The Firefly Priority

The main reason why I didn’t blog, write, or really communicate with anyone the last few weeks is because my sister was in town.  And no offense but I wasn’t going to sacrifice a single moment with her just to blog.  For her birthday this year we got her a round trip plane ticket to come see us for a week.  After a few discussions we decided to offer a more extended trip and changed it so she would stay for a month.  I am very happy we did because the poor kid had jet lag for the first four days she was here.  There would have been some serious caffeinated beverage IVs if she hadn’t had more time.  It worked out though because I used the mornings that she slept to help the house recover fro the move and make some sense of where I was going to put things.

At least Firefly got to recover from jet lag in the Guest Suite (we are giving it a fancy name to entice our friends out for a visit).  It was seriously put together only a few hours before her plane got here. and I added more stuff as time went on.  Some day I’ll paint it to match the color scheme.

gueststuff

Having Firefly here was a wonderful experience for Honey and I, and for her too I suspect.  We had fun showing her around, taking her to the shops and restaurants we liked.  We had excuses for day trips and of course we got to spoil her a little bit.  She’s 17 so we weren’t really baby-sitting or playing Mom & Dad, but she isn’t really an adult yet either so we had some say in the rules.  She was incredibly helpful with cooking and cleaning and a wonderful guest.  I also took her to a local University for her first college tour, it was a beautiful campus but she wasn’t feeling it.  In hind site I should have waited longer into the trip because she was just at that critical moment of homesickness for her friends that made her just see it as being far away from everyone she knew.  I tried unsuccessfully to explain that even if she goes to a college close to home or to the same school as some of her friends that doesn’t mean she will necessarily continue her friendships with them.  It’s hard trying to explain how everything changes once you graduate from high school without completely terrifying someone.  By the end of her trip, her tune had changed.

We had many heart to hearts while she was here, talking about college and our parents and what her real options were vs what she was being told her options were.  I think some of it helped.  We have offered to let her live with us for a while after graduation if she wants to set up residency here and eventually go to school, but we’ll see.  Going to school on the other side of the state would be a change, let alone across country.  I just wanted to let her know she has options, the world doesn’t seem as big as it is when you only grow up in one place.  The trip was good her because she came alone and got to where she needed to be be by herself, it probably taught to trust herself a little bit more.

Since she came here right as we moved in she became part of our lives in our new place.  I must admit saying good-bye to her at the airport was ridiculously hard, in fact the week before she left I was near to tears on quite a few occasions.  She was also upset at the prospect of leaving, we offered to have her stay longer if she wanted (another three weeks) and she deliberated on that for quite a while.  In the end she thought she should go home, I think because she didn’t want to deal with our parent’s reaction.  She told me the day she left that she wished there had been rain and delays so she could had stayed.  She killed me when she said that, it made me want to pull her out of line and call my parents on the way home explaining she wasn’t coming back.  I won’t lie, I gave serious thought to what would happen if we just never put her on a plane back.  But I wanted her to make a decision and have it just be hers, not what others wanted for her.  She has to make a lot of decisions in the next few years, so I figure a little practice wouldn’t hurt.

fireflywfireShe had a lot of firsts on this trip.  First of all she flew across country by herself, with a layover on each side of the trip (even I haven’t done that).  She saw fireflies for the first time, heard cicadas, saw new and unusual bugs, saw many real lightning storms, met relatives she only saw as a child, got to play with fireworks, read different types of books, explored new towns, roasted a chicken, and got caught in a downpour while swimming…what can I say, it rained around 6 inches while she was here. And of course her and I talked to each other in more of a sister way, than in the mom and child way that we have had in the past.

She told me things that broke my heart and then things that gave me hope.  This trip while giving her a break from daily life also gave her a chance to see the world from a different angle, which is probably important at this stage of the game.  It also made her know that even if there is distance, Honey and I have her back no mater what.  Sometimes just knowing that makes it easier to deal with the crap.  While I know the issues she has to face from growing up with the same cast of characters, the setting is a bit different and the plot has way too many twists.   I had Mimi to go to, hopefully Firefly feels like she can come to us.

Of course we were not the only ones that didn’t take her departure well.  Bailey was practically beside himself when he saw her luggage out of the closet and whenever she left the room he followed.  I think he is also onboard if she decides to come live with us, what do you think?

baileynotpleased

I do NOT approve

We have talked a lot since she got back, she seems to be doing ok.  She is keeping herself busy with friends and trying a few things to keep her mind busy so she doesn’t get summer brain rot.  I’m trying to keep myself busy too, with making the house ours and starting up my writing schedule again.  Since she was here at the beginning of our life at this house, it has been an adjustment in her absence.   But that just gives us a chance to do some more research into all things fun on the East Coast for her next trip out.

