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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Scaling Down

Six months ago, we moved into a house 1/2 the size of our old one. Three months later, we increased our family by one handsome 8-pound brunette.

Our large house was a huge blessing to us, especially in the building of Andy's business. But lately, it had been far exceeding our needs in some areas, while not meeting our some basic family ideals in others. Plus, for several boring reasons I won't get into, we were wasting an unacceptable amount of money by staying there.

The timing was right, since Andy was just finishing the renovation of a four-bedroom rental house. So, after deciding in December, we moved into our rental in January. We then made a few improvements to our larger house, and put it on the market in March.

We were blessed to close on its sale in June. So now we find ourselves in this smaller house, weighing our options and deciding what's next for our family's housing.

We'll almost certainly be either A) building from scratch or B) doing a large-scale renovation, so we should be able to customize some aspects of our house.

Living in our current house will greatly influence our future plans, I am sure. Here are some important lessons I have learned from our downsize.  I am 100% positive that I would not have properly weighted these points prior to this move.

(I am going to use the term "need" loosely here; I know we all have much more than our true basic needs.)

1. You cannot overestimate the value of good neighbors.  We were on good terms with our old neighbors, but the nature of our lives, our houses and maybe even the layout and terrain of our street kept us from developing close relationships with them.  We love our new neighbors and have become close friends. Our kids play together, which has improved the quality of both families' lives. When we move, I'm trying to figure out how to take them with us. Advantage - small house.

2. Our family needs an accessible, fenced or otherwise well-defined backyard. Advantage - small house.

3. There is something very freeing and enjoyable about putting a window air-conditioning unit in your daughter's window without having to worry about what your subdivision association or your neighbors will say.  Ditto on building a two-story playhouse. Advantage - small house.

4. We like being close together most of the time. Advantage - small house.

5. We don't need two separate eating areas, but we do need one that is roomier than most. Advantage - small house.

6. We need, at most, two TVs right now. Advantage - small house.

7. In spite of the many benefits of kids sharing a room, at some ages it should be avoided if possible, especially if you don't have a separate playroom. (I'm guessing 2-year-olds do not make great roommates for anyone.) Advantage - large house.

8. We don't need two ovens (I've even dealt with the loss of the Advantium much easier than I expected), but two washers and dryers would be great. In the house, not the garage, please, and the more centrally located, the better. Advantage - large house.

9. It's be great to have a playroom with a door off the den, so that it wasn't too isolated. Advantage - neither, but large house was closer.

10. Most importantly, Andy needs a large workshop with lots of room for organizing tools and building materials. Again, advantage - neither.

I would love to hear others' ideas, whether implemented in a move or only contemplated. What do you have that you value most in your living arrangement? What do you wish you had, or wish you'd considered?

Saturday, August 31, 2013


I've been thinking about bringing the blog back.

I can hardly catch my breath right now; I'm still adjusting to the wonderful title "Mom to 4" and having two relatively small children again, including a baby that screams less when held, but screams a certain amount anyway.

But I believe I have ideas to share. Struggles, encouragement and mostly, funny snippets from our lives that I would like my kids to read when they are older.

So this test post is from my phone, since I am very rarely in front of a computer outside of work, and when I am, I am generally doing the bare minimum to keep us legal, free from collection calls and (mostly) off teacher blacklists.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Brewer - After

Hopefully, by the time this posts, Brewer (click here to see before pictures) will be under contract. It's a beautiful house after an amazing transformation.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Summer Laggers

Here are a few more summer pictures, lagging way behind because they were on our secondary camera.
This was, for the most part, a nice, sandy-bottomed creek. And this picture was taken just before I dropped my camera 5 feet into an enormous section filled with dense, dark seagrass. After feeling around with my feet and trying to peer into the water for 10 minutes, while the swift current moved me around just enough that it was impossible to figure out where the drop had occurred, I miraculously managed to find said camera. And luckily, it is the waterproof, shockproof kind.

These were in Gatlinburg, and that's Will & Sophie's cousin Nate with them.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fall Break in Massachusetts & Vermont

We spent Fall Break in Boston, MA and Stowe, VT.

At the Museum of Science...

On the duck tour...
In Montpelier, VT...
At Smuggler's Notch...
And at the Vermont Ski Museum in Stowe...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ring Farm

Also on Evan's birthday, we made our annual trip to the Ring Farm, and had a great time as usual.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Evan - 1 year old

This was the face that greeted me the morning of Evan's first birthday.

About a week later, we celebrated his birthday - along with a friend's - at our small group meeting.