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Trials and Tribulations of Selling in the 202

30 Jan

Cherry_Blossoms_HomeThe past six months of my life have been mostly consumed with the whole process of preparing to move. It really started February 2014 when we renovated our full bathroom, which was a necessary first step towards the process of selling our house. The house preparation and selling saga continued though most of January 2015, all the meanwhile we were living in our house. From new carpet installation which meant that all the 2nd floor furniture had to be moved down to the first floor and then back up again – fun! Later we moved onto the glory of granite counter top installation, a new sink, sealing & sealing again the new counter tops, and finally it came down to touch-up paint and cleaning until your fingers literally bleed. Then came the initial phase of packing to “thin out” the stuff in the house and make it look like no one actually lives there. In the midst of this, wee proceeded to get one of our beloved kitties through the USDA paperwork process and then sent down to Costa Rica with my father since we will only be allowed one cat per person when we finally move. Opp and then its on to staging, because of course the house has to look like it came out of Better Home and Garden Magazine with a perfectly chic interior, complete with perfectly *fake* red apples, *plastic* orchids framing out the kitchen, and always poofed couch pillows. Blahh! That is just another part of the real estate game in the 202 (in DC proper). Needless to say but there is nothing sexy about preparing a house for sale , especially when you are working full-time and have a toddler, 3 cats, and a very special dog to take keep happy.

Then came the whole listing process. Ugh. Average days on the market on Capitol Hill is about 6 days, which seems Garden_Homecompletely doable when living in what is close to a museum with a toddler, 2 cats, and a very special dog. Except for us it turned into 66 days on the market. What does that mean? That means several times a day you get a text message and stop everything you are doing at a moment’s notice to…

  1. Viciously clean the house and make sure it looks museum perfect.
  2. Get the dog into the car.
  3. Get the baby ready, no matter if he is napping or hungry or needs a diaper change.
  4. Get out the door.
  5. Find something to do for the next 1-2 hours depending on how long the showing is. No matter how cold you are or hungry or tired or sick or anything else. You have to be out of the house.
    – We walked and we walked and we walked. In the sun, in the cold, and in the rain, we walked.
    – We sat in the car for hours on Saturday and Sunday nights when it was raining or too cold to walk.
    – We left the dog in the car and got dinner and then sat in the car while we ate dinner.
    – For months our weekends evolved around doing only things you can do with a dog like go to the farm, go to a walking park, hiking, and anything else outdoors. That was probably the highlight of the whole process.
  6. Now repeat and do this all over again 2-3 times a day for 66 days while working a full-time job.

Home_SnowI am not going to put lipstick on a pig. It sucked big time. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to give us back the time we lost with the damn showings. There were even times in this rather horrible process where our son was playing at a special activity across town and my husband had to literally pick him up and run out of the place to get home before a very short notice showing. I mentioned earlier that we have a special dog, well he is the sweetest and most amazing dog with us (his 3 humans) but he is scared to death of strangers and scared dogs bite. So getting the dog out of the house before a showing was absolutely critical.

Throughout the 66 days there were a lot of “close calls” in getting an offer, a lot of interested buyers but in the end they didn’t choose our house. Finally at a point of desperation, and at the point of basically giving up, we finally got an offer and for asking price. Talk about a sigh of relief. Then came the anxiety of the home inspection, which is stressful when you have a historic home that is nearly 120 years old. At the end of the day a house is not sold until it is sold. On the financing and underwriting process, right in the middle of the holidays. If you guessed delays and an uncertain closing date, you were right! Could any more stress and anxiety be added to this process? I guess so. But FINALLY we closed.

To top it off, right in the midst of this home selling process I also had a major job and professional transition with no Kai in Snowvacation time in-between. I am not going to kid you, selling your first home is also emotional even if you bought almost exclusively for investment purposes. We made this home ours. We poured endless time and energy into making it beautiful. We planted the tulip bulbs, daffodils, and cherry blossom tree that bloom every spring. We’ve shared endless dinners at this house with friends and family. This house is filled with memories that can never be relived. It is the home we brought our baby home to. And now it is going to be someone else’s home.

Then its on to the actual moving process but I will save that for another post. ūüôā

Kai Discovers Spring – and Dirt!

