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Tag Archives: organized chaos

Playing House

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I remember playing house a lot when I was little. Not so much with my friends, but when I played alone.

We had this little miniature cardboard kitchen with a red sink and a window that looked out onto a backyard with a tree. I would prepare brightly-colored plastic meals for my Cabbage Patch kids and would talk to them as if we were a family. I folded and refolded their clothes  — infant onesies leftover from when my sister and I were tiny — and mimicked chores my mom did around the house.

I never imagined what this house actually looked like. Everything revolved around the kitchen though. The doll bunk beds were in the kitchen. We drove to the store in the kitchen. The kitchen was basically the only room in that world of pretend.

Maybe my earliest imaginings about a home are why Mr. Pirate and I do not have a deadline for fixing up the Jade House. Perhaps, I am still not yet sure what this house looks like either.

That’s why I drool a little bit when I read articles in the newspaper like this one about a family who built their dream home with repurposed materials. Their home seems so funky and thought out. They knew what they wanted and they made it happen with hard work and dedication.

Here at the Jade House, we have moments of inspired progress. This winter we worked on the baby’s room in large part because with three weeks left, the baby’s room just needed to happen. The walls are still a little bare, but all the furniture is in place. Or at least, in place until we figure out how this space is going to be used and we end up rearranging to make it better.

There are even fewer rules with your own house than there are with the pretend house of my childhood games. I feel embarrassed at times by the clutter and overall state of work-in-progress-affairs. And then my cousin just randomly stops by and we stand around in the kitchen and talk about books and life in general and it’s all good.

There’s no stress about making our home neat and tidy in that moment. Just laughter and an overall moment of peace.

When you get right down to it, I think that’s the home that I want the Jade House to be. That’s the house I want this little person to grow up in.




House Fears

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We’ve almost lived in the house for a year and I’m still afraid.

I’ve accepted all of the creaks and noises that come with a 40+ year-old home. When I get ready for work at o’dark thirty I can almost move silently down the stairs.

Our basement is no longer this gaping space of unfinished creepy. I can cross Ravenholm now without scurrying quickly out of fear that there’s something lurking down there. Since it has been so hot recently, we’ve even eaten down there a couple of times.

In general the house doesn’t smell all that bad anymore. The coat closet still has this funk smell if you get down close to the linoleum. And every once in a while I can still detect the long gone aroma of cigarette smoke.

Now what I’m afraid of is judgement.

I’m afraid that folks will look at what we’ve done and the state of chaos we live in and still wonder why we live in such a state of disarray. I worry about judgement. I fret whenever someone comes into the house because now the excuse that we just moved in is no longer valid. In all likelihood we will not have a one-year house-warming party. We’re just not ready yet. I worry about guests tripping over our clutter.

Owen’s family is coming in August. My sister is probably going to visit at the end of this month. Both of our families know us and know how we lived before we became a family on our own. That doesn’t change my mounting sense of fear that our progress will be deemed unworthy.

We’ve settled in though. We (mostly) have a routine. I can find things in the kitchen even if I can’t figure out where something is that I could locate easily at the apartment.

I’m happy here. It’s really exciting to come home at the end of the day and remember that this is the place we’ve decided to put down roots.

I guess that’s what really matters. I’m still initializing all-out cleaning mode though.


Why Adults Should Go To Summer Camp

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I miss summer camp.

Or rather, since I never actually went (a one-week dance sampler and a week of Vacation Bible School don’t count), I miss the idea of summer camp.

Our local community centers have started advertising their camps. If I were between the ages of 12 and 16 I could spend a couple of weeks at The SPOT in Longmont where it’s not just day-camp trips to the water park and to our local branch of Six Flags, but outdoorsy how-to. Like eating healthy over a camp fire. And developing the skills to become competent at camping. (Someday, Mr. Pirate and I are going to go out and pitch a tent in the rain and it will be hilarious.)

Or Renaissance Adventures in Boulder! They even have a girl group which makes me happy because although I’m all for coed interactions, it’s easier sometimes to develop a love of storytelling and being comfortable in your own skin when you don’t have to worry about cooties.

But adults don’t get to experience summer camp unless we can live vicariously through our offspring or through some other kids in our lives. Since I have neither, I think I’d like to come up with my own program of summer camp for big kids.

I think there are two big obstacles standing in the way of adults going to summer camp.

  1. Time. When working 40 hours a week, allowing for the structured  leisure pursuits as offered by summer camp involves an extreme force of willpower. Mowing the lawn, doing the dishes and generally being a bum are easier than carving out time to learn arts and crafts or to go on a nature hike.
  2. Money. You cannot stop to tie your shoe without being reminded of how much our economy sucks right now. Being an unemployed or only part-time employed adult does not provide the disposable income to enroll in a taekwondo class just for fun.

As adults, we’re supposed to be responsible. Responsible with our time. Responsible with our budgets.

