Embracing the In Between

By on September 27, 2017

It’s easy to get pumped about the milestone events. We plan for graduations, weddings, children, trips, and retirement. The excitement is almost too much at times. What we struggle with is embracing the moments in between major life events, and since those moments make up the majority of our time here on earth, shouldn’t we train ourselves to savor them? (more…)


New Home Cons

By on September 6, 2017

A couple of months ago, I blogged about some of the fantastic things we LOVE about our new house and town. Mr. COD and I feel so fortunate to be in the place we are right now in career, location, and life in general. He’s begun his new assistant professor duties and is feeling very positive about it all, and Junior COD just started preschool today! Lots of good stuff all around! 

Junior COD meets the class fish, Mr. Blue

exploring the nature preserve in Frankfort

HOWEVER.

Naturally, no situation is perfect! We certainly have found a few negatives in our new house and region, so to honestly document our journey of changing our default, we must admit the bad along with the good. Without further ado, I present:

NEW HOME CONS 

  • Our rural road is slightly dangerous. We’re just about one mile off a main highway into town, but that one mile is fraught with several risky corners where it’s BARELY wide enough to fit two vehicles passing one another. We’ve also noticed that other drivers on this road seem to drive recklessly. Hence, we do have to be on alert when traversing the area. 
  • Along those same lines, it’s not a great location for me as a runner. While I like that traffic is light, I don’t love the blind corners or the crazy, STEEP hills! I run on my own once in awhile, but it’s tough. Dangerous and hard on my wimpy Illinois muscles!  

    This hill is 0.8 miles from our house. It’s INSANE.

  • The rural area, of course, means limited options for Internet hookup. Our neighbor across the street informed us on our moving day that no matter who you go with around here, service can be slow. Plus, she uses AT&T, but when Mr. COD contacted them, we found that our home (just across the road) was out of their service area. Hence, we have HughesNet and it’s costing us a bit more than before. 
  • You’ve already heard about us meeting a plethora of creepy, crawly critters in our new abode. A large majority of these were prior inhabitants of the house and land who had enjoyed free reign for several months while our house lay empty of human occupants. Thankfully, having us and our feline family members patrolling the premises (and Mr. COD having cut back a ton of the overgrown brush and trees) seems to have largely eradicated the presence of giant spiders in the house. We still are constantly finding new creatures to examine, though. At least one black widow has been spotted (in the garage), several enormous fishing spiders (freakishly huge, but harmless), and just last week, a “cow-killer” (a red-and-black striped wasp that races on foot like a steroid-enhanced ant). Plus side: Junior and Mini COD are getting an early education in the art of not touching any unfamiliar critters without prompt notification of Mom and Dad and a quick Google search! 
  • Poison ivy. Umm…yeah. Mr. COD had a vicious encounter with this stuff a few weeks ago and is finally starting to get relief from the itching! He admits to not being cautious and wearing appropriate clothing to protect himself while mowing and trimming, but still, it’s caused some degree of misery for his first few weeks of work. Again, the kids are learning what NOT to do! They are sufficiently scared of poison ivy now thanks to Dad’s live demonstration of its evils.
  • Coyotes. Guys, these things are SOOO FREAKY to hear late at night! We first heard a pack of them shrieking a couple of weeks ago while our friends from Milwaukee were visiting. Let’s just say, we could definitely tell they were celebratin’ something sinister. Just last night, we heard them getting all riled up again. It doesn’t make me keen on camping in our backyard anytime soon! 
  • The steep hill of a driveway and yard are a pain at times. Hauling garbage cans up to the road is a bit of work, and there are very few flat spaces in the yard for playing or gardening. We feel a bit better about this when we drive around town and see that flat areas are few and far between, so we’re not alone!
  • As far as the house itself goes, nearly everything in it is kind of worn-out or near broken. The house is perfectly livable; it just needs a lot of TLC to get to the way we’d like it. A few examples: paint needs freshening everywhere, the patio door doesn’t function very well, the roof isn’t in great shape, and the main bathroom decor is pretty hideous. However, all can be done gradually as we have the funds and time! 
  • There’s no Aldi. Shopping at Wal-Mart is far from my favorite thing to do. Boo! It’s okay, though–there’s a new Aldi under construction in our town right now! We’re so looking forward to getting our fave grocery chain back soon. 
  • Driving everywhere is a necessity, because, again, RURAL. It’s no longer a five-minute walk to the nearest supermarket, so I do miss popping the boys into the stroller to go pick up just a few things. Planning ahead is a bit more important when running errands. Still, Mr. COD is now only a ten-minute drive from work (instead of 30), which is an awesome change for him and us. 
  • While we love having a bigger house in which to entertain guests (we’ve had a lot of people visiting this summer), more space means more to clean. This is no surprise; everyone mentions this con when talking square footage of homes. It’s still preferable for us to have the room and spend a tad longer cleaning. Totally worth the trade-off!
  • Not a good space for kitty litter. One of our cats is on the geriatric end of the age spectrum and has some trouble staying in the box. Unfortunately, the best space for them is in a downstairs open closet, which is carpeted. Hence, we have some gross odor to deal with as long as she’s with us. 
  • You’ve all heard this one before: we’re farther from our family and friends. It sucks big-time, but we feel the career opportunity for Mr. COD and the other opportunities for us as a family are worth the sacrifice. 
  • We are very isolated from other people here. At our old house, we even shared a driveway with one neighbor, and it became somewhat comforting to always see them leaving in the morning for their jobs and run into them during the warmer months. Here in this rural area, we can go days without seeing another human being. It’ll require some more effort to get to know people. *One caveat to this: our closest neighbors here have dogs who occasionally wander off into our yard. We love this, as their dogs are incredibly sweet and friendly and our kids adore dogs. Our day is always brightened when Roscoe or Piper amble through our grass for a pat or two. That opens up conversation with the neighbors as well, when they come looking for the pups!
  • The amount of space we have is amazing…BUT…the view from our house is actually very closed-off. We’re totally hemmed in by trees on all sides, and it would be nice to see more of the countryside around us. Our plan is to work on clearing out more of the trees and brush that separate us from the cow pasture, so that by next summer, we could enjoy some glorious pastoral sunset views!   

