My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Move, part II

Once all of the initial paperwork was signed, the tough stuff really started. Inspection! Our old house was built in 1923, and we knew there was work that would need to be done ... one major project in particular. Shortly before we put our house on the market, we began to see holes in our front yard. Paul called an exterminator, who determined that the critters were likely coming up from a broken sewer line in our front yard. What perfect timing. A sewer inspection revealed that our main sewer line was in shambles and would need to be fully replaced. So we set aside what we believed we would need for the job and moved ahead with everything.

Our buyers' inspector then came and found several other projects he felt needed to be done, and their realtor brought us a list. We agreed to fix as many as we could, but as I started calling for quotes, the dollar signs just kept piling up. What had sounded like a few simple projects turned out to be much more complex when the pipes being worked on are nearing 100 years old. The first few quotes for our sewer line were double what we had been expecting! The other projects also seemed to be spiraling out of control. I was on the phone with contractors every day, trying to get better estimates and deals, seeing if there was a less expensive way to fix things while still doing it well.

Finally we settled on a contractor who gave us a very reasonable quote on our sewer and threw in the basement drain fix for free. One major project checked off. I was still on the phone constantly trying to work out the rest of the projects, trying to find out exactly what the inspector expected us to do and then explain that to the contractors, and then turn around and describe the contractor's plan back to the realtor. Chimney cap vs. mortar cap, black pipe vs. copper pipe, repair vs. replace vs. install. It was like an extended game of telephone in a foreign language. Looking back, I think the constant calling had me in a mild state of panic for a straight two weeks.

In the meantime, we took a break to bring the kids to North Dakota for our newest Godson's baptism, and then to Rapid City to spend almost two weeks with Grandma and Grandpa while we packed up our house and completed the move. We took Edith with us and got down to real business. I am so thankful that my three oldest were not there during those crazy days! I was able to keep focused on the work that needed to be done, without having to worry about whether my kids were getting enough attention or whether I would snap at them after a stressful phone conversation. It was amazing. They had a super fun time, and I ... well ... I was very productive.

I sent this selfie to the kids to show them what they were missing
Paul and I packed like maniacs in the days leading up to closing, and our realtor was able to negotiate a move-in agreement, in which we could move our belongings into the garage several days before we actually closed. We bought drinks and rented a moving van and asked all of our friends and family to help us move on Sunday so that we wouldn't have to move all of our belongings in between closings on Tuesday. Thank goodness! Then at the last minute, the buyers' realtor scheduled their final walk through for Sunday morning, while the house was in shambles. We disappeared to the coffee shop down the street, praying that seeing the house in that state wouldn't scare them off. We did later hear that their realtor contacted ours to ask if we knew that we had to take everything with us. Ha!

 Closing day arrived, and just to keep us on our toes we found out that the sellers were having some difficulties with paperwork and might not be able to close on schedule... But everything was arranged and both closings went off without a hitch. We drove directly from the sale of our home to the purchase of our new home then met my mom and brother at our NEW HOUSE to start moving in!

Tons of friends and family came to help us move our belongings from the garage into the house, organize our kitchen, move furniture, and do whatever we asked them to do. I was so relieved to finally be in our home, I could barely function. After most everyone cleared out, Paul went to smoke a celebratory cigar with two of his friends while I fell into bed and took a celebratory snooze. All night.

I slept well.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Move, part I

Who in their right mind would go through the hassle of a move with four young kids at home? If you said no one, you're absolutely right. Deciding to take on this endeavor meant that we had to take a little break from sanity, but after Edith was born we knew. Our sweet little home on Smith wouldn't hold up to our growing family any longer. We found a beautiful 30 day St. Joseph novena and began to pray it every day to cover the entire process... We didn't keep count but I'm fairly certain we were well over 30 days. I truly credit his intercession for allowing me to keep my wits during many stressful, trying moments.

The first step was getting the house ready to show. We packed away 70% of our belongings, using any available basement or garage space graciously lent to us by our friends. I mean, even if our potential buyers knew that six humans occupied this teeny three-bed, one-bath home, it sure couldn't look like it! Homeschooling basically disappeared for the summer, replaced with life lessons like "How many books can you fit in this box without breaking your back when lifting it?" and "How do you flip pancakes when you accidentally packed away the good spatula?"

