You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2011.

We are currently deep into round two of trying to sell our home. It’s frustrating. The market is tough and trying to keep a home show-worthy with an 11-month old and a giant, hairy dog is even harder. But we do it, because we’re motivated and will do what it takes to sell.

We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of showings lately and have our fingers crossed that one of those showings will lead to a buyer, but nothing yet. The experience has opened my eyes a lot to the whole buying/selling process, though, and I thought I’d pass on what I’ve learned to make the process go (mostly) smoothly for both parties. Some is a little snarky, I’ll admit, but most is just some good ol’ advice.

* If you’re the buyer:

- Know that the seller is rearranging their lives to show their house. This includes serious cleaning and hiding of every day items such as toiletries, dish drainers, and other items that you wouldn’t think you need all the time, but you do. Not to mention, they might have young children on schedules, pets that need to be removed, etc. Because of this, making an appointment to see a house in an absolute necessity. Preferably at least a day in advance. Sellers are well aware that this isn’t always possible, but it should be attempted most of the time. When you do make an appointment, try to have a back up time just in case the seller isn’t able to show that house at that time.

- Try to view the house with an open mind and know your market. I think HGTV has seriously skewed potential buyers and has given unrealistic ideas of what homes offer. I’m a House Hunters junkie too, so don’t think I haven’t been lured and teased by the pretty, pretty pictures of granite countertops, big bedrooms with master baths and giant, walk-in closets. But here’s the truth: your price point will offer more or less depending on where in the country you are. $300,000 in the Midwest will go a lot farther than it does in New England. You might not get that granite countertop today, but you can always put one in later. Instead, look at the great property, the spacious living room, the great light, whatever. I’m not saying to compromise on everything you want, just know that some things can be added (additions, hardwoods, etc.) and some things can’t (big property, great neighborhood, easy commute, etc.). Try and look at the big picture and if it’s not perfect to you today, think about whether it could be your dream home down the road. (I’m not saying settle, but you get my drift.)

- Following that same idea, paint colors can always be changed. Seriously. If your biggest complaint about the house is the paint colors, that’s a pretty good house.

- Sellers understand that you might be looking at their house even if you’re not totally ready to buy. I mean, we do that. We’ve toured potential houses even though we can’t put in an offer yet, because if our house were to sell, we’d like to know what’s out there so we can move quickly. This is all well and good and part of the house-showing process. However. If you’re not buying any time soon, don’t stay for an hour. Don’t tell the realtor how much you love it and how you would put in offer in today…if only you didn’t have to wait an entire year before you move. Don’t put yourself in a position where the realtor has to kindly push you out the door. You’ve wasted a lot of people’s time by doing that.

- Don’t go #2 while you’re there. Seriously, that’s just gross.

* If you’re the seller:

- Be as flexible as possible. I know I just went on and on about how buyers should be courteous of their showing times, but as the seller, it’s your responsibility to make showings as convenient as possible for all. After all, you want to sell the house. You’re really at the buyer’s mercy, not the other way around.

- Keep the house clean and remove a lot of personal items. Since we’re not only sellers, we’re  also potential buyers, we’ve been inside a lot of other people’s houses and I can tell you, if the floor isn’t vacuumed, the bathrooms are dirty, there are dishes in the sink or random crap on the counters, it takes away from the house. Not all people can go into a house with a critical eye and see the potential. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not great at it, but with the coaching of my mom (who is GREAT at seeing house potential), I’ve gotten a lot better at looking past the obvious. However, some people will just see the mess. Or smell…the smell. A house can go from a possibility to a big fat no in a heartbeat. Don’t make it too easy for that to happen.

- If you have a pet, do your best to remove the evidence. That means no pet hair and no…pet. Whenever possible, make sure the pet is gone, or at least completely out of site/earshot when the house is being shown. You might be a dog person, but certainly not everyone is. (Kodiak’s toys and bed are always put away and Kodiak is loaded up in the car with us whenever we show the house.)

- Here’s where I get all contradictory again, but hear me out. If you’re serious about selling, sometimes doing some small repairs can make a big difference because buyers will see it as one less thing they have to do themselves. (And it’s one less reason for them to offer less money!). To go along with that, painting can do wonders as well. That magenta bedroom that you love so much? It can be a real deterrent for potential buyers. Painting over it in a neutral color gives the buyer a blank canvas in which to imagine themselves living in your home.

- If at all possible, do not be home when there is a showing. We once saw a house and when we walked in, the tenants were sitting on the couch with their feet on the coffee table, eating food and watching TV. They grunted at us as we walked around. Now granted, it’s not their house, they were just renters. But still. Not only is it awkward, (and it would certainly have been more awkward if it was the owner watching us instead), but just like crazy paint colors, it makes it hard to envision it as your home when other people are right there, occupying it.

