Mommy Challenges

The nickel-and-dime-ing has to stop!

So nothing will grate on your nerves more than nickel and dime-ing when you are negotiating the biggest sale of your life! It may sound completely petty, but honestly, it gets to a person! So back and forth with the buyers of a whole….entire….house….finally ended satisfactorily today! Yea! But not before we agreed to giving up our refrigerator, washer/dryer, playset,… Read more →

HOT, tired, and grateful!

On a plane once again…headed back to New Hampshire…after a very FULL, very HOT 2 days of house hunting in our new city. First let me say our Realtor was…awesome. Simply awesome. If you are ever in the market for a home in St. Louis OR in DFW, seek out Laura Garafola at Keller Williams. Seriously. She is a WORKER! Here she is – she’s is a bundle of energy and a ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ kind of person – which is EXACTLY what you need when doing this under pressure.  And boy were we under pressure. The Littles had sent us on a mission to find a home with “great bedrooms” and a pool, and we didn’t want to disappoint!

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So day one…saw about 9 homes (you lose count after a while). Two at the top of our list. One at the VERY top of our budget. It was beautiful, but it’s a seller’s market right now – as it seems to be every time we move – and we just had no wiggle room should there be a multiple offer situation; and…as fabulous as the home was, the master bathroom was a bit weird!

The second option was pretty and had a ton of potential with little work, but I just wasn’t in “love” with it – and I really wanted to be! So we headed back to our hotel room feeling a bit stressed and a little discouraged.

Inventory low, prices high, hot as hell! But as we caught our breath and a few ‘zzzzzzz’s’ in our hotel room, she drummed up about 20 more listing WITH pools for us to visit on day two.

We started early, and went at them efficiently with optimism that had waned from the day before. And suddenly, there it was. Our home…both Steve and I just knew it. But we also knew it wouldn’t be easy.

Just on the market, it was already in a multiple offer situation. So reaching to our extensive experience in HGTV watching, we decided on the offer, then carefully drafted a heartfelt letter to the sellers about how much we loved the home and wanted to make it ours. We even included a photo of our precious Littles to show them who would be sharing their home should they decide to choose us. Emotions running high, Laura submitted the offer and promised we would know something that evening.

Tick tock, tick tock. Steve and I decided to head to our favorite Tex Mex place, Pappasito’s Cantina, for some beef fajitas (yum!) and a glass of wine (or two…or three). We checked in wondering if this would end up being a celebratory dinner or one we would always remember sadly.

Shortly after getting there and getting served their famous chips and salsa, we got the call. But before I tell you about that, just take a look at this photo – come on! YUM! Best chips and salsa – ever!

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Ok…the call…drum roll…

We GOT the house! I guess I really had no idea how high my emotions had been running, because I just sat down, and tears just started streaming! Happy tears, of course – just knowing that we’d be able to go home and tell the Littles that we had gotten what they wanted!

Needless to say, dinner turned into a celebration, with our server Blake enjoying our reverie and showering us with some free wine and a free brownie dessert! Laura joined us there for a drink and some signatures, and we enjoyed every minute! We even got the full “Mariachi” treatment! Here are some photos that clearly show our level of excitement (and our amazing food)!

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IMG_3860IMG_3861IMG_3865Today, on the plane, nothing but gratitude and relief. God is good! Can’t wait to get moved in and have visitors!

 

 

 

 

 

The house-hunting trip…and all that entails!

So we’re on a plane – the hubs and I – just the two of us. Headed to DFW to “power shop” for a new home. Sounds fun, right? Sure! I LOVE house hunting! Especially in Texas, where the homes are big and beautiful, and have the rustic style that I especially like. And the model homes – new construction – yessss! Love that more than just about anything!

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So this should be a piece of cake, right? Well, maybe not so much. First, let me state for the record that I am a (very) nervous flyer. And to top that off, I am having major anxiety about hubby and I flying alone…together…and leaving the Littles behind. I always tell him I want to take separate flights, you know, just in case. But when you are married to a guy who has spent his entire life in the airline and travel business, of course you sound a little ridiculous making such a request. “Safest way to travel” I know….

So I am channeling my inner Dierks Bentley – not “getting drunk on a plane,” but more like “drinking wine on a plane….to get calm on a plane….away from my Littles…” Those of you with this fear will completely understand.

Toss in the fact that before bed last night, my ultra super sweet favorite baby boy in the whole world was a little sad about our leaving, and actually said to me quietly, “what if you don’t come home?” Gaaaaaaaah! Heartbreak and fear completely consuming me as I hugged and kissed him, promising that I would never leave him – ever!

