Ahhh, Autumn

Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.  ~George Eliot

I knew it would be a gorgeous autumn day the moment I stepped onto the sidewalk for my morning run.  The air had the most subtle bite of chill to it – not frigid like the past few mornings and not heavy like hot summer mornings.  Perfect running weather.  The sun had been up for an hour by the time I got out to run and it greeted me with its cheerful self warming my bare legs.  I love this time of year with the beauty of the leaves, the cool temperatures, the smell of fireplaces heating homes, the cheers of people at the football game. 

Maria and Mario greeted me with a resounding “MOM!” when I opened the front door after my run.  Is there anything that makes you feel more loved than the sound of children excited to see you?  Mario grabbed two Berenstein books for me to read and we sat in his room with the blinds up and sun pouring in reading about “Too Many Commercials” and “Camping out with Ghosts.”  I love it when Mario initiates reading because he so rarely wants to do it.  He is not into anything at age 4 except super heros, wrestlers, and fighting.  I make him sit down at times and color or work in his workbook but after five minutes he is bored to death.  Other moms console me and tell me that it does get better but I have my doubts….  Maria is doing really well with her reading lately because I have made it my number one priority to make her read every night.  She is starting to see the fruits of her work when she gets a card and can read a lot of the words or sees me reading the paper and can decipher some of the headline.  Of course, I received two cards for my birthday that had the word “Bitch” in the inside of them (gotta love my friends and family!) and wouldn’t you know that she opened them and pronounced “You are a bitch!” just perfectly!  She immediately sensed that “b–” was a bad word and covered her mouth laughing.  Leave it to my girl to immediately know how to spell and sound out the cuss words.  Taking after her mom. 

After reading, we got on our sweatshirts and went outside to rake the leaves and play soccer.  Maria is so funny – she is the little worker bee as long as it is work she wants to do (never cleaning her room).  She is also the boss directing how things should get done.  As I raked, she announced that I should rake near the trash cans because that needed it more.  She then went into the garage and began moving things around to “places that they should really be.”  When I asked her to help me with bagging the leaves, she looked at the work and decided against it.  

Rather, we took a stroll to the library.  Mario begged to take a family walk so we decided that would be a good spot – four blocks away.  I was so excited to see the kids both ready to take a walk!  I was so excited that I even agreed to skip most of the way with the kids after they begged me to do it.  I felt 10 again.  We dropped Maria off at a friend’s house after the library and headed home to those dreadful leaves.  To my glee, Mario couldn’t stop helping Jon and me.  He loves that type of manual labor.  He raked and raked and raked for me.  I would sweep the raked leaves onto a tarp and we would take it down the drive to drop off the leaves at the curb and start the process again. 

“Mom, we are quite a team, aren’t we?” 

“Yes, doll, we are.”

“Are you proud of me for helping you?”

“I am so proud of you.”

Jon and I could not get over what a machine he was raking those leaves up, and kept stopping  to stare at him in complete awe.  I promised him the park after we raked the leaves – anything to stay outside on this gorgeous Autumn day.  I could just eat it up.

We closed!

Maria showing off the house and Mario protecting it!

We did it! 

We closed on our new house at 10 am yesterday morning.  The sellers handed us the keys and the garage opener and wished us a happy life in the house they had lived in for 12 years.  The closing is a strange ordeal with a closing agent at the head of the table, Jon and I and our realtor on one side and the sellers and their realtor on the other and our bank representative at the other head of the table.  Papers fly across the table for you to sign and the print is so small there is no way to read it all unless you want to hold up the 6 other people in the room all day.  Besides, not like our bank or the title agency would change anything if I pointed to a clause I wanted to bargain.  They would chuckle and say “Good try” and that would be it.  Anyway, what’s not to trust about our bank?!  How could they try to do anything but be our buddy? 

My favorite appliance - the fridge!

