Sunday, April 28, 2013

6 months in North Main

As the 6 month anniversary of moving into our new house approaches, I’ve been thinking about how it finally feels like home. We’ve settled in well: making friends with our neighbors, becoming active in the community, and adding to the yard to make it more suitable for the kids. Nothing in the interior of the house has been changed other than some electrical work we had done soon after moving in, but the boxes have (mostly) been unpacked, our belongings have found homes and the superfluous done away with. We’ve picked up some furniture to fill some holes, reassigned other pieces to serve different purposes and identified what we still need.

We celebrated Ūsiņdiena with ice cream downtown, one of the many things we love about our 'hood
It’s true that we have fallen in love with the neighborhood. North Main is close to downtown, not quite walkable with the boys, but definitely doable without driving if we walk to the trolley. The giant, mature oaks lining the streets provide shade, color and character. The street is inhabited by an eclectic mix of families, young couples starting out and neighbors who have been here since they were children. We can walk to two parks, one of which is part of the school the boys will be attending in a few short years. Friday I walked to the school with Lauris and Mikus to check out Arts Alive, the annual fundraiser featuring music, food, games, rides and a silent auction to benefit Stone Academy. It was nice to recognize a few of the families that live on our street, and even nicer to know that by having fun all afternoon we were helping to support a top-rated local school. Mikus loved the “Dinosaur Dig” activity, a sandbox filled with buried treasure that both boys dug around in for quite some time (for them the digging was more fun than finding the prizes). Lauris especially remembers getting a train painted on his arm and his hair colored pink. He wanted to participate in the paintball-style glitter fight, but I thought that was best saved for when he is a little older. We left balloons in hand about three hours later after a meal of snow cones, hot dogs, pizza and popcorn. I’m very glad we went to check out what was going on; I had seen a few ads for Arts Alive, but thought it was an art program for the Stone students. When we saw the news helicopters circling that afternoon I figured out it was something more – over 2,000 people were expected.

In the last picture, notice the pink hair...
We’ve also recently joined the neighborhood community group, and Thursday evening attended a membership drive at the local soda shop to meet more neighbors. It was only recently that we learned such an organization exists; due to several developments being built nearby there have been concerns over subdividing, retention ponds and the loss of mature trees, and we attended an informational meeting to learn more. The social meet and greet Thursday reminded us that there is an organization looking out for the general health of our community, and we had fun meeting new people and checking out the fire engine from the local firehouse.

In our six months here we’ve managed to make some big changes to the backyard. During the winter we built two raised beds in the sunniest portion of the yard, which were immediately appropriated by the two little guys as their own personal digging site. With some pressure treated lumber, rebar and a saw we were able to quickly put together a very solid, easy to assemble (and disassemble if needed) raised garden that hopefully will be productive for us this summer.

The spring however has so far been a constant struggle to keep Mikus from pulling everything up from the garden, and we had talked for a while of building a sandbox to keep them otherwise occupied. While Zinta was in town our neighbor stopped by to let us know she had seen a sandbox on the curb a few streets over as she knew we had been thinking about building one and hadn’t yet found the time. I left the boys with my sister and went to take a look, finding an adorable wooden sandbox in great shape. Good (free) finds don’t last long in this neighborhood, and after measuring and deliberating and trying to figure out a way to fit the playset in the car without taking it apart I was resigned to waiting for my husband to get home with the truck. At that moment yet another stroke of luck occurred, as a neighbor saw me and offered to give the sandbox a ride to our place with his pickup. Roberts has fitted the box with a cover and yesterday we filled it with river sand, a cheaper alternative to the play sand that sells at home improvement stores.

The sandbox is not the only “lightly used” play equipment taking up space in the backyard. A while back we went out to Anderson to a farm that belongs to some friends of ours, and they offered us they playset that their girls had outgrown and was taking up space where the pool was to go. After determining that it could be taken apart we accepted the offer, knowing that putting it back together might prove more of a challenge than getting it home. Sure enough, between having to replace a couple of boards and the awning, to having to “tweak” things a little, the result is not exactly how it originally looked. The important thing however is that the two boys now have a swingset and slide to expend energy on, and that Mikus has become a little spider monkey climbing up and down the rock wall.

With all the settling in and changes in the last six months I’m curious to see what the next six will bring. I’m excited to see what happens with the garden, so far it looks like the squirrels and insects will provide me a challenge with some of the plants. And we keep adding more; a raspberry bush has joined the blueberries and the grape has finally budded, some hostas will be joining the shrubbery out front and the mint that a friend dug up from her garden has finally established itself in the back close to the irises our neighbor separated for us from her gorgeous garden. She’s the one that had to give her three guinea hens to her brother; we are simultaneously sad and happy to see them go as we (especially the boys) loved collecting the beautiful feathers that occasionally landed on our side of the fence, and that they would keep us company while we played and worked outside, but the early morning wake-up calls will not be missed. Never a dull moment, it looks like we’ll possibly have some chickens for neighbors on the other side in the coming months, should I complain a little in order to secure a bribe of fresh eggs?  Changes on the block aren’t restricted to new development either. Friends on another street (with a French connection) have decided on a move to California, and we are sorry to see them go, but new friends we refer to as the #2 pencils (we first met them as a family on Halloween, when they were dressed up as…) remind us that there are tons of families with kids of similar ages as L & M on our street.

I wish to end this overly long post with the following thought - everything happens for a reason. Upon moving back from France a lot earlier than originally expected we regretted selling our house; the first home we ever owned, the house Lauris spent the first months of his life in, the friendships we formed in another tight-knit community. But now I realize that if we still owned that house, we would never have bought this home, in a neighborhood that has already brought us so much happiness. Now wouldn’t it be cool if the rumors of an owl living in our tree were true (well, except for maybe the new chickens...)?


  1. Thanks for interesting post! It looks that you were very busy for the last 6 months, and you are very open minded and sociable person. When we moved in England, first 6 months we spend just settle down and didn't know any neighbour. Perhaps, it is coming for culture differences. As you know Latvians in Latvia usually not much confident and not open to the strangers. That is one more thing what I learn in the UK and see for you it is comfortable. I wish you to gain more and more nice experience in your neighbourhood. And your backyard is becoming great space for all family, specially for boys!!!

    1. Paldies Inese! Domāju ir gan starpības kas atšķir Latvijā dzimušus/augušus latviešus no ārzemju latviešiem, un attieksmes ar kaimiņiem un vietējo sabiedrību var ieskaitīt tajās... Paldies par mīļu kommentu!

  2. Not overly long, but rather super enjoyable. AND, helping me get through early labor contractions. ;)

    1. Yes! Keep up the good work, momma! Keeping you in my thoughts and waiting to hear the good news. Stay strong!


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