Select Page

Sesame’s Suite 4.0

Subtitled: It is Never this Neat

I never got AB’s room at our last house finished before we moved to this house. I had the same bedroom for 21 years and she’s on bedroom number four in six years. She had no zero input on the first two rooms and a moderate amount in her yellow bird room in the last house, but she had opinions about this room. She requested it be “history and nature themed.” There is no such category on Pinterest. It’s not completely done but it’s coming together.

This is what I see when I walk in the doorway. I got Florance Flamingo from Tarjay Boutique.
Her door is decorated with hearts from last Valentine’s heart attack. 

SHE HAS A CHANDELIER IN HER ROOM. I wanted a chandelier in her nursery and Christopher said no. I’ve asked about putting a chandelier in every room since with no luck. When we were looking at this house I saw the light and almost signed the check on the spot. 

I haven’t decided what to put on the wall to the right of her bed. I also want to get a blue or jute rug but I haven’t found one yet. I’m terrible at buying the right size rugs and curtains. I needed a rug for the upstairs hallway and found this one on clearance. It seemed long enough in the package but I was mistaken by about 6 feet.
Long gone are the days of carefully placed knickknacks and sentimental items of my choosing. Part of me wishes I could do the whole room in my way but it is fun to see what’s special and important to here right now. On her vanity from Oma she has two figurines she painted, a postcard we sent ourselves from St. Thomas, a letter from the Tooth Fairy, an ornate pen box with a piece of foam in it, and a little baby Jesus from a random nativity.
I put the bulletin board up recently because she taped Frozen pictures on the wall like a girl with boy band posters. She still sleeps with Memere blanket and anywhere between zero and seventeen stuffed animals. I got the leopard blanket on sale at Ikea when we went to visit Katie. AB has since decided she prefers tossing the blanket on the floor when she goes to bed which is annoying. It takes a long time to get the duvet insert in the duvet cover and she could at least pretend to use it. She hoards so much under her bed and between the bed and the wall. She loves turning tissues and toilet paper into things for her stuffed animal friends. She puts “very special to me” rocks and sticks under the bed and always has pipe cleaners on the floor. 
The pièce de résistance is the accent wall that covers the nature theme she requested. In the beginning, I envisioned a field with a few deer and trees. Elizabeth was here when we did it and as things generally go with her, we went off the straight and narrow path down into the jungle on the side of the path and ended up with a mountain scene. They’re hard to see, but I hung little birds from the ceiling in front of the painting, We will now look at the same wall from three different angles. 
Elizabeth free-handed the squirrel. I traced a rabbit on the wall by the door and have been too scared of messing it up that I still haven’t painted the mouth on it yet. 
She hasn’t mentioned wanting more history in the room so I haven’t brought it up. I’ll never repaint over the accent wall so in 7 years the wall will be old news and we can check the history box.

brief update from Moving Central

You may be surprised to learn that normal life does not stop just because you’re moving and unpacking. Who knew? The family still needs to be fed and the child still needs to be entertained. These people are so high maintenance! Society looks down on AB fending for herself for several hours while I unpack glasses and my 14 boxes of stationery, so things haven’t moved along quite as quickly as I wish, but we’re getting there. 

Besides house things, we’ve been busy with swimming lessons, grocery shopping, picking up spilled beads, cleaning the fish tank because she who will remain nameless gave Martin VanBluey half a container of fish food, several trips to Home Depot and losing our minds. The day after we closed on the house we went to the library for a moon landing anniversary party. We made paper bag space helmets to wear while we soared around the North American Nebula.
AB had her first day at homeschool group. She’s doing two and I forgot to sign her up for one so my career as homeschool mom is off to a great start! She’s doing sign language, music, and math. 
Today we were playing bank and had the following conversation:
Me: If there are 100 pennies in one dollar, how many pennies are in two dollars?
AB: Um. Do you want a nickel?
Me: 1 plus 1 equals what?
AB: 2!
Me: So 100 plus 100 equals what?
AB: Hmm. How ’bout…….2? 2! I need more quarters.  (She’s finally allowed to play with money after the Quarter Swallowing Incident of 2018. I watch like a hawk the entire time.)
Good luck to Kelley the math teacher!

The sellers left their hot tub. It’s been in three states and Cuba so it’s a very well-traveled hot tub. Annabelle will jump in the deep end of the pool without a lifejacket but she insists on wearing a lifejacket in the hot tub. She likes to pretend she’s a baby sea turtle or baby lobster and I’m the mom so it’s a real stretch of the imagination for me. 

Not to be left out of the goings-on, L&L insist on showing up every time there’s an open can of paint. 

No matter how many times I remove them from the room they always manage to sneak their way back in. If I had a quarter for every time I’ve said, “Linus George, you leave that alone! Lucille Barbara, I told you not to stick your nose there!” I could pay for a professional painter. I’ve been so worried about them tracking paint but I’m the one who made the worst paint stain. I had a quarter-sized circle on dark green paint on a paint chip while I painted grass on the mural in Sesame’s room. I put it on a shelf while I got AB a snack and when I came back, the fan had blown it onto the floor with the paint side down. Naturally, she has a light rug in her room. I’ve used 5 products but cannot get it off. All I did was make the stain MUCH worse. An area rug wasn’t in my original decor plans but it is now! 

Yesterday Annabelle said, “Mama is the most important thing to me.” She requires a lot of attention and is always needing a listening ear to discuss tsumtsums or her latest idea for pillow forts, but I think I’ll keep her around for a while longer.

first report from the red brick house

tap tap 

Is this thing on?

In case you’re wondering how few brain cells I have left, I told Christopher we needed to put up the “hag flanger.” I was trying to say we needed to put the flag up and make our house more patriotic. 

This move has been A LOT. I expected it to go smoothly given the number of times we’ve moved, the fact that we were doing an in-town move, and the two-week overlap between getting in the new house but still having the old house. Oh, how the overly confident movers fall. The house wasn’t 100% set in stone until the week before the move so we hadn’t packed everything. The landlord decided moving week was the time to send workers over to do work we requested done in October. Linus got out when the roofers came by to give an estimate immediately after I said they were welcome to come in, but the cats couldn’t get out. Linus bolted for freedom the minute the door opened and the guys stood there watching me chase him down and never offered to help. AB was well behaved for the most part, but it’s not realistic to expect her to take endless drives back and forth between the houses day after day when most of her entertainment was packed up. Most of my mom friends work so I had very few options for childcare. It was so hard to do all the packing, keep two houses semi-organized and be a mom. We had to repaint rooms since the landlords suddenly decided they cared about how the house looked. We have so much more stuff than I expected. I thought I had gotten rid of a good amount, but there’s nothing like seeing all your belongings strewn about and piled in boxes to make you consider becoming a minimalist. 

On the day of the closing, we did a final walkthrough of the house. The sellers were here which was both nice and very awkward. It was so weird to be in their current home/our future home at the same time. They were so nice and the lady kept talking about how much she loved the house. She kept tearing up and I all but apologized for taking it away from her. She had tears when she gave me the keys and I offered to let her keep one as a keepsake. I told her I understood how she felt because I ADORED our New York home and was offended anyone else was living there. I kept saying we’ll take good care of her house. By the time we got to the office to sign the papers, she was full out crying. It was sweet knowing we were moving into a home that had so many wonderful memories for another family.

I am in love with the living room windows.

We hired a moving company to move the refrigerator and large furniture. The move got off to a slow start because boss Jazzy’s car died. All five men gathered around the hood of the car to diagnose the problem. I moved my car so they could jump it and said I’d leave the keys in the ignition so they could turn the car on or off as needed. One of the guys looked at me like a professor sharing great knowledge and said, “We need your car on to jump his car.” You don’t say. I didn’t go to automotive school but I do know that much. The last thing they put in the moving truck was AB’s playhouse. They were all gathered in one corner so I asked what the problem was, thinking maybe a nail was sticking out. Nope. It was an unidentifiable bug and they didn’t want to go near it. I marched myself over there and swatted the bug off. Once again, a woman saved the day. No little black bug should be holding up production. When we got to the new house after lunch, it was over 100 degrees. I cannot tell you the number of times I apologized to the movers for having to move our stuff in the heat. Did they want a drink? Did they want me to set up a fan? I’m so sorry the sun is so hot. If I could, I’d take the humidity away for all our sakes. I should have stopped apologizing and started remembering that we were paying them good money.

