with two cats in the yard

I’m now a homeowner.  We closed on a house yesterday.  It’s the very house I wanted since February, when I first came to visit Austin.  We’d put in an offer back then, but the house was snatched up by a higher bidder, in a rush.  Since then, everything else we’ve seen hasn’t compared.  The house we wanted was nearly 5,000 square feet of perfect.  It was move-in ready.  Carpeting didn’t need to be pulled from bathroom floors (ew, who puts carpeting in a bathroom anyway?).  Fixtures didn’t need to be updated.  The house was beautiful.  There weren’t tiled floors I’d need to change, or a formal dining room that would need to be repainted, crown molding removed.  But it was taken. 

Until it wasn’t.  The deal fell through because of an easement.  Once the potential owners learned of an easement where they could not install a zero-edged pool, they backed out of the deal.  The house went back on the market.  We refused to go after it again with the same fervor.  We waited.  We heard some potential homeowners didn’t like that the master bedroom was upstairs.  Prices came down.  The market softened.  And now, I’m a homeowner in Texas. 

Does this mean I’ll be in Texas forever?  I doubt it.  But with twins on the way, and no family nearby, we needed space.  Space for double-everything, and a lot of space for visiting friends and family, a nurse, and maybe a nanny (at least at the very beginning, so we learn what the hell we’re doing).  We move in NEXT WEEK!  So now I’m in the midst of packing.  We don’t know which room will be the nursery yet, or how we’ll decorate (no, the house did not come furnished).  We know it will all take time.  We also had the playscape removed, as I cannot survive in Austin without a pool.  So soon, our house will look like a construction site, as a new pool will be installed where the playscape had been.  There will be arguments about style and taste; I am certain.  But it’s an exciting time.  I’ll post photos here in the next day or so, but you can see the photos I took back in February.  And yes, wedding photos, too, but those will take longer (still waiting for CD from photographer).  Though all photo collections in the future will be on my photography site, simply because it’s far easier for me to upload the files using that technology… not because I think anyone would want to buy a photo of my bathroom.



  1. Congratulations on the house (and everything else), Stephanie. My husband and I are considering relocating from Baltimore to Austin. Any area/neighborhood recommendations?

    From Stephanie: Oh I have no idea. We wanted a view, to really know we were in Austin. Our view feels like hill country. We overlook green mountains and hill tops. We also didn't want to be on top of our neighbor. In Phil's words, "I don't want to hear our neighbors or even know we have any." So we're on a 2.5 acre lot. Space was important to us after having been cramped up in NY. We also weren't concerned about how far we were from downtown, since we both work from home. We are about 20 minutes from downtown and 10 minutes from the lake. The misconception about Austin is that "downtown" isn't "the city." Austin is made up of towns, and each town has stuff going on. Restaurants, shops, etc. "Downtown" downtown is about 4 streets. Live music. Some restaurants. Shops. But you find that in a lot of other places too.

  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! i'm a huge fan of your blog but have never commented before. i read your book cover-to-cover in one sitting, and with no breaks because i literally could not put it down. you're one awesome girl, and I lovelovelove reading about your life!

  3. Good luck on putting the pool in. A friend just completed having her pool installed. Lesson learned – you have to keep on top of the pool company every day. Most weeks nothing was done. It seems like it could have been completed in about 3 weeks and took 8. A month after completion they still haven't installed the autofill mechanism (you will want this so you don't have to figure out when and how much to fill the pool). Good thing for holdback. Have fun in the new house.

  4. AND FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY TOO!!! Happy everything and

    Hope you're well, it all sounds fantastic. Muah!

  5. Congratulations! I'm glad to hear you're staying in Austin. I can't even imagine the logistics involved in trying to go anywhere with 2 babies in Manhattan.

    Have fun decorating. I keep a notebook with pictures torn from magazines of rooms I like, pieces of furniture, the perfect lamp, paint chips. As much as I detest moving, I adore putting a home together.

  6. Isn't today your birthday? Sept 29? I thought I saw that in another post. If I'm right, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    Anyways, congratulations on buying a house. It's a great feeling to be able to say you own something. And your house is gorgeous! The hardwood floors have me drooling. I'm not a fan of kids, but I would so be your live in nanny just to move into that house too.

  7. You, my friend, are a machine! How do you find time to do all this? Moving, pregnancy, book tours, life…

    On a side note, so jealous.

