Friday, June 4, 2010

What Moving Taught Megan

As mentioned before, I have a “frame fetish.” That’s what my dad calls it.

Dutch clean is a clean that is only understood and maintained by the Dutch…which is why every Dutch girl needs a Dutch momma as great as mine to conquer any house she may move into that was previously inhabited by non Dutch. :)

I don’t like to clean. I’ll do it b/c I’m Dutch and the alternative is despicable…but I won’t like it while I do it.

I_DESPISE_ANTS. I have even found myself wondering why God needed to create them. I’m sure there was a great reason but I think they’re the worst.

Growing up, I adored my dad and yet still managed to take him for granted. He’s amazing. I think that every house should come with a man as handy as him. No offense Brian. (I can say this b/c Brian has already admitted to me that his skills "differ greatly from my dad’s.")
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What Moving Taught Brian

Hardwood floors are hard on one’s bum. He discovered this while sitting in our empty house waiting for the movers to arrive. They were scheduled to be there at 8:00am. They finally arrived at 4:30pm. That’s a lot of hardwood sittin’. :/

Getting your wife to complain has been known to magically produce $100. On the day of our move, sometime in the early afternoon, the movers still had not arrived. Judging by the past and my knowledge of Brian’s tendency to back down in tense situations and the fact that I tend to “cowgirl up,” I knew that it was up to me to make the more-than-disapproving phone call to the movers. I did just that and when they finally arrived, they presented Brian with an apology and a $100 Target gift card. Brian was impressed. (He even thanked me!) Sometimes it literally pays to be firm. :)
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Thursday, June 3, 2010


Moses Lawson Hemnes, I can't believe you're already 1! I'll never forget a year ago, Uncle Brian and I were over hanging out with Grandpa Lawrence and Grandma Bertha when we got the call. It was a boy, you were our family's newest little keeper. Talk abt the fastest card game to be dropped in the history of all time! We raced to the hospital to meet you. You were so sweet and still are! We love you so much, little buddy! I pray you enjoy many, many, many birthdays to come!
ps Thanks for inviting me to your big camo bash at the Stremler's cabin. I'm homesick down here in the 'Couve. Thanks for giving me such a great reason to come home and celebrate you! :)

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May 12 House Hunt

Brian, Finn and I took off from our house at quarter after four, not too bad, only 15 minutes later than planned. Of course we had to make a stop at my lovely Bakerview Sbux to visit with my barista buddies and grab a little buzz to kick off our busy day.
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House #1 Camas, WA

~ O.V.E.R.G.R.O.W.N Jungle ~
We made great time on our drive south so we decided to stop in Camas, WA. We vaguely remembered seeing a Craigslist posting that somehow, who knows how(?!), had sparked our interest. Oh, how very deceiving Craigslist can be. We arrived in Camas and made the quick conclusion that although the couple blocks of “downtown” were cute, the rest of the town…not as much. We called the owner of the house and were informed that our only shot at viewing the house was a drive-by b/c the current tenants were being evicted. (Always a good sign, right?! ;) So we did just that, drove by. Pam, our sometimes trusty GPS, directed us there yet, at first, we failed to notice the house due to the ridiculous amount of foliage growing in front of, behind and on top of the house. Aha, this is why there were no pics posted of the exterior. Now we get it.
Looking back, I guess Camas was a good place to start. It served as a great, “rest stop,” for Finn to do his business and leaving Camas we were able to check one off our list, the drab house beneath a jungle. We headed on to what would hopefully be greener pastures…although, ironically, a little less green would be preferred.
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House #2 Oregon City, OR

~ Rambler with a Green Door ~
House #2 was tucked away on a short dead end, hill-of-a-road. It was set behind a couple of large, historic homes but very near downtown and the train meaning that quite a bit of traffic noise remained despite the dead end. We knocked on the GREEN door, (which instantly had me excited) and were welcomed in by Holly. Little did I know, upon leaving, Holly would inform us that the door was soon to be replaced and much to my disappointment would no longer be green. It was an older home and although the eyes had a hard time resting on any one thing due to the amount of stuff strewn everywhere, there was a pretty mantle that had me jazzed. Not only are mantles hard to come by in rentals but the ones I’d found in the past hadn’t been worth looking at. A turtle aquarium took up a good portion of the living room and a there was some sort of preserved blowfish hanging from the ceiling in the corner whose bulging eyes stared at you from across the room…so odd. The bathroom however, was a breath of fresh air. It had been the focus of their recent remodel and had the cutest little sinks that sat atop the counter. The combination of the new sinks, bathtub, tile and paint gave the bathroom a fresh, clean feel while maintaining an old school d├ęcor. (As it turns out, the bathroom was the only room I felt the need to revisit before leaving. I wonder if we’d chosen this house, would it have been my favorite room, the one I hung out in? Looks like it’s a good thing we decided it was overpriced!) The two bedrooms did their best to hold funny area rugs, clutter, and over-stuffed closets without bursting out the windows and through the fence outside. The kitchen wasn’t anything special. The only thing that distinguished it was its light pink paint which, like the green door, was on its way out. From the dining room/kitchen there were French doors leading out to a big deck, and lush, fenced backyard. Finn would have loved it back there. The only thing worth saying abt the garage is that it reeked of the 3 dirty, dirty, crotch-sniffing dogs that currently called it home…gross. Oh, and it doubled as laundry room, so there goes any chance of clean smelling clothes! I snapped a few pics as we drove away…They lack in quality and I’m not proud of them but they were nice to have to refer back to. Plus, a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?!