Those are my tips from me to you. I hope they can help a little. Feel free to share your own home buying/selling tips in the comments!

And, um…anyone want to buy a house? I’ve got a cute one for you.

Owen says words all day long (mama, dada, dog (sometimes loud dog), Elmo, toe, window [do], duck, uh oh, door, hi, banana [nana], wha da? and dat one), is constantly pointing and asking what things are, then repeating them after you (yesterday was ‘arm’, although I’ve yet to hear it since, and of course some of these words aren’t completely clear yet unless you’re with him all the time and can understand it), and he’s The Mayor when we go anywhere, waving, pointing and saying hi to every single person we pass. And if they don’t acknowledge him, he’ll just say it louder until they do.

This baby is becoming quite the person. And honestly, it’s no surprise to me he’s a talker. I mean, I am his mother.

I had planned to do some baby sign language with him, but he’s getting so good at communicating that we’ve just been working more and more on words. Sure, 90 percent of the time I have no idea what all the babble means, but being able to understand that ten percent is pretty spectacular.

When he’s not talking, he’s trying to walk. Remember how he didn’t voluntarily roll over until way after he had been sitting unsupported? He’s kind of like that with crawling. He army crawls around the house, but doesn’t really do the hands and knees thing unless he has to. It’s like, why crawl when I can STAND, mama? When I stand, I can cruise from couch to walker to table to chair. That’s like, almost walking. Stop trying to make me crawl around like a primitive monkey, mama.

Ok, baby. Whatever you want.

Also, can we talk about how much I love shorts weather? Shorts weather means the chunky legs get to come out!

Babyhood sure is flying by, guys…

I’d like to take a moment this morning to mourn the loss of one of my most favorite television characters ever.

The smoking hot SVU bad boy detective, Elliot Stabler.

(Sorry, Michael. You know I adore him.)

Actor Chris Meloni announced this will be his final season on the long-running Law & Order: SVU, and while I suppose 12 seasons is a good run, I think there are many women who will agree with me that we could have watched another 12 of Mr. Meloni. Preferably shirtless.

What?

Oh, Elliot. I will miss you so. Maybe throw us a bone and hook up with Olivia before you leave? I mean, come on. You two are perfect for each other.

*Could you tell the title was that noise they make between scenes on SVU? No? It wasn’t a reference to Chris Meloni’s bum, although…I’m sure that’s quite nice. (I never watched him in Oz, but I heard it’s quite…interesting!)

There is no perfect way to parent. Sometimes I want to shout that from the rooftops. THERE IS NO PERFECT WAY TO PARENT! You just have to do your best, you know? And most likely, you’re going to screw up a few times. You’ll bump their head while putting them in the car seat, or not realize they’ve been sleeping in soaked jammies from a full diaper. You’ll mis-understand their cries as whining, when they’re really hungry and just wait until they get older and you have to teach them life lessons. Whoa boy, does that leave a ton of room to screw up, I’m sure.

But the thing is, you figure it out. And you become the best parent you can be. It’s probably not the same type of parent your parents were, but if you’re lucky and you had good ones like I do, you have some great examples to follow.

I’ve found that sometimes I have to defend my parenting choices to people. Giving reasons for why I’m feeding him (or NOT feeding him) certain foods, explaining my reasons for the way I deal with night wakings or why I put Elmo’s World on YouTube during a screaming fit on a three-hour car ride. Most of the time I respond in a light, laughing manner when questioned because, why argue? It’s not their kid. But other times I feel like I really have to stand up for my choices.

Case in point: extended breastfeeding. Owen will be 11 months old next weekend and he’s still nursing like a champ. I had hoped to nurse him to a year to give him as much nutritional and developmental benefits from it as I could, and it looks like we will meet this goal. He’s always been a big nurser, both for food and for comfort, and up until recently, I really saw no end in sight for our breastfeeding relationship. The kid likes the boob.

Over the last month or so, however, I’ve noticed him slowly decreasing his time nursing, and today we’ve arrived at about a four times a day schedule. He nurses first thing in the morning, before both naps and again before bed. Sometimes there’s one or more sessions thrown in during the day depending on what’s going on (maybe he falls during a standing attempt and needs comfort, or whatever), and if he wakes at night I nurse him back down. He always lets me know if he wants to by grabbing at my shirt,rubbing his head on my chest, or pointing at my breast and saying with a laugh and a smile, “AH!!”

For us, 4-5 times a day is a major decrease. But to others, apparently this is shocking. You wouldn’t believe how many people have expressed surprise…and then concern!…when I tell them that he’s still nursing that often. “Four times a day? That’s a lot for almost a year!”

