Friday, May 30, 2014

The Current State of Things

Hello, folks! It has been a hectic two weeks around here! On May 11th we officially took possession of our house and slowly began moving in. It was wonderful to hear many words of encouragement from you all and I look forward to sharing this home ownership experience with you! I learned in college that the public aspect of keeping a blog really pushes me to present my best, honest, creative self. I already am, and know I will continue to be, proud of all the improvements we will make over the course of our time in this home.

Anyway, we had 12 days before we needed to be out of the apartment. I was hoping to take a couple of trips between the apartment and the house each day to move things and clean before we started living in the house full-time. But, various appointments and other errands limited me usually to one trip per day. However, Drew and I made a rule: If you go from the apartment to the house, you have to take a full load of stuff with you. Smart decision on our part. Our first truckload contained our heaviest boxes that were full of books.
On May 14th I had a carpet cleaning company come out because, as you know from my last post, the carpet was super stinky thanks to all the cats and dogs that had been living in the house before us. Initially, the carpet cleaning seemed to result in an improvement. At the very least, the wet animal smell was unnoticeable to me from downstairs. Sadly, halfway up the stairs the smell became noticeable again and some of the bedrooms seemed to get worse. We even found cat litter in “the cat room,” so how clean were the carpets, really? After waiting on it for a week to see if the smell would improve as the carpet fully dried, we had to make a big decision. I asked Drew, “Will you be able to sleep in a bedroom that smells like this?” Evidently, the answer was “no,” and the day before we moved our furniture, we had new carpeting installed in the three bedrooms. It was tough to bite the bullet, so to speak, but it really was necessary, and there was no more convenient time to do it than when the upstairs was empty. What a difference that carpet made! The animal smell in those rooms has been nearly eliminated and walking into them is like stepping into a totally different home.
I love the name of this carpet color: Cuddle!
In the middle of our two-week moving time frame I began training for my new job and we attended Drew’s sister’s college graduation. They provided a nice break from moving, but once we returned, we had to push the pedal to the metal to finish moving. I moved so much stuff on that last day that Drew described me as "a beast." Darn right! We ended up turning in our keys 30 minutes before closing time on the last day of our lease. Success!

Locked up for the last time!
Not the first meal I cooked at the house, but the first time we ate there when it was our only home! Yummy salmon!
Boxes, bags, tools, and pieces of furniture are strewn about the whole place and no room feels completely unpacked yet, but we are slowly getting there. We plan to tackle many large projects in the near future, but one of the easiest, fastest, ways to make this house our home has been to focus on the little details that were missing or neglected when we moved in. I am so lucky to have married a very handy man who is not at all intimidated by the challenges that come along with the character and charm of a fifty year old house.

Our grass is now many shades greener and there is more of it, thanks to my awesome husband!

There are still other things growing in our lawn that aren't grass, like these beautiful flowers.

We are systematically replacing these ugly door knobs with darker, classier, door knobs.
My wonderful husband agreed to install white outlets for me! So far they are in the master bedroom, and eventually we'll get to the whole house and then work on light switches. 

The one plumbing job with which I have experience: changing out shower heads.

Old and nasty.

New, clean, and awesome!

Our rubber duckies look great in the master bathroom.
Getting all the right tools to install the shower curtain rod was a multi-day process, but we are very happy with the end result. It is one of those curved shower rods - we highly recommend them.

Our linen closet is more like a linen cabinet and the knobs on the doors injured my fingers and finger nails, so I ousted them and replaced them with these beauties that won't hurt me! Hopefully they grow on Drew in the coming months.
I have a feeling this will be one of my favorite spots in the house.

I can't wait to hang lots of wreaths on the coat closet door! The flowers on this one are from our wedding.
We had a pest control treatment recently, and apparently the bugs are getting driven out of their hiding places. So, when I saw a carpenter ant on our bed, I naturally pulled out my camera.
That little guy was really fast!

