Friday, December 31, 2010

A Visit from a Friend


We love and miss our friends in Columbia. That's why we're thrilled when we get the chance to see them here or there. Yesterday, Sophia was giddy with excitement to welcome her "best friend" Ava. She couldn't wait to show her everything in our apartment and play princess with her. The dresses that have been away since we moved came out first thing.

It was so much fun to watch them pick up with ease and enjoy each other's company as they always have.

I didn't jump up and down and make Erica wear my clothes, but I was excited to see her too. Friends are precious.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Come and Gone

It's hard to believe that I am sitting here looking at an apartment without anything Christmasy. We only had a week or two here before we set it all up, so it looks a little bare without the festive decoration.

We had a truly memorable Christmas. Our time at my grandma's house was fun and the traveling was easy. Christmas itself was a whirlwind of celebration from our house to Grandmary's to David and Casey's with the rest of our family. An after-Christmas treat came our way with the visit of our former neighbors, Aaron and Jenny, who are currently in Santa Monica.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that Christmas was fun. Sophia did great considering nearly a week of gifts and sugar and low expectations from us. We are finally getting her back to an understanding of what "normal" life is again.

This was the first time that I had returned to St. Louis and looked forward to getting back to our little apartment. Back to the radiators and the small kitchen. There's just something about being away from home that really does help the heart grow fonder.

Now we are ready to plow ahead. Sophia starts school next week. Erick and I start a couple of new commitments: eating better and exercising. Now that the holidays are past, we'll start looking around for a church, and we'll start making time to reach out to people we know and people we meet here in St. Louis. It will be a different start than we have known before, but there is a thrill in the freshness of it.

I hope that everyone has had a peaceful and relaxing holiday season so far. Maybe I'll have some more to say about the new year. If not, good luck to all of us on not biting off more than we can chew in the new year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010



Just a little something for your viewing pleasure. Sophia and I went for a walk around our neighborhood the other day. I have been so impressed by the architecture and character of the apartment buildings around us. This is just an example of one of the doors up the street from us.

I would love to hear the stories of the people who have, at one time or another, lived behind this beautiful green door. I'm sure you'll be seeing more of my neighborhood as time goes along.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


We have a busy few days ahead - traveling to Columbia to celebrate Christmas with our families. I'm looking forward to it immensely.

Even with moving and things being different, I have enjoyed this holiday season even more than I normally do. It's a little ironic, I think. Normally, the schedule is packed so tightly with Christmas parties and people that we never quite manage to rest and soak in the wonder of the season. This season our schedule is just a smidge more open. I have felt an enormous amount of freedom to just be in the spirit! Sophia and I talk constantly about Christmas - what we're giving people, what we're making and why we Christians think it's a pretty big deal.

I am not a bastion of focus, so I always suspected that I may get distracted from the holiday by the celebration. That is now confirmed. I can't say that I prefer this. As a matter of fact, I miss being too busy to see straight. I'm just saying. I've learned my lesson. Next year, let's get back to the parties!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Magic House Membership

We have been to the Magic House, here in St. Louis, several times. Last week was our first visit since the move. For that matter, we have done surprisingly little in the kid amenity category since arriving.

In the past, we have never come with friends, so I didn't think this would be any different. I think since Sophia has been the only kid around for a while, she was much more interested in what other kids around were doing. She would nonchalantly walk up to kids and start playing with them. It went pretty well, but she's new at this friend-making thing, too, so she tired pretty quickly of doing what someone else wanted. It was just interesting to watch her mind working when other kids came around. Basically deciding if it was worth the effort. I imagine my face looked pretty similar as the moms approached...

Anywho, we did have a very good time. Sophia served pizza to the parents in the pizza kitchen.

She birthed and named babies. You'll notice one of her temporary friends in the background.

She had two favorite spots. One is her normal favorite. There is a quiet little nook in the loud and busy Magic House. A gable filled with books and tea things. This is her old favorite.

Her new favorite is the opposite. It's loud and bright. But she is on screen, and as she dances to tunes from The Nutcracker Ballet, the lights follow her movements making delightful patterns and scenes. It took her a while to leave this room.

