Schwimmming! Plus bebes!

Lane Lines 1

We decided to test out the trial pass at the gym this afternoon. I found a speedo on clearance at a local sports store, and purchased it along with a swim cap and goggles with palpable excitement. I think the checkout guy thought I was nuts.

E. and I went to the gym and waited for the people to validate (read: give us another sales pitch) our test-drive pass, then finally we were permitted past the front barrier. I almost skipped into the locker room. I felt a bit lost at first; I’d had a tour but I couldn’t remember where everything was. I sorted it out and saw a lot of leopard print panties in the process (apparently we Idahoans like our leopard print!) and made it to the pool before E. It’s on the small side, only 3 lanes (only 2 were up) and though the coordinator had told me the best time to come, it was a little crowded. I got nervous again. I know the etiquette for lane sharing, and can circle swim or split a lane no-problem, but swimmers with their caps & goggles are a little intimidating looking. I sat in a chair and worried my workout in its ziplock baggie for a few minutes.

The most intimidating swimmer of the bunch stopped for a break and lifted her mirrored goggles. She had some kind of waterproof mp3 system in her ears, but she signaled to me and offered to split the lane. Yes! Thank you! I jumped in. Yippee!

E. came out a bit later, and as people left, we ended up in a lane together. He didn’t have goggles and was mostly there for moral support, but oh my goodness, I LOVED IT. I… I haven’t swam laps, like an actual workout, in over 20 years. My 17 year old self would have rolled her eyes, but I was so pleased with what I was able to do. I remembered all my stroke techniques and could hear my coach (Larry Swim, no kidding, that was his name, he was amazing) in my head. He taught me well, and though I’m sure he would have corrected my form if he had been there, it felt really great.

In all I only swam a little over a half mile. It kicked my butt, but was totally exhilarating. I loved it. I can’t believe I’ve never even tried this here. I was just so daunted by the distance and the cost — and hey, maybe that was a good thing anyway with my heart & all, but after today, I’m like, “It’s worth it. Whatever it costs. Here are my pennies.”

Well, that’s not totally true. I am considering cost and have a crazy-glue and duct tape plan to save the most money… which I will talk about more tomorrow since this is getting long. I’m off to shop for a pull buoy and zoomers. Woot!

p.s. My brother and his wife had their baby last night! So exciting and isn’t he adorable?

new nephew!

p.p.s. And my little sister has an update on her Miracle Baby, too. I seriously love being an aunt.

Unrelated items of a Monday

I have had one of my bad headaches since Saturday night. It’s keeping me up at night and is generally very annoying. It’s not really a migraine I don’t think, at least not the kind I used to get pre-surgery. My migraine meds aren’t touching the pain; ice packs are helping, and at least I can see.

Today is very exciting, we’re all waiting by our phones for more texts and hopefully pictures from my brother. His wife, my sister in law (I’d link but I think her instagram is private), is in the hospital today and we hope to have news of their baby boy being born soon!


Can you even stand how cute she is?

Speaking of instagram, I’m back on there now that I have a nicer (to me) phone. I locked it down so it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming, and I might delete it, but you can add me if you want.

While I lie around in bed moaning about my head, I’m obsessing over lap swimming. I think I’ve talked about this before? Maybe? I was on the swim team in high school (backstroke FTW) and it remains the only exercise I really love (though I really like Yoga too), and I was stunned when we moved here over 9 years ago to discover the local high school did not have a pool. I had no idea that was even possible. I’m not kidding when I say we would not have made an offer on the house had I known that.

Swim team circa 1992, I think?  Me front and center (duh, right?)

Swim team circa 1992, I think? Me front and center (duh, right?)

The nearest pool is in town, an hour round trip away. I’ve never been able to justify the gas or the costly gym membership (with flipping contract!) But this rental, if I take a back way into town, puts me a handful of minutes closer, which isn’t much of a commute / gas savings, but it’s enough to have me mulling it over in my head. Plus the gym offers reduced cost pool-only memberships in the summer. I’m obsessively refreshing their site waiting for the announcement, because I think I’m gonna do it.

J. is interested in joining the community swim team, which would help motivate me to make the drive on a regular basis. I know I’d love it if I could make myself take the initial leap, and I have swim-clearance from my doctor. What do you think? Do you like swimming? Or are you like one of my swim team mates who quit because she hated getting wet? (So funny to us at the time, why would you join swim club in the first place if you had that particular hatred?)

Deep breath. We’re walking away.

Screencap of the 30 acres via Google Maps

Screencap of the 30 acres via Google Maps – quite out of date, it’s been farmed in recent years.

I’m a pretty good decision maker. I like to set my sights on something and make it happen. I don’t waffle too often and I can even be a bit rash with my willingness to jump in feet first. When I come up against a decision that is harder to make, I think my brain sort of shuts down. There isn’t a clear black and white answer? What? What is this gray colored problem? I shall consume sugar and cry a lot and watch thirty episodes of Once Upon a Time.

