Or, so I keep telling myself.
We really, TRULY have actually bought a house!! As in, somewhere we plan to live for pretty much the rest of our working adult lives, until we reach the age and quota of dealing with jobs when we can finally say "hasta la vista, BABY" and retire. Someplace WARM. Where words like "snow" and "wind chill" no longer enter our vocabulary.
A brief history...
My parents sold the house where I grew up in the spring of my junior year of college. They moved to sunny Florida that summer, so I moved to my off-campus slum of an apartment. Since that move, I have not had a residence last longer than four years.
**And that four-year mark is actually our most recent place, a house we are renting that we planned to only be in for a year.
What that has meant:
For most of my adult life, I've felt like a total freaking nomad. I have had U-Haul stored in my speed dial longer than anyone ever, ever should. I have moved sometimes every year, sometimes just a little over that. I've bought and sold two previous houses.
The first was intended to be IT- the supposedly long-term, never-moving-again place. However, within the first year of living there, my now-ex found out his place of employment was being sold, which tends to be the kiss of death in his industry. You learn not to hang stuff on the walls.
Luckily, that one sold fairly quickly, though we had to relocate the dog temporarily to make it work. Once we sold that house, there was a brief stint my former in-laws' guest room (again-- don't get me started!) and purchased what was intended to be IT, again, somewhat nearby to them.
Except within a couple months of being at THAT house, it became clear that not only was the house not going to be permanent, but neither was our marriage.
Many major changes happened there. That home was where Monkey was brought home, to the nursery painted in my very advanced pregnancy, and I still have the paint-splattered shorts with the giant "sunshine yellow" blob on the butt where I managed to sit on the roller, and was too preggo and inertia-bound to get off it.
That was where we faced my furry child's doggy exit from this planet.
It was also the last place I saw my brother. And where Monkey said her first words, took her first steps, and a host of other landmarks. All there.
That house was sold as part of the divorce agreement, once that huge stinking pile o'mess was finally sorted out and done. When it did finally sell after what seemed like forever and a few months, MDD and I had to find something fast to rent. I had just started my current job after a year as a SAHM mom with Monkey and we had 30 days to go elsewhere.
Hooray for Craigslist!! There, we found our little gem, fully intending that rental home to be extremely temporary.
Funny...the one time I actually PLANNED to live somewhere only temporarily turned out to be the longest time spent at one address since I was 21 years old... Huh.
After much instability, in phases, with both of our jobs, we started seriously looking for a house. We looked last spring, but the place we were negotiating turned out to be Asbestos Central and the sellers could not have given less of a damn. Too much to fix, so we had to drop out of that deal. When we couldn't quite find the right place in time to safely (and legally) wrap up our lease at the current place, we re-signed for another year.
This year, we started looking EARLY. The housing market has been in the trenches, but all signs pointed towards things starting to pick up. I did NOT want us to get stuck again due to low inventory of available homes. Monkey starts "real school" this fall, and I absolutely, positively did NOT want her to start in one school and have to switch due to us moving. Last year, we'd waited until March to start looking and just plain ran out of time.
This year? NOT happening-- lesson learned! Thus, we started in January. Early bird, worms, etc.
We first looked online. A friend recommended the Redfin app for my phone, which proved invaluable for storing, searching, and keeping notes on places we'd gone out to see. Using the app, I was able to set up a series of searches breaking down available homes by their elementary school. We had two schools in mind and wanted to stick to those areas.
The main school district we REALLY wanted tends to have homes outside our price range. Go figure-- it's a pretty sought-after area. Things go quickly there, even when the market is down for the rest of the region.
In my online searches, I had found and tagged as a favorite this cute house...all recently remodeled, so inviting and open, and just exactly the kind of layout I wanted. It was, of course, WAY too expensive when it was first listed. But I tagged it anyway, as a comparison, and set a request to notify me when/if the price changed.
I visited it wistfully on my phone here and there. Every time I went to the payment calculator, I sighed and clicked past it.
But then: Lo and behold...DING! Price change notice!!
I told MDD and our realtor we absolutely HAD to go see this one. It was in the right area, right school district, and I just wanted to see it-- if nothing else, to get some decorating ideas, because I really liked what they'd done in the remodel.
So, we went to see it, as the first of three potential homes, on a snowy, cold night in Chicagoland.
From the moment we walked in, it was just...WOW.
They thought of everything, too. Had snacks out for us. TV's were on with soothing music. Christmas tree was up and all was just so quaint and cute. A few messages tacked up in strategic places dropped not-so-subtle hints that this was THE ONE.
As we went through room by room, we started getting excited.
Monkey was, of course, won over by the snacks.
But she also recognized that the split-level layout essentially turns the front room into an audience for a "stage" set up by the bedroom hallway. As the sign left by the sellers read, "THINK OF THE POSSIBILITIES...!" Oh, we were. There is a STAGE. And hardwood floors...the acoustics!!
