There are few things worthy of waking a toddler from her nap, but one of the few might be fetching your down payment from the bank before the bank closes the day before The Closing. So Alethia woke up to getting stuck in the car, which brought her to the magical land of mediocre popcorn, where she watched in awe as her mom swiped a debit card a dozen times. On the way out the door, Alethia spilled her popcorn on the rug, then scooped it back into the crinkly white bag and kept on munching. Rebecca just held on to the cashier’s check– the heaviest piece of paper she may have ever held.
Sometime this summer, Alethia will move into the fourth home of her two-year-old life. And she likely won’t move again for quite a while (at least relatively speaking) because…
…we’re buying a house!
So, the outside looks pretty sweet. As do we. Look at those smiles! The closing date is set for the 18th.
We’re pretty excited about buying a house. We made the decision to go house shopping after making the (even harder) decision to stay in Sioux Falls, at least for the foreseeable future. Buying would let us either lower our monthly housing costs or at least let us build some equity. Or both. We started looking for a fixer-upper. We wanted something on the low end of its neighborhood that needed the kind of work that we could do with our homeowner skills– the skills that have been languishing during our time in an apartment.
We found a house in our price range with a lot more than we were expecting. We looked at a whole slew of houses with a lot of what one might call “potential.” This house has potential, charm, and space– space to grow and learn as a family, space to garden and brew, space to make some improvements and build equity, space to run new wiring and repair plaster…
Here’s Alethia trying to get back out onto that porch. As you can see, the inside needs some updating. But it’s livable the way it is. After all, someone was living there the way it is.
Nice high ceilings… some higher than others. Note the OSB ceiling– if you want to make a false ceiling even falser, that’s how to do it.
This house has character(s).
Here’s the kitchen. The cabinets above and around the sink are the only built-in cabinets in the kitchen. So we’re going to need to remodel with some more functional counter space– all planned around that awesome stove.
Here’s the staircase down to the side entrance and the basement. We’ll leave this the way it is at least for now.
The stairs go up to the bedrooms on the second floor.
The door on the left goes to some storage space. The door on the right goes to the big space in the attic!
This bedroom’s ceiling is in good condition. Most of the plaster in the house has been covered with paneling. We might have to replace a lot of the walls with drywall. I am anxious to pry off the paneling and find out what’s behind it!
The quartzite foundation appears to be in good condition.
This is what the listing claimed as a second bathroom. It will be redone at some point.
The backyard is the only part that is smaller than some of the other houses we looked at. It is also bigger than some we had looked at. So it is just medium-small. This corner has been overtaken by some lovely ferns and violets.
Did I mention that the house is walking distance from The Downtown Library? Mmhmm.
More pictures and videos and before-and-afters after the 18th!
These shoes are in the dump now. The crocs were worn through to the ground; the hiking shoes were falling apart at the seams. I had walked many miles in those shoes.
The hiking shoes were the ones I wore all over the side of Mt. Rainier the summer I met Ryan, but they were too big to fit in a scrapbook. Plus, I can’t get into scrapbooking because all of our other hobbies are already taking up too much space. We put a moratorium on new hobbies– at least 3D ones.
Speaking of space, the reason I was getting rid of shoes (and other stuff) is that we were looking for a house. I was purging as a promise– if we are blessed with more space, I promise not to fill it all up with junk.
We found a big old house with lots of character in our price range. How is that possible? Well, we have to fix the walls, the ceilings, the bathrooms, the kitchen, the garage door, and the wiring. Is learning to rewire a house considered a three-dimensional hobby? We’ll probably have to buy some new tools, which will take up space. It’s a good thing I got rid of two pairs of shoes.
We like our couch– it’s comfy, it can double as a single bed, and Ryan got a really good deal on it. (We only like to buy something if we get a really good deal on it, because every time we use it, we want to think about how we got a really good deal.)
But at some point the back of the couch had been used as a temporary shelf, and the cushion on the left never recovered:
That was as straight as you could get it to stand up. This bothered me. I started looking at couches on craigslist, but they were all worse. I considered frumpifying the other cushion to match. However, I was able to get most of the frump out of the frumpy cushion by taking the stuffing out and doing some reformational work.
Here’s all the stuffing from the frumpy cushion, shown with the better cushion being used as a stencil to show me how to reshape the stuffing:
I found that most of the stuffing came in loose tufts, but there was also a corner of the cushion that had been stuffed with a big folded-up wad of batting (the stuff that comes in sheets). This was perfect, because it explained why the stuffing wasn’t working cohesively, and it gave me a big piece of batting to hold all the stuffing in the shape I wanted.
See how I wrapped the stuffing with the batting? That’s what allowed me to stitch it all together and keep it in that shape.
