Moving Forward By Staying Still
June 14, 2013
I'd start this post out with the usual barrage of OMG and I can't believe it but frankly, if this ISN'T the face of a newly minted second grader, I don't know what is.
I guess this is as good a point as any to mention a little side plot line in our lives that certainly didn't FEEL little, even though I chose not to blog about it, but: We were planning to move. We've since changed our minds.
Oh my God, 10 words to sum up over SIX MONTHS of crazy offline craziness. That's so not fair.
We decided over the winter to put our townhouse on the market and look around for a single family in the same general area. We set an end-of-the-school-year deadline for ourselves and completed a monstrous to-do list of painting, fixing, improving, decluttering (or decrapifying, as we usually called it), you name it. All the stupid little piddly house shit you know you need to do but...don't.
(Apologies for including "you" in my procrastination process, if you are not the sort who lets stupid little piddly house shit pile up around you until you are boxed in by shit mountains.)
I packed and purged and donated; Jason powerwashed the deck and ripped out and replanted landscaping. None of our friends saw us for months unless they were willing to show up with some paintbrushes. (And of course, they were, because that's what awesome friends do.) I washed windows and wielded power tools. While we were in Williamsburg I paid a handyman friend to live at our house and power through the remaining items on the list. Because there was A House.
It was nearby, even closer to Noah's and Ezra's schools. Bigger than what we had — the boys could have their own bedrooms, or Noah and Ezra could at least share a bigger room and not be so on top of each other — but nothing huge or obnoxious. A cozy little house with a big yard and a home office for me. It wasn't perfect but it was damn near close. Like all the properties on the market at the time, it had been for sale for awhile. There'd been a price reduction. The townhouses in our little cluster were selling fairly quickly, on the other hand, so we just need That House to stay on the market for two, maybe three more weekends before we could make an offer.
It sold the next week. I still haven't fully recovered.
It was around that time that two more things happened: 1) Noah was integrated into general education for math, and 2) the real estate market in the DC area lost. its. damn. mind.
A "lack of inventory" created a panic, essentially, with buyers going insane over everything — ANYTHING — that hit the market. Everything was under contract within days. Escalation clauses drove prices up and up and up. A small fixer-upper in our neighborhood (WITH A MOLD PROBLEM) went for $100,000 over its list price. We could no longer be sure we could even afford houses we didn't even want, much less the ones we did.
Our agent kept sending us listings from other, nearby neighborhoods — all ones we'd said we'd consider back when we started the process — but that's when thing #1 would rear its inconvenient little head.
I didn't want Noah to change elementary schools. We didn't want Noah to change elementary schools. What seemed like not such a big deal a few months before — it's not like we would change districts, his IEP would transfer, we're in a district and area where the schools are almost uniformly excellent, he'll get all new teachers next year ANYWAY and we could hate them — seemed like the Single Stupidest Thing We Could Do.
We love his elementary school. LOVE. He's been there since preschool, he knows every teacher and administrator and they know him. And they LOVE him. On Valentine's Day a homeroom teacher who is not Noah's homeroom teacher handmade an extra class valentine just for him, because he stops and talks to her every morning and she finds him so sweet. And his IEP team...well. There's no way to talk about them — the principals, the special education teachers, his OT — without resorting to over-the-top hyperbole. They are the best.
His current special education teacher in particular, is beyond wonderful. She took a kid who (in September) claimed to not know how to read because he would give up the second he came across an unfamiliar word, and transformed him into a kid who now reads chapter books at a third grade level. She'll call me on the phone and we'll talk for an hour if Noah's having an off day, and basically goes above and beyond to help him succeed. Noah loves her, naturally. She's the kind of teacher who prompts me to write gushing emails to the school administration, just so they know. YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE OVER THERE? AN ANGEL STRAIGHT FROM HEAVEN. GET YER DIP-TET. ETC.
But restricting a house search down to a single, not-especially-huge elementary school? Sisyphean ordeal. We were lucky if ONE house came on the market every few weeks, and the chances of it being 1) in our modest price range, 2) not a shit hole, 3) not getting 200 escalating offers on it by Sunday night, OR 4) being a house we even halfway liked in the first place were ridiculously low.
A townhouse up the street from us sold in three days and suddenly we were barraged with hand-written letters from people who'd lost the bidding war on it. Were we thinking of selling? Could we please let them know? Here is a picture of our dog and brand-new baby; please sell us your home, we don't even care what color you painted the living room.
And so one night, not very long ago, Jason and I sat in our lovely, freshly painted living room and decided that really, we didn't want to move. The improvments we'd made and the massive decrapifying had resulted in a beautiful home. We shared a wall with neighbors and had no garage or extra bedroom and I sure wish this house had X, Y or Z, but...dude. This house is fine. This neighborhood is wonderful.
(We're in a no-outlet loop so the neighborhood kids all roam free-range style, going from house to house and yard to yard for hours after school. Noah and Ezra yell goodnights and other important messages from their bedroom window to a little girl in the house behind ours, a kindergartner who has become their most beloved playmate. Two nights a week are "dinner party nights" where they go to her house for dinner or she comes to ours. What decade is this? What sitcom is this?)
It was still a little disappointing to admit real estate defeat. The idea of a new home is always exciting (especially when you're still in the dream world of realtor.com listings that all look so glorious until you see them in person and realize there's seven huge power line towers looming over that backyard hot tub). But we couldn't risk selling our house too quickly and then being stuck and buying something else because we had to, even if it wasn't exactly what we wanted.
And what we wanted most of all was for Noah to return to second grade at his current school. So that won.
Yesterday I found out that 1) Noah will be fully integrated into the general education classroom for all subjects next year, and 2) his current special education teacher will be transitioning to second grade right along with him, to provide support and any pull-outs to the smaller group that she might think he needs on any given day.
And that, as they say, is THAT.
We were planning to move. We've since changed our minds. And we are so totally okay with it.