Saturday, February 26, 2011

I had an epiphany

The day before I posted about moving I spoke with another board member who is a Realtor. I decided that some insight from professionals may help me in making the decision on whether to remodel or move. Is it worth investing more money into this house based upon its location? Should I start viewing larger homes on the market to help me envision ourselves living there as opposed to the bungalow? Our time line is such that we would neither remodel or move for another three years, so would I be wasting someones time to look at houses now?
Perhaps it seems as though I am putting the cart before the horse, but I am a planner. If we are going to stay I need to start the design process, and get an estimate from my former boss for the construction. Even if we wouldn't break ground on the project for a few years, the design could start up to a year in advance. I could get all the finishes ordered in advance; I could start searching for salvage, including the urinal.
There is also the few remaining rooms to which we have done no work. I don't like to do things half assed: the carpet in our bedroom should be replaced, but if were going to tear our the carpet and pad we should paint first, but I haven't painted our bedroom because the painted over wall paper should be stripped first, and I anticipate that the plaster walls would require some repair after that, so something simple becomes much more involved. Therefore I wait until we have the time and money to do it all right the first time. I'd like to know where we will be in the future before I complete these remaining room.
Last weekend we rented a beach house in Tolovana Park; staying at the beach to commemorate my father's birthday has become a tradition for my family. I'd spent most of the week racking my brain about doing fertility treatments or adoption for our next child, when would we start either of those, and how does that impact whether we move or not? The beach trip helped in that Mr. W and I were relaxed enough and had some time to discuss our plans.
And then one sleepless night while I was nursing, I had my epiphany. Even if we convert the basement to living space, the support piers in the basement would only allow for a family room that is half the width of the house. The furniture configurations I have for that room would still be tight to get enough people in there comfortably to watch tv. Does it make sense to add more bedrooms to a house to fit in more children that can't even be adequately accommodated in the living room? The answer I realized is no. Even with more bedrooms, the public rooms in this house are too small. Moving really is the better option.
Yikes! This changes my whole world!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow Day

We had a little snow. Portland style snow where it starts to melt away by mid-day. My Little Helper hates getting dressed because he'd rather stay in his jams all day. Even so, I couldn't believe that it took me a long time to convince him to get dressed to play in the snow! As much as I tried to tell him that he won't have many of these snow day opportunities, he wasn't motivated. By late afternoon I was finally able to get him into his snow suit and outside. The light dusting that we did have was mostly melted by then.The crocus coming up through the snow, hopefully this won't stunt them
I think he finally did enjoy it in the end.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

St. Valentine's Day

I woke up yesterday morning to my first handmade Valentine's card. Apparently when I decided to go alone to Mass on Sunday Mr. W took that opportunity to have our Little Helper make a card. It had 3 hearts on the front for my 3 guys and a T-Rex and Stegosaurus on the inside. The scales on the stegosaurus were made of hearts. I was very tired, but started to tear up. St. Valentine's Day may just turn out to be my favorite holiday!
I had big plans to have my Little Helper make valentine's for everyone, including his friends, and then drive around delivering them to their door steps. I figured we'd get out of the house a bit and the baby would nap in the car. Well, we are still very cross these days and I had my work cut out for me just trying to get him to make the cards. All he wanted to do was use the glue. We did get two cards made, including Daddy's, but that was it.
We had our traditional fondue dinner. I considered setting a pretty table and even got out the new red, linen place mats I got on super mark down from Williams Sonoma. But everything is being done halfway this year between nursing the baby and entertaining the toddler. Last year we had a special meal in front of the fireplace; this year we gathered round the kitchen table. It did end up looking kind of pretty though, Mr. W brought home some purple tulips which helped to perk up the table. And as always, the fondue was delicious!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Should we stay or should we go?

