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Archive for the ‘Home by the Bay’ Category

Looking at new houses is exhausting–skipping through lovely rooms imagining your life in them (with newer, cooler furnishings, of course), walking down 900 foot piers and seeing your boat at the end…

In all seriousness, though, it’s been a whirlwind four days, and I don’t think G or I have been able to process any of it properly.  We have seen five houses–all in the same general area, all waterfront.  But aside from those two things, these houses could not have been more different from one another.

We saw…

a cedar contemporary, a Victorian, a sprawling ranch, a cottage, and a neo-German design.

Or you could say we saw…

three on a river, one on a creek, and one at the mouth of the bay.

You could also categorize them by size…

from 2200 sq ft to 4300 sq ft

…or by lot…

from .16 acre to 26.6 acres.

Or you could think of them by each of their most unique features…

the wide view, the tree house setting, the unbelievable pier, the incredible charm, the perfect spot.

After all this, we’ve narrowed it down to two– two houses tempting enough to lure us away from our current home.  And while we’re far from decided–on the houses, on whether to sell, on whether all this (waves hands around in a wild circle) is worth it right now–it sure is fun to dream about life on the water.

As for the littlest monkey, her concerns were taken into serious consideration at each house.  But after eating out three (three!?!) nights in a row to accommodate our hectic schedule, she is not only exhausted, but she thinks life is pretty awesome these days.  She likes the nearby deliciousness of each of the houses.

Monday was Mexico–one of the top two houses in our running is just 3 miles away from Mexico.  Dangerous and delicious.

Tonight was Skippers.  Sadly, we really, really loved the home nearby (and thoughts of crab feasts surely danced in our heads), but this house was for a couple, and not a family.  There was not even space for a bathtub for Nell in either of the bathrooms.  Surprisingly, we were the first person (out of many, many showings) to mention that to the Realtor.

Disappointed that the house was a no-go and Skippers will not be on our everyday menu, but it sure was a nice treat tonight!

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Life is unexpected.  It’s spontaneous.

We’ve been tossing around a lot of ideas lately — ideas for the house here, ideas for the house in Pennsylvania.  Finally, in a spell of wonderful decisiveness, we decided to finish the backyard project and save the other stuff for another day.

On Saturday, the three of us piled into trucky and headed to a sod farm to get, well, sod.  We’ve given up on growing grass, folks.  After five years of bald spots and thin green pretenders, we decided to just buy the look of lawn.  We’re no strangers to sod–we used it at the last house, and it worked marvelously.

Nellie enjoyed watching the sod get loaded into the truck.

We’ve only gotten about half the yard done — we need one more truckload.  But it looks AMAZING.  I’ll post when it’s all done.  You can hardly recognize our yard — it looks so lush!

On the way home from the sod farm, as we crossed over the river, we passed a white sign, hand-painted with red paint.

“Waterfront. For sale by owner. Call …”

~

On Sunday, Nellie, G, and I started our weeklong celebration of Father’s Day with brunch at the resort.  After loading up on eggs, meats (<– mostly G), homemade donuts, and other deliciousness, we walked around the pier and enjoyed the sunshine.  It has changed so much since our wedding four years ago, but it was actually Nellie’s first time down there.

After walking around, we took a visit to see a waterfront property on the river.

~

I don’t know what the next couple days or weeks or months might bring.  After seeing the property on Sunday, we took a look at listings in the area, and picked a few more that caught our eye.  We saw one today, and we will see one more each on Tuesday and Wednesday.  And that’s all we have planned.  We might find our next dream home — the waterfront we can’t pass up — in that time; or we might decide we love this house too much to even consider moving.

Either way, this week has been an unexpected diversion this summer–a path we didn’t expect to take.

But, that’s usually what happens when you turn off the road at a hand-painted sign.

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It’s popping up everywhere around here — evidence of sunshine and long days and lazy, happy afternoons.

It’s appearing in the form of swimming pools catching afternoon warmth on the front stones…

(And I don’t think this is actually a spot for beer bottles, but it does seem like this pool was kinda made with Mama in mind, too, no?)

…and dogs spread out in the sunshine, imagining they’re best friends so long as the deck is hot

…and pink swings hanging from the bottom deck, catching the afternoon shade that the pool is ignoring.

Even our meals are embracing summer, as tomatoes from the top deck find their way into roasted eggplant and lamb and mint meatballs.

(Kid LOVES lamb meatballs.)

