Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Hate Laundry Rooms

"I Hate Laundry "Rooms" is what the wallpaper in our laundry room says.  I thought that was a silly wallpaper to have in a laundry room and wondered why the previous owner would have put it up. Shouldn't she have been happy that she had a laundry room?  So many of the houses we looked at didn't even have a laundry room. They all had hookups in the garage. Be thankful for that laundry room.

Then we hooked up our appliances.

Part I: The Great Washing Machine Debacle
The first thing we noticed was that the washing machine wouldn't sit close to the wall due to the hookups.  It stuck way out into the room where we couldn't open the door all the way.   We still have traditional "old school" appliances - no over sized front loading wash here. All we could figure is that washer/dryers were much, much smaller in the 70's when this house was built.  So we decided to call a plumber to move the connections higher and/or put them in an inset box so that we could get the washer closer to the wall(allowing for the door to open).  The plumber arrived and quickly told us that it would buy us a little room but that they wouldn't get as close as we needed it to without kinking the hoses.  He also said we would have to get someone to come in and do sheet rock work after since they would have to cut a big hole in the wall to get to the plumbing. Estimate for everything $900. We decided that it's not a huge priority and would figure something else out. He suggested that we could move them against the other wall in the room to allow the door to open.  Sounds great except that we would just need to get longer hoses, get a longer electrical cord(or install a new outlet), and longer connections for the dryer. Plumber then gave us a bill for $120 for his time that we did nothing but give an estimate and an alternative idea.

So we moved the washer/dryer to the other wall. We had an electrician install a new outlet(luckily he was schedule to do some other work anyway). Luke set about to find the longer hoses.  Found one but not a long enough drain hose. So we tried to connect two together. That test ended fast when the connection wouldn't hold under the pressure of the water.  A wet, wet mess.  So then we ordered a drain hose that was specifically made to extend the original drain hose.  Success - kind of! The connections wouldn't seal due to a ridged end piece on the drain hose(made to seal into the wall connection). so water leaked. Less of a wet mess - but still not desirable.  Luke is one determined man, so he worked and worked on getting that ridged end piece off. Finally it worked! Hoses successfully sealed together.  Luke's work is holding up well.

Part II: The Dryer
When the dryer was hooked up and tested, we immediately smelled a burning smell. That couldn't be right. We tried turning it on numerous times - same smell.  We had the people that connected it upon move in come back to test their work. Maybe they had done something wrong and could fix it. They got the same results and told us that it was probably a clogged duct that needs to be cleaned. We had noticed that it vented out the roof instead of out of the side of the house, so we thought maybe it was a design problem along with a clog.  So I'm thinking at this point - no wonder the previous owner had a clothes line in the back yard!  (AND NO WONDER SHE HAS THIS CRAZY WALLPAPER!)So we unplugged it thinking we had a major fire hazard on our hands.  First, we thought big and were just going to have the work done to take the vent out underneath or on the side of the house. But then we thought maybe we should have it properly diagnosed before spending all that money. Repairman came out.  He tinkered around with it, asked some questions, and then said that it probably was just some lent that ended up on the heating element during the move that burned off when we first started it.  He couldn't find anything wrong with it, and the burning smell was gone. Ok great! Money well spent to hear nothing is wrong. I guess it was good peace of mind anyway.

So, after a month in our house, we were finally able to wash AND dry clothes in that crazy laundry room of ours. The door opens and shuts just fine. Luke is my rock star on getting the connections working properly and not giving up.

Interestingly enough, a neighbor came by to meet us and said that all the neighbors he knew  had the same laundry room issue of not being able to close the door if the appliances were hooked up as intended. And everyone he knows did the same thing we did(move the washer/dryer to the other wall).

Now, I know why that owner put this wallpaper in. But after being without one for a month, I would like to change it "I'm grateful for my laundry room". Or maybe I'll just leave it as is so I can remember the month-long soap opera.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Crushin' on Northern California

Happy 2 week anniversary of being in Napa!  In honor of it, I would like to write a letter to new crush.

Dearest California,

Where do I even start? I hope this doesn't sound creepy, but I watched you from afar for years. You seemed like such a great place to live with your beaches, mountains, and desert. You tempted me with your hip personality and natural style. We came close to being together years ago, but it just wasn't meant to be at that time.  You were the unrequited love...the one who got away.

I'm just so grateful to be given this second chance(or really third if you want to count that passing glance at going to USC instead of Texas A&M - sorry but THAT would have been a mistake).  "They" said you'd be different. "They" said you'd be expensive.

You ARE different - what a refreshing change.  I mean, I'm a Texan through and through so no disrespect meant for my home state.  But, wow!  Let's just take the weather, for example. You have managed to have the perfect weather. Every day is a forecast of amazing with a 100% chance of awesome. Who needs an AC with a forecast like that?  Open the windows and let that awesome blow through the house morning to night.