When Mr. W bought this house in 2000 he intended it to be his starter home and to stay here for 10 years. Well, that time line has passed and he has house fever and is often bring home fliers or sending me links to real estate listings. The problem is that after I moved in and we started making renovations to the bungalow, I got it into my head that we shouldn't move. The location is great, albeit we should have a driveway, and the bungalow is a great size for two people so once we become empty nesters; we wouldn't have to move again. I really hate moving! When I was in high school and my parents moved us from our bungalow in Irvington to our new construction house in Sylvan I acted as if they had ruined my life. Since I was going to St. Mary's I didn't have to even have to change schools, but crossing the river was so traumatic for me.
So back to our current bungalow, I designed all of our renovations with our permanent residence in mind. All that money spent on Bradbury wallpapers, bought with my discount because I was working. All the money spent stripping the near century of lead paint from the originally stained fir woodwork. The extra thick cork tiles in the nursery and hall so that they could be refinished in the future. Switching out the perfectly fine, but mauve vinyl tile in the upper bath for ceramic hex tile. Not to mention the custom built-ins in the nursery. I don't think of houses as investment properties; rather I see them as living , breathing entities that need love. But if wee sell this house would we get anything back from all that we have put into it? Do others even see the value in these things?
My thought was we would convert the basement to living space. We'd add another bedroom, make a proper laundry room, a tv room with a bar which would act as a second kitchen, a wine cellar for Mr. W, and a powder bath with a urinal in it (also at Mr. W's request). Over the years as I designed the basement in my head I realized that in order to have legal access to the basement we'd have to reconfigure the stairs. I decided a small one story addition which would include a breakfast nook and mudroom would allow for the extra space needed for wider stairs. The future basement conversion is what drove all my remodeling decisions in the house. Plus why would Mr. W want to move me now? I was almost halfway finished with this house, did he really want to start all over from scratch in another? Why would he want to do that to himself?
As a way to prevent a future move I created an elaborate list of features that would be required in a new house in order to tempt me to move:
1) A garage, or at least off street parking
2) A fireplace in the master bedroom
3) A butler's pantry (we've got a whole lot of china, glassware, and dishes)
4) A functional sleeping porch
5) Original, stained woodwork (I don't want to live through the process of stripping again)
I assumed these requirements would make it difficult to find thus preventing a move. But somehow Mr. W finds all kinds of houses that meet them. And the more he sends me links to great, old houses, the more I vacillate on my decision to stay here and remodel. Some of these houses are really awesome! More space could really come in handy, especially now that I have two sons and I envision two teenage boys clomping around upstairs in the bungalow.
We've always been of the mindset that it would be fine to have our children share bedrooms. Large families were raised in these modest working class homes, there is no reason why we need to obsess over having a separate room for each child now. In fact, a smaller house would help us cut down on acquiring too much stuff. But boys are big, and what if they have sleep overs? While I have added lots of built-in drawers to their room, there is no closet. Will sloping dormer ceilings, two beds, two desks, and two teenage boys be compatible? We really want a third child so the middle bedroom upstairs, which is currently Mr. W's home office, would function just fine for one child but two others would have to share the current nursery. Unless we move our bedroom downstairs to either the current tv room or the proposed basement bedroom, which means that Mr. W may lose his office.
So many variables! It is such a big decision to make. I just wish I could look into the future to see what is the right choice.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Life after a baby is a little chaotic and because of that I am letting a lot of things go. Candlemas is one of those things. I didn't invite anyone over, I will not be making candles, and I'm not even going to set a fancy table. But what I was willing to do was have tamales for dinner again. Last year I purchased them from Casa de Tamale and I thought a drive out to Milwaukie would provide me with at least one nap. I placed a call in the morning to order. When the woman asked for my name and I gave it she responded, "oh yes! You've ordered from us before!" Now either they have an exceptionally good customer service, or they just don't get a lot of phone orders, because the last time I purchased from them was last year's Candlemas! But in all seriousness, they really do have good customer service. I asked if I could pay for my order over the phone so that when I got there someone could run the tamales out to my car since I have two young children. They were happy to oblige.
We ordered pork asparagus, chorizo and chicken verde. As always our tamale dinner was delicious.