When does a House Feel like Home?

As I’ve mentioned before, we have moved within the last year. I even wrote about songs for house hunting back over summer. We found our now house last winter, but didn’t close and move until almost summertime. Since then, we have did our share of “breaking it in” and making it our own through painting, a lot of cleaning, hosting cook outs, a backyard camp-out, dinners, lunches, and birthday parties. With each event, we’ve had to look for that one thing that we only use occasionally (which box is that in, now?), and we’ve been able to figure out what works best in our new space.

Now with the  holidays quickly approaching, we have decorated our house and it truly feels like home. No other holiday holds so many memories of loved ones and special traditions than Christmas.

I’ve had the chance to re-arrange and play around with our existing holiday decor and find some new pieces for our new home. In our last home we didn’t have a fireplace or mantle, so I hung our stockings on a bookshelf or on the side of an entertainment center. In our new home, I am so happy to have our stockings hung up on the mantle. I took a recent selfie with my kids in front of the fireplace.

go-mama-o-selfie-and-christmas-stockings

Yay – all dressed in red and posing so cute in front of the fireplace.

It was really special putting up our tree and decorating it as a family. The kids helped put on the ornaments so quickly and only minor adjustments were needed. So many ornaments tell our families collective story, from baby 1st Christmas ornaments, to ornaments of our grandparents who live on in our hearts. The ornaments on the tree are so very personal – and so at home in our house. Our cat even approves and has assumed her usual place hanging out under the tree.

cat-by-christmas-tree

Good kitty!

As I mentioned in my post, A Time of Patience, we have enjoyed lighting the advent wreath during family dinners. With the first real snowfall, we even managed to light a fire. Once it was going, we hung out together, playing games and reading. It was peaceful and cozy – very homey.

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Top – Our advent wreath centerpiece, enjoying Christmas lights on our tree, and our first fire in our fireplace. 

All of these decorations and moments that we have shared as a family as we prepare for Christmas and the coming of the New Year have solidified the feeling of being home. As the song says, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” and I couldn’t agree more.

It’s good to be home.

 

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Songs for House Hunting

Finding a new home is rough! Our home buying market moved very quickly, so we rode the ups and downs of the search for over a year. The process went like this:

Wait for home to come on the market.

Rush to get into desirable home.

Feel pressured to decide on the spot if we’d write an offer or not. Good homes don’t last long!

If we wrote an offer, wait some more. Find out it’s a competitive situation. More waiting. Some counter offers.

Lose out on homes to other buyers. This happened to us twice.

Try to embrace and enjoy our home with 1 full bathroom, great location, beautiful trees on our lot, and a lot of yard space for playing with our kids.

This was us playing in the backyard last summer.

Boycott watching HGTV home hunting shows. If only it were as easy as they make it look on one episode.
Finally see a home before it is officially listed with for sale sign on yard. It’s a really lovely home, but we want to sleep on it before making a decision. Wake up the next morning and make an offer. After some back and forth, it’s accepted!!

Here’s the music that describes our home search –

Tom Petty: The Waiting

Queen: Another One Bites the Dust 

The Isley Brothers: Love the One  (home) You’re With

Adele: Rolling in the Deep “we could of had it all.”

Pink Floyd: Money

Etta James: At Last  – We’re home, moved, and here to stay!

Fly on the Wall: C is for…

It’s that time of the month again! Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post.  I’ve written these posts before, and you can find past posts on this page of my blog.

Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 6
  • Little Brother, age 4

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links at the bottom of my post for a peek into some other homes:

What We’ve Been Up to Lately…

So this happened –

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And it’s been a stressful process! After working hard and staging our home for pictures, Daddy O. asked me what I wanted to do that weekend.  My reply was, “Nothing! Let the house get a little messy before our listing goes live.”

Fortunately, our home had an accepted offer in about three weeks, so now we’re onto packing.

Here’s how another conversation went:

Me: Ugh, we have 12 teacups in this set of china from my grandma. How do I pack all of this?

Daddy O: Well, if you get rid of it, you’re ruining our kids’ chances of being on Antiques Roadshow.

We are keeping the teacups.

