ICYMI: We Unpacked Our Bags
While I’m pretty sure it’s no longer a secret, I am writing this post to let you know that you’re stuck with us, Ohio. Mat and I recently purchased a home in Cincinnati. After over 3 years of 6 month leases and over 10 moves (if you count the moves to Arizona for spring training), we are ecstatic to finally have a place to call “home”. You know… a place to unpack our bags and maybe even stay a while.
As you can imagine, there were about 6 trillion factors that went into the decision of where we would buy our first home. I am from California and Mat is from Florida. Our families are essentially on opposite sides of the country. Then of course you have to consider the weather, traffic, lifestyle… Oh… and let us not forget- baseball.
Baseball is fun in the sense that you can be traded at any time so there’s really no such thing as planning how long you’ll be working anywhere. This is a big reason why many athletes don’t spend their off-season where they work as it makes more sense to just buy a home wherever they want to live. It has also made people curious about why we would buy a home in Cincinnati when Mat currently only has a two year contract to play for the Reds. Let me tell you why…
As you may or may not know, the trade from the San Diego Padres to the Reds caught us wildly off-guard. If you would have asked me at the time, I couldn’t have even pointed to Ohio on a map (don’t judge me- I suck at geography). When we came to visit for the first time in January 2012, I felt like I was in a foreign country. This may sound dramatic but I assure you, mid-westerners who go to California for the first time often feel the same way. For lack of better words, it’s just a culture shock.
Last season, we were welcomed by the entire Reds organization with open arms. I’m talking the whole Castellini family, the clubhouse staff, the media department, the ushers at the ballpark- EVERYONE was there to offer their support. It was pretty clear that we were in over our heads, extremely unfamiliar with the area, and more or less overwhelmed yet also excited… but overwhelmed. Having that support system made a world of difference. If any other baseball wives are reading this and you ever get traded to Cincinnati, have no fear- you are in GREAT hands.
Rewind… Only a week prior to the trade, we signed a lease on a home for the season in San Diego. We were made to believe that Mat wasn’t getting traded so we were pretty confident in finding housing for the upcoming season in the off-season. It also seemed like a good way to avoid some stress to just stay in the San Diego area until we figured out where in the world we would set up shop and buy a home.
If you recall, the trade was announced right before the holidays. We already had movers and everything arranged and we were headed out of town to visit my in-laws for a few weeks. Fancy.
Fast forward… picture me sitting in Virginia practically in tears for a few days trying to figure out what we were going to do with our things, our pets, our lives, etc, It didn’t make any sense to move to this house but our lease was up where we were currently living and they already had a new occupant lined up. We would have had nowhere to live until Spring Training if we didn’t move from downtown San Diego into this house. We were on the other side of the country with very limited time to figure anything out prior to our moving day. The stress was so overwhelming that we eventually decided to just go along with our original plan to move from downtown instead of trying to get out of the lease. By “went along with the move”, I mean that our boxes went from one San Diego residence to another- never to be unpacked.
I begrudgingly wrote rent checks for that San Diego home/storage unit all last season while we lived at the Banks for 6 months. We didn’t have a plan at the time but we knew that we never wanted to be in this situation again (paying two leases simultaneously). It is one thing (a very common thing) to pay a mortgage on your home in whatever city you choose to live in and have an additional short-term lease on a another residence where you work during season but if you’re anything like me, you don’t like throwing away money and that’s essentially what we had to do. GROSS GROSS GROSS.
Last off-season we spent countless hours looking at properties on the internet. We even went down to the Florida Keys to look at some homes. I love the Keys but I wasn’t exactly sold. We looked around Naples (Florida) , Austin (Texas), Dallas (Texas) but there was always the question of, “How the hell is this going to work when we are now looking at a timeline of buying a home during the season?”. Essentially- it would have been a giant pain in my ass. One day Mat said, “Why don’t we look at homes in Cincinnati?”. UMMMM. Excuse me? You want to do something reasonable that makes a ton of sense that we have never thought of before? WHAT IS THIS WITCH CRAFT?! Wait, wait… this idea is GENIUS.
