looking a little early — we don’t need to make an offer this month in order for the timing of a summer move to work out. So do we make a move now, or wait? Do we go for the house we like best now? Or do we risk losing that one while waiting to see if something better comes on the market when the “busy season picks up,” which is supposed to happen “soon”? Hmpf.

I suppose we will figure it out. In the meanwhile, we’ll probably both be spending at least two hours a day scouring online listings, squinting at terrible real estate photography, and trying to answer some of life’s most difficult questions, such as “is that a tile shower?” or “why is there a water heater in middle of this ‘bonus room’?”