C is for…

We stayed overnight at Grandma & Grandpa’s for Easter and had the kids take a bath / shower before Easter Sunday. I set out the travel toiletries for Big Sister’s turn to clean up, giving her my small shampoo and conditioner bottles to use. Daddy O. came down and said, “Big sister just conditioned her entire body. Her explanation was that she thought the ‘c'(on top of the bottle) was for clean.”

Touchy Stomachs

Me: My stomach feels touchy.

Big sister: What happens when you touch it?

magic shell flavors

Daddy O. remarked, “Nothing natural comes out that way or in that color.”

Doesn’t it look pretty though?  Tastes good too when your stomach isn’t touchy!

Best of my Fly on the Wall Posts

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been part of these post for the past two years!

Big sister, Mama O, Daddy O, and Little Brother

US in Summer 2013 – one of my favorite family pictures

April 2014 was my first post and I’ve kept on participating regularly.  I’ve enjoyed looking back through the posts to share some of my favorites:

The Golden Rule

We’ve been talking about the Golden Rule, after reading the Berenstain Bear’s book and big sister went to vacation bible school for the first time this summer.  I was a bit surprised when big sister said, “Mom, remember the golden rule: You get what you get, and don’t throw a fit.”

An interesting interpretation of a rule by little bro:

Not eating your boogers is the golden rule.

I guess we need to review the Golden Rule a few more times!

On Getting Tired

Little brother: I took a yawn.  (or in other cases, when he’s not tired, he says, “I didn’t take a yawn.”

Me: yawning with exaggeration

Little brother: That’s a Thunder Yawn!

Daddy O.: What’s a thunder yawn?

Little brother: A really big yawn.

I hope this post hasn’t generated too many yawns – be them tiny or thunder yawns!

Difficult Words to Pronounce

We were just sitting outside in our backyard on a beautiful, though windy summer day. Big sister says, “Look the leaves on the tree are wrestling.”  “Oh you mean rustling. The leaves on the tree are rustling,” I explained. She was so close to the right word!  It IS hard to pronounce and remember so many words as a kid!

While we were driving somewhere, he asked in his sweet little voice, “Do leaping willows jump?” I had to explain that they are called weeping willows, and no, they did not jump.

Do Books Take Baths?

My mom gave me some old books from my own childhood and even some from when my dad was a kid.  My son especially loves Grandpa’s train book! When talking about the books, I said, “It’s an old book from when mom was little. It has old book smell.” Big sister replied, “Pweh! Do books take baths?”

Random

Big sister said she had a “knick knack name” from a friend at school.

Big sister: Mom, I have a big brain like you. I have all sorts of things in my brain this morning.

Big sister shares, “Guess what Mom? Sometimes my brain goes crazy.”

Love

At the end of a long, busy day with the kids, I was tired and just sitting down to read a magazine.  My son scooted up on my lap, saying, “Can I come up?” I’m sure I grumbled something, but then he said one of the sweetest phrases that I have ever heard:

I love you more than anything!

On my birthday last year big sister gave me a hug and said:

I love you all around the universe.

I certainly love these posts to help me remember and record such sweetness! And it’s great to be part of such a fun group of bloggers – for more Fly fun, be sure to click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado

Juicebox Confession

Menopausal Mother

Someone Else’s Genius

Spatulas on Parade

Searching for Sanity

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

Southern Belle Charm

My Brain on Kids

The Angrivated Mom

Spring Cleaning – Where to go with all the Stuff?

I’ve written about organizing before on my blog (HERE) and have continued going through pretty much EVERYTHING in our house to determine if it should stay or go. Getting and staying organized helps things run more smoothly at home, and since we’re moving, I have an even greater sense of urgency to donate, recycle, share, or properly dispose of non-essentials. Here are some ideas for where to go with the things you’re getting rid of this spring:

