Residential Life

Simplifying Life

I am going to try something new. I will write this blog under five subheadings and see what happens.

1. Family

So our story is much like everyone elses. You have babies in the house, and all of a sudden—just like that—they’re not babies anymore. Norah is a little girl, Stella is a toddler, and Eden is crawling all over the place. Yes, they are not old enough to go to school yet, but Candyce and I have been a little sad about how fast this whole thing has happened.

I’ve been dreaming about moving outside of the city to a more relaxed place where there is fewer stimuli. I’ve been thinking of little ski towns in the mountains, or maybe a sleepy coastal town in California. I posted it to Facebook, and some friends from high school invited me back to Hiawassee.

It’s just such an unexpected thing for me to be thinking like this. My primary goal since high school was to escape the boredom of small town living and drown myself in the excitement of city living. Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and now Phoenix. But now I have my precious children, they are all the excitement I need. They satisfy so much of that unrest from my 20s.

Candyce has been feeling this way too. It’s not in our cards right now to move to a slower town, so we have to find ways to slow down our lives. So we made too steps as we entered 2013: say “no” to fun social time with friends in favor of boring time at home, and cut off DirecTV. I do miss HGTV and the Food Network. But I don’t miss sports b/c all of my favorite teams are horrible right now.

2. Home

I didn’t update my blog much near the end of last year because I was working on remodeling our family room. I tore down the off-centered fireplace and rebuilt it smaller and more centered. Then I finished the wainscoting and repaired the drywall. I pulled out the 1980s mirror behind the wet bar and built-in some shelves. So I got about 90% done then we escaped to California for a couple weeks over Christmas and New Year. I pressed pause on the project because of cold and wet weather over the last six weeks. I hope to finish off these last details soon.

3. Spiritual Life

This Lent is very different for me. I got surgery to remove a cancerous area from my skin. So as I type this, my shoulder is uncomfortable with soreness form surgery and discomfort because of limited motion b/c of stitches. I am happy to be where I am today because this is the best case scenario. I am defiantly praying hard.

4. Work

I’ve really enjoyed getting out of the office this year. Since accepting the position of VP Operations Etc., I now oversee all of our facilities including summer camps and offices. So in January and February this year, I’ve visited Covecrest, our camp in Georgia, and Tepeyac, our camp in the mountains of Northern Arizona. Both camps have had snow when I’ve visited, which is a treat for me b/c I’ve always adored the snow. All in all, things are very busy at Life Teen. The first quarter of every year is so critical for the success of the year. I am very proud of how well organized and forward thinking our staff is today. I try not to get overwhelmed by all the hyperactivity.

5. Life Lessons

I came across a quote recently that really struck me: “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” This pretty much sums up the tension that I deal with every day. I want to do so much but I cannot do it all. So I have to focus on what matters most and then do that. Right now I can’t see anything more important than my family. My little girls are growing up so fast. Every day our relationships grow because they’re maturing. So everyday I have a new opportunity to get to know these little souls. It’s the quiet adventure within my life. It’s not something that can be blogged about every day. It’s not something that will make me more money or win esteem from my peers. But it means everything to me. Other things will have to wait.

Getting Ready for our Baby, a Blog About a Blog

Right now the Smith family has two big months we’re trying to work through. Next month our baby girl is due. And there is always so much preparation that is necessary before this new little life enters the world. Yes, some of it is obvious stuff like making sure she has her clothes, diapers, bedding, etc. But most of “getting ready for the baby” is rallying to get life chores completed because you know that once an infant enters the household, there’s hardly any time for anything else.

So here’s my rally list of things I need to fix

  • Sprinkler heads
  • Drip irrigation system
  • Broken irrigation pipe
  • Leaking shower head
  • Leaking bathroom faucets
  • Leaking toilet
  • Plugged dishwasher
  • Outgoing sewage pipe

So basically, anything that has to do with water or plumbing is broken and needs to be fixed. Then I have to rally to get my taxes complete…and then some do some banking projects. (And I am optimistic that I can construct a toy storage solution that will make me a celebrity on Pinterest.) So much needs to be done!

Plus I’m trying to rebuild  The idea is that I am breaking the decade-long blog into different life chapters. My hope is that this renovation of my blog can solve a couple of problems. First, it’s hard to reconcile the frequent and detailed blog updates of past years with the sporadic updates from today. Back then, I was single and flying around the country. I had plenty of things to write about and all the time in the world to do it. I updated my blog twice a week. It’s hard to write at that frequency and detail now that I have a family. The second problem I’m trying to solve is to make more room for photo updates straight from my iPhone. This way I can keep some sort of life narrative going even in the busiest moments.

If this doesn’t work, I just may have to put this blog on indefinite hold. I just don’t know if it fits into my life anymore. Yes, it is mostly because I don’t have free time. But it’s more than that. I used to write because I didn’t have anyone to talk to about all that was going on in life. But now I am married, and all of the thoughts that swirl in my head make their way out in beautiful conversations with Candyce. She’s gives me clarity and peace. There’s nothing left to write about.

More than anything, I see how fast my children are growing up, and I would rather spend my time with them than maintaining a blog for an hour a day. Nothing matters more than little Norah and Stella.

A Modern Dream

So I’m out here in San Diego taking a week or so off as a post-graduation celebration. I’m flipping through iPhoto looking at photos from the past year and realize I how much that I haven’t shared in my blog. This is a fun one…

Late last fall I discovered an unfinished contemporary house near Camelback Mountain near Paradise Valley. I was immediately curious about the home. Based on the weathered construction materials, the house’s exterior looked as if it hadn’t been touched in about a year.

After doing some research, I discovered that the home was in foreclosure and would go up for public auction late in the winter.  It appears as though the property was purchased at the top of the Real Estate bubble and the new owner decided to do an elaborate reconstruction to convert the traditional ranch home into a modern house. My guess is that he got discouraged with each month—he was pouring out tons of money during construction, all the while the housing market was crashing down around him. So he stopped making his payments and walked away. He left behind his half-finished dream. A dream that few people could understand.

Could this be my next house? I explored the property and made note of what was left to be finished. After running the numbers, I knew what price-point I’d have to get the house to make it a sound investment.

What it could become? I imagined a two-story extension (left) to balance out the imposing volume of the 3-car garage (right)

I was discouraged the week leading up to the auction when the bank released a very high starting bid for the property. It didn’t make sense for me to go to the auction if the bank was convinced it needed to make that much to make up for their loss.  I expected the home to go up on the block and not get any bids. Then a month later, the bank would adjust the price down and put it up for auction again. Maybe then I could pick it up?

Long story short: someone paid top-dollar for the home. I have no idea how the new owners could possibly finish the project as a strong investment. I wish them the best. Honestly, shortly after the first auction I got caught up in the business of graduate school and other investments. Although the dream never materialized, it was still a lot of fun.