I don’t think a choice without an immediate clear answer automatically means it’s wrong choice — I think often good decisions can be murky and it takes a leap of faith to make them. Still, we found that even though we could get psyched up about the 30 acres, we’d usually revert to nail chewing by the next morning. It would feel more calm and settled and peaceful if we considered walking away. Even though that was a painful thought, it did make more financial sense, too.

We spent Tuesday morning with the architect and he listened to me and didn’t think I was crazy. We now have 2600 square foot plans plus the larger 3000 square foot plans. But there was still a lot of pressure to make a hard and fast decision quick since the bank & county need copies of the plans in order to move forward.

On Wednesday the earnest money was due according to our sale contract, but that morning we weren’t any more decided than we were the day before. So we got in the car and drove to the temple. On the way we got a phone call from the lender. There was a snag — not an insurmountable snag — but enough of one that would delay the whole process a month or two, which was definitely not in the seller’s timeframe. Still, it sounded like it could still work, but it gave us another opportunity to walk.

We drove around a bit in the lovely spring sunshine and by the time we got home, we had decided to let it go. We talked with the seller and he understood — while part of me hopes the land is still available in a month or two, I’m sure it won’t be. It was priced so well and he had two other buyers behind us.

I feel so peaceful and settled about it all. I didn’t even cry.

Meanwhile we’ve got some pretty sweet house plans in a smaller design, plus the 3000 square foot one, just in case. I’m happy we will have more time to think about those and decide what we want to do in a less frantic and rushed manner. And the architect will be happy to modify them as needed.

Now, while I haven’t experienced any regret or sadness over letting the property go, I do feel a little physically ill. But that’s because I need to change my stress coping mechanism from devouring chocolate to plowing through bags of carrots.

Farm dreams… closer than we think?


Soooo. We thought we get into this rental and take our time, looking around at different properties and different options and then BAM, this really awesome little piece of farmland popped up not far from our old house. 30 acres, water rights, and priced right.

We got excited.

We have really enjoyed our rental so far, so our first thought was to find an older manufactured home to buy and move onto the piece. We could get one a little bigger with more bedrooms and live there while we saved up some more, started working the ground, accumulating animals, and later we could build a farmhouse.

Well, the banks balked at this. Buying land – especially undeveloped farmland – is a different beast (at least out here). Just buying a subdivided lot somewhere with or without a house on it is much simpler. We explored other options, including buying a newer manufactured home and putting it on a permanent foundation but there was still a bunch of red tape, and geez, a newer manufactured home runs around 90K, you might as well just build a new home.

I got pretty excited about the option to move an older home onto the property, but it isn’t done very frequently up here, and again the bank just gaped at me like I was crazy. I found an adorable house that was practically free for moving, and several house moving companies, but the distance was too great — almost 200 miles. I’ve been combing through resources to find another older home closer to us, but haven’t had any luck. It would be easier to go this route if we owned the land outright already.

Meanwhile, we have a sale contract on the 30 acres. It’s contingent upon the funding working out, and it looks like it will. The avenue that made the banks the happiest was to explore building a new home right away. With a construction loan we wouldn’t have double payments (we’d accrue interest, but not be responsible for a mortgage payment until the house was move-in-able). So for the past week, we’ve been going down that path.

I know, right?

I’ve been poring over house plans for what feels like forever, but we kept hitting snags in our layouts. I wanted something off the beaten path: a farmhouse, smaller square footage, eliminating fancy stuff like formal dining rooms, a single family / living space rather than 3, and a roomy enough eat-in kitchen dining space for homeschooling. We wanted a farmhouse aesthetic, and my WORD, it was difficult to find something that fit our needs and meshed with our hopes and dreams.

Our General Contractor recommended an architect / drafter person. We were afraid of the cost, but it worked out well budget-wise, and the guy is so talented. He whipped up plans that encompass almost everything we were hoping for, but are a little on the big side. I was really wanting something in the 2500 – 2800 square foot arena, and these plans are just over 3000.

I’ve been really tormented about that. I can see that the space he’s designed is all utilized very well, and solves a lot of problems for us. I understand how inexpensive it is to add three- or five-hundred square feet to something like a bonus room or a garage. It basically costs the same amount of money to build a 2600 square foot house as it would to build a 3000 square foot house when you’re adding inexpensive space like that.

So why wouldn’t you build bigger if you could?

Because I’m a nut job? Because I want to prove to… myself? To the world? That a smaller than average (at least out here) house is possible and more than adequate? Because I don’t want a house that takes three days to clean top to bottom?

I… I don’t think I can even do my inner battle justice. I can see logically and pennies-wise why you’d build the bigger house. But emotionally it makes me cry.

Now, the drafter / architect person is lovely and can certainly make me a smaller house. He might scratch his head over it, but he can do it. We have another appointment with him on Tuesday morning, and then we’re supposed to turn the bid papers in to the bank and be pre-approved / official by Wednesday for a close date of May 9thish.


The square footage and the headache over the floorplan has made me pause. Made E. pause too.

Are we moving too quickly here? Is the pressure to get everything lined up for the funding pushing us too fast? Is the pressure too great? Are we putting the cart before the horse?