At the end of the day, we became members. During the holidays, they are giving out gift baskets to new members. Sophia is a very good gift-getter.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Feeling Crafty

Maybe it's the holidays. Maybe it's helpful to keep busy. Who knows exactly how these things happen. I only know that craftiness seems to be going around.

My sister-in-law, Casey, has got the craft bug pretty seriously. She's a knitting fiend. Yesterday at my grandparents' home, I was the beneficiary of a heaping of that fiendishness. Look at this beautiful scarf! It's perfect, and I will wear it with pride, boasting of Casey's talent and taste. Assuming a stranger will ask me about it...


I have a slightly less ambitious version of craftiness, brought about mostly for a desire to have color and life on my walls and a lack of funds to make that happen professionally. Here is an example of some artwork, carefully crafted by yours truly. I'm actually quite pleased with the way this turned out. Don't worry, I don't fancy myself an artiste. But I will be filling my walls with my handiwork, especially while Hobby Lobby has their paint and canvas on sale!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Fam

On Thursday, Erick mentioned that the forecast had snow in it for the weekend. Since that admission, Sophia has been relentless about how many days until snow. I was almost certain this would be a wrong guess by the weather predictors, and we'd have to stall this "first real snow" business another week or two.

I was wrong. They were right. We woke up this morning to a lovely blanket - well, maybe more of a throw - of the beautiful white stuff. I really nearly forgot how much I love the snow. I'm one of those people who always thinks there was more snow when I was a kid. How do I have so many great memories of sledding and snowmen if it snowed as rarely as it seems like it does now? Well, I guess that's beside the point.

Sophia loves the snow, too, and I'm so glad! This wasn't the greatest snow for snowballs and snowmen...


But it is perfect for sledding. So we bundled up and walked down the block to the campus of Concordia Seminary, which happens to have several perfect sledding hills, and they don't even lead into the street!


You can see the joy on my face, I think.


After a few trips down the hill for all of us (and dragging the sled plus Sophia back up...), I became the object of a surprise attack.


The powdery snowballs made for a brief fight, followed by a photo op. Sophia kept calling us Snow Daddy and Snow Mama. I could live with that.


One last trip down the hill with the snow baby and we called it a morning. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can talk them into Round 2 here in a bit.


Thursday, December 9, 2010


I thought this would be the week that I started focusing more on the new world than the old, but it turns out the old one wasn't finished with me yet.

Remember a long while back when I shared a lot about my ideas on grief? We're right back to that. With all the busyness and distraction of the actual move and settling in, not to mention visiting the old world a couple of times, I realize now that I had managed to feel the minimal amount of loss associated with this life twist. (I'm still searching for the proper term to describe what just happened as "move" and "change" don't seem to fully embody the situation.) I still had plenty of feeling, but it was just a pressure release of the feelings beneath.

This week, I have slowed down. There is little or nothing to do to continue the settling process. I knew I was stalling in putting up those pictures, but I didn't realize I was stalling the grief.

But here I am, looking out at a view that I genuinely appreciate. The animals were placed strategically by Sophia. In a room that is warm and feels like home. With a girl playing quietly with her animals on and around me. And here it is. Loss. Grief. Confusion. Hope? Yes. I've got it all. With a stuffed nose and a clogged ear. There is no point in describing what I feel here. You have all felt it at one point or another. A sudden recollection of an unfulfilled dream. A sweet memory of a moment impossible to recapture. Eyes filling with tears for no reason in particular.

It's going to be a long winter. Strap in. I'll try not to drag us all down. There is plenty to share that is beautiful and funny and exciting. I'll let you in on all of that too. But I have to be real. I'm homesick. For my sick neighbors, for my healthy neighbors, for my friends, for my church, for the gym I haven't been to in months, for Sophia's preschool, for Hy-Vee and my stove and my back porch. To name a few. Okay. I feel better. Here's photographic evidence that I feel better. Sophia took this for you.

Hope I didn't make you feel worse.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

True Enough

I have been a bit worn down these past few days, finally giving in to the cough that has been trying to claim me since we moved here. Fortunately for Sophia, she does a relatively good job of entertaining herself.

