One Year Exactly: A Review

We arrived to this house we now call home on January 24th, 2017. One year ago. We pulled in around maybe 7pm or so and found the front door unlocked. We wandered in, taking the first real look in person at our new home (we’d been in and out of this one quickly while seeing something like 40-50 homes on our buying trip – we’d ruled this one out within minutes and didn’t carefully stow the images of it away in our long-term memories).

Things I hoped for within a year have come to pass:

I can drive to plenty of places without getting directions now. I even know a handful of back roads. I have friends! Though I’ll be working on enhancing and broadening this tribe here forever, I have some really lovely, legit, make-me-think, make-me-feel-good, super duper inspiring friends already. Ever adapted to the change and is happy. I found her a daycare and she enjoys it. Some transformative renovations have taken place, making our home much more livable. I’m playing music, I’ve recorded, and I’m getting ready to start doing my thing in public again. We have some people in our pocket who can help with babysitting and dog-sitting and house-sitting type things.

Other things I’d hoped for just aren’t here yet.

We aren’t any closer to overcoming Ever’s egg allergy, though at least we’re in a place with some great allergists and lots of safe food options. We have only accomplished a fraction of what we’d envisioned for a year – even in our most conservative estimates – with the house. I never would have thought that a year later, we still wouldn’t be totally done with the painting and flooring upstairs. In fact, I thought that we’d be done with all of the big stuff within a year – including downstairs and the broken fence – and we haven’t even begun those two things yet. That means the Airbnb listing we’ve been looking forward to creating doesn’t exist yet and neither does the income we hope to earn from it. That means we’re still shuffling around room to room, not feeling moved in yet really, and still budgeting extra hard to afford the undertaking.

One year into a place is meaningful, though. I can look back at all of the moves I’ve made before this one in my adult life (Ohio – New York, New York – Texas, Texas – New York, New York – Michigan) and clearly see that the first year of being in a place was always a bit chaotic, but that after that first year, I would start loosening up a bit, feeling more settled. But it did take time. It always did, it always does. That’s been even more pronounced with a child in the mix – the time it takes for a new place to start feeling like home is exaggerated when you’re a parent. Even more so when you’re a parent who works from home and doesn’t go to school or anything like that. We can’t just go out whenever we want to mingle with our peers the way we could when we were childless, which adds another layer of social complexity to it all. On the flip side of that though, Ever’s been an organic ice-breaker. Sometimes I feel too socially anxious to reach out and make friends while on a walk or at the park or paying the grocery store cashier and it’s often Ever who gets conversations going. This happens so reliably that I think it’s exposure-therapied me out of my own shell a bit.

Milestones aside, we are here and we’re building a life I had dreamed about for so long. It’s all underway. It’s lovely and difficult, rewarding and frustrating, overwhelming and surprisingly natural – it’s home. I take comfort in the fact that this will all feel even more like home one more year from now. In the meantime, here’s a look back at some stuff from the last year, featuring photos and words!