10 Apr

I love the changing of the seasons. ¬†And I really love the two transitional seasons – Spring and Fall. ¬†This time last year Kai was just one month old. ¬†While I have no doubt that he loved everything about Spring, I also realize that he wasn’t ready to discover what spring time is all about. ¬†What a difference a year makes! ¬†This is by far the most “fun” Spring I can remember since my childhood, I hardly know where to begin.

This past Sunday we rolled up our sleeves and worked on our garden. ¬†We had been looking forward to this for well over a month since winter had decided to stick around a few extra weeks this year. ¬†The first day in the garden is one of my favorite days of the year. ¬†I love the smell of the Earth, the way it feels in my fingers. ¬†I love spring planting. ¬†Digging holes and finding all sorts of earth worms and other natural “treasures”. ¬†Even though my patch of paradise is in the midst of a concrete jungle, I feel connected to Earth when I work in the garden.

This year was better than all those past because we were able to introduce Kai to all this Spring and the Earth.  We brought him outside with us for the day while we worked and pretty much let him do his thing, it was awesome!  He took the garden completely naturally.  He started out by playing with the grass and leaves.  Then he crawled off of the blanket and started to pick blades of grass and put them in his bucket.  He watched us on and off as we did him.  We were busy planting flowers, herbs, and vegetables.  Next thing I know he had the garden spade in his hand and he was digging in the dirt, filling-up his bucket and dumping it out. t was at this point that we brought him over to big bed and let him play in all the dirt.  He loved it! He laughed and played, putting his hand in the Earth and lifting them up so he could feel the fresh dirt between his fingers.  It was magical. It is Spring!

Enjoy the Spring photo journey.

Fountain Cherry in DC

 

Cherry Blossom

 

Spring Gardening

 

Discovering Spring and the Earth

 

Spring in Washington DC

 

Spring Serenity in a Concrete Jungle

A Love Affair – With A City…

1 Oct

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I have a love affair with the city I’ve called home for the past 8+ years. Oh how I love Washington, DC – with all her grandeur, historical mystery, and brusque sophistication. Growing-up I knew that I would find myself calling DC home one day. I love walking the tree-lined streets of historic Capital Hill everyday with my baby and pooch in tow. And in the winter there is nothing more charming than walking by homes with lighted Christmas trees in the front bay windows, except of course a jaunt to the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House. I love heading down to the National Mall on any given day to find a political rally on ending genocide in Sudan or on passing immigration reform. DC is a city where “change” runs in our blood, and people work hard to make the world a better place. And of course its the city where “lobbyists” got their name, with “lobbying” starting right in the lobby of the famous Willard Hotel. Maybe I don’t love lobbyists but they are a fact of life, or of politics I should say.

I love the grittiness of the city, of any city for that matter, and all the off-beat culture, music, street food – and DC food trucks of course. Some of my favorites are Red Hook Lobster Pound, Tasty Kabob, and Fojol Bros. Then there are the restaurants… complete deliciousness. I appreciate the diversity of culinary delights we have to choose from everyday. I also love the small town feel in every neighborhood across the city – Capital Hill, Takoma Park, and Glover Park to name a few. And did I mention that the plethora of street festivals all year long absolutely rocks? Um yeah. I love everything about DC street festivals. I also love the intellectual stimulation that is around every corner of town and in every coffee shop… DC is a city filled with intense people. Guess that’s why I fit in pretty damn well. I could go on and on about everything I love about Washington, DC. But I also realize that we won’t be living here forever, and there is a pretty good chance that we will move sometime in the next 2-5 years. So while I am in love with this city I also want to put on record the list of things that I will not miss about DC living. So here it goes…