Says who?

I’ve read a lot about breastfeeding past a year and the decision of whether to wean or not. I understand and agree with points on both sides of the fence. I’m not totally ready to wean. As a matter of fact, on Mother’s Day, he refused my breast and wanted to be rocked to sleep instead. It was a little step of independence that left me dripping tears onto the top of his head, but in the end, it was what he wanted and it worked just fine. Sometimes he still does that, and other times he still nurses.

While I’m not TOTALLY ready to wean, I’m getting there. He has teeth now that often pinch and leave indentations on my areola (OW). He gets distracted and pulls off to look around or play with things. It makes it difficult for others to put him down for naps because he is so accustomed to our routine. My period has also yet to return, and while I’m not anxiously awaiting its arrival, I’m slowly starting to get the itch for another baby and would like to have a few cycles under my belt before we go down that road so I see how my cycle acts post-baby.

I’m letting him lead the way, and kind of using a “don’t offer, don’t refuse” nursing tactic that is common for weaning. If he wants to, he can, always.

So that’s what we’re doing. And it works for us. It’s not weird, it’s not abnormal, it’s just fine. Maybe I should refer people to this post when they express shock and concern over my baby still nursing, hmm? I know there are years ahead of us where people will question our parenting and I should just prepare myself for it, even though I can’t see how it’s anyone else’s business but ours. But I will also be less quick to judge other parent’s choices, that’s for sure!

I’ve reached that stage in my life where it becomes exceedingly harder to meet friends. Gone are the days of dorms and classes, keg parties and sororities. No longer living in a bubble where you have a thousand things in common with those around you means you actually have to seek out people to befriend. They don’t just fall in your lap.

I’m lucky, because I have some really wonderful friends who have stood the test of time. But after I lost my job, I suddenly found myself home alone all day with no one to talk to, because everyone else was working.

Because of that, I was both excited and anxious about joining the stay-at-home-mom club. Excited, because this would open up a whole new group of potential friends, but anxious, because whoa…can some moms be bitches, or what? Believe you me, they are out there and are SO not the type of person I’d want to spend my time with. (I think this all goes back to the whole mean girls situation in middle school. There’s always one Queen Bee and her followers, is there not? Only in this stage of life, she rules over a whole different playground.) I’m outgoing, but I still have a few shy bones in my body and I was worried I’d have to “pass the test” so to speak before being welcomed into any new circles.

After Owen was born, I made a point to join mommy and baby yoga. I had met some nice women in my prenatal class, and continuing on with them was easy. I even met a few more moms there. Slowly, we began to meet up for walking dates, then lunches. It was nice to have someone I could count on every Wednesday to help break up the day.

So, there’s that. Some new mommy buddies. No life-altering friendships, but pleasant all the same.

Recently, though, I’ve started hanging out with a mom who I’ve actually known for many years. Our husbands are very good friends; hers was actually a groomsman in our wedding, and now Owen’s godfather. She and I — while always friendly —  just traveled in different circles, until Owen was born. Then suddenly, she was calling to check in. How was he doing? How is breastfeeding going? How are you doing? (So, SO important for a new mom to be asked!) I was initially surprised at her interest, but then so incredibly grateful for it. I’ve never really expressed that to her, but it’s true. I had some dark moments in those very early days and every little connection to those who had gone through it before me was a blessing.

She has three children, one just a little older than Owen, and lately we’ve started a pretty regular weekly coffee date. We gossip, laugh, catch up. Sure, we’re distracted by the constant demands of little boys (“Nana! NANA!!!!” Jeesh, OK. Here is some banana!), but it’s really very nice. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get our act together and actually get a sitter on the same night. Date night? Oh boy, could we use one.

My long rambling point is that I’m glad I’m putting myself out there. Reaching out and meeting the moms. Every new chapter is a new opportunity. And this chapter — my motherhood chapter– is a great one for me to open up our lives to include some great new people. Just not the meanies on the playground.

Disclaimer: I haven’t actually encountered any mean moms on the playground…yet.

(Hey, WordPress…can you stop deleting all the content in my posts after I hit Publish? It sucks, thanks.)

It’s been a long time since I wrote about shoes. Mostly, because I haven’t bought shoes in a while. I LONG while. I used to buy a lot of shoes. I miss that. Damn you, adulthood and all your financial responsibilities.

I’ve been on the lookout for some summery additions to my shoe wardrobe, though, so when I received an email from L.L. Bean announcing a big shoe sale, I figured it couldn’t hurt to look. I’m not a huge fan of the L.L. Bean women’s line — I find it geared to women older than me (although, the new L.L. Bean Signature line is filled with youthful nautical pieces. Sadly, they are not in my budget right now, or you could bet I’d be wearing head-to-toe boating-chic.)