Here’s Ever on the beach in March 2017.
Here she is on the beach in January 2018. She’s grown so much!
We lived with our master bedroom like this for most of 2017. We were finally able to swap our broken air mattress for one c/o Tuft & Needle in the summer and I immediately became a better/nicer person, I think.
Our master bedroom is still a work in progress, but it’s been so refreshing to now be in a version of it that’s something like this. Did I mention I have a confirmed allergy to mold and dust? Yeah. That previous situation was not good for me. So many of my ongoing symptoms disappeared once we got this room floored. (The Hudson Bed c/o Room & Board has been wonderful. Also the Eden Pillow c/o Coop Home Goods is one of my favorite things of this past year. The zippered duvet c/o Linens & Hutch has been pretty nice, too. The shelf above the bed is c/o City Home PDX.)
Our first winter here looked a little something like this. (Though you can’t quite see this jacket here, you might have seen it in other photos. It’s a fuzzy and hooded and has bear claws on the pockets. It’s c/o Alex and Alexa.)
Springtime in our front yard is like this.
This is the face my dogs make during those marvelously long summer twilight hours.
Fall was so pretty. It always is.
This winter has already been dreamy.
IMG_1413 (1)
Donnie looks cute in every season, but I especially like this ADORABLE fall one wherein he’s sporting some of this nice new stuff c/o Yellow Dog Design. The dogs look so fancy now thanks to these goodies!
Ever’s room was so disgusting when we first arrived. I found an ant nest in there early on and almost lost my lunch.
It got a major makeover, with a good deal of help from Alex and Alexa. (The play mat, cloud lamp, dinosaur shadow puppets, blue toy guitar, and black star decals are all c/o Alex and Alexa. The big cloth bin on the ground and the cloth bin on the bottom part of the nightstand are both c/o Pehr Designs.)
There was a lot of this all over the place in our upstairs over the past eight months or so and there’s a good deal still to come.
It’s worth it though, of course, for how satisfying it feels to see a gross space transform into a nice one. (The Bisque .01 paint c/o Colorhouse Paint has made such a huge improvement to our space. I can’t wait to put it everywhere else. Other things from this past year’s partnerships for those of you interested: the boxy planter holding the cactus, the cement planter on the window sill, and the brass planter at the top of the shelf are all c/o City Home PDX. The live edge flame birch coffee table/bench is c/o Chilton Furniture. The gallery wall frames in the corner are c/o Edgewood Frames. The Gallery Media Leaning Shelf is c/o Room & Board. And though you can’t quite see them, I had some really lovely candles this past year c/o Slow North (and one from One Element, too!)
Ever likes being outside whenever she can anyway, so she doesn’t seem to mind all of the inside work going on around her constantly.
Oh yeah, and Ben broke his nose during this first year here. He got up too quickly one morning and fell right into the couch. It was sad. And bloody. No cause for alarm, though: he’s still cute.
The snow is always right there when we want it. I like snow that way; I like for it to be my choice.
This house/neighborhood have had some wildlife visitors beyond squirrels: eagles, owls, and coyotes have all been around.
But of course, yeah: squirrels. This one routinely tries to enter the house now.
Ever was just learning her way around holding a guitar when we arrived here last year. Now she’s writing her own songs and actually keeping pretty impressive rhythm and pitch. (The badger sweater and blue guitar are c/o Alex and Alexa. The frames in the fireplace are c/o Framebridge.)
BEFORE. (These shoes and this playsuit were c/o Thread Harvest.)
AFTER. (That floor lamp is c/o Lamps Plus.)
Our kitchen was the only common space we could use for a long time. The plastic was up for probably too long of a long time.
We had to get rid of a lot of this crap. Still more to go.
Teach a child to sand and their future home renovations will go more smoothly. GET IT?!
See that aquarium in the wall? I’m delighted to report to you that it no longer exists. That wall has been restored to a full wall now. With no aquarium hole.
Ever in our house the day after we arrived. January 2017.
January 2018. I repeat: LOOK HOW BIG SHE’S GOTTEN! (This live edge flame birch coffee table/bench from Chilton Furniture is probably the thing guests in our home remark on the most frequently. It’s just so pretty.)
Oregon stayed gorgeous through it all, of course. It’s almost like there are reasons I love it here.

It’s been a full year of being in this new home of ours. Our first forever home. Our first owned house.

I’ve been working hard on crafting my songs and at some point last summer, I’d decided I’d had enough of my own reclusiveness and I played a song live in front of people. Not too longer after that, I went out on a limb and scheduled some recording time. Now I’ll be releasing my first song in a lonnnnng time soon and feel ready to start playing shows, though I think I’ll start with some open mics so I can effectively warm back up to it all. And then I’ll release more songs – some for my own project, but hopefully some as a part of other projects, too.

There was an eclipse and a white Christmas (!!!). I think I felt my first earthquake. There was a drought and a forest fire so bad that we couldn’t be outside for a couple of days – the air was thick with smoke; the car was covered in ash.

I made beer. I tried the Impossible Burger. I leveled up my self-taught mycology game. I got some products c/o Chefman that are helping me to further expand in culinary stuff – the massive dehydrator and air fryer are probably my favorites so far (stay tuned for some recipes on their site.) I discovered hard seltzer this past year. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Let’s go with good. I had the worst flu I ever remember having.

Our house guests (and there were many) were inspiring with their generosity –fixing things around the house for us, buying us meals, bringing sweet and thoughtful gifts, helping out with childcare … I’m so deeply grateful for this big community of ours. And some of them listened to me play my songs in the only setting I’ve felt comfortable doing so for a long time (my home) and they encouraged me – I’ll never forget this.

Ever took dance classes and swim classes while I’ve taken a more active role in teaching her music.

It’s life, folks. It’s happening. I could list all of the not-good things here for you too that have happened, but I’m not much a of “Worst of 2017” person. Don’t think bad stuff didn’t happen – plenty of dark clouds hung over us during this last year. But my joy feels like it swells when I focus on the good stuff, so that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m hopeful for what my second year in this home will bring.


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Elizabeth Seward is a writer and songwriter, among other things. Read a full bio on the ABOUT page.

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