The Good Lord above probably got 10 years worth of praying last night from me…and I had all 3 of my precious Littles snuggled up in bed with me for what was a very short night…up at 3:15 a.m. for this early flight…on which I am still praying and drinking wine.

The upside to all this? I ought to be ultra relaxed when the house hunting starts in only a couple of hours!

#LoveDelta #EconomyComfort #MissingMyLittles #HubbyRelaxed #CaliforniaMerlot

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How to (not) tell the Littles we’re moving…

Showing a home…not hard, but, ok…a little hard. It always has to be clean, picked up, things put away (even if there are things just jammed in a closet), clutter removed. In other words, while you are still living there, it needs to look like you are not!

Family photos, kid photos, all personal photos need to come down, replaced by a fresh coat of paint – presumably so the family looking can envision their own family here instead of yours. I get it. But it’s not as easy as you’d think. See our newly painted foyer and hallway, which used to be a gallery of Littles photos!

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Of course, my hubby, anal-retentive as he is, LOVES the thought that everything is A-W-A-Y, out of sight, and if left up to him, NEVER to be seen again! Of course, with Littles….I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E!

So here’s how you sell a home, and get it ready for moving, with Littles:

1. You tell them that the house is being shown and everything has to be put away or the people looking at the house will take everything! (That, believe it or not, is enough to ensure they are cooperative and protecting their ‘stuff’)

So this little scenario needs to be taken care of:

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2. When you do have a contract, you DON’T UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES tell them that it is sold! First of all, they won’t understand why you are not immediately vacating the home for a new one, AND second, they know enough to understand that means no more showings so the CRAP can come back out and overtake the house without threat of disappearing!

So long story short….mums the word! Even though we are under contract, as far as they are concerned, we could have a showing any…minute…now. So they sort of acclimate to everything being gone…for now. Gone…but not forgotten.

Trust me…it works!

 

The cat is out of the bag…yes, Littles, we are moving…

The cat is out of the bag. Which means, in short, that we’ve told the Littles we will be moving. That, in itself, was, let’s say, interesting. Colton went straight to tears, Lauren then immediately joined him – but I believe that was more about loyalty to her most admired and loved brother (they are so close) than it was about the move – and Taylor, in her usual optimistic and life-loving style, fist-pumped in the air while shouting “YES!”

After some discovery about why Colton was upset, we learned a few things. First, he will be missing his good buddy, Seamus – but we promised that we would appeal to Seamus’ mom about a possible future visit to the Big D! Second, I think he believed that we just “move” on to a new place, leaving everything behind, including his beloved LEGOs! But after a lengthy explanation of the process….moving company, packing everything up, loading  everything in a truck, and driving to our new home, where we would unpack everything and all would be well, things seemed to calm down.

Bottom line…the LEGOs will be there, little man! I promise!

Once that was all settled and Big Brother was happy, Lauren seemed to get right on board with the whole thing; and Taylor, who has been bugging me for a guinea pig for weeks now, has settled comfortably on the promise that once we get settled in our new home, we will welcome a new pet named “Cinderella” or “Twinkle Toes” or whatever she decides on at the moment of acquisition.

A visit to Pottery Barn Kids has inspired the Littles’ imagination about what their “new” rooms will look like, which makes me both excited about pleasing them and fearful for what shopping demons I have created! Bunk beds, princess bedding, big-boy desks, night lights, and more…oh, my!

Remain excited, and grateful for the Littles’ confidence and self-assurance…we must be doing something right!

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The Military Brat’s “Virgin” Move…

So anyone who knows me knows I have moved my entire life. Born in Maine, bounced around the US, then Europe (Azores, Spain, Germany), Korea, then back Stateside, the longest I had lived anywhere was 5 years. Then, I met and married an “airline” guy – and anyone who knows what that is like knows that moving is part of the deal. So…after meeting in Texas, there was a move to New York, then back to Texas, then after 9/11 back to the Northeast…this time Boston.

My point? I have moved…a lot…a whole lot! So much so that I can’t stand it when people ask where I am from, because there really is no good answer. Family from Ohio, but aside from a 6 month stint following college, I have never lived there.

So, having set that background, I’ll fill you in on the latest happenings in the Grant household. It won’t be a surprise. We are moving again. Only this time, it’s different. How, you might ask? Well, before, it was just me, as a kid, with my sisters and brother, and my parents doing all the work. I had no responsibility whatsoever. Then, as a grown up, it was my responsibility, but it was just hubby and me…embarking on a new adventure.

This time is different.

We have the Littles.

They were born here.

They know no other home.

There toys are here…their beds are here…this is their home. The only home they’ve ever known.

And this, my friends, is why this is different. This is why, it will be our “virgin” move. A move with kids.

I hope you’ll join us on this journey across the country…much more to come!

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Clearing the mind for inspiration…

So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but it’s not for lack of time or desire – it’s honestly because lately I’ve just felt, well, uninspired! You know, that feeling of just being in a repetitive, boring old routine, day in and day out? Truthfully, I have nothing to complain about – I have an amazing family, incredible friends, a beautiful home, great career, good health, and so on. God is good!

But sometimes change is good too! Before we had the Littles, I used to enjoy home decor and home improvement. It was a great creative outlet for me, with inspiration for design coming from any number of places, and when a project was completed, the result was inspiring too! Everything about the process was fun – from the mental visualization of a room, to the shopping for the perfect decor, paint color, place setting, or curtain fabric – even the hard work involved in the actual “doing” was uplifting! And anyone who knows me well knows that once I start a project, I need it to be done quickly – so I would spend mornings ’till late nights working on it until there was something tangible to see. That was back when it seemed like I had all the time in the world!

My job/career is similar. The position I am in has reached a maturity after 12+ years such that finding inspiration can be difficult. Sure, it’s busy, but busy doesn’t necessarily equal “inspiring!” I am a problem-solver! A creative idea generator! Obviously, no one would wish real problems on themselves at work, but boy, when I can solve a problem and help people, that’s inspiring!

I do realize, that inspiration needs to come from within. So I need to find some inspiration myself – just me – workin’ my little ol’ brain and looking inside myself – and pulling something out that is not necessarily a big deal to most people, but that will make a big difference to me. Change is good! So am I telling myself I need to redecorate/remodel my house or find a new job? I don’t think so…BUT, ridding our house and my office of some of the clutter may clear my mind and make room for other inspiring changes to come!

Looks like weekend clutter cleanup is in order! Stay tuned! You never know what inspiration will come out of that!

What have YOU inspired lately?

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Life is like a whack-a-mole game! Gotta get ’em one at a time!

The past several months have been interesting times, to say the least. I am not complaining, because honestly, I really have nothing “real” I could possibly complain about! However, for those of you who have been following my posts and remember the one about “simplifying,” I’d love to know if that really is possible! It does seem that just when you make one decision to simplify a particular thing, something else just pops up to take its place. If you’re not careful, these little pop-ups can wreak havoc on your resolve to simplify!

Thankfully, my resolve is intact! I will not give in to chaos! Just have to take things one day at a time and smash those little pop-ups like they are the moles in a whack-a-mole game! So the past several months have gone something like this:

1. Move Littles to new school, much closer to home to cut down on the endless driving. Check!

2. Purge closets and basement of clutter and excess. Check!

3. Sit down with husband and make a 5-year plan for where we want to be financially, etc. Check!

Progress, right? Simplification? Yes!

So what is the latest “mole” to pop-up? Hormones! Yes, I do believe that’s it. At 44 years old, I have felt pretty good, despite the mommy-tired feeling that I think exists always with young children, and have, up until now, been able to just watch my calories for a few days to a week to get any stubborn pounds off that creep on from time to time. But about 5 months ago, I went in for a procedure to have my tubes tied, and that’s when things started to get a bit hairy. The Doctor said, “you still have your ovaries, so this really should affect your hormones,” and I was relieved to hear that!

Oh, boy, was she wrong! Despite my normal calorie counting, which had always worked in the past, 12-15 pounds creeped on, or should I say just drove up in a moving semi and set up “house” in my belly area! Feeling like a bloated, beached whale, I became desperate to find out what in the world was going on! That’s when a friend suggested I may be “peri-menopausal.” Huh? But that doesn’t happen until you’re like…50 or something….right?

Wrong. I started reading online. Dr. Google, as my husband likes to call it, shed some light on what exactly peri-menopause is, when it starts and what the symptoms are. I have read more stuff about peri-menopause, estrogen dominance, progesterone cream, synthetic hormone replacement, “PTLS (post-tubal ligation syndrome) – yes, there is one – and on and on, than I ever cared to. But the truth is, I…am…there. Damn that little perimenopause whack-a-mole!

So ladies…if you are my age and experiencing the same thing, read up! I am now using some natural progesterone cream to balance out my hormone levels AND on a 30-day whole system cleanse to help take care of my new fatty residents, and it’s working! Down 5 pounds in a week – at least it’s finally going in the right direction! So maybe this little mole is sufficiently whacked. What will be next, I wonder?

Are you experiencing the same thing? Let’s commiserate!

