Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Stopping to Smell the Roses

This is my little monkey, X. He's four and a half now. He's the sweetest little fellow but oh, my, what a wanderer. I'm thrilled he has a sense of curiousity and loves to explore, climb trees, check out every walkway, etc. I don't want to squash his need to explore which I find really difficult. He climbs trees! He wants to walk down alleys to 'check it out', he's not afraid to inspect spider webs in search of big spiders. It drives me crazy.

Our walk to school was starting to take forever. It's a 10 minute walk on my own but with X it was turning into 30+ minutes as he liked to dawdle, skip, check out bugs, etc. It was quickly becoming a chore for me and I hated it.

So instead of continuing to tell him to get a move on, we'd be late, etc. I thought it might be better if we made a game of it. We race from one spot to another and I time us. Or we have a dinosaur hunt along Finchley road. White trucks are T-rexes. There are safey zones, we have invisiblity shields that only charge when we run fast, and there are 'safety buses' (if  double decker bus drives by it blocks the dinosaurs sight). He LOVES it. This is his favorite game.

But then there are days he doesn't feel like playing. Those are the days we take a longer route to stop and smell the roses. There is one particular street that has rows and rows of beautiful roses the entire length. It's a mansion block and has dozens of rosebushes in all colours of the rainbow. They smell glorious.

My little man and I stop to smell the roses. He picks which one he wants - he takes a sniff (after checking for bugs - this is ME we're talking about here) and then he lets me know what it smells like. His favourite scents: apple juice, vanilla, oranges and lemons. He always picks a winner for me to take a sniff of. It takes a little longer, but it's so worth the nice time I have with him. He loves it, I love it, and he's gaining an appreciation of flowers. He knows that we do not pick the roses, we leave them for everyone to enjoy.

It reminds me of when I was pregant with Cate, back in Brooklyn, 7 years ago. I ran most mornings for years and in the spring and summer when the roses bloomed, I'd stop at one particular building in Carroll Gardens that had the most gorgeous roses. I always stopped to take whiff. They never disappointed. When I was heavily pregant with Cate and freshly on maternity leave to wait for her arrival, I would walk every morning with Fen just to get out and about. We'd go by that house and I'd smell the roses. One morning, when I was alone, I walked up and there was an elderly gentleman out cutting roses off one of the farther bushes inside the garden. Disappointed I couldn't take my daily sniff, I walked by. But he called me back and handed over a huge bouquet.

He said to me, "No one enjoys my roses more than you do. I've watched you come by here for years. You've never once picked a rose, just smelled them. I thought you'd like to take a few of them home with you for a change. I have a feeling you won't be able to make it back for a while."

I was so surprised, slightly embarrassed and delighted at the same time. He told me people often pick the roses, but rarely do people just admire them. It was one of the nicest things a stranger has ever done for me. I never saw him again, but I had a feeling he saw me enjoying his roses again for another two years before we moved.

Roses are my favorite flowers for scent. I really like peonies, freesia, and a bunch of other flowers, but nothing beats a rose. I'm glad that X agrees. We only have two and a half weeks of walk to nursery school together. I plan to relish my walks with my little man. This time means so much to me. In September he goes to big-boy school with his sister. I'll miss it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On the Move Again!

We moved again. I know. AGAIN! It's the sixth place we've called home in the last 4 1/2 years. It's a lot of moving.

Our last place was fraught with issues and I was never really happy with it but we stayed for three long years. The thought of moving was just so awful after our many moves. So we stuck it out. But there were big problems: the fridge door went wonky and hung down, not shutting right. We taped it shut for three weeks and complained mightily. After three weeks and having to throw more spoilt milk and food out than I care to admit, I sent a letter telling them they had until the end of the day to fix it or I'd buy a new one and take it out of the rent.

They sent a guy over, he fixed the hinge in five seconds flat and the fridge was fine again. THREE weeks it took.

But that wasn't even the big problem, that honour goes to the washer. We went without a washer for nine weeks. The stone that keeps it balanced broke not once, not twice, not even thrice! It broke FOUR times. They kept sending the same repair man to fix it. But then they sent the actual appliance repairman from the manufacturer who declared it faulty and unfixable. Then, three weeks later, after we had already moved out and were just cleaning and painting the empty flat, they brought a brand new machine.

Funny thing is, the machine had never even been used, straight out of the box new, it was. But in the outgoing inventory, it was listed as used and cleaned domestically! Ridiculous.

We had a mighty battle with the company on our exit. They wanted to charge us for so many things and we fought them tooth and nail. Just an injustice! After we moved, the owner wanted to know what the problem with the washer had been and we told her it was poor management of the flat. I'm really curious to know if she fired them.

Regardless, when we first thought of moving I really wanted to move, but I didn't want to move everything we own and unpack it again somewhere new. So when they sent the letter asking if we wanted to renew we said we would, without a pay rise or they had to fix a mulitude of issues.

They said no, get out. I was stunned at first. But then I was relieved. I had no choice. We HAD to move and I had to get a move on. I looked at 17 places within two weeks. The second place we looked at I put a bid on but we lost it because we couldn't move fast enough. I was so disapointed. Then we found another place. It was darling, had a great garden (communal), it was a bit expensive, had only one bathroom but was oozing charm. The people were all packed up and ready to move when I saw it the first time. We had to wait the weekend before I could take Fen back to see it. I was prepared to put in an offer and snap it up. But when we got there - it smelled musty and there was mould on a few of the walls - that was that. We said no and moved on.

Finally, I met with an agent who asked, "What is the dream?" I cannot afford my dreams, so I said my dream in reality is: "Two or three large bedrooms, large lounge, private outdoor space, two bathrooms, eat in kitchen in the neighbourhood we are in, high ceilings, charm and quiet at the same rate we're paying now."

Her response: "That's not going to happen."

Ah, but it did. I kept going back to the same listing on a website. The photos were awful. They showed a flat with lots and lots of boxes, stuff everywhere, only half the kitchen, the garden looked small and empty one of the bedrooms looked windowless and there was no mention of a second bathroom. But I was drawn to it. The kitchen and the lounge looked huge and appealing - if only all the junk was taken out. I called the agent and set up a time to look at it. I dragged Fen with me too.

The minute we walked in and saw the lounge - which was huge but had far too much furniture my heart began to sing. The master was huge, the second bedroom - really big with a massive window, the kitchen was downstairs and really big and modern with separate washer and dyer! 2 fridges and a freezer! tons of storage and miles of counterspace. I could have a coffee station! I started to imagine me lounging with a new Nespresso machine latte.

There is a second bathroom, and the outdoors is just big enough - room for the kids, bbq, table and chairs, a paddling pool and loads of room to garden. We have tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, herbs and more growing out there now.

I was so excited we put a bid in immediately - for the same rent as the last place. This place was much bigger, much nicer, in considerably better condition and have private outdoor space. The bid was accepted! We took the kids over that afternoon so they could see it (and I could go down my list of things I wanted fixed or measured).

It was very exciting. We moved six weeks ago and we're unpacked, I have a Nespresso and I have not one, but TWO work stations. I'm so very, very happy. So happy I won't complain about the tiny little vampire who lives upstairs who apparantly owns a pogo stick and never sleep. Why ruin it?

Here's a wee spot of joy for you: two little chickens in the pool: