Steps for the Hitching

Shortly after Hugh and I got engaged, I received an email from my Grandpa Snooky — a mastermind of Mr. Fix-it solutions who was very excited for our upcoming wedding. The subject, “Steps for the Hitching,” made me nervous. Had Grandpa laid out a series of steps Hugh had to complete in order to marry into the family?, I wondered.

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Grandpa and I had talked a few days earlier about the height difference between Hugh and me and how I would have no choice but to wear uncomfortable high heels in order to bridge the gap during our wedding ceremony. I had joked that he could fashion me some sort of device so I wouldn’t have to wear heels. Never one to back down from a challenge he followed up with a plan, and was probably only half kidding.

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My alarm hadn’t gone off yet, but I was awake and sitting in bed when my dad called last Wednesday morning. I already knew what he was going to say. My Grandpa Snooky had died the night before.

I had been preparing for that call since May when we all gathered in the hospital for Grandpa’s birthday as he awaited test results to determine what ailed him. What followed were months of ups and downs — weeks at a time when he needed no help at all followed by weeks when it seemed like he deteriorated so quickly. Somehow despite that I knew it was coming, despite what we all know about cancer, the fact that he is gone has left me so, so sad.

While I stood in the snow clutching my mom in the Mt. Holly cemetery on Saturday, I kept imagining how he used to greet me with a grin and a hug and a shoulder squeeze. And how my heart sank when I saw him on his back on the dance floor at our wedding, until I realized that “Shout” was playing and he was doing the gator. And how earlier that evening I danced with him to a Black Eyed Peas song when the dance floor was still empty because he was too excited to wait any longer to start the party.

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I am not sad that he is gone — after seeing him over Thanksgiving and clutching his hand at his bedside, it is comforting that he’s not battling sickness anymore. There will always be a distinct lack of grinning and chuckling and shoulder squeezing in the future, but I see pieces of him in my dad and brother and uncles and cousins all the time. And I hope that I have at least a fraction of his spirit and zest for life. And if I do then he can never actually be gone.

I’m just sad because I don’t want to ever forget any of that. I want to always remember him saying grace before a big family meal, preparing for months for the annual family reunion, and eating corn on the cob so enthusiastically he bruised his upper lip. I want to remember how excited he was to see pictures of our new house, and how he asked for a picture of the backyard “so I can see what Hugh will have to deal with in the Spring.” I never want to forget how proud he always looked on Christmas wearing his Santa suspenders and white beard, and how Grandma would roll her eyes and laugh.

And I never want to forget how lucky I was to have him for 27 years.

Lauren and Hugh Do Homeownership

In August we met with a realtor. She convinced us that we weren’t crazy for thinking we could buy a house. So in September, after seeing a bunch of less-than-awesome houses and losing bidding wars on two, we found one that — more than any other house we looked at — really seemed like a house we could handle. Three weeks later we closed on it, I spent the next week packing our apartment alone, and Hugh returned from work in Pennsylvania just in time for moving day.

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With the help of some incredible friends, we moved all our crap cherished belongings that were somehow stowed away within 800 square feet in Rosslyn into our new place in Falls Church.

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And two weeks later, our house is completely settled — everything’s set up, the walls are all painted perfect colors and the place is looking ah-mazing.

Just kidding.

The last two weekends have been nothing but an endless cycle of errands, chores, and home improvements. And yes, Bed Bath & Beyond when there’s time.

Here’s what our mansion was looking like this morning as we embarked on a day of installing storm windows and blinds and a surprise toilet project with my parents.

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We have a huge, awesome yard that is currently filled with huge awesome piles of leaves.

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Inside, there is stuff everywhere. Some of it is pretty and organized. The built-ins next to the fireplace by themselves are pretty. Currently, they are neither pretty nor organized.

Just keeping it real.

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Our dining room is full of sun all day. It is also full of things that haven’t found permanent homes yet.IMG_3398

The kitchen is also full of sun. At the time I was wandering around taking these pictures — the first time I’ve picked up my camera in over a month, for shame — I was also prepping some sauce for a veggie lasagna.

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And in the interest of keeping it real, here’s our spice rack:

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Just kidding. We don’t have a good place for spices yet so they just hang out behind the kitchen sink.

My parents’ many years of homeowner wisdom and extra sets of hands were invaluable in the storm window and blinds installation process.

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Now we’re insulated for this week’s intro to wintry weather. Unfortunately the blinds project wasn’t quite as successful and got tabled to next weekend’s to-do list.

And so continues the never-ending glamour and excitement of home ownership.

I love this little house, and even though we’re never short of tasks to do, all of which seem to be the most important, we’re having a pretty great time learning how to be homeowners. It is by far our biggest adventure yet.

Photo Dump: August Was Full of Family Vacation

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When I last uploaded anything to this neglected piece of the internet, it was the beginning of August and we were on our way out of town for a marathon of family trips.  Photos are a less-than-organized smattering of iPhone and actual camera.

First we went to Oklahoma with Hugh’s family where the focus was baby Lucy and a cousin’s wedding.

The next weekend we road tripped to Isle of Palms, South Carolina, for a Lee Family beach vacation where we focused on sitting on the beach as much as the tides would allow and eating grits.

The Weekend According to our iPhones

According to our iPhones, Hugh and I hung out with dogs this weekend.

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But we did other things too.

We spent Friday night on my parents’ deck snacking, grooving, and catching up with visitors — Aunt B and Uncle Tim. Saturday morning I enjoyed a nice, flat run through all the neighborhoods surrounding ours, where I used to meet up with friends for bike rides, sleepovers, and kickball. It certainly took me back. We hit the Manassas farmers’ market followed by brunch at City Square Cafe, both right in Old Town. It’s always nice to show Hugh a beautiful day in my hometown. A visit to the grandparents, an afternoon cook out, a trip to Lowe’s, some home improvement chores, and Sunday dinner with a friend capped off the weekend.

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