Maybe, just maybe, we let the whole thing go.

Walk away from the very well priced 30 acres in an area we really like.

Shelve the houseplans.

Just breathe for a bit.

Finish unpacking.

Look around more.

Feel less pressure and be able to move more slowly.

I don’t know.

It’s painful to think about letting that 30 acres go. But maybe it’s the better thing to do.

On the flipside, it’s the perfect time of year to break ground. We could start building in May and hopefully be able to move in by November — not everything would be done maybe, but the timeline feels like it could work.

And maybe it would be stressful, even a handful of months from now… and then we lose prime building season. Geez. I just don’t know.

A more complete house tour

Field of cows

That’s my view from the front room. I pretty much love it, but I will say that when I’m sitting in the house, the cows mooing sounds JUST LIKE my cell phone vibrating somewhere. I’m still not used to it and find myself fishing around in the side table drawer looking for the phone.

Nevermind, it’s just the cows calling.

Here’s the view from my bedroom window where my desk is:


It’s usually full of horses, but most of them were down at the watering troughs. It kind of freaks me out when they lie down; they look dead or ill or something. Just tired, I’m sure.

Coming round to the side, we have this beauty:

Dilapidated garage

She’s the reason this rental works for us. The garage has one leak towards the back when it rains but otherwise is really good at keeping all our crap covered.

And my goodness, do we have crap.

Moving boxes in the garage

Incredible isn’t it? That’s after a huge garage sale, several truckloads of stuff donated, and trailerfulls of junk taken to the dump. Lots of that is stuff we actually need but just haven’t sorted. We’re still missing clothes and handy stuff like scissors and a stapler. Dusty has caught a few mice so we are very motivated to get all this sorted and either donated / tossed, or stored in better containers before they chew through it all and wreck it.

Beyond the garage is this shed that we can turn into a chicken coop:

future chicken coop

Back to the house, hardly anyone uses the front door, it’s angled away from the lane and the stairs up to it are kind of wobbly. Most park around by the garage and come in through the mudroom door, which though battered, is in better shape than the rest of the exterior since it’s a later / newer add on:

Mudroom door

The mudroom also helps this small space work for us. Out here we’ve got the freezer next to the pump for the well and a spot for the broom, mop, and vacuum next to the closet that hides the water heater.


Standing over by the freezer, here is our wall of temporary Command hooks for coats, plus a hook thing that was already over the door:


Stepping up, you enter the laundry room, which is really just a hallway:

Laundry looking into mudroom

I’m really glad our washer and dryer fit on their pedestals, but they did have to go in backwards so the doors open the wrong way. We can’t change our doors to open the other direction. It’s annoying but not the end of the world or anything.

The laundry room has the coolest floor:

70s vinyl.  So cool.

Okay, from the laundry hall you enter the kitchen. I might be nuts but I can totally see why people loved the Harvest Gold appliances (that color feels like it needs to be capitalized since it represents an entire era). Can you picture a gold fridge and the original floor? The dark cabinets and the gold flecked counter tops? I can completely see the appeal. Somebody loved this home once and they were so excited about how updated and cute it was.


I would prefer the 80s peel and stick vinyl floor tiles (that are badly damaged anyway) gone and that awesome original floor in here. I wonder if it’s lurking under all the layers in good condition.

To the right is the dining space — the landlords will turn this into a 3rd bedroom if we decided we want it, but it’s working for now as is. There’s no pantry so we have tall metal shelves (that used to be in our storage room) and I hung curtains on them because I am silly. Gold of course.

dining / make-shift pantry

I used tension rods at the top of the shelves and then clip on cafe rings, so the curtains slide easily. E’s old computer is in the box on top of the computer desk; we’re going to be selling that once I get the hard drive wiped.

Let’s see, out of the kitchen if you turn left you’re in the front room which you’ve already seen, but here’s a shot of Lego mess just for kicks:

Lego mess

And the kids sorting socks right next to it. (No, I never solved the infernal sock problem – sad face.)

Socks and ponies

Lesseeee… back in the kitchen and turning right down the hall, here’s the hall bathroom:

hall bathroom

A laundry basket fits behind the door and I put up more Command hooks for towels. They have these big fat ones made for bathrooms and they work really well for that purpose.

You’ve already seen their room but their beds were made so nicely so I must preserve that rarity for posterity:

kids' bedroom

And here’s my room, same deal. We never make our beds. But there it is. I also got my mom’s mirror repaired (thanks Kat, for dropping it off for me), and I’m very happy to have that back:


You already saw the radcakes master bath here – it has a vanity and a toilet in kind of a weird position. If you don’t close the door and someone walks in the master you can really give them a full moon as you’re bending down to sit on the potty. I am horrible about closing doors, but this might cure me of it.

I think that’s all I’ve got; I forgot to get the garden area in the front yard but I’m sure I’ll post more about that when the landlord tills it up for me and I plan out plantings. In closing, here is a very happy Azzo posing by the cows:

Happy dog

p.s. I hacked off more of my hair to get rid of more dye: