Saturday, March 31, 2012

driving around in pittsburgh.

Our first full day in this city was spent on our butts, in a rental minivan.  We only got out of the vehicle to eat, pee, and look at houses {thank goodness for commas}.  The baseball park was literally right across the street from our hotel, so that was easily checked off our sightseeing list.  The Steeler's stadium was just a short drive away too.  Check.  Then we spent the morning zigzagging through the college/university streets, getting an idea of options for Elyssa and me.  Or just me, if Elyssa decides after a year that she would like to escape us and go away to college.  Run, Elyssa, run!

We spent the afternoon driving the southern areas of Pittsburgh and we pretty much fell in love with the Upper Saint Clair township.  The two pictured houses above, although nice, are not on our keep-list.  We do have an idea though, of what we can afford and the kind of neighborhood we are dreaming of.  We all love the brick look, on that we agree.  However, you should hear all of the horrible fun Elyssa is making of the shutters {I know, shutters?  What's wrong with those things}.  We also agree that we are not the type of family to live in a housing development or on a golf course, as we would probably drive our neighbors crazy and we are too nice to do that.  Jackson has put in a request for neighbor boys who play street hockey and McKenna thinks some girls who trampoline would be ideal.  For myself, I would like to toss out my misanthropic ways and perhaps make a neighborly friend or two of which to gossip and shop at Anthropologie with.  And if it's not in the cards, just a nice hidden spot on a back porch where I can blog and wish I had friends.

Anywayz, we are not haters of this fine city.  Our excitement is building fruitfully.

Friday, March 30, 2012

a very pittsburgh spring break.

2 flights {1 nauseatingly bumpy}/ 5 hours of flying = Spokane to Pittsburgh.  Plus there's that whole 3 hours lost in the time difference.  Needless to say, we were happy campers when our airplane rolled into PIT.  We started off in great moods, simply happy to be off the plane.  And then our happiness just kept expanding with a stop at McDonalds, a tunnel, and loads of big city lights and bridges.  The air was muggy and warmish, with a light drizzle of rain, and smelled deliciously of H20.  I have to just tell you, every little pore of my dry, parched skin opened up to sing of joy and glee.  Moisture in the air?  I'll take two please.

I know, I know.  Most all y'all will tell me how awful humidity is, but coming from the arid region of Spokansahara, I'm going to totally ignore you.  Yep, that's right.  I've got both my hands over my ears and I'm sticking my tongue out at you.  Humidity is my new bff.  So, give me until this summer to figure out the horror for myself and come back begging you to forgive me.

Anyway, we all had to admit that our first impression of Pittsburgh is awesomeness.  

the lasts.

Last week was Miss McKenna's school variety show and this is the second year I had the opportunity to volunteer and provide the music.  This was also our last year to partake in all of the goodness that is children gaining confidence by performing their best in front of their peers.  It was truly bittersweet.  

The variety show is run like American Idol {a very small crumb of a crumb of American Idol, mind you}; there's auditions with judges {nice, friendly moms}, mom meetings that include planning of how to fit all of the children into 1.5 hours {we plan a catch-all act so that children who sadly don't make it into the show still have an opportunity to perform}, a few weeks of Thursday practices, a dress rehearsal, and two performances {day and evening}.  By the time we are finished, from the first practice to the last performance, we have become a little family.  We have cheered each other on, we have learned each others moves and words.  We have been nervous together and excited together.  We have applauded one another.  It is quite an experience and by the end, I have shed lots of tears.

As the player of music, my job has been to sit behind the curtain, taking cues from the director, hiding on the other side of the stage.  From my corner, I have the best seat in the house.  For the first few acts, I sit in my chair trembling with nerves and wiping the sweat from my palms.  I have edited and loaded all of the children's songs and have them in perfect order on my computer, yet I still manage to fret over hitting play at the exact very right time.  My goal is perfection.  These kids, who dare to stand up there in front of their family and friends, deserve nothing but the very best from me.  I know I won't die if I make a mistake, but I still don't want to.  No pressure.  After the first few acts though, my nerves have settled and I have the best time ever.  I watch the children, from my hiding spot, each going out there, giving their best, and then taking in the sounds of cheering and clapping hands.  The giant smile on each face is priceless as they exit stage right.  I witness their confidence shoot like a rocket to the moon.  It takes my spirit with it.  Especially when I see my own daughter perform.  Magic.

When one door closes... I know the "lasts" that I am experiencing in Spokane mean that opportunities for "firsts" are going to happen for us in Pittsburgh.  Or give us a chance to create them ourselves.  I know my family will have so much to offer.  :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

birthday boy.

Not too many days ago, we celebrated a birthday at our household.  For some reason, we decided to make mustaches part of the theme, which {although random} was pretty darn hilarious.  The kids and I had a super-secret photo shoot and then had the photos blown up into poster-size for Husband.  They turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself.  I look pretty awesome in a mustache {plus Husband says it makes me look like I have an upper lip}.  Wait, that's a compliment, right?  
Anyhoo, it was nice to have him in town to celebrate his big day.  We sure do like having him around.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

for sale.

