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It was all good just a month ago…

Life has been really weird for the past month. Surreal. Bizarro.

We are all safe and healthy. But our house…our house is not right now.
But it will be again (like hopefully by October when our short term apartment lease runs out).   It’s a long, annoying story.  And generally I’m not really one to blog about my feeeeeeelings. But the series of events that have let up to today have been nothing short of surreal. And as crappy as what has transpired is – I also don’t want to forget this weird time in our lives.  You know, when we allegedly want to look back on all this and laugh in 5 years, as everyone keeps telling me.  And I also know that once it’s over and we are home again – the memory will feel fake. So I’m going to chronicle what I can chronicle now. Some parts I’m intentionally leaving out for privacy as we still don’t know how this story fully ends. Yes I’m being vague. But you can probably put two and two together as to why.
Screen shot from my IG account the morning of July 18, 2016:

Oh that silly asshole Irony.  Amiright?  So let’s rewind a little bit more to late June. Theodore (who has turned into suuuch a happy, smiling, go-with-the-flow baby) was still sleeping in our bedroom at 8 weeks old.  The plan was to get around to painting the new molding and doors in his nursery before moving him in. Yeah, remember when we had all the molding and doors replaced at the end of March while working on The Big Boy Room? So I never got around to painting them because I had Theodore a month early.  I was beginning to get some sleep and was gearing up to start painting. As everyone knows, this summer has been particularly hot. Our old AF HVAC had been running constantly, and because it’s old AF it was installed in our attic in like the 1840’s or something (just kidding our house was built in ’59). Apparently it’s way more common to install them in closets nowadays. Anyway.  
We hadn’t walked into the nursery in a few days. It was basically serving as storage so I honestly can’t tell you how many days it had been. But I walked in to get something, and out of the corner of my eye (or Tom’s eye, I can’t even remember who saw it first), there was BRIGHT GREEN FUZZY MOLD on the ceiling.  Like, this ish was new. And very happy in it’s environment. My plants outside the house are not that happy. I wish I could take credit for cultivating that amazing atmosphere for that mold on purpose.  We quickly realized the AC unit was directly above it in the attic. So we turned it off. We were leaving to go on a mini-vaca to a lake house on the NY/NJ border the next day for 4 days. We decided it could wait to be dealt with unpon our return.
We came home. We had one bumbling plumber come over and break stuff and tell me he had no idea what the problem was after 2 hours. Thanks guy. This was the last week of June and temps were hitting 100 degrees on the reg. I packed up the babes and high tailed it to my parents house in the Catskills. We did a little more due diligence the second time around in looking for an HVAC company and waited to get on their schedule. In the meantime Tom managed to put his foot through the ceiling one day while trying to poke around up there. Add it to list.

See that tiny patch of mold that we were losing our minds over? 

Skipping some of melodrama of the exact issues, at end of the day we needed a new HVAC system installed. I brought the kids home on July 5th to sit still in the stifling heat (there were not enough box fans in the world for those two days, luckily the boys handled the heat better than I did) so the workers could install the new system. And the guys were great. They stayed late 2 days in a row to get that system up and running for us, and our attic was easily well over 100 degrees. 

 ‘Your attic is a mess – this is going to take a while’

We called our usual interior contractors to come over and cut out the affected sheetrock and assess any other potential damage/treatment needed. As scary as the word ‘mold’ is to a homeowner (or a parent), the truth is that if the source is eliminated (broken, leaking HVAC) and the growth is removed, and everything is cleaned properly (patch of sheet rock, some insulation, lotso bleach), you really have nothing to worry about going forward. We breathed a nice cool sigh of relief.  Approximately two+ weeks of hot hell was over. Yipee! Our bad luck streak had officially ended. 

Let me just pause to say that it is f*cking comical to write that sentence out now. Folks, we thought that tiny patch of mold, a foot through the ceiling, and replacing the HVAC was the worst thing that could ever happen to us as homeowners.

In the meantime, we had gotten word that another set of contractors we had hired to basically redo our exterior (roof! siding! deck! fence!) were finally going to to start the work…you guessed it, the last week of my maternity leave.  July 18, 2016. See IG picture above if you already forgot what the real story is about.

To be continued…
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Christmas Decorations 2014

This year was a pretty exciting year to decorate. It was our first Christmas in our new house! I’m not a huge fan of knick-knacky decorations, but pre-lit garland and decorated trees are my jam. And you’ll see them both in excess. Some more sneak peaks around the new house too if you are into that.

First up: the tree in my home office.  It’s gold, it’s rocking some lime and purple and iridescent white balls, and some purple snowflakes. I love looking past my monitors to see this guy all lit up sitting on top of our craigslist poker table find.

This white guy – you might recognize him from the dining room of our apartment, but this year he is hanging out in the Nursery.  Complete with emerald green and royal blue balls blue snowflakes, and some rustic little critters from Grandma.

I’m a little partial to our fake green tree in the family room.  We always had an assortment of traditional Scandinavian ornaments on our tree growing up but this guy is all Norway, all the way. Straw ornaments, Norwegian flags, and our Julenissen. We’ve even got our Fair Isle ornaments that we picked up in Oslo last year (November 2013).

