Sunday, August 24, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I was just reading a favorite blogstop of mine, and took a foray into a subject near and dear to my insanity. My house. More specifically, what I'd like to do with (or to) my house. (In my mind, I immediately see an image of lighter fluid and a match...)

Can I just start by saying that my house is old? VERY old. One bathroom and minimal outlets old. When we moved in (after several months of work just to make it livable) I literally had two electrical outlets to serve the entire downstairs, outside of the kitchen. Just try to make things look good with orange extension cords running everywhere - I dare you. My favorite was the one tacked up the wall and across the ceiling to power the ceiling fan. Nice.

In the beginning of our time here, the upstairs was a very patchwork kind of place. Each room sported at least three different wall coverings, ranging mainly between tar paper (yes, I said tar paper - that black stuff used on roofs), paneling (of the ugliest 1980's varieties), unfinished sheet rock (the duct tape covering the seams was a nice touch), and the old cardboard-like wall paper covering used in the first half of the 20th century to keep the outside air from moving too freely about in the house.

We (just in case my husband ever reads this, I'm using the term "we" VERY loosely) have leveled the foundation, re-plumbed the laundry room, replaced the roof - sheeting and the works, re-built the front porch, sheet rocked, insulated, carpeted, wired (I hesitate to say re-wire, because that would imply there had been wires in the first place), painted - inside and out - multiple times, moved the driveway (which conveniently ran directly in front of the porch), put in a lawn, installed a picket fence and shutters, field-fenced the perimeter (we have just over an acre), and continue to sink every cent of our tax returns into this house. All with the hopes that someday it will be nice enough that some one else may want to own it.

Did I mention we got a screamin' deal?

Or that we bought it sight-unseen for the most part? (Technically, since it's down the road from my parent's I drove past it several times a day for the first 18 years of my life. This does NOT mean I was actually prepared for the stark reality). As to the condition of the house, my mother tried to warn me. She sent me pictures taken from every angle in every room (including the hospital green kitchen, and tar-papered upstairs) and lovely panoramas of the seriously cosmetically challenged exterior. She was very concerned.

My lofty goals for this summer included ripping up a sidewalk and putting in a patio, remodeling the back porch so we could enter from somewhere besides the front door, exterior painting touch-ups, and various indoor activities revolving around the words "paint" "organize-with-no-closets" and "do-something-with-the-bathroom-because-it-looks-just-like-it-did-when-we-moved-in". The sidewalk has been ripped up, just in case anyone is wondering. And I painted the doghouse. With the children. I may need to blog about that experience, now that I'm reminded of it. WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING THIS SUMMER!!

In my defense, I hate projects. Possibly because they've been a way too constant element in my life this last seven years. And, it's not easy to fit them in around four children who want to go to grandma's, go swimming, eat lunch, have clean clothes to wear (okay, I don't think they'd really notice, but I do have some pride), and various other little distracting and time consuming wants/needs.

So how do I stand it, you ask? How do I handle living in a house that should be constantly under construction? When it gets overwhelming, I ask myself one simple question and force an honest answer from my reluctant brain.

If I could do it over, would I have changed anything?

I live a quarter mile from my mother. My kids have an acre to play on, fruit trees, several forts, and a nice quiet dead end private road to ride their bikes on. There are ditches and cricks (creeks for the non-country people) within moments of my front door where my kids spend countless summer hours catching "things". (No doubt the "things" are the distant offspring of the things I caught in the same cricks/ditches when I was a kid), and due to the close proximity, my children have the privilege of grandma-access almost every day.

I know very few people who even have the option of putting all these elements in their lives. Some people will think I'm crazy for wanting a life a quarter mile down the road from my mother. For my children and me however, the seven years we've spent in this old, out-dated, needs constant work house have been priceless.

I comfort myself with the thought that I won't live in this house forever. (Please, please let that be true!). But for the time being, I have to admit that I'm glad I didn't see the place before we bought it, because it might have scared me away. And there's NO doubt that even if it hadn't, one look at the foundation would have sent my husband running for the hills.

For now, I do my best to concentrate on the good points (namely the things AROUND the house) and ignore the bad. (My kitchen, my no-garage, my one bathroom, on, and on, and on). It isn't always easy, and my friends have heard my sob story many times, but in all reality living here has blessed our lives. In twenty years from now I have no doubt I'll look back on these years and be thankful I spent them in this house - that is, as long as I'm not still here. I won't be, right?


Jen said...
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Jen said...
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by AnnieValentine said...

Okay I'm an idiot. I just deleted the same spelling error twice in a row.

For what it's worth, your boys have the coolest wall coverings in the entire county.

Oh, and the upstairs has been sheet rocked, for those of you worried about the tar paper.

Natalie said...

You guys have done an incredible amount of work to the place and I think it's way cuter than the average reader who hasn't seen your house would think it was by the description.

Jen said...

Annie - I was so excited that I already had four comments....

Natalie - I wanted to put up before and after pics, but I don't have any before's on my computer. Thanks for the happy house thoughts though! All encouragement is welcome:)

Kelly said...

Well, we don't have to re-hash what I thought the first time I saw the house(this was before you'd moved in or done ANY work to the house), but I am sure you wil remember my reaction. I CRIED. Walking through your house the first time, my horror became increasingly worse, as did the pit in my stomach.

However, the transformation is incredible! It is a very homey and sweet house (the bathroom is NOT bad, but it would be so fun to have that new and bright, eh?). Warm and bright as it is, I do hope you get a chance to move someday...Meara needs to have her own room (and you guys your own back!) sometime before she's 16.

Good job Jen and Rusty (okay... a lot Rusty! But Jen you were the one with the vision of what could be).

Laura said...

comment comment comment--There, I couldn't think of anything witty to say. Hehehe.

You'll appreciate your next house so much more! But you've done a great job with what you've had to work with!

Jodi's Ramblings said...

I so don't envy the work you have had to do, but I so envy everything else. Near your mother? Country living? Room for fruit trees and a garden and a creek??? Girl, you are in heaven and I am so incredibly jealous! I would live in a shack if I could have all of that for me and my family!

PS--Thanks for commenting on my blog! It was so exciting to have you AND Annie come by!!!