This place.

Living in a 1200 square foot house with four children, one of them a newborn, a 78 pound dog and a husband-man may be tolerable for some, but this mama was losing hope of ever having a private moment in the bathroom again, let alone a quiet moment in any room. We could hear the children constantly, no matter what room we tucked them into.

But our effort to find a larger and affordable alternative seemed futile. Every one of our Zillow searches produced the same results. McMansion A or McMansion B. Same houses, different suburb and nothing at all appealing to us.

Seth and I both grew up in century-old houses with solid wood floors, creaky doors, quiet nooks and massive wooded yards. In our childhood homes, imaginations could run wild and we were constantly entertained. A newer house without history, solid floors and a private yard was out of the question.

So, refusing to settle, we waited.

When Foster arrived our online searches became more frequent. 1200 square feet now felt like 800 and we were literally tripping over each other. And then we found it.

The big, yellow house.

We were both shocked that it was actually available. It has to be sold, we thought. This listing can’t be accurate. We scoured through the listing, trying to figure out why no one had snagged her up. Yes, the rooms were old. Yes, it needed work – but “Hello, World!” would you look at her?


When we walked in for a showing, the realtor didn’t have much of a sales pitch. “I’ve shown this place 30 some times and everybody walks out scratching their heads. No one knows quite where to start.” And then his conclusion, “I think it should be a Bed and Breakfast.”

“They probably just lack imagination,” I said optimistically.

“Uh-huh,” then his attention went back to his phone while he crossed his legs and leaned back into the lone chair sitting in the empty kitchen. And there he remained while Seth and I went exploring through room after wallpapered room. I walked slowly behind him, climbing up the stairs and working my way through the narrow hallways. The house, originally built in 1807 has several add ons. Each one quirkier than the next. There were secret passages between the children’s rooms – all completely separate from the “adult” side of the house. And the playroom was ridiculously awesome. Complete with a winding, princess staircase, a library book ladder and secret nooks in every corner.

Seth whispered, “This house is crazy and different and awesome. Like our family.” And when he said that. I knew. It was a done deal. He was right and this was it. This was our forever home. But how could we possibly make it happen? Foster was barely three weeks old and the price was way out of our range. We would also have to sell our house, of course.

Within  a few hours of our walk through Seth went into Super Dad mode and didn’t stop until closing day. While I stayed on newborn baby and business running patrol, he listed our house for sale (and sold it by owner), negotiated the sales price on the new house down by over six figures and met with contractor after contractor to get estimates on necessary fixes and updates we’d need to make when we moved in.

In spite of the odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we moved in last month. And now you know why we have been so quiet… we didn’t want to jinx anything and have been unimaginably busy.

So, there you have it! The space is here and we’re not quite sure what we’ll do with it all.


Getting divorced was scary. Starting to date again after being married for 9 years was even more terrifying. Am I still attractive? How do I even meet someone? When do I tell them I have kids? See, it wasn’t just me anymore– I had two awesome kids to raise. Being a father (which is different than simply having produced offspring… but that’s another blog post entirely) and dating was more difficult than dating in college. Well, dating and looking for a real life partner is different. Dating for fun, just for you? That’s exactly the same. And I had some fun. But not for very long. I wanted a partner, not a fling.

For the record, I was dating as a single dad… while living with my parents. It’s exactly as awkward as it sounds. Lily, Cohen, and I moved in with my parents so I could get back on my feet, financially.

So, to all you guys out there thinking about dating a single mom? Be a man. Don’t meet her kids until you’re in it for the long haul. Keep it just adults for as long as it makes sense– there’ll be more than enough kid time later.
During the first few weeks we couldn’t believe it was ours. 

We walked from room to room just shaking our heads in disbelief. We had convinced ourselves we would have to wait years to buy a larger home and we had also convinced ourselves we would never find anything this unique, this magical…

We don’t know much of the history yet.

When a house has been around as long as this one has, it’s humbling to know we are just another family between the walls. There were so many more before us and there will be even more to come. How many babies grew up here? How many mothers tucked their little ones in at night in the same rooms? How many fathers scolded their boys for slamming the doors?

The family before us bought the house in the 1960’s and when they did, according to their daughter and son-in-law, everyone thought they were nuts. The place was in shambles. But, they set out to make the house over and build an addition. With their several children as inspiration they built in secret passages and little pint sized nooks that only little kids can fit into. Bud and Mary Stimel raised their children here and eventually left the world here.

I can’t say I blame them. And just like I knew Seth was my soul mate the moment I laid eyes on him, I know this house is where we will live most of our lives, if not – our entire lives.

We have our first before and after picture for you!!!

I give you … the dining area when we moved in. I stole this from Zillow because I, of course, didn’t take my own before pictures. This is the dining section of the kitchen.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 8.29.10 PM

And now… after three weeks of painting (and we still have another coat or two to go) – here is the dining area again. We still have the sitting area by the bay windows and the entire kitchen to finish, but hey! this is progress!


We were torn about painting the paneling but the room is so much brighter now. We transformed the chandelier with a $6.00 can of spray paint. That was the easiest part. The hardest part was building around the chimney and the sink.

Seth tore out cabinets, lots of cabinets, put up bead board in place of them and then hooked up some lighting and did his amazing man magic.

Kitchen Center

On the other side of the chimney put up this awesome chalk board to greet our guests.


Somewhere in between Foster got a bath.


I will show you the rest of the house as we move through it. Right now we’re taking on the living room, the hallway and all of the multiple layers of wall paper.


It’s going to take a while



And you can see – the mess in between. It’s crazy trying to do all of this with a baby. If we choose to work on the actual house for a day, there is Hell to pay in the way of the mess we leave in our wake.

This week, a miracle happened… for the first time since we moved in the temperatures outside broke 60 degrees. We opened the doors and went for a little walk around the house.

I caught Foster in the daylight.

FosterOutside!He couldn’t believe all of the sights and sounds. The birds, the leaves and the little spring buds. And look at what’s in this kid’s back yard…

A horse barn


A for real horse barn. BarnView

A spooky, little play house


And acres and acres in the yard.

The kids disappeared the first day the freeze ended. We didn’t see them for hours.

They were out climbing trees, building forts and growing up. The other night we all ran outside to catch this sunset…


Pinch. Pinch. This is nuts and yes, this is real and not a day dream or a fairy tale. I have to keep telling myself that…



10 Replies to “This place.”

  1. It sounds like your children are experiencing a childhood most kids don’t get to anymore. I’m a little jealous but my home renovation skills are non existent

  2. What a sweet read Alaina. The little girl in me squealed at the sight of that “spooky” play house. I would have disappeared for hours as well. You and Seth have given your children a wonderful, memorable gift. All the best!

  3. You really have some amazing vision to be able to turn the before into the after. I wish I had that ability but decorating and fashion are two areas I totally lack skills in. Very, very cool. I drive past often on my way to work….it’s a longer route but so beautiful to drive along the river. Glad you are loving the place!!! I remember when you first said you bought it….I was like – hope it’s not too much hidden work. But looks like Seth is plenty handy.

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