Come to find out, the heat wasn’t all the fault of the sun. The air conditioner had stopped working. It’s a high tech Nest thermostat situation and it kept flashing E73. My brief research said to check the drip pan (didn’t know where that was), restart the HVAC fuse (didn’t know where that was) and check the breaker box (didn’t know where that was). The website said several times that “the thermostats tend to overheat and fail in the summer.” WHY WOULD AN AC DEVICE TEND TO OVERHEAT? They have literally one job and they can’t do it without overheating? I was not happy. Jazzy’s guys helped me find the various breakers and we got it working for a few hours. It stopped again later than night and we called the HVAC man who charged out the wazoo because it was after hours. We couldn’t get it repaired for two more days. Welcome to homeownership!

I’m so glad Annabelle offered to help me unpack instead of lounging on the new couch and watching a show.

After nearly two weeks juggling both houses, we did the final walkthrough at the old house. I told Christopher he needed to do it alone so I didn’t say something snarky or unkind to the landlord. She’s a nice person, but a terrible landlord. This town is small enough I knew I might run into her at any point and I don’t want negative words on my conscience. Turns out she goes to the same church as us so now I’m very glad I didn’t go. I saw her daughters on Sunday. The walkthrough was on a Wednesday and painters were going in the next day to paint over the mold on several ceilings so she could show it on Friday. I could have said A LOT about that. I wanted to leave a hidden letter for future owners telling them to run for their lives. 

Things are still in a state of upheaval here, but from the very first night, it has felt so much more like home than the old house ever did. There’s a beautiful fenced in yard for Sesame to play in. The neighbors brought us muffins (I was sure they’d see our semi-hoarder status garage and ignore us forever) and we have a fireplace and mantle to decorate. The ac is back on so I think this place will work out just fine.

welcome to season 3

Several weeks ago, we watched the movie We Bought A Zoo. Naturally, Annabelle asked us to buy a zoo which we won’t unless Matt Damon shows up to run it like he did in the movie, but we did buy a house. 

It was all recorded on season 3 of our hit show Keep It or Kick It. This season finds us visiting a home while the owners were there packing for vacation. Don’t mind us! We’re going to inspect your master bathroom while you fold bras on your bed. We visit a home with a very large, very aggressive dog that the owners didn’t bother telling us would be on the porch. We visit a home with a “live, laugh, poop” vinyl in the bathroom. 

For those keeping track at home (and who isn’t?), this will be the eighth home in our eight years of marriage. A quick calculation shows that somewhere near 7,000 boxes have been packed and unpacked, 4 miles of packing paper and bubble wrap used, and countless amounts of stress food consumed.

It’s no secret that I moved here with what could be called a less-than-stellar attitude. I DID NOT want to leave New York and move to what has accurately been called “the armpit of the south.” Among the plethora of reasons I didn’t want to leave was I didn’t want to physically pack up and move. It’s so much work and I’m so tired of doing it. When we moved to our current rental home, I assumed we’d be here for several years. After a year, we became increasingly frustrated with the house and it’s poor construction and decided to move before the end of the year. Things fall off the walls. Mold started growing on the ceilings after the hurricane in October and it hasn’t stopped. No wonder I get headaches! The landlords did nothing for the mold other than spray paint over it. I’m no mold remediation specialist, but I know that’s not the proper way to deal with it. If we’re going to live in a location we wouldn’t choose, being in a less stressful home would make it easier. Not to mention that mice have recently decided to become our roommates. They don’t help pay rent, but they eat all our food. The entire pantry had to be cleaned out and now our food is on the built-in shelves in the kitchen for everyone to see. It looks like we’re running a grocery store in here. Need Planters cashews? Shelf 4. Two kinds of cereal? Look no further than shelf 2.

As soon as we decided to buy I went straight to second-guessing the decision. What if we bought a house we ended up hating? Why would we give up a landlord who would use their own money to replace the broken ac system? Why can’t we go back to my favorite house on earth where the Jim’s were landlords sent straight from heaven? We looked at over 15 houses in two weeks. At first, it was fun. I love poking around houses and opening closets! It’s fun to think about how I’d decorate the different rooms. After a while, it got discouraging because nothing was quite right. It’s the first home we’ve bought and I’ve been so worried about buyers remorse. I fell in love with one particular house that needed a good bit of construction. Christopher liked a different one that I thought was blah, but it was cheaper and needed less remodeling. I was so conflicted about what to do I asked our long-suffering realtor to help. She hadn’t given her personal opinion until that point, but she sided with Christopher. That sent us back to square one.