    Lovely, just not as open as we’d like!

That’s about it for the negatives in this new home in Kentucky. We don’t regret the house or the location we chose, but it does have its drawbacks. So far, the pros far outweigh the cons for us! I mean, look at this peaceful little slice of heaven!

Obstructed, but still pretty gorgeous!

My office view?

Have you ever regretted a move or a house purchase? How did you fix things? 

Missing Old Friends, Making New Friends

By on August 9, 2017

If I had to choose one aspect of our out-of-state move that is the hardest, it would definitely be missing old friends and family. We have NONE close by. Of course, close is a relative term, but for us, we are now between 5-12 hours’ drive from any of our family and friends. I’m enjoying the summer with my kids and Mr. COD, but at times it’s been hard being so far from our loved ones.  (more…)


Mrs. COD’s First Kid-Free Weekend!

By on August 2, 2017

I got to enjoy a much-needed kid-free getaway in Nashville this past weekend! Read on to get the lowdown on all the fun!

Nashville’s pretty popular among our Illinois friends, who are always heading there for family trips or a long weekend (I hear it’s renowned for bachelorette shenanigans as well). However, I had never been there except for one brief trip with my family as a kid, from which all I remember is eating Goo Goo Clusters for dinner in our room, so this was different. The major “first” for me this weekend? The FIRST TIME AWAY FROM MY KIDS OVERNIGHT. Whoa. 

Lovely Opryland Hotel!  

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Quick post – Get Outdoors

By on July 28, 2017

Mrs. COD and I enjoyed the outdoors before we had children….and we still do, but it’s not as easy as it once was. At times, I have longed for the days when we could go kayaking on the spur of the moment. WELL LONG NO LONGER! We’ve gone kayaking with our little guys 4 times in the last few weeks and once even by ourselves (thank you Gma COD in-law).

