This ol’ house


I stopped working at CAI (Computer Aid, Inc.) about mid-July. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…

Wow life has changed. In the last post I mentioned that Susanne and I bought a house and sold another. Our new house is in Newark, and that’s is fine. It’s a fair sight better than Wilmington at the moment, no doubt about that. I’ve grown to like Newark. When Janie and I bought in Wilmington, all I wanted was city living. Newark was boring, I thought, there’s nothing to do, blah, blah, blah. Now the suburbs aren’t so unappealing. And the house’s location is brilliant. On the other side of our back yard fence sits a Vietnamese restaurant. The smell is so fantastic… We’re close to everything we could need (shopping, hospital, bank… did I mention there’s a Vietnamese restaurant just over our fence??).

The day after we closed on this house, I put in my two week’s notice. Some time back, I enrolled in a master’s degree (Masters in Social Work). I begin the week after next. I have my books, I’m doing everything online… I’m motivated, stoked, ready… and kinda frightened. But that’s the way it goes. It’s a big step – I’ve pogoed around the world and career-wise for all of my life. This is something that engages my interests and will rope in my life experience – the whole field of mental health and wellbeing. Having benefitted so much from the many counselors and therapists I’ve come across over the years, especially since Janie’s death, I decided that’s the field for me. So I’m stoked. Pumped. Fired up. Shit scared.

Susanne has taken on the burden of full-time earner for our family. I’ll be Mr. Mom for a while. I’ve done it before so it’s something I’m comfortable with. Two years from now I’ll be licensed and working in the field of mental health.

But back to the whole quitting CAI thing… the day after we closed on our home, I went into work and did what I’d wanted to do ever since about two weeks after I started there – and that is to put in my two week’s notice. Don’t get me wrong – it was the right job for me at the place I was in life. I was recovering from Janie’s loss still. My first foray into the working world after getting back to the US in 2012 was a sales-heavy environment, and I about caved in on myself. So CAI, while pretty boring, gave me a chance to work on me, to take it easy and do something that was not difficult and make okay money off of it. It’s safe to say I’m not Mr. IT Know-it-all, for sure. Not my field. But that’s okay. It was a grace from God that the gig came along when it did. It served me well but I am very glad to not work there any longer.

After leaving there, I got to work on my new, not-for-pay job: refurbing a very neglected house. I’m not Bob Villa. I can barely use a Philip’s head. That being said, I know how to use a paintbrush and a roller, and I can say today that this house is now painted. I painted the last thing I’m going to paint for some time today (the hall bathroom and our little en suite). I had lots of help – friends from church (eternal thanks to the Keiths Coulter and Miller, Ben Meeder and Cal Beene), family (my dad-in-law Bill Caraher), my big brothers Tom (who hates sanding but is way handy with a mower) and Randy (mover extraordinaire) and especially my dad, who spent most days with me at the house either painting or sanding or moving things in.

The former owners color palette was not to our taste, to put it kindly. Everything was dark – the walls were this German mustard yellow, there was lots of umber and yellow ochre, forest green on the walls. The one bathroom was painted a glossy chocolate brown, on the walls and ceiling, no less. What is to be Sean’s room was painted orange – also walls and ceiling. All the paint was glossy, and to prep said walls I took to sanding just about every painted surface in the house. Have a look-see below:

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It was pretty dark, basically. Now it looks like this:

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The floors in the above pictures had been stripped but not refinished. They are now done and shine like a bowling lane. All-new appliances were purchased and delivered (if not all installed, isn’t that right dishwasher?). The last big thing left is to have the new HVAC installed. We had all the ducts cleaned out (it was pretty rough in there) and the man is coming tonight to begin putting the system in. We are close, very close. Sean’s room needs some kind of floor – we’re working on that. Ceiling fans still need to be installed, little odds and ends like that (fixtures, new tub liner in the bathroom, etc.) but we were almost set to move in.

All this and next week we’re off to the Outer Banks! So it’s been a mad dash. But, somehow, we got it almost all done. Pretty darned skippy if you ask me.

I’ve really loved this transition period. I went from being sedentary in the extreme (the nature of my previous gig) to being on my feet and exerting myself every day. I’ve dropped 20 pounds in the span of six or eight weeks, which is a lot of weight for a guy who doesn’t do the diet thing. I still could stand to lose another 50 lbs., but hey, it’s a start.

The best part of this new gig has been this, though:


I’d work every morning at the house and come back and take Savanna for a walk in her stroller. This was how I’d get her down for her nap. It’s been the best part of every day, without a doubt. The last couple of weeks got just way too oppressive heat-wise, and as such I’ve transitioned to a more conventional nap arrangement (by snuggling her on our bed – a real chore, I know). Before, I didn’t get to see Savanna very often. Now I’m more hands-on. I never got to see Sean and Sophie in the mornings either, since my shift at CAI began at 5am. Now, I see them every morning before heading out. This summer, that’s meant me taking them to their summer camp, which was brilliant for them. Summer camp, that is. They were a teeny bit paunchy at the start of summer. Those camp counselors whipped them into shape, no question. They ran and played hard for eight weeks. Paunches are all gone.

As mentioned earlier, we’re off to the Outer Banks next week. I’ve never been – I hear it’s fantastic. My classes start the 29th, the day after we get back. Sean and Sophie start school on the same day. And we are planning to be moved in by then. Holy crap.

It’s all good, though. It’s been a long, long time coming. Sean, Sophie and I moved into mom and dad’s house in March of 2012. A lot has changed in the interim four-plus years. And I’m really thankful for this next step, this chance Susanne and I have to build a home for our kids, to really be us as a family.

Not such a bad gig, right?



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