Here we are, near the end of May, and we have some pieces in place.
Ellie has completed the school year (in just three short weeks!) at Mount Lebanon Montessori School. Yesterday was the last day (hooray!). She was very happy there, a true blessing, but the commute was threatening to undo my and Stephanie's sanity. We were in the car over 4 hours every day, just for the school run. Add in any errands, and well...ick. It was so very un-fun. But it was worth it. Ellie was happy and well-placed. She had a great teacher. She slotted right in because of the Montessori setting, and she made friends easily. Another good aspect was that she has a school record, even a brief one, here in the US. Her birthdate falls close to the cut-off date for most schools, and there were questions about which grade she would enter in the fall. Having "completed" a school year here, that question goes away. Whew.
After quite a lengthy process, we negotiated and signed a lease for the house we found a few weeks ago in Sewickley. It is a down-size for us, but I think that's a good thing. We have been intending to downsize for a long while, but the ability to live in large homes hasn't created any need. Now, we have to downsize just to fit in the front door. I'm ready for the challenge. While the house is a compromise (the old electric kitchen makes my chef's heart weepy), the fact is the neighbourhood is amazing. Sewickley is a walking village. We can get to just about everything on foot, including a great independent book store, a small family-owned grocery store, a pottery-painting place the girls love, and a high-end yarn shop (very important feature). Right around the corner is a very nice YMCA, which we have already joined. We have also signed up for the CSA (community share agriculture) and will get a box of fresh goodness each Wednesday from June to November. The street is overflowing with playmates (22 little girls on that street alone!). The public school is fantastic, but there is an even better private school if we opt to go that route. The commute for Hubby doesn't get much better. The total package was too good to pass up.
Alas, the process of obtaining this house was surprisingly challenging. The owners are extremely particular and cautious. Our agent doesn't think this is anything to worry about (she thinks they just worry about getting the right tenants but are easy to deal with afterwards), so we are hoping she is right. Given how complex that process was, I admit I lost all enthusiasm for the house in the thick of it. I expect that will change once we move in and start to get settled. As of this afternoon, I have switched over all the utilities, so it will be ready to go when our things arrive from Oz. That long-anticipated date is early- to mid-June. We'll be away for the first 10 days of June, so that will pass the remaining wait beautifully.
Given the rental ordeal, I started vaguely looking at the numerous sale properties in the area. On our first drive into town, I passed what I dubbed "my dream house" that happened to be for sale. A gorgeous house with two (!) guest cottages and an old barn on a large property outside of the village. Of course, it was my 1.25 Million Dollar Dream House, hardly realistic when you don't know how long you'll live in one place. Sigh. Then, the owners sold off half of the land and suddenly the price of my 1.25 Million Dollar Dream House dropped down into the realm of possibility. Our agent did a background search for me and turned up a fascinating history of its previous owner.
Now, I really want it.
Sometimes I so prefer fantasyland to reality, don't you?
Wishing you a wonderful holiday weekend!