We have both worn pj's for days now. As soon as she got her clothes on today, she felt like dancing. So I cranked up the tunes and she broke it down. She's been working on her moves.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The "Real" World

We have been in our apartment for nearly three weeks! It seems impossible that it's been that long, but it's true. When Sophia talks about all the changes, she still refers to Columbia as "our real world" and the house we sold as "our real house." She is getting more used to the apartment and her room, but the rest of our existence is a bit surreal.

In that three weeks, Sophia and I have driven back to Columbia twice. One time just a quick trip to clean the house. Two days ago, we were there for 24 hours, visiting church, seeing friends and hanging out with the family in our old neighborhood. It's great to stay connected to our friends in Columbia, working toward acknowledging a new state of normal together. It is always hard to leave after a visit, but the quiet trip home provides a great opportunity to reflect on our rich past and look forward to a future, hopefully still rich with friends old and new.

I think this week will be the week I start thinking more about the new world than the old world. We'll see how that goes. I finally tackled a big stack of pictures and decorations that I had been stalling on. It will be fun to get the rest of our personal touches up and around us.

Sophia and I may work to find a library this week. The other thing that will help us feel at home is to cook at home more. We've been eating out more than normal, so it's easy to forget that we're not on an extended vacation.

I look forward to the task ahead. Making a life for ourselves and learning how to incorporate comfortable alongside the not-yet-broken-in, the proven with the risky. It will be an interesting journey. I'm glad that I'll have all of you to share it with!

School Picture

I just love Sophia's school picture. Johnson Photography came to Little One's Day Out a month or so ago and took pictures of all the kids. They also do family portraits if you choose. Sophia calls this her "real smile."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Flavor of Snow

It really is true. Snow tastes delicious. On Thanksgiving Day, we had a brief and exciting little snow storm. We got out and ran around in it. Sophia required our participation in running up and down the street with our tongues out. The rest of us decided to keep our eyes open, but Sophia thought she got better results with her head completely back. Of course, when she put her head completely back, the snow got in her eyes if they weren't closed... Lucky for Grandmary, she was here to participate in the spectacle.

Now we're all hoping for some snow to test out a great hill just a block from our apartment.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


So I have a nasty cough and I can't breathe through my nose. Plus, the temperature just dropped to actual winter temps. Booooo! I am not at all in favor of this development, but I will meet it. Just checking in. I'll write more when the fog clears. Hopefully in less than 24 hours.

Sicky out.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Tour

When we first realized that a St. Louis move was inevitable, we began to think about where we wanted to live. At first, we thought we would embrace the completely urban lifestyle of a downtown apartment. We looked online at lofts downtown on Broadway and around Washington Avenue. Those were great places, but once we visited the one on Broadway, we realized that it wouldn't suit the needs of our family. We wanted more of a neighborhood feel. More walking options and hopefully a kid-friendly environment.

We ended up driving through and falling in love with the Clayton/DeMun neighborhood. It's just off Skinker, West of Forest Park. We began making phone calls and looking online specifically at apartments in this area. It seemed like in order to get into the area, we'd have to settle for a two bedroom apartment. I was willing to do it if it would be a better place for all of us (especially Sophia). Then we stumbled upon an apartment in our price range with three bedrooms, hardwood floors, and nearly as much space as our house!

Our neighborhood is everything we hoped. Just a block or two from restaurants, a coffee shop and several great parks! Sophia loves it, as you could see from a previous post.

We're on the second floor, with three grad students above us and three student below us. Sophia is dying for some kids, so I'm hopeful that a park visit will one day turn up some friends for her.

It was quite a process to go from empty...

to full...

to livable...

I have been so amazed and pleased at how well our things seem to fit and help us feel at home in our new place.

We have more wall space in the apartment than we did in our house, so I get to exercise my decorating muscles a little bit. Good times are ahead. I'll let you know how that goes.

There have been some things to get used to in our apartment. The building went up in the late 1920's, so, along with the character and cool factor, we are discovering some quirks. We've never had radiated heat before. I like it, but it's a change.

