Home Ownership Rocks/Sucks Living Life

On Neighborhood Living: The Endless Snow Day Reprieve

A little over two years ago, I asked Facebook a Very Important Question — because this is the Age of Social Media and all Very Important Questions must be crowdsourced. God forbid I make a Very Important Decision by simply conferring with my husband, my partner in this life journey. Nope, gotta ask the Internet first.

All the same, I asked my Facebook friends whether we should choose a house in a neighborhood or a house in the middle of nowhere.

Before I begin discussing the answers my friends quickly spewed forth, I must state that a large number of my Facebook friends hail from my hometown — which is not really a town. It’s a blip on a road. I grew up on 89 acres of blissful solitude, my grandparents my only neighbors. To this day, I still sit on the front porch in no pants and drink my morning cup of coffee when I visit The Farm; no one can see, and even if they could, no one would care. While I grew up wanting to move away, it took living in close quarters during college and thereafter to realize that, oh goodness, I like my space. Many people who grew up in my hometown feel the same.

As the responses began to trickle in, the resounding answer skewed toward living in the country. Even though the other house that we considered at the time had an unknown water source (eventually we learned it was a spring, not a well), people felt pretty adamant about space and privacy and the beauty of country living.

I took their feelings into account as my homesick heart sided with all of my country living friends, but we ended up here. Here, in this beautiful house that fits our family so perfectly — and just so happens to be in a quiet neighborhood on the edge of the country. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds as we can easily and quickly go for long country walks or runs. But yes, we ended up with the neighborhood house for a myriad of reasons — some of which I only find out as we continue along.

Like today.

Today. The 14th snow day. FOURTEENTH SNOW DAY. It may only be the 13th, but I’ve simply lost count. In short, my children have not gone to school for a full five day school week since before Christmas Break began on December 20th. Desperately behind in work and over stimulated by the non-stop noise and presence of togetherness, I’m a little… punchy.

But I’m also absolutely thrilled to be living here, in this neighborhood, instead of there, miles and miles away from civilization.

Because I just called the babysitter, a teenager who happens to live two doors down from us, and asked if she could walk over for an hour this afternoon so I can go to the gym, get my training run for the Pittsburgh Marathon in, and be alone for an hour. Not only did she say yes, but she asked if she could take them sledding — thus wearing them out as well.

I want to walk out into our plowed, clear streets and kiss their salty, ashy goodness. I want to stand in the middle of my neighborhood and yell, “BURGH BABY WAS RIGHT!” She was one of the few who touted the benefits of living in a neighborhood, a reformed country-liver herself. I want to jump up and down and fist pump and chest bump with my elderly neighbors; they are so awesome and they love my noisy family despite ourselves. I want to shout to the high heavens my deep love for our small, quiet little piece of heaven. But it’s small and quiet, so I simply stand at the window, sipping a coffee, blinded by the bright white of sun on snow and give thanks for blessings we don’t know we need at the time that we receive them.

Fist Bump to the Sky

Okay, and maybe a little bit of a fist bump to the sky.



Christmas Still Comes

I took a nap today. I had to; that brick wall I’ve been speeding toward decided to firmly plant itself in front of my oncoming face. I slammed into it, fell backward toward the couch and slept the interrupted naptime sleep of a mom home alone with two boys, two parakeets and a dog.

It was blissful.

But I am still exhausted. And stressed.

Despite getting a decent start on cookie baking, I haven’t made the fun “decorate these in really gaudy ways” sugar cookies. I don’t know what dessert I’m making tomorrow evening for our Christmas Eve dinner at our house. I forgot to pick up the cloves that my husband needs for the ham. There are presents left to wrap. We forgot an Advent activity. The bathrooms aren’t clean. Earlier, when looking for my green sweater, I pulled out about 25% of my closet in a panic; I’ve yet to hang everything back up. I still don’t know what I’m wearing on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I still haven’t mailed the Christmas cards. I did that thing where I wrapped most of the boys presents, looked at the pile and thought, “That doesn’t look like a lot.” Despite being a lot. I look at my Christmas Ideas pinboard and realize that I haven’t done anything. Or enough. Or something.

I’m trying to find my center, a little room to breathe. Some perspective.

In church this morning, our Lady Pastor focused her sermon on the fact that whether you’re “ready” or not — whether you bake another four dozen cookies or wrap all of the presents or sprinkle reindeer food or mail the Christmas cards or clean the bathrooms — Christmas morning will arrive. That is the gift in and of itself.

And so I force myself to breathe. To let go a little bit.

This afternoon, we got our Advent on and took cookies and cards to our three immediate, super-nice neighbors. They have been a joy to live next to since moving here in March. The boys helped put some cookies on a holiday plate, cover it with foil and tape the cards to the top. They made a plan who got to carry the plate, who got to knock on the door at each house. They said their Merry Christmases. They wished Happy New Years.

Advent with Neighbors

Advent with Neighbors

Advent with Neighbors

As I stood back and watched it play out, I watched our older neighbors answer their doors and smile. I watched them wish their Merry Christmases, their Happy New Years. I watched their eyes light up. I watched the spirit of the season spread across their face. I watched love. In action.

I’m probably not going to catch up on everything that needs to be done by bedtime tomorrow night.

That’s okay.

Christmas will still come. We will still celebrate, still give thanks. We will have love in so many forms, from so many people. Some perspective, a shift of focus, a breath worth breathing.

A Merry Christmas indeed.