Moving, Selling, & Buying

A Big Move Deserves A Tiny Painting

Something big happened last week: my parents sold the house I grew up in.

They’ve been planning to do this for a while, so it’s not a shock or anything. It’s also not as depressing as it could be since they’re selling it so they can move to Richmond (right now they’re about 2 hours away in Northern Virginia). My parents are both retired and have been planning to downsize for a while now. They picked Richmond for a bunch of reasons, including that four of their five grandchildren live here. So all in all, we’re really happy about the news.

But there’s still something major about the closing of this particular chapter, so allow me to be sentimental for a moment.

My parents moved into this house in 1979 (forgive the not-so-pretty winter pic above). It was a new construction home at the time, so they – along with my two older sisters – were its first (and up until now only) occupants. If you’re keeping track that’s two years before I arrived, meaning this is the house they brought me (and later my little sister) home to after we were born. So as you can imagine, a lot has happened in this house over the 32 years they have owned it. Including my mom taking annual pictures of us on the porch for first days of school and for our birthdays (note the homemade banner taped to the storm door behind me).

When we heard they accepted a buyer’s contract early last month, we took the first opportunity to gather there one last time for a family portrait. My sister Emily even made an homage to my mom’s birthday sign tradition for us to pose next to. Here’s the “original” six Petersiks (aka, the “Petersix”)…

…and now with our expanded family of spouses and children (can you tell that it was POURING rain during these shots – fortunately my bro-in-law the professional photographer knew how to handle it).

In addition to these pics, my sisters and I wanted to honor this big moment with a gift. After debating a few things, we decided to get them a drawing or painting of the house. They already own a pen and ink sketch of it, so (thanks to some suggestions from you guys on Twitter) we landed on getting a painting of their front door from artist Kal Barteski (she calls her series T+A - tiny and awesome). So I sent Kal this pic of the door…

And a couple of weeks (and $100 – split four ways among me and my siblings) later, this arrived. Tiny and awesome indeed.

It’s actually 5 x 7″, so it’s not that tiny. Kal paints them on thin onion skin parchment paper which is why it looks a bit wavy and textured. It threw me off a little at first, but when I read that she does it so your painting looks truly like original art – not a print or a replica – it won me over as quite charming.

The onion skin paper is also translucent so she invites people to mat her paintings on colored or patterned paper to customize them and add even more texture. We had fun trying a few colors & patterns underneath but ended up going the straightforward route and putting it on white card stock since we thought my parents would like it best that way.

We finally presented it to my parents this week and they LOVED it. Woo hoo!

Oh, and since some of you might be curious – my parents got very lucky when it came to selling their house. Before it was officially listed on March 1st, they had a preview showing at the end of February and that person put in an acceptable offer on the spot. Not bad right? Since it happened a bit faster than any of us expected (including them) they have around six weeks until they can officially move into their new house in Richmond. In the meantime they’ll be bouncing around between their Delaware beach house, my sister’s house in Northern Virginia, and my sister’s house here in Richmond. But we can’t wait for the day that they can officially call our city their home.

Psst- The babyproofing adventures continue over on BabyCenter where we’re sharing how we anchored a giant wall mirror in our bedroom (thankfully it wasn’t rocket science).

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Monday The 13th

You don’t even know the half of our moving day adventure. We glossed over it because we knew you deserved empty shots of our old place and pics of the new house’s interior – but we couldn’t let this story go untold. So take a moment to pantomime the buckling of your seatbelt and get ready to enjoy the ride. As we mentioned earlier, the day started off with an unexpected surprise: a snowstorm. And even though it wasn’t a Friday, the thirteenth of this month (aka Monday) surely lived up to its less than lucky reputation. Which is so not a good thing when it’s closing/moving day.

Sure the snow was pretty, but it definitely had its hand in a few unlucky events that day. Like knocking out power at our attorney’s office, making it a bit more difficult to stay updated on what was happening and get transfers and files through in order to complete our closing on time (which is partially why it was delayed until Tuesday). But that was nothing compared to this, um, predicament:

Yep, that’s our 26 ft U-Haul truck in a ditch, blocking two lanes of traffic. And it’s not just any ditch. It’s the ditch at the end of our driveway- er well, the driveway that we had just sold. So technically, it was someone else’s ditch that was holding my truck captive about an hour before they’d be returning with the keys. Not to mention it was someone else’s mailbox that the truck was precariously leaning against. Sigh.

Here’s how it went down (pun intended). Sherry was already at my sister’s house with Clara and Burger playing the waiting game until we could move into the new house. I had been dropped off at our old house to meet the buyers and their agent so they could do one last walk-through of our old casa before closing (apparently to make sure it was vacant and everything was still intact… can you taste the irony already?). The walk-through went fine and I was leaving right behind them in the giant truck packed full of all our worldly possessions when this happened (though they were already too far up the road to see it). I blame it on some combination of paying too close attention to keeping the front end of the truck from ending up in the ditch across the street, snow that was hiding the edge of the driveway, and general inexperience when it comes to driving a big ol’ truck.

At least that’s how I like to tell the story. Sherry prefers this phone conversation play-by-play:

JOHN: Hey Sherry. Walk-through went fine. They’re off to go close and I’m headed to the new house.

SHERRY: Okay, be very careful. It’s snowy out there so drive as slow as you need, even if people are honking at you. Just take your time.

JOHN: I will. Don’t worry.

SHERRY: Great. I just don’t want you ending up in a ditch or anything.

[HANG UP, SHERRY GOES TO PUT HER PHONE DOWN BUT IT IMMEDIATELY RINGS AGAIN.]

JOHN: Crap, the truck is in a ditch and I think I knocked over the mailbox.

SHERRY: You’re kidding right?

[END SCENE, FADE TO BLACK]


We can laugh about it now, but let’s just say it was definitely a disastrous moment in our heads at the time. We had visions of everything in the truck shattering and having to wait hours to be towed out (which would definitely have pissed off the new owners who would be back with the keys in about an hour after their closing). Fortunately none of that happened. Heck, the mailbox didn’t even fall over.

Once I got the truck towed out of the ditch (within about half an hour- which was truly miraculous in that storm with all the other car-riddled ditches to be attended to) I drove it about one mile an hour over to our new house. Then I called our house’s new owners’ agent and agreed to replace the mailbox post (which had cracked in the process). Between that and the tow truck charge to un-ditch the truck, the whole ordeal ended up costing us $185. Sucky? Yes. But it could have been so much worse (so far not one thing that we’ve unpacked has been broken- which is a total Christmas miracle because the back of the truck crashed down at least 18″ when it slipped off the driveway). We’re just happy it didn’t result in a cracked flatscreen TV, a delayed closing, an injury, or any other number of things that could have gone wrong. And it somehow made making it into our house later that day that much sweeter. Like we’d battled all sorts of insane and unexpected adversity, only to end up where we belonged by day’s end.

Plus, later that night I redeemed myself by surprising Sherry with this:

I snagged it on lunaCielo’s Etsy shop a few weeks ago (after hearing Sherry admire Courtney Cox’s small gold turtle necklace during Cougar Town). I though it made a great house-warming gift because it came with this note about the turtle’s symbolism: “The turtle’s whole life is one of steadfastness, effort, and patience. There is a saying, “Home is where the heart is” — the turtle is always at home within itself.” As we switch from one house to another, it’s a good reminder that our sense of home stays with us wherever we are.

And perhaps on this unlucky day, it was a good sign that even our ditch-bound truck itself was emblazoned with a giant turtle. Coincidence? You be the judge.

So that’s the story of Monday the 13th. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about what can happen when a case of the Mondays merges with that unlucky number…

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