Since I spent all morning working on this post, I guess I should probably get my butt off the chair I am sitting in and start unpacking some more boxes!

Monday, May 12, 2014

It's ours . . . Our own . . . our prrrecioussss! OUR HOME!

Well, it'll be ours in about 30 years, but that's beside the point. 

It is official! The seller's leaseback period is over, he is moved out, and WE can begin moving in! The reality that we are homeowners, complete with all the financial and maintenance responsibilities is slowly hitting us, but we are thrilled. And praying that the house doesn't hit us with too much drama all at once. Spread it out, please.

Many of you have mentioned that you can't wait to see pictures, so I am here to satisfy your curiosity. And in keeping with the "Be A Good One" theme of this blog, I will demonstrate to you all the ways in which the house is, indeed, a good one, and some of the ways the ball has been dropped (not by us, mind you).

Here we go!

There she is! Pretty much a blank slate. She was built in 1964, so this year is its semi-centennial anniversary! Without the protection of gutters, the beds around the house have been pretty much decimated. As you can see, the yard is basically dead, too. Reviving the landscaping is high on our to-do list.
View of the front door and hall closet from inside the house. I don't know why, but I really like this photo.
To the right of the front door is what we are calling the "front room." It has a huge window and an awesome built-in situation; I am going to have to learn how to properly style display shelving. The floor hasn't been well-taken care of, but I don't like it anyway, and someday we plan to upgrade to more contemporary wood floors.
Built-in fail: The back of the shelving is mirrored, but they didn't paint the inside of the unit, which CLEARLY reflects in the mirror. I hate the color and plan to repaint the whole thing anyway, but FOR THE LOVE OF DUH, paint the parts that can be seen in the mirror, people! How do you not notice that, not have it drive you crazy, and not fix it?
Here is the living/family room. It is pretty big and we love that we'll have ceiling fans and overhead lighting all over the place in this house. HOWEVER. The walls in there are terrible painted paneling and the color of the walls in the house are, as you can see, BORING khaki. It is EVERYWHERE and it needs to be covered up as soon as we can afford gallon after gallon of paint. I can feel Drew wanting to attack the walls with a sledge hammer, so I could be in for a surprise project one of these days.
View opposite from the one above.
I. Hate. Almond. Outlets. It's like they only exist to remind us that the '60s happened. Does anybody choose these on purpose anymore? They gotta go.
The seller was really proud of his "updated" kitchen. The counter-tops and sink are awesome. I am going to have to take a while to get used to that style fridge/freezer. The cabinets are ancient and have a hard time closing and could really have stood to be upgraded with the counter-tops, but remodeling the kitchen is at the way bottom of our to-do list. We'll be making the best of what we've got.
Already littered with junk mail. But, I can turn on that sink with my elbow! No more salmonella hands on the faucet!
Not sure how I feel about the cooktop yet. Time will tell.
This is the only thing that truly bothers me about the kitchen. That oven is only 17 inches wide and 15 inches deep. My cookie sheet won't even fit in there. I doubt I could even safely roast a chicken. Drew has been scheming up solutions for accomodating a larger oven.
The kitchen might be smaller than my ultimate dream kitchen, but when I get through with it, this pantry is going to be UHMAYZING! I have plans for black and white tile floors, yellow walls, and epic shelving. This is also probably the best place to hide in the event of a tornado.
Eat-in section of the kitchen. It is larger than it looks and I think we can fit a sizable party around a table in there.
This bathroom sink is probably the object in the house most far removed from the 1960s. 
A whole room for laundry!
Ready to go upstairs? It's a little scarier up there.
Four dogs, two cats, and who knows what else have been living in the house for about a year. This is what happens when you lock your cats in one room while you show your house to prospective buyers. Needless to say, the carpet looks bad and smells AWFUL. We have carpet cleaners coming tomorrow, but we CAN NOT wait to rip it out and replace it. Let the months of penny-pinching begin.
One shockingly great feature of this home is the amount of closet space. This is the built in hallway closet upstairs. It is so big I could not get a full picture of it. Once we get some sliding drawers installed, this might become one of the best features of the place. Second only to the pantry, of course.
Master bath - I don't even know where to begin. We have been dreaming about how to re-do this for a while. It is going to involve some demolition and reconstruction and a lot of time and effort, because everything about it is pretty awful.
Master Vanity, complete with the same atrocious walls as the shower/toilet room, and a broken light fixture. Eventually we want to push that wall back into the bedroom and make this a double vanity. Because we are just that vain.
The bedrooms in this house are big! This is the master. Guess where they had their bed? We also have two walk-in closets. Can't wait to take care of those!
Some genius decided to install this chair rail upside down so that it catches loads of dust and dirt! Hopefully it can be taken down and gotten rid of, or at least replaced by something that doesn't make me feel gross.
This bedroom will initially serve as an office/craft room for Drew. We assume that we'll eventually be kicked out by children. That closet is huge, and on the opposite wall is a linen-style closet (that's going to become my craft closet!).
This is bedroom #2 with a built-in dresser and two sort of walk-in closets. It is a big room and will be our guestroom at first and eventually a room for our children.
This bathroom is connected to bedroom #2 and we'd love to Jack-and-Jill it to the office so that we can someday close off and create a truly master bathroom.
More ugly bathroom tile! Yay! In the house-hunting process I realized that I am really picky about bathrooms. I hate anything that even remotely looks pink. Clean and simple is my preference.
There is the view of the back of the house. This is likely to be an on-going project. There is so much we want to do back here, it hurts my head to think about it.
Poor Bruce is probably never going to fit in the garage. At least he is clean, though! Look how shiny he is when he isn't covered in mud!
The house is already helping us make our first mortgage payment. :)
This is what happens when you don't have proper drainage for the condensation from the A/C unit. Fortunately, Drew feels good about being able to come up with a fix for this.
It is hard for us to leave Home Depot without a plant, so here is our first flower for the new house. We just have to figure out where to plant this little beauty!