Because of that weather, people can enjoy the outdoors all day long. Any time of day, there are numerous people outside running, cycling, or just walking their dogs.  People are outside, just being active and enjoying the awesomeness of the weather and also the scenery. People are just generally more into a healthy lifestyle, and I love it.

I hope that those that have lived here for years or their whole life still appreciate your natural beauty.  Driving to the store? Check out the hills. Driving the kids to camp? Oh look! There's a deer! Just walking through the neighborhood? Hills. Fresh air. Hills. And also some vineyards in the distance. Want to check out an area park? That comes complete with lots of hiking trails, amazing views of the area, and giant eucalyptus trees.  Want to explore some of the natural wonders of the U.S.?  A lot of those are driving distance.

Okay, yes you are expensive.  Not in every category.  Some things are pretty much the same.  Groceries are the same. Gas is more, but I sure am driving less. Even the kids' activities are the same as what we paid in Texas. But, California. Let's be real. You are very proud of your real estate.  I mean, it's a little ridiculous.  But I'll admit it. The price of this house is seeming less important as we get settled in.

I even love your attitude. You are a breath of fresh air.

Now, it's time to get real. There is something about Texas that I don't think you'll ever touch. Your BBQ.  I find myself drooling every time I see a Facebook post about Killen's BBQ.  And, I'm still looking for a Mexican restaurant that knows how to properly season beef fajita meat(or to make homemade tortillas).  There's a lot I love about the California flair of Mexican food. But these two items are seriously lacking. I'm hopeful though. 

I know we just met, but I feel like I've known you for years. I know it's early in our relationship, but California...I think I'm in love.  I think you may even be my soul mate. I know we will come to a time when we don't see eye to eye on everything, one can agree on everything.

I can't wait to get to know you better to explore all that you have to offer.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Road Tripping it with Pets

Hello Tuesday! (At least I think it's Tuesday- the days are starting to run together). I come to you this morning from Flagstaff, AZ in a state of utter exhaustion. Today is going to require more than my fair share of coffee. One cup down- fifty to go(I'm only half kidding). I would rather be sleeping. I SHOULD be sleeping. But our sweet little kitty, Kruncha, disagrees. 

When we started planning our road trip to Napa, we knew we would be traveling other our 2 huskies, and the cat. So, we obviously took great pains into making this as comfortable as possible for them. We bought a skybox to store much of our luggage to make extra room in the van. We bought a cat carrier that was small enough for Kruncha to ride up front with us. We routed our trip where we could stay in pet friendly hotels along the way, booking pet boarding where they couldn't stay with us. And the list goes on...

The huskies are great travelers for the most part. They are excited to go anywhere and everywhere with us. No one gets car sick. The worst thing we have to contend with them is the massive amounts of fur that end up on everything (and I mean everything) in the car. And they add a bit of humor to the car ride. With all the space we create for them in the back, they still have a hilarious and ongoing game of "who gets to sit with their head between the front seats". It starts by Jags (our male husky that is as dopey as he is large) generally plopping himself across the floor behind our seats, stretching from end to end. Then Nico(our spunky,  problem solving intelligent female) gets stuck behind him and can't reach us. This drives her crazy, so she begins "talking" to us and jags incessantly. She'll lean over jags and sometimes just sit on him to get her head between our seats. Sometimes she convinces him to move, and she is quick on the draw to dash up to her desired spot. Not too long after, jags muscles his way up and will literally push her out of the way (we have also witnessed him sitting on her if she won't move). The game goes on and on. 

A first for us in travel is taking our cat along. Our kitty is sweet with us but is one of those that is skittish with everyone else. He hides when anyone comes over. Some friends have never actually seen our cat. Needless to say, we were worried about how he would do with this road trip. 

The first car ride from Houston to Tyler started exactly how I thought it would with Kruncha meowing LOUDLY in his carrier for much of the trip. He settled down though, and has really been quite pleasant and easy going for most of this trip. He has been quite chill in his carrier and has gotten comfortable in the hotel each night. Luke and I have commented many times on what a pleasant surprise he's been to travel with. 

Then yesterday happened. 

It was a long, long day. 4 hours to Dove Creek to see Luke's brother and his wife. Rest for a couple hours there. And then another 5.5 hours to Flagstaff(which took us 6.5 hours with the stops along the way). We let Kruncha out of the carrier in Dove Creek to use the litter box and stretch his legs. But the day proved to be too long for him. We were serenaded with the loud, sad meows for about the last hour of the trip last night. When we arrived in flagstaff, I hurried him in to get him settled. And he seemed to settle down, until about 3am.

That's when the really loud meows began. And never stopped. And got louder. And never stopped. Food? He had it. Litter box? Yep. The only thing I could do to stop it was to pet him. And even that didn't work for long. So, I'm up earlier than I expected or wanted to be today. At least the kids slept through it. Hey- at least he gave me some inspiration to write a blog post about it. 