My issue with this perceived notion of responsibility is that it adds pressure and thus stress to people’s lives. Maybe a little bit of organized time to learn something new or to get out and enjoy the place where you live could benefit our society in big ways. Besides. It’s better to lead by example and maybe summer camps could benefit from kid enrollment if the adults in their lives engaged in summer camp activities too.

So that’s why I think summer camp shouldn’t end when you’re 12.

And this is what I plan to do for my own adult summer camp this year.

  • Practice driving a manual clutch once a week
  • Knit a bunny
  • Take a dance class with LaRissa
  • Learn to cook something new (mint chocolate chip cake with green icing, I’m talking about you!)
  • Build a window seat
  • Take violin lessons

Maybe this will lead to me completely over-taxing myself? Or maybe I’ll learn ways to budget my time more effectively.

We’ll see.


Ways to View a Room

Our friend Brydon recently referred to visiting our house as “porn for the apartment dweller.” Not only because we’re still trying to extract layers of grime from the corners, but because there is so much more room here than what we’ve previously had. And maybe because we’re adding the extra voyeur element to the Jade House by blogging about it.

The Jade House is still in a state of chaos, but it is gradually becoming organized chaos.

We’ve started moving things from the garage to the basement into organized piles based on the boxes’ designations. Kitchen and dining room on one side. Bedrooms and office stuff in another corner. Rinse, repeat.

As a room gets painted, we’re starting to fill it. This makes the house sound stupid grand, when really it’s just your normal house in suburbia. But it’s A LOT more space than either of us has ever had to ourselves. We come from families where we could have had our own bedrooms, but ended up sharing with our siblings anyway.

The whole concept of having rooms (plural) to fill on our own is super exciting and still a little daunting. We’ve figured out the office (kind of) and once the wireless is set up the computer box will move off of my short dresser and downstairs.

Last weekend Mr. Pirate finished painting what we currently refer to as the guest bedroom.

As we tried different orientations for my old bed (under the window and against the wall where the desk is) it occurred to me though that it could be something else. A guest bedroom that is only a guest bedroom seems like a waste of space so we’re considering making it a multi-use room. Like maybe it’ll be a library too, or a writing room, or some kind of crazy mix of all these things with clever storage tossed in there. I like clever storage. Ikea is my place of ultimate clever storage.

What it won’t be though is cold. Today we’re going to hang curtains since Colorado decided that it is now fall. As in, right now.

Even though we only have pine trees we’ll be picking up a couple of rakes this afternoon too since leaves from across the neighborhood have blown into our yard. It’s cool though. This whole yard business satisfies my own urges for house porn.

For several months prior to our closing we’d go for walks around the neighborhood and I’d point out parts of people’s yards that I liked. Even the ones that I couldn’t see, but hear. Like the water feature in someone’s backyard that you always hear just gurgling away.

It’s all becoming less overwhelming though. Our bottom-line goal right now though is to get writing places set up by Nov. 1. NaNoWriMo will be here before long and we need to find a sense of normal before that happens.


Breathing life into the Jade House

I have come to the conclusion that throwing a house-warming party while the house is still on fire, is a bad idea.

We’ve been in the Jade House for almost a full month now and have decided that maybe we’ll throw a shindig for the house sometime in the fall. Of next year.

Owen and I are Level 1 homeowners and moving into a serious fixer-upper like this has kind of been like running into Molten Core wearing only starting gear.

At times, I feel like I’ve been running around my head and screaming: “STICK TO THE PLAN GUYS! STICK TO THE PLAN!

Coming to live at this house felt very much like a whirlwind three-month long courtship where neither party was really ready for something serious.

We had a rocky first date where I wanted nothing to do with the house, met a second time when I started to reassess my original opinions, and finally the pirate and I decided to propose our intentions. We had some issues surrounding our signing and I started to worry that the house was getting cold feet and wanted to back out. Finally, we made our for better or for worse commitment.

And now here we are. The honeymoon hardly lasted an hour and now both us and the house are hanging out all of our dirty laundry. Our toolbox is inadequate to handle the house’s needs. It was empty and neglected for sometime before even going on the market. There’s a random hole in the kitchen ceiling. Every faucet leaks in some endearing fashion or another. We have more weeds than actual lawn. Our laundry list goes on.

We have our work cut out for us, but we’re enthusiastic about the challenge.

It’s really nice to have a space where we don’t have to answer to anyone. If we want to paint the walls. We can. (Currently we’re going with Behr’s Wax Sculpture but accent wall’s are in our future.)

Yes, Wax Sculpture looks like beige. But it’s our beige.

If we want to put up an aerial jungle gym for the cats in the future office, our only limitations are our imagination and our skills.

We’re even thinking about signing up for a couple of classes through my community college on basic at-home plumbing and electrical. Because seriously. Beyond knowing that water goes down the drain and that electricity likes to be grounded, we don’t know a whole lot.

It’s a slow process which is fine by us. We’re not here to power level and move out.

It’s at least a 30-year commitment and we want the Jade House to know that we’re in it for the long haul. Come what may.