  1. Taxation Without Representation
    Enough stated. Having been a District resident for over 8 years I have finally come to the conclusion (don’ know what took me so long), that if DC residents don’t have representation in Congress than we should not have to pay Federal income taxes since we do not have a voice with a vote.
  2. Sirens (and car horns) – All Day and All Night
    I am listening to sirens as I write this blog post. Their sound penetrates through our double panned insulated windows. And about 50% of the time my pooch Tico howls along with the sirens. Which is very endearing except when the baby is sleeping. Bottom line though, I am tired of the blaring noise of sirens and car horns.
  3. Garbage – and the Failure to Use Trash Cans
    This one really gets me. There are trash cans everywhere in this city. In fact there are professional street cleaners and career sidewalk cleaners. Still there is trash everywhere. On any given day I will see kids and adults walk by the front of my hose, unwrap their candy or fast food and pitch the garbage right in my front yard. Isn’t that so 20 years ago!?!? Don’t they teach kids in school not to litter!?!? And by the way, there is a trash can 15 yards from my front yard.
  4. Drugs and Drug Addicts
    No I won’t give you a dollar or my change so you can go get your next fix. For the 100th time, I work hard for my money and there is no way in hell I am going to give it to a drug addict so they can go get high. Get a frigging job! Oh and I am REALLY tired of those mini zip lock bags that litter my neighborhood and carry the residues of your last high. Really tired of them.
  5. Chicken Bone Ally – EVERYWHERE!
    Where do they all come from. And I can’t believe my pooch is still alive after all of the damn chicken bones he has managed to get a hold of. I discovered this problem when we first adopted Tico – and then I began to observe the phenomenon. People buy fried chicken and chicken wings at the nearest 7-11, Popeye’s, and Checkers. They then proceed to walk around the neighborhood eating their chicken and ditching the bones on the sidewalk as they walk. Bizarre! First of all, who eats chicken while walking around? Second, does it not dawn of these people that there are trash cans everywhere. What a concept!?!? Third, come on people you know that chicken bones can splinter in a dogs stomach (not a new discovery, and pretty common knowledge) and there are dogs everywhere in this city. I have seriously considered collecting up these chicken bones, putting them in bags with signs, and stapling them to the trees in an effort to get people to throw their bones in the garbage cans provided.
  6. Paying a Premium for Everything
    Everything in this city is so expensive. Food, gas, dentists, dinning, nails at the hardware store, dry cleaning, healthcare, the list could go on and on . End of story.
  7. Being Surrounded by Sex Offenders
    I made the terrible mistake with my very first iPhone (yep, first gen) of dowloanding the free “sex offenders” app. I started playing with it around my office and realized that I am surrounded by sex offenders. And then I continued to play with it at home, and found I was still surrounded by sex offenders. There is no escaping them. Rapists and child molesters are everywhere in this city. Gross! Right!?!?
  8. Dodging Wandering Tourists
    There should be signs upon entering the metro system providing “Metro Etiquette 101”. Stand only on the right-hand side of the escalators, the left-hand side is for walkers (and sprinters). Do not dilly dally at the ticket checks, Washingtonians have places to go and too little time to get there. And no your back pack can not have its on seat in the metro car. This does not even begin to explain the behavior of tourists on the sidewalks, at cross-walks, and everywhere else in this city.
  9. People Yelling at All Hours of the Day
    This really gets to me. Just because ya’ll are drunk at 4:00 am and again at 6:00 pm, does not mean I have to listen to your belligerent rants outside. Learn to use your inside voice outside.
  10. Random Road Closures
    We experience random road closures all of the time for many different reasons. On any given day it can take me a full hour to bike home from work (I live less than 3 miles from the office) because every road around the Hill will be closed, no matter where I turn. It’s just another suspicious package day… Oh wait and on the other side of town all the streets are closed because POTUS is making an appearance. And shit man, were you planning on going grocery shopping on Saturday morning? All roads closed due to a race. No food for you! Nough said.

So there you have it – my DC shit list. I am still madly in love with this city for oh so many more reasons than this.

Streets Come Alive!

11 Oct

Dancers break it down during H Street Festival

With wonder that is!

Have you ever wished that you could time travel? ¬†Like in the old Star Trek when they had those automatic transporters? ¬†Imagine if you could just snap your fingers and a few seconds later you could find yourself in any place in the world you desired to be. ¬†How cool that would be. ¬†So I haven’t quite figured out how to time travel yet, but I’ll let you know the secret when I do. ¬†In the meantime I did find a way to escape to another country and culture right here from my home base.