Once the house was ship-shape, we took our photos (which made our house look beautiful, by the way!) and waited for the showings to start rolling in. My parents were gracious enough to let us crash at their house for two whole weeks so our house could stay spotless and available at a moment's notice. The first week was packed with showings, and our spirits were high! We would have a buyer at any moment, we just knew it! But no bites, and then the initial flow slowed to a trickle. Then not a single showing for five days. Ugh. We decided to move back home. I mean, what was the point of taking up space at my parents' house when there was nothing going on at our own home? We readied ourselves to settle in for the long haul.

On a Wednesday, the kids and I packed everything up to head home after lunch. But early that morning we received a notice for a showing! A slight change in plans, and we would get home late afternoon instead. An hour later, another showing! This one for early evening, so we decided to do dinner out and stick to our plan. Then a THIRD showing was scheduled between the first and second, meaning we couldn't get into our house until after 7:00. Wow! So we made a family evening of it, heading to the library and then to bike and have a picnic at Harriet Island. As we got ready to leave the library, we got a call from our realtor with the great news... two offers were coming in on our home! We were giddy with excitement and relief. We headed to the park with light hearts to wait out the third showing.

Thursday we met with our realtor and accepted an offer, the first of many signatures we would put on paper over the next few months. The couple buying our house was engaged but would be married before they moved in, and they wrote us a letter to tell us how excited they were to start their life together in this house. That same evening we went to two showings, one of which was the house I am now sitting in to write this post! The moment we walked in, I fell in love with the open layout, the natural light, the room behind the garage that just screamed "school room!" We talked it over and then went back for a second showing and decided to put in an offer.

I had been under the impression that the showing of our house would be the most difficult part of the move, but ohhh was I wrong. My first emotional breakdown came during negotiations with the sellers of our new house. The house was in the top of our price range and we had hoped they would come down a bit. We negotiated back and forth for days! Each time we countered, we had to wait for what felt like years to hear a response, and they eventually refused what we had decided was our best offer, raising it by what amounted to $300! We were floored. We started wondering... Is this a sign? Are we not supposed to buy this house, even though it's only going to be $300 more than we were planning for? Do we have to walk away? It just seemed so strange and surreal.

But then a wise friend told me, "Just keep walking forward until God closes the door." God was not the one who chose our upper limit, so after praying about it we didn't feel like He was closing a door, but instead asking us to choose whether to keep walking or not. So we kept walking, and we signed the final purchase agreement. The beautiful home I had been trying not to dream about was really going to be ours!

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sneak Peak

It seems that some of you have been waiting with baited breath to get a glimpse of the inside of our new house! Sorry for the delay on posting any photos, it has only recently reached any level of cleanliness that I feel comfortable publishing photos of it. In the interest of full disclosure, on the off-chance that you think my house actually looks like this in the midst of homeschooling four littles, I shamelessly used the old real-estate trick, "Hide the Mess out of the Frame". When all else fails, and the mess is unbeatable, just don't include that room! So without further ado, here is some of our new house!

Here is our living room, photo taken from the top of the stairs leading to the bedroom hallway. The window looks out to the front yard, the kitchen is behind the partial wall on the left side of the frame. Beneath me (down two half-flights of stairs) is our front entry, garage, and school room. Our house is a four-level-split style that you might be familiar with, but I think one unique thing about it is that the main entrance doesn't come into the living room but into the level below it. I've been enjoying the ability to keep our living room completely clear of shoes and coats so far!

Dining room/kitchen view. Behind me is a sliding glass door to our deck, which Paul has been painstakingly cleaning, staining, and painting. The dining room has room for our table with all its leaves without feeling crowded at all!

The photo below is taken from the dining room looking through the kitchen. The small table is where we usually eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks. There is a sliding door behind that table that leads to our three-season porch, or "smoking room", as Paul has dubbed it. Past the table you can see an opening in the wall. That's the closest look you'll get right now at our school room...I am going to save that project for another day. There is a door in that room that leads directly into the backyard, and it is on the same level as our garage and main entrance. 