We knew from the listing there was a "bonus room, or possible 4th bedroom" in the lowest level. What we didn't realize until we actually got there was that the placement of that room and layout makes it an ideal location for a music studio. It is mostly underground, with just small windows high up, so the sound would be fairly insulated from the neighbors. It's also two full levels below the bedrooms, with two separate doors to close, so even inside the house it would be decent for recording without fear of excessive noise from other rooms polluting a recording.
This is HUGE for us.
In what we now call the "OLD-old house," sold four years ago, there was a full, unfinished basement. We had plenty of room for all of our musical equipment without concern for noise carryover to the rest of the house or neighbors. MDD is a drummer, after all, and we wanted to be set up for him to practice. The kids love getting to play on Daddy's drums. He also has built a bunch of electric guitars, and we have a keyboard and entire recording studio equipment. A large part of our bond is music, and MDD and I have written and recorded original songs together.
But where we've been living (now dubbed the "old house"), we just simply had no space. We couldn't do any of that without losing serious function of another major part of the house. It's just too small, and as such, all our stuff has been mostly in storage.
This house, newly dropped into our price range?
Yep. Here's that music room we've been missing. For FOUR YEARS. Ta-daaaa!!!
And the kitchen, although smaller than I'd hoped, has been updated with the slate tile I'd wanted to install in my last home, but ran out of time/money/inclination (once I knew it would be sold).
So much about this was so very right.
Checkmark on so many items...tick! Tick! Tick!!
Nothing else came anywhere close to the overall feeling we got walking through this home.
So, we did it.
We dropped an offer, and prayed. A lot.
We went back and forth a couple of times, haggling. And then... SUCCESS!! OFFER ACCEPTED!!
This time, the house cleared inspection with just one major issue, which we were able to negotiate into the deal and keep rolling.
Anyway-- that is the main reason for my radio silence for so long.
Well... some of THAT is actually courtesy of the collective dumbass conspiracy that is Comcast...a story for another day. They suck, but whatever. Not dwelling on that now!
Most importantly: MONKEY HAS A HOME. A PERMANENT home.
She now has her "nature room."
With a new, big-girl bed to replace the toddler bed we've been letting her feet overhang for the past few months.
And new carpet she picked herself, in the most obnoxious shade of lime green you can possibly imagine. It is 80's fabulous!!
And lavender walls.
...Because the definition of "nature room" was expanded to mean "CARTOON nature" when we found the perfect "nature" bedding set with the most obnoxious colors possible, and patterns of skunks with bows on their tails, dancing deer, and foxes. Because WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?!
We moved in just about a month ago.
Not that it really looks like we have finished moving, because there are more boxes than I thought humanly possible for four people's random crap to accumulate into.
At some point, I have hope, there will actually just be furniture in the rooms. Like, stuff that does not consist of cardboard boxes used as tables and whatnot.
We are settling in, and the sound of that is so perfectly boring and perfectly wonderful, all at the same time.
Monkey is registered for kindergarten.
We KNOW PEOPLE here already, because we are now *FOUR* minutes away from our beloved church, and guess what? Most people actually LIVE near their church. Whodathunkit?? I was stunned.
All the more reasons this is the perfect place for us:
1. Next door: nicest neighbor guy EVER. He helped us move Monkey's bed into her room within about 30 seconds of introducing himself. Offered MDD use of any tools he needs...which turned into a "Whatchagot" tool-talk discussion that made testosterone pretty much pour out onto the new hardwood floors.
2. Same neighbor guy has THREE friendly dogs, who love Monkey and inexplicably keep trying to lick her armpits. They may not be the BRIGHTEST dogs...but they are very nice.
3. They also have cats. AND A POOL. They are perfect and we adore them.
4. Across the street from us: another five-year-old headed to kindergarten this fall... A boy. Who likes comic books and super heroes and just HAPPENS to have the same name as my brother, who I miss dearly.
5. Same household: has a two-year-old girl who is super cute. AND a NEW BABY GIRL whose name I don't know yet. We've been calling her TBD because, why not.
6. Next door neighbor on our other side: a fourth grade teacher and her husband. An engineer. Who plays drums. And the wife sings. And they ALSO have a music studio in THEIR downstairs "bonus room."
7. Next door to that house: a SAHM mom with five-year-old boy/girl twins, ALSO headed to kindergarten this year. And her husband is a drummer, too. And they *ALSO* have a music studio in THEIR basement.
We clearly were meant to be here, and not in the asbestos-filled house that we walked away from last year. That was a tearful, prayerful decision thrown up with a big dose of faith and the scary feeling of letting go of what you can't control. We let go, and let God, and now we are where we're meant to be. I feel it with every bone in my body.
That could also be a bruise...tripped on another freaking box a little while ago. <le sigh>
There are plans in the universe, and you don't always see them.
Sometimes the answer to your prayers is a slight chuckle and, "Just wait...I have something BETTER in mind."