Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More Thoughts on the Transition...

I've been trying to really reflect on the transition from two to three kids. After Peter was born, an old neighbor on Baldwin Street, who has two kids of her own, wrote this beautiful thought to me as a part of a congratulatory note that included a sweet invite to move back to Baldwin Street:

I like imagining that having three children is just deep immersion into chaos and the thickest kind of love. Enjoy all your moments.

I think I like it so much because it's not all lovely and sweet. The image it conjures in my mind is a bit messy, but also totally love filled. And perhaps even overwhelmed with love? As Peter approaches his 1/2 birthday - which is crazy, as baby birthdays always are - I feel like this statement perfectly describes life with three children.

I should say that right now, as I type, I'm feeling quite calm and sentimental because Louisa is at day camp, Cora is quietly lining clementines up on the kitchen counter, and Peter is sleeping. Of course life is not always so ordered and sweet, but for the most part, it's nearly impossible to imagine life before Peter. I do sometimes longingly watch mothers of one-child and feel a bit of nostalgia for that time in my life. Or even watch young, single friends make spontaneous, fun decisions, and sigh, wishing I could do that, too. But I love my children. You are all amazing in your own ways, and I wouldn't trade you for a million spontaneously fun outings. For these chaotic years, I'll just keep planning our outings ahead of time!

Here's a glimpse into some of our pre-planned outings. Clearly I need to take more photos of Peter. Sorry, Buster Brown, I'll work on that!

Belle's nail salon
Mask craft as a reading reward at the library

Rickshaw ride at the children's museum

Nate said I needed a selfie stick if I wanted to include all my kids

Cora said, "Beer!"

Concert on the Square with Oma

Art Cart at Vilas Park

The Henry Vilas Zoo

Donuts at the Farmers' Market

Breakfast at Stacks

Dress-up at Belle's

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Preparation is Progress

Each time I stop by the fixer upper, I feel a bit surprised that it doesn't look much different yet. It seems like we've done so much, but alas...we're actually just in the preparation stage. Nate has spent hours creating 2D and 3D models, carefully removing trim pieces from windows and doorways, walking through with energy/insulation experts, draining the radiators, mowing the jungle of a lawn and starting demolition in the basement.

While my tasks have been much less hands-on, I also feel like I've done enough work that things should look better. I've talked to energy experts, bankers (for our home equity line of credit), dumpster rental companies, and arborists. It's funny that one morning you can wake up and have no idea how much it costs to have a dumpster in your driveway for 30 days, let alone who offers the best deal in Madison, and by that afternoon, be placing an online order. Sometimes I've thought that the best (paying) job for me would be to be a personal assistant to a very busy person. I enjoy checklists and being organized. Nate is the very busy person and so far, I've enjoyed the tasks he (very politely) asks me to take care of each week.

A typical weekday around here looks like this: we all wake up between 7 and 8. Nate leaves for work at 7:30 and usually one or both girls are eating breakfast at our island (we're in the apartment downtown Madison for one more week). After breakfast, dress-up clothes are donned and legos are dumped. The apartment becomes a bit of a disaster area while I make calls, send emails and scan documents. Usually around 9:30 or 10, I get cabin fever and we rally to get things cleaned up before leaving for an outing.

The weather has been amazing, so we've had fun going to the zoo, beach, parks and the children's museum. On Friday morning, we went to Oma's house to make these tasty cookies for a party we had that night. On Thursday mornings, Louisa has dance class and tomorrow she starts a week-long theater camp. Peter is proving to be a very easy-going third child, napping when and where he can and smiling at anyone who will smile at him. Cora is mostly content to follow Louisa's instructions on who she's pretend-marrying that day or whether it's time for swim lessons or dance class (each activity takes place in a different room of our small apartment) and always happily goes down for a nap when we return home from our morning outing.

We don't actually have our permit for the renovation yet, but Nate is close to having everything ready. We hope to have it by early next week, because technically, a permit is required to have a dumpster in your driveway. The tree removal on the calendar below is crucial because the removal crew will likely need the driveway to get their equipment to the backyard. Here is the schedule for the next few days:
  • Thursday, July 30: the massive walnut tree will be removed to make room for the new garage
  • Friday, July 31: the 30 yard dumpster will be delivered & we move out of the apartment
  • Saturday, August 1: our first community demo day
  • Monday, August 3: I start work & we move into the rental house
Whew. Life is full, but good! I'm hoping that Peter starts to sleep through the night more frequently, because when our days are so packed, a good night's sleep is crucial. He had two nights this week where he slept straight from 10 pm until 5 am, which felt magical. Go, Peter, go! Sleep, Peter, sleep!

Here are some different new before-photos that Nate and Louisa took last week while I stayed at the apartment with Peter and Cora.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Let the Chaos Begin!

We own the house! Because the previous owner has a guardian, the sale of the house had to be approved by the court. We received news of the court approval on June 30 and closed the next day. My blood pressure must have been sky-high from the moment I heard the news, as I tried to calm a crabby two-year-old (who wanted to keep the plastic cell phone from the "busy box" at swimming lessons) while drying Louisa off and making phone calls to make sure we had our funds for closing in the right accounts. I don't even remember, but I bet Peter wanted to eat too. Now it's all a good memory - - we made it home for lunch and naps and then walked up to the capitol square to the bank to get a big 'ole cashier's check. Biggest purchase we'll ever make, I suspect!

A sweet friend, Betty, hung out with the girls and secured a spot on the capitol lawn for the concert on the square for later that night. My parents, aunt Judy and cousin Molly drove from Oconomowoc to enjoy the music, weather and food with us. What a way to celebrate!

Now the real work begins. Nate has been busy taking measurements and creating floor plans on Solid Works and we've started a Google Drive spreadsheet to keep track of our costs. Nate's attention to detail amazes me. He wants to mark spots on the floor plans for where our before and after photos are taken. I have to say, I love the idea but hadn't thought of being that precise!

Here are the existing floor plans:

And the proposed floor plans, still in the initial design phase, so likely to change again:

Thanks for your excitement and support as we embark on this project! We're happy to accept feedback, if you see things we haven't considered. Next step: prepare plans that will satisfy the city, so we can obtain our permits and start the demolition!

See Where Our Pictures Were Taken