Tuesday, April 29, 2014

So we did this yesterday . . .

After 7 years of living in a beautiful, 1850s farmhouse with our business right in our house, our family is off to our next adventure (right up the street)! 

Our clinic has been invited to join a local campus of of various clinicians, practitioners, therapists, yoga and meditation teachers, counselors, psychiatrists, and other instructors and we've agreed to join them!

We've spent the past 2 years researching ways to expand our practice and have noted many times over how good it would be to have two patient rooms. We have one patient room in our current clinic and if even one patient shows up late, it bumps our entire schedule, making every patient afterward also start late without much recourse for us to fix it. Also, the bathroom is off of the patient room (rather than the waiting room), which is not convenient for people in the waiting room. 

And then there's the lack of central A/C and heating which is cumbersome. We have individual electric heating in each room and air conditioning window units in the summer. This causes frustration every spring and fall, because you want to wait as long as possible before putting them in and you want to make sure that it's truly well into fall before you take them out - those early and later hot and even muggy days can throw us for a loop when our units aren't in, because the fans just don't cut it on those days. The other issue is that once the units are in the windows, we're stuck and can't open the windows for light and fresh air on those pleasant, cooler days. The units are also very loud - this has made some of my counseling appointments tricky and acupuncture appointments not as relaxing as they could be.

And let me say, that though those things have been challenging, we have LOVED having the clinic in our home. LOVED. In fact, it's something we're a bit sad to give up. Here are some pictures of our clinic waiting room:

Anyway, to address those issues and continue where we are, we've looked into adding on a patient room and installing central air and the costs really add up. And even after all that clinic upgrading, we're living in a sturdy, lovely 1850s home with older plumbing, no closets (we've all been sharing one sort-of closet here and it's in the hallway which makes it tricky when we have guests), no garage, oil heating, and very little light. When you consider fixing all of those things (if you even can), you're talking about putting a whole lot of money into a house--money that you likely won't get back when you sell. And honestly, at that point, it's cheaper to buy a newer home. 

We've looked for years for a way to modernize our home-clinic situation so that we can keep it in our home. Besides renovating our current home, we've considered buying land and custom building. We've found great homes, but in neighborhoods where HOAs have rules against in-home businesses. We've looked at buying modern homes and adding on. You name it. Every option has been a different kind of expensive and most options have been more than we can comfortably afford. But now that the clinic is moving, it opens up all kinds of possibilities and options.

With the clinic moving a whole 3 miles down the road (to a gorgeous location where we can use TWO patient rooms at a time - expansion! - and where I can teach classes and lead groups), we're able to get any kind of housing we'd like. Well, two big things have been calling to us all - LIGHT and OPENNESS. There are days I feel physically and emotionally desperate for both and I feed off of it in a big way. 

I have looked at online housing listings for years. I think it's fun and interesting, and I'm pretty sure that I am about 2 honorary steps from being a PA realtor from all of my casual researching, reading, and observing. When we drive by a house for sale, I generally know how long it's been listed, what the list price is, if it's fair for that area, what the inside looks like, and which real estate company is representing it. 

Well, in all of our looking, I see things that make me hit the back button right away (dark wood paneling, HOAs, crappy location) and I see things that make me want to explore further. Sometimes I see a house in a great location that should be lovely, but just a few clicks through the inside pictures and I'm repulsed by what someone has done to it (there is just no justification for pink and turquoise walls with a palm tree and Aztec motif in the middle of the Amish country. Or anywhere for that matter). And after enough looking, you have things you like about one place, things you like about another place, and you wonder how to find a house (in your price range) that has all the things you like and value. 

In my mind's eye, just a few months ago, I pictured a house with MANY windows and much light that is so open, you can see not only from the kitchen into the living room (I love that), but also from the downstairs to the upstairs. Bonus if it also had a study. And we could only dream of it having a finished basement. 

So, when I came upon a house in a location we've always, always liked, ever since moving here over 11 years ago, of course I looked immediately. And when it was not only JUST what I'd pictured (but had no idea really existed) plus no HOA fee plus had tons of extras that are right up our alley . . . I couldn't believe it. The price was on the high side, but not so high that it couldn't at least be considered and researched. (And thankfully, we live in a part of the country where housing is very affordable - our realtor told us that our new house would sell for double the price just a few counties away). So we get to enjoy small-town living near some great big cities AND afford a nice home. Awesome.

