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2 years ago

1146 words

Photo: Ursa Minor with a hammer in his hands and a rock to smash. What could possibly go wrong? lol Now don’t go callin’ the gov’ment on me: there were three adults in the room supervising and, as you can see, he was wearing appropriate safety gear!


We are back in Massachusetts and (indoor) Christmas has been put away. The laundry has been (mostly) done and put away. The playroom had to be moved around so as to accommodate the onslaught of new additions. The Husband and I spent all day making it happen. It was vital to me that the living room get back to normal, as the Christmas Tree had significantly eaten the square footage of the space and it was driving me bonkers. When the living room isn’t an open space, it feels like everything is wrong with the house.

Readers may recall that last year, we took down Christmas and then shut down the playroom (read: 3-season porch) for the winter to save money on electricity/heat. The playroom gets cold, too cold. Furthermore, the glorious windows that make the room bright and sunny in the summer time make it scary for the boys to play in there at night. “It’s so dark,” Major complains. “Yeah, it’s spooky,” Minor adds. So… we added curtains today to help block out the darkness and perk up the light. I think I’m going to buy a floor lamp or something tomorrow to supplement. The big question? Should we purchase a different space heater to keep the space warm? We are currently using this radiator-type heater that takes hours to get warm. I would like to move to something different, like this larger “stove” heater. They both have the same wattage, though… so that means the result will be the same? Do any of ya’ll know anything about this? I’ve only ever had the radiator heater.

Why all the fuss? Especially while trying to get back into the swing of things before going back to school and work?

One of the things The Husband and I talked about while we were gone is the sneaking suspicion that our house is maybe too small for us. Maybe.

Longtime readers who were with me for the entire saga of buying this house have probably fallen out of their chairs, thrown their computer out the room, or laughing loud enough for their neighbors to hear. It’s an incredible conclusion, I know… but when all of the toys are in this living room and the boys want to wrestle and all I want to do is sit and knit in front of the television… our square footage feels like it’s 10 times smaller than it actually is. It certainly doesn’t help that my mom lives in a bonafide McMansion complete with 3 levels of ridiculous square footage and, while considerably more modest, my in-laws have a house spacious enough for us all to be in there without feeling like we were on top of each other.

And yes, I know that there are a lot of families that raise more children in less square footage than what I have. Believe it or not, four children were raised in this house and grandma lived here, too!

There is also the question about expansion… family expansion… like, are we done having children? Should we maybe get a pet? Adding either of those will make it feel like the house is bursting at the seams, especially in the winter months when we close the playroom. We’ve done our best to make every square inch of this house functional and we’ve even had a few contractors come over here to help us come up with ways to expand the house and give us more space. Making the barn a functional space would be especially helpful. You know how much that would cost? $68,000. And that’s just to stop it from deteriorating. That’s not to actually make it what we need: a garage, an office, or a place for guests (probably without a bathroom because of the septic).

Just in case you’re wondering: no. We don’t have that kind of money. And if we did… let’s just dream sweet dreams for a moment… we think that sinking it into the barn is a bad idea. Don’t even ask me what we’re going to do about that structure… I just don’t know. If only foxes could magically become carpenters…

I spoke with my mother about this while standing in her kitchen, chopping at her cutting board preparing for a dinner party. She crossed her arms and sipped her wine before simply saying with a shrug, “sometimes you just have to move. This isn’t the last house you’ll ever own, right? Once you start talking about $70,000 worth of improvements, you’re talking about a whole new house.”

She wasn’t there for the insanity that was the purchase of this property and getting it ready for us to live in! And she certainly wasn’t there for the logistics of moving with two babies! The fact that The Husband and I survived that not once, but twice, is a miracle! We can’t “just” move! I don’t want to “just” move. This house is too perfect to simply leave.

I told my husband what my mother said (bad idea) and he shook his head and scowled. “I’ve never seen your mother be sentimental about anything. Anything.”


So, we’re fighting to keep our porch warm. I can’t tell if this is frivolous at best, a huge waste of money at worst.  We can’t do the necessary work of insulating the roof and the space underneath it until the spring. The heater can handle it on these 30 degree days, but what about those 19 degree days that are coming up mighty soon? I don’t know, Dear Reader… I’m all ears if any of ya’ll have suggestions.