As I’ve mentioned, I like to find a sense of “adventure” in every-day life, which is not a hard thing to do in my hometown of Washington, DC. ¬†Tis the season of street festivals in this eclectic urban metropolis. ¬†Every weekend for the past month has been characterized by a different street, with different smells, tastes, and sounds. ¬†It is one of the amazing things about this great city I call home and I love it. ¬†Last week was the 8th Street Festival AND Turkish Festival. ¬†I opted for Turkish Festival, and glad I did, it rocked. ¬†Doner kebab, baklava, folkloric dancing, Turkish rock, art, history, and all the rest. ¬†The week before that was the H Street Festival, which was a mere 1 block from house, and let me tell you how fun that was. ¬†It’s the epicenter for all things DC-hipster, literally! ¬†There were crazy artists painting & building their masterpieces. ¬†Rythym fusions from all around the world. ¬†Local designers sharing their wears on the runway. ¬†And the food… well I don’t know where to begin… suckling pork pops, curry mussels, Maine lobster rolls, grilled oysters, BBQ¬†ribs – name your favorite street food and bam there it was.

Mama Vacarros Showing off the Cannoli shells

This weekend was even better in some ways. ¬†It was Italian Festival! ¬†Festa Italiana! ¬†Yup, that is right. ¬†We got to “travel” to Italy for a few hours right here in DC. ¬†You enter this (what is usually sleepy) little street near Judiciary Square, in what used to be “Little Italy” and there it was before you, any Italy lovers dream come true. ¬†It was filled with mostly Italians too, most even speaking Italian. ¬†There was a stage with Italian artists, singing, and playing their instruments. ¬†Casa Italiana¬†was filled with booths & tables showcasing Italian-inspired books, music, crafts, jewelry, and all the rest. ¬†There was even a showcase of Italian automobiles and a traditional puppet show. ¬†I must say, that Fiat 500C is likely in my future at some point…

Suckling pig fresh off the spit at Italian Fest in Washington DC

And then there was the food… the best part of all. ¬†Food stations were set-up all throughout the street. ¬†Pizza, Pasta, Italian Sausage & Peppers, Gelato, Porcetta Sandwiches, Cannoli, Espresso…. every Italian delight your heart can possibly imagine. ¬†After eyeing all of the food stations we opted to give the homemade cannoli a try and I am glad that I did. ¬†Mama Vaccaros was out there squeezing the cannoli cream into the crispy baked shells. ¬†And at 2 bucks each, who could resist giving the sweet indulgence a try? ¬†Meanwhile my husband went over to the “adult beverage” tent to try some authentic Italian wine, also just 2 bucks a glass, to wash down all the delicious eats with. ¬†Then we went back to the Porcetta station to find that the whole suckling pig was ready to be taken off the spit and made into sandwiches. ¬†Yes indeed, a whole suckling pig on the spit ready to be sliced-up for Porcetta sandwiches. ¬†Create a vision in your mind for this one… a freshly baked Ciabatta roll is sliced open. ¬†Then it is given a generous shmear of salsa verde (an intoxicating concoction of fresh parsley, basil, garlic, salt, and olive oil). ¬†And last but not least, it is stuffed with a heap of sliced juicy pork. ¬†The flavors marry to perfection… it’s a sandwich fit for a king (or queen). ¬†And how divine it was!

Making the fresh Porcetta sandwiches at Italian Fest in DC

Enjoying the taste of Italy alongside “everything Italian” in Washington, DC really was like “traveling” to Italy for a few hours. ¬†I may not have figured out the magic behind the automatic transporters but these little adventures in the streets of DC come pretty close! ¬†Till next Time. ¬†Ciao!

Growth, Growing, and Community

10 Sep

Color photo of horizon landscape after the rain

 

Today was one of those days that inspired me to “travel back in time”. ¬†Not literally of course, but mentally. ¬†I had a chance to catch-up with a close friend that I don’t get the opportunity to spend much time with anymore since we live almost 1,000 miles away. ¬† There is something very special about friends who knew you “back then”, who know about the skeletons in your closet, who love you unconditionally, and when you talk its like hardly any time has passed – even if its been a few years or more. ¬†That was today. ¬†And while the conversation and news we shared was not all roses, it reminded me of how grateful I am to have such amazing friends. ¬†We grow apart to grow together in some mysterious way.