  8. There's something so completely Southern to me about a porch with ceiling fans. It's a must for me if I ever own a house. Something about the comforting charm, the slow pace of sitting and drinking lemonade and watching the world go by. I'll also take your kitchen and bathroom, by the way!
    Welcome to Austin and Happy Birthday!

  9. . . .life used to be so hard/now everything is easy 'cos of you-oo-oo/our house is a very, very, very fine house. . .

    I only sing in honor of b'days. Happy, happy & mazel tov on your new house.

  10. Congrats on your new home. My home isn't 5000 sq. feet but it's mine and I love it. Although the mortgage payments may be a little high, you don't know how great it feels to pay it each month and know that every little piece of that house belongs to you! I wish I could encourage more young people to buy instead of rent. It's so worth it.

    P.S. you're house looks stunning!

  11. Yeah, sorry, but this post really, really bugs the crap out of me. Is this actually the person you want to be? Nevermind the 5000 sq feet and the live-in nanny… Seriously, did you actually say you "cannot survive" without a pool? The homeless woman downtown is surviving without food, shelter, basic medical care. Cancer patients all over the place are surviving without badly needed medicines and surgeries. But poor you. Your McMansion has a playscape instead of a pool. How will you ever survive?

    FROM STEPHANIE: Oh relax. I'm quite sure everyone understands that living without a pool is not the same as living without a pancreas. Now go get some sun.

  12. Congratulations! The house is amazing.

    I can't help but to laugh over this post..I was in a similar situation this week with a house I just fell in love with. Kevin and I have been house hunting for three weeks now, that's something you do after just getting married…right? Anyway..everything in Philly is just crap in our price range. I find a perfect house that is move in condition and it's under agreement. A couple days later it fell through..turns out, the girlfriend of the couple cheated so he backed out of the agreement. We went for a look and put our bid in, unfortunately there were two bids in the same day but much better then ours. So now, we are back to looking for that perfect house. Maybe it will happen for us soon…your post gives me some hope!

  13. Stephanie,

    Congratulations on now being and official Austin-ite. I am Julie's assistant at the title company where you closed yesterday. I apologize for not coming out to meet you as we were extremely busy yesterday. But, Julie told me about you & Philip and how cute you guys were and about your book, and I remember reading the review in People a few weeks ago and remember thinking that it sounded like a fun book. And as soon as I got a free moment I googled you and found your blog (which I am now hooked on). I am going to try to come to your book signing on Tuesday – Julie too. Can't wait to finally meet you on Tuesday and again congrats on the home, marriage, and the twins!


  14. Amanda b–relax a little. Stephanie is talking about her dream home and her life. She shouldn't have to be sorry for wanting a nanny and a pool. She can afford those things because she has worked to do so. As she has stated before, this is not a social awareness blog…it's HER life, HER dreams, HER whatever.

    SK–any chance you'll be bringing your book tour through Lexington, KY?? I figure probably not, but thought I would ask.

  15. Stephanie- congratulations on the house. it is AMAZING!!! i live in Manhattan and a kitchen like that is what i dream of. enjoy it.

    Happy Birthday.

  16. How thoughtful of you to give us the option of purchasing photos of your future home (and at such affordable prices!!) so that we can fewel taht much closer to you by owning our own little piece of your life. I'm thinking of purchasing the shot of your double ovens for a friend of mine who is waiting for her pancreas transplant (although, for her sake i'll lie and say the house has a pool)

    FROM STEPHANIE- Obviously I uploaded those photos to that site for convenience… And Sarah- A month ago in another fit of anger you wrote

    "just wanted to say good luck – i'll check back in a year or so to see if having kids changes your perspective, but for now, i'm done."

    Nice willpower. Perhaps you should take your own advice.

  17. Happy Birthday, Stephanie! I hope you have a lovely day.

    You certainly do seem to have the Lord raining blessings down upon you! Your soul-mate, twins, success of your book, and now, even your dream house! It must be a very satisfying birthday this year.

    Phil reminds me of my husband. Very level headed and logical. My hubby said the exact same thing, just the other day, about wanting to be far enough away from our neighbors to not know they are there!

    He wants to move from PA (not my fav place either) to somewhere warm (Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas), when all the kids graduate. He calls the area "The Magic Triangle". He said I can pick anywhere within it as our new home.