Here is what I do know: it’s good to be back and sleeping in my own bed and drinking my own good coffee. The radiators actually woke me up this morning. The clanking and hissing startled me, but then the sweetness filled the air and it felt really good. Even right. It felt like, yes, this is home and it’s good to be here. Little boys head back to school tomorrow, The Husband heads off to work, and I’ve got freelancing to do. It’s a short week, but there is more than enough that needs to be accomplished!

And, for what it’s worth, Happy New Year, Dear Reader! I’m here for you this 2017. I’m here for community and getting through whatever is coming together. Let’s lock arms, work hard, help others, and bring our best selves to the challenges ahead.

Until Wednesday, take care.

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A resulting geode. Both boys were very proud of all the crystals they found after smashing their rocks. 

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4 Replies to “A Winter Strategy”

  1. Not entirely sure of the architecture of the porch, could bales of straw be shoved underneath? I’ve seen this done with older homes around here.
    And it’s not fancy, but that shrink-wrap plastic could be put up around the windows.
    Doesn’t amend the ceiling, though…
    I suppose considering moving is a nice sort of pickle to be in. Although moving is indeed a whole lot of work.
    I suppose it could hurt to look around while at the same time looking into what it would cost to super-insulate or reconstruct the porch to make it so that it’s cozy for year-round living.
    (If it does get reconstructed, radiant floor heat is a glorious way to go. I happened to work on a job many years ago in a renovation of a kitchen that had been added onto the existing structure & not-well-insulated.)

    Would it be nuts to try for a go-fund-me sort of thing to renovate the barn?
    I’ll stop now.

    1. I like your suggestion about the straw! We need to get some anyway–we didn’t know you’re supposed to cover your strawberries over winter… so we’re going to get some for that. I’ll talk to The Husband about getting extra to put under the porch. That might actually be a pretty elegant solution to our problem. 🙂

      The ceiling… augh. The Husband is talking about making a whole in the master bedroom and then stuffing the porch ceiling with newspaper or something (that is essentially what the house was insulated with 2 years ago. Many, many little strips of newspaper). But that won’t be done until the spring.

      I really don’t want to go through the process of moving again. Even looking at houses would make me dry heave. It was such a crazy thing. You were there! Remember? That was miserable from top to bottom. I would rather stay in this house until the apocalypse than go through that process again.

      I would have a hard time asking for other people’s money via a go-fund-me when no one else would get any benefit from it. It’s just our little barn for us… nobody else gains by investing in it. We are petitioning for some historical society money because it’s so old and we’d like to preserve it. Still, there is no public interest in keeping the barn from deteriorating, so we probably won’t get anything for it. 🙁 It would be cheaper to knock it down a build an entirely new structure. Isn’t that crazy?

      1. It IS so crazy about barns.
        For real if I were a philanthropist, one of my things would be barn preservation. It could employ people who are builders & carpenters to train up younger people & especially people who have been marginalized in such trades. (women, p.o.c., formerly incarcerated, etc.)
        That way, barns could be preserved, as well as a valuable skill.
        What if the barn was your office?
        Composting toilet? Tax write off?
        I totally get it about asking for money, and I hope it comes through w the historical aspect.

        Omigoodness I SO know that moving would cause that sort of revulsion. It’s such a drag.
        As for the insulation, I mean if newspaper is gonna get shoved in there, what about something w a bit higher R-value?
        There’s a company out this way called Snug Planet. Maybe they could be of benefit?
        Another is Taitem engineering.
        They are all about energy savings & the like.
        Maybe there’s a place out by you of a similar sort.
        I hope the strawberries make it through the winter.
        If not, it’s okay. More plugs can be put in and you’ll be ready for next season!!!
        There’s always so much to learn with gardening.
        Let me know if you need or want more flower seeds!
        I have plenty from years past.
        Need to share them out & grow a new batch of seedstock.

  2. Is the current house big enough for another child? I watched HGTV all day yesterday and on Love it Or List It and people made renovations to their house in hopes of either loving it or listing it and making it more affordable. Maybe ya’ll can do that. Moving sucks, no doubt but if you love your house, just consider making renovations slowly.

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