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New Home Love

By on June 14, 2017

We’re feeling a ton of New Home Love around the COD place lately. There are so many things about the new house that are vast improvements over our previous house, and we’re enjoying it! To be sure, there are also negatives, but I’m not even going to address those here today. Mr. COD’s and my seventh wedding anniversary was this week, and it was lovely to be celebrating it in our new home. Nearly two weeks in, I wanted to record a collection of things we LOVE about our new Kentucky home!  (more…)


House Hunting in Kentucky

By on May 26, 2017

Oh, you guys! I am woefully behind in blogging these days, so I apologize (to myself as much as to you). Life has been a whirlwind of change, leaving little time or energy for writing, unfortunately. However, things are going swimmingly, so I cannot complain one little bit! 

Today, I thought I’d jump back into the blog with the story of our house hunting and buying in our new town. Everything is happening incredibly fast, but we also have been talking and dreaming about this move for years, so in a way, it’s been a long time coming. 

Mr. COD interviewed at Eastern Kentucky University on March 28-29th. He was offered the position (unofficially) on April 7, then officially on April 10. The following weekend was Easter, and at first we thought it would be too soon to think about housing. However, as we drove to visit some friends on that Friday, the more we talked, the more we realized we didn’t want to wait. Hence, on Easter Sunday, we loaded the kids into our van and drove south! 

COD HOUSE WISH LIST

  • At least two bathrooms. Our current home has just one, and it’s adequate most of the time, but anytime we have company, things become a little stressful. You just don’t want to have any issues when there’s only one bathroom, so a backup is desirable.
  • A more spacious house. We’re tired of every room in the house feeling too small. We don’t care about filling up every room with beautiful furniture or tons of stuff; we simply want room to breathe and not be tripping over each other all the time. Plus, since we’re moving further from all of our family, it’s important to us that we have ample room for guests to stay comfortably. We’d hate for our parents or siblings to feel they have to pay for a hotel room every time they visit.
  • Great outdoor space. With two small boys, our dream is for them to have plenty of adventures in our own back yard! Plus, we’re now extremely close to neighbors on all sides, and while those neighbors are fortunately wonderful, we’re ready for a lot more room between our house and any others.
  • Proximity to the university and the rest of town. Mr. COD’s drive to work is currently about thirty minutes, and while that’s not terrible, a shorter commute sounds great. Less driving time means more time for doing anything else! Working out, house and lawn chores, fun with the family are all better options than driving to work.  Plus, it saves moolah on gasoline!
  • Move-in ready, with some willingness to do small cosmetic changes over time. We’re not opposed to some DIY improvements such as painting and eventual appliance upgrades, but major foundational and structural issues were what we wanted to avoid. 

Mr. COD emailed a realtor for more information and managed to arrange for house showings on Monday, April 17. We’d already started browsing homes on Zillow and other sites and had a pretty good idea of what we wanted. 

Our appointment with the realtor wasn’t until afternoon, but being impatient, we just had to drive around in the morning and take a peek at a couple of houses we liked online. One of them was a stately old place in a beautiful neighborhood. Quiet, little traffic, yet just minutes from downtown. The yard sloped to give a beautiful view of nearby farms. 

We also took a gander at a home further out away from town. It was on a wooded lot and boasted a lovely screened-in porch in the backyard. Our first impressions were that it was pretty, but a bit too removed from town and neighbors, and we would prefer a place like the other one, where meeting people and plugging into community would be fairly easy. 

Our realtor turned out to be incredibly helpful and friendly, and we just loved working with her. After viewing half a dozen homes that Monday, we were 90% sure of which home we wanted. The in-town home we had originally liked best was a big fat NO after seeing the inside! It was a foreclosure, which didn’t necessarily rule it out for us, but it had extensive water damage, and the rooms were overall too small. Too much work to get it up to our standards! 

Anyway, we returned to our Red Roof Inn that evening worn out and fairly certain we wanted the country house. Though it was not perfect, it filled all of our must-have criteria. Plus, seeing the weird layout and required fixes at the foreclosure made it easy to focus back on the country house. 

