Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend in New Hampshire

We're back from another weekend in New Hampshire. It was nice to visit. My dad gave the boys pumpkins from his garden, we got to see my grandma for the first time in a long time, and we were able to enjoy a little down time with my mom, sister, and her family. The ride back was beautiful too, as it was peak season in Vermont, and while the skies were pretty cloudy there was almost no rain, so it made for a nice backdrop.

Brian and Thomas had bought two tickets to Saturday's Red Sox game at the last minute, through someone at work, but they drove all the way to Boston only to wait out an hour-long rain delay at Fenway and then have to head back to New Hampshire because the game was finally postponed. Then they couldn't go to the make-up game, so they were disappointed, though at least they appreciated some good one-on-one time and Tommy got to ride the subway.

Visiting with my gram was a nice treat. I used to accompany my mom to weekend morning visits when I was growing up, but in the last few years the only times I had seen my gram were at family functions. Sitting in her living room and listening to her get excited about politics brought it all rushing back, and I loved it. I made sure to buy a few of her beautiful handmade bibs while there, and she snuck some potholders and a baby quilt home with us as well. I had never seen her craft table set up at home; what an amazing colorful display it was. I wish I had taken a picture to share with you all. She is so talented.

She passed on a stack of old knitting magazines and books while we were there, and I took my time leafing through them after unpacking a bit. I loved the prices on each - ranging from 10 cents all the way up to $1.75. Amazing. The best part about it all, though, was imagining my grandmother--and maybe even my great grandmother--looking over all the patterns, carefully selecting her next project. Oh, how we girls could have talked the day away with our projects and a cup of coffee or two, should we live closer and my great grandmother still be here to share in the fun. Sweet, sweet memories made for some very warm moments as I looked over all those great basic yet beautiful mittens patterns; that's for sure.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

House-Hunting, First Hand

I suppose it's time to share here that Brian and I have been house-searching again. This time we hope we won't run into the same issues we faced last year. What a fiasco. We think we've found the house for us, and our offer has been accepted. We're currently in the thick of working things out with the attorney, inspector, mortgage broker, and realtor. If all goes through I think I will be glad we didn't buy one of those houses last year but waited for something better to come along.

I won't post pictures here; I wouldn't want to jinx myself. Instead, my story:

It was Saturday morning. We had been anxiously awaiting our scheduled showings all week, especially the first one. The house was a four bedroom ranch in a beautifully kept neighborhood, on a quiet street, in a terrific school district. It had a good-sized kitchen, a beautiful fireplace in the living room, and a pretty nice yard. It was also closer to work than all the other houses on our list. Sure, it needed some updating, but in the ad it still sounded far too good to be true--for first time home buyers on a very tight budget, at least. I tried not to build myself up prior to seeing it, and that turned out to be a good thing; the roof was so bad that there was damage to the ceiling and floor in one room, the foundation had some pretty concerning issues (can a foundation have "issues?" Sounds so odd, but I tell you, it did), and while it may not be worth mentioning since it certainly wasn't going to sway our decision one way or another on any house, I just have to say that the orange shag carpet would have really had to go - and quick!

After our realtor learned how much we liked the area, he wanted to look around, so we spent some time perusing the adjoining streets in search of other homes for sale, following our realtor in the van and trying to calm Gabe, who wasn't the least bit appreciative of all this in and out of the car seat business, and ended up stopping to look at a house that wasn't on our list. It was beautiful. The street was pretty busy, but everything else made up for it; the great big private yard, new kitchen and baths, open floor plan, lots of space.... Yeah, WAY out of our price range. We left that area pretty quickly after that.

Our next stop, and I'll spare you the details on the other three homes we saw that day since they eventually all led us back to this one, was in a familiar town to me. About four years ago I had driven through it every day on my way to work at the small country doctor's office (where one doctor still occasionally exchanged his services for a bushel of apples or basket of tomatoes from some of the local farmers). The town was near an old and tired city; a mix of village, farms, and everything in between.

Off the major road was a left hand turn onto a quiet street. The houses were old but well-kept; the lawns modest-sized but mowed and manicured. Tall, mature oak and maple trees shaded the street. Our house was a simple white cape with a detached garage and fenced in yard. I walked the boys out to the back yard first. It was small, we observed, but certainly big enough for a game of catch, and the privacy of the trees to the back of the property didn't go unnoticed. We peeked into the garage through the carriage style door windows at the used lawn equipment and tools resting between the dust and shadows, and then we made our way back to the front door.

