Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cougars and Canines

I've received such an overwhelmingly kind response about our move (here & on FB) -- thank you! We are still plugging along and my mind is running at night, making phantom furniture placements and planning my Christmas party (I like to keep it simple).

And as my mind has been running, imagining winter nights curled up in front of the stove with a blanket and a book, I have to be honest that it isn't all pretty. In fact, I tend to be a worst case scenario kind of thinker. Tim is a realist and practical to the core (wellllll, except for the apple orchard he's already planted and the herds of livestock he's already pasturing on this property that isn't yet officially ours). But I am the negative one.

I think it's partially my mostly-dormant creative mind (always looking for a conflict!) and partially something Jesus is working out of me, but man do I come up with some bogus fears.

Cougars, though? Maybe not so bogus.

We've all but been assured by a couple people that no way, no how are there cougars in our area. Buuuuut, there are in North Bend. And they have been spotted in Duvall (Kirkland too for that matter, though not recently and I don't know where). And even if not, anything wilder than a squirrel or a rabbit or a deer is going to make me jump out of my skin. Definitely coyotes. And most certainly cougars.

If I hadn't grown up in suburbia, this might not be the case. If I had a little more experience with the great outdoors I might not have made Tim turn around less than an hour into our honeymoon hike on the Olympic Peninsula because I was afraid we *might* spot a cougar. Yep, just a healthy dose of fear here.

So, shucks. I've ended up doing a lot of things in my life, especially as a mom, that I said I'd never do. I would never be a stay-at-home mom (God straightened that out in me before Tim and I even got engaged), never put a baby in my bed (hahahahaha), never homeschool (Linnea's preK curriculum has been outlined for weeks!). Yeah. I can eat my words and have leftovers.

The dog thing, though -- I still don't know. Linnea is pretty afraid of them. And I know zero about handling them. But I do know they can be reliable and protective of children, especially when it comes to wild animals and strangers.

My brain hurts just thinking about this. Having a dog is so. not. me. I am allergic, and I don't really even like them. But those morning walks I've been envisioning on this property I know squat about? Looking a lot more possible with a dog.

So dog people, especially Psiaki people who know us and dog owners with young children (if you are wannabe frontiersmen like us, even better), give me the low down:

1. What kinds of dogs are hypoallergenic AND don't shed AND are sweet to your own kids/friends but nasty to strangers and predators? Because let's not pretend I won't be high maintenance about it from the start.

2. Which breeds will protect my (hypothetical) chickens and not eat them?

3. Is it possible to have a dog that will be low maintenance if it needs to pee when I'm nursing the baby? Or will it be waking my kids at nap time every day? This is a real deal breaker, ladies.

4. Is there any way on earth a non-dog-person can become a dog person AND be a respected master of said dog in a few months' time, say between moving and having this next bambino? Or is it going to see right through me and eat up all my furniture?

Clearly I know nothing. I had a cat.

Dave and Mandy, Jane and James, you may laugh at me now. Never say never!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Y’all! We’re moving to Duvall!

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The beginning of this post belongs back in April, when we made a big Midwest/East Coast visit to family. The last leg of the trip was to Tim’s parents in Upstate New York, where they live out in the sleepy town of Brooktondale. They’ve got a great big yard, gardens, a wooded hillside, and a basketball hoop. I had been looking forward to this spring/summer because Peter is at an age where he can just RUN. And Linnea, well, she doesn’t stay in any one place too long. And run they did. We could push them out the back door, and say, GO.

Coming from our little fenced in yard, which has always felt super spare to me, it was remarkable. Even with our little turtle sandbox and cafe table and chairs, it is grass and concrete and fence and laurel bush. And HOT. Ironically, it doesn’t get enough sun to grow anything. So we have a container garden on our deck. (also HOT!)

God has blessed us to be living in Kirkland the last 4.5 years. All but one year of that we’ve been homeowners and loving it. It’s our first house, not a perfect house, but it’s really been suiting our family, and with Tim being so handy, he was able to make it more so.

And yet. That yard. Weeks and months after the East Coast trip, we kept saying it. That yard.

We have no trees. (Unless you count the overgrown holly bush with leaves that prick our feet.) We can walk to everything – which is precisely why we bought this house – except a kid’s most basic joy: space to run and explore.

