Category Archives: nesting

We Bought a Robot Vacuum


Marcus wanted to call it “Terminator” and that was exactly the right name for it.

How did this all come about?

You guys, we moved.  And then we had to be in charge of cleaning a house again instead of (God bless) my Mom.  Most of the cleaning is not so problematic but we have a toddler who literally rains things down from his high chair all day every day, and #firstworldproblems the only carpet in the entire house is in the three season porch so there is nowhere for crumbs to hide.

We have been surviving this plight of constantly dirty floors (despite regular cleaning) for the last six weeks and then I just could not do it anymore!  About three weeks ago, I Googled robot vacuums and after doing some Consumer Reports reading, set my heart on a Bissell SmartClean.  It was ranked #5 because it is not the greatest at cleaning carpets.  When I read that, I knew it was the perfect robot vacuum for us because of the whole no carpets-thing.

Marcus dragged his feet on agreeing to purchase one to “test” it out and to his credit, it saved us $100 when we caught a great Labor Day sale at Target (total robot vacuum Cost: $203).  HUSBAND YOU WERE RIGHT.

The whole thing feels sort of extravagant because surely this is work we could do ourselves and yet already there is so much that we are doing ourselves, that can’t it be enough to opt out of doing one thing, like cleaning our floors?

After running it through our family room, bedroom, and two passes of the main floor (it’s really just too big to run the program once) we filled the dirt container three times AKA victory and the best part is that we didn’t even have to lift a finger to do it.  MAGIC.  Marcus is now concerned about the lifespan of these devices and how frequently it is really appropriate to put Terminator to work.  I figure this is why the warranty exists.  

And now I cannot stop telling people about it. 



One Month!

Is how long we have been living in this house now (even though really, we’ve owned it for about five weeks).  It has been great, it has been weird.  Obviously for the next few years we will still be “learning” about the house and what it does/does not do.  Critter loves having his own yard.  It has been so nice to have neighbors around.  The second weekend we lived in the house, we went to one housewarming, and then another dip potluck across the street.  I aspire to host a party someday, but based on how our life looks right now, it’s probably going to be a year.

The only “project” we have left to do right now is having some insulation scraped off of the side of the house – the birds have left the nest and it will get taken care of at some point in mid-September.

Also, we really, really, really need to set-up Glitter’s nursery and source some rugs (I finally picked then out!) for the children’s rooms.

Because we are not totally incapable of doing our own house projects, two weekends ago we started to paint the trim on our entryway.

This is what it looked like before.

(Unpictured: the brown storm door we had Bruce replace)

And this is the in-progress after.

I will never understand why all the entryway trim was blue, when the rest of the trim on the house was white.  Approximately 1/3 of the area needs an additional coat of paint.  But it looks much sparkier, no?  Marcus and I also learned through this process that I paint twice as fast as he does and that there is a reason that in this season of our lives it is okay for us to pay other people to do things for us.

There is just not enough time and energy in the day.

In No Particular Order

Apparently I just have a lot of different little things that I feel like I need to share, so here they are.

  • We discovered that there was a bird nest in the insulation covering our exposed foundation.  When they went to start removing the insulation, we discovered there were baby birds in the nest!  So that project has been tabled until fall (I do not want any bad baby bird karma) and THANK GOD the mama bird did not abandon the nest.
  • I finally completed all of my recertification credits for my SPHR and submitted that application.  So, now I have to wait the four weeks while they review it (snooze) and then hopefully that should be all-wrapped up.  Spending free hours listening to webinars was not my favorite part of the whole summer, but the nice part is that the hours also counted for my SHRM-SCP recertification so it was sort of like a buy-one-get-one type deal.  Now, I just need to figure out how to translate some of my other recertification credits  from the SPHR to the SHRM-SCP.  Lean in!
  • The deck off our our master suite is finally completed and on the first night of its functionality, I was able to watch a squirrel build a leaf nest in the maple tree so already, it is a fascinating and worthwhile adult treehouse.
  • A former co-worker was seeking to unload a bunch of Iris bulbs so I requested some and now they are planted in the one bed of dirt we have outside of our entire house. Re-landscaping will be a whole different project for another year.  To summarize: our house is surrounded by rock that is somewhere between gravel and proper landscaping rock.  The sum total of plants is one day lily and one peony bush (win!).  There are some bushes around the house but every single one is a different kind.  At least now I can say I’ve tried to plant some flowers and Do Better.  Last weekend we also obtained a trowel, watering can, and pruning/clippers thing.
  • I have pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel.  I discovered this because my hands were falling asleep at night while I was sleeping (how uncool, right?) so the remedy is apparently to wear wrist braces while I sleep.  I just cannot even begin to discuss the level of indignity.  BUT. I slept so, so well last night and I know I was waking up every hour and a half or so before because my hands were falling asleep while I slept. So I will take it. 
  • Critter woke up on Sunday and decided to become a full-blown toddler so that has just been a really energizing time for all of us as we try to negotiate Not Touchdown Spiking All Of Our Toys In Inappropriate Places amongst probably any other toddler behavior you can think of.

