Monday, March 26, 2012

The Next Phase

So my house was listed on Thursday last week & after an open house yesterday I've received two offers.  I'm bewildered & certainly ecstatic but now I'm also in a panic. I really didn't think that the house would sell that quickly (I know it's not a done deal but it really could be by later this week) & that we'd have more time to look for houses.  We were planning to look this upcoming weekend but now we're in high gear--later this evening, possibly Wednesday & then the weekend--if one of the offers goes under contract then we have to put an offer in too--YIKES!  It is exciting but on so many levels very scary. Here's my list of scary in no particular order: 
1) I've never sold a house before--so I really don't know what to expect. 
2) Packing in such a short amount of time & moving my entire household (granted, a lot is done because of getting the house de-cluttered, etc., but still....)
3) Leaving the only home that my son's really known
4) Buying a house with Xing Fu & moving our families together as well as our households
5) Taking a leap of faith that our relationship really is for the long haul

Gotta believe that it will all work out--wish us luck...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Finally, finally the house is done.  The photographer came by today & my realtor says that the house looks great & she's not worried at all about selling.  It also helps that a house up the street just went under contract--no direct competition now.  It has been a long journey to get this house ready & as I looked around when the photographer was snapping pictures, I just couldn't believe the transformation. Wow.  But now it is the beginning of another journey--one of people traipsing through my home, poking into closets, & picking apart all the little problems--I just hope that a nice family or a young couple who wants to start a family buys this house & begins to raise their family here like I did mine.  This entire process has been bittersweet--this is really the only home my son knows & it's where I've raised him--with his best friends up the street & around the corner--and mine too.  

It's bittersweet, more sweet than bitter, bitter than sweet
It's a bitter sweet, surrender
It's bittersweet, more sweet than bitter, bitter than sweet,
It's a bitter sweet, surrender

--Big Head Todd & The Monsters

On the other hand, a new & wonderful journey is beginning with a man & his own family that I couldn't have imagined when I started writing this blog.  He is my best friend & it is with him that I want to build my future.  It is exciting & scary all at once.  I've been on my own in this house for 7 years now...making my own decisions, choosing my own decorative touches, art, etc.,--bittersweet.   Now I have to negotiate & compromise--but I want to & that is all the difference.

This weekend was spent with last minute projects around the house--buying rugs, plants, mulch, & a new comforter set for my bed.  Xing Fu & my son planted a rhododendron bush & mulched the flower beds in the front of the house while I went shopping for rugs, etc.  On Sunday we relaxed, watched NCAA basketball--great SLU v. Michigan State game.  Later we watched The Descendents starring George Clooney.   I'd seen it earlier & wanted Xing Fu to see it because it reminded me a lot of his situation in some ways.  In the course of the movie, Clooney's character rebuilds his relationships with his daughters--one that was quite superficial up until he was forced to become their primary caretaker.  The death of the mother really was secondary to the quality relationships he builds with his daughters.  I wanted Xing Fu to see that through that loss, Clooney creates a much closer, & interactive connections with his girls--much what I see with Xing Fu & his girls.  Good can come from bad.  I hope that he sees that.  It is also bittersweet. 



Monday, March 19, 2012

That Old Black Hole

I put on my clothes like a body guard
I put the dogs on patrol in my own back yard
I don't wanna fight but I'm constantly ready
And I don't rock the boat, but it's always unsteady

There's an elephant in my head
And I tip toe around it
There are eggshells on the floor
Therefore I never touch the ground

It's like that old black hole,
No matter how you try,
You set out each day
Never to arrive

I got my eyes on the prize
But it looks just like a mystery
And it all goes by on the lonesome trail to victory
I'm drawing in the blinds, I got my own four walls
And the show really starts once the curtain falls

Take this thorn from my side
Fix this chip on my shoulder
Time is racing with the clock
And I ain't getting any older

It's like that old black hole,
No matter how you try.

It's like that old black hole,
No matter how you try.

It's like that old black hole,
No matter how you try,
You set out each day
Never to arrive
I put on my finest thread
And I wrap up my body tight
With the sun in my eyes
I step into the night

Like the mystery in the dark
Oh, it's just another kind of light

I don't expect you to believe me
But everything is alright
I don't make rules for a living
I don't do tricks for a dime

I was born on a good day,
Deaf, dumb and blind.
Who am I to tell the truth?
I don't even know what it is.

I don't know how to say it but I know that I can show you.
I don't know how to say it but I know that I can show you.

I tie my boots up tight
And I head straight for bed
There's a pistol and a crystal
Underneath my pillow

There's a tender heart
Inside that ugly armadillo
"These are tears of joy,"
Cried the weeping willow

There's a spirit in the air
And there ain't no way around it
I was not prepared to lose it
On the moment that I found it

It's like that old black hole,
No matter how you try.

It's like that old black hole,
No matter how you try.

It's like that old black hole,
No matter how you try,
You set out each day
Never to arrive
--Dr. Dog

Great concert on Saturday--this song carries a lot of meaning.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Bonus" Families

Worst case scenario
Not to leave any stone unturned as we merge our lives together, I am going to flip the channel from the house (which is overwhelming & stressful by itself) to our continued quest to "blend" our families.  I don't like the term blended family--I was looking on the internet and I found a few articles about moving in together with step-families.  One article called the families "Bonus" Families.  I like that.  Xing Fu's kids are a bonus--a positive addition to my smallish family--I get to be a stepmom to girls--I don't have girls.  I get an opportunity to be a "mom" to girls in my life--something I didn't think I'd ever experience as I believed that I had a boy & that was that.  And conversely, Xing Fu has the opportunity to be a "dad" to a boy--something he never figured on either.  Definitely a bonus.  

Anyway, what I've been reading has to do with successfully smooshing us into a new family unit when we'll all be under the same roof.  And in particular that same roof should be a new one.  Get a great start.  Instead of moving into his place or her place, find a new home.  This can be neutral territory and a fresh start for all.  This eliminates the problems caused by some of the family feeling eternally like "outsiders," and the "insiders" feeling like their territory is being invaded or encroached on.  The cost and trouble of getting into a neutral home might be substantial, but the benefits may be well worth it.

Check.  Got this covered.  In fact, Xing Fu & I signed our first official document together with the realtor last night.  Cool.  And also as a result of last night's meeting the "For Sale" sign goes up in front of the house on Friday.  Wow, I can't believe it is actually happening--it's one thing to have the contractor here working on the house but it's quite another to actually see the sign out front.

The next piece of advice seems to be not to expect that the process will be easy or happen overnight--I am truly learning that now. Don't expect the process of blending families to be easy.  The process is almost always one of the most challenging, frustrating, and heart-breaking experiences of your life.  Expect to go through phases with highs and lows, mistakes and successes, over a period of four to seven years.  Having your expectations too high might crush your resolve to hang in there when things get really hard. 

It has been pretty hard & it has had ups & downs & when you think things are hunk-dory between all of the family members--think again!  I just hope it doesn't take 7 years--everyone will be in college by then!  

And then there's the concerns about discipline & re-directing the kids:
Discipline your own children -- not your step children.  The older the children, the more important this guideline can be.  Work out and agree on some posted "house rules" to be applied to everyone in the home.  Do this in a family council (after you and your spouse have come to terms on the major issues).  Then make sure that you are the primary enforcer with your children, not with your step-children.  Xing Fu & I are already discussing these things & the house rules advice is HUGE--we recognize that even now.  

I find the next piece of advice also very helpful with regard to how one grows the relationship with their step-children:  Become a friend with your step-children.  Friendship should be your primary role with them -- something like a fun camp-counselor relationship.  Consider winking and smiling at them when they get away with something.  Give up completely on the idea of improving the discipline of your step-children.  It's a war you can never win.  Surrender now.  You can be a back-up and support to your spouse at times, but if you come across as more strict, or more consistent than their parent, you will lose.  If you are determined to be a positive influence the behavior of your step-children, keep it 100% positive.  I think we're getting there as well--it is bumpy at times but I see the progress.  

And finally, something that I know I've talked about before & am a firm believer in: Put your marriage first.  The greatest gift you can give your children is the lasting image and influence of a loving, committed, fun relationship between their parents.  Schedule a weekly date night away from the kids, and make it a priority!  Much of your daily communications will be about problems with the kids, but try to make date time a vacation from family problems -- a time to focus on enjoying each other.  Despite other failings in the family, if the children grow up wanting to have a marriage like yours, you've been a successful parent.  Okay, so we're not married but we are committed to one another & are in this for the long haul, hence buying the house.  And I wholeheartedly agree that modeling positive adult relationships goes a long way to helping children grow up to have their own--respect one another.  Show love. I think we're there.  Now to sell the house & hopefully quickly too.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Boxing Day

This weekend was all about finishing my house.  The general contractor is getting closer to the finish line & Xing Fu & I took Friday off to spend the weekend getting to my finish line--de-clutter, dump, & purge all of the 11 years of stuff accumulated.  The house looks nothing like it did about a month ago & it really is looking like a house that is ready to be listed for sale--which kinda blows my mind.  The end is in sight--we're on the home stretch & now this house thing feels more like a reality instead of a pipe dream--I think it really hit me when my BFF(A) came down to inspect the changes yesterday.  

We'd gone down into my wine cellar to look at all of my boxes--Xing Fu & I spent a lot of time boxing up all of my wine--well, only about half thus far--12 boxes & about 100 more bottles to go.  As BFF(A) & I looked around the cellar--the wine racks stacked & empty & all of the boxes neatly labelled with what was inside (PN=Pinot Noir, CdR=Cotes de Rhone, e.g.), & she said, "I can't believe that you're going to leave."  It's true--I've lived down the street & her family was one of the first we met in the neighborhood.  Our sons have gone to the same schools together since kindergarten & only pursued their own pathways this year by going to different private schools. We've spent so many summers having impromptu barbeques & crab feasts & driven our kids back & forth to dances.  It is going to be so strange not to be in the same neighborhood anymore. Same kinda feeling for BFF(J) too.  Her hubby remarked that it would be different when we move because our boys won't be 5 minutes from each other anymore--15 minutes to be exact.  Just dropping my son off at their house will take a little more planning now--I truly hope that it will not change things too much. On one hand, I am excited for the future & my life together with Xing Fu but on the other, I'm scared that my friendships (& my son's) with my BFFs will change significantly as well--will wine tasting Saturdays be as easy as they are now when I move?