Monday, November 26, 2012

If You Give Denise a Couch...

If you give Denise a couch,
she may also love a new end table to put her cup of tea on.

When you give her a new end table,
she may realize that her old rug is a bit small for the room.

Before she puts down the gorgeous wool rug,
she imagines how beautiful the hardwood floors would be if they were refinished.

Once the hardwood floors were refinished,
she would need a new fancy steam mop to keep the floors beautiful and shining.

Then she realizes her towels are so old and dirty that she could use them as rags to clean the floor,
after she was done cleaning the floors she would happily put her dirty rags into her new front loading washing machine.

If she uses her towels to make cleaning rags,
she's definitely going to want a set of new matching towels so every shower would feel like a trip to a fancy spa and hotel.

Wanting life to feel like a fancy hotel everyday,
she would love one of those tempurpedic mattresses to lay her head on every night.

In the morning after her wonderful night's rest,
chances are she would ask for breakfast to be served at her anything-but-oak-laminate dining table, something preferably solid wood, and stunning to a keen eye.

After the meal was finished,
she would load her new Bosch dishwasher, wipe down her Viking range, and put away the eggs in her Sub Zero refrigerator.

Simply after running the household,
chances are she'll want a comfy couch to relax on when the day is through.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Craving Space In Our Space! Operation Purge!

Isn't that a coincidence, I was just thinking the same thing.


I don't believe much in coincidence because all too often it's brushed off as a moment of chance. Whereas I firmly believe, there are no coincidences. Our thoughts and ideas attract unto other's and by ways in which we can't quite explain, just by merely opening our eyes to the possibility we recognize less happenstance and more meant to be.

Which leads me directly to a simple moment that has taken me down a path I've avoided for sometime now. A friend and amazing photographer, Tracey, updated on Instagram last week how she was feeling consumed by her clutter, how she felt like she had been there before, but really wanted to escape the cycle. 52 comments later on the photo and it was clear Tracey opened the conversation by saying what so many of us want to say, but all to often refrain from doing. I became a part of the conversation, I wrote down a few book titles, and it was that simple moment that seemed to flip the switch for me.

We are just a few weeks shy of two years in our home. Two years to settle in, two years for all the boxes to be unpacked, and two years for so many new things to come into our home. Two years for my huge walk in storage closet to feel overwhelming packed to the gills. KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED AND FORGET ABOUT WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON runs through my head countless times a day. A day doesn't pass when I need to go in there for something, crafting supplies, a bin of clothing, to put away or take out decorations, a new light bulb, wrapping paper, mending kit, I'm telling you this closet is the keeper of all things. Then when I really think about how stressed out my disorganized, but was once beautifully organized closet is, my brain takes me on a journey. A journey to all the places that make me anxious. The large drawer of the buffet, the cabinet below the silverware drawer, the top bin in my bedroom closet organizer, the hall closet, oh and the linens strewn in all the wrong places. My youngest has outgrown all of her pants and when I easily pull out the next size up bin of clothing from her big sister, I also realize that her dresser is currently a disaster.

There is no end to the vicious circle of how deep the organization has to go to really get my shit in control. NO END...

So I request a few books from the library, but most importantly the first one to arrive on my hold list is Peter Walsh's, It's All Too Much. He's an organizing celebrity, made famous by Oprah's network and quite possibly TLC years ago but my memory is fuzzy on that one. I remember seeing his show, envisioning big blue tarps that become buried in the owner's possessions he pulls out of the home in a weekend. I consume his book in a day. I set my sights, talk to Josh and the girls, and everyone gets on the same page.

It's Operation Purge.

I am freeing the smallest nooks and crannies from the clutter. Everything shall return to it's proper home and many, many things shall be sent off on a donation truck, or in a trash bin because I just can't maintain the chaos. I'm fabulous at keeping mail, bills, and paperwork in their precise location, but laundry? Heck, it's been my downfall for decades. Try the bin on my bed, no the pile on the couch, or wait maybe it's in the dryer. Sorry honey, I was confused, your leotard is not clean, check the mountain of dirty laundry on the laundry room floor. I don't have a hard time letting go of many things we no longer need or use. My problem lies with my motivation to do the work. I've become complacent and accepting, it's just how it is. Oh it's not so bad, just as long as I keep the guest room door closed. Well guess what? I don't want to keep the door closed anymore.

I want every room, closet, shelf, and drawer back. I'm not quite brave enough to post photos, but I may take some tomorrow. A memento of life before, a life that will no longer be. I'm ready to be free and relish in a space that has space.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Four Years Later: Grateful To Be Way Better Off!

Both presidential candidates are frequently throwing out the question to their captive audiences on the campaign trail, asking if we are better off now than we were four years ago? I think it's hard to listen to canned phrases from politicians on the topic, knowing good and well that they are wealthy and aren't really living the typical middle America lifestyle (yes, the President included). Even though I constantly hear about the doom and gloom of our society and economy, I feel so grateful to be able to reflect upon how much better our lives are now than they were just four years ago.

