2013 in review

2013 was rough–stressful in both good and bad ways, and looking back I’m floored at the amount of stuff our family has been through. There’s been travel, moving, new additions, injuries, and work–we’ve run the gamut, and I’m proud of all of us for making it through with relative good humor and patience. Hopefully 2014 will go a little easier on us.

A rough timeline of events:

  • A work trip to Hawaii in January made for a picture perfect start to the year
  • In April, we adopted Atticus. I had no idea one puppy could be so much work! But he is a sweetheart, and he’s calmed down quite a bit since we first brought him home. He likes to lay on my feet on the couch at night while I write or work.
  • In May, I traveled to Italy for work. Our team stayed in a rustic countryside villa in the hills outside of Florence, which was as amazing as it sounds.
  • We sold our condo in central Maine and moved north (the nearest Starbucks is in Canada, if that tells you how far north we are), back to my childhood home, to be closer to family. Easily one of the best decisions we could have made. The girls are thriving, and we’re loving all this space.
  • Gwen turned two in September, and boy, did she ever turn two. She owns her two-ness. She climbs, she runs, she’s maniacally happy and sad in one breath, she’s persistent and driven, and she wants to do everything by herself. Yep, definitely two.
  • Speaking of Gwen, we had that burn accident in September, which landed her in the hospital for three days and scared us all pretty badly. Thankfully everything turned out OK, we held it together, and she came out mostly unscathed. Though now she likes to tell everyone, “Mama spill hot coffee on my monkey shirt! Hurt. I cry.”
  • Another trip, this time to San Francisco and Santa Cruz for the Automattic company meetup.
  • We were without regular internet access until November, which made things difficult for working at home, but we managed. Got pretty familiar with the very few free wi-fi spots in town, and drank a lot of Tim Horton’s coffee.
  • I wrote not one but two novel-length pieces of X-Files fanfic, completing my first NaNoWriMo! Woohoo! I’m in the process of publishing the first novel here.
  • November also marked my second European trip of the year, this time to London, and I really want to go back; I feel like I could have spent weeks there.
  • I worked a lot. I may have spent more time in pajamas than is considered socially acceptable. I continue to marvel at how lucky I am to work with the people I do, and to get paid to do the stuff I do. From home. In my pajamas with the Ninja Turtles on them. Yeah. I love my job.
  • I struggled with depression, and it took a lot of time and convincing for me to acknowledge it, but with help from an SSRI and therapy, I’m ending the year from a happier, more balanced place.
  • Ellie turned five in December, which feels like a personal milestone for me. When she was a newborn, I remember thinking of five as some magical, mystical age in the distant future, and now it’s here, and I am so proud of my smart, funny, beautiful little girl. She drives me crazy, but I love her to pieces and I can’t wait to see what the next five years bring.

Upcoming in 2014? More travel. Potty training (redux). More fanfic writing. Working. Family. And hopefully a happier, more positive outlook on the whole.

who says you can’t go home?

This month we put our condo on the market, and so begins the tedious and stress-inducing process of sorting through our junk and packing up our junk and hauling our junk to our new home.

If you’ve listed a property in the last five years, you probably know what we’re experiencing right now. The gut-wrenching reality that we have no hope of making up what we originally spent on what is otherwise a conveniently located, affordable home. And we have exceptional timing in that we bought just before the bubble popped. Of course.

We could rent the property and wait to sell, but given the collective amount of stuff we’re trying to juggle right now, neither of us is excited about the prospect of becoming landlords in a college town. And so, onto the market it goes, and we cross our fingers.

It could be so much worse, and I’m doing my best to count our gains, which are many, rather than our losses, which are manageable.

But moving? Moving, no matter the market, will always suck. In times like this, I’m tempted to say “burn it all” and start fresh, but… I also like my stuff. So much so that I’m willing to cover it in bubble wrap and put it in boxes and transport it from point A to point B, all the while feeling uprooted and overly anxious. That’s just how I roll.

So instead of focusing on the seemingly endless black hole that is packing up this house, I’ll instead talk about our new home! Which is actually my parents’ home, gifted to us for a number of reasons–they’re retired and don’t need a large property to maintain, we need more space for two very active young kids (and a puppy) to run, it makes good financial sense, and one thing we’ve learned over the last four years is it’s harder to raise kids when you live apart from family.

It’s a little strange to be moving “back home” after so many years, but I’m excited for the change, and we’re grateful for the opportunity. I think it will help the kids feel more secure, especially where Tim and I travel semi-regularly now.

The property itself is pretty awesome, too. The main part is an old farm house, rustic post-and-beam construction. My parents built an addition with an office, two bedrooms, and a second bathroom in the early 90’s, and last summer they added a second addition with an apartment for themselves and a new bedroom for us. It’s a bit of a Franken-house in that regard, but the slightly odd layout and exterior is not a concern, since we’re easily doubling the amount of square-footage.

Over the next few months and years we’ll be repairing and updating the place. We have a laundry list of things to work on:

  • Upgrade kitchen counters from laminate to soapstone
  • Insulate and re-shingle front wall of the house
  • Geothermal heating system, to replace the oil furnace
  • Replace front and side decks
  • Remodel the second floor of the old house as a home office for Tim and I
  • Open the wall between two smaller bedrooms to make a shared bedroom/playroom for Ellie and Gwen
  • Replace worn linoleum in the girls’ rooms
  • Upgrade from linoleum to oak hardwood in the hallways
  • Figure out if we’ll need a separate laundry area (right now the only one is in my parents’ apartment) — I suspect we will, especially as the kids get older

There’s probably more I’m forgetting. We’re hiring out most of this to local contractors and talented neighbors who are, thankfully, way more adept with a hammer than me. And my parents have already had a lot of work done to the house in the last six months — the hardwood floors have been refinished, the 20-something-years-old “temporary” staircase has finally been finished, and there’s fresh paint all around.

No longer will we be confined to a bathroom that could barely pass for a closet; we’ll finally have a big ol’ clawfoot tub to soak in:

… and hardwood floors that will actually stand up to my kids’ abuse:

… and a wall-o’-closet in our future bedroom that gives me chills:

All on an acre or two, surrounded by forest and fields:

Very quiet and peaceful, exactly what we need as we move into the otherwise chaotic family-rearing phase of our lives.

Yes, we have a lot of good coming up, we just have to trudge through the next few weeks of packing and sorting to get to it. Lots of work, lots of stress, but in the end I know it will be totally worth it. Onward!