Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Place to Call Home

When Jason made his first trip to New York a year ago, we expected the following eight months to be challenging for our marriage. In some ways, I feel like our separation was made easier for exactly that reason--we knew that it was going to be hard and did our best to brace ourselves and make the most out of a difficult situation.

In contrast, I don't think either of us expected the ensuing "house hunting" phase of our life to be nearly as emotionally exhausting as it's proven to be. As a couple, Jason and I are pretty accustomed to feeling remarkably aligned in our deepest desires and gut instincts. While we both still share the same ultimate goal--happiness and safety for each member of our family-- we've struggled to find a common vision of what this should look like when placed in the very concrete context of our future home.

And so, please forgive us if our joy is laced with a hint of reticence as we share these photos of what we think will be our future home. The home is lovely, the offer accepted, the inspection complete, and the closing date set. Yet if for some reason we back out at the last moment, please forgive us for our flakiness. While not written into the contract, move-in date is contingent on everyone's hearts and minds being at ease.

So without further ado, the fruits of our sub-zero house hunting!
From the front.  Pretty adorable with the porch swing and Narnia lamp post out front.  I also love how the street address is "2345," plus the home was built in the nice round year of 1900.  Just imagine all the history this home has seen.

The main floor has gorgeous maplewood trim and original doors. 

Papa Kay ponders the house for a moment.

Dining room.  (Sorry my photos are grainy.)
The kitchen is begging for a remodel.
Fortunately, I have a husband who's pretty handy.  :)  We really wish we could bump the kitchen wall out three or four feet to give us more space but unfortunately there's not enough room on the lot.
The home has two and a half baths--one on each floor.  The upstairs bathroom is actually quite functional compared to most older homes.
Master bedroom.  Decent closet space for a 1900s house.
This study will likely become Eli's bedroom.  I'm thinking I'd like to repaint--any suggestions on color?
The family has a daughter just a few months older than Annika.  I'm looking forward to finally setting up a nursery for my baby.
The built-in bookshelf is a definite bonus.  :)
The attic has been beautifully finished and will probably become Brooklyn and Talia's room.
It may look like everything is all finished, but I'm sure Jason will figure out a way to add some more insulation.
In the meantime, I'm sure the kids will enjoy the open spaces and chalkboard wall.

Peering out the attic window at the yard.  The 1.5 car garage, shed and the play structure are all ours.

Now a peep at the basement.  Popcorn and movies anyone?
The basement also has a lovely laundry room and bath.

And my personal favorite--a guestroom!!!  We can't wait to have a real space for visitors. 

One more peak at the play equipment.  You may notice the neighbors next door also have baby toys in the yard.  Apparently there are lots of kids in the neighborhood.

Oh, and let's not forget the concrete pad for basketball, bikes, scooters, and pogo sticks.  Plus, plenty of extra parking space for travelers who grow weary of I-80.  (Just in case you missed the earlier hint...)

And the back of the house with its small deck for eating outside.
A wide open door ready to welcome new owners.
Other positives: the neighborhood seems great--generally well-maintained homes with quiet cobblestone streets all around.  It's a really quick jump onto the interstate for Jason, shortening his commute time to Red Oak significantly.  There's good access to running trails, plus we're close to both downtown and the zoo.  As far as the girls' school goes, I'll have to drive them for the rest of the year.  Kind of tedious considering it's 20 miles roundtrip.  Next year, however, they should be eligible to ride a bus.

It's pretty amazing that we found the house at all.  I noticed it featured on zillow the day after it was listed.  When we toured it the next day, six people had already been through, a couple of whom expressed serious interest.  By this point we'd been through enough homes to know we'd found a unique home priced right, so we hurried and wrote up an offer.

Now for the kicker.  Just hours after we received word that our offer had been accepted, we got a phone call letting us know that this property was back on the market.  Back in the beginning of December we'd placed an offer but were outbid.  At the time, we felt so discouraged and disappointed.  We communicated with the realtor several times after the contract was signed to make sure the deal was still solid--it always was.  And so, if Jason and I seem slightly torn, perhaps we're trying to decide if God is giving us a second chance with the first home, or if that home needed to be unavailable long enough for us to find our "real" new home.  It's also quite possible that God may not particularly care--both are good options.  The first house has gorgeous views but needs a lot of work (and a bit of extra money) to finish the basement and add a garage.  It's easy to imagine our family settling into the second house immediately, but any changes we make won't be as remarkable.  I'm personally leaning toward the second option because I think we'll have a little less stress and a little more financial freedom.  Still, I'm totally willing to take a different cue from Jason, the more courageous risk-taker in the family.  In either case, it's up to us as a family to add the love that transforms concrete and wooden planks into a home.


Crys said...

OH man, I did love that first house as well. Hmmm, difficult decisions. I felt like buying a house was really hard as well. I felt like there had to be some perfect house that would fit every thing I needed/wanted/loved but I never did quite find the house. Anyway good luck. Both look great!

Kes LT said...

Great house! Yet the other one is SUPER! :))))) Master bedroom! backyard! wow!!! (pictures are also very well done, maybe it's part of the trick...). Good luck!

The Favorite said...

So hard!! I do think that both houses are beautiful and happiness will be found in both of them. That 2nd house- that just came on the market seems more like you- especially with all that space out back. I LOVE the wood and all the windows. We'll maybe be out your way in mid/end July and would love to see you!

Tanja said...

Go with the family-friendly house in your blog and get the (already mentioned) retirement-home, when the kids are off to attend BYU :) Have a great and hopefully getting warmer January :)

Anonymous said...

I truly like both houses, and I also appreciate the fact that it is the sole choice of Jason and Kara to make this "next house" decision. I have confidence in each of you, and that all will be well. You cannot make a bad choice so long as you stay together as a family and unitedly live to make your house a real home.

Since Mr. Anonymous still loves quotations ... perhaps one or more of these are germane:
"You never know what events are going to transpire to get you home." -Og Mandino
"A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body." - Ben Franklin
"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." -Maya Angelou
"Home is where the heart is."
-Pliny the Elder
"Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave." - Martin Luther
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." - Melody Beattie

Julie L said...

Oh, what great decisions to make. I like both homes. It will be fun to see what you make with either place. And I agree - God probably doesn't care, either look like good choices. The second one, the one you posted about, just feels like it has been cared for and prepared for your little family. Tan and a muted blue would go great in Eli's room. That or red and bright blue. Or sunshine yellow! Bet he'd love that! Can't wait!

Susie said...

"Home is a special kind of feeling..." Both houses are great!