**Disclaimer – Google is really not a doctor (duh!) and neither am I, so I recommend you also discuss your symptoms with your physician. Perimenopause_doctors_Chicago_0

Somebody SAVE me! (A tribute to the trauma of personal hygiene)

So you all know I have 3 Littles – a BOY and twin girls. And somewhere along the way, I suppose I will admit to pre-conceived ideas about how each of them would behave. For example, my BOY would be sweet, but rough and tumble, liking to get dirty and would absolutely inherit his Daddy’s love of baseball and other sports, and my girls would be Princess-loving, dainty little girly-girls that wore nothing but pink ruffles. Yes, I am one of those girly girls myself!

I could not have been more wrong! And don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE how each of them is turning out. Each in their own way, they are witty, precocious, independent and dependent, adventurous and clingy, headstrong, creative and so lovable! Amazingly, only one of my girls, Taylor, is that girly girl – and boy is she ever! She changes her clothes at least 6 times a day, all pink and sparkly, and 3 of those changes are usually into a Princess dress. She is physically athletic and fearless, though – probably the most athletic of the three of them, and has already experienced a broken wrist from her shenanigans. Lauren on the other hand, could not care less about what she is wearing, as long as it’s comfortable, and loves to chase her brother around doing whatever it is he’s doing. She is headstrong, very literal in her communications, and always one step ahead of us in her planning! She is fiercly independent and a Daddy’s girl, but is also the clutziest kid I know! We always joke that she can fall down while standing still.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s because of my BOY! Colton is the sweetest, soft-hearted little boy I have ever known, and very much a Momma’s boy (which I love, of course). But my assumption that he would grow into the stereotypical “boy” has been completely disproven. As you also know, he just turned 7 – and I have enjoyed watching him grow into the handsome little guy that he is. But he has never been that rough-and-tumble, dirt-loving, bring in the bugs kind of kid (at some level I am SO grateful for that)! He is gentle and passive, quiet and shy, introverted and focused – and completely wimpy! And I say that in the most loving way – really!

BUT – what got me posting today is the experience of cutting his fingernails and toenails. Talk about a wimpy kid! If I even broach the subject with him, he literally runs and hides, whimpering in his room or wherever he thinks he can get away and avoid the whole ordeal. Meanwhile, my husband and I are thinking they are so long he could climb telephone poles with them! So then comes the wrestling match – the body block while I put a vice-grip hold on his hand (not really, but I do have to hold really tight), and attempting to cut his nails while he pulls, tugs, yanks and otherwise tries to wrestle free – all the while screaming bloody murder, “somebody saaaaaaaaaave meeeeee!” in the loudest wail I may have ever heard.

My girls – not a problem – cut them, paint them, it’s all good. My boy, not so much. The whole experience is traumatic – not only for him, but for me! It takes me hours and two glasses of Cabernet to stop that jittery, shaken feeling that follows such an experience. Next time, I think I’m going to give him the clippers and empower him to take care of it himself. Does anyone else have this experience? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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What to do when you have nothing to do? Simplify…

Wow…I can not even believe it, but…I have absolutely NOTHING planned for this weekend! When does that ever happen? Never! I am now in a quandary – what to do? Of course, in Living the Littles world, there is always activity – 3 young ones make that a simple fact. And then there’s the laundry, chores, grocery shopping…the normal stuff. But with no appointments, dinner or party plans, deadlines, I am feeling a little strange! Lost, even!

Why is it we feel the need to fill up our days with extracurricular activities? Have we completely evolved out of the need to just have a lazy, relaxing day? If we have, I think we all need to rethink what we’re doing before we run ourselves straight into the ground! I see it all the time, day after day. Parents running (or really driving) around, rushing from activity to activity, trying desperately to keep it all together while they manage school, kids’ activities, a career, a marriage, a household – honestly, it’s just too much!

For the past month or so, I have been in simplification mode. I have moved the Littles to a school much closer to the house to cut down on all the driving, I have purged dresser drawers and closets of the excesses of clothes they have grown out of, and even simplified some of our home decor to minimize the clutter. All that excess and drive can make you lose sight of what is simple and good in life, like the sheer act of snuggling quietly with a little one and having a long, personal chat, or feeling your shoulder muscles relax while you stop and breathe deeply for a few minutes, or having a quiet moment with God to say “thank you” for all His blessings in life.

So despite my brain’s running list of things I could get done this weekend, I think this once, I will dedicate one whole weekend day to simply soak in life – a little sun, a lot of fun with my precious Littles, a little food, a lot of family. Blessings. And no one else. Simple. Beautiful.

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