Last summer was incredibly special — I was pregnant, and we were counting down the weeks before Nellie’s arrival.  This summer, magically, means even more.  It hasn’t officially begun, and already it’s spreading its warm charm around our house.

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June bug

In California, we have june bugs–metallic green scarab beetles that emerge every summer and feast on fresh fruit.  Blissfully, in Maryland, we have no such thing.  But we do have Nellie–a messy little monkey who goes through just about as much fruit as the beetles.

It’s June, and the sun has responded with a nod to summer this weekend.  The weather on Saturday was perfect for the annual lab rescue dog walk.  Lucy was in her element, and Nellie breathed in the fresh air and the sea air and slept for the entire walk (but thoroughly enjoyed hanging out beforehand, and eating out afterwards).

We arrived early, as we always do, and set up camp under one of the tents that was vendorless at the time.  To our delight, that particular vendor never showed, so we had a private cabana on the park.  It was a lucky thing, too; while G, Nellie, and I were happy to sit in the sunshine and enjoy things like goldfish crackers and fruits, Lucy tugged her leash just long enough to find a spot in the shade.

G and I took the afternoon off and let Nellie dogsit, which was nice.

Lucy, as per usual, liked the pool portion of the walk way better than the walk portion of the walk. You’d expect all the labs would jump into the water, but no–just Lucy.  She claimed the pink pool.  She subsequently claimed the blue pool.

I’m not sure whether it was the walk, the swim, or just being an only dog for the day, but Lucy was one happy pup.

Nellie was…still asleep in her stroller.

We spent some time by the water before finding a spot for lunch (that accommodated babies and dogs–not an easy feat!).

Lucy approved of the day. And then she rode home in the front seat of trucky, ready to brag to the other two.

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I realize, of course, that there has been a lot of mention recently of snakes.  Twice in one week, in fact–one at each place.  And while I realize that our list of house guests is rapidly dwindling at the prospect of rat snakes in their room, I want to emphasize that this is not normal. In fact, the snake at the cabin–the itty, bitty snake we saw in the grass that lived outside our door–was the first snake we’ve seen up there.  Until our most recent trip, we had seen more bears roaming around the trash bins than we had seen snakes slithering through the rocks.  (That record is now tied, 1-1, though I know those bears are out there–my poor, destroyed trash cans speak to that loud and clear.)

But while you shouldn’t expect a snake encounter at the cabin necessarily, well, I’m sorry to say that we’ve had our share at the house.  The worst was the copperhead that bit Lucy square on the nose.  After ensuring it would not bite any of our other dogs, G brought up to me while I was cooking dinner just to confirm it was, in fact, copper.

Our screened porch has seen the most snakes.  The first was coiled in a massive loop around a plant that was just inches from me–I also happened to be home alone at the time.  I ran out screaming, as is usually the case when I see snakes, it seems, and we never found it again.  That episode is also subtitled, “The Time We Discovered that the Garage and the Screened Porch are Connected.”  Or, “The Snake is Now in our Garage.” 

The most recent episode of snakedom in the screened porch came about a year ago while I was cooking dinner and G was entertaining the dogs on the deck.  He spotted the copperhead slithering about near the door between the kitchen and porch, rushed in, and grabbed the knife with which I was doing dinner prep and took care of the snake.  My very best knife.  Really??

But the funniest episode — well, funniest to me, anyway — was our first snake episode at the house.  It is also the loudest I have ever heard G scream.  G was on the side patio raking up nature’s debris when he pushed the rake into the opening where we keep the hot tub hose and wires coiled up… and he pulled out a very, very, very angry snake.

That snake–a 7 foot, ginormous black rat snake–remains the largest snake I have EVER seen in real life that was not accompanied by a man in khakis on Snake Day at school.  That giant snake danced with G–one hissing, one screaming.  G eventually won, but they went many rounds.  When G finally got the snake on a garden tool, he flung the snake into the woods in one triumphant victory hurl.  And there, about a foot off our porch, it got caught in a tree.  A 7 foot, angry-as-all-hell snake, dangling a couple feet from our hot tub.

It’s been five years since that incident, and I am pretty sure G still approaches that space beside our hot tub with a 20 foot pole.  At the time, of course, it was TOTALLY NOT HILARIOUS.  But in hindsight–in my hindsight anyway–it was pretty damn funny.

Have I officially taken care of all future visitors to our house at this point?  No more snake stories today.  Instead, I will post the second half of my pictures of Nellie playing with Lucy.  Who doesn’t follow up stories about snakes with pictures of babies and puppies?  Tag this one adorable.