Making those stitches was pretty tricky since I didn’t have a long upholstery needle and I needed to get all that stuffing sewn away before Alethia woke up from her nap. So I invented the thimble-needle-cork method:
Basically, since my needle was much shorter than the pile of stuffing, I just used a thimble to stick the needle in from the bottom of the pile while I pressed a wine cork into the top of the pile with the other hand. Using my hand-hand coordination, the needle and the cork would (usually) meet in the middle of the pile of stuffing, the needle would get stuck in the cork, and I could pull the needle the rest of the way through. I only stabbed myself a couple of times.
So in six places on the cushion, I stitched down and then up through the whole pile of stuffing and batting and then tied a knot. I used doubled-up thread for extra strength.
If you don’t have a piece of batting to wrap around your stuffing, I would suggest buying some. This wouldn’t have worked with just stuffing.
After I got done reforming and stitching, I zipped the cover back on and put the cushions back on the couch. Not perfect, but much better! In this picture you can kind of see where the piece of batting ends, but now that the cushion has had a few weeks to settle in, you can’t see that line anymore. And it hasn’t started to slouch yet!
$0 spent, and I no longer feel the need to buy a new couch!
A few Sundays ago I was picking Alethia up from the nursery at my grandparents’ church, where we were visiting. The nursery worker let me know what Alethia did while I was in church: she dirtied her diaper, she played happily, she babbled but didn’t say very many words. She seemed a bit concerned about my daughter’s lack of intelligible communication, so I told the nursery worker that some of the babbling might have been Spanish, since I speak Spanish with my daughter.
“Oh, are you homeschooling?” the nursery worker asked me.
“Uh, yeah, there’s a good chance we’ll homeschool her. But she’s just two now,” I responded quizzically.
“Oh, well, you said you were teaching her Spanish.”
“Oh, yes. I do teach her Spanish.”
So there you have it! I am already a homeschooling mom! I take that as a compliment, as I do these other things that people say when they hear me shout “¡Ven aquí! ¡No toques eso!”
“That’s so cool– you speak Spanish to her!”
“Wow. She’s so smart.”
“Wow. You’re so smart.”
“That’s going to really help her get a job someday.”
“Okay, so what did you just say? Okay, how do you pronounce that? Am I saying it right?”
“I have no idea what you just said but it looks like she understood it.”
“I only know how to say a few words in Spanish! Here, let me say them to you…”
“My husband’s cousin knew a few words in Spanish but then he forgot.”
Basically, if you know any Spanish phrases, or any words in any language, speak them to your kids. In public. It’s a great conversation starter.
In all seriousness, I have gotten a lot of support from people who have heard me speaking Spanish to Alethia. They usually tell me how neat it is, how they would have liked to do the same sort of thing if they only had the language skills, how it will only improve Alethia’s overall cognitive skills, how I shouldn’t worry so much about speaking perfectly, and how I’ll never regret it. I hope they’re right!
Alethia turned two a month ago, somewhere in the week between one of my trips to Illinois for a wedding and the big brewfest that Ryan organized and hosted. Since Alethia’s first two years have been so full of traveling, parents’ projects, and taking one week at a time, we decided to stick with the theme and throw a non-existent party. Alethia, it’s not that we don’t love you, it’s that we just weren’t ready for you to be two yet. Plus, since you’re so young, you wouldn’t have remembered the party anyway, and most of what we do is just to remember it later, right?
At two years old, Alethia:
tries not to nap and then naps at 7pm.
sings “Leh ih go! Leh ih go! …anymore!” whenever she’s feeling epic.
survives mostly on mama’s milk, scrambled eggs (if they’re not overcooked), sweet potatoes, veggie straws, cheerios, almond milk, the tips of cooked asparagus, and her reserves from that time when we went to a Chinese buffet.
would like to eat chocolate more often.
sits through a whole Berenstain Bears book or slowly “reads” it herself.
points out O, A, X, M, and sometimes other letters whenever she sees them.
calls her dad “Papá” and her mom “Mommy” because that’s how her parents refer to each other when speaking to her.
loves to wear “tidos” (vestidos/dresses) and “patos” (zapatos/shoes) but is quick to take off her clothes if they are wet or she is warm.
says a lot of words in English and a lot of words in Spanish but doesn’t make phrases very often yet.
smiles, waves and says “¡Adios!” when she thinks I’m about to interfere with her disobedience.
So why throw a birthday party when every day is such an adventure? I’ll just blog about the adventures so I can remember them a little longer.
As you can see, I have yet another new blog, but it’s really just an amalgamation of my previous blogs. Here’s why:
I had a poetry blog with potential, a languishing personal blog, an underdeveloped design business blog, and a few posts on a family blog somewhere.
I had ideas of new things to write about. But now I forget. Oh well, I’ll think of them.
This way I’ll know where to post new stuff. Here.
The url rebeccamckeever.com was available, and I’m a domain name hoarder. But when it’s your very own name, I don’t think it counts as hoarding.
A little WordPress and server and ftp practice never hurt anyone.
So now I’m ready to get back into blogging! Prepare yourselves for a plethora of poems, pictures, and posts both profound and petty. Also know that some posts will be more on the personal side while some posts will be written for the general public (this is the internet, after all). Whoever you are, I hope you like it.