There is more garland in this room – surrounding this huge window as well as our sliding glass doors to the back patio.  But I’ll show you around the family room a little more in another post.

And of course, our REAL TREE in the living room.  In case you were wondering, no I did not realize that the top of this tree was seemingly chopped off when we picked it out, nor did I realize that it would look so short and stout in this room. And no, we don’t own a star to make it look taller (it’s called an illusion, Michael). But next year folks, next year! I will have a properly fitting tree for this room. Until then, I think this guy turned out just fine.  We’ve got the majority of our sentimental ornaments on this tree and I used gold and aqua to tie into some of the other furniture in the room. And yes. Lots and lots of pre-lit garland.

Can we talk about how ginormous those stockings are? They are beautiful (from Pottery Barn Kids), but I did not realize they would be this big. In a few years someone is going to expect to get these filled with toys, and Mama is not happy about this. He is going to have to settle for half (nay, two thirds!) of it to be stuffed with tissue paper. We will make up some story so he believes that is how it all works, I’m sure.

And some of our special ornaments from our trips  and significant happenings over the years are on our “real tree”. This has become my favorite way to memorialize these vacations (and when I can’t find actual ornaments, key chains become great ornaments and people are none the wiser except when you blab about on a public blog). In no particular order:

Read about it here.
My Tri-Kayla 30th Birthday/Cinqo De Kayla/Kentucky Derby Weekend in 2012
Our wedding.
I recently posted about our Honeymoon to South Africa here.
We went to a falconry on our second mini-honeymoon in Manchester VT

Florida in 2010 
Vegas in 2013

Forgive me for indulging in listing out where our ornaments are all from – some day (probably too soon) I won’t be able to remember what year we did what so it’s nice to have it all in one spot.

Technically, I put up pre-lit garland on our front porch, however, there are no outlets outside so we’ve never been able to turn it on. After a few futile attempts to get electricity outside we have decided to wait to add an outlet when we redo the siding this coming spring. We are already tinkering with ideas for decorating outside the house next year, and let’s just say Tom has already mentioned using his raspberry pi to match up lights and music. And you thought four Christmas trees was excessive.


Two Years {And South Africa}

Have you ever heard the quote from Anne of Green Gables, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ?  I love that quote because like most people who choose to live in the northeast, Fall is my favorite time of year. (I know, I’m really original like that).

We celebrated our two year wedding anniversary last week with some gorgeous flowers, a box of chocolates, and a night on the couch not doing any housework.  We finally cracked that bottle of champagne we were given at our wedding that we were supposed to drink last year but I was in that whole two-week-period-of-the-month-where-I-didn’t-know-if-I-was-pregnant-or-not-yet (I was not). It might not sound super romantic, but it was exactly what we needed this year.

I thought it would be appropriate to finally show you some pictures from our Honeymoon two years ago. We took an amazing trip to South Africa – spending 4 nights in Cape Town visiting the surrounding areas and then 4 nights in Kruger National Park at a private resort going on safari rides every day at dawn and dusk.  It was an amazing trip and one I always said I would love to make again (maybe when this whole ebola thing dies down?)

I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but feel free to ask me any questions in the comments!

So a big part of this trip was the work that went into planning it.  Obviously traveling to an unfamiliar country brings its own risks (and rewards!!) so we decided to go through a travel company.  We actually did our own research and mapped out the trip we wanted and priced it out to book it all ourselves and then took it to a travel company that was willing to take on the trip as we planned it (versus one of their canned tours) and actually handle the bookings for us.  It wasn’t any more expensive to go through the travel company, AND it gave me piece of mind that if a car wasn’t at the hotel to pick us up to bring us to our next destination, we had a main contact we could call that would help us with any issues.  It just felt a little more secure (read: SAFE) and less of a headache than to have all of the contact numbers for all of the places we were staying and all of the inter-country car services we needed.  

So here is my super secret tip for exotic travel:  Plan the trip you want (as opposed to a canned tour that might not have everything you want to do in it), and reach out to a reputable tour company that will take on the bookings for you, and will make sure all of your connecting travel plans are safe and punctual.

Also now that we live in New Jersey, and yellow cabs aren’t just waiting outside our stoop to bring us to the airport, we need to rethink how we get to and from the airport when we take trips (even domestic flights).  And, when we go on vacation, why not make a little money while we are at it? This is where RelayRides comes in. (My super-but-shouldn’t-be-a-secret tip for domestic travel.) It’s a peer-to-peer car rental service, which is a great way to either save a little money when you are in another city, and/or make a little money on your car that would otherwise be sitting in your driveway at home/long term parking at the airport while you are away.  People have been doing it with their homes for years now – so it only makes sense we start doing it with our cars as well.  They even have a new initiative to help newlyweds travel well with airport rentals while on their honeymoons – they are in tons of cities and growing! Of course RelayRides also works great if you just need a truck for a day to get some yard work done, or a mini-van to cart a bunch of kids around for a day at the museum.

Ahh, now I want to plan our next trip abroad…