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Sometimes I make promises I can’t keep.  Promises like

I promise this is the last time we will paint this room.

and

I promise this is the last project I need help with.

and

I promise I won’t buy any more roses.

As to that last one, I offered up several suggestions — that at least one of us considered to be very helpful — as to where the four new giant rose bushes could go.

It’s fortunate that G knows me well enough to know that when I say our projects are done, they’re not; and when I say I don’t need help with anything else at all, I do.

And when I mentioned that we have this weekend off, what I really meant was that we have no commitments–what I also meant is that I might have a super short list of things I need help with around the house:

Things like hanging Nellie’s new pink swing, inflating her fabulous pool, constructing her super awesome ball pit*, and planting just a few more rose bushes.

*Sidebar: sometimes telling your husband that you ordered hundreds of plastic balls from Amazon in order to create the world’s best ball pit for your 9 month old daughter does not result in the reaction you would expect.  Even when those balls arrive in a giant box of happiness.

But G knows to expect no less.  He really deserves a lot of credit, that guy.  Because he puts up with all my crazy ideas.  For example, last weekend I came home with new planter boxes and a pair of grape vines to cover the trellises that surround the hot tub.  The result? Awesome.

In fairness to me, there is one promise that I always keep: that after a busy spring of projects and, yanno, complete backyard remodels, we have the summer off.  It’s our season to celebrate living on the bay and to make up for the time we spend commuting to the city all year.

This year, our summer is starting with a trip–a vacation to Florida to see family.  I realized this morning that our plane ride is only one week away, so tonight I started pulling things out to pack–things that smell like summer and look like summer and feel like summer. Nellie’s bathing suits, cover-ups, sunglasses, pool float, swim diapers, and hat — or, yanno, basically every item known to mankind babykind.

Of course Nellie checked out her suitcase as soon as she saw it…

…rejected everything I had packed for her…

…and proceeded to unpack her suitcase.

After watching the monkey dismantle all of my hard work, I carried her out to the screened porch for the late spring edition of a toy picnic.  Last night’s impressive thunder and lightning show gave way to a beautiful day today and to a calm evening tonight, so it was the perfect evening for a toy picnic, set to the sounds of the frogs and crickets who have already moved into our yard for the season.

It’s not summer yet, but it’s close.

 

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It’s hardly even spring, except that suddenly it’s the end of April.  Maybe it was the lost month of March, or maybe it was the nonexistent winter…either way, the warmer weather and its inspiration is suddenly upon us.

Our annual spring project is still well underway, as our progress has been slowed down by my inability to contribute much (though my oversight and recent purchases are, I think, very important elements of this project’s eventual success).  When I think back to our other spring remodels–the nursery last year, the kitchen the year before, or even all the way back to the house exterior in 2008 (our first spring at this house)–they were projects that happened in short periods of time.  And by that I mean that we had only been in the house for six months when we launched into the work on the house; and the kitchen remodel and its concept actually came together quite quickly; and of course, the nursery project only began once we knew we were expecting.

This project, however, is different.  While the actual implementation might take only a couple of months (though, tell that to G who has nightmares about carrying stone in buckets), the conception of this project has been years long.  Since we moved into the house, I’ve looked down at the backyard and imagined its potential.  For five years now, I’ve eagerly anticipated the time when we might finally turn our attention to this yard and make it into an incredible space in which to spend time and live.  And so, with that kind of anticipation and build-up–plus the newfound giddiness over the various pieces that we’ve recently acquired to enhance this project beyond even my original thinking–it’s easy to understand why this project might be my very favorite ever.

And I swear that has nothing to do with the fact that I’m not doing the actual work.  (Like pushing Nellie back and forth on the deck in her bike and cheering Daddy on as he walks back and forth with supplies isn’t work.  Puhlease.)

But even though there is still work to be done, I love looking past this project and thinking about what this summer will be like.  Days at the beach under a big umbrella with a pile of toys.  Evenings in the garden, sitting in large comfy chairs around a fire.  Weekend brunch on the deck while Nellie plays in her pool.  Lazy days in the shade with the pups sleeping below Nellie’s feet as she swings in her pink swing.  Picnic baskets full of milk in sippy cups and lemonade in mason jars.  Strawberry slices in glasses of prosecco (and the rest in sticky fingers).

And maybe, just maybe, battery-operated twinkly lights on the deck.  Just to keep the fireflies company.

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