Anyway, as part of our research in deciding whether or not to make a move on the house (all the while having contract negotiations for our business and transitioning to new tenants for our townhouse), we also spoke with a development company that is putting in a development in a location we also LOVE - the one drawback being a very small HOA fee/rules. We're just not fans. We understand their purpose and can see their value, but we just don't like them. I feel like I'm paying someone to assume I'm an idiot and tell me what I can and can't do. [/HOA rant]. So we sat down one afternoon and picked a floor plan and answered all the agent's questions on every feature you could imagine, room by room. It was really fun! Like window shopping with possibility!

There have been some things over the past year or so that have made us want to move - parole officers showing up weekly at our neighbor's house, watching our neighbor get arrested (I guess he broke parole - at least that's what the screaming match between him and his father seemed to indicate before the police arrived), a row of rentals just up from them with the ever-present vehicles-on-cinder-blocks for "repairs" that never seem to get done, our landscaper neighbor who seems to think everyone must surely be awake at 5:30 AM; therefore, it's perfectly acceptable to use very loud tools, our other neighbor blaring the most vile, misogynistic, disgusting rap music I'd ever heard EVER (we were on our way out the door to have dinner at a friend's house - we and our food platter went right back in the house and waited it out for a good ten minutes until it stopped), and domestic violence across the other street (we're on a corner). 

Oh, and our cars BOTH getting frozen to the ground this past winter? On the same day? When Mark was trying to get to work? Yeah, it made us long for a garage.

This is an example of "making do," as we call it - this has been our bathroom "counter" and cupboard for 7 years.
Notice that's also the towel rack. We hang our towels on the pipes.
While living on Main Street is great for business, it's not so great for sleeping - loud trucks, sirens, snow plows . . . big, huge lights glaring in your window from the 24-hour grocery store across the street (seriously, when they put those in, we asked management AND corporate if they could please just not point them RIGHT at our bedroom window - it didn't work), the very large and blinding (and flashing) LED light from the business diagonally across from us, the view of the beer warehouse and billboards . . . you get the idea (anyone want to buy a farmhouse? :P). 

Seriously, the house really is lovely, charming, and filled with character (and not in the you-have-to-fix-it-up ways). It's move-in ready and a great, sturdy, truly beautiful house. We are, in many, many ways, sad to leave it. They don't build them like this anymore! We love, love, love it. And it's only been over the past couple of years that some of the charm has worn on us and we've wanted to modernize and upgrade. We have had a GREAT seven years here. It's been SUCH fun. Plus, hello! We have a big, red barn, and c'mon, that's just cool. 

So anyway, back to the story - the price of the custom build and the price of the listed house were close enough to consider both, the custom home being the more expensive of the two and one that wouldn't be ready until at least fall, with more construction in the neighborhood for many years. We debated both for a long time - pros and cons, back and forth, etc.

But then! The price dropped 10K on the listed, already-built house! That really swung our decision. So, after a bit of hassle with lending approval (most difficult day in this entire process), we moved on it. And long story short, we got it!

It is a former model-home for the neighborhood and it's is a beauty. Central air, natural gas heating, finished basement, study, closets, open floor plan, garage, LIGHT AND OPENNESS, here we come! Even the dining room is the color we like and has the wainscoting we like.

Seriously, we love this house! It even has upgrades we probably wouldn't dream to add, including two fireplaces (one is in our bedroom). Oh, and a whirlpool tub! I haven't taken a proper bath in seven years. I am so excited! And the shower is a walk-in type. Right now I'm standing in a claw foot tub, surrounded by shower curtains that attack me, and using a shower head that is almost too high to reach in a bathroom with no ventilation, so it gets very steamy (and hot in the summer and cold in the winter). . . . WE ARE EXCITED!

Also, the views are SPECTACULAR. I mean, from EVERY window of the house, there is beauty to behold - a tree-lined creek in the back and farmland across the street. It is GORGEOUS. We've seen herons and deer and all kinds of beautiful birds. This literal change of scenery is good for the soul - we're excited to move forward and be inspired by our surroundings. 

