Sometimes I sit in my living room when the snow is coming down outside and the kids are all over the place and just observe.
Maybe the kids notice that I am just silently watching my world in action from my cozy spot on the couch but I don’t think so. I am so amazed at how good things can be, and how many times they almost weren’t. And I just like to take it all in. I like to appreciate Gods blessings and the results of Bob and my perseverance (and sweat and tears and worry). My view from the couch has certainly changed over the years, there were years we didn’t even have a couch!
Let me tell you a story about how we ended up in a 9 bedroom house at the end of a dead end road in an adorable development next to a lake…
It starts with a shack (no exaggeration at all), two kids with three babies and a really big dream. There may have been a little bit of naivety on our part but the best things happen when Bob and I have no idea what we are getting in to.
We had put in an offer on another house that was just as bad. It was within our price range and we thought we would just fix it up and live happily ever after. But with an FHA loan, minimal money, and failed inspection after failed inspection- surprise. The loan fell through. The end of that house felt like our dreams had been shattered, Bob and I argued over letting it go or to keep pressing other banks and inspectors but in the end, it was done. It wasn’t going to happen.
At that time, I was also very pregnant. Emotions and stress were high. We were staying with my mother, sharing one bedroom with the two kids and had sold our trailer for our down payment. Time was ticking away and the house had fallen through.
We had even already changed our drivers licenses to that address, and it still comes up as “places I lived” in my credit report even though I’ve never spent one day there.
We did what Bob and I always seem to do – we drove. We drove to every listing in the area, even some that were not in the area. Endless shack after endless shack we were seeing that our $90k budget didn’t stretch far and with soon to be three babies- ages 2 and under, our time to fix something wouldn’t be stretching far either. This may have actually been one of the top most stressful periods of our entire lives.
And then I went into labor one month early with Jesse. A placental abruption no less but that is a story in itself… The end result is we were both healthy and returned back to my mother’s as a family of now 5, with no home of our own on the radar.
And so again we drove.
There was a listing, all dark in the pictures looking like some sort of garage or camp –overgrown with tress that I didn’t want to see. Another waste of our time. And Bob drove us there anyway. We were coming down a road where the houses were back to back to back and I had already made up my mind to hate this house.
But then we hit the end of the road and there were no more back to back houses – there were only two. So we pulled in the driveway. That shack was a cabin (with something resembling a trailer attached to the back). The yard was decent and there was a garage the size of a roller skating rink. There was something about this place that just yelled “This is the one!” and I told Bob that literally “as long as the water runs we will buy this house” before we even got out of the car. Oddly enough, a deal on the place had just fallen through and the realtor was in the driveway just closing things up to put back on the market so he took us through. We made an offer of $85,000 the next morning which was all we could afford at the time and probably a dismal amount to the seller but she took it because the place was just something she had inherited.
And voila! We were under contract.
How did we not care about the rain coming through the top of the bay window in the back and going out the bottom?
Why did we convince an inspector to pass the roof as acceptable when it was thicker with moss and rot than actual shingles?
Who knew Bob would get the water running just long enough for it to look like it worked so the mortgage could be approved?
And why didn’t we care that you could fall through the front deck, slide to the right of the living room when in socks, that nails lined every beam and board like some sort of decoration, or that there were Christmas lights strung in between plexi glass walls in the back room of this house?
Because it was OUR home. Because we were kids. Because we didn’t know how expensive things would be or how tiring or how daunting…
We spent the first night in the living room on a mattress surrounded by two playpens and a bassinet. I remember looking up at the ceiling and thinking how it felt like I was at summer camp. It seemed like there was so much space, I didn’t know how we could ever fill it all. It was still so comforting there, our house just always felt like home right from day one.
Even though we had to quarantine each room off from babies before making them livable one by one.
Even when one of my closest friends sat on our back porch and cried asking why we would buy such a place. (She was pregnant- to be fair)
Even when the basement and yard would flood and the furnace would break and the trees started crashing all around us.
It may have been the wood drilling bees, the car parts we would occasionally dig from the yard, or the driveway that would wash out in the rain- but we simply fell in love.
Or maybe what really kept us here is the bizarre sticker of two hippie-looking people that Bob put on the corner of the garage window which he said meant we were going to live here forever. (I still don’t like it but it’s still there 13 years later…and it might be growing on me)
I’m not sure what we saw back then to be honest. But thank God we were too young and unaware and green to think too much about it. Because we hit the jackpot.
This house has held up to all of our growing whether it was physically growing with our new family members as they came, or growing in our knowledge of home repair. There was growing in our marriage here and lots of first steps- from both the babies and from us as adults.
I got my first real job and ran screaming up the hill to our neighbors to celebrate here. I completed papers for my associates and my bachelor’s degrees at our table. Bob learned plumbing, heating, some electric and construction by practicing here. We announced that I was pregnant with Colbie on our front porch. We signed six separate adoption agreements in our kitchen and walked baby after baby after baby down to meet their kindergarten bus at the end of our road.
This home has been the backdrop of our Easter pictures each year. We craft our Valentine cards, sleigh riding paths and “Sparkle” pancakes here. The chairs on our front porch have held laughter to the point of not being able to catch our breath and sometimes tears of the same magnitude …and sometimes, the porch has even witnessed our intoxicated conversations at 2am on a Tuesday with the neighbors or friends (back when we were young enough to make it until 2am).
Many Thanksgiving turkeys have been carved here and countless birthday candles have been blown out.
And yet, in spite of all of it, in 2013, we had to face the reality that we were now officially a family of 10 and didn’t quite fit in this space any more- we knew we had to make a change, even if it meant moving. Funny enough, we couldn’t find another house that we liked enough to leave this one behind. No other house seemed right, they all just blended into one disappointing selection.
So no real surprise- we decided to stay put. Which meant we were building on… it took another round of sweat, tears, perseverance, and one hell of a construction crew to take it on, and to appreciate what we saw in this place. And THAT my friends is a story for another day…