Two years ago, we escaped the suburbs with cash in hand after the sale of our house. I have a couple of friends that are still upside down in the same community on their homes. Granted, we had never taken out second mortgages or home equity lines of credit, so I do think it's fair that we take credit for being so conservative during the time in our first house. One of our neighbors went into foreclosure and sold their house at a tremendous loss, during the exact same time. Even with years passing, I still find myself in reflection of how grateful I am for walking away with a profit on our home. 

With the money we made on the sale of our house we were able to use it to invest in our new home, which has been the greatest investment we've made to date. Once again we had good fortune on our side and were able to purchase in the City of Boulder, below market value. Because we didn't have 20% to put down on our house, we secured a FHA (Federal Housing Administration) mortgage, as we did with our first home. The downside of a FHA Loan is that a chunk of the monthly mortgage payment is paid to a mortgage insurance premium to help protect the mortgage company if we were to default on our loan. This is the moment where I share, in 10 years, we have never missed a mortgage payment or even paid late. Once again, I feel very grateful for that fact. I also feel grateful that loans like the FHA exist, for it allowed us to be homeowners with out having a huge chunk of change, aka 20% cash saved in the bank. 

The even better news? Our home has APPRECIATED so much in the past two years, that we are able to use that appreciation as equity in our home towards a refinance. We are doing a no cash out refinance, meaning we are only taking out a new loan for the amount that we owe on our mortgage. We are now 20% invested in our home, so we are able to move away from our FHA Loan into a fixed rate conventional loan. The interest rates are 1.5% lower on our new loan and our mortgage insurance is gone away, making our monthly payment drop $400 a month. To top it off, our house has appreciated more in two years in Boulder, than our old house did in eight years. 

I haven't forgotten the other ways our lives have improved the last four years. I am working again, hours of my choosing. One of my jobs is teaching related, so I am paying into my retirement account again for the first time in nine years. My husband was given a salary increase, after seeing things like bonuses and pay raises disappear during a couple of lean years in his company. We have paid the lowest taxes to date even though our income level is the highest it's ever been. I've seen changes to our healthcare coverage, like no co-pays at well check ups, even at my Gynecologist. I no longer have to worry that my daughter's mild and very controlled health condition will block her from having access to health insurance later on in her life. 

Have we made sacrifices over the past nine years? Absolutely. We are stronger as a family for them. We are in charge of our future and have set our sights on what is important to us. We live much less in the moment, like we did a decade ago, and that to me is one of the greatest gifts this economic depression has given us. Not a day passes where I am not grateful for the life we are now living just four short years later, something I could hardly dream for myself eight years ago. 

Grateful? Yes. 
Better off? Absolutely! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Let's Hear It For, Date Morning!

Sometimes life gives us a little nudge to seize the moment and when I do, I feel like patting myself on the back. Just a couple of weeks ago, Josh and I recognized that we could have a few hours to ourselves after dropping the girls off at school. While we have great intentions to have a babysitter for a regular date night, we also recognize how much a date night hurts our wallet. The night out is great, but dropping $50-$75 after getting home is the real stinger. Nowadays we tend to reserve babysitters for events, not so much for a casual night out. Double ouch. 

Shall we agree, staying creative is the key to a happy relationship?

I hike with girlfriends or alone through out the week, simply due to when I have the free time. I rarely get to hit the trails with Josh, until our big revelation. With things slowing down a bit at work for Josh, we are loving an occasional weekday morning escape up the mountain and a nice breakfast to finish off the date. I believe it's time for date morning to gain popularity. Here's a photo of us from the top of Royal Arch, a trail we had never hiked together. Firsts are an amazing thing, when you've spent 22 years with someone. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Just Americans

Last night we were able to attend a speech by President Obama at CU. I've been fortunate enough to see him speak twice, but felt even luckier to be able to attend as family. It's truly an emotionally charged feeling to observe your children as they watch the President of the United States engage a crowd of 10,000 people. Memories of a lifetime, right there. 

 My nine year old and I both agree that our favorite quote of the evening was, 

"There are no Republicans or Democrats in a crisis, just Americans"
- President Obama 

(my iPhone photo on the left, photo on the right by local photographer Teryn)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaBloPoMo: Blogging For Blogging's Sake

Autumn nesting, turning back into oneself. Reexamining. Staying present in the home, in the heart. Returning to the kitchen, something is always baking, soul nourishing soups and stews. Time to recharge.

Maybe even, it's time to blog again.

I dug up a post from 2009, the last time I attempted NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and realized I had a very successful 24 posts. I'm impressed with myself, 24 posts in a month, I'm not quite sure if I've written 24 posts in 2012. Alright maybe that's an exaggeration, but truly not much of a stretch. It's time to fight the resistance and embrace this space that I've given so much to.

Long story short, I'm back to try my hand at blogging. I have so much to say, it's time I honor that.

You can find the NaBloPoMo Blogroll hosted over at Blogher now. I guess NaBloPoMo has grown up since I last participated.