Our new neighborhood is young - kids, dogs, quiet streets. A lovely place to walk, ride bikes, play. It's lovely and picturesque. And yet, we're about a mile from our 24-hour grocery store. Love it!

Mark and I both turn 40 this year. We've lived in a small apartment, a trailer, a townhouse, a farmhouse, and now this - it is our first time living in a modern, stand-alone home. They're not kidding when they say it takes a LONG time to save and build up like this - it has been over two decades of learning and working and saving and career changes and moves and decisions. My dad was 40, too, when he first owned a modern stand-alone home - my childhood home, a beautiful home he built himself.

As for me and Mark and our family - I love having these adventures together! I love feeling like a team and brainstorming and planning and working together. I love, love, love my spouse and partner and best friend.

Now, according to this article (which came out 2 days before we put in our offer), we're in the unhappiest time in our lives ("Human happiness hits the lowest point around the ages of 40 to 42") and might be having a mid-life crisis. That thought scares me and consumes me with guilt. I hope that's not what this is! :P We have talked so much about all of this and researched every angle (as we are wont to do) and we know this is all part of moving forward as a family, with our careers, and with pursuing more passions. It all feels right and is falling into place.

One other note. In our consideration of both properties, one big one in the "pro" column for the custom house in the new development is that it would have a "Finch Drive" address. How great is that? I was a little disappointed to give that up (even though I love our new address, too), and then found out that we were settling on Harper Lee's birthday. A little cosmic housewarming gift. :)

Okay, so before I introduce you to our  new home, and because I apparently think you haven't read enough yet, let me share some lists we've all compiled to help explain our bittersweet transition. All of us have come up with 5 things we'll miss about our farmhouse, 5 things we won't miss about our farmhouse, and 10 things we're excited about with regard to the new house. I love reading these! Ready?

Thing 2's list:

5 Things I will miss about this house

1. Two staircases.
2. A big bedroom.
3. A really cool game closet.
4. A really nice backyard.
5. Having the business in the house.

5 Things I will not miss about this house

1. Always being cold in the winter.
2. Always being hot in the summer.
3. Having to turn down the heats before showering.
4. Having a crappy basement.
5. All the creepy crawlers and spiders.

10 Things I am most excited for in the new house

1. A really cool basement.
2. A cool desk for Legos in the basement.
3. A ton of light.
4. Openness.
5. A nice neighborhood.
6. Being 2 minutes closer to my best friends.
7. 2 stairways leading to one staircase.
8. Having a big living room.
9. Being able to see who is at the door from upstairs.
10. Intercom.

Thing 1's list:

5 Things I'll Miss About This House:

1. The double staircase
2. The backyard
3. The playset
4. The look of the house (the barn, the doors, the old farmhouse feel, etc.)
5. My bedroom

5 Things I Won't Miss About This House:

1. Putting the air conditioners in the windows in the summer/having to tie the curtains up in our bedroom so we can turn on the heat
2. The gross bathroom
3. Tiptoeing around and going up the back staircase while Daddy's in the clinic
4. Having to turn down the heats so our showers aren't freezing/not being able to run the dishwasher so the showers aren't scalding hot
5. Sleeping right next to main street/the train/loud neighbors

10 Things I'm Most Excited About (New House):

1. The light and openness/being able to see the upstairs from the downstairs
2. The garage
3. The fireplace
4. The breakfast counter in the kitchen
5. The intercom system
6. The writing room
7. The basement
8. A modern heating/cooling system
9. A nice bathroom/the double sinks in the bathroom
10. A new neighborhood

(Please note that the intercom system they've both mentioned is not listed for me and Mark) :P Hilariously, while walking through the house for a showing, Thing 2 got on the intercom and said, "Mission Control, this is Apollo 13!" and we all heard it throughout the whole house.

Mark's list:

Five Things I Will NOT Miss:

1. Putting in all of the window AC units.
2. Going out to the freezer in the barn in subfreezing temperatures, sometimes in the snow, just to see what appetizers we have.
3. Trying to dig our cars out after a snowstorm.
4. Wondering if we should call the police at 2 AM after our neighbor throws a baseball bat at her husband.
5. Monitoring our oil tanks and boiler to make sure we have plenty of heating oil in the winter, and that the boiler is indeed running.