If I could change one thing about the apartment, it would probably be the kitchen. It's not as much a nemesis as I originally thought, but it's an adjustment for sure. Few cabinets, the washer/dryer stacked in the corner, the original gas oven (well, I don't know that for a fact, but it sounds about right) all add up to a challenge. One that I'm willing to attack on account of the awesomeness of the rest of our place.

This is our place. I am feeling at home inside these walls. You're welcome to come see it for yourself at any time!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has had a lovely holiday today, celebrating and eating, eating and resting. That's what we've done. Lots of fun and relaxation. As I type at a computer in a room full of windows, I am feeling very grateful for many things. I am thankful for this apartment. It is hours away from where I expected to be this Thanksgiving, but it is already starting to feel like home. I'm thankful for the heat and electricity that I sometimes take for granted. I am thankful for the many friends I have made who are willing to go through the pain in the ass of having a friend in St. Louis. I'm thankful for Skype. I love seeing the faces of my friends in Seattle and look forward to regularly seeing the faces that have made up the background of my recent life. I'm grateful that Erick has a job that pays enough for me to stay at home with Sophia. I am so thankful that Sophia is almost always a joy to be around. I'm thankful that Erick's job also pays enough for Sophia to go to preschool in the Spring. Family, friends, conveniences, my soul - these are all things that I am thanking God for today. The list is a lot longer than most attention spans, so I'll call it good.

I am thankful for words. Beautiful, ugly, powerful words. I am thankful for you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sophia in St. Louis

The easiest place to get started on the process of sharing our new life is to talk about how Sophia is making the move.

Last week, the big one, Sophia could not have been more perfect. She was low maintenance, easy-going, kind and quiet. All around a different kid. Fortunately, I have determined after just a day into this new week, I can tell you that was just a phase - a very kind, and well-timed phase. She's back with all the drama and opinion and words. More than ever, actually, as she tries to figure out what it means to be here, in St. Louis, for good.

It helps that Sophia loves her room. It's inviting and big. It serves as both her bedroom and her playroom. She was a little disappointed that her toys don't have their own kingdom in the apartment, but she's adjusted well.

The other big factor in easing Sophia's transition is the combination of great weather, a great park nearby and a new bike. On Timbers Court, Sophia could never control a bike - or any wheeled vehicle for that matter - but on Rosebury, she tools along like a pro.

This weekend, Sophia was thrilled to have my mom and dad visit. I was so happy for her to have people to give her undivided attention and listen to her chatter, as my attention has been minimal through the week. We did some fun stuff with Mom and Dad, including the Champagne Holiday Stroll in one of Clayton's business districts. Sophia found a turtle to keep her company.

Of course, it would be unreasonable of us to expect her (or any of us) to make this transition without a blow-up or two. We're working on helping her navigate the feelings and frustrations that come with the change.

Through all of this, every one of our conversations about the move ends with us having an exchange about how we are grateful to have each other. I really am. This girl makes my life interesting, that's for sure.

Surfacing for Air

It has been a whirlwind of events as we have made the transition from Columbia to St. Louis. Our address is Clayton, so we'll see if that's what I end up calling it. Anyway, I plan to post some pictures and regale you with some stories in the near future. We'll see how that works out.

Sorry for the empty space!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm crying again

I'm not going to try to describe all the things that I'm going to miss about Columbia. And by things, I mean people. Sure, I'll miss Booche's and Murry's and being here on home football weekends. I'll miss the feel of a small town with big city ideas. But more than all of Columbia put together, I'll miss my friends, my neighbors, my spiritual community. So I'm not going to even try to tell you about all the people that I will miss and why.

I miss them already. The rainy gray day with spots of red and orange is a perfect setting for how I feel. A sad and lonely atmosphere surrounding pockets of hope and positivity. I am so grateful for the people who have helped me to find who I am. The people who have loved me and stuck with me in spite of the challenges that being my friend inherently presents.

(Deleted positive paragraph because it was unnecessary to the day. We'll get to that later.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One Goodbye at a Time

Here's the thing. With my friends and neighbors/family, I have to prepare for a goodbye or a farewell or something of the sort, but at the same time, I am confident relationship will continue. It will be different, with much more time between face views, and not as awesome in many ways, but relationship will be there.

