new chapters

Today is Alan’s first day of work!  I’m so, so proud of him.  He’s at a hotel in Connecticut, and I’m still here in Rochester, working on the house.  I wish I could be there to eat breakfast with him, and see him in his work clothes.  But I’m sure he’ll be great.


So we didn’t get the house.  Our offer was more contingent than the other offer.  We have to get our house sold before we could go through with the contract.


By the time I heard back last evening, I was prepared to be okay with either outcome.  See, I had told my mom that we put in an offer, but that there was another offer in at the same time.  And she jumped on Zillow to look at other houses in East Hartford.


She sent me an email Saturday night with the subject “isn’t this the house you love in Indiana?”  I went to college in Indiana, and drove from Rochester to Upland dozens of times.  Every time, I drove through the town of Angola, and passed this house:


I love the red brick, the white shutters, the front door, the ivy.  It was my dream house.

And here is the house in East Hartford:

East Hartford house


It’s really similar, right?  I still prefer the double-wide windows in the Angola house, but wow, I like this house!


It’s a touch bigger than the other house, and 50% bigger than our house now (1,500 square feet v. 1,000).  And it’s a touch more expensive than the other house, but still really affordable.  The inside is covered in wallpaper.  It’s really well done, but really dated and not my style.


Alan’s going to try to go see the house this week.  Our house here in Rochester will be listed on the MLS this week, so things are happening!





We put in an offer on a house in CT today.  Waiting is the hardest part…  I am in love with the house, and will be super-bummed if we don’t get it.

In other news, Alan’s moving to CT Sunday.  For all my hoping that he’d have some time off before he started work, he’s still at school.  He’s been there all day (we did go out to dinner, but then I dropped him back off), and he won’t be home for a bit.  10:30pm on a Friday.  Well, this is the last time that should happen!  I can’t wait for him to be on a schedule that tells him to go home in the evenings.  And the company runs on an 80-9 schedule: they work 80 hours in nine business days, instead of 10.  I believe the hours are 8am-6pm Monday through Thursday, and 9am-5pm every other Friday.

I got a bunch of work done on the house today.  But I’m definitely a morning person, so I think I’m going to go to bed, rather than staring at my phone, willing it to ring and tell me we got the house (which is ridiculous, since it’s 10:30 at night, and no one calls this late).

‘night :)



DID YOU FIND A TYPO IN THE POST?  [which is totally predictable, since I wrote it at night and I’m tired] LET ME KNOW HERE.

yard sale & farewell party

So things are happening fast around here.  We spent the summer noses-to-the-grindstone, anticipating Alan’s dissertation defense.  That was the big deadline, the big finish line.  Then, all of a sudden, it was over.  We went to Utah, we came back, I was sick.  And now it’s one week before Alan starts work!  When did that happen?!

We had been planning on hosting a yard sale Saturday the 17th.  I was going to spend last week preparing: sorting through stuff in the storage areas of the house (porch, garage, loft, basement), pricing items, setting up.  Instead, I rested and tried to recover from being sick.  It seemed like the yard sale was going to have to wait.

Thursday morning I woke up feeling better.  I hadn’t felt good in nearly two weeks, and the energy was stimulating.  I decided, in bed before I even got up, to do the yard sale.  I’d have two days to sort and prepare, but I could do it!  My mom came over Thursday to help, and Alan didn’t go in to work on Friday.  (He finished the changes necessary to his dissertation Thursday, so he’s kind of done.  He will clean out his office, and he wants to spend some time training group-mates on some laser stuff before he leaves.)

Saturday we woke up early (5ish), and set up the yard sale.  It was quite a success!  Let me tell you what we did, what worked, and what didn’t.


1. I read The Joy of Less a while ago, and had a great mentality when sorting our possessions.  Instead of asking myself “am I willing to part with this?”, I asked “is this ‘treasure’?”  I didn’t decide what to sell, I decided to sell everything, and then had to choose what to keep.

2. I priced things low.  I advertised the sale as a “nothing over $10” sale.  Some people got really good deals on the items with the highest value.  I ran out of $0.25 and $0.50 stickers first, because I priced things so low.  I wanted things to be gone, I didn’t want to get the most money for each item.  I didn’t want anyone to want something, pick it up, and think it was too expensive.

3. We sold home improvement supplies.  This was Alan’s idea, and it worked great.  We sold the faucet we bought and never used, and the left-over chain link from installing the gate across our driveway (40 feet for $10).  We sold PVC pipe ($0.25 to $1.00 per piece) and green-board ($0.50 for partial boards) and cement-board ($0.25 for partial boards).  We sold partial cans of spray paint ($0.25) and wood stain ($0.25).  It was a good portion of the sale, and it attracted more buyers, including people just driving by the house who stopped.

4. We advertised on craigslist and  In fact, I put up the ad first, and it had an option to cross-post on craigslist.  I still had to make the craigslist listing, but I could cut-and-paste some nifty html from gsalr.  It made the craigslist ad look nice: it had a map and a nice font.  It was easy and free.

5. I advertised for no early birds.  I don’t know if this made a huge difference, but it helped me not get stressed out when setting up.  In the ad I mentioned that prices were tripled before 8am.  That kept people away!

6. I made really legible signs.  I read some advice to simply make signs that say “yard sale” with an arrow.  I used some foam-board we had, and a huge magic marker.  I made the letters six inches high, and the arrow was seven inches high and 15 inches across.  We put out five signs.  Two were double-sided, so they could be read by traffic going either direction.  They went on the main roads leading to our house.  There was a single sign that pointed to our house if you came via a side street.  And there were two signs right in our front yard: one on the left and one on the right, for traffic going both directions.