Five Things I Will Miss:

1. Our backyard.
2. The clinic in the house.
3. The grape vines (although, we should be able to take those with us).
4. Being able to place a Chinese takeout order at 9:55 and still make it by closing time at 10:00.
5. Being in the same town as the old timey theater, the coffeehouse, and the college.

10 Things I'm Looking Forward To:

1. The view from our windows in every season.
2. Straight forward heating and cooling controls.
3. Light, light, and more light.
4. A garage.
5. A basement that we can use for storage without worrying if some animal has crawled in through the crawl space (This has never happened, but it occurred to me that it could here).
6. Feeling inspired to do new things and rediscover old interests.
7. A nice closet.
8. Our two fireplaces.
9. Seeing our guests in the living room even when we're working in the kitchen.
10. Making new memories in our beautiful home.

Stacy's list:

5 Things I'll Miss About This House:

1. Our backyard/patio/clothesline
2. Having the clinic in our house
3. Being officially part of a great, little town (though our new house is JUST outside of it and our business is in it, so I'm continuing to claim it!)
4. The old farmhouse feel/vibe of it, particularly the Hogwarts-ness of it (two staircases)
5. Our big, double living room with pocket doors where we watch TV, play video games, use our computers, talk, hang out, eat, store our games, learn, write, etc., as well as the window by our side street where Scout loves to sit and get excited when she sees us get home (also where she tries to kill the mailman with her barking and growling)

5 Things I Won't Miss About This House:

1. Not having closets
2. A freezing cold kitchen in the winter and a really hot kitchen in the summer and having to hang a curtain in the doorway to try to keep rooms warm (though thanks, Mom, for making it for us!)
3. The lack of light (it's oriented away from the sun for 1850s-style efficiency)
4. Old plumbing and all its inherent issues, old heating (running out of oil, expense of oil, etc.) and cooling (window units) methods, as well as an old, musty basement (for the thankfully very infrequent times we've had to go down there during a possible tornado threat)
5. Not having a garage

10 Things I'm Most Excited About (New House):

1. Gas heating and central air! (updated plumbing and modern conveniences in general - pretty excited about the fireplace, too)
2. The writer's room/study - and WRITING there
3. That you can see just about anywhere in the house from anywhere in the house (openness!)
4. LIGHT. LIGHT. LIGHT. And THE VIEWS from every window. Just gorgeous.
5. A modern kitchen with a PANTRY (I've always wanted a pantry!)
6. A garage and the fact that we can have our freezer in there instead of in the barn
7. Closets as well as storage in a good basement
8. A really nice finished basement for gaming, Legos, music, movie watching, posters, cool lights, playing ping-pong/pool/air hockey, etc. - a great kids' hang out!
9. Modern bathrooms - a real tub, a real shower, proper towel racks and storage. Oh, and our own closet!
10. A nice, quiet neighborhood where our kids can ride bikes, walk the dog, learn to drive, etc.

So without further ado, here are pictures of our new house (from the listing - that's not our furniture - oh, and technically, with moving our clinic and just in general, this is downsizing as far as square footage goes!) . . .

We closed on the house yesterday morning and then had a family picnic lunch in our new backyard. We took Scout to the house for the first time (she loves it!) and then met the locksmith and carpet cleaners there after that. The sellers were very hard-nosed and demanding and militant, but all in all, the process proceeded smoothly overall and that type-A-ness serves us well - the house is in immaculate condition.

Many of our moves have been stressful and difficult - our move to AZ was clouded by dealing with our miscarriage; our cross-country move from AZ to PA with a baby and a toddler was by far one of the most stressful experiences, compounded heavily by the fact that I was dealing with severe depression; our move to this house was at a financially stressful time and while exciting as we started our business, was marked in my mind as being very emotionally difficult, as we were surrounded by boxes and moving in and getting settled as my dad was dying from Parkinson's Disease and I was having great difficulty concentrating (I distinctly remember sitting on the floor of our dining room, surrounded by boxes, and working on a jigsaw puzzle to try to help calm my stress and anxiety and sadness while I waited for us to be able to get up to MA and see him and feeling like with every passing day, he was slipping away). This move right now is one of our happier and less-stressful moves, I think. It is not without stress, of course, but it is a happy transition, even if it is, as all moves are, bittersweet.

