Moving: “Oh? Upsizing?” Nope!

During the process of selling our house and buying a new one, I read a lot about downsizing. Apparently, it’s not just for retirees anymore. There is a real trend happening where young families are trading in large homes for smaller ones or choosing to buy smaller homes from the start, many times located in the heart of the city.

I was finally able to put a name to this thing we were doing! Admittedly, it felt a little foolish to sell our roomy (although aged) home and exchange it for something  smaller in square footage with a bare patch of earth on the side of the house. Quite a change from high ceilings, a family room, living room, formal dining room and a large yard complete with fruit trees and berry bushes.

When we took a look at the first house we bought, there was so much to love about it! I found myself daydreaming about gardening with my kids. But in the almost four years that we’d lived there, we outgrew the space.

Not physically, but psychologically and emotionally.

The Yard

Maintaining a yard is a pain. In money or time. Neither DH, nor myself, want to spend multiple weekends weeding or using extra money to pay for upkeep. And the gardening? It wasn’t happening. Not because I was juggling a new baby and toddler at the time, and I just hadn’t got to it. It wasn’t happening because it is not my thing. I like spending time with my kids, my partner, reading, going out to places, and especially writing. Writing. And really, what makes me think gardening with my sons would involve anything other than seeds and dirt being thrown everywhere? I strongly suspect it’s not their thing either.

And there’s living in the Pacific Northwest, where 8-9 months out of the year, it’s wet or damp out. Sure, hiking on one of Oregon’s many beautiful trails in a misty drizzle is cool. Sitting in my backyard in a misty drizzle is not. I’ll just go in the house and brew some coffee, thanks.

Wasted space

Do you know what we did with the “formal” dining room? Turned it into a playroom and used the smaller eat-in near the kitchen for meals. My DH intuited before I did that a dining table in there is not a very good use of space for us.

And the living room. No one hardly ever went in there. It’s furnished, but the most use it gets is when we change things around a bit to accommodate a sleeping space for my visiting mom. And upstairs, a fourth bedroom was not being used (again, except for when my brother was here visiting) because my youngest still co-sleeps with DH and I. My sons are also quite close. When my littlest guy finally exits the big bed, they will probably want to share a room.

In retrospect, I realize how way too open and impersonal our first house was. Now granted, a interior design genius could have done wonders. I’m okay decorating, but not that good. But I think our new home fits our lifestyle much better. It’s smaller, but it’s perfectly cozy for our tastes.

Happy New Year!

As always with this time of year there is the positive anticipation towards new opportunities and new goals, mixed with quite a bit of oh-now-back-to-the-grindstone-ugh feeling. I think it’s all normal. Aim high, and you’ll get some things accomplished.

We’re starting our last leg of Kindergarten. This semester will be twice as a long with Spring Break wedged in between. My next post will be a review of fall semester (#1 son did well!) and the tweaks we made for winter/spring. We officially start school tomorrow, but are taking it very slow since it’s a two-day week and our break was long.

Regarding my regular blog posts, it will be the same as usual; a mix of whatever the heck is on my mind. Hair, religion, writing, atheism, race, mixed families, homeschooling, pet peeves/rants about movies and shows. Woot!

Happy New Year and hope everyone has a great week!

Domestic violence: when the woman is the aggressor

Dr. Phil comes on during the boys’ naps, so sometimes I watch it. Today was an episode in his domestic violence series where the wife, Sara, was the aggressor and the husband, Quinn, was the victim.

The abuse was awful; physical and emotional abuse to the max. She has raged at their children. He went on a second tour of duty in Iraq just to get away from the drama (seriously, wtf? damn…). She also committed adultery. And physically assaulted his mother, after which she threatened to kill her if Quinn called the police.

I’m really glad that Dr. Phil is highlighting the fact that men can be abused by their female partners.

However, still got a few issues:

1. I guess since there was no way to directly deny any of the allegations against her, Sara cries and blames her parents for the entire show.

I am all for recognizing past (or current) parental/home dysfunction. Really. In fact, if people did this more, they’d be much happier. But, at some point you have to move on, take responsibility for your actions, and unlearn the dysfunction.

2. I just didn’t feel the seriousness. Sara got way more understanding from Dr. Phil than she would have if she were male. He said he was sorry for whatever bad treatment she suffered as a child. And even though Quinn was pretty much done with her, all these years both he and extended family have put up with this nonsense way too long. If she were a guy, she’d be in prison still (she was arrested for domestic violence twice).

3. Dr. Phil’s advice? Don’t divorce her yet, give us 45 days to fix her. What? Again, if this were a dude…

But, in Dr. Phil’s defense, Sara put on a great act (imo). The crying, claiming abuse from her parents (which I don’t doubt, actually), the contriteness with just barely a hint of defensiveness, exclaiming she couldn’t believe she said/did [insert horrible thing]. And finally, she insists she wants help. I suppose Dr. Phil has to take her at her word. And he did tell Quinn not to let her near the children unsupervised.

I feel sorry for Quinn because you could see he was at the end of his rope. Too much has gone down (she beat up his mom!). Personally, I think he needs to drop her. Because they have children, he has an investment in her getting better, but that doesn’t mean he has to stay married to her.

Plus, her motivation for getting better needs to be for herself and the welfare of the kiddos, not to keep a man. I have a feeling the later is true; she was fairly confident he doesn’t truly want a divorce.

And to him I say, good luck with that.

Countdown to Christmas

December is almost upon us and I have done nothing in terms of Christmas cards, getting a tree, etc.

I had this note on my calendar at the beginning of November to start planning for Christmas stuff…this did absolutely nothing.

My short-term goal is to order Christmas cards and send them out by the second week in December. We’re using Shutterfly, so this includes taking some pics of the boys. For some reason, all of this seems like a monumental task to me.

Anyone else just puttering along towards Christmas?

Busy Day

Cooked a neat recipe with #1 today that we got from Cooking with my Kid. Pics to come tomorrow. I went to the grocery in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner. Really excited about what I am making and will talk more about that in tomorrow’s post, as well.

Now, on friendships…

In my previous post, I got that NYT link from this blog post on BlogHer about the BFF phenom and how some girls, in her observation, use it to control their friendships.

She’s got an interesting point here, and makes me think about how some people have a need to control the relationships (and by extension the other person) in their life. We’re told over and over to beware of relationships with partners that might become controlling and dysfunctional but I would enlarge that to encompass friends, too. Or parents. Whoever.

When you think about it, the whole “best friend” thing, as the BlogHer writer mentioned, is pretty immature. It’s okay if you are in grade school (although that could be debatable), but as you get older, you should begin to see that there is a whole big world out there with lots of people to meet, and not limit yourself to just a small group of friends.

Or, worse, one friend.

No one person can meet all of your emotional, social and intellectual needs. Even introverts, whose friendship circle may be much smaller compared to extroverts, can have diversity in their friendships. Diversity is having friends that don’t necessarily think like or have all the same interests as you do. There is nothing wrong with connecting with someone on one thing, and nothing else.

And believe me, commonality has it’s place; I can talk for a long time with my brother about some random aspect on Star Trek or Batman or which X-Men movie sucked (it was The Last Stand, of course). With my spouse? Not so much. But there are plenty of other things we can talk about; he is not required to like Star Wars (although I did require that he see Revenge of the Sith with me and bro).

Bottomline: in my opinion, diversity in friendships contributes to maturity and makes life much more interesting.

Happy Friday!

Thanksgiving is about two weeks away and I need to start planning! Our crowd isn’t big; in fact it’s pretty sparse just myself, SO, the boys and MIL.

So this weekend will involve a grocery run to start stocking up for the holiday meals and dinner at a friend’s house.