Goodbye, Fancy Pants Ranch

We said goodbye to Fancy Pants Ranch today.

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Two years ago, I would have thought this to be impossible.

A year ago, I would have given anything to blink my eyes once and transport us away from here to the next chapter.

But it didn’t happen like that.

And let’s face it: the process of moving is terrible. 

Even with professional movers doing most (ok, all) of the heavy lifting, it’s painful.

Yesterday our pantry was packed and I am quite sure even half-eaten bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were wrapped in paper and stowed away.

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Given the uncertainty surrounding the move, we decided to rent a place for the upcoming year.

I’m calling it the Pop-Up Fancy Pants Ranch, due to its temporary nature.

Our new place is approximately 1/3 the size of the Ranch. I’m sure I will change my tune about this, but right now I’m oddly excited to live with less.

Much of our stuff is going into storage. Maybe we’ll bring it back. Maybe we won’t.

The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is having us all under one roof again. I think that will go a long way toward Happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend

A few scenes from the past couple of days:

Spouse and I had a fun night on Thursday, where we went to this show  in Minneapolis.

Dubbed “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Lives,” this show was a mix of comedy and music. The crowd skewed a bit older than we are, but then again, Steve Martin is 71 and Martin Short is 67, so that’s about the right demographic. We loved it.

I dressed casually but was happy with the outfit I wore, a faux suede jacket from Stitch Fix and a graphic tee with jeans:

We ate dinner before the show, which was unbelievably early for us (5:30 PM, yikes, that’s practically a late lunch), but it worked out well since it was a school night and the show didn’t let out until nearly 10 PM. We had sushi that was mostly forgettable, although it did not poison us.

Not exactly a four star review.

The weekend weather is not cooperating at all (temps in the 40s and a steady drizzle), but I was able to score the last treadmill at the gym and get in nearly 5 miles on Saturday morning.

I also picked up this book from the little free library in our neighborhood and hope to dig into it before the weekend’s over:

Hope you’re having a great weekend. 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Recap

I’ll cut to the chase: the end of Mother’s Day found me in my too familiar spot, alone in a hotel room, preparing for a painfully early (6:15 AM) meeting that is a must attend situation.

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I knew I had to go, but I procrastinated as much as possible to spend more time at home before packing up and hitting the road about 5 PM. An 11 mile stretch of road construction also padded my drive by an extra thirty minutes, which soured the experience even more.

The day leading up to that moment wasn’t too bad, though, despite MGM (9) waking me up at 5:45 AM to try and find a lost iPad.

With the crisis averted, I was able to successfully doze until about 8 AM.

Spouse made breakfast tacos while Trixie (8) and I read outside, coffee in hand (me).

Unfortunately, I tweaked a muscle in my left leg on Friday at Orangetheory Fitness, and running – normally a thing I love to do on Mother’s Day (see below) – was out of the question. After breakfast, the whole family went for a walk.

It was a beautiful day but both kids vociferously complained about being outside. The dog quit after about 10 minutes and had to be carried most of the way home. 

For the past three years, I’ve spent Mother’s Day running my favorite race, the RunDisney Tinkerbell Half Marathon, which is held in and around Disneyland. I’ve typically gone out to California on a Thursday, checked into my hotel and gone to the race expo, then spent Friday by myself at Disneyland, completing a 10K race Saturday and the half on Sunday, then flying home – renewed and refreshed, plus with new bling – Sunday evening.

With all of the changes this year, being gone even more from the family seemed rude, and frankly, I couldn’t justify the expense of a solo trip to Cali when we are sitting with an unsold house (nearly 50 days on the market and no bites, huge sigh), moving expenses, etc.

Back at the Ranch: Trixie and I read outside some more, I took a nap on the sofa (!!!), we went for another walk, made gluten free chocolate chip cookies, and then I really had to go.

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The kids made crafts at school for me, but Spouse also gifted me with this mantra band:

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Nevertheless, she persisted.

While an obvious nod to current-ish events and Elizabeth Warren, I think this is also appropriate given everything we’ve got going on in our lives right now.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to those who mother – in the broad verb sense of the word – in every possible way.

 

 

The Real Estate Waiting Game

And it’s happening: Fancy Pants Ranch is on the market.

A little background: when Spouse and I were first married – nearly 19 years ago – we lived in an outdated 600 square foot apartment that we jokingly dubbed “Fancy Pants Ranch.”

The name stuck with every place we’ve lived since.

(For my birthday a year or two ago, Spouse had this logo created through an online contest for graphic designers. There were hundreds of entries but this is the one we selected as the winner).

We’ve been in the current iteration of Fancy Pants Ranch since 2008. When we moved to this city, we planned to be here three years (which morphed into nine) and then move on. We’re finally getting around to that plan.

Our house buying process in 2008 was hurried. We needed a place to live. This house was available. It was a new spec house built by a local contractor. After being burned in the past by long, traffick-y commutes (Hello, San Antonio!) and a decrepit old house that was beyond repair (our first stab at home ownership, a tiny brick cottage in Denver, CO, that we owned from 2002-2005), we wanted proximity to work and something new, new, new. 