It also made me slip back in time and think about the challenges I have faced in my life’s “chapters” thus far – and what growing means to me. ¬† The life I live today is one that I am responsible for, it is the product of my own decision making (good & bad), relentless determination, and hard work. ¬†And I can tell you that I am truly happy with where my life has taken me… though the road has not easy in the least. ¬†I think back to the “chapter of life” called high school and I can’t even begin to express how I never want to go back to those days at any level. ¬†Many people yearn to “go back to the good ol days of high school when they had no worries” – that is not me! For me high school was largely characterized by family conflicts, chronic health issues, and major ¬†financial insecurity. ¬†I recall very clearly just how painful growing was during that time. ¬†The challenges seemed impossible to overcome, and at the time they were. ¬†¬†Those issues aside, you can always find kindred spirits anywhere in the world, and those years also brought some incredible lifelong friendships that I’ll cherish forever.

College on the other hand was a wonderful chapter in my book of life. ¬†I continued to deal with all of the same issues as I had in high school, though they were less pervasive since I was a “few states away” from some of them. ¬†And with each passing year of College I became a little bit more in control of my destiny. ¬†It was empowering. ¬†And in the process I uncovered many of my passions in life. ¬†It wasn’t the physical place of going to college – it was the people, community, and learning (and growing) environment that was such a positive experience for me. ¬†It was exactly what my soul needed to get beyond the dark years of my childhood and learn to follow my heart. ¬†I can’t say enough good things about my experience at Colby-Sawyer College. ¬†It was really the beginning of my life. ¬†The day I graduated, I knew at that moment that I now¬†own this life – and it was up to me what I made of it. ¬†I now had the power to experience both personal failures and successes. It wasn’t that I had “grown-up” – I don’t believe we ever “grow-up” because we should never stop growing.

Then there were all the years, places, communities, and friends in between those great College days and the current chapter in my life. ¬†They too were wonderful, not without their challenges of course. ¬†I spent several years living and working in Costa Rica. ¬†What an incredible experience. ¬†The community I was a part of was so inspiring at many levels. ¬†I also met the wonderful person who is my forever partner in this life. ¬†Then there was grad school at UPEACE – another amazing part of my life. ¬†And another community I am forever grateful for. I have to add here, the “Costa Rica” chapter in my book of life is not finished yet, I’m convinced that we’ll move back there someday in the foreseeable future.

After a few years of living in the land of pura vida, I felt ready & charged to take on the world’s biggest problems – pervasive poverty, injustice, deadly conflicts, environmental degradation, oppressive regimes, domestic apathy & greed. ¬†My mind was spinning and I was determined to solve all of the issues plaguing the world. ¬†Lets stop here for a moment… how the hell did I go from battling a chronic disease in high school to attempt to take on the world? ¬†It’s all a part of the journey through life I suppose. ¬†Then I made the move to Washington DC, and it was a reality check of sorts – I was suddenly a tiny fish in a very big pond. ¬†I had to create a community where there was none. ¬†And I had to find a place to harness my passions, put them to use, and make a living in the process. ¬†All this in a city where success is predicated on “family” connections, which I didn’t have any of. ¬†Now this is when I learned that changing the world begins with bite sized pieces. ¬†I resisted these facts of life. ¬†I was frustrated by how difficult it was to “make change” vis-a-vis public policy. ¬†I came to Washington DC – with utopian ideals for how democracy works. ¬†Oh I had so much to learn yet…

What is the point of this glazed-over monologue of a few years of my life? ¬†There are a bazillion incredible little stories in there that really reveal the essence of life. ¬†This “big picture” gives a reminder of just how valuable growth is. ¬†It may mean something slightly different to each of us and that is a-okay… that is a goal of this blog “vive y deja vivir“. ¬†Life – and growth – is both happy go-lucky and painfully challenging at the same time. ¬†We are constantly growing and changing and should continue to do so as long as we still wake up each day. ¬†I don’t know what life has in store for me, but I do have some good ideas of what I’d like to make of what I see coming along in the journey. ¬†For now I’ll continue to productively harness my passions towards changemaking and allow the universe to work its magic.

There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.  РRonald Reagan

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