That's people. But with some things, there is no continued relationship. Like Sophia's preschool. Her first preschool experience was brief and stellar. I had my parent/teacher conference on Tuesday. "Sophia is the class social butterfly." "She is friends with all of the other kids." "Sophia is a great presence in our class because she encourages the other kids to participate." Those are obviously awesome things. I loved hearing that about my sweet girl. I just hated that we are taking her away from a place that recognizes and encourages those traits in her. Miss Katie is her teacher, and Sophia and I both adore Miss Katie. Sophia said that she would miss her most of all. I don't worry about Sophia making new friends. I hope beyond hope that we can manage to find a teacher who sees Sophia for who she is the way that Katie did.

At Sophia's last day today, she got lots of hugs from the other kids. They each made her a painting with sweet goodbyes, and Sophia assured them that she would miss them and be back after Christmas. Yep. We have talked a lot about finding a new school that she will start after Christmas. Apparently, she heard that she was going back to her school after Christmas. Damn.

So, on the way home from school, Sophia said, "That was a fun last day of school. I'll be back after Christmas, right?" I told her again that she'll go to a new school with a new teacher and friends after Christmas. "Oh. I told them I'd be back." Then she told me how much she would miss Miss Katie and that she wished they could always be together. Then she cried. Now, with Sophia, I'm used to tears. She has the dramatic gift to create them on a whim. But I could see the difference. These were tears of realization. They mixed with my tears of grief. Grief over the fact that no matter the greatness of Sophia's next preschool, it won't be the one that my friends send their kids to. It won't be the one that Aaron and William graduated from. It won't be the one where they already embrace her for exactly the tutu'd, bouncing, dramatic girl she is. Tears.

She's moved on for the moment. Currently living on the high from having been the center of the classroom for the day. Oh, she was all about that. I know that she'll be sad about it again. For now, we'll just take one goodbye at a time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


One of the coolest things that is happening in this house has nothing to do with moving. One day, Sophia decided she wanted to start writing her letters.

The amazing part - well, maybe not so amazing when you know her - is that I have been encouraging an interest in writing letters and numbers for months with nothing but a goofy face in response. One morning, she plops down at the table and asks, "How do I write my name?"

It's great fun helping her learn. I haven't had a chance to be a part of a big learning step like this of hers in a while. This is kind of the next big thing, and I'm so excited to share it with her. At the same time, the experience has reinforced my theory that I would be an awful teacher. I just don't know what I'm doing. I get frustrated that I can't show her in a way she understands, and she gets frustrated that she doesn't understand me. This goes on for a while, and then she just writes down the letter we're working on.

Anyway, it's been a lot of fun and a bit of stress. I'm very proud of her initiative in the process. I just hope I can match her enthusiasm.

After a bit of working hard on letters, one of her favorite ways to unwind is to make a mess with paint. That's what she's getting ready to do here. Not all children have to take a bath after they paint, but this one does.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One Week Down

For those of you unaware of the current happenings with house/job/move/anything else we can throw in there, here's where we're at.

Erick is in St. Louis, and I'm in Columbia. Fortunately, we don't have to stay like this for long. Erick had a full week away last week, and we all survived. I learned something important about myself. Four full days is my limit of hanging with a four-year-old. Friday was a little tenuous. Part of the problem was that Sophia only had school one day last week. We have corrected the problem, and she'll be attending preschool three days this week. That should alleviate some of the tension, so I'm a little more positive about our ability to make it to Erick's arrival on Friday afternoon.

Our house is under contract with a closing date of December 3rd. I hope that all holds with that. If so, it would be an amazingly quick and painless process, thanks in part to our dear friend and outstanding REALTOR, David Townsend. I can get you his contact information if you need it... I'm just saying.

Sophia and I move to St. Louis on Monday and Tuesday of NEXT WEEK! It's crazy to think that it's already here, but a very large part of me wishes it was already over. We're just fully entrenched in limbo here. No Erick. No permanence. I am looking forward to a week of lasts, which is good and painful at the same time. However, the truth is that most of my lasts happened the week before Erick left. My last Monday home alone...true, but I didn't have many of these to begin with. Anyway, it's a bit draining just to think about.