I fear that I may have come across as a bit negative in this post, but I am just so grateful to be moving into a house and really excited to put the "Angie & Drew" touch on it that will make it our home. Now, I need to get over there and work on cleaning and getting ready to move box after box after box after box . . .
Stay tuned for what I am sure will be more posts about our house projects than you care to read. :)

In the meantime:

God Bless the Corners of this House
and be the Lintel Blessed
And Bless the Hearth
And Bless the Board
And Bless Each Place of Rest
Bless Each Door That Opens Wide To Strangers and to Kin
And Bless Each Crystal Windowpane
that lets the Sunshine In
And Bless the Rooftree Overhead
And Every Sturdy Wall
The Peace of Man
The Peace of God
The Peace of Love to All

Friday, May 9, 2014

Teacher Appreciation

As you probably know if you have read most of my blog posts, I decided not to immediately look for a teaching job when Drew and I moved to Texas. There were a variety of reasons behind that choice and sometimes I wonder if it was the right or best thing to do, but I can undeniably say that we have been happy to have the flexibility to travel to visit family, I have enjoyed exploring my crafty interests, and we love getting to spend time together each day that is not interrupted or overtaken by lesson planning and grading. Teaching is a special kind of stressful (open up any newspaper in America and find nearly any article about teachers or schools and you can understand why), and I can honestly say that the break has been very, very nice, and certainly welcome during this first year of marriage.

Now, it’s that time of year when we here in these United States are encouraged to show teachers our appreciation. This year it is throwing me into a tiny bit of an identity crisis. And when I say tiny, I really do mean tiny. This is not one of my  sarcastic litotic moments, so don’t get too worried about me. However, I do feel a little sad when I think about Teacher Appreciation Week, especially when I see the Chipotle buy-one-get-one ads and I remember all the free food we used to get at school. Isn't that why people get into teaching? Just kidding! I mean, I still have a teacher I.D. in my car, but using it to get discounts would be akin to lying and I just can’t bring myself to do it. Plus, using a Florida teacher I.D. here in Texas would be weird and awkward.