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House #3 Oregon City, OR

~ Brick Beauty ~
We liked the little bit of Oregon City we’d seen on our way to house #2 so we decided to do a little exploring and see what else the town had to offer. Turns out, there’s an amazing historic district up on the hill overlooking the town and the river. We stumbled across this breathtaking home on a corner lot. I’ve just discovered (and declared over and over to Brian) my newfound love for brick that is, when it’s “just right,” of course. Wouldn’t you know it; the entirety of the front side of the house was covered in old brick. With its rectangular shape and my love for angles and boxy-ness…this house reeled me in fast. It was huge and for sale and we were seeking small and for rent but did that stop me? Absolutely not. I’m a hopeless dreamer, hence the title of this blog, and my often impractical way of thinking couldn’t form a good enough reason to resist gazing at this spectacular sight. I made Brian drive around the block so I could catch a glimpse of it from all angles. Wow. We paused in front of the house and I grabbed a pamphlet. A whopping $500,000 dollars and we could call this one our own!!!!! I was jerked back to reality as we slowly pulled back onto the street and continued on. Thank God for a husband that’s willing to play along with my silliness…don’t know what I’d do without you, Brian. I love our ridiculous dynamic. :]

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House #4 Lake Oswego, OR

~ Cabin Under Construction ~
On our way to another Craiglist post, I quickly told Brian at the very last minute to turn onto a little side road b/c a sign had caught my eye. I had my eyes peeled for “For Rent” signs, but as we drove up to the little shack beneath the trees we realized this particular sign read, “NO TRESPASSING!” Ironically this next door neighbor’s mailbox said, “For Rent.” We peered beyond the mailbox, down the hill and through the trees and undergrowth. It was a little cabin with building materials strewn all around the yard, if only there had been a yard in existence, instead there was dirt and a sort of mini forest. The front door was swung wide open and there were two men working inside. I think they were Russian, they had heavy accents and I had a difficult time understanding them and they me. Somehow I got across to them that we were (aka: *I* was) interested in renting. By this time Brian was convinced I’d gone insane but that didn’t stop me from entering the house and demanding that two strange men allow me a “look-see.” It was a two bedroom and it smelled wonderfully of fresh cut lumber and trees. It offered an open, log cabin feel and big windows looking out at what could be a pretty sight if only one were to dedicate hours upon hours of labor into the surrounding “yard.” We called the number on the sign and a lady with the same accent answered. She fed us some goofy information such as her claim that the “yard” was fully fenced. I guess by fenced she meant you can close your eyes, imagine a fence, and maybe one will appear?! The monthly price tag was more than lofty for this unfinished abode so we moved on.
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House #5 Lake Oswego, OR

~ “Curve Appeal” ~
Brian was on the phone as we drove away from House #3 and once again I made him slam on the brakes (my poor Passat’s brakes!) and pull into a little driveway with a sign out by the road. While Brian talked to yet another woman with a house for rent on Craigslist, I got out and wandered around this cute little white house. I quite liked it. The yard, like many rentals, had been abandoned but at least this one had a yard. Plus, it seemed it hadn’t been vacant for ages and ages. It was cute and I could see myself living there. I got back in the car and told Brian that it had great curB appeal. He’d never heard of curb appeal and instead heard “curve appeal.” He replied, “CURVE APPEAL?!?!!” I said yeah, thinking he’d heard me right. He repeated it again with even more expression and then proceeded to draw with his fingers in the air, the outline of an oober curvy woman. This made me understand what he was thinking after a good minute spent laughing I explained curB appeal to Brian. “You know like what they do on TLC’s “Designed to Sell.” This he also hadn’t heard of but it got the point across. We were no longer talking about bootylicious girls, but rather attractive houses. :) Brian called the number on the sign. It was an ancient sounding woman who held no interest in speaking with us about the house because she thought she had it rented to someone else. We crossed this house off before it ever even made it on our list.
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House #6 Don’t Remember Which Town, OR :)

