Crossed Fingers, Beating Hearts, and Held Breaths

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I can’t sleep. In fact, any endeavor to fall back into dreamland would be rendered totally useless at this point, so I’m up and at my computer telling you all about it. I’m a hot mess.

One of the reasons we decided to move to Florida was that the ridiculously affordable housing market (compared to California *sniff*), hit hard in 2008 and hopefully on its way back up, would allow us the opportunity to buy our first house.

Fingers crossed.

So after 8 months in Florida, we have a loan pre-approval letter and are in DEEP with the house hunting. I’ve been maintaining high alert on the MLS, constantly flipping through pictures and favorite-ing and possibly-ing and running down the hallway from my office to that of my coworker-slash-real-estate-agent Jessica. We’ve seen who-knows-how-many houses, probably over 20, and none of them have really done much for me. Until last night.

One house has been on my mind from the beginning of this darn search. I’ve looked at the photos over and over, oohing and ahhhing over all the fun things to be had and the upgrades to be made. I’ve driven past it on 3 separate occasions, and I’ve begged Jess to get us in to walk through it. Every attempt to view it was declined due to something on the seller’s end. But then came yesterday, when Jess worked her magic, and even though Bill was at work, I got in it last night.

Be still my beating heart. I am in love.

I loved everything about it. As I walked through it, I saw my family staying in the guest rooms. I saw our Christmas tree in the front room. I saw myself cooking in that kitchen. I saw the potential to upgrade and invest in every room. And for goodness sake, I saw our (currently non-existent) baby in the den off the master. I want this place.

After a stock exchange-style evening, during which I was at home alone (as per usual) and on the phone with the alternating line-up of Bill, my dad, and Jessica, the stars seemed to be aligning in a little ways. My morning was unexpectedly cleared for today before this mess even appeared, and the selling agent agreed to let us in again with less than 24 hours notice before Bill goes to work. We calculated out our monthly mortgage payments, discussed our options, and debated long and hard. This was doable.

But in true Florida fashion, the listing agent informed us that he is expecting two offers – one last night and one this morning. This puppy is about to get swept off the market like every other stinking house in this joint. As with all the other homes out there, it could quickly slip through our trembling little fingers. So what do we do? Well, we are going to make an offer, which in every way is both excitingly adult-like and absolutely terrifying. I don’t want to like you so much, little house. I’m afraid I’ll get my heart broken.

But if we want this little big dream to come true, we’ve got to carpe that diem. So today is the day.

I’m holding my breath. Maybe you could too?

♥♥♥

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Make Your Home Happy

The single best piece of advice I got on marriage came from a coworker at the bridal shower my office threw for me a few weeks before our wedding. This instruction came from a particular coworker who is someone I look up to greatly: she is always fun, doesn’t take life too seriously (in the best way), lives in a constant state of utter fabulousness, and is generally the life of the party, whether you like it or not thankyouverymuch. Her advice, which I have taken to heart is simple.

“Always try to make your home happy. Do something, no matter how small, every day to make it that way.”

Every few weeks, she comes up to me at work with the sole intent of asking me, “Ashleigh, are you making your home happy?” The anecdote that came with this question on the last occasion really shed some light on just how central this practice is to her marriage and just how well it works. “Even just lighting a candle. Sometimes when my husband and I are fighting and we can’t solve it, we stop talking, light a candle, and just sit in silence. It totally works.” Then she fell into her contagious little fit of laughter that seems to convey just how little she cares about how absurd she thinks she’s being. Well, oh-role-model-of-mine, I don’t think you are absurd at all. I think you are quite marvelous.

Putting this into practice is not always easy, and the simple things are often the ones that fall through the cracks. This is even more true due to the fact that Bill and I have opposite work schedules, and it is quite the bummer. I work a normal 40-hour work week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Easy enough. But layer on top of that Bill’s schedule of Friday through Tuesday from 2 p.m. to midnight, and things become tricky. We almost never have a full day off together. Case in point, from September 3rd to December 24th, we will not have had a single day off to spend together. So basically, as newlyweds, we are not only trying to figure out this whole marriage thing, but we’re trying to figure out this whole marriage thing with very limited time together. I find find myself wanting to put a lot of effort into making the moments we do have a little extra special, but life often gets in the way and the “important” things take over.

This Sunday, an autumn-themed breakfast prepared while Bill was still asleep meant that he woke up to a home warmed with the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon, and we spent a very rare quiet morning sharing a lazy breakfast at our dining room table. To bring the spirit of fall inside, I pulled one of my favorite things out of the cupboard.

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This stuff is to die for. Pumpkin plus cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg is QUITE the combo, let me tell you.

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I decided to add a little something extra in the form of honey and chopped pecans in place of the traditional butter-and-syrup staples. Great decision.

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One of the things that makes home happier for me is having flowers in plain sight, so these autumn lovelies took center stage on the table.

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A surefire way to measure success when it comes to Bill and food? A severe lack of eye contact while said meal is present. This quick little spread took about 20 minutes to prepare but made a huge impact on my week. I easily could have poured myself a bowl of cereal and called it breakfast, but it was much more rewarding to hear the grizzly bear upstairs awaken from his slumber to the whiff of something delicious coming from the kitchen and subsequently follow his nose, stumbling loudly down the stairs. The payoff that resulted – the look of utter surprise followed by hungry anticipation followed by genuine appreciation followed by complete mutual contentedness in our full, happy bellies – will always be worth the effort.

Sounds like a happy home to me! This is officially my mission from here on out.