Deciding to stay

At home, we are well, if slightly insane.

The boys are growing up fast! We potty-trained Moses about a month ago, and Felix is showing off by holding his head up and smiling nonstop. I feel a little frayed at the edges, and I want a gold medal every morning that I get us all out the door without forgetting anything. But we are happy. We genuinely are.

Every evening, I feel immensely grateful for Guion and what an incredible teammate he is. We both have to be operating at full capacity to make it through the week, and even though we’re wiped out when 7 p.m. rolls around, we are able to find a great deal of joy in the domestic furor.

Moses is understandably obsessed with Guion and follows him around like a little disciple, as they complete “mushroom chores” (Guion has taken up the serious science of growing mushrooms indoors) or scooter to the park or play “dead fish” at bath time. They are very cute together.

Halloween costume

Meanwhile, I get to hang out with Felix, who is a happy little lovebug, even though he has had a snotty nose for about two months solid (what’s up, daycare life). He is a real charmer, even though he barely gets any attention. Second kids! What neglected little sweeties.

I put him in a hoodie and now he’s ready to go off to college.

Part of the aforementioned insanity is that we’re undergoing a big renovation on our little old house, and we are moving out in January for the work to begin.

This is a project that we’ve dreamed about for years, and it’s still hard to believe that it’s actually happening.

We bought this little house in a historic neighborhood near downtown and have developed a lasting, affectionate bond with it—even though it has asbestos siding, shabby concrete (see above) and its layout makes no sense whatsoever (e.g., nicest bathroom is in the basement, where there is no bedroom).

There was a time when it seemed simplest to buy a bigger, more sensible house out in the country. We toured a handful of homes for sale with our real estate agent and spent every spare minute scouring listings. But nothing felt quite right. We kept comparing every home we saw to our shabby 1959 house. I’m sure our agent thought we were nuts. Our exact house crops up all over Charlottesville. Whoever built it cranked out hundreds of these basic, square 1950s minimalist homes and put them up everywhere across town. They’re small and straightforward and sturdy. They’re a dime a dozen. (In an amusing twist of fate, the architect we chose for this design actually lives in our same house, too.) Our house is everywhere. It’s decidedly not special, architecturally. But it was ours, and so it has continued to feel special to us.

We kept coming back to our home, flawed and cramped though it may be, and realized that we wanted to keep investing in it—even though we could have bought a perfectly laid-out, respectable home 20 minutes out of town for a good deal less. We love our neighborhood and the community we’ve developed here over the past eight years. We love being able to both walk to work and church and the library and the post office. We practically live at the city park that backs up behind our block. We turned a bare-bones lawn into a flourishing (if rambling) garden. We welcomed both of our sons into the world in our tiny living room. We want to stay and continue to make it ours.

After five years of thinking about what we wanted to do and paying for two different sets of architectural plans with two different architects, we’ve at last landed the design and are forging ahead. We are so thrilled to be partnering with a really excellent builder who has been holding our hands every step of the way. I feel fluttery and anxious and overwhelmed and overjoyed, and I’ve been studying interior design like it’s my part-time job. (Watch out: I’ve developed opinions about things.)

All this to say, after months of silence, I may endeavor to write in here a bit more often, to keep track of the project, if only for my own sake. It seems like a crazy year in the life of our family that may be worth remembering.

One thought on “Deciding to stay

  1. It is an encouragement to me to hear about this step for your family. We too (with two kids) are deciding to do a kitchen renovation so that we can stay in our neighborhood and our historic home that we love. And we’ve been so back and forth on the decision. I think we are making the right one too! But it is hard to know until in retrospect.

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