And perhaps one of the most telling signs of our excitement (aside from our obviously excited kids and puppy and me!) comes from this quote right here that Mark just said to me when he got home from working at the hospital: "I had the biggest whiners today, but I don't even care." Yeah, we're pumped. :P

Lots of people have asked us today what Scout thinks of the house. Here, see for yourself:

A big shout-out to our dear friend Sherri for sharing in our excitement (and frustrations - especially on pre-approval day!) these past many weeks throughout this process - she says she thinks she's as excited as we are! And a big thank you to her and to Ron for their boxes and listening ears and moving help (grrrr on the rain today), as well as other friends who have also offered help with moving and meals (yum!) and other support. They say you know who your friends are when you move! :P It is remarkable to see who steps up and offers! Wow. You guys are the best! Thanks to Mike King for his support and friendship in this and all things. Thanks to my mom for all her help and support in making this possible as well - the blue room is yours! We'll put the "Z" on the wall. :) And thanks to Jim for always supporting us. Setting us up with boxes and an organizing system - very thoughtful and such a great way to get us started! I always get nervous doing these specific shout-outs, because I worry I'm going to forget someone. I really hope I haven't. So many people have helped - our agent has been great, the lender came through for us (with some bumps), our kids' friends have helped us pack and move boxes, our kids, OUR KIDS are awesome. They have organized and packed entire rooms themselves. Thing 1 has even done some extra packing and cleaning without even being asked. THEY ARE THE BEST. Thank you to Mark for dealing with so many of the phone calls and headache-inducing aspects of this process, working all the while, and making things extra special with thoughtfulness and consideration! You are superman.

Now the real fun begins - setting up and making it home. Thanks to EVERYONE who has ever visited us in our farmhouse. Please come see us in our new home. We promise great hosting, great food, and great fun. And great views!


Dr. Mark said...

Yeah, this is our midlife crisis. :P It happens. At least our crisis doesn't involve an overpriced sports car and a misspelled tattoo.

I loved the lists from everyone. It's always so interesting to see exactly how we all think. I could have guessed a lot, but there were some surprises.

Superman? Neh. I couldn't have done any of it without you and your support. Adventure, here we come!

Emily Foley said...

Oh my gosh, that house is GORGEOUS. It's huge! and amazing!!!! The #1 thing on my list for our next home is a GARAGE. I am just aching for a garage. I am so happy for you guys but I admit I have a hard time picturing you there after the farmhouse--it just seemed to fit you and your lifestyle so well. But the modern conveniences of being able to run a dishwasher AND a shower are priceless. Congratulations!!!

Also, have you ever used a walk-in shower? They're kind of cold. Just FYI. My sister has one and whenever I use it I feel drafty and cold, so she puts up a shower curtain for me when I visit. :)

Emily Foley said...

is it 5 bedrooms or 4? I can't quite tell. Also I forgot to mention how nice the porch and the deck are! I would love those too. I can just see you and the Johnsons having BBQs out there. :)

Boquinha said...

Mark, I feel the same way about the lists. So sweet.

Emily, first off, I love hearing from you. I hope you know that. I hope you know how much I very, very, very much value you keeping up with us on blogs and always taking the time to comment. I think you're awesome.

Now, thank you!! We are so excited! I so hear you on the garage. We've only had a garage once in all of our living situations and we're so ready to have one again. We haven't ever had a 2-car garage, let alone a 2.5 car garage (love the extra space for bikes and such)!

It's funny you say that - you're not the first person to mention that to us. We have a good friend who has known us since we've lived in our farmhouse, so she has a hard time picturing us some place more modern, too. What's funny is that when I see pictures of us from our townhouse (built in 1997) days, I often think, "That's us!" :P Maybe it means we're very adaptable. Heheheh.

As for the lifestyle fit, I can see that one, too. We're not exactly "subdivision people" (that sounds like some kind of creepy movie), but this neighborhood is smaller and has no HOA, so that helps. And while we'll miss the clinic being in our home GREATLY, the new place is so much more efficient in terms of time management (Mark can see about twice as many patients in the same amount of time as he's been seeing one at a time), so this allows for more free time and family time, which is VERY us (and now it's us in a place where we can enjoy central air and modern plumbing *at the same time!*). :P I have to admit it will be nice to not worry about noise traveling into the clinic, too.

