Movin’ on up

It’s true. We’re moving. We put our house on the market in early July and it just sold a to a nice couple — a bittersweet moment.

House with sold sign

Our lovely old home, sold!

Public service announcement

If you have a small child, staging and cleaning a house for viewings is not advisable. You will find vacuuming with a wriggling fifteen-pound baby in your arms exceedingly annoying. You will also seriously resent regularly dismantling and putting away exersaucers, activity mats and jolly jumpers.

Those of you not watching my Facebook feed are no doubt thinking « what the damn hell!? »

It is rather confusing. We quite like Elmvale – particularly the high quality doughnuts. We also love our pretty victorian home. But the arrival of a certain little goober has changed a few things.

A baby on the ground, surrounded by toys and smiling

Arthur is the reason we’re moving

Why we decided to move

  • We want to live closer to family and friends in Lafontaine, Perkinsfield and Midland. Our parents are going to offer part-time daycare when I return to work. Ah-mazing.
  • We’d rather move while I have “free time” (ha) to pack up and manage logistics. Mat leave for the win!
  • We’d also rather move while baby Arthur’s mobility is limited. I do not want to have to renovate/set up a home while chasing a toddler.
  • The kid is going to a French school in North Simcoe County (Elmvale is already in that catchment) so we want to ease his commute.
  • We still want a country house! Or a least a house on a quieter street with a bigger yard.

Which brings me to my next public service announcement. We need help finding a home. Do you know someone with a great house who’s thinking of selling? Are any of your elderly neighbours (with well-maintained homes) on the brink of death? Awesome! Let us know!

What we want — must haves

  • Something in Tiny Township — south of Balm Beach Road so our drive to Barrie remains bearable
  • A quiet street, low on traffic — so Arthur and Odie can roam free
  • A big yard that is either a) private b) fenced or c) ready for fencing
  • At least three bedrooms
  • Good, solid bones — we can update a kitchen or put in new floors but we don’t want to rejig walls, put in new electrical, or replace plumbing

What we want — nice to haves

  • Acreage — one or two would suffice, more would be great
  • Surrounded by trees for privacy
  • A garage
  • Two full bathrooms
  • A finished (or finishable) basement

Is that so much to ask? Probably, in this market — especially with our limited budget. But we’re putting it out to the universe anyway. Wish us luck!

Advertisements

A year ago

367 days ago at this time, I was hugging my beautiful Toronto work friends goodbye. I remember feeling a happy fluttering in my belly, along with a strong urge to throw up. Walking away from my downtown office is when I actually internalized the fact that, for better or worse, I was finishing and beginning an adventure.

Screen shot that says "you registered on WordPress.com 1 year ago! Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!"

This popped up on my phone on May 31, 2014. Thanks WordPress!

The night before, I had spent an hour hammering out my first blog post. Reading it brings so many feelings back into my head and heart. It was exhilarating to know we were finally going to give our dream lifestyle a shot. And horrifying to think we were leaving stability behind.

In the days that followed, I called our wonderful landlords (how I now admire their impeccable yard skills!) to tell them we were moving. I picked up dozens of regrettably empty boxes from the LCBO. And we ordered last suppers from our favourite delivery places — I miss you, Banjara Indian Cuisine.

Fast forward to now, when I’m often asked if the whole thing was worth it. It’s a tough question to answer.

Most days, I say yes. In this new life, I cook more, see JF more, read more, spend more time living en francais, see family more, and give back to causes that mean more to me. I also love working on our house, in our garden, in our little town.

But is our new life everything we expected? Of course not. I still overload my schedule. I haven’t properly broken in my new purple sneakers. My job is great, but short-term. Our red brick beast/house adds a whole new layer of busy. The hammock we pictured ourselves regularly lying in hasn’t even been installed. And there are Toronto people and things I miss ferociously.

After weighing both then and now, I’ve concluded that I’m closer to who and where I want to be than I was a year ago. I’ve also decided it’s important to have those someday dreams. But it’s equally important that I remember to enjoy the lumpy, potholed (or these days, mosquito-ridden) road I’m on. At the very least, I think I’m headed in the right direction.

Could this be… routine?

I like moving. I like the feeling of renewal it brings, enjoy sorting all of my stuff, and am energized by new hair dressers and bank branches. Relocating makes me re-think my day-to-day, and that’s valuable.

JF, on the other hand, loathes moving with every fibre of his practical body.  He hates it for the reasons I love it: change, challenge, newness. Packing boxes give him anxiety.

Though our opinions on moving are opposite, there is one thing we can agree on and that’s the beauty of settling into the post-move routine. For me, it’s a great reward for putting so much brain, heart and muscle energy into building a new life. For JF it’s “thank mother Mary, things are back to normal!”

Our keys always go in this bowl. It's the mail and key bowl.

Our keys always go in this bowl. It’s the mail and key bowl.

We’ve been in our home for five months and I’m pretty sure we just hit our stride two weeks ago. It took us that long to find our mechanic, our pharmacy and our preferred routes to work.  We’ve finally re-programmed our thermostat, de-coded all the buttons on our dryer, and met most of our neighbours. Our errand list has dwindled down to the usual get gas, get wine, get groceries.