I still enjoy thinking about my three years with my high school students. Unlocking my classroom door every day was a privilege, and I couldn’t believe that, at such a young age, I was entrusted with educating those teenagers. I really miss being able to post on Facebook all the crazy things they said and did. Now, when I talk to people about my experiences, my brain stumbles to find the right words to convey who I was then compared to who I am now. We live in a culture where many people define themselves, at least in large part, by their job title, so I often find myself saying things like: “When I was teaching,” “When I was in the classroom,” “When I was with my students.” I can’t bear uttering the phrase, “When I WAS a teacher.” It is so final and definitive.

There are some jobs that you do, and some that you are. True teachers are called to their career as a vocation. I spent five years studying and working very hard to be able to be a teacher. I sometimes do still think about lesson plans and miss “my kids,” as I called them. Am I doing myself a disservice by having not taught this year? Some might say that I am neglecting that vocation right now, but I don’t really think so. I might not be in a classroom today, and maybe not tomorrow either, but who knows? It's not like I have abandoned the career altogether, I am just doing something different for now. Besides, a formal classroom setting does not define a teacher (although it does provide a paycheck). Just ask anyone who has ever wanted a short answer from me, or better yet, anyone for whom I have answered a question with a guiding question of my own. It doesn’t get more teacher-y than that. I love spending time with my young nieces, counting, naming letters, talking about colors and animals, reading books, and teaching them what the fox says (if you are wondering, they say “wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow”). And someday I will have children of my own and I’ll do the same things with them. And I am very excited that soon I am going to be working part time in a job where I think/hope that my instincts and experiences as a teacher will be useful- it is a great opportunity!

So, although I feel kind of awkward and, at times, perhaps even guilty during this Teacher Appreciation Week, I remember that the most important thing I did as a teacher was teach myself. Not just the American history content, but I learned to exude confidence, how to interact with all sorts of people, how to roll with the punches, and how to show enthusiasm and excitement despite being exhausted and stressed out. And the patience- I learned that there is a boatload of it inside me, sometimes too much in my opinion, but I think I would rather have too much than too little. So, this week I am Teacher Appreciating myself by celebrating the things that I learned during those three years. For now, I may be a teacher without a traditional classroom, but I will never stop teaching. I will never stop being a teacher.

I would like to note how grateful I am that nobody has ever criticized or questioned my choice to take a break from teaching. My husband, family, and friends have all been incredibly supportive and encouraging. So, please know that none of this "internal conversation" was caused by anyone, I have just been thinking about it, because that's what my brain does, whether I want it to or not. 

And to all the men and women who ever taught me, from pre-school through college, and those who I am proud to have called my colleagues, thank you so much for all of your hard work, dedication, and loyalty to your field and to your students. I would not be who I am today without you. And to my first teachers, my parents, you are the best I could have ever asked for. Though you did help me with my homework, you also taught me the things that will never be found in a textbook but are the most important parts of life – faith, hope, and love.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
Gosh! There is so much to say about this picture: 1) This was my classroom and the second or third way that I arranged my desk. I liked to change it up and throw the kids off their guard. 2) This was THE day that I met Drew in real life. Woot Woot! 3) The blue card on the front of my desk says, "Whatever you are, be a good one," and was the inspiration for the title of this blog. 4) That R2D2 coffee mug is no longer with us because a student broke it by accident at the beginning of the next school year. It was a sad day. My C3PO PEZ dispenser was distraught. 5) The pile of papers on a teacher's desk never gets smaller. I am appalled by that stack in the back corner. 6) There is a family Christmas card on the board just behind my computer and several of my male students became obsessed with my sisters. It was the first time I realized that my youngest sister was a high schooler and theoretically could have been friends with students. And now she is about to go to college. NOT OKAY. 7) That is all. Thank you for reading!