The seller had a cat, so we all had to pile into the little area between the front screen door and the main door to the house to make sure we didn't let her out. It was tight, but we figured were there not three adults, one child, and a baby in there, there certainly ought to be enough room for our boots in the winter.

The living room instantly reminded us of Brian's grandparents' homes, though it had some character of its own, namely the arched doorways into the hall and dining room. Bright and open, though a bit outdated, there was a nice feeling to the space.

The dining room was small, with a view of the back yard out a picture window set between two built-in china cabinets and a couple of shelves. We found it odd that there was carpet in the room, though it was light and bright, and the walls had recent neutral wallpaper below white chair rail and a soft cream paint color above.

Through the dining room sat the kitchen, and should the house become ours, that is one room we will have to figure out, as we have become appreciatively accustomed to seemingly endless cabinets, drawers, and pantry space in our current apartment. However tiny, it was clean and (once again) bright, with new flooring and white cabinets, and I admit I found some mild amusement in the tall hidden spice cupboard set within the wall between the two rooms. It was just a couple inches deep, and I couldn't imagine any other way to use it, though it must have had room for close to 100 spice jars in all.

From there, there was a step down that led either to the basement or outside to the driveway, but we headed back through to the downstairs bedrooms and bathrooms first. I don't remember much about the bedrooms except that they were open, bright, and spacious. All the walls in the house were painted white or cream, and the bedrooms had wood floors and closets, and I think, two windows each.

Our realtor didn't seem to show much interest in the house, which conversely interested me, as he was very observant and helpful with every detail in all the others we saw. Instead he spent most of his time talking about others he was going to show us, but we were taking this one all in. -It didn't take him long to dismiss the bathroom as "old" and even write it down in red ink on our little paper along with "old windows." I'll give him the windows, but the bathroom was a bit more deserving. Sure, today few would pick the yellow and black color scheme (I am sure I wouldn't think of it), but all the tile and another arch above the bath were in fact quite lovely, and in excellent shape.

We found closets around every corner - nothing big, mind you, but useful, for sure. Upstairs was all knotty pine. The bathroom seemed a little silly as it was clearly an afterthought and barely fit, but I supposed it might be nice to have. I didn't like the dark ceiling, what with all the dark pine color throughout, particularly with the curtains drawn, but again found charm and character within all the closets, cupboards, and built-in shelves. Brian thought it would make a nice master suite.

Back down and to the basement, we found a dated but incredibly useful space in the rec room. The seller had two couches, a TV, a table with chairs, and some games in there, and it still felt roomy enough for a weekend game night with friends. Behind that was a laundry room, and there were two other basement areas still; one set aside for storage, and another area with the furnace, water heater, and electrical, that was mostly empty aside from a workbench at the far wall.

I asked about the mechanicals, and we learned that the furnace was about 30+ years old, there was some desperate need for electrical updating, and we had already noticed that some of the roof shingles were starting to lift up just a bit - or bow. All were significant and expensive issues, of course, though the house was certainly livable as it was-and seemed otherwise extremely clean, sturdy, and well-maintained.

After filing another set of pictures, observations, and concerns in our minds, we saw three more houses and almost put an offer on one. Once we had a little lunch however, and started to process all that we had just taken in, Brian and I realized that we both agreed to really like this house the best. It just seemed to have that x-factor, so to say, so push came to shove , and we now think we've worked out a way to take care of the electrical, roof, and furnace, albeit after we move in. So... here's hoping it all works out!