    I'm not so sure… After living near Baltimore, where everything is OPEN 24 hours, back to the backwoods amish country of PA, where the sidewalks roll up at 8 p.m., was quite the culture shock (Especially to him). And to me, even though I grew up here. I'm not sure I'm ready to pack it up again!

    But, it did make me appreciate the quiet even more. AND the fact that if I hadn't gotten out, I'd still think everyone was like "this", everywhere else in the world! How scary would that be?

    Hmmm….maybe I'll consider moving West. There's nothing better than learning about people's differences; at any age!

    If we moved there, I'd have to have a pool too. I was too scared to have one with babies, though. Fear of them falling into it always kept me from it.

    Maybe you should consider keeping SOME of the playscape? And a big fence for the pool area. You'll need it with twins!

    Well, talk about blah, blah, blah….sorry!

  18. Steph, Come on, a nurse and nanny? You can do this. Women have done it since the beginnnig of time….all the way back to Eve. You have to do this by yourself. You have to make your bones as a Mommy, spend time in the trenches. When you have hired help care for "your" children, you sacrifice the right to complain to your girlfriends how exausted you are or how much work is really is to be a Mommy. (of which it is, but the best work you'll ever do.) We're strong women today. You can do this. It's so Carol Brady to have hired help care for the kids. And we all see the issues that Jan Brady grew up with! So come on, suck it up. You'll do yourself a huge disservice to pay hired help to care for, whose babies? Your babies. You're so independent…..this isn't independent girl behavior. And you can do it by yourself. Trust me, you're going to feel like a loser if you don't do it yourself. That's on page 3 of Mommy Guilt 101. Stay strong.

  19. What a great birthday present Stephanie!

    It all seems to be falling into place for you…

    I must say I am a bit jealous :)

  20. Congrats, Steph and Suitor! Excellent house. It reminds me of a friend's who is over near Barton Creek. The back of theirs faces down a small hill, so they have a view of the hills and not of the neighbors below. We'll be staying in their guest suite when we go to the Texas Book Festival in 4 weeks–I love the view of the hills from the windows. Though they don't have the pool–you will love having yours come next year's warm weather! Congrats on finding that house. I love, love the porch! Enjoy it and good luck with the twins.

    (To Robin: when one is self-employed, and works from one's home, a nanny, even for part-time, is NECESSARY! Even moreso when two work from home and both have to get work done at least part of the day!!)

    Make sure your agent gets in touch with the Texas Book Festival people for next year, when your next book comes out. You should be on one of the panels and in the book signing tent. My husband is a moderator for two panels and it's a lot of fun. If you like, I can send info on who to contact, but I expect your agent would know. Or I can ask my friend there who is now a literary agent, formerly the director of the Festival, who to contact and what is needed.

    Again, congrats on a terrific house and healthy babies!

    FROM STEPHANIE- Thank you so much. I am actually participating in the Texas Book Festival this year. I'm honored to have been invited. Not sure what my schedule is for the Fair yet but will post.

  21. Stephanie-I have been reading for awhile-but have never posted before. I used to live in Austin but now live in New Orleans. Loved your book-hope you come here on a book tour! Anyway, happy b-day, best wishes on the marriage and congrats on the twins!

    The house looks fabulous! You can't live in Austin without a pool. It is entirely too hot. Definitely hire a nurse and a nanny. Absolutely nothing wrong with getting some help. Your marriage will be better for it-you will need a break.

  22. Congratulations on the house (and everything else), Stephanie. My husband and I are thinking of relocating from Baltimore to Austin. Any advice re: neighborhoods/areas to see or avoid?

  23. Stephanie, you have a beautiful home and are very blessed. Congratulations. I love reading your blogs and I enjoy your style of writing. As for the haters, karma is a bitch :)

  24. Wow! Is your luck for sale? New hubby of your dreams, not one child but twins, and the dream house? Come back to NYC soon so I can rub your belly for some of that unbelivable good luck!


  25. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And congrats on the house.

    My take on your dream (which you didn't allow comments on) is that your sub-conscious is coming to terms with your old life being completely over. The book about it was written. You have a husband, a new home and children on the way.

    Everything you ever wanted is coming true. You can now put the past behind you. Congrats!!

  26. Hooray Stephanie! You decided to stay! I love Austin and have been here since 1988!

    Have a great birthday and don't worry about snarky comments! We all live our lives in different ways.

    See you Wednesday at your book signing!