We had pretty much decided to take a break from looking when we found out about a house that wasn’t on the market yet. We had seen pictures online from the last time it sold and several of the rooms had wallpaper and much of it needed updating. I’m not at all against putting in the work to paint and upgrade, but I didn’t want to buy a house with a laundry list of items that we wouldn’t complete for the next 10 years. When we got there, we saw that the current owners had done all the hard work of taking down the wallpaper, fixing the deck and most of the other issues. It’s such a pretty house and the backyard is perfect for playing. It has a real driveway and is in a real neighborhood which is such a positive change from where we are now. We live on a 55mph road with a long rocky dirt driveway. There’s nowhere for AB to ride her bike or play chalk. We haven’t had any issues with our neighbors, but they have people in and out at all hours so I have to keep an eye on AB every time she plays outside because of how our yards are oriented. I’m sure she’s perfectly fine, but it makes me nervous. It will be so fun for her to play in a shaded yard with a fence. Her little friend Sammy lives in the same neighborhood so she already has a playmate. I’m so excited to have a fireplace mantle again and start decorating. Christopher will have a dedicated area for his woodworking tools which means no more sawdust in the house. It does have a frog doorknocker which will obviously be burnt to the ground as soon as we’re handed the keys.

In the meantime, this is the current state of my house. It is the sanctuary of peace and tranquility I always strive to give my family. 

I tried to organize and I made things worse.

Each move has gotten hard when it comes to Sesame. Back in the day, I could power pack while she napped. These days she’s constantly asking if I’ll play pioneer or make crafts with her. I feel bad that I can’t play with her as much as normal but I have to get things done. I have normal daily life to keep up with on top of packing and I can’t do it all. I try to give her jobs she can help with so she can work near me. She packed most of her toys, ripped up old bills and sorted the tupperware containers. It’s important that she be a contributing member of the family, not just someone who eats a lot of snacks and has a fabulous wardrobe.
Speaking of noncontributors, the cats are not pulling their weight around here. All they do is sit in boxes I’m trying to pack.

 Then they have the audacity to take several naps a day after all that nothing.

The man who will be moving the furniture came by to give an estimate. His name is Jazzy which brings me joy every time I think of it. I told him the hutch is my pride and joy, second only to my child and I wasn’t kidding. I have lugged it up and down the east coast and will continue to do so until I die.

I’ve spent less time in the new house than I spend in the checkout line during an average visit to Walmart, but I’m hoping it will be the perfect spot for us. If not, season 4 of Keep It or Kick It might be happening sooner than expected. 

AB’s anniversary gift to us was tears

I spent three days last week taping, priming and painting a wall in the living room. It seemed very deja vu which it was because I did the same exact thing when we arrived two months ago. We had painted an accent wall brick red but after a while, it started to feel like we were living in a fire station. Since we had just done it I assumed I’d worked out all the kinks then and it would be a breeze to get done. I had planned to wake up early and get some painting done before AB woke up. It never happened. I woke up late, a can of red paint spilled in the laundry room and went under the washing machine and Annabelle’s feet and legs got covered in non-washable primer. We went to the store for a break and to buy the paint. There wasn’t a salesperson in the paint department and Annabelle had a meltdown as we were checking out. Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy breezy painting experience. I painted the wall green and Christopher keeps saying he wants to paint pieces of chocolate on it because it looks like mint chocolate chip ice cream. That’s exactly the look I was going for! 

We celebrated our seventh anniversary on Saturday, a day early. We hadn’t gone on a date since last year so it was high time we hit the town without our third wheel. We actually did the farthest thing from hit the town. We went to Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home. Normally I’d save historical trips for non-romantic days but as we never have a babysitter we seize the day on any activities. Plus my goal of becoming first lady is always at the forefront of my mind and being seen at a historic site is good for publicity. 