The new business space also allows for me to do groups and teach classes - two things I'd like to do more of.

I'm glad you said something about the shower. I don't think I'm using the right term. It's not walk-in, I guess. It's stand up and stand alone (so it's not a tub/shower combination). What do you call that?

It's 4 bedrooms. And we're all VERY excited about the porch and deck! And barbecues! :) And the basement!

LMW said...

Well, a big congratulations to you all!!How exciting!! It sounds like this will be a fun and adventurous move all around.:)

Emily Foley said...

Oh, walk in shower in my sister's house is a big shower with no actual door. I don't know what you call that other shower, I guess just a separate tub and shower? Who knows.

Robynne said...

That is SOOO exciting! Congratulations and ENJOY!! I'm sure you will! <3

Jimmy said...

Wow! Your house looks so nice. The neighborhood looks great, your porch looks great, your wood floors and tile, your cabinets--everything looks so classy. Living in the Southwest, I've always wished I could have the style of house you're moving into. Your yard! All that lawn! Ask Emily--here in NM you could replace all that lawn with dirt and some gravel and that's what it looks like. I've never really acquired a taste for it. So I covet your lawn and the riding mower Mark will soon have if he doesn't have one already. Anyway, congratulations!

Jimmy said...

Wow! Your house looks so nice. The neighborhood looks great, your porch looks great, your wood floors and tile, your cabinets--everything looks so classy. Living in the Southwest, I've always wished I could have the style of house you're moving into. Your yard! All that lawn! Ask Emily--here in NM you could replace all that lawn with dirt and some gravel and that's what it looks like. I've never really acquired a taste for it. So I covet your lawn and the riding mower Mark will soon have if he doesn't have one already. Anyway, congratulations!

Emily Foley said...

Yes! The lawn, and the fenced yard.

Boquinha said...

Thank you, LMW! We've all been itching for an adventure and this fits the bill - we cleaned over there today and started taking things over (the rain storms have slowed our move a bit and the carpet cleaning took longer to dry from the humidity). I'm wanting to do more! This is fun. :)

Robynne, it's your old neighborhood!! Thank you!

Jimmy, thank you! I know what you mean about southwestern yards - we had a rock yard at our house in AZ for over 4 years. You know, there's a house for sale in our new neighborhood. :) It has a swingset and you'd have an INSTANT set of friends there. :)

Lindsay said...

Oh my gosh! Awesome. I love it. I can't get over the size of it. It is so open and light. Congrats! Looks like there will be room for us when we come out again. :) I will miss your farm house. I loved it there.

The Magic Violinist said...

Superman? I always thought of him as more of a Batman type, with tons of gadgets to fix broken electronics or whatever else might not be working.

Make sure you remember to turn your intercom off at night. Max has already said he wouldn't hesitate to use it to wake us up in the morning. ;)

That's the first time I've seen the picture of the keys. :) So cool! I'm so excited!

Boquinha said...

Lindsay, I know. I have mixed feelings about the farmhouse. I've been dealing with bittersweet sadness for the past week or so. Our business moves this week, too. Lots of emotions.

TMV, he puts Superman AND Batman to shame. :P And the intercom . . . talk about mixed feelings! :P This is fun, isn't it?

Dave Johnson said...

Scout videos are really cute. I think she pretty much owns any place she goes. Alpha female.

Mark, I think you really NEED a misspelled tattoo. I recommend "REGRET NOHING."

Really awesome that Maxim listed being closer to the boys. That's my number one thing too - I feel like you're just down the street now. It's literally one turn from our street to yours.

And the openness - I hope this means a happy Stacy all winter long!

Kate Walker said...

Congratulations on purchasing a new home! It looks and sounds lovely. I'm sure the whole family is in love with the idea of moving in to the new place. It's also a good idea that you listed down the pros and cons, to keep the optimism in check. Keep us updated! I would love to hear more. :)

Kate Walker @ The Richardson Group Realty

Jagged Rocks said...

I am finally catching up on reading all the blogs I haven't been able to for months!
I love the new house!