  27. Stephanie, FELIZ CUMPLEANOS, if I could sing, I would do my version of Las Mananitas for you today. It's the traditional Mexican song for birthdays.Google it if you get bored, if you can find the english translation, it's really nice. Congratulations on your house, I genuinely feel happy for you, even though I don't know you, I am as happy as I would be for anyone I do know. My husband are fortunate to be in our second house we own, and I love it. Don't listen to the haters (like you ever do).TO THE NAYSAYERS: Hard work and making your dreams come true are what give you the RIGHT to 5000 sf, a nanny, and a pool. Different strokes for different folks, people. Let the girl live her life to the fullest. We should all be so lucky. And about the dream you had (Rome)-I know what you're talking about. I have had similar ones to that recently, but on a completely different level. Too much to go into, but when I woke up, I was so relieved to wake up into my real life, but also felt a little upset that the past can still shake you up in your dreams and there's no control. Damn brain. OK, sorry for the rambling. Lunch is over, but I'm SO EXCITED to see you next week!! Gettin' my hair done on Saturday, just in time.

  28. One more thing for the people wanting to relocate-Austin is really great to live in if you can afford it. I personally couldn't, so I live just north, in Pflugerville. Great small town, with Austin being just down the road (15 min. from downtown.) Round Rock, Georgetown, Kyle, and Buda are all surrounding areas that you can still find pretty good real estate and have some space too.

  29. Happy Birthday! Enjoy your day to the fullest (not that you`re not already doing it) and congrats on the house. The house is beautiful and looks like it has all the space you`ll need.

  30. I dig how some people are so petty that they have to lash out when they see you celebrate something, regardless of what that might be. Celebrate your success, you've worked hard for it. I am thrilled for the four of you that things are happening for you. Enjoy the new home and all it brings. Again, looking forward to the wedding pictures and I believe I will now go buy a picture of your toilet! ;)

    p.s. I loved the relax and go get some sunshine response. hahaha!

  31. Happy Birthday and CONGRATULATIONS!!! The house is BEAUTIFUL!!! What an exciting time!!

    I'm bursting with happiness for you!!!

    Judy :o)

  32. it wasn't a fit of anger – it was a fit of boredom. i may have come back to your FREE blog, but i will NEVER purchase any of your products.

    FROM STEPHANIE- In February, you thought I needed your advice (i love archives). You stated-

    "Stephanie, if you're bored, might I suggest doing some volunteer work? You may already be involved in some way, but if not, I recommend volunteering for many reasons:
    1) it will show you a piece of life from a different perspective – may provide inspiration for new writing/photography…
    2) you won't be bored
    3) you'll be helping someone else to whom life has not been as kind
    4)if your boredom is caused in part by your flexible work schedule, regularly scheduled volunteering can offer you a little (but not too much)"

    To counter your boredom, don't read- volunteer.

  33. What a dream home. It's gorgeous. This has got to be the most exciting time in your life.

    It sucks that people take the time to leave snide comments (on your birthday no less!). If you can afford a nanny, why the hell not get one?? Especially given that you'll have twins.

    And I'm sorry, but if I moved from NY to Texas, I'd need a damn pool too. Not everyone is used to that heat.

    Never apologize for what you've earned Stephanie. Be proud of it.

  34. Me again. But I'm not going to sing. The historian in my just can't let Robin's comment go unchallenged.

    Stephanie's own circumstances aside, the practice of middle-class women being the sole caretakers of their children is a very new social construct, both in the U.S. and throughout documented history. Just go to any used book store/antique shop/an older public library and take a look at pre-WW II children's books. Nursemaids, governesses, housemaids, etc. were common characters. And the higher up the socio-economic ladder one goes, the less hands-on care a mother provided. (Google "wet nurse"; they were the norm in Europe even after WW II in some areas.)

    The post-partum baby nurse was common right up until the 1970s. My mother had one for my and my sibs,and I assure you, we were not Trumps nor even close.

    Finally, I wouldn't hold up Eve as an example of successful hands-on motherhood. Those twin boys of hers were awful. You'd think they wanted to kill each other. ;)

  35. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! It's my birthday too. Not home in NYC because I'm in LA for a few weeks for work.

    Hope you enjoy your day and congrats on the house and the twins!

  36. robin, the people who wrote mommy guilt 101 are people like you, who enjoy telling other moms how to raise their kids. having a nurse and a nanny will help everyone stay sane in the household and that is never a bad thing.

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