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And then – a Redfin listing. Tim is a bit obsessive about real estate listings but hadn’t been on in months. And then there was this house. In the country. On five acres.

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Tim joked that we could have a country house. For weekends. I said no way. We aren’t millionaires. And I’m not crazy enough to be packing baby monitors and white noise machines and clothes and food and all that junk for a weekend that would cause more stress than release. But then I thought about it. Send me the listing, I said.

And then I was in agony. A 1913 farmhouse on 5 acres with a well and septic tank, a propane stove, and SIX BEDROOMS. Up the stairs. On FIVE acres.

I wanted to go see it. Are we crazy?

We have roots in Kirkland. It’s the only home my kids have ever known. We walk so many places we’re due for a second tire replacement on our already heavy duty stroller. There is no basic errand I cannot accomplish without a car – grocery, library, post office, park, coffee shop. We walk to date night. We walk to (and in!) the Fourth of July parade. And we host our community group, which is a way we’ve really invested on behalf of our church in this place. I can walk two blocks and be at a neighbor’s; a couple more to the most perfect little fenced in toddler park you can imagine. And I see friends there ALL THE TIME. Unplanned. This is cute waterfront urban living.

And yet. That week between seeing the listing online and actually seeing it in person was very hard for me. I felt disloyal to our house, our neighborhood, and our friends. But I couldn’t get it out of my mind. That house – old, updated, but still bowl-me-over charming. The land – former pasture turned atv-track turned whatever we might want it to be, and a huge woods. That lifestyle – finally, a garden; finally, a yard that felt like something other than an outdoor prison cell; and a chicken coop all set in case we want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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We hadn’t been looking to move. But God, it seems, had been luring our hearts.

We saw it on a Saturday afternoon so last minute we couldn’t even call our real estate agent. A Redfin agent who’d never seen the place before let us in and followed us around as we oohed and ahhed. We passed a horse pasture, a roadside farm stand, and grazing cows to get there. We saw a tractor driving down the road when we made a U-turn after passing the address. The minute we descended into the Snoqualmie Valley, I felt peace and giddiness at the same time. We might be coming home.

You guys, it’s as if this place was made for us, as if God was preparing it for us a hundred years ago when the house was built. There are fruit trees (apple, plum, Italian plum, cherry, and something unidentified); outbuildings (the chicken coop, original shed, and another shed in the overgrown pasture area we can’t get to yet for the mounds of blackberries); the six bedrooms will hold our growing family and provide room for guests and a dedicated playroom (something we’ve never had! No more tripping over toys while cooking dinner!). We have LOVED our current house – but with the hope of being a family of 7 one day, have been wondering where we’re all going to fit. Building up a story – our pie in the sky idea – wouldn’t be feasible for a long while. God has graciously provided for us in our home in Kirkland and we are exceedingly thankful – but his goodness is overflowing with the possibilities in Duvall.

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We hope to put our roots here. Plant a real garden. Frolick in the legit yard. Learn the names of all the trees. Host friends and family for playdates, visits, community group (Duvall has only 1! We can improve on that if needed!), fall parties (yes this is speaking my language. Favorite season + country setting + party = massively happy me), bonfires, and the like. We can get chickens and learn about collecting our own eggs. We could literally have cows or horses or sheep or alpacas (Tim has a new business idea every day.) Linnea has asked for a bottle lamb to raise. (We’ll see how keeping a third child AND an animal alive pans out!) We are massively blessed with all these opportunities.

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I am so, so excited for this house. If you’ve known us only in our Seattle days, you might be confused. We are basically the walk-to-it-lifestyle poster children. But if you’ve known us longer, you probably aren’t surprised. Country music used to be our number one. Our wedding rehearsal was a bbq and called square dance. Tim bought a pair of cowboy boots as a summer intern for probably a decent chunk of what he earned. And we used to spend college weekends out at his parents’ place, having bonfires or jumping in the swimming hole. For us, this is home.

Thanks for sharing in our journey.

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(Some details: Our closing date is September 30. We have signed off on the inspection and have only the well and septic inspections left to go, not anticipating any major problems. Our plan is to rent out our Kirkland house, if possible to a Mars Hill family willing to host a community group. No smoking, no pets, please! So if you know anyone interested, send them our way. We’d love prayer as we nail down the final details and make this big move – though not so far away – with two little ones and a baby on the way! Thanks for loving us, friends!)