So that’s how life is over here, lately.

Buying/Selling a House with Redfin

Add this to the List Of Posts I’ve Been Meaning To Write But Have Not Had The Time To Hammer Out.

When we sold our townhouse and bought our current home, we did it through Redfin.  When we tell our friends we did this instead of using a “traditional” real estate agency in the area they usually have questions because they either (A) Have never heard of it or (B) Have heard of it but don’t really know what it is or (C) Want to know What On Earth We Were Thinking.

The best summary I can give is that from the buying side, it is like Uber but for real estate.  You have an app on your phone with access to all MLS listings.  You search for homes that fit within your specific criteria, like any other real estate website.  When you find a house you want to see, you request a showing and date/time and then Redfin matches you with an available agent.  You meet the agent at the house and you tour it.  If you want to view more than one house in a tour, then you drive your own car from house to house and meet the agent at each house.  You see a house you like?  They write the offer, negotiate, etc.

Honestly, the reason we know about Redfin (and felt comfortable trying them out!) was because my parents bought their home through Redfin in 2016.  They had a positive experience, so we felt like it was a decision we were comfortable making.

The best part (AKA the whole reason to do this) = if you buy your home through Redfin they refund you part of the commission they earn on the sale of the home.  For the house we just purchased, that was $2,600 we got back simply because we used them.

From the buying side, I will say the following:

  • While we worked with a primary agent, sometimes we saw houses with other agents.  This was not important to us.  If you only want to work with one person, this model will not work for you.
  • Since their agents aren’t getting paid in the same way as traditional real estate agents, they’re not overly motivated to sell you a house and they don’t get frustrated with you if you have toured, say, 20 of them and still haven’t found the right one.  This was especially important to us because the inventory in our market was really low and out of the 30 houses we saw, there were only two we put offers in on and only four or five that we seriously considered.
  • Many of the agents we worked with had “day” jobs and so there was a wide variety of skill levels.  We knew what we were looking for in a house.  We also knew what sorts of things we were looking at in a house (windows, water damage, age of the HVAC system, etc.).  If you are completely clueless, this may not be the route for you.

With all of that in mind, 100% we would use Redfin again as buyers.

From the selling side, based on what we paid in listing fees to sell our townhome, we saved $1500 compared to the fees charged by a traditional brokerage (they simply charge a lower percentage of listing than traditional brokerages). Redfin also provided us with a $250 “sparkle” fund reimbursement for the small improvements and repairs we made to the house to get it ready to sell.

Selling our house was a whirlwind, honestly.  We met with the listing agent in November just to get an idea of pricing and what we needed to do.  Once we were ready to move forward at the end of January, within the span of a week we had our house measured, photographed, listed, with God, I can’t remember 17 booked showings and an open house and by the end of the weekend a signed purchase agreement.

There were times where we felt communication was a bit rocky, but at the same time, for the amount of effort we had to put into selling our house (really not that much) and the amount of money we saved in total on the sales-side ($1,750!) I’d say things went swimmingly.  Frankly, they could have been outright mediocre and it still would have been worth the savings.

TL;DR Redfin is the Uber of homebuying, by using them for buying and selling, we saved a total of $4,350.  11/10 would use again.


Still Settling In.

Y’all, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I Am Weary.  Every night after dinner and bedtime there are more things to do and there is just a point where I have to Sit Down because my body is DONE.

Bruce wrapped up his projects today (we had him for a grand total of seven days).  Like I have said before, this was not a “projects” house but there was still stuff we needed to do in order to make it “ours” and more useful to us.  I will now show you the projects I was most jazzed about.  Because if this is not an aspirational lifestyle blog I don’t know what is. 

First off, the entryway from our garage was a laundry room with a closet.  At some point the old owners got Extremely Clever and converted the closet into a mudroom-type space. The interior was lined with cedar paneling and they even left the bench they found to fit it (BLESS THEM).  However, I wanted a few hooks in there so that we could hang a coat in the winter/the diaper bag/my purse.


I am also inordinately proud of the Doesn’t Match Super Great But Works For Now Rug that is capturing all of the sand and dirt that was coming into the house and killing me slowly.