Well, we did it.  We put our house on the market.  We put aside our fears and anxiety and just did it.  I mean, we really didn't have a choice, but it was still a scary step. There is so much to consider when putting one's house up for sale and perhaps one day we'll be like, "oh no big deal," but this is our first purchased home and it feels a little bit like a big deal.  First of all, there was the realtor dance.  Which one was perfect for us?  Honesty is an important realtor trait, but not to the point of being rude and snobbish.  Who did we feel comfortable with?  Who can sell our home?
Second of all, there was the whole figuring out of the price thing, which can be quite a challenge.  We want to squeeze every last penny out of this house, yet we want it to sell it like yesterday.  Husband has price-setting remorse already.  Not an easy decision.
And third, what happens if it sells?  Where will the kids and I go until school gets out?  What happens if it doesn't sell and I have to keep it clean forever just in case there's a showing?  I almost prefer having nowhere to live over having to keep it clean.

Anyway, aside from the worries, it feels good to have this step complete.  And according to our very nice realtor, there is a natural emotional process in the selling of a home.  At first, one is quite attached to their home {the memories and experiences shared in the home over the years}.  They want to sell their home at the highest price because in their heart it is worth every dollar.  And then over time, as they work hard to keep their old house clean while looking at new homes to move into, naturally they start hating their old house.  They slowly let go, lower the price, and get the heck out so they can move the heck on.  Perhaps one day down the road very soon, I'll be writing a post about us in that same situation.  :)

Crossing my fingers we sell sooner than later!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

erasing history.

This chore was by far the hardest one so far, in prepping the house to sell.  As witnessed in the top photo, our measuring wall was the last to be painted in the kitchen.  It took me a couple of weeks to gather the courage to take the paint brush to it.  We did lots of family measuring here {I'm represented in both with and without shoes}.  McKenna's friends even made the wall.  Jackson's growth spurts were regularly captured.  Every time he suffered growth pains, we' d measure him.  Elyssa's overtaking her mother in height was also evident.  And Thomas the Giant remained safely out of reach near the top of the door.  

The deed is done now.  The wall looks crisp and clean and ready for another family to make their marks.
Mixed feelings, but trying not to dwell.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

a lesson in house photos.

Yesterday's post included my home photo shoot.  I actually took the photos, as Husband and I went room-to-room, cleaning absolutely everything.  I have a great camera, the rooms were the cleanest they were ever going to be, so why couldn't I just get the pictures done myself?  Well, in meeting with the realtors today, I mostly did a good job.  But with some tips and tweaks and great suggestions, I was able to get my photos looking the bomb.  I thought I'd share what I learned...

Let's start with the kitchen.  Too much clutter, they said.  Clear the microwave, get the toaster out of there and roll that dishwasher right on out of there.  Clutter-free countertops look more spacious.  And above all {get this} get rid of that towel.  Oh, and all those photos on the side of the fridge?  Ba-bye.

 so much better.

And this next photo can not be used.  It does nothing but call attention to that eyesore dishwasher.

Way too much going on in this next photo.  Yucky towel, coffee maker, that yucky towel, the step ladder, the teapot, the dancing frogs peeking over the shelf.  Too much....

oh boy.  i can breathe again.  the stress of clutter is gone.

Extra chairs take up space.  Get those things out of the picture.

less is more.

In the next photo, I was off to the right start.  I moved the large living room chair out of the way, to snap the photo.  But oops!  I left the lamp and small table off to the side.  Pointless.  And then of course, those extra dining room chairs are taking up space.

wow.  i wish my dining room was really as big as it looks here.

Next up, the ugly backside of paper flowers and clutter on the kitchen counter.  It's the small things that count.  

that's better.

Clutter can be hard to see through the camera lens.  I thought I had cleaned everything up, but what is that junk in the kitchen?

this actually cracks me up.  after all the work in cleaning and retaking this photo, the clutter on the kitchen floor was replaced by my black cat.  

Anyway, if you have an eye for detail and organization, taking your own listing photos can be really helpful, as I found.  It was wonderful, especially for the bedrooms, as I was able to empty posters and decor and toys out into the hallway while I took the photos and then put it all back when I was done.  Here are a few extra tips I learned in the process:
  • Take the photos on a sunny afternoon, when the most natural light comes in through the windows.  
  • Turn on all of the lights.  
  • Sometimes floor lamps create a glare that can be too jarring.  Turn off the lamp if it creates too much of a glow.
  • Use the flash.  I hate the flash, but in this case it was beneficial.  Light creates space.
  • Bend your knees and look through the lens.  Don't aim the camera up or down, just keep it even like you're naturally looking across the room.
  • Keep an eye out for clutter.  Keep decor uniform and simple.  Lock up the cats.  :)
  • Get the kitchen towel out of the photo.  I still don't understand the drastic importance, but the realtor was adamant about this.  And I have to admit, I see the difference.
So, now that the photos are done and out of the way... this week I'll be working on traffic patterns.  Our house is small so we want to create the illusion of space.  I'll be removing and arranging a few furniture pieces in the living room to create a natural walking flow.  Did you know there was so much to consider when selling a home?  


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