I smell a rat.

Or squirrel, which technically takes longer to decompose, and would be culprit no. 1 as to why the dead stink in our basement hasn’t deteriorated yet.rat

When I was pregnant with Bryce, I would wander periodically into Tony’s office to chat, as wives are prone to do, to ask for help with Addie or to lie on the bed, stare at the wall, complain about swollen feet. One day my spider pregnancy senses detected an odd odor emanating from our crawlspace. I pointed it out to Tony, who couldn’t smell it, and brushed it off.

Well summer got hotter, and as dead things do, whatever it was kept rotting away in the crawlspace and wafting their deadness out into our basement.

Smelling super gross.

Eventually, after some prodding, Tony acknowledged that yes, something probably had died underneath, and agreed that it was time to do something about it. We got in there, grabbed some bodies, disposed of them, and pretty soon our home smelled back to normal.

A few good things came out of this: we got bodies out of our crawlspace (a great practice to keep up no matter where you live), and I got a great sense of what it smells like to putrefy.

We currently live in a rental home that I love for so many reasons. After a difficult experience of home ‘ownership’ (its hard to own something when you’re 200,000 underwater), I learned to love renting and all of the ease it affords. I think we’re pretty good tenants. Tony’s planted a pretty great garden, essentially hosting a farmers market for my girlfriends in the summer, who come over for wine and take home kale and cucumbers. We unclog our own toilets (apparently something not all renters do), and generally keep the place up quite nicely.

We experienced the perks of renting when our downstairs ceiling fell in because of a water leak. Our job to fix? No! That was a wild mess belonging only to the landlord. After a long stretch of construction in our downstairs bathroom, I thought, “Gee, I hope he never has to tear the ceiling out again… while we live here.” All looked good until…the dead smell came back, which I am now an expert at identifying. Because all bodies (except those who eat daily at McDonalds) eventually decompose, its only a matter of time before the business is finished and you’re just left with a skeleton, but because our smell has been going on for about two months, it got us thinking that something much larger has gone to take a ‘dirt nap’, though not in the dirt just yet.

One day we called our landlord, who came over and verified that the only way he could get rid of the smell would be to tear out the ceiling once more. We actually really like our landlord, so neither Tony or I had the desire to put him through that terrible project again. We can live with the smell until it eventually goes away.

I remember being really freaked out when this happened the first time. “Things DIE in here?! And then just rot?!” This is just something that happens? When you think about it, it totally makes sense. Theres no way to keep everything out of your house, walls, your crawlspace. I think the most you can hope for is that it isn’t in a difficult place to get (like in your bathroom ceiling), so you could dispose of it before the stench really starts to bug you.

The other evening Tony and I sat down in the living room, and I felt like I had a quarter life crisis (32 is still mostly a quarter…) all over him. I have some dead rats and I think I ignored the smell for too long. I really miss being a school counselor. I worked so hard for a long time, and I love working with students. I want to use those skills again.

Parenting well is really hard sometimes. Discipline is really hard. Figuring out your kid, what works for them? What doesn’t?

(I think) we’re buying a house, assuming all the little pieces fall together, but it a process that is mostly out of my control, and thats rough for me.

And the pressure is starting to build up.

And I wonder what can keep the vermin from piling up. There is no way to stop them from getting in, because life happens, and it can be stressful, and its not always fun. But you can only ignore stink for so long. For me, it reveals itself through a crummy spiritual life. Impatience with my kids or my husband. A little extra road rage. And the smell is this litmus test for whats really going on inside.

I haven’t had any huge epiphanies, except to say that I realize how much I need to process more during times when there is a lot going on, and thats when its so hard to do so. When you start to see ugliness coming out of you, thats the most difficult time to stop and make changes. When you finally start to smell the rats, that means they’ve died, and something has to be done, but thats the last thing you want to do at the moment. I’d rather run away and sit on a beach with Tony, but I don’t have the babysitters or the airfare.