What I’ve Been Up to This Time

As John puts it, “it’s been a bit stale” around here.  Once again, I apologize. Yes I got busy with life again and I was in the middle of things that I couldn’t write about out of some strange superstition I have, but once again I have returned and I’m ready to start saying what’s on my mind and catch you up with everything else one post at a time.

So the biggest reason I have been all quiet on the Blogging Front is that we moved again.  It was not the elaborate logistical challenge of moving across country (which was only six months ago) but a more manageable in-town move into Our new house.  When we moved to NC the plan was to rent for a year and start looking for our own house in the fall.  But then Spring came as did the For Sale signs and John an I found ourselves adding Redfin and Zillow apps to our phones and checking them as often as we checked the afternoon weather forecast.  I must admit I dragged my heels on the whole buying a house thing.  I kept on saying not yet, we need to get to know the town more, and really figure out what we wanted out of house.  Since the houses are much different here than in SoCal we weren’t sure where we would “fit”.  Also I did want to stick to the plan and buy in 2014 and I convinced myself that my constant Redfin surfing was just fact gathering and research.  The research led to me the conclusion that we should start officially looking.

I looked up some local realtors through the internet, unfortunately this town does not use Yelp as much as San Diego, so no one had a customer review that they had not hand picked.  I was planning for us to buy the house on the sly without telling any of my family whet we were up to, but after a not so good feeling from a “highly recommended” relator I called my cousin and asked for a recommendation.  She put me in touch with the guy who had help them find their first and second house and sell their first house as well.  My Aunt and Uncle also used him when they bought in South Carolina, I think he can now be considered the official family realtor.  He (unlike many residents) grew up in Charlotte and knows this town like the back of his hand.  He is a riot and can keep you entertained on a long day of looking 18 houses in a row.  The house buying/selling process is very different than what I experience in San Diego, so I was happy to have someone who understood and explain it to me.  He liked me because I was no nonsense about house hunting, I could look at a house and if I didn’t like it leave without seeing the whole thing.  Some of his clients would just keep on looking and bad mouth the house for another 10 to 15 minutes.  I didn’t see how that was worth my time.

Originally it was just me looking at the houses with our Realtor.  John trusted my judgement and through online searches and our Realtor’s insight we had an initial list of around 20 houses.  We discussed what we wanted at lest a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom (there was no way we were going back to one bathroom after knowing life with 2.5) with a good size yard, a garage, in a good area, maybe with a wood burning fireplace, or screened in porch.  The Realtor and I set out at 9am on a Wednesday morning and by 3:45 with a half hour lunch, I had whittled the list down to 3 that I wanted John to see.  It was very House Hunters.

Did they chose House #1- the split level with the hardwood floors and the small pool? House #2-The small cottage without a garage in the great part of town? Or did they chose House #3  the newer construction with all kinds of upgrades but a small backyard? We chose House #3, but we didn’t buy it.

We put in an offer, which even though it was below list price our realtor thought was too much.  It was a very good offer and he expected she would answer within the hour-she didn’t.  Instead she waited a day and change the listing to a “multiple offer situation” and wanted our best offer by the weekend.  Not to mention wanted a really long escrow and the option to rent back and some other things I don’t even want to bring up.  We withdrew our offer, though I doubt she let the other people know.  We didn’t want to deal with this BS when the house had been on the market for over two months without a single offer.

So a few days later we hit the road again looking at potential houses.  It was probably one of the most rainy days we have still ever seen here, but our Realtor was at the helm and got to ten houses in a few hours without incident.  John fell in love with the first place we went, but I had reservations.  The second to the last house we went to that day was the one we ended up buying.  Like I mentioned it was raining like crazy that day. The sky was rumbling and dark, it made you just want to curl up under a blanket with a hot cider and forget the world, but when we went into the house that would be ours, that feeling drifted away.  It felt really good in there.  The walls in the entrance were painted a neutral light beige but it reflected what little bit of light was coming out of the sky without a single light bulb on.  In the rental I had noticed the darkness from the trees being filled in was starting to get to me after week three of no sun, so I thought a place like this might be good for me.  The kitchen a family room were equally lovely and the mater bedroom windows faced the forested area behind the property.  So now I wake up to this view every morning

bedroom view

We went to another house, and while it nice it was not what we had just seen.  So we made an offer and were in escrow by the next day.  I am thankful we moved on buying a house when we did because soon after we closed they started raising the interest rates on home loans.  I really like the house, still getting to know her and I haven’t fully bonded yet, but that takes time.

We moved in as soon as we could because we had my little sister Firefly coming to town a few days after we closed.  Though I couldn’t unpack everything before she got here we were able to set up the guest room and bathroom so she had a comfortable place to sleep off her jet lag.  I’ll talk about her visit in my next post.