Wednesday, November 29, 2017

this land

We planned to make 2017 a laid-back year. (See this post for an explanation of how 2016 was anything but laid back.)

God snickered at our plan. As He often seems to do.

Oh, you think you need a break? I think you can handle this (as He sprinkles on more craziness just to make sure we rely on Him).

As I mentioned the other day (in this post), we loved our old house, but in Spring 2017 we began to realize that we might need something different, not just for our family but also possibly for our church family, our friends, and our extended family.

So, after much deliberation and possibly in disbelief that our house would sell for the price we wanted/needed it to sell, we put it on the market with a high-ish asking price and a bit of a sigh.

Twenty-four hours later we had three offers, one of which was pretty significantly above our asking price. WHAT in the world?

We accepted the offer while somewhat greedily wondering why we hadn't asked for more initially, then sighed again as we tried to figure out our next step. We had been looking around at houses to gauge the market, and we hadn't found anything that would work well for us. The housing market was obviously hot, so our money wouldn't go far to get the kind of house we'd need to support our large-ish family that is growing--physically, size-wise, not body-wise--by leaps and bounds. (Our six-year-old, for example, can polish off a full-size Chipotle burrito in about 7 minutes flat. That's scary. How big will he be and how much will he eat at age 16?!) We couldn't even find a fixer upper to make our own, because now is just not the time for us to tackle that sort of project. (Even thought I would LOVE that sort of project! Maybe next year.)

We had our eyes on some beautiful land in "God's country," as Brad calls it. (Rog, MO, for you locals.) It conveniently backed up to our friends' house, and these were friends who also have four kids, one of which happens to be an African girl, and it would have been an answered prayer for Clementine to see more people who look like her. It would have been dreamy, really.

The land was amazing and in a good location, so we began talking to the owner. He seemed agreeable to an offer at first, but as time dragged on and we never really heard much from him after suggesting we get a survey of the land, the deal just didn't seem "right."

Meanwhile, I went to an open house in "God's country," mostly because I love open houses and am a house nerd. (Someone please pay me to do my dream job and fix up old houses. Ok?) The house wasn't right for our family, but the realtor happened to mention that there were another five acres for sale behind the house.

(The day we first saw the land. I sent this pic to Brad with a "pretty please.")

My mom and I went to check it out. It was good, very good. Five acres set off the road, 5 minutes from town (cutting 25 minutes from our commute to town).

We did the research to determine if we could build there while simultaneously making an offer with the realtor. Our friend knew someone who knew someone who knew the owners (or something like that), and I began "researching" to try to find out if anyone had posted the land or house for sale on Facebook. (Because all good research starts there, right?) I found the owner, then sent a creepy-ish message in which I went through a list of reasons for wanting to buy the land. I now know the owner and am exceedingly grateful she didn't think I was overly creepy or ridiculous for sending that message.

When we didn't have a final answer after a day or so, I literally went to the land to pray. I have never done that sort of thing before (because God hears your prayers wherever, you know?), but I felt that God needed to know that I was nearly certain this was the land He had for us and that I would be very confused if He said no. So I let Him know about it.

Long story short, He said yes, the owners of the land were gracious to accept our offer, and we began the process of researching layouts.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

this old house

An ode--of sorts--to our old house.

This old house:  

It's not much to look at--particularly on the outside--but it held a lot of memories in the almost-six years we lived there.

We brought four babies home to this old house. Our first, who was born in Kentucky, lived with me in a hotel room and then in a basement in Kentucky, then in a basement in Springfun, finally found his first "home" in this old house. 

We redid nearly everything about this old house. 

Painted walls, ripped out carpet. Put in new hardwoods. Ripped out more carpet, acid-stained floors, painted trim, retiled, regrouted, redid an entire bathroom, repurposed a dresser into a vanity, built fences, created a garden, added barn-doored storage, painted cabinets, tore out a deck, changed light fixtures, redid stair risers, added baseboards, painted floors...we changed it all. 

We put a lot of sweat into this old house, and it gave us a lot of memories in return. 

We loved the trees, the garden, the roll of the land, the back deck, the privacy and security. I loved our big master bedroom, the way we could hear our kids snickering in their rooms at night, the peonies in spring and the big maple tree over the sandbox in autumn. 

We loved the craziness of this living room.

I loved other things associated with this old house, too: The busdriver (Roxanne, who Brody inadvertently and continually called "Rocksand") who loved our kindergartener with such great intention when driving him home in the afternoon. Our neighbors across the street who were so great to--and tolerant of--us in our ignorance of cows and building fences and general "adulting." 

After that first baby, we added three more within 5 years. The one upstairs bedroom just wasn't cutting it anymore. This old house began to feel small, not because it was really tiny but because the layout didn't work for our family anymore. We had to put the boys in the basement, not an ideal situation when one of them tends to be anxious. The second bedroom on the main level was grossly undersized for two kids. Our living room didn't hold many people, and the kitchen was extra-small with a bit of awkwardness thrown in, not great for entertaining.

We were no longer driving to two different schools, where we once worked, in opposite directions. Rather Brad was driving 35 minutes in one direction several times a day in his new role, and we weren't seeing much of him because of the meetings at all hours and his inability to get away long enough for the drive. 

We wanted to invite people to this old house, to offer them hospitality and rest and friendship, but often we felt too bad to make them drive all the way out to our house, particularly since we tended to be cramped once they got there. 

We had cows that were driving the neighbors nuts, I'm sure. (We struggled to keep them inside the fence--Insert eye roll.) 

We lost a cat to what I call a "bar fight" in the trees behind us. 

We felt the tug of a move in the future, just "not any time soon." 

We still loved this old house and we weren't quite ready to move, but after mentioning to my uncle (our realtor expert!) that we would sell to one of his clients if they happened to be looking for a place like ours, he mentioned that it wouldn't take much to list it. 

So, we did a few little touch-up projects (finally replaced some flakey gold faucets that were lingering in our bathroom) and put it on the market at a price that was substantially over the recommendation. "We know it seems crazy to list at this price," we said, "but we aren't really ready to move anyway." 

Less than 24 hours later we had 3 offers, one of which was substantially over our substantially-over-the-recommended asking price. 

People apparently liked this old house as much as we did. 

We accepted the offer and moved out less than 30 days later, at which time we blinked and wondered what had just happened. 

We loved this old house. We were sad to leave it. But it was right. God made it pretty clear that it was right. And I'll be back with what we did next.