FRIDAY Q&A: HOUSE HUNTING TIPS, LEASING VS. BUYING OUR NEW CAR, WHAT I’D DO FOR WORK IF I DIDN’T HAVE A BLOG, AND MORE

Happy Friday! It was a good week here between my 34 week OB appointment and finally getting the permits to start our backyard projects. This weekend the dresser for Teddy’s new bedroom is scheduled to arrive so I’m hoping to spend some time taking stock of our newborn and 0-3 month clothing, making a list of anything I need to order for baby or postpartum recovery, and packing my hospital bag. Something about having less than six weeks to my due date is really lighting a fire under me so I’m hoping we have a productive weekend ahead on that front! And our forecast is back into the 50s and 60s this coming week so that always puts a skip in my step. I hope you all have a good one!

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1. Tips for someone looking to buy a home?

I get variations on this question often and I wish I could house hunt with each one of you individually because it’s truly my idea of a good time. 😂 But anyway! I would recommend making a list of everything your ideal home would have (a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a garage, a pool?) and spending time on Zillow familiarizing yourself with what a house with all those features would cost in your area. If there’s not a ton of inventory within your budget, decide where you might be willing to sacrifice (could you do without an extra bedroom, or would you be willing to build your own pool at a later date?). You can do so much research online nowadays that you can get a really good feel for the market and the inventory in your area before you ever set foot in an open house, but seeing houses in person is ultimately the only way you’re going to fall in love with a given property. Our house hunt came down to deciding between smaller, newer homes that didn’t need any work but that we’d outgrow in a few years and larger, older homes that needed a lot more work but that we could tackle in phases as we grew into needing more bedrooms and bathrooms. We ultimately landed on an older home (built in 1850) that has a truly endless list of projects, but I find I actually enjoy the never-ending task of really making a house a home vs. the prospect of moving every few years, even if it means living through construction with young kids. There are so many individual factors at play, but I guess my best advice is to research as much as you can ahead of time, come up with a list of properties you want to see in person, and prepare to be flexible about exactly what you can afford and/or how much work you’re willing to do. P.S. If you’re thinking of purchasing a home that will involve a lot of renovation projects, I highly, highly recommend contacting a local builder to walk through the home with you and your realtor before you put in an offer. Getting a rough estimate for how much it would cost to move a certain wall or add on an extra bedroom is so helpful for knowing exactly what you’re getting yourself into! 

2. What were you like in high school?

I was pretty shy in class but outgoing with close friends outside of school (much the way I am today in large groups vs. with “my” people). I loved French, English, and history and dreaded math, science, and gym. Definitely a little on the nerdy side — I was editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and loved nothing more than a late night at school teaching myself the ins and outs of InDesign. Very into gymnastics — I was on a super competitive team through my sophomore year and then captain of our high school team. Honestly I look back and cringe at a lot of the things I thought were cool (like I have a distinct memory of wearing bootcut jeans over a pair of cowboy boots?!) or important (often testing my parents’ patience with curfews my senior year) back then and I was pretty ready to put it in the rearview mirror when I went to college. My husband somehow has nothing but positive memories of high school and dies laughing when I talk about having to play dodgeball or ultimate frisbee in P.E. But seriously, no thank you!!!

3. Advice for a junior in high school? I started hybrid this week and I’m feeling so overwhelmed.

First of all, I have SO much empathy for you as a student during this pandemic. This situation is not easy and anyone who makes it seem that way isn’t showing the full picture! I remember junior year in particular throwing so many new challenges my way — AP courses, SAT prep, driver’s ed, and (maybe just me?) suffering through my first and last attempt to understand physics — so please give yourself some grace knowing that this is a tough year even outside the new Covid-related constraints. That said, while it feels all-consuming in the moment, this is also a phase in your life that will someday soon be in your rearview mirror, so I would say find a way to work hard, engage in extracurriculars that bring you joy and meaning, cherish your friendships, and know that you have so, so much to look forward to on the other side!

4. If you didn’t have your blog, what would you want to do for work?

I wish I’d tried to work for a magazine out of college instead of trying my hand at public relations — I’m so much better suited to writing than I am to lots of in-person events! I think I would have enjoyed the challenge of taking traditional print titles and helping shape their digital presence. Alternatively there’s a good chance I would have either pursued a degree in interior design or tried to work underneath a designer I admire before taking on design clients of my own someday. I love helping family and friends think through decorating their spaces and would have loved learning how to do that in a more professional capacity! It’s not something I have the urge to do at this stage in my career/family life, but never say never!

5. Was it hard to have a long-ish engagement? 1/3 of the way through my own!

I was definitely impatient to just be married by the end of our engagement (21 months!), but I think we filled the time well! We moved from my husband’s hometown of Dallas back to my native Connecticut early in our engagement but we were still planning a destination wedding in a location we primarily frequent during the summer months, so it wasn’t always easy to be in touch with certain venues and vendors at other times of the year. I’m ultimately happy we waited until the date when all our preferred venues were available (especially getting married in the same chapel as my parents!) but I totally understand why it’s not for everyone! Wishing you lots of patience and joy as you plan your big day!

6. Favorite piece of investment clothing/jewelry/accessory?

For clothing, probably these cable-knit cashmere sweaters. I wear them multiple times a week year-round and this inexpensive fabric shaver keeps them looking more or less brand new! For jewelry, my engagement ring and wedding bands are really my only everyday jewelry outside of a super affordable pair of pearl studs (I’m constantly misplacing one or both so can’t bring myself to splurge on anything luxe!). And for accessories, I’m more of a shoe person than a bag person; I can’t remember the last time I wore my favorite fancy heels, but I’ve amassed a beloved collection of Stubbs & Wootton slippers!

7. What do you wish you did or prioritized before having your first baby?

Honestly I don’t think I have any regrets! We recall fondly all the big trips we took before starting a family, particularly our honeymoon in Africa, Will’s 30th birthday in France, a long weekend in the Dominican Republic, and a belated first anniversary trip to Australia. I really feel like we made the most of that pre-kids chapter of our lives and while I know we’ll be ready to get back out there and see the world someday, we’re happy we made a dent in our bucket lists before starting a family!

8. For baby #3 (God willing!), are you planning to do close in age or take a break?

Will and I talked about this recently and I think it really depends on how the transition from 1 to 2 goes for us! We both love the idea of having all our kids close in age, but if we’re absolutely exhausted and need to give ourselves some extra time, I don’t want to have imposed some artificial timeline on ourselves. My parents had four kids in eight years and we’re all very close, so I like to think we have some flexibility on that front!

9. Would love to hear more about post-weaning depression and resources you found.

I wrote about my experience with it here and have a video highlight about it on my Instagram profile and ultimately the resource that’s been most helpful for me was finding a therapist to talk to on Zoom once a week. I think matters of mental health are so personal that it’s incredibly beneficial to find someone who can speak to your individual concerns and help you find ways to address them over time. If you’re on the fence about therapy (for post-weaning depression or anything else), I truly believe it’s one of the best investments you can make with your time or money!

10. Why did you decide to lease and not buy your new car?

We ultimately wanted the flexibility of seeing what our family looks like in another three years and getting to re-evaluate whether it’s still the perfect car for us at that time. We own and love our Jeep and plan to drive it into the ground, but getting a second car was about making a more family-friendly purchase and I could see us wanting to upgrade to the latest safety features if there are any big improvements in the next few years.

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  1. Thanks for posting these replies. Best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy for a healthy you & baby, too!