Then there is the girls' room! My mom's amazing friend painted the bedrooms and they look beautiful. I'm so excited to actually decorate instead of simply shoving stuff (and kids) into any available space. My parents set up the kids rooms while we were in North Dakota picking them up from Grandma, so they got to come home to their new rooms all ready to go! 

The boys room I am also saving for another day... I want to do it justice, but it rarely lives up to its potential, with a constant carpet of clothes and legos. Our room also needs a lot of work... it, along with our basement, has become the dumping ground for things without a home. If you're curious about the rest, come and visit and I won't be able to selectively hide the mess from you!

Friday, October 2, 2015

It's Official

"Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in mercy."
 -Psalm 103:8, our quote of the year

This is the year we've all been waiting for... the year where I fill out my official Letter of Intent to Homeschool in the state of Minnesota! Up until now, we have had no requirements, no paperwork, no nothing. For all our school district knew, Max didn't exist. But now he's registered at Merciful Heart of Jesus Academy, i.e. "home". The others are still unofficial, but this was a big step for me! I've made a real commitment, signed a piece of paper and turned it in. We are a homeschooling family for real.

Following Pope Francis' lead, we have chosen the theme of mercy, with St. Faustina as our Saint of the Year. As always, the kids were greeted with crowns bearing their grade level and were forced to pose for pictures. This year, although they weren't happy about it, you sure can't tell by looking at them! We then had pancakes with whipped cream and raspberries from our neighbor's garden, prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy made out of chocolate chips, decorated our quote poster for the year, and painted a simplified Divine Mercy image. If any of you remember my experience at the start of last year, you'll be glad to hear that this year has kicked off on the exact opposite foot. I am pumped to start exploring and learning with my kids, I have a clearer understanding of my goals, and it sure doesn't hurt that we actually have space to create an inspiring and organized environment.

Our day of traditions continued when we went out for pizza with Grandma at our favorite joint, Tommy Chicago's. The kids always receive a picture book as a first day of school gift, and after dinner Grandma brought them to the fountain outside the restaurant to read all of their books to them. They loved it! But it started getting a bit chilly so Paul and I grabbed hot chocolates for them from the Caribou Coffee nearby. Then they really loved it!

I can't say enough how excited I am for this year. Last year was a tough one, with lots of burnout, lots of long and difficult stretches, but we powered through and stayed strong. I'm so glad we did! This year is already looking to be joy-filled, jam-packed with learning and peace and love!

Max, Grade 2
This year Max wants to learn: Cursive, Ancient History, how to paint like Leonardo DaVinci
His goals are: To read a chapter book, to craft a diamond sword in Minecraft
Important moments: Beginning First Reconciliation and First Communion prep! WOW!
First Day of School book: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, by Tomie DePaola

Lucian, Kindergarten
This year, Lucian wants to learn: Math, anything involving patterns and numbers, Science (especially experiments), cooking
His goals are: To learn how to pump on a swing, to beat Daddy in Chess
Important moments: Being in a different class from Max at co-op and doing great!
First Day of School book: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

Audrey, Preschool
This year, Audrey wants to learn: Painting, coloring, reading, everything her brothers are doing.
Her goals are: To teach her baby sister to walk, to jump higher than Daddy
Important moments: Starting Good Shepherd (no more nursery for this girl!)
First Day of School book: Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman


Proud to Be

Our annual Fourth of July family pic
Matching patriotic garb, delicious grilled food, face painting, backyard fireworks, a massive (ear-bursting) city fireworks show, this is how our family does America's Birthday. The kids look forward to the fireworks show with varying degrees of excitement, ranging from Max, who literally can't contain himself, to Audrey, who thinks even a sneeze is entirely too loud. Paul thought ahead and bought her some headphones, which we combined with earplugs to make the fireworks bearable.

Backyard fireworks
At least we tried. When the city fireworks show started, we realized we were basically sitting directly underneath them, and they were deafening! Audrey curled up with her head under her blankie and didn't move for the entire show. About halfway through, we discovered that she was sound asleep! I guess that's one way to tune out the noise.

The boys put all they had into celebrating! They lit sparklers, got Icees, explored with Grandpa, and then sat mesmerized through the entire show. After Christmas and Halloween, I'm pretty sure the Fourth of July is their favorite holiday.