If giving a feline review of our hotel here, I guess Kruncha gives it a paw down. (I don't know why- We actually really like this place). I hope, really hope, that this isn't a sign that he's just had it with the trip. We have 3 more nights of hotels. I'm praying that this was a fluke. 

Ironically, as I finish this post, he has finally settled down. The only sound I hear is the ringing in my ears  from 3 hours of MEOWWWWW!

Cup of coffee #2 down. 49 to go... 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Sport of Ultimate Purging

With this move, we were faced with the ultimate task – to get rid of enough belongings for our downsize from a 3400 sq ft house into something half that size. I am not one to get attached to “stuff”, but I still tend to accumulate more than needed. I knew this would be a monumental project for our family to decide what goes with us and what we needed to get rid of.  But, it was a project that I was up for and excited to begin.

The purge started with the easy stuff, those pieces of furniture that we had found spaces for but really didn’t have a use for – that old breakfast table that now only had 3 chairs that had found a place in the gameroom, the baby glider and ottoman, an old recliner that was slightly busted up and had started smelling like dog(thanks to Nico treating it as her perch), the list goes on. We put together a quick garage sale to get them out of our house. Success!

Then, the moving companies came in to inventory our stuff and give us a bid to use their service. As I walked the house with each representative to let them know what goes and what would not go, I came to the sad conclusion that we still had too much to take – way too much to take. How did we accumulate this much? Our house seemed so empty when we moved in, and now we were busting at the seams. Even AFTER our garage sale.

So, the second stage of purging began. It started with a list(I LOVE lists to keep me organized) labeled “The Ultimate Purge”, and I named each room and area that needed a purge. Each time I completed a room, I would check it off. Obsessive? Maybe. Did it help me see how much I had done and how much was left? Absolutely! 

Room by room, drawer by drawer, and cabinet by cabinet, I combed through. Suddenly things that even I had wanted to hold on to just no longer seemed so important.  We sold some, gave away some to friends, and donated quite a bit. It became a game of sorts. How much did we really even need? Could I clear out that entire entry way table’s drawers and decide that nothing in there was really even needed(the answer to that was yes)? The real surprise for me were the bags of things that we threw away – for example, the expired medicine(an entire trash bag full!). I’m sure the trash pickup just loved us over the past several weeks. Each trash pickup day, we had a multitude of bags, boxes of stuff, and broken furniture on that curb waiting for them.

It took quite a bit of time, but at the end of it all, I feel so liberated that we were able to get rid of so much.  I mean, really, we don’t need that much when you really get down to it. And you know what? We still filled up most of a moving container on loading day. Somehow I think a third purge might happen when we start unpacking in Napa in July. I can’t wait!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Preparation and Goodbyes

So, this is the very first post of this blog. I decided to start this blog to chronicle our family's grand adventure that we are embarking on. If you are not aware, we are relocating from Texas to Napa, California. Excited doesn't begin to describe what we are feeling. This is not the first time we have wanted to make the move out to the West Coast. We almost moved to San Diego in 2002 but didn't do it due to our engagement(we decided to use our money that we had saved on our wedding instead). A dream that didn't materialize, it really seemed that it we wouldn't get the chance again as our roots have grown deeper in Texas. So, when this opportunity came up for Luke's career, my answer was Yes!

These past few months have been a whirlwind of selling our house, selling my business, finding a house in Napa, and preparing our belongings here to get ready for the move. All of this has been done with Luke traveling 50-75% of the time. Oh, and also with keeping up with the kids' crazy spring activity schedule.  And, I must say, I think we have managed this process pretty well. Has is been easy? No. Have I handled it with a smile the whole time? um...not at all. I am a pretty strong, positive person, who is very organized and a fantastic taskmaster. And even I caved and felt defeated to the process on MANY occasions. It was impossible to think about the big picture during these months without feeling incredibly overwhelmed and huge amounts of anxiety that would wash over me. But, when that happened, I was would take a breath(and maybe drink a glass of wine), and force myself to just focus on the next most important task.

So, here we are. This is the week that the packers and movers come. This is the week that we've been working towards for the past few months. What used to seem so far off is HERE! The last few weeks have been full of goodbyes and closure. Going away parties for us and the kids. Final Dr appts for all, final lessons for the kids(piano, dance, baseball, etc). Squeezing in every moment possible with our family and friends. It seems like we're saying goodbye wherever we turn.  I have been making a big effort to get Dylan and Paige together with friends as much as possible. My heart really hurts for them as they say goodbye to their friends(especially for Dylan who hates goodbyes on just a regular day - this is torture for him). 

But the flip side is that we are all about to experience a new part of the country together - as a family.  And that anticipation and excitement outweighs the rest of it. Let's Do This!