~ “Shithole made for Hobbits” ~ (Brian’s words, not mine)
Our next stop was a “cottage” in what I like to call a “yuck” area of town. We’ve come to find that the word cottage is not only overused but misused on Craigslist. People toss in the term like they own it and therefore they define it. But really, a cottage is a cottage. A cottage is to be charming, modest, tidy, and simple yet full of character. Just because you want people to be interested in your house does not give you the right to throw in instant charm by dubbing it a cottage. The real problem behind my gripe: The target of their deceit is me. It gets me everytime. We arrived at the “cottage” only to find that there was no one there to meet us. A quick phone call to the owner had us concerned. She started asking Brian specific questions about his checking account and how he planned to pay. Recent news proves the importance of taking extreme caution when dealing with Craigslist and her questions left us very uneasy. Brian, being a bit freaked out did his best to end the conversation abruptly and the woman said, “Brian, what is wrong with you?!” (As if we were the crazy ones!) We jumped in the car and fled as fast as we could. Just a short distance down the road, Brian came to the realization that, in looking through his list of recent calls, he had accidentally dialed the wrong lady. The woman he’d just hung up on was the woman from House #5. This allowed us a chance to relax and catch our breath. Brian tried another number, this time connecting with the right person. She told us that she lived an hour away and wasn’t able to meet us. But there was someone who lived close by, a “handyman” she called him, that may be willing/available to do her a favor and show us the house. This handyman of whom she spoke was a college student living next door. He was a pile of a salesman, lacking any bit of motivation or discretion. He sloughed out of his house, pants below his bum (underwear more than exposed) and mumbled around a mouth bulging with sunflower seeds at all times. There were no introductions, no initial eye contact from him; not much oomph for life at all. He let us into the house through a side door leading into the kitchen.

First impression, the porch boards below my feet felt like sponges…never a good sign.

Second impression, the kitchen tiles didn’t match. It looked as if someone had a heyday rummaging through mismatched goods at The Restore and then decided it was a good idea to build a floor out of their findings. Don’t get me wrong I myself have a heyday every time I enter The Restore, but really?!

Third impression, the kitchen looked old. I love that but in this case it didn’t necessarily seem a good thing. Kitchen cupboards insisted on hanging partially open, [see pics] countertop doubled as backsplash up one wall and the other wall had a strange crack running through it. The sink and light fixtures seemed original but looked goofy next to a newer fridge. It didn’t flow; it lacked that extra something not to mention a whole lot of necessary maintenance.

From the kitchen we entered the living room with the front door. Directly off of this room was the only bathroom in the house which still seems to me an odd setup but we did as the lazy college student would do, [SHRUG] and move on. Mr. “handyman” proceeded to tell us that the bathroom “was probably the only safe room to set foot in…in the entire house.” OH_MY, there are no words. He claimed to have remodeled it “when he had nothing better to do.” There was another front room off of the living room which circled you back to the kitchen. The owner claimed this was a bedroom, I don’t think it was built with the intention of being a bedroom but, [SHRUG.] In between front room/bedroom and kitchen there was a stacked washer and dryer at the foot of a daunting staircase leading upward. For those of you have experienced the stairs leading to the loft in my parent’s shop, these stairs are comparable. Climbing the stairs goes like this: turn your feet sideways, slant body forward like you’re walking into the eye of a storm, and hang on to the banister for dear life because one wrong step and you’re a goner by the time you hit the cement at the bottom. In case you think I’m just being dramatic, here's a fact. Each step accommodated just the toes of Brian’s size 13 Romeos…and yes, if we were to live there I think I’d suffer nightmares of my poor little Finn crashing down those horrid steps and landing up in the washer with a load of soggy laundry. Upstairs housed two more supposed bedrooms. Our bed alone would have consumed one of them and our clothes (okay, my clothes) the other. I think you could stuff 3 standard pillows into each closet and it would be at capacity. We survived the descent back to spongy ground level, thanked Mr. Handyman, and never looked back as we drove away. What an experience.
Enjoy the pics, even the clothesline can't seem to stand up straight. Maybe you too, can get a kick out of how small the house is in comparison with Brian. You may think they’re taken from angles which make it appear smaller than reality, but don’t fool yourself; these pics don't lie like the side mirror on your car. After all, this is the house Brian dubbed, “Shithole made for Hobbits.”