Jon and I walked out of the closing feeling excited but a little sticker-shocked.  Nothing like having two mortgages to wake ya up to smell the coffee.  I was still fighting the sticker shock when we drove over to the new house.  I wanted to feel you were supposed to feel when you buy a new house – elated, on cloud nine, speechless.  Jon was near those emotions; why couldn’t I be?  We left and went back to work.  When I got home, the kids ran up to me and yelled about going to the new house.  Jon had told them we could head over.  I put on a smile and got changed.  I still felt ambivalent. 

The kids jumped out of the car and ran towards the front door.  They burst into the house and ran around the living room and family room.  They rolled on the floors.  They darted up the stairs to the bedrooms and the attic.  They loved everything.  As I watched them, I started to feel excited.  I let go of all of my worries about selling our current house, money, expenses and just let myself breathe in our new home.  The reasons for buying the house flooded my mind – holiday gatherings,

On the steps of the basement - their new playroom!

the go-to house for the kids’ friends, resting spot for traveling family and friends.  When I went to bed last night, I felt more relaxed and welcoming to our new home.  Today I met with Meg to discuss paint colors and carpet for the house.  She has a decorator’s eye, and we came away with some kick a—colors for the downstairs and ideas for the rooms.  When I rode my bike back to work, I caught myself smiling nearly the whole way, and thinking about how beautiful our new home would be and how great it would be to have our family and friends over to create a lifetime of memories.

Movin’ on out

Jon and I walked through our new house tonight after work to do one final check before closing tomorrow.  I love our downstairs – the living room has a beautiful bay window to sit in and read my Newsweek; the family room scream for movie nights with the kids; the dining room will embrace family on holidays; and the kitchen may finally be used for cooking dinners!  The upstairs freaked us out a bit.  The rooms are really small compared to our rooms here.  And there is zero closet space.  The bathroom upstairs is outdated.  We stared at each other for a few minutes knowing that we were both thinking “what the f— were we thinking buying this house with such small rooms?!”  I think it is the stress of not selling our current house that is coloring our excitement and concern about the new house.  After talking that out for a few minutes, we looked at the rooms in a different light and realized they were smaller than ours but still plenty big for the kids and us (nonetheless, we will knock out the wall to make a master bedroom for us eventually).  Besides, the bulk of our awake lives will be spent outside of the bedroom so why is a big bedroom necessary?  Mario’s room will fit his bed and a desk easily.  Maria’s room, too, and when she moves to the attic, she will have quite the spread. 

As we moved back downstairs and outside, our excitement re-emerged.  The back yard is charming with its flower border and wooden deck and basketball hoop against the garage.  The study will provide a nice refuge from the kids and a great writing nook for me.  The street is quiet.  This house hit us when we first walked through it – we both envisioned ourselves in it for the rest of our lives.  We saw the kids growing up in it with their friends coming over.  We saw our family arriving for the holidays.   So, we took a breath, gave each other a hug, and realized it is all going to work out just fine.  Our house will sell eventually (hopefully before we have paid it off!) and we will love and nurture our new home. 

When we got home, the kids ate macaroni and cheese on the counter while Jon and I continued to talk about the house.  Maria kept begging us to move out tomorrow (little does she realize how difficult it will be to transition); Mario just kept worrying about the colors of his room (“I want red and green and black”).  As I started to stress later in the evening about selling this house, mortgages, etc., I surfed the internet to take me away from it.  I found a site on gratitude.  I loved the idea of writing one thing you were grateful for each day.  I opened up a black journal and wrote the date.  I asked Maria what she was grateful for this day.  She mentioned mom and dad and Mario and Cy and school and our new house.  Mario mentioned mom and dad and sissy and Cy and his Wii girlfriend (yeah, ridiculous).  I even made Jon give me an answer because I believe that you give your body and mind a boost by just recognizing that you have things in your life to be grateful for and life is not as stressful as you may see it at a particular moment.  I mentioned being thankful for a gorgeous day that allowed me to ride my bike to work; for walking Maria to school this morning and seeing her smile at me when I left; for Mario greeting me while on a bike with dad during my walk back from the grocery; and for our new home that will bring us gems and enduring memories.