I’ve had luck finding shoes in unexpected places where I’d otherwise never shop (I’m taking to you, Bass Pro Shop. Yes, really!), so I try not to turn my nose up at potential places.

Anyway, I was browsing the selection and in between the “older” styles, I came across the perfectly cute summer skimmer! It was only $11.99, marked down from $39.95 (69% off!), and I just couldn’t pass them up.

Cute, right?

Most of the choices are your standard walking shoes and driving mocs, but they have some cute summer selections mixed in there drastically marked down. Like this:

$18.99

And this:

$12.99

So go ahead, click on over. And buy yourself something. I won’t tell anyone!

What unexpected places do you find cute things? Where should I look?

Congratulations to Hazel, you are the winner of an 8×10 print from Re-Studios!

Please shoot me an email at tlmoments (at) gmail (dot) com so I can put you in touch with them.

Thanks for playing, all!

Have you entered the Re-Studios word art giveaway? The contest ends Sunday…head over and enter for your chance to win!

My friend Larisa got engaged this week and shared her proposal video with me…it made me tear up! She and her fiance teach in an elementary school, and he got the kids involved! It is so adorable, and sure to start your weekend off right. Enjoy!

(The video won’t insert, so click HERE to view!)

My mom loves to garden. She’s always out there with her hands in the dirt, cultivating beautiful plants from nothing more than seedlings. She sends us photos of lush flowers and climbing vines, proud of what she’s created. My childhood memories are flooded with visions of her fragrant vegetable garden; ripe, red tomatoes, the feathery top hats of carrots poking through the ground, and my personal favorite, big, fat peas, which she would always encourage me to pick and eat whenever I wanted. I remember walking the aisles of local garden centers with her, smelling the marigolds and pansies in damp, sunny greenhouses.

She’s taught me the best time to bury the daffodil bulbs and the seeds for those peas. She’s given me a potted aloe plant and urged me to keep it thriving.

And yet, despite the green running through her veins, I did not, in any regard, inherit a green thumb.

Not even a little.

I don’t have a black thumb, I mean, I’m not killing plants, I just have absolutely NO desire to garden.

Michael is baffled by this. He can’t understand why I don’t want to spend hours at the garden center, carefully selecting each plant. Why I’m not up to my elbows in dirt every weekend or obsessively weeding. He thinks that at the very least, it’s something women are interested in (clearly, not this woman) and if not that, then isn’t it genetic?

No, darling. I’m here to tell you the urge to garden is not like brown eyes or nicely shaped eyebrows. I wasn’t born with it.

I’m fortunate, because the previous owners of our home were very into gardening, and planted many varieties that bloom each year. Our home is surrounded by lily of the valley, red, orange and yellow lilies, tulips, daisies, violets, hydrangeas, and some things I couldn’t even name. And while I treasure the time my mom spent helping me plant daffodils all around the house (they are my favorite flower), I probably never would have done it on my own.

There’s a part of me that wants to garden, there is. I like the idea of creating such beauty from nothing. I had hoped that becoming a mother would have sparked something inside of me; something that would connect this mother to Mother Earth, or some cheese like that.

But alas, the pull to the earth has yet to come.

On Mother’s Day, we drove by a local farm whose parking lot was filled with cars. Mom’s at the garden center with their children. I was instantly transported back to those days with my mom. I could smell the earth and feel the damp air and right then and there I made a decision.

I’m going to plant something.

Now look, I’m not getting all over ambitious and committing to planting an entire garden, but something. Maybe those delightfully cheery orange marigolds I remember from my youth.

I have no idea if this activity will ignite some hidden passion, or rather just serve as validation of my anti-green thumb, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I have some Tuesday Giveaway fun for you!

Re-Studios is an adorable Etsy shop featuring graphic word art pieces.

You can buy prints as is, or contact the artist to customize your piece with your own colors and words. Whether it be just a fun print, or a way to remember a special day, these pieces are a unique and personal way to jazz up your home.

Re-Studios is based out of Boston, so most of the pieces are currently New England-specific, although they are slowly starting to add new cities. Check back soon for the Brooklyn Bridge, and then some west coast prints!

But today, Re-Studios is offering up an 8×10 matted print, with five customized words! All you have to do is visit the site, then leave a comment here telling me which one you would pick by Sunday, May 15th . The winner will be chosen at random and announced on the following Monday.

They’re making me one of our wedding venue and I can’t wait to get it!

Happy shopping and good luck!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 235 other followers