Welp, we've been moved-in for a little over a month now. I've been wanting to record what we were able to accomplish in September, before we moved in. Here's a list and some photos!
Electrical - When we had the house inspected, we found out the house was running off of two panels. One was outdated, original to the house. The other was pretty small, not enough to power the whole house. As part of our buying contract, the seller had an electrician put in a brand new panel to bring the home up to code. However, there were still some things that needed to be done to make the house more livable for us. My parents were so generous to come out and help. My dad and James were able to work some magic to do these updates without even tearing out any drywall. Here's what they did:
- Ran modern, grounded wiring to outlets in the living room and master bedroom
- Reworked the garage lighting and electrical situation so that it was safer
- Ran a 220 down to the basement for our electric dryer
- Installed GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathroom
- Replaced and repaired any broken outlets
Yard - We are so pleased with the size of our yard, and with the yummy fruit growing on our trees. However, the house had been vacant since early spring, so the yard was a huge mess. My in-laws came to the rescue and made some huge clean-up progress in the yard. James and I (and Joah!) helped out a bit too. We aren't so concerned about aesthetics at this point, since everything will be covered in snow soon. So we basically picked up fruit and tried to remove as many dead things as we could. It made a big difference!
Exterior - One of my top priorities was giving the exterior a quick facelift with paint. Something about choosing our front door color made the house feel like it was really ours. So fun to see it moving toward our photoshopped dream!
- Painted front door
- Painted stucco on garage
- Painted wood gate
- Filled in holes in mortar (mostly just in front; the back still needs attention)
Interior - The walls and wood trim were in desperate need of a good paint job, and we spent many many hours painting almost the entire upstairs, with the help of wonderful friends and inlaws. We chose a beautiful glossy white for all of the woodwork. For the walls, the living room is the same white, but with an eggshell finish. The kitchen and bedrooms are "painter's white," a super super light warm gray. I'm so happy with all of it!
I decided about a month ago that I am going to participate in the Ordain Women action this coming General Conference. We, Mormon women and male allies, will be waiting in the standby line asking for admittance to the Priesthood Session of General Conference. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/607817682572297/
I have not taken this decision lightly, and it has come about after deep thought and prayer. I truly believe this is an action that my Heavenly Mother and Father want me to take.
I'd like to write ALL THE REASONS that I am doing this! but there's no time! The simplest summation of my stance is: I believe that our Heavenly Parents created men and women as equals, and that we are tasked with progressing to the ideal of equality. To me, that means all people, women and men, must have every opportunity to serve and use their spiritual gifts.
As a Mormon woman, I've been taught by my religious leaders my whole life that I have been given very clear roles to fulfill: mother, nurturer, caregiver. I've been taught that my divine nature is to serve and nurture others with my sweet spiritual gifts. I've been taught that the complements to my roles as a woman are the roles of men: priesthood holder, presider, elder, patriarch. I've been taught that men have eternal responsibilities to use their priesthood power to lead and serve others. There was a time when I found great comfort and security in these clearly defined roles. I believed they were set by our Heavenly Father. I felt protected, shielded, and safe from the ambiguity of the world.
As a Mormon woman, I've also been encouraged my entire life to gain a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for myself. To know for myself that God loves me and has a plan for me. If I had to pick one principle of the gospel that has contributed the most to my testimony, it would be personal revelation. It has played a powerful role in my life as I have sought the will of God through prayer and received guidance, comfort and hope in return. It has sustained me through emotional, mental, and physical trials, and helped me overcome insecurities and other obstacles that would hold me back. Personal revelation is what makes the gospel true and real for me.
As I've grown into an adult, I've used the principle of personal revelation to ask for guidance on important decisions in my life, while also following the prescribed path of marriage and motherhood. At times, the difficulty of resolving my personal strengths with what I've been taught is my divine nature has been very trying for me. For example, a woman's divine nature is often linked to her ability to connect emotionally and empathize with others, while I have the kind of personality that is better suited for somewhat detached, literal problem solving. In order to stay sane and happy, I've learned to trust my personal inspiration to guide my life and development, which at times diverges from the roles I've been taught since I was young. I've discovered more and more wonderful things about myself and the people close to me—personal traits and special gifts—that have eaten away at the security those gender roles previously provided. In place of that security is a fantastic sense of boundless possibilities and endless progression. I now believe very strongly that we are all individually created to carry out our own roles and to progress on individual paths. I now believe that our gender does not predetermine the contributions we are to make in this life.
How do I resolve the disparity between my personal revelation and the principles of gender that my spiritual leaders teach? It's all about progress! We don't like to talk about it a lot as Mormons, but our church and teachings are always evolving. Yes, we believe we are being guided by God through revelation, but I do not expect perfection from any of the receivers, interpreters, or executors of that revelation. But I do desire progress, and I do desire continued communication.