  1. Baby gear / clothes / toys: I’ve continued the cycle of passing along items to family and friends. For some items, I’ve donated to a local organization that supports single moms.
  2. Baby Cribs: My friends on Facebook had a lot of great ideas on where to go with used cribs. One suggested a domestic abuse charity, to help women get out of a bad situation and provide some needed furniture for their family. I contacted an organization for single moms and received two options for donating – to their main site or to a couple who collects gently used furniture for the poor.
  3. Adult clothing: I’ve split between Goodwill and a homeless shelter that has a collection bin at our church.
  4. Appliances: Goodwill accepted our non-working shop vac. We also have to get a broken wine fridge (sad, I know), and dehumidifier to an area appliance recycling location. Check with your county or municipality for recycling appliances in your area!
  5. Vases: This was AWESOME – my local florist recycles old vases. I wrote more about that in How I Gave Myself Free Flowers.
  6. Shoes: For Lent our Church is working with Soles for Jesus, an organization that sends shoes to the under-served in sub-Saharan Africa, where many people walk barefoot as their means of getting around. Just one pair of shoes can help prevent disease and make a difference!
  7. Books: My daughter’s school was having a book drive to support a local charity, so some children’s books went there. Another bunch went to the Little Free Library nearby.
  8. Bras: I knew this was a long-shot, but I had some bras that were truly gently used , and I couldn’t bear to throw away, as my husband suggested. I went to Google and found a donation site for Free the Girls, an organization dedicated to help survivors of sex trafficking in developing countries.
  9. Household items or other miscellaneous things: Most of this has ended up at Goodwill. I’ve also considered donating to Easter Seals Disability Services, as they need a wide variety of items and can even arrange to pick up your items for FREE! If there seems to be some use left, I would much rather pass it along than just pitch-it!
  10. Batteries, Printer Cartridges: My husband’s work recycles old batteries. I’ve also brought some to Batteries Plus. Empty printer cartridges have gone to Office Max / Office Depot.
  11. Expired Medicine: I’ve dropped off old prescriptions and expired medicine at a county sponsored annual drug / medicine collection. Click on the link from the FDA that explains how to properly dispose of unused medicine.
  12. Hardware Store Items: I found some electrical products and other miscellaneous items purchased from a hardware store that we haven’t used. I think I ultimately bought the wrong things! After Daddy O. goes through this random box, I plan on taking it to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Getting rid of items is no small feat, but there are so many organizations and people that are in need, both locally and around the world. I hope that my spring cleaning efforts play a small part in keeping items out of landfills while helping others.

 

Living Vicariously Through Other Travelers

Summer reminds me of travel – road trips, flights, or discovering things closer to home. While we road tripped to North Carolina for a wedding over Memorial Day weekend, we do not have any immediate plans to travel out of state with our family.  Shorter, kid-friendly trips are what work best for my almost 2 year old and 3.75 year old, though I DREAM about the time when I can take them both on an overseas flight to visit friends across the pond.  Right now my son has really found his voice, and is using it VERY LOUDLY!  I know airplane passengers would LOVE that.

Back in my college days I spent an entire summer in Tokyo, Japan, came home for ten days and flew to Vienna, Austria to study there for a semester.  My time spent abroad was nothing short of amazing.  I loved meeting some wonderful friends, being immersed in the culture, exploring and traveling to new places.  Since then, I have been on a few trips, though it’s difficult to find the time and funds to do so.

To satisfy my overseas travel dreams for now, I am going to be living vicariously, or should I say viKERRYously through my friends Kerry & Matt, who left yesterday on their flight to Lima, Peru.  They sold their home, cars, and severely downsized to become ex-pats in Peru, where Matt will be working as a school principal. I’m am so excited to follow their journey, as they acclimate to their new surroundings, culture, and language.  You should check out their blogs too:

I once met a colleague during a summer internship, who had an opportunity to move his family and work in France for a few years.  He described it as the “most exhilarating experience ever.”  I truly hope Kerry & Matt find their experience to be the same!

This leads me to my next question – could I leave everything in Wisconsin and the U.S., pack my family, and move to another country for an extended period of time?  At one time in my life (before kids), the answer was unequivocally YES, but now the answer is a big MAYBE.

What about you – would you want to live / work in another country?

I featured Kerry On and Untethered as part of the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge.  Check out the link to read Tricia’s latest finds.  I can definitely relate to her latest post on parenting young children.

Do Good Read More Summer Reading Challenge

What great blogs have you read lately?  Read more & share what you found! I’ve really enjoyed checking out the variety of voices and making new connections in the blogosphere, and I’m sure you will too.