The lady at the gate said we missed seeing Jimmy at by only a few hours. I’m always two steps away from fame! The farm was really pretty and we enjoyed strolling without answering questions about what squirrels eat and if we could ride the horses. That didn’t mean we had completly intellectual conversation. I couldn’t get over the cleanliness of the chicken coop. You really CAN have a clean chicken coop! How pretty! Look at the clean chickens! Christopher took one look and said, “You can have a clean coop if you have the whole of the National Park Service and government funding to clean it for you.” Good point.

We saw this sign and I immediately cleared my schedule on all those Sundays. Christopher said we shouldn’t turn our days of worship into days of chasing celebrities. Sometimes I get the feeling he doesn’t take my political aspirations/celebrity meetings seriously.

For supper, we went to a fancy restaurant that opened in the late 1800’s. I made a reservation which was completely unnecessary given that we were the only ones there. Usually we eat at restaurants that give little black buzzers when you show up so I always feel fancy making a reservation. The restaurant was beautiful and I felt like someone from Downton Abbey was going to walk in at any moment.

The traditional gift for the 7th anniversary is copper. Christopher never wears sunscreen so I thought about getting him a bottle of Coppertone and calling it a day. I ended up gluing pennies from the years we were born, met and married into a wooden heart-shaped frame. Partway through making the gift it occurred to me that pennies might only be copper coated and not 100% made of copper but I didn’t research it. Ignorance is bliss and I didn’t want to come up with a new gift at the eleventh hour. He gave me a rose gold copper pineapple tumbler that I love. I have such a rose gold obsession right now.

Our week so far has been a combination of lost patience (me) and an unnamed child who has decided it’s cool to recreate the terrible twos (which she never had in the first place) and the moodiness of a preteen girl. She cries about everything. She cried because I didn’t remember the same thing as her. She cried because it was too warm to wear her footie pajamas. She cried because we had to wash her clothes. She keeps telling me she misses her old school and friends so I know she’s still adjusting to the move. I just wish her adjusting wasn’t so painful for all of us. Her allergies have been horrible here too. She gets welts the size of nickles from ant and mosquito bites. Something irritated her face and her eyes swelled up. She still manages to be cute with a swollen face which I never do. 
This was the day she was digging in the garden and making dirt beef sandwiches.
I’m dieting so I didn’t eat any.

She’s also big into making messes. I don’t know why I bother cleaning the house during the day. My toy organization system in useless. If only I had the National Park Service and government funding to clean for me. 

if I don’t laugh about it I’ll cry

Welcome to our home! All the big bloggers do tours of their beautiful homes and I wanted to jump on that bandwagon.
A multitude of boxes will meet you as you enter the front door. 
To the left, you’ll see Christopher’s study. It’s really a place of peace and tranquility.
Be careful not to step on my product graveyard as we move down the hallway. I can’t help it if I love free samples and new beauty products a little too much. When going through this mess I realized I have products that a) expired years ago and b) are the wrong color/style/smell but I’m never gotten rid of them. I worry if I get rid of it I’ll want it, but if I haven’t used it since 2014 chances are I don’t need it. The fact that I have fifteen bottles of Bath and Body Works lotion is entirely Christopher’s fault. I had to tell him to stop buying them for me since I wasn’t using them as fast as he was getting them.
You’re welcome to use the hall bathroom but in the spirit of disclosure, I have to tell you I trapped a frog in there this week. A FROG. A FROG IN MY HOUSE. I DO NOT LIVE NEAR A SWAMP OR IN A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY SO THERE SHOULD NOT BE FROGS IN MY HOUSE. I hate frogs. H-a-t-e them. Elizabeth said I should have been so worked up about it since it was one small frog, but it might as well have been the plague Moses sent upon the Egyptians. One frog, no matter how small, is too many.
Instead, you can use the master bathroom where we have not one but two scales. If you don’t like the results on the first scale just step on the other and believe whichever is lower. Ask how I know.
Step right up to our living room where you can enjoy the latest episode of This Is Us while you sit amongst the boxes and various toys.
When it gets dark, turn on either of our of lamps or a small fan. They sit atop a state of the art end table that can only be bought in the poshest of stores. 

Feel free to stay the night. Just let me know so I can clear the guest bed.

Kristoff from Frozen sits on the otherwise undecorated shelf. He lost his head somewhere along the line and I have no idea where it is. Maybe it’s in the same place as my own head. I lost that the day after we arrived.