Our Next House Will Have a Small Yard

And very few trees.

One of the biggest selling points, to me, of this house was the large yard and the fact that it backed up to the woods. All I pictured were our future children running around in the backyard, playing on swings, jumping in leaf piles, and generally having fun. I grew up with a large yard like that in Canada, and then we moved to NJ and traded in our expansive lawn for a tiny patch of grass just large enough for a swing set.

I didn’t listen to my husband, who continuously told me that this house would be a lot of work and we should look for something with less grass. This has resulted in endless hours spent mowing, raking, shoveling, pruning, weeding, spraying, and lots of other “-ing”s. When he suggests to me now that maybe we should just pave the whole thing, I half-consider it.

We raked all the leaves two weeks ago, and then he did it again on Wednesday afternoon. By yesterday, the lawn was covered again, so I decided to use it as my workout for the day. It was sunny and not too chilly, and I am willing to do just about anything to avoid having to use the elliptical. I grabbed my phone, plugged in my headphones, and raked my little heart out while prancing around the yard to the latest Backstreet Boys album.

This is what I started with:

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After less than an hour, I had several neat little piles of leaves full of all kinds of creepy crawlies. How I ever played in these things as a child and didn’t notice all the spiders and other unidentifiable critters is beyond me.

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I was feeling overly confident and decided to take a quick break to clean out the dryer vent and in the process managed to slice up most of my hand. Even with that little detour, and having to go inside and administer first-aid to myself, I still finished the backyard in an hour.

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I started the music back at Track 1 and headed to the front yard. I was on a roll. I was unstoppable. Until the wind started howling and blowing so hard that the leaf bag wouldn’t stand upright and all of my piles started getting tossed back around the yard. I gave up after about 10 minutes and went inside. I figured there was no point raking while Mother Nature was busy blowing down more leaves while I worked. Still, I felt like it looked better than it did before I started. Then I woke up this morning and walked outside to go to church.

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All my hard work, completely undone. Perhaps this is why all of our neighbors have left their lawns leaf-covered.

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Why I Haven’t Blogged in Forever

I wish I had a reason. It’s not that I haven’t had things to write about, in fact, I feel like I’ve had SO much stuff to write about that I get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything.

The husband and I decided to repaint the downstairs to make it feel more homey. For the past 6 months, it’s felt like we’ve been staying at someone else’s house and we got tired of it. It was a huge production to pick out colors, mostly because I have a terrible time making even the simplest of decisions lately. We finally decided on a brighter green for the kitchen, a bluish-purple for the dining room (it was baby blue before), and “milk chocolate” for the living room, mostly because it sounded delicious. We couldn’t agree on a color for the family room and we both kept wandering back towards the red section. I picked a paint chip, showed it to the husband, and he immediately said yes. The name is “cherry cobbler” and it is the exact same color we had in the living room in our apartment.

You would think that since we had previously painted with red and knew what a huge pain in the butt it was, that we would do it correctly this time. You know, with primer. Apparently we think we’re big shots who are above using something silly like primer, so we just got the paint-and-primer combination. After painting one wall and seeing how horrendous it looked (streaks, tan bleeding through, dark patches, a general mess) I called Home Depot and asked for help. Then we ran over there with about 10 minutes to spare before the store closed and I begged the very grumpy man to help us fix it. He told us we needed a separate primer so he mixed that up for us and gave us a gallon of just paint as well. We went home and primed the unpainted walls a lovely shade of pink, looked at each other, and decided to just put the primer over what we had already painted. It worked! Who would have thought that stuff actually served a purpose, other than to scam me out of $20? It took 5 days and 3 more coats of red, but now it’s done and I love it. It feels comfy and familiar and fun.

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In other news, I’ve been doing horribly at Weight Watchers. I haven’t seriously tracked in weeks, I’ve been drinking way too much wine and eating entirely too much cake, but I’m walking about 2 miles everyday which seems to be keeping me losing, even if it’s only ounces per week. I wasn’t able to weigh in last week because the tv and everything was unplugged for painting, so I weighed in today for the first time in two weeks and am down only .2 pounds. I’ll take it. I’ve hit the 10% mark and have 13 pounds left to lose. I’d love to lose another 5 before we go on vacation in 2.5 weeks, but I just don’t know if that’s realistic even if I step it up and follow the program to the letter.

Last night we were at my dad’s to walk and I ended up looking through a bunch of my mom’s papers and things she had collected over the years. She used to go out and buy magazines and newspapers whenever anything major happened in the news, so there was a whole plastic tub full of them. I found the original newspapers from when JFK was assassinated (she was obsessed with him), from the first moon launch, the OJ verdict, Princess Diana’s death, the Clinton impeachment, etc.

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There was another bin full of stuff she had printed out from the computer. Thinking it was mostly garbage, I sorted through it quickly. Then I found a bunch of photo album pages full of pictures from the late 1960s and early 1970s – she would have been in her early 20s. They were pictures my dad and I had never seen before, mostly of her with old boyfriends on various road trips! I’ll have to scan some of them so that I have a copy. I can’t get over how beautiful she was when she was young.

The last thing I found was a package… One of those soft-sided envelopes. It was open on the side, so I reached in and pulled out these two books:

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I couldn’t help but laugh. How ironic. I turned the package over to see if there was a date on it somewhere, but there’s not. The shipping label shows that they were shipped to that house, which means she would have ordered them sometime after 1999 when we moved in. I doubt she bought them for herself because my nana died in 1991. I just checked the copyright dates and they were both published in 2003. I can’t help but think that she ordered them at some point (whether it was before she was diagnosed or after, I don’t know) for me. She knew that after she died, I would probably be the one to be sorting through all this stuff and she knew I would find them. She was huge into self-help books, and of course they are published by the Catholic press, which is so typically her. I like to think that she planned a little in advance to help me deal with losing her.