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.

1385980_10102029083676903_469734162_n

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.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

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.

IMG_3387

IMG_3413

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

IMG_3412

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.

IMG_3402

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.

IMG_3395

IMG_3396

IMG_3414

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

IMG_3397

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.

IMG_3418

IMG_3417

IMG_3390

IMG_3392

IMG_3421

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.

Onward

Today is my last day working for the company that gave me my first full-time job after college. While it may be exciting and invigorating, it is certainly not easy to decide to leave somewhere that you’ve grown comfortable with and accustomed to.

I started working here when I was a week away from turning 22, in November of 2008. I’d graduated in May, jobs were sparse (especially for a liberal arts grad), I lived it up in Blacksburg as long as I could, moved home, taught at a leadership program for two months, and applied to countless jobs every day.

When I started I was young, living at home with my parents, and navigating a long-distance relationship. I commuted two hours each way every day — I’d drive to the train station, take the VRE to Union Station, take the metro to Dupont, and walk from there. I had no friends in the office — on my lunch breaks, I’d take my sandwich outside and call Hugh because my mornings were too early and his nights were too late to touch base any other time.

Some of my best friendships have grown out of working here, as have some of the best lunch and happy hour adventures. This organization let me move from my job in publications to uncharted territory in fundraising where I have learned more than I’d ever thought a job could teach me. In 2008, I had not ever once used a V-LOOKUP in Excel, and now I can’t get enough of them.

It’s easy to get comfortable somewhere in almost five years. The place, its people, operations, dress code, generous PTO, and nearby happy hours become a cocoon of familiarity that’s difficult to want to leave of your own volition. Starting somewhere new, with more responsibilities, new people and unfamiliar practices is daunting. But when it’s time for a new challenge, an opportunity to continue learning more, you just move onward.

I’ll miss my friends and the coziness of my desk when I start my new adventure on Monday. But until then, I’ll be the unemployed gal sunbathing at the pool.

The Kindle and I, a love story

I wasn’t supposed to have a Kindle.

I had all my reasons for standing by actual books as everyone else abandoned them for newer technology. I was never going to slip to the dark side of e-readers. Yeah, I carried The Emancipator’s Wife (hardcover) to and from work on the metro for weeks and never once thought it would just be easier to use a Kindle.

Never. Once.

Last year I got Hugh a Kindle for his birthday. I put my opinions aside and decided that even though I could never use a Kindle, Hugh would probably really like having one.

Occasionally I was jealous of the ease with which he picked up new books. He never had to go into the public library or a book store. And while reading before bed he never had to balance an unwieldy book with his hands while also trying to stay under the covers.

My coworkers effortlessly toted their Kindles to and from work, finishing a book and picking up a new one before I could even find a copy of the first one. On our beach trips, everyone but me was happily reading their Kindle reclined in their beach chairs while I was struggling to keep a magazine alive in the humidity.

I’m not saying I felt left out. No, that wasn’t it. Lately, though, I did start to wonder what I was missing. I thought maybe Hugh would pick up on that (somehow, without me ever expressing it even remotely) and surprise me with a Kindle for my birthday in November. He got me some new Toms instead. A week later he was reading his Kindle on our flight to San Francisco as I was thumbing through SkyMall, and I began to drop hints that I didn’t want a Kindle but if I happened to receive one as a gift I would probably end up liking it. Probably.

For Christmas, Hugh gave me a really thoughtful gift — perhaps the best in our Christmas history — and I was happy that he didn’t get me a Kindle instead.

But then Christmas passed and I still didn’t have a Kindle. The Kindle and I, it wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t supposed to have a Kindle.

Then, my luck changed.

In the middle of January, we went to my company’s holiday party. As has been standard for the past four years, there were appetizers, open bars, dinner buffet, dancing, and door prizes. Before dinner, several people won gift cards to various restaurants and amazon.com. Hugh was jealous of the girl who won an amazon gift card because anything we need, he will buy from amazon if possible. He has bought raisin bran from amazon before. Not kidding.

After dinner, the dance floor filled up with some actual dancing, some awkward interactions, and a lot of Cupid Shuffle. As this continued, the crowd started to trickle out and the party shrank considerably in the last hour of the night. We’d had no intention of staying past dinner, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for a line dance.

We were in the photo booth when the last door prizes of the night were being announced. For each one, the announcer called names of people who’d long since left the party and continued pulling names until someone was called that was still present. This is how my coworker won a Kindle Fire.

I wandered back to excitedly congratulate her and the next thing I know her husband was handing me the Kindle Fire. Since they both already had one, they had no need for an extra and now I, staunch supporter of actual books, owned a Kindle.

I opened it and logged into my Amazon account as soon as we got home that night. I plugged it in to charge and immediately started browsing for books to download. Finding the whole thing overwhelming, I downloaded a few freebies including Wuthering Heights with which I have a long and storied past. I texted around for some book recommendations, settled on Gone Girl, conceded my $12.99, and read it in four days. (It was good, but the ending… meh.)

Now I’m trying to catch up on all those books everyone else has read in the last few years that were always checked out of the library when I finally heard about them. I’m currently borrowing Water for Elephants from the same coworker who so graciously gave me the Kindle. Side note: you can loan books from kindle to kindle. Mind blown.

I wasn’t supposed to have a Kindle.

But now that I do, I am officially in love and I think the Kindle and I have a long, happy life ahead of us.

Second Inaugural

Four years ago I was not properly bundled, meandering through Capitol Hill and down to the Mall, in the middle of the excitement of President Obama’s first inauguration.

Hugh and I had stayed with his sister on the Hill the night before and instead of hurrying out of the city to avoid the crowds we set out on foot with Mary and her roommates, stopped at Dunkin Donuts for some breakfast, and wandered through the crowds of excited, frozen people.

It was so cold and so windy and I was not wearing socks.

20130121-090609.jpg

But what an experience. It was a historic event, politics aside, and the excitement (and hope and change) were palpable. I was so grateful to Hugh for suggesting the last minute adventure, and I’m proud of 22-year-old Lauren for going with the flow when there was no plan in place to be followed (I’m a planner).

20130121-090451.jpg

Even though its just as exciting this time around, with the country’s focus on our city and everyone buzzing about inaugural events, I will be watching from somewhere warm and comfortable inside.