I will admit that it took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around this. We had been looking at homes on the water in Florida because we love the ocean and fishing. Plus, the weather in the off-season is not too shabby. The Texas idea came up because it’s centrally located. Cincinnati… well… Mat only has a 2-year contract so let’s just consider all of the factors and say that he gets traded after that, are we still going to want to live in Cincinnati? Spoiler alert- after not much consideration, the answer was yes. Cincinnati has it’s charms and it really REALLY grew on me. Something about the way of life and simplicity of things puts me at ease. I have lived in California my whole life and quite frankly, it was time for us to turn the page.
I pulled some properties up online, contacted a real estate agent and explained what we were looking for. We had narrowed it down to about 5 listings and planned to see them when we got to Cincinnati for the season to avoid making an additional trip in the off-season. The house that I thought I really liked was sold by the time we got here. I was kind of bummed but confident that we would find something we loved. The house that Mat really liked (all he cared about was that there was a pond on the property- literally- ALL) but that I was not so sure about from the photos was our number 2 and became the first house that we would see in Cincinnati. It was also the last.
From the minute we got to the house, we knew it was “the one”. The location was great, the layout was great and it had everything we were looking for. We waited and waited and waited for our closing date to come and lived out of suitcases at our friend Dave’s house in the meantime (this is going to have to be another blog post entirely- it was positively funny and ridiculous).
Our closing date finally came around and we got the keys to our new home and we were SO excited! Except that we had no furniture and were headed out of town for a 10 day road trip a few days later. CAN A GIRL CATCH A BREAK AROUND HERE?! I have never wanted to be settled so badly in my entire life so that 10 day road trip felt like a lifetime. A lifetime in which I couldn’t sleep, eat or function because i was so anxious and stressed. I’m talking sitting in the bathtub in the hotel room at 4 am ordering linens so as to not wake Mat up with my aggressive typing because I had SO much to do.
While I could have further stressed myself out beyond reason and took on this whole project by myself, I chose not to. I’m sure those close to me would agree that I may have capped out on the amount of stress I could survive through without cracking between the trade in 2011 up until this point.
I called for the help of Kelly Straka, owner of Lux Living Homes to get the interior of our new home to fit our style and to get this bad boy furnished. As you may have seen last week no thanks to the local media who tweeted out our address and photos from the previous owner’s listing, the home had a very country vibe to it. It was gorgeous, just not our style. Kelly suggested that we use paint and swap out light fixtures to update the general vibe and let me tell you- it made a world of difference. We are still working on the furnishing aspect but it has been fantastic to work with someone with such a creative eye and knack for finding really unique pieces that fit our personal style.
Then there was the whole unpacking thing… keep in mind we had boxes from the past few years stored at the ballpark, at David’s house in Cincinnati, in San Diego, in northern California and in Virginia. I’m good at a lot of things but tedious projects and organizing just aren’t for me. Like they say, patience is a virtue (that I don’t have).
My friend and fellow baseball wife, Alexis Rosenbaum recently began offering her services as a home organizer. While you may be reading this and thinking I’m lazy or awful for not figuring it out on my own, let me just tell you this- there is nothing I like more than efficiency and I will be the first to admit my short comings and figure out a better solution.
You can check out Alexis’ post about this project here: TheHouseWifesHouseWife. This post doesn’t do all of her work justice but you can get an idea of why I needed her so desperately. Due to all of the traveling and moving around, I often acquire multiples of basically everything. Had I been the one to have to go through all of that, I probably would have thrown it away in frustration.
With the help of the container store, Alexis had everything sorted out and easy to find. The even better thing about how well she organized our belongings is that everything has a place and it’s now ridiculously easy for me to stay organized. While her rates are more than reasonable for her services, the truth is- you can’t put a price on your sanity. If you’re like me and you have made it a habit to ignore the chaos because you think it doesn’t affect you- I will bet you a turkey sandwich that you’re wrong.
Now that I have typed an entire novel and essentially explained why I haven’t posted any blogs recently, let me end on this note. It feels so good to be home.