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House #7 Vancouver, WA

~ Cheerful Yellow House with Carport and Garage on Dead End Rd ~
This was the first of 2 houses I was anxious to see. (Ironically, they were the last 2 we were able to view.) We arrived 20 minutes early—love that, and the owner was already there waiting for us—love that even more. :) This house also had great curb appeal but I refrained from telling Brian. I wanted to avoid making the impression of two giggling young-ins as we stepped out of our car. The owner, an attractive mom dressed in business attire met us halfway across the lawn with a firm handshake. She was down to business and it was refreshing following the disappointment of Mr. Handyman, who never once so much as offered his hand. We entered the living room through the front door and surprise, it was easy on the eyes! So often rentals have unfavorable quirks ranging from ugly light fixtures, to funny smells, to old paint; this one had none. It was move-in ready and not only was the paint in good condition but the colors were pretty. (Gotta love Restoration Hardware. :) Off one end of the living room was the bathroom and both bedrooms. The bathroom was clean, can you believe it?! It offered a pretty pedestal sink and although the thought of no counter space worried me, I think it added to the charm. The bedrooms were simple but nice. The closets were itsy bitsy but I tried to be positive. I reminded myself that after all these moves and our recent Relay for Life garage sale my closet has undergone 3 noteworthy cleanses in just 9 months! Off the other end of the living room was the dining room leading into the kitchen. There was a door at the end of the kitchen which brought you down two steps and into the laundry room. The laundry room had a back door which opened up under the carport by the garage and into the backyard. The backyard was 100% fenced, a treasure Finn has never had the pleasure of experiencing. We liked this one and left confident that this was our first choice.

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House #8 Woodstock, OR

~ Cute 1912 Bungalow ~
Up until House #7 I had been thrilled about this appointment but after comparing #7 to all previous houses, the decision seemed clear. Until #7 our search consisted of just that, leaving each house still searching for the house. The little yellow house left us with the feeling that we could actually live there. It was a first for us and to me it seemed silly to mess that up. I think deep down inside I knew I’d love #8. Brian, however, thought it important to explore all our options while in town, so we went. Everything about this one was lovely, from the old kitchen, to the breakfast nook, and impressive backyard set up. We were welcomed in by Stacey, district attorney, wife, and mom of Finnley (yes, just like our pup!) and Tsai, two sweet 15 month twins. The front door opened into the living room which was small and if I remember right, overstuffed with furniture and baby toys yet it maintained a certain classiness. Somehow I found the many contents of the living room easy to overlook as we were led through the pretty dining room and into the kitchen. Just a glance around the kitchen tells one it was old but not in that someone-else’s-gunk-in-the-corners sort of way. In fact, it was clean(!) with most of the features being quirky and aged, yet fully functional. At the end of the kitchen was the b’fast nook which they were using as an office/reading corner. It had those old, old windows that crank out instead of the modern day push-ups. All I could see was me in a comfy, patterned chair soaking up the morning rays with a steaming hot cup ‘o joe and a Maeve Binchy novel. I’d have those windows cranked open old-style and be listening to the birds…shoot, I might actually believe I’m in Ireland, thank you Maeve.
I was brought back to reality as Stacey showed us the twin’s room, the big beautiful [recently remodeled] bathroom, and the roomy, upstairs loft with slanted ceilings which they were using as the master bedroom. The basement offered a small bonus room, extra closet space and an unfinished laundry room. Stacey and her husband had redone the backyard complete with fire pit, raised garden beds, new grass and beautiful landscaping. Oh, and it had a tall, wood fence, none of that see-through nonsense. The backyard and kitchen were the real “kickers” the house had to offer. They were AMAZING. In addition to my love for old brick, I also have what my dad has dubbed a “frame fetish” and an infatuation with the color orange. (Stay tuned for pics of the house we now call “home,” complete with orange sheets. :) Although this adorable bungalow didn’t offer brick, it did have the other 2 of my recent interests. The kitchen cupboards were white which I felt rang true to the originality of the house, being built in 1912. The top row of cupboards lacked doors and were painted ORANGE inside. To me, it was brilliant! There was crown molding that ran ¾ up the wall, tying the living room and dining room together. Stacey had hung picture frames with fishing wire from the molding at varying heights around the room. Again, so clever. :) WOW, I belong in this house, I thought. We left, application in hand and my mind stuck as to what to do now?!
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May 12 Getting Home=Making Decision

Before leaving town the following day we dropped applications by house #7 and #8. I secretly crossed my fingers that Stacey from #8 would magically find time in her busy life to submit our background checks, realize we were clean people and want us to live in her house. Upon arriving home we received a call from Stacie (#7) saying that we’d been approved. This came as a disappointment to me but after much convincing from my business-minded hubby we knew that as far as money goes, #7 was the wise decision. I often resist the wise decision but here we sit in our cute little house abt to save hundreds of dollars each month just by choosing "the right house.” As a result, we’ve decided to put the dollar difference between #7 and #8 into a savings account for what will someday make up our down payment on a house that will truly be ours. Grown up decisions can be hard but in the end, they are rewarding. :)
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