It is the request of the supporters of Ordain Women that our leaders "prayerfully consider the ordination of women." I feel strongly that I must stand behind that request and express the need I have felt personally for the ordination of women. I consider myself a prospective priesthood holder, equal to any of the men that will be attending Priesthood Session this Saturday. And so, I will be requesting entrance as well.
Since we began house shopping, I discovered that I reach abnormally high levels of joy while creating floorplans.
So, aside from their being useful as we make updates to our home, this was so fun for me! I decided to create 3 versions for both floors of our home: current, dream and realistic. The dream version is what we would do given very very few restrictions, and the realistic version takes some important things into account—such as, whether our home would be left standing if we removed all the walls from the front half of the structure. Note also that "realistic" is a relative term, in this case meaning "Analisa's uneducated guess of what's possible."
For the first floor, the goal was to create as many free-flowing areas as possible, and involved stripping the front half of our home of walls, moving the wall that houses our electrical panel, moving exterior doors, and expanding windows. AKA, probably not even close to practical. So the realistic version adds columns and pony walls instead of just removing the walls completely, and works around the other structurally imperative things. Still pretty exciting!
I don't really have a lot of complaints about the layout of our basement as-is, so my dream version is pretty simple. Turn the staircase the other way; make the bathroom bigger and move the door to face the living area; and close off the laundry area. Since none of those things will be very smart when it comes to making our money back, I tried to pair the costs down for the realistic version.
So what to do with these???? For now, we're going to give the house a gradual facelift as we save for a big renovation. Hopefully some of these ideas will come to fruition in the coming years!
We closed early September, and moved in last week. James and I spent the days in between doing some quick improvements with the generous help of my parents and his parents, but we've definitely got a ways to go. For the record, here are some photos of the place before we touched A THING. Be prepared to be happy you don't own such a place! JK, it's not that bad. Well...
(I'm a little bit dumb and didn't take a lot of "before" shots myself, so some of these are screenshots from the appraisal.)
We were house-hunting all summer, looking for a place that we could make our own, but that was not a complete gut job. This one seemed to be a good balance for us. Some of the things we loved:
• Perfect size - double our apartment! Enough for Joah to have his own bedroom upstairs, and James and I get our own offices in the basement.
• Built in 1947 with a fun transitional style - post-war, early mid-century
• Original hardwood floors (oak?)
• Some original trim and doors
• Large windows let in lotsa light
• Cute circle window in front!
• Big back yard
• Fruit trees
• Location - near downtown; easy access to freeway and public transportation
So far all the challenges with owning this house have been so worth the feelings of accomplishment and ownership. We don't have heaps of money to put into renovating this place, but it's liberating to know we can do whatever we want, as long as we are willing to put the work into it. So so fun!
Oh and, for fun, here's an itty bitty screenshot of the assessor's earliest photo of our house. This was the only old photo they have online, but they may have more if I go searching in person. Could be cool!
Spending 8-9 hours of the day away from my little guy is hard.
When I try to assess my feelings about being a working mom, I always think back to the wonderful two months I had with my son before going back to work. I look back on that time, and I envy myself. Joah was really mine then. I could just sit and hold him and watch every little wiggle, treasure every little squeak, and answer every cry. He needed me so much, and it gave me so much joy to be there for him. But as much as it was wonderful, it was also hard. The days melted together as they were all exactly the same. We didn't get very many visitors, and it was almost impossible to find a good time to get out of the house. But those two months solidified something very strongly for me: this baby is my life now. Everything that I do will be for him.
The decision for me to return to work was not made without a lot of tears, prayer, worries and fears. He was so small and fragile, and I worried constantly about his well-being. I trusted James' ability completely, but I knew it would be hard on all of us nonetheless. I chose to go back to work first of all because we need income, and I'm happy to provide that for us. But I also decided to work because I like it! I enjoy what I do, and I also enjoy having things other than poopy diapers, crying baby and longing for adult interaction occupy my thoughts (although I can't say I haven't briefly pondered on poop while laying out a catalog spread).
The pressure that comes from the church to stay at home instead of work to support my family--as unreasonable as it is--is there. And it's been tough for me to overcome the sense that I am less of a mother to my son because I'm not with him 24 hours a day. Sometimes I'm able to convince myself how ridiculous that thought is, and other times I'm not.
Regardless, being a mother is pure joy! And I feel so lucky for the little blessings, like that I am able to go home and nurse Joah on lunch breaks nearly every day. And seeing how happy he is to see me when I come home is just incredible. Love this little guy.