7. We had a cooler of bottled water and ice.  We sold the bottles for $0.25.  It wasn’t a huge draw, but we did sell some bottles of water to people who didn’t buy anything else!

8. We had lots of change (probably too much).  We withdrew $150 from the bank: 5x $10, 10x $5, 30x $1, and two rolls of quarters.  In retrospect we probably needed 5x $10, 5x $5, 15x $1, and one roll of quarters.  I had priced so many things at $0.25 and $0.50, that I felt the need for nearly a hundred quarters.  But I didn’t think about the fact that most people would buy more than one thing.  Plus, I’d often round down, to make people feel they were getting a really good deal.

9. I kept the change in a carpenter’s apron.  It kept the money on my person, and it was easy to pull out change.  It was also easy to switch the apron between me and Alan during the sale.  I handled most transactions, but I also left the sale several times to pick up more stickers (see #2), and to pick up some lunch.

10. We set out everything for free after the sale was over.  I put a curb alert on craigslist, and we told the neighborhood kids everything left was free.  They were so excited.  Their parents probably weren’t thrilled that they brought home so much junk, but it was fun to watch.  I did pick out a few high priced items that didn’t sell: a clarisonic mia face washer, a pair of unworn dansko shoes, and a nice coat Alan’s never worn.  We’ll bring those to Goodwill, along with anything that was left.  I think we’ll have just one box worth of stuff for Goodwill.


We made over $300 at the sale, which sort of surprised me.  (I say “sort of”, because I kept an inventory list as I priced the items, and I entered it into Excel.  I knew that the sum of what I had priced was over $300, and that surprised me.)  I said to Alan several times before the sale that I was most excited to get rid of so much stuff.  Making money was secondary.  Yard sales are such a win-win!


We held the sale from 8am to 4pm.  At 6pm we had some friends over for a farewell/congratulations Alan party.  I knew I’d be tired, so I planned a super low-key party.  I cut up a watermelon and a pineapple into wedges (finger food!), and set out the leftover bottles of water (#7 above).  I asked people to bring soda, beer, or chips/dip.  We ordered six pizzas, and an hour-and-a-half into the party I went out to buy a box of ice cream sandwiches.  We ate in the back yard, sitting on wooden arm chairs Alan brought from the house (we sold almost all our outdoor chairs that morning!).  It was the best party I’ve thrown in a while.

Our friends from church came (as well as my parents), and it was really great to sit and chat.  Most of the people had been in the first Small Group I joined, five years ago when I returned from China.  That’s where I met Alan.  That group has since dissolved: people got married, and had babies, and moved on from just being “young adults.”  It was so, so nice to be together again.  We talked and laughed until it got too dark to see anymore.

The reality that we’re moving has only just sunk in.  Alan’s first day of work is a week from tomorrow.  A week later the cats and I will join him.  There’s still lots to do, but it’s all very exciting!



P.S. Today is our anniversary–four years!



back from vacation

picnic area in Mill Creek Canyon

picnic area in Mill Creek Canyon

Alan and I are back from a long weekend in Salt Lake City, where we visited Alan’s parents.


Our trip was limited by my health, unfortunately.  My Achilles tendon injury prevented us from hiking.  And my general malaise put a damper on my weekend.


I’ve been fighting an infection for about a week.  I’m on my second (stronger) round of antibiotics, and I still feel miserable.  It’s likely that I’m just experiencing the side effects of the antibiotic: nausea, dizziness, light-headedness.  This antibiotic (cipro) also carries the risk of rupturing tendons.  So I’ve been extra careful with my Achilles tendon.


I also have an inner ear disorder that can make travel quite uncomfortable.  It tends to flare up when I’m sick or stressed out.  And in addition to making me feel dizzy, it makes me very likely to get motion sick.  I was miserable for most of the flights and threw up in the bathroom on both long flights (although it wasn’t as bad as throwing up in a bus bathroom–yuck!).


We’ve been home for about six hours.  I took a nap in my own bed, and am eating a snack.  The snack seems to be helping with the wooziness and nausea.


Back to Utah: we were able to do some fun activities despite my limitations.  On Saturday we went to the Great Salt Lake and went swimming.  I adored being able to swim and move without any pressure on my heel.  Sunday we went to church and then had a nice picnic in Mill Creek Canyon, part of the Wasatch range.  Yesterday we saw Man of Steel, did some shopping (work clothes for Alan!), and went to a super-fancy restaurant to celebrate Alan’s successful dissertation defense.


Have you taken any trips this summer?  What was the best part?  And is there any better feeling than sleeping in your own bed after a long trip?



Ptoley and the chipmunk

[With Alan’s help,] Ptoley has managed to catch a chipmunk three times now.  It’s the same chipmunk; it lives in our neighbor’s yard.

The first time, Alan called me to come watch.  It was the strangest thing.  Ptoley would carry the chipmunk around the yard, and then set it down.  When Ptoley set the chipmunk down it wouldn’t run away; it would fight with Ptoley.  In fact, it would jump on Ptoley’s back, like a Tom & Jerry cartoon.

Eventually the chipmunk made it to some bushes and escaped.

The second time, when Alan called me to come watch I brought my camera.

And then this happened:


Where did the chipmunk go?



There it is!