Sunday, June 23, 2013

Finally Feeling at Home

I thought I'd do a better job.

At the time of my last post I was fully resolved to keep the posts coming. Then reality hit. And she hit hard. As many of you probably know, Sumie and I have spent the past few months securing, and making our own, a new home in Marin county, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. As such, free time was a bit hard to come by.

The upside is that now, after months of searching, financial wrangling, bargaining, landscaping, furniture shopping, and picture hanging, we are finally "fully in" and comfortable. There's still plenty left to do (second stage of the back yard, redoing the front yard, painting, the list goes on and on...), but we definitely have reached the point at which we're ready to share our new home, at last, with our friends and family.

Here's a shot of part of the front of the house. The lemon tree, which I'm hoping to prune in the near future, is blocking the view to the front door. While it somewhat mars this picture, it does provide a wonderful, fresh scent which we experience each morning on the way out to work.  For me, it's become a bit like that first smell of coffee in the morning.
Following the cement path around the lemon tree to your right will take you to the back yard. When we purchased the home there was no lawn - just "beauty bark" which provided little enjoyment and plenty of splinters. I'd like to say I installed the lawn myself, but the only claim I'll be able to make is regular watering and mowing.
As you can see from the picture below, Mimi likes to ride her tricycle along the cement path. She takes it all the way from the backyard to the front door.
She also likes to ride on the deck, particularly when she's feeling like she wants to stay closer to Mama and Papa. When we first moved in, Mimi was a bit apprehensive about the backyard, but now she loves it. She talks about it like one of her favorite toys - "I'm going to go home and play in my backyard!" The time outside has also helped with her coordination. When we first moved in she could barely ride her tricycle more than a few feet. Now she tears around the yard, sometimes pedaling - proudly, I might add - with just one foot.
In our living room you'll find our couch and chair from New York, as well as my father's piano. We're keeping it simple; it's a place where one can escape the TV, and sometimes the toddler, and read or write. The piano, however, still needs to be tuned (as Sumie continues to remind me).
The kitchen is on the smaller side, but at least has been remodeled and has a great little dining nook (I was standing in it when I took this picture) opening out onto the back yard. We're doing a lot more cooking these days and it's felt good to get back into the rhythm of making our own food at home.
The only real furniture purchase we made for the new home was a matching pair of couches for the family room. This is where we spend most of our time, so we thought the investment worth it. There are many things that make you feel "adult" in life - graduation, buying a home, having children, etc. I would like to add "matching furniture" to that list. For a brief moment, after the couches arrived, I felt like I was in the home of one of my friends' parents. And then I realized it was mine. I guess I am getting old...
Here's a more "lived-in" picture of our family room, complete with plenty of Mimi's "projects" and other toddler mess-making necessities. The fact that Mimi's blurred in this picture is actually the best representation of the reality we live with. She is constantly running in the new house. And giggling, too. It's nice to finally not have someone above or below us so that we can raise our child a bit more free-range.
Around the time that we moved I was luckily granted the opportunity to work from home several days a week. I set up a small office in one of the back bedrooms, overlooking the backyard. This is where I spend several days each week. It's a great place to work, but sometimes the blue-jays are a bit noisy.
Of course, the house isn't all work and no play. I staked out a tiny space in our small garage for a computer-based arcade system. This was supposed to be my man-cave. Instead, it's become the Mimi-Papa room. Whenever I sit down to play a game, invariably, within 5 minutes, I'll hear the door open and a high-pitched call of "Whatcha doin', Papa?" That's Mimi-speak for, "I'm going to play video games with you now whether you like it or not."  Luckily, I generally like it.
Although we've been living in the Bay Area for two years now, this is the first time since we arrived that the house we live in is beginning to feel like a genuine home. I think part of this feeling must be that, like our place in NYC, this is genuinely ours (well, to be honest, it mostly the bank's, but at least one of the rooms, and maybe the lawn, we can lay claim to).  We're also making it more our own with some wonderful family events. The extra space in the new house is particularly helpful for when we have the family visit. For Mimi's 3rd birthday, we invited all of Sumie's family in the Bay Area, as well as Mimi's Grandma and Grandpa, up to the house to celebrate.
 The new family room served us well for opening presents...
...and for hosting six hungry kids at one table.
There was a lot of traffic between the living room and the back yard that day, as you can tell below.
Mimi loves her new "yellow house," and that's a good thing because Sumie and I bought it somewhat for us, but mainly for her. It's looking like this will be the kind of place she'll look back on when she's my age and think, "I had it pretty good growing up." Well, at least I hope so...
Pictures from our recent trip to NYC to come soon. Good to be back writing again!

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