But what I think really makes a routine a routine is that sense that there is a regular rhythm to the day. For me, it’s knowing that if I hit the snooze button at 7:02 a.m. I’ll get to work at 8:42 a.m.; putting my keys in the same bowl when I get home; having a favourite living room outlet to plug in my MacBook.

This is my fruit bowl. It's where the fruit lives. Always.

This is my fruit bowl. It’s where the fruit lives. Always.

The only problem with routine, really, is that it breeds complacency – the reverse of that feeling you get when moving. There are hundreds of pathways to self-betterment, and they can all be obstructed by Netflix.

We have about a bazillion projects to tackle in this house – holes to patch, walls to paint, trim to fix – but I notice them less and less. We know we want to re-finish our floors, replace some electrical, and blow the second floor bathroom to smithereens, but does any of that have to happen while there are still fresh episodes of Star Trek to watch?

I guess as long as I don’t wake up in 30 years and think: “that closet door has been broken since we moved in,” I’ll be alright. Perhaps we’ll move before then – toss the pieces of our lives up in the air and try to catch them again, or see where they land.

Settling in?

It’s been 2.5 weeks and our house is starting to feel like home. Sort of. We’ve finished de-wallpapering, painting and unpacking two out of 13 rooms. Two important rooms — the kitchen and living room — but that is still a measly 15% of the spaces in our house.

The good news is, we’re really enjoying that 15%. Tonight we sat on the couch and surfed the internet for several hours. That was great.

Living room before and after.

Living room before and after.

 

The bad news is, the rest of the house is in shambles. Pockmarked walls, smelly grey carpet, and a few sticks of furniture. I generally pretend those parts don’t exist. Or I attack them with spackle in the hope that they can soon be painted and prettied up.

Dining area before and after.

Dining area (in the kitchen) before and after. I need a bigger area rug.

 

I don’t think I’ll ever claim the main bathroom and damp basement as ours. They might be lost causes.

Kitchen before and after.

Kitchen before and after.

Neither JF nor I have fully absorbed the implications of home ownership. I still treat my mom’s like a grocery store. And JF still refers to the Toronto apartment as “home.”

I say THE Toronto apartment because, as of August 31, it is no longer OUR Toronto apartment. Aside from the baby squirrels that currently live on its dining room windowsill, it’s vacant. And soon, someone new will take over the lease.

Generally, we haven’t had any time to ponder the deep, existential, seismic change that empty apartments represents. We haven’t even cut our lawn yet. I’m waiting for that “holy crap this is real” moment.

In the meantime, we will keep trying to enjoy our new life while chipping away at the monstrous project we started when our mortgage went through.

Moving Sh*t

Waiting for possession of a house feels kind of like the toe-curling excitement you get when you’re five years old, bundled up on the couch, and waiting for Santa to come down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

I’ve literally got a calendar with big black exes on the days that have gone by and a big red circle around August 16. I’ve already sketched out where my furniture will go, what paint colour I’m putting on my walls, and what I want to renovate first. Just thinking about that stuff makes me crazy-giggles happy.

The entrance hall of our new house. I'm thinking different tiles and a fresh coat of paint.

The entrance hall of our house. I’m thinking hardwood and a fresh coat of paint.

But what I didn’t quite grasp until about two weeks ago is that buying a house and relocating to a new town involves a lot of unpleasant work too. Thrilling tasks such as: decoding inspection reports, talking to lawyers, finding a new doctor, figuring out how to pile all our money together and give it to someone else, getting internet installed, paying hydro and gas installation costs, booking a moving van, changing our phone numbers, and determining what our day to day finances will look like with a massive mortgage weighing us down.

Then there is the actual act of moving. Getting all of our stuff from one residence to another. Call me weird, but I usually enjoy this process. I get a kick out of cleaning, sorting, labelling, and re-organizing my things. And when everything is in its new and proper place, the “I did that” feeling you get is such a high.

That said, this move is a little different than my past moves for a few reasons:

  • I’m not living in Toronto right now, so JF is packing up our apartment. Picture disorganized piles of loose, unrelated things being shipped out.
  • I now have a billion pound, upright piano. Normally awesome but at this moment, ugh.
  • After 10 years of renting, I am apparently millimetres away from becoming a hoarder. Though JF had rather frequently told me I have too many teacups and vases, I certainly never agreed with him until it came time to pack and move them.
Our Toronto apartment a few months ago. Looks innocuous, but I can assure you there were several truckloads of useless trinkets hidden in it.

Our Toronto apartment a few months ago. Looks innocuous, but there were several truckloads of useless trinkets hidden in it.

One thing is certain, I am doing a massive, Clean-Sweep-esque (Peter, I wish I could hire you!) sort as we unpack and settle in. And then, we will be hosting a great big, Elmvale garage sale. Maybe I’ll make lemonade and bake (read: burn) cookies to entice our new neighbours over.

In the meantime, I’m daydreaming about cream coloured walls, chrome hardware, and brightly painted dressers while trying to forget the to do list on my bedside table that seems to be perpetually growing.