Also in the laundry room/mudroom, we had Bruce tear out the lower shelf in the cabinets hanging above the washer and dryer.  They were spaced 12″ or so apart which was exactly enough space for nothing.

Now we have space for many, logical, laundry-related things!

Finally the pantry.

The shelves!  So functional!

And because no home renovation is complete without unforseen projects, when they went to start replacing the support beams on our deck they found this rotting mess.

So who is getting a new deck off of their master suite right now?  That’s right!  Us!  It’s not something we were looking for in a house, nor is it why we bought the house but now that we know the opportunity exists, it is a non-negotiable.

You can also see the new stairs coming off of the main deck down to the backyard because prior to this week, you could not access the backyard from the back of the house. It’s a real quality-of-life thing. 



I wish I could share a photo of our garden with you, but our house has no flowers.

Okay, that is a lie.  There is a peony bush on the side of the house.  But it bloomed approximately one week after our offer got accepted.

So, no flowers right now.

But here is this from our bedroom. It is like living in the tree!

Anyway, we are moved!  Our storage units are empty, all of our possessions have been evacuated from the multi-generational compound.  For the first time in five months, we are not living with two other people and for the first time in five months those two other people are not living with two other people and a boy king!

How freeing.

Because I am a pregnant and also we’re old now, we hired movers on Friday and that was a beautiful beautiful thing.  They hauled things about the house and as I watched them do it, I thought about how mad and sweaty I would be if I was moving things. But they weren’t!  Because this is their job!  And it was a miracle and then all of the things were in our house.

But then, on Saturday, we were blessed with nine people who unpacked everything (in addition to the two who helped us conquer our kitchen on Friday) on our main floor and in our bedrooms so that we could live like civilized human beings and also because I am having a baby in 7.5 weeks.

And now, since time stops for no one, we are filling our house with humans, moreso than is probably advisable when you’ve been living on the premises for less than a week.  First, Lindsey came over for dinner on Monday night.  Yesterday, I hosted the weekly playdate for my playgroup because Lord knows I owe them five months worth and what better way to christen the floors than with the shards of many, many Goldfish crackers?  Tomorrow, our ECFE friends are coming to play.  Angie is coming to breakfast on Sunday.

Between closing and last Friday (so, a week) Bruce painted Critter’s big boy room, Glitter’s nursery, ripped out a sliding glass door attached to the bathtub in the kids’ bathroom.  Painted the interior of our entryway closet.  Built shelves into the cabinet we’re going to use as a pantry.  Removed all of the mini-blinds in the house.  Installed cordless blinds on every window in the house.  Tomorrow he will start work on the next round of projects – he will replace some doors, paint the basement white (there are magic eraser spots everywhere), rip out the bottom shelf from the above-laundry cabinets so that we can actually store detergent and other such items in them.  Fix Glitter’s door so it doesn’t stick when you pull it shut.  Install a laser level safety thing on the garage door that is missing them.  Bolt our toilets to the floor (they’re not…it’s bizarre).  On Monday, another contractor will come out to build stairs onto our lower deck (right now it has none), replace the support posts and crossbeam on our master suite deck.  Re-do the venting on our dryer and fix some masonry.


But our house looks very spiffy now.

And to think we still need a kitchen table.  Rugs for many rooms.  Coffee tables for the family room.  A television for the main floor.  Lamps because there is like NO OVERHEAD LIGHTING IN THE ENTIRE HOUSE.

It’s a good thing that we have 7.5 weeks to finish getting settled.


We Bought A House

There is just a lot going on in our lives right now and much to share (for example, I’d like to recap our last Cabin adventure) but for the time being, we bought a house!

We closed on Thursday, we’ll actually move in next weekend. 

For the time being, we’ve (and by “we’ve” I mean my husband, brother and brother-in-law) have been hauling over things NOT stashed in our storage unit and building IKEA furniture. 

We established a play room for Critter in the three season porch.

He is delighted that he now possesses his own personal ceiling fan!

I’ve been doing my part for the team by loading our freezer up with…meals. 

Related/unrelated: freezer lighting is terrible for photos and our freezer is really small so thank God we have a separate standing freezer that will be operational next week. 

Anyway, I’ve made three Garden Pies and six freeze and dump Crockpot meals: Honey Garlic Chicken, Mongolian Beef and Ropa Vieja. 

Since we’ve only got nine or so weeks until Glitter arrives, and a handful of friends who have welcomed new little ones and are in need of food, my goal is to batch cook every weekend from here on out to make sure everyone is fed. 

Someday we are moving!