Cranking it Out

We erected the “Coming Soon” in our front yard.  Actually, Jon and the neighbor, Dave, ambushed me with it after I ran to the store and returned to see it firmly planted in our yard.  I felt queasy.  Maria jumped out of the car and rushed to it. 

“Mom, can we move to our new house now?” Yeah, she is quite the sentimental one. 

Maria and Mario are both ready to pack up and move.  I wonder if they will feel nostalgic about this house. I wonder if they will miss their rooms, the bathtub, the kitchen?  I have been thinking about what I will miss the most.

1. The confined space.  As crazy as that sounds, there is a part of me that likes our small house.  It is easy to clean!  It is easy to call for one another on different floors.  And it keeps us close. 

playing on the patio

2. Our patio. I love our patio in the back with the magnolia tree and the spruce trees.  I have a lot of memories of the kids playing in the hose out there or swimming in their old plastic pool or pooping (Maria!) and peeing (Mario!). 

3. Maria’s room.  Meg and dad painted her room for us when she was still in my belly.  They put such love in their work and created a tender light purple and green bedroom for Maria’s entrance into this world.  I remember all the nights I sat in her room with her, rocking her in the chair, walking with her, feeding her, reading her stories.  I love the feel I have in that room.

maria celebrating her 6th b-day in the dining room

4. Our dining room.  I love the brick red color of it and the memories I have of the Thanksgiving dinners and the birthday parties.  The kids have had all of their birthdays celebrated in that dining room and both smeared cake all over their faces on their 1st birthdays in that room (probably still have remnants on the baseboards). 

5. Mario’s room.  We always complained about Mario’s room because it was so small but do love Mario’s room even though we have always complained about how small it was because it was where my little man slept since he was born and where I walked with him nearly every night to get him to fall asleep. 

6. The neighborhood. We have the best neighbors.  Doris and Kim have been our neighbors since we moved into the house in 2000.  They take such good care of us, and have been a godsend with letting Cy out when we go out of town.  The kids adore them, and they shower them with treats and love.  The other neighbors have children close to Maria’s and Mario’s ages and I will miss not having them around to play.  Two little girls love Mario and Maria and they call their names all of the time.  As one neighbor put it “Maria and Mario are the rock stars of the neighborhood!”

M&M and Ahjeni

But, as much as I will miss it, Jon and I are ready.  We are excited about the new adventure that awaits us in the Glenn Avenue house.  The beauty of the new house is that Jon and I both really love it and are both able to picture ourselves and the kids in it for a long time.  The excitement continues to hit us at odd moments and it continues to build up in us to the point that we drive by the new house and just admire it at random times (e.g., after a DQ run last night).  It is a quiet street with  mature trees and gorgeous, unique homes.  It will be a good nesting place.

In the meantime, we can’t focus too much on it because we are in the midst of a major clean-up of our current house.  The attic and basement have become storage sites for not only ten years worth of things collected but for all of the random things we had collected pre-Mary and Jon world.  Boxes and boxes of trinkets, toys, clothes, books, paperwork that we really never needed when we moved into the house or after.  We woke up this morning sans children (thanks to Patty and Joe who took them off of our hands last night through tomorrow) and started up the process at 10 am (after a 10 mile run by me and a coffee trip by Jon).  By 3 pm, we had cleaned out the attic to the point that you could actually see the floors and the window in the front of the room.  Jon purged eight giant black hefty bags worth of folders and materials.  He gave a bunch of old clothes to Goodwill.  We had boxes of books and tvs and printers for Goodwill.  We treated ourselves to Skyline Chili in the midst of it all (probably a bad move in retrospect as we both were fighting some stomach reflux when we started back up!).  

We are looking forward to the basement clean-up tonight (ha ha).  We figure if worse comes to worse and the Glenn Ave. house falls through, we at least have accomplished a major clean-up.  But all will go as planned, and we will soon find ourself sitting in the bay window looking out on Glenn Avenue excited to create more memories in our new home.