Twenty Years, Ten Kids, One House
Twenty years ago last month, we moved into this house. The longest I had ever lived in one place prior to that was six years, so this is a big deal for me. In my almost 50 years, I have lived in seven states (two of them twice), eight houses, and too many apartments to count.
|North Carolina mid-move vacation, 1993|
We were living in Gaithersburg, Maryland when my husband decided we should return to Florida so that he could work with his dad in the family engineering business. Frankly, I was worried about trying to sell our little townhouse in a lower income neighborhood, mostly because we had four little girls under the age of six and I knew I wouldn't be able to keep the house clean for very long at a stretch. Imagine my surprise when we had a contract within just a few days! Now I really had to scramble to get ready to move within several weeks! I was also worried about finding suitable housing for a “large” family in Florida on such short notice. We asked my father-in-law and some of our Orlando friends to post notices on their church bulletin boards (this was before the Internet was common) saying that we were looking for a short term rental until we could find a house to buy. Pretty quickly, my father-in-law called saying that a lady he knew from church said she had a house for us to rent, but that we wouldn't want it since the pastor was selling his house and she knew it would be perfect for us. It was also a reasonable price because it was a fixer-upper and was For Sale by Owner. He went over, took pictures, got the floor plan and site map, and sent it to us by overnight mail. I checked off everything on my “House Wish List” including at least four bedrooms, a garage for our cars, a double sink, and some orange trees. Just after that, my husband traveled to Orlando to start making arrangements for our move, and I told him if he liked the house, to just go ahead and buy it. He did. Fortuitously, we had already planned months ahead of time to meet my husband’s family in North Carolina for a vacation. So, we loaded the minivan with kids and suitcases, drove to the mountains for a week, and I kept going down I-95 to Orlando with the kids while my husband returned to Maryland to pack the truck and drive it to Florida. Perfect timing! I always think back on that story and smile at God's providence for our family.
We knew our house would take a beating since we had young children, and since we didn't have much money left over anyway, we didn't fix up much at first. It wasn't until 2004, eleven years after our move, that we finally decided to invest some of our inheritance (from his parents) toward renovating. Over the course of several months, we painted, had new carpet and ceramic tile floors installed, got new storm windows, and bought new living room furniture. (We've almost always bought our furniture used or gladly accepted hand-me-downs!) Then in 2005, since we were expecting our tenth baby, we hired a contractor to permanently convert our garage into a much needed fifth bedroom, small office, and laundry area. We also added space for another car in our driveway since there are usually five drivers and we obviously don't have a garage anymore!
Now after all these years of raising kids and home schooling here, we are actually emptying the house out. Two of my daughters have gotten married, the third is a nurse and will be moving out soon since she’ll probably be working night shift, and the fourth is spending a semester in Australia and plans to get an apartment when she comes home. We still have quite a crowd for birthdays and holidays, though, with all of my children, my sons-in-law and my two grandsons. I can only imagine how full our tables will be in coming years as more join the family!
|Our family at Christmas 2012|
I have loved living here. Our neighbors are awesome and never cause us any trouble. Most of the folks on our street have lived here longer than we have, and all but two families have been here at least