It was during our dinner that night (we picked up pizza from the top-rated pizza joint in the area) that our realtor called to inform us that our #1 choice had just gotten an offer. WHAT?! Of course, that would be our luck. The house had been on the market for three months at that point, but the day we came to see it, somebody finally made an offer. 

We told our realtor we were close to making an offer and asked her to do what she could. She got the owners to wait and give us 24 hours before accepting the first offer. (We hadn’t even met with a bank to get financing set up, and planned to do that the next morning.) We spent the rest of that night anxious and worrying that we would lose the house. Meanwhile, Super Realtor was arranging additional showings for the next morning, before the bank meeting. We tried to remember that this one house was not the ONLY house we might ever like. 

TUESDAY

We looked at five or six more homes that morning. The boys, again, were troopers, amazing us with their patience in driving around, walking through houses, over and over. Nothing stood out this time, except for an incredible property further out in the country. It was beautiful and the surroundings were beautiful, but it also seemed to possess some risky structural flaws and damages. Plus, it was already out of our comfortable price range, so adding unknown repair costs was unappealing. 

Mr. COD had to meet with the banker, where he remembered he had frozen his credit (a recommendation by Clark Howard for security), so un-freezing it took a few extra minutes. I took the kids to a playground to burn off some energy, and we picked Mr. COD up after his meeting. Financing was in place! 

Next, we still had a couple more houses to see, sort of to make us really sure we wanted to put in an offer on the first country house. One was completely turnkey, with redone kitchen and bath and everything very nice, except for the loud highway noise audible from the backyard. Another had a funky layout and wasn’t a terrible house, but the location was awful. Right on a busy corner, with nearly zero yard space. It was after seeing this house that we were certain of our choice: the first country house (the first one we drove past before the realtor even got us in). 

Super Realtor went to her office to draw up the offer as we waited in our hotel room and put cartoons on for the boys. We agreed to go in at full asking price because we figured the other offer must have been low for them to wait on our offer at all. She called us around 3 PM to go to her office and sign everything. (Yikes! We were cutting it so close to get done by 5!) 

Fortunately, signing all of the offer papers was really easy. We didn’t even sign paper copies, just did it all digitally and quickly. We were armed against misbehaving children with a purse stocked with M’n’Ms and Mr. COD’s phone with downloaded movies. The boys didn’t go too wild in the office, but when they got antsy, we pulled out Angry Birds on the phone so we could finalize all the paperwork.  Everything was submitted by about 4 PM, just in time, so we breathed sighs of relief and waited. 

Junior and Mini COD watching Angry Birds in the realtor’s office

As another thank-you to the boys for putting up with all the house hunting shenanigans, we got them ice cream and cones to eat in our room. It wasn’t long before Super Realtor called back with the good news that we GOT THE HOUSE! 
I could hardly believe it. What a crazy couple of days! Just eight days after accepting a new job, we bought a new house! 

Little helpers

Now, of course, we still need to sell our current home…it’s been on the market about a week and is getting quite a few showings. Let’s hope we can celebrate its sale very soon as well. Fortunately, we have funds available and therefore aren’t relying on the house sale to purchase the new one. If we were, we’d be stuck renting a smaller place for awhile.

We should close on our new place in one week! It’s all moving so quickly, and we are super excited! 

Our future home’s screened-in porch and wooded view


FOMO And Our One-Year Blogiversary

By on April 14, 2017

FOMO can be a total goal-killer. That Fear Of Missing Out can cause us to buy stuff we didn’t want until we saw someone else had it. It can make us join groups and organizations even when we’re already stretched too thin. We joke about it at our church, that FOMO is what drives people to uber-participation. Overall, it has power to convince us do things we don’t really want to do. (more…)


The Death of Shopping

By on April 7, 2017

Shopping used to be entertaining. A relaxing activity. A harmless pastime. 

Except…Um…It was never harmless. 

