A New Sort of Independence

Just for Fun

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but we recently moved into a home we own (bank and mortgage notwithstanding) as opposed to renting and it’s kind of a big deal that I don’t think has truly sunk in yet.

Some people say the first time you make a mortgage payment is when it starts to feel real.

Nope. Made two of those already, not feeling any different.

I thought the actual process of moving would help it hit home (pun intended) but this week has been so hectic and scattered that nothing feels right, so that’s not it,  either.

Maybe I’ll “get it” once we’ve made a major change to the house without having to a) ask a landlord’s permission or b) know we have to change it back/take it down when we leave. Or maybe once we no longer have contractor’s traipsing through any given day and I sign over that last renovation check.

One way or another that’ll definitely feel good!

When I first spoke with the bank and got the pre-approval (not just a pre-qual) for the mortgage, man, that floored me. You mean I’m enough of a grown up that a bank is going to trust me with property?! (Because, no, being 38 is not enough on it’s own to get rid of the 18-and-clueless feeling of most days.) From there it was such a climb to get the particulars settled with the renovation and insurance that any “fun” of home buying went out the window.

Except not our windows because they’re still painted shut*.

Still, even if I haven’t connected emotionally with the new house as home, I know we’re about to enjoy these few freedoms and I’m definitely happy about it:

  1. Freedom from the landlord. I know I sorta mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. No more landlord–that’s worth a party on it’s own. It’s also directly related to…
  2. Freedom to make decisions on our own. Two weeks after we moved into the last rental the hot water heater went down. In December/January. And it took two weeks of the management company and property owner dicking around and doing nothing before we gave up and Todd replaced both elements himself. Then there was the month we were without a working oven because there were three entities involved in the decision process and we weren’t one of them. Or the 4 months of extreme water bills due to botched pipe repairs. Point being: we get stuff done much faster on our own.
  3. Freedom from debt. Taking on a mortgage isn’t exactly getting rid of debt, I know, but our mortgage–including insurances and taxes–is only 2/3 of what our rent has been, so now I have a little more room in the budget to get my credit card debt paid off that much faster. It’ll be another month or so before I know how much the Dollhouse’s utilities and the additional tanks of gas to and from work affect that, but I’m confident there’ll be something leftover to put towards the consumer debt.
  4. Freedom of distance. I’ve lived in Tallahassee for the last 32 years and have attempted numerous times to “escape” the city for somewhere, anywhere else. It never worked, I kept getting pulled back in. Eventually I made my peace with it, but still dreamed of retiring somewhere that wasn’t Tallahassee. When Todd and I hooked-up I started day-dreaming about him getting head-hunted for a cushy Controller position somewhere out of state that would force me to get out. Needless to say, I’m happy to be even as far as over the state line.
  5. Freedom of reinvention. Along with living in the same town I graduated high school from (thus increasing the chances of running into people I knew back then), I’ve either lived or worked with my mother continuously since birth. There were those few months I left to finish my culinary degree before the plantation went bankrupt and I landed back at the office I’d left forever, but I’ve always felt a little caged-in by the way those who knew me (or thought they knew me) growing up see me and the way I want to be seen. Between the person I’m perceived to be and the person I truly am. A new town with new connections to make holds a sense of promise for me that ignores the fact that, for the next couple of years at least, I’m still working with those same people I’ve worked with for (gulp) 20 years. It’s something.

The 4th of July has never been in my top three holidays, but this year is has a special significance to me. We just finished clearing out and cleaning a third of the Tallahassee house and brought home two more carloads of stuff. After we cool off a bit, it’ll be time to put some burgers on the grill and then, if we’ve got the energy, head downtown to see the fireworks.

Even if we don’t, just being home–really home–this Independence Day is good enough for me.

*Apparently the last item on the contractor’s to-do list is to un-stick all of the windows. We thought that was going to happen Thursday (because that’s what his Wednesday-night text said) but something must have come up because they are still firmly painted shut!

Merry Christmas!

Everyday Adventures, The Gingerbread Diaries

Doll in custom-knit dress and cape holding a present next to a mixed-media-decorated tinsel tree

It’s Christmas Day and, as usual for us, we’re just hanging around the house enjoying the lack of activity. Several years ago my family started doing the big celebration on Christmas Eve (mostly to allow for my brother and sister-in-law to make the rounds of her family on Christmas Day), so we had them over last night for the big dinner and present-opening, etc.

Of course, things weren’t going quite as smoothly as I had hoped, when the scene both in the house and the garage was looking a bit like this…

water leaking down the garage floor

Both in the garage…

towels mopping up water in our library

…and inside the house!

Which necessitate a call to these guys…

plumbing van outside of our house

Because doesn’t everyone want to call a plumber on Christmas Eve?!

Luckily, though, the prancing and pawing of the plumber and his snake on the roof led to the clearing of the clog that was causing the water to back up, and he was gone about 15 minutes before the first of my family showed up. Timing is everything, folks!

On Monday I finally found enough holiday spirit to actually put up our holiday decorations. We had plenty of pretty cards from friends and family to decorate the pass-through, flanked by our Nick and Nora Build-a-Bear sock monkeys.

entryway pass-through with christmas cards and monkeys

We continued to use our tomato-cage “trees” again this year, along with our “drunken monkey” ornament theme. Will we ever get tired of them? Highly doubtful.

inverted tomato cage tree decorated with monkeys and wine and cocktail ornaments

Of course, this year we had an extra special addition to the ornaments: a “Happily Ever After” ornament complete with mouse ears and our wedding date, courtesy of a friend and wedding guest.

The way things are going, though, next year we might have room again for a full-sized tree!

This past week has been a bit of a whirl-wind. On Tuesday I found the house I was pining for in my last post, and on Friday I got some of the most grown-up news I’ve every gotten: pre-approval for a mortgage! So Saturday, as we toured the 1910 Victorian, we made the decision to put in an offer and decided to see if they’d accept almost 10K under list price. Imagine our surprise when they accepted it within a day without a counteroffer! Todd now thinks we could have offered less, but I think we’re still getting an amazing deal on a house this size.


After walking through it (and under it, in Todd’s case), we felt comfortable with the amount of work it would need to update parts and pretty-up others. The original house is in amazing shape–some cracks in the plaster from 103 years of settling, but still very sturdy and solid from what we could tell. The outside looks a little shabby, but that’s just peeling paint; the clapboards are still solid and strong. The 1970ish addition, though, that’s where the most work will be needed, including ripping out the kitchen floor and maybe a wall in the hallway extension.

rear view of a 1910 Victorian home with a 1970 addition

The back of the house, showing the add-on upstairs bathroom, and the kitchen/bath/laundry update from the 70s. Yes, the laundry room does look tilted–that’s something we’re going to have to address.

Of course, we’re not pros, so a lot will be determined by the formal inspection still to come. We’re hoping nothing new and drastic pops up from that process, but as long as his or her findings square with ours, we’ll continue on with the home-buying process. Our offer is contingent on a satisfactory inspection, and we have until January 15, to complete our Due Diligence and pull out of the deal without any repercussions. I really hope it doesn’t come to that–we’re looking forward to a move next year!

If all goes well, closing is set for the end of February, which would give us a 5-month overlap between taking possession and our lease being up in our current rental. Plenty of weekends to spend up in Thomasville doing the basics, getting the home ready for us to move in without the last-minute scramble we had in our last move.

But that’s enough house-talk for now. I think it’s time to raid the leftovers for tonight’s supper!

However you’ve spend your holiday, I hope it was a happy one. And if you have celebrations still to come, I hope you have fun 🙂