Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This old house

A visit this morning from our social worker and ECI services coordinator prompted this post.

During conversation, she pointed out how nice Austin's play room is set up for his needs. Soft carpet, no hard, bulky furniture with sharp edges, padding where necessary, soft toys, etc. She remarked at how we have efficiently accommodated his special needs.

Actually....it just kind of happened that way. Interesting story, really. Full of irony and fate and circumstance.

We started out as first time homeowners about five years ago in a town about thirty minutes from here. Just outside the city where I worked and an easy commute for Chad's job, but nearly an hour away from both of our parents.

Upon moving there, maybe about three months in, we realized there were numerous flood claims on our house that were not disclosed to us. But, after learning that, we would then be obligated to disclose to future potential buyers. We knew when we bought it that it would not be our forever home, merely a good starter house (which by the way was completely covered in ceramic tile). What a bind we were in. A small house with a small yard...and soon to have disruptive and questionable neighbors. Man. We were screwed!

In September of 2005, we were hit with a whopper of a flood, courtesy of Hurricane Rita. Six months of renovating and living in a travel trailer in the yard was quite the test. But, Chad and I soon learned we had a knack for remodels. Turns out he's quite the rookie carpenter!

(we lost three six foot windows in the front)

(Above: Some of the interior water damage Below: The front windows that cracked and buckled from the wind and water)

(Clockwise from left: flood damage; before the flood; after remodel)

(Before and after)

So, we lived there for about another year, when we were confronted with a proposition. A city-wide buyout of excessively flooded homes...which we knew we'd be crazy not to accept. The thought of ever selling our little starter house for enough to recoup costs was no longer conceivable. We desperately wanted to take it.

And this just so happened to come about during my pregnancy. Actually, I also found out during the same week that my job site would be closing it's doors, and I would soon be jobless. The scheduled closing was to take place within a couple weeks of my scheduled due date. How's that for irony? On top of that, my excellent insurance benefits would continue for an extra 30 days beyond the closing.

So, we happened upon this home. Not very big either, but it's sufficient. There's a couple acres here...and it's definitely more private and remote. Sitting halfway between our parents and Chad's work, it was the perfect location. It needed extensive TLC. But, we were ready for another challenge. We began remodeling little by little over the summer of 2007. The first week of October, we were ready to move in (renovation was still not complete, but we were running out of time). My job ended about the same time...we closed on our other house with the city in mid-October. Austin was born on October 25, we were released from the hospital Oct. 28, and my insurance ran out Oct. 29.

Everything just happened to fall into place perfectly, wouldn't you say?

As time went on, and Austin got a little easier for us to handle, we decided to pick up where we left off with the remodel. That's when Austin's play room was started (although the intended purpose at the time was a living room). Actually, Chad had started demo on our master bathroom first. Midway through, I convinced him to shift his focus on the other living room. I told him that Austin would soon be crawling and we needed more living space. So, that he did. In early May of 2008, the room was ready for flooring. Refinish the hardwood floors or install carpet? Hmmm. I really wanted the wood floors. But, we convinced ourselves at the very last minute that carpet would be best for a baby. So, the first week of May, we ordered the carpet. About a week or so later...Austin was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms.

About a week after arriving home from the hospital, the carpet was in and ready to be installed. Of course we wouldn't realize until later how thankful we were for making that last minute decision on the carpet. Or the last minute decision to remodel that room instead. It soon became Austin's hangout. It was wide open and he had it all to himself. He still does.

(Right after new carpet was installed)

So, we never planned to give Austin an entire play room. Not that we didn't want to..but we didn't think we had the space. We didn't plan to carpet that room in the beginning. Just like I didn't plan to lose my job. Or move so close to my parents. It just kind of happened that way.

Shortly after Austin was born, I thought how crazy and lucky and fateful that was. I honestly didn't want to work right after having a new baby. My insurance was so wonderful that I paid $0 altogether. I really wanted to be closer to my parents. And we desperately needed to get out from under that house. So, for nearly six months of mucho stress leading up to it...everything fell together impeccably in just one month.

For so long I've looked back on 2007 as a year of plans and obstacles coming together. Almost as if He was setting the stage for us. Only to wonder why 2008 was the year our world would come crashing down...destroying us...those plans and achievements falling apart before our eyes. Shaking...no wrong word...Rocking my faith beyond belief.

Honestly though, now, I can't even imagine living there in that other house with Austin and the situation we're in now with him. Being so far from family. Ceramic tile galore. An arm's length from neighbors I didn't trust that kept the noise going every hour of the day. Floods and a baby and possibly more travel trailer living in our future. Need I say more?

We have a home here. A home that is still rough around the edges in terms of aesthetics. But, a home that is safe, where neighbors come to lend a hand. Even to help you give your baby an injection. Or offer to watch him while you take a much needed shower.

It's not as cute...or tidy...as the other house..the newly remodeled updated house. But, it's more of a home than that house could have ever been.

Ironic that I say that now. Because just months ago, I had been complaining about how I still hate it here. How I miss our old house. But I wasn't looking at the bigger picture.

I missed our old lifestyle. The life that had no seizures or worries. The one where when I tried to invision the future, I saw a baby running around carefree.

And, I still don't particularly like it here in this small, unfamiliar town in this old house that still needs tons of repairs. It's always felt like a stepping stone. Not our forever home.

Even with that said...I still can't imagine being anywhere else right now. This is home. At least for now.


blogzilly said...

That's a great story, I love hearing the back history.

You're lucky to have a husband with Man Skills. I have none. I was taught how to take a beating with a screwdriver growing up, not how to use it to fix things. Consequently? I don't know the first thing about anything when it comes to tools and home repair and fixing things.

And when I try? Bad things happen, like putting a screwdriver all the way through the palm of my hand last Christmas Eve trying to build a trampoline for the kids.

But yeah...I am SUPER jealous of all men who have those gifts. Wish I did, makes me feel kind of like a poozy that all I can do is write and draw and not really MAKE something.

baby trevor's mommy said...


I had already pre-meditated to say I love hearing back stories...only to read what Ken wrote! Same brain thing! *wink*

I would love if you & your boys moved up here next to me! No two acres of property...but we do have the beach. The beach is very nice. And I would watch Austin so you could take a book and a blanket and be a bum for a day! That is totally a bribe. I'm not ashamed either!

It's always interesting when life is all stormy & gloomy...but then the clouds part for a moment and you get a clear view. And find that you're exactly Where you're supposed to be. And that you never really did the placing...or the timing...that it was really all Someone else. I like those moments. Those moments make living through the stormy times a little bit easier. Ya know.

Anyway...didn't think it was possible to love you any more. I was wrong! *smile*