My life basically revolves around deadlines and yesterday I was on several different ones (read: super busy!). And although I had a thanksgiving post formulated in my head, I never found the spare time to actually sit down and write it. So I am playing catch-up today with a two-fer deal. You’re welcome!
Like I said when I started this series, this list-of-thankfulness is in no particular order. Obviously I am more thankful for my kids, my husband, my family..friends..than I am for our home, since our home is very much a thing. But finding the words to adequately express those feelings takes time, so they might not show up until the very end of this thing when I am under pressure. I write best that way, anyway.
Kyle and I were married on Sept. 1, 2001. We moved into an apartment straight off of our honeymoon. It was a small apartment – two bedrooms, one bathroom – but it was quiet and perfect for our first place. And cucumber-melon scented candles will forever remind me of that little space we shared together in our first months of marriage. 9/11 happened while we lived there. Our first dinner parties happened there. But even though that little apartment marked many of our “firsts”, it wasn’t a long-term home for us and we knew that right away. By the following spring we were looking for other places to live. At first we were looking for a house to rent, but by early summer we were seriously considering buying. It was the perfect time and unfortunately, other peoples’ misfortunes turned out to be our blessing. Isn’t it weird how things work out that way sometimes?
This was in 2002 when the price of gold was low – around $300 an ounce. For comparison, it’s over $1,700 an ounce these days. Mines weren’t processing enough to offset their overhead and there were a lot of layoffs. Layoffs meant people didn’t have the money to pay their mortgages, and that meant foreclosures. And amazing home prices for newly-married buyers! Neither of us were working super well-paying jobs at that point but we made enough to live comfortably and within our means. We found a home we could afford in Grass Valley that was an amazing deal. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a lot of undeveloped land. To us it looked like a blank canvas just waiting for the perfect “artists” to come along. To my parents (and maybe Kyle’s?) it looked like a lot of work, time and money. And they were right, but we were young and idealistic and excited to have a place to call our own. With some financial help from my grandparents for our down payment (that was paid back) we signed the papers and were moved in in July 2002. Our mortgage was less than our rent had been — only $366 per month! How crazy is that?
Our land remained a “blank canvas” for a couple years. Our first big project was building a chain-link fence around the perimeter of our backyard. Then we planted trees (which are HUGE now – so awesome!) In the nine years we’ve lived there we’ve since:
- built our own sidewalk with rocks we collected in the desert near Orovada;
- built a huge garage/shop after refinancing our house (our mortgage is higher now, obviously!);
- replaced the carpet, kitchen linoleum and bedroom flooring (now hardwood);
- put in a sprinkler system and grass in the back yard;
- built a redwood deck in the backyard;
- built a vegetable garden (we’ve had 3 growing seasons already!);
- planted more trees;
- built a dog house and kennel area;
- built a roof over the deck and railings and stairs.
Those are the biggest projects to-date, although there have been so many smaller improvements we’ve done as well. Our front yard remains untouched and – let’s face it – pretty ugly, but we have big plans for that space! The key is finding the time to do it! Our summers go by way too fast and the weather otherwise is pretty unpredictable. Hopefully we can start on that area next spring. We’re planning on xeriscaping most of it, but with some bushes and trees thrown in for privacy/aesthetics. No grass, though! We spend the majority of our time in the backyard and it’s plenty big enough for the girls to play in.
Honestly, we were “too big” for our house the day we moved in. Before we had kids our two spare bedrooms were filled with boxes of stuff, tools, camping gear, etc. I remember a few times when Kyle used our kitchen floor as his fixing-things workspace. How awesome is it to find sawdust in your dishwasher? IT’S NOT. And the only way I got the bike tire streaks off our kitchen floor was by replacing the linoleum.
In 2005/2006 we were blessed enough to be able to refinance and our garage was our saving grace as far as space goes! We’re still tight inside our home but we make do, and besides — it’s nice to downsize the stuff, isn’t it? The past several months I’ve been going through our house and purging things out. Watching episodes of Hoarders is excellent motivation for getting rid of unnecessary things! And I really don’t want someone to come over for dinner and find a Flat Cat under the area rug.
Over the years we’ve considered moving out of our little home and into something bigger and in town. We even had the financing in place on two different occasions, but it’s just never felt right. It always felt a little forced (on our parts) and after we talked it through and prayed about it, we always ended up staying in our little corner of Grass Valley. Which is just fine for now. I know that eventually we will move away – whether it’s to another home in town or to a different town altogether and when it happens the timing will be perfect for our little family.
I’m content because it’s the first home we bought together. It’s where we brought our girls home after they were born. We spent hours and hours painting the girls’ rooms in murals. We’ve done upgrades and improvements and made our house our home. Our hearts are there! And although I’m grateful on those summer days when I can open every window in the house and the deck door and let the girls come and go as they please into the back yard, I’m even more thankful on nights like last night, when it was cold and windy outside. We were inside, warmed by the pellet stove, eating leftover lasagna and laughing at Jovi laughing at herself while she showed us the sign language to Jesus Loves Me. Those moments are what makes a house a home, right? And the knowledge that we are sheltered from the elements; not just the weather, but everything. Our homes are a safe haven. A place to rest and rejuvenate and love and laugh. And I am thankful that we have one to call our own, especially after waking up to this this morning!