This fit the bill. Mostly.

For one thing, this house is not really our style. Spouse and I like modern. This is traditional.

Still, we stayed. We have great neighbors. There wasn’t a compelling reason to move to another house in the same city. We’re fundamentally lazy, and let’s face it, moving is a pretty awful process.

But now it’s time to go.

We started by meeting with a realtor about two weeks ago. This was a different realtor than the one who sold us the house in 2008, and that was by choice. We thought our original realtor was nice and did a good job at the time of purchase, but looking back, there were warning signs. For one thing, she drove an old Buick. I don’t know much about being a realtor – and I would love to have realtors chime in – but my cursory study seems to suggest that having a flashy car is important to project success, especially when you spend a lot of time driving clients around in it. Our new realtor has shown up in two different Mercedes on the two visits she’s made to our house. That seems optimistic.

During her first visit, our new realtor informed us that the real estate market is on fire for sellers, we should have already listed our home two weeks ago, and she predicted it would sell for full price in one day.

Then came the pain: we needed to replace several windows ($26,000), and refinish several others ($1800), repaint several rooms ($1000), clean the carpets ($350), buy a new dishwasher ($700), buy a new dryer ($500), mitigate radon (unsure of price tag at this point, and side note: is this a new scam? I swear it is), do some electrical work (price unknown), do some yard work ($2500), find a dog sitter ($20/day), and declutter/deep clean/pack and organize to within an inch of our lives. 

(A word about the window situation, which is really the most disappointing thing: apparently there is a common, well-known problem with houses similar in age to ours, namely that the windows can collect moisture and rot the wood. Our new realtor told us that we narrowly missed the warranty period for the windows – and we are talking either a matter of a few months or possibly even weeks – that may have let us replace them for free. She told us that our original realtor should have clearly informed us about the warranties, etc, which is something we never knew about. This $26,000 oversight is one of the reasons we are not using the original realtor again. Huge sigh).

We were also given a deadline of a little over a week to get things in order. We worked like crazy, hiring painters, carpet cleaners, a home inspector, junk haulers and had two of our college aged nephews over for a weekend of packing and organizing.

We got it done.

The master bedroom closet alone required about 10 hours of sorting, eight plastic totes of clothes and shoes placed in storage, three bags of garbage and two trips worth of donations to Goodwill. 

And here’s what happened: nothing.

The day the listing went live (last Wednesday), I held my breath. Before we left for work, Spouse and I both got sweaty getting everything to the immaculate state that a showing required.

When none materialized, I thought that a weekend sale seemed likely. Friday rolled around. No showings. Saturday dawned. We re-scrubbed and rubbed and prepped the place to perfection, then took the whole crew – dog included – to my mom’s lake place for the weekend, because surely, many interested buyers would be stopping by.

<<< Crickets. >>>

Finally on Sunday afternoon, we got two requests for showings. Both were inconveniently late in the day, but we accepted the times without question and pushed back our return home. The first showing was with our own realtor, showing the house to another client. The second was with a different agency.

On Monday, we had another showing during the day.

<<< More crickets. >>>

On Tuesday, our realtor said that she wanted to have an open house this weekend. We agreed.

We also received feedback that one buyer from Sunday (the one from the other agency) was considering several other houses. The Monday showing said that they were not interested, and that both the husband and wife commented that our master bedroom lacked natural light. Funnily enough (well, actually not funny), Spouse and I had recently had a similar conversation, that this house is too dark. But it’s that old situation where you can complain about something that is uniquely yours (like your family), but when an outsider does it, it stings and makes you defensive.

Here’s where I’m at with this situation right now:

  • Against my better judgment, a big part of me really believed the realtor when she said that the house would sell ASAP. That might sound ridiculous, but I had hope. It made me reflect on the long odds that some of my patients face in trying to build their families, and I thought about something I’ve said to patients many times:

As humans, we need hope to survive. Hope is what keeps us getting out of bed in the morning. Hope keeps us going when times are tough, because eventually we will most likely succeed if we keep moving forward.

And now I desperately need to take my own advice.

  • I can’t believe how much we got done in such short order. Wow. A week – and many extra hands – can work miracles. Everyone should do a mini version of this process every year. Is that what other people describe as spring cleaning? I wouldn’t know.
  • Selling a house is surprisingly expensive. If you’ve been keeping a tally, we’ve spent more than $30,000 to get the house ready. This unplanned expenditure, in the midst of all of the other expenses and challenges we are currently facing, is unwelcome.
  • I’m already sick of the buying and selling process. Like so many things in my life, it’s been humbling. Life lessons always seem to come to me in the not-easiest path.
  • When we move, we are NOT buying a house. I don’t want to feel the pressure to Just Buy NOW that we experienced when we came here. We want to take our time and get it right, even though that means living in a rental for a year or more. And if living in a rental means that I don’t have to wake up 45 minutes early each day to get it in pristine, model-home condition, all the better.

Please wish us luck in selling the Ranch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trixie’s 8th Birthday

Trixie turned eight on Sunday.