If it does, I'll share some before and after pictures when the time comes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Baby Waves

Guess who waved to us yesterday! We dropped Gabe off at daycare together in the morning, and he copied us, waving back as we left. It was sooooo cute, but I figured he was just copying us and didn't really understand what it meant. Then when we picked him up in the afternoon we could see him sitting in a little kids car/wagon, wiggling the steering wheel back and forth (oh my goodness, falling over backwards, it was so incredibly cute - especially given how teeny tiny he still is), and he turned when he heard us and gave us a HUGE flapping fingers wave and smile - without any prompting. Somebody's growing! I love love love him! =)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome Autumn

Okay, so the grass is still green here, but...

we did find one leaf to play with!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hot Air Balloons

I left work early yesterday in order to pick up the kids in time for us all to head out to the 2008 Adirondack Balloon Festival, and I was really glad I did. It took us a while to get there and park, but our timing was still pretty good, and the weather was perfect. We parked on the runway and walked around for a couple of hours, and even Gabe seemed thoroughly entertained. Most of the balloons took off pretty quickly, but there were a few stragglers, and by the time they were almost ready to take flight a lot of the crowd had dispersed, so we got a chance to get right up close to the baskets and balloons (close enough to touch the balloons as they were being filled with air). One nice family even let me come right up to the basket as they were pumping air in, so that I could take a picture of the inside of the balloon. Pretty neat. I took some videos too, but for now, here are some of my favorite shots. (I took over 100 photos, so it was hard to pick!)

For more photos, including some of the boys and a few of some fun-shaped balloons, click here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Current Randomness

1 - Thomas has about ten "Fluffy phones" scattered about the apartment and a couple more in the van. Each one is pretty much the same as the next; it's a piece of printer paper folded in quarters, and there is a pencil/marker/crayon (whatever was available at any given time) picture of his stuffed (Webkinz) cat, Fluffy, on the the cover. He holds it up to his ear and talks to Fluffy on his handmade cell phone.

2 - He also has a few "computers." They are made from printer paper in a similar fashion, but they open up like a laptop, with a picture on the screen, and "AAA" on the back. (That would be the battery.)

3 - Gabe has a big booboo on his nose (that looks much worse than it really is, or so I think). See photos below.

4 - We looked at a house the other day. We didn't make an offer or anything, but we are officially looking again, and I'm a mix of excited, anxious, and stressed out beyond belief.

5 - Go Matt Cassel!

Cute, Cute, Cute!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Very, very sick. I've been home the last two days with a high fever and headache. Yesterday I kept Gabe home with me (he had a low fever... ears), but today I was having trouble with my asthma, and he was fine, so I brought him to daycare, and I sure was glad I had when I woke up on the bathroom floor. Ugh. It seems to get really bad in waves, so for the moment I'm breathing ok and able to catch up on a little blogging.

I had to mention that Thomas seems to be liking school more and more. He's still a bit grumpy about school in general, which I presume to be because he probably feels like he's already been going to school forever, since I work full time, so he says he only likes lunch, gym, and recess. That being said, he did SO well last year, over all. He's really good at math (recall when I blogged previously about my concerns that the public school's first grade curriculum matched the private school's kindergarten curriculum, which Thomas had more or less mastered) and reads like a pro. (He now reads Berenstain Bear books without help - and not the easy reader ones.) He amazes me with the words he rattles off without trouble. ...We'll see how things progress.

Pretty soon I hope to have a picture of him in Tae Kwon Do action.

For now, here are a few photos of both Thomas and Gabe, taken over the course of the past week. (Click to enlarge.)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My Big 1st Grader

When asked, he said he didn't really like his first day at school, but he LOVED Tae Kwon Do. (We signed him up for Tae Kwon Do classes every day after school.) Hopefully 1st grade will grow on him as he settles in. (He wasn't terribly excited after his first day of kindergarten either.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thank you Tooth Fairy!

Thomas decided a treasure box would be a better place for his (first) tooth than under his pillow, and the tooth fairy must have liked that idea because she filled it with over four dollars in coins! Thomas was pretty excited. :)

So Big

Gabe has three teeth now, and a fourth seems to be giving him an awful lot of trouble. It looks like it is out, but it hasn't actually broken through, and we've been fighting a low fever and some difficulties eating over the past few days. Poor little Monkey.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Beautiful Day for a Stroll

Actually, there have been a few of them lately, but I took these photos on Tuesday. After a morning out with Thomas to run errands and buy some last minute school supplies and clothes (Thomas is SUCH a boy when it comes to shopping; he wanted nothing to do with it) we took a nice long afternoon walk around the neighborhood and stopped at the school playground to play (and nap) for a while. It was sunny and hot but not uncomfortable, and we enjoyed it.