The biggest blessing of all the blessings that have gone into this move is that we are using Gaines Moving and Delivery, who is going to PACK and move us. That's right. I'm not packing this week. *Audible sigh of relief* This weekend, we'll get some things into the van and Jeep that might as well come with us, but for the most part, we are free of the burden. I can't tell you how very grateful I am for that particular little tidbit.

And on that, I will say goodnight.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


In all the madness that is moving, life in Columbia continues to roll on. One very fun example of that was Halloween weekend! I have never experienced a Halloween weekend more full of activity and candy. I am most grateful for the fact that Sophia isn't a big candy lover. Since amassing an entire pumpkin full of chocolatey and sugary treats, she has ingested only two or three treats. This makes me happy because she needs no help in being hyped and/or wired.

Our festivities started at Sophia's preschool on Thursday. They got to wear their costumes and march around the school.

It was very cute, and Sophia was insanely excited. She couldn't keep her feet on the ground at the same time, so she looked more like a jumping bean than a ladybug. Costume idea for next year? This is Sophia's friend and classmate Eden.

Friday night, Columbia's downtown hosted "Halloweenie," which I think is a spectacular name. Most of the stores were happy to offer sweets for Columbia's kiddos. This is our third year participating in the downtown trick-or-treating, but it was by far the craziest. I think because they made this year different than Halloween night, more people were available or something. It was packed and lots of fun. In the past, we've gone with our friends the Chandlers. Since they're in Seattle, they couldn't join us. However, Sophia was joined by Wolverine and Minnie Mouse, also known as Braeden and Sophia, and we had a lot of fun!

Saturday was a non-costume day, but Sunday we did the normal Hy-Vee trip and a cruise around the neighborhood. It was a great Halloween, and Sophia loved being a ladybug. It was a fitting costume for the flitting and buzzing girl that she is.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It begins...

It's here. Sophia and I are in Columbia for two more weeks, but this morning Erick set off to start his new job and set into motion our new life. It's been the day (one of them) that I've dreaded for a while now. This one holds more dread for me than the other days. We're still in limbo for the most part, but now we get to do it separately.

Erick was home all week last week, in between jobs. It was everything we hoped. Lots of family snuggling, laughing and playing. We didn't really talk very much, except for Sophia, of course. Erick and I have talked this thing to no end, so all that was left was...this. Getting it done.

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This is his view this morning. Mine is the same, except the girl in my view is missing her daddy and reminds me every so often. While I understand how short our actual separation will be, it wouldn't be helpful for me to point that out to Sophia. "Well, at least we'll see him on the weekend! Some families go over a year without a real hug!" That wouldn't help her any more than it makes it easier for me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Selling Our House

It's not news, I know. We're selling our house. Last week, we put it on the MLS with our friend and excellent REALTOR David Townsend. Since being relieved of the responsibility of actually selling the house, I feel more able to grieve the fact that it's happening. Not the move, in general. That's a different kind of grief. But the fact that we are selling this house.

I wasn't blogging when we moved in, so I can't just link to a post that tells you how we felt. I'll have to try to put it into words. We moved when I was six months pregnant. The week before we moved here, Erick and I went to Memphis for the weekend. It seemed like a good idea at the time. That's because at the time, we didn't know that I was a human water retention basin. Seriously, I swelled up that weekend in July and never returned to normal size until Sophia was here. There are advantages and disadvantages of moving while pregnant. The very obvious advantage is that I didn't move a damn thing. The disadvantage was that the huge deal of buying our first house was overshadowed (literally and figuratively) by my pregnancy. The room I was most excited about was the nursery.

I think that is a big part of the reason that selling this house is not easy. It's all part of the biggest change in our lives. We became homeowners and parents within months of each other. This was the weekend before she was born. Enormous, I know. I was only 34 weeks pregnant. I'm not kidding.

Her first everything was our first everything in this house. Here we are enjoying our first Thanksgiving. Apparently, it was a balmy day.

What I'm saying is that it's not going to be easy to leave this house. It feels like another old friend who has seen us through some tears and has been our playground on the chilly or rainy days of the past four years.

But, do you want it? 'Cause, really, you can have it. It's a good place to make a life.