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She was sooooo excited to open her presents that she woke me up at 6 A.M. to get the party started.

After being told that 6 A.M. was far too early to wake everyone up on a Sunday, she came back to check at 6:30 and 7:00.

At 7:01, I relented, got out of bed and fired up the coffee.

Through my friend M., we were able to secure a Hatchimal as a gift.

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Unfortunately, Trixie’s Hatchimal did not hatch, which appears to be a common problem.

We were able to open the shell ourselves, which prompted her to declare that her Hatchimal – “Pinky” – was born via cesarean section.

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After a birthday party with friends at a local bowling alley, the four of us headed home for her dinner of choice: sushi, followed by a (gluten-free) red velvet cake and ice cream, a round of a new game (Disney’s “Beat the Parents”) and a showing of “Garfield, a Tail of Two Kitties.” 

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She declared it the best birthday ever. Heart full.

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Twin Cities Women’s March

After a bit of hemming and hawing, I decided that the Women’s March was so important that we needed to attend.

My mental Pro/Con List looked something like this:

Pros:

  1. This is an incredibly important, once-in-a-lifetime event
  2. As an OBGYN, I am all-in for equal rights and women’s rights, especially reproductive freedom
  3. I am a feminist
  4. As parents, both Spouse and I thought this was a tremendous opportunity for the kids to see activism in action
  5. I could go on with about 100 more points like this…

Cons:

  1. I’d already driven the 200+ mile round trip between our current city and the Twin Cities twice this week. With my new job I’ve been staying in a hotel from Monday to Friday, but this week I had an early morning dentist appointment on Friday and drove home Thursday night after work (in terrible fog and icy rain) and then did the whole round trip Friday. Going to the March meant I had to do it again on Saturday, too. In the best case scenario, I hate driving. In this case, I really detested the nail-biting road conditions.
  2. I thought that parking and the crowds might be a hassle
  3. While I believed that things would be peaceful, I had a tiny worry that some nut job might do something crazy and I didn’t want to put my kids in danger
  4. The real reason: I hate being even *slightly* physically uncomfortable in the cold. My temperature comfort zone ranges from approximately 70-73 degrees Fahrenheit, and this March was taking place in January in Minnesota.

Even in my head, I knew the Con List was totally lame and the right thing to do was to go. Sometimes I grumble about things, but in the end I almost always Do The Right Thing, and the March was something we could not miss.

MGM (9) and I set off on Saturday morning. [Trixie (7) had a birthday party to attend and Spouse brought her later in the morning. MGM and I never saw them, but we knew they were there].

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Proof

The temps were in the mid 30s and there were periods of rain on our drive to the March. We had zero issues with travel and parked without a problem in the parking garage of the Minnesota Science Museum, which was about a half mile from the organizing point for the March. We joined the crowds walking to the starting point. The mood was upbeat. People were incredibly friendly. It felt great.

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Shortly after we got to the organizing point, I got a call from my friend and work partner, P., who had arrived with her daughter. We met them and then the March started. The crowd was estimated to be more than 60,000 people.

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There were so many witty signs along the way. This was MGM’s favorite:

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Pizza rolls, not gender rolls.

This one is even harder to see, but I loved it:

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You can’t comb over misogyny.

One speaker I was excited to hear at the rally was Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American lawmaker in the United States.  She was elected in November to the State Congress. She received huge applause and was very inspiring.

The funniest thing I saw all day was a dog wearing a Donald Trump wig. I wish I would have taken a picture of it because it was so hilarious. This is NOT the dog, but I googled this and found an entire costume from My Best Friend Boutique:

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Remarkably, the rain held off during the rally and with temps in the mid-30s but appropriate winter gear, I was never cold. Not even a bit.

In the end, I couldn’t have imagined Not Going. The spirit, camaraderie and energy were incredible. I was lucky to be a part of this. I think my 60,000 new friends would all agree it Felt Important.

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After we left the rally, we had lunch and I told MGM we could go to the Science Museum if he wanted. He did. This was a bit of quid pro quo on my part, since the March wasn’t his top idea for a Saturday.

They had an interesting exhibit about medical quackery. This is a “brain tester” from the 1920s:

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MGM and I also did an experiment to extract DNA from wheat germ. This took about 20 minutes to complete.

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The last step was a show-stopper: DNA floated through a layer of alcohol to form a swirly cloud in a test tube. We were both impressed.

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We drove home without incident, cooked a meal together as a family and called it a night.

It was a successful Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get BOO-zed

We have the best neighbors. Really.

The other night, the doorbell rang and this was anonymously waiting on the doorstep:

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Once you are anonymously gifted you pay the “Boo-ing” forward to two other families.

While this game has been going on in the neighborhood for a while, this year there was a twist: alcohol was added. Hence getting “BOO-zed.”

Now this is a tradition I can get behind.

Trixie helped me distribute our bounty last night. This pumpkin included Rumchata, a funny kitchen towel that said “Pick your poison,” M&Ms, Hershey kisses and some rainbow gumballs.

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Have a great weekend!