Shopping used to numb my wounds. It made me feel like a grown-up (ironically, since I would spend money I didn’t really have, being in debt as I was). Meandering store aisles offered a cure for boredom. Shopping was a way to make myself feel better, whatever was going on. 

Students sassing back in class? A new outfit will cheer me up and help me look forward to tomorrow despite the hoodlums. 

Envious of friends getting married and having babies while I’m still single? Go buy some Twizzlers and jellybeans to scarf down in front of the TV. 

Nothing to do on Saturday afternoon? Wander the aisles of Target. You don’t need to need anything, you’ll find 817 things you didn’t even know you wanted!

A NEW MINDSET

My recent Kohl’s visit opened my eyes to how my shopping mindset has changed. 

Where I used to cross that threshold and be instantly transported into a veritable Promised Land, I now walked in purposefully. Only to spend the $20 Kohl’s cash we had earned when Mr. COD unexpectedly needed to buy a new suit for interviews. I intended to spend as little as possible, targeting that $20 mark. 

Where I used to go to Kohl’s to fill up empty time, I yearned to use up the accumulated rewards cash as quickly as possible and get out. Part of that change is due to small kids in my house; I always feel hurried to get back home on the rare occasions I get out. A smidgen of mom guilt I need to release somehow.

Where I used to be thrilled each time I received a new coupon to use at my fave store (those 30% off ones were pretty sweet), I now receive multiple offers via email daily and use them rarely, if at all. I think I purchase from Kohl’s maybe two or three times a year now, always when I need my running shoes replaced. I get the same brand and style every time and avoid the stress of trying on and debating what to choose. This is especially helpful as I need custom orthotics, which I know will fit my good ol’ standby sneaks. 

Where I once would spend 100 bucks or more, so pumped to walk out with a huge bag o’goodies, I now am a more thoughtful consumer. Even if all seven of the new shirts I bought were $7 or less due to discounts, did I actually need those new shirts? Or would I now have too many choices of what to wear, making it tougher to decide? Would I end up tossing them out a few months later due to poor quality or my capricious style whims? 

Walking around Kohl’s that day felt so foreign to me. I would have just ordered something online, but was loath to pay extra for shipping, thus, to the actual store I went. I knew I wanted a digital food thermometer because Junior COD had recently broken ours, so I made a beeline for that section. 

I found the one I wanted and grabbed some socks to use up the rest of our Kohl’s cash (it went a little bit over, but socks are always disappearing). Yeah, I know stores only offer those promos to get us back in to buy more, but at least I ended up with a necessity! Not a super exciting shopping trip, but it was just what we needed.

REASONS FOR THE CHANGED ATTITUDE (WHY HAS SHOPPING LOST ITS MAGIC?)

  1. I no longer have a job, so our household income is (duh) a lot less now. 
  2. I think of stuff my kids need more than the stuff I want. (Not always, but I’m getting there.)
  3. If we move in a few months or a year, I want to pack up as little as possible to take with us. Less shopping=less to pack and organize! 
  4. I am trying to adopt more of a “use what I have” mentality versus a “buy more” mentality.
  5. I continue to learn and relearn that just because an item is supposedly a “deal” doesn’t make it a good deal for me. 
  6. With two kids, chances to shop alone are rare, and shopping with them in tow is a chore, not fun.
  7. So many are suffering or needy in this world, and I’d rather be more able to give generously than spoil myself. 

      What’s your relationship with shopping? Have you always loved or hated it, or has your perspective changed  over time?


      Feeling Stuck

      By on March 21, 2017

      I’ve been feeling stuck in a bit of a rut lately, so I haven’t posted in awhile. Hello there! I think this is the longest absence I’ve taken from posting on this blog since we began about a year ago. Lots of other blogs I read have recently celebrated their one- or two-year blogiversary, so we’re in good company! (I am nowhere near the prodigious amount of writing of Picky Pinchers or Our Next Life, but we all need someone to inspire us, right? Check out the stats on how many posts they’ve published in their blogging lives! It’s insane!)  (more…)