Sunday, March 02, 2014

Northwest Ladybug, Part 2?

For a few months now, I’ve been pondering what to do with this once active and thriving, but now quiet and neglected blog.  Should I just start writing again – sometimes a quick quip, other times a thoughtful essay -- as I did in those pre-Facebook days?  Unlike those who make their living by blogging, I have no incentive to post here other than my own personal need to write and to connect.  I can do that via my blog OR via Facebook, but likely not both. 

When I started this blog in 2006, we were in the throes of empty nest – or rather, we thought we were.  Elisabeth had just graduated from Cal and had begun her career.  She lived on her own in Seattle.  Peter had graduated from high school but was taking a year off before college, living at home and working.  Aleks and Kat were sophomores in high school. 

Empty nest? HA! Not at all!

Even six years later, in 2011, we weren’t true empty nesters, I now realize.  By this time, Peter had graduated from Washington State and had a full-time job, but it was in Yakima, of all places, in what he and Tom have come to call “the armpit of Washington,” and he came home every single weekend to escape to heat. Or the cold.

In 2012, Aleks and Kat graduated from the University of Washington (after coming home most, or at least many, weekends while they were in school), but the economy stunk for new graduates and neither were able to quickly find a career job that would allow them to move out on their own.  So at that point, although Peter had found a job he liked in Seattle and had a place of his own in the city, Aleks and Kat lived at home with us. 

It was only in September of 2013 that we were the actual empty nesters that we purported to be way back in 2006!  That was the month when both Aleks and Kat moved completely out, leaving only one or two boxes in the garage, as Peter and Elisabeth had done earlier.  That was the month when we had three (THREE!) guestrooms and a real office, rather than four cramped kid’s room. 

What was once this (once both Peter’s room and Aleks’ room)…


became this, guestroom #1:


What was this (once both Elisabeth’s room and Kat’s room)…

Elisabeth's roomIMG_3208

became this, guestroom #2:


What was once this (Kat’s old room and our former office):



became guestroom #3:


And what was once Aleks’ old room…


became our dual office:


And now that we are TRUE empty nesters, meaning that one or more kids coming home for more than a few hours is an uncommon occurrence, we have some big – and I mean BIG – decisions to make. 

The process of making and implementing those decisions just might be the focus of Northwest Ladybug #2.  What do you think?

Tom has spent almost 20 years fixing up this house to, as he puts it, “attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”  In my opinion, he has been a wild success. (Just look at all he’s done!)  But in his mind he has only applied patches to a “horribly built” house.  He knows that the electrical wiring is a godawful (and likely dangerous) mess.  He knows that the roof and some floors are sagging and that the builders (just boys of 18 hired off the street, we’ve been told by neighbors) cut corners every chance they got and built just another a sub-standard tract house.  It drives Tom crazy! Not normally the stubborn sort, especially about Big Life Decisions, Tom has made it clear that he “in not going to die in this house.”  So, much as I love this house that finally feels like a home, we are on the look-out for our next move – physically and emotionally. 

I have come to realize that Tom needs a project and that remodeling and improving our homes over the past 30 years has been that project.  For him, the satisfaction is in the process, while my satisfaction has always been in the result.  So for 30 years I’ve been waiting to live in a “finished” home, while he has been immersed in the process of finishing homes.  So, whereas I now feel satisfied and settled in, he now feels unsatisfied and itching to move onto the next project. It’s one of the gazillion and one ways that we’re different.

That means that this huge backyard water feature project that he began last summer…




…will now be finished with the idea of selling the house rather than of being the perfect water feature for us.

Newly designed living spaces and gorgeous new landscaping projects will now give way to home maintenance and repairs, in preparation for selling.  It is taking me a while to get used to that idea, but I must admit that the idea of moving anywhere we want (within an easy drive to Seattle, of course; we intend to have grandchildren one of these days!) and either buying or maybe even building a dream home that IS well-constructed and has the amenities we want, is actually kind of exciting!

Our current thoughts for locations are Bainbridge Island (and maybe other surrounding areas like Poulsbo or Kingston), Leavenworth, or perhaps Bellingham.  We’d love to stay in Woodinville, but we can only get for our money here what we are selling here, and that makes no sense at all!

We visit Zillow constantly, but have also begun to look at floor plans and are just now beginning to form a wish list.  It looks something like this:

  • At least a half acre, preferably wooded but also light and sunny in places, and preferably with a fenced area for the dogs
  • A water view would be glorious.
  • Well-built construction and a style that we actually like.  (Neither of us have ever liked the split-level floor plan of our current home.)
  • Either a single story or a second floor that does not contain “necessary” rooms that must be accessed daily.  We are, after all, planning to grow old and decrepit in this home!
  • A large, open living area with a gorgeous kitchen (like the one I have now – sob!) and great room in one.
  • A “media room,” where lively grandkids can go be lively, happy, loud grandkids while their old parents and older grandparents visit in the great room
  • The master suite and master bathroom that we never had – two sinks, a huge bath tub, walk-in closetS, etc.
  • A guest room, an office, and a craft room (so yes, we’re looking for four bedrooms for just the two of us!)
  • Either a fully fenced yard or a fenced portion of the yard so we can let the dogs out without being attached to a line and without having to worry about snarky neighbors reciting laws about unleashed animals.  (Yes, one of those lives in our current neighborhood.)
  • An “blank slate” for Tom’s big retirement project – building either a separate guest cottage like my parents had or a full apartment over the garage

This list will continue to grow and be honed as we delve further into this process. 

I seriously considered starting with my own blank slate project – a completely new blog – but I just can’t see abandoning Northwest Ladybug!  So just come with us now on our new adventure as we decide where to move and what we want in our new home, and as we make all those plans and wishes a reality.

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Margaret said...

Exciting but terrifying too! I'm like you and prefer thing settled and finished! Keep us posted! Bham is great but it's overrun with Canadians every weekend.

Heidi said...

Yes, exciting and scary at the same time. So many decisions to be made. One thing I LOVE about my brother's house is that the kids "playroom" is over the garage so they can run and jump and scream and it is virtually soundproof to the rest of the house. I'd LOVE to have a room like that in our house. I also love the idea of a separate guesthouse. I think that would be SO ideal for both you and anyone visiting. Together but not SO close. LOL That being said, I know that whatever you do will be wonderful and beautiful! Good luck!! I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you!
Oh and I just saw this and drooled as a guest house idea:

Debra KB said...

Well, Carol, now that I know EXACTLY what you and Tom are looking for, I can start sending you some Bainbridge and Poulsbo properties that meet your criteria - just in case you decide to end up in beautiful, lush, green Kitsap County! We'd LOVE to have you here!

deekeller said...

Wow, Carol. Thanks for explaining it all. Big exciting times ahead. But I think you should leave NWLadybug intact because it has so much history in it, and it is all your life (particularly thinking of the John Muir and Berkeley threads).

Bright said...

What a great post! Lovely family. Long-time lurker and reader in Germany here. I think I might have found you from Heisse Scheisse way back when and hope I can keep up with you wherever your blog/updates are in the future (even FB if you are comfortable with it).
- Michele

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