What I need is to get up early with a strong cup of black coffee and time with God. A good conversation with my mom, a friend, or Tony help. To go to the Y. Have a nice beer and then good conversations help too. I need it all. And I need to do it more, instead of letting it all pile up. Because when it boils down to it I can’t get enough of my kids. They’re fantastic and hilarious and wonderful. So is Tony. So is getting a house. I’ll figure out the work stuff. Everything is too great to get pinned down in the muck…its just that everyone needs a good crawlspace clean once in a while.

 

 

 

 

Content to Rent

Its hard not to feel totally caught when the lady who lives in the home you’re taking pictures of walks outside and asks, “Are you taking pictures of my house?” Um, yes? I then responded, “Oh yes, but I’m not creepy.” What Katie? For those of you know me well, you wouldn’t be surprised that I then proceeded to explain why I was taking the picture, and talked waayyy too much, and probably did come off creepy.

Big sigh.

Well, heres the house. (By the way, look closely at the garage in the photo. You can see the lady with her arms crossed, watching me take pictures of her house. I didn’t notice that until I put the picture on my computer)

So, this is where its all been coming from. I’ve been having an internal scuffle with myself lately, and an afternoon walk with my daughter gave me a lot of time to think about it. Some of you know the story of our living situation in the past year, its takes too much emotional energy to explain it all, so I’ll defer to The Nester. (She’s explaining her sentiments surrounding their rental journey).

…at times with discouragement and disdain and a sense of hopelessness. Every day of feeling like a second class citizen, like dorks, like kids because we rent has been worth it because of this space right here on the internet. I had no idea that those days of discontentment were my education on how to find contentment…{full post here }

Reading her post was therapeutic for me. I love blogs, mostly for transparency they offer. I always feel ministered to when someone opens up to me with their life, their story, where they’ve walked and how they’ve gotten to where they are. Sometimes it helps to normalize how I feel, and sometimes it just helps to hear what others have gone through. However, those conversations are rare. We’re all so private sometimes its exhausting. Ah, another post for another day.

My struggle lately has been this: I love the house we live in, but I deeply want to feel settled in a place. I look around sometimes when I’m home and its sad because I know that sooner or later, I will need to pack up this house and go to somewhere different. The memories Addie and Tony and I create here will need to be transferred somewhere else, and thats alright, but its rough sometimes. I’ve been wanting to expand our family lately….but I also want to feel settled in. I don’t think I can have both right now. We were at a house this weekend that felt so much a like a home…with each room having its own special touches, which is something that becomes added over timethose things take time. Those special touches and long stays in one place are something I want for my daughter.

So back to my intrusive google earthesque picture taking. I walked by this home on my walk and fell in love. My photo does not capture everything I could see, but I wanted to remember it, to keep it locked away. So I took a picture. And had a hard time explaining all of this to the woman in the garage watching me, who bolted so quickly towards me that I would have thought she was a bull and I was waving a red sheet. I looked at this house and the soft lights and people inside and felt homey, it looked warm. I thought about what I want for Tony and Addie and our (hopefully!) other kiddos by then.

And when I talk about looking in someones windows and photographing it, it actually does sound kind of weird.

I do know its not the physical structure that creates that warm feeling inside a house. I know its the people inside of it that make it feel like something you want to settle in and cozy up to. But I also know that its been difficult, to move in and be treated differently because you rent (it happens! believe you me it happens). I often want to tell our neighbors that we did own a place before, and then I realize that I don’t need to explain myself…but I still want to. Thats the hard part.

This struggle in contentment, its real. And its something I’m having a hard time with right now. Though I’m lucky enough to know that its not the situation that has to change, its me. I also know that usually I like to have a clean, wrapped up, cute ending to my blogs, showing you the conclusion I came to or delivering a punchline to a funny joke…but I think this one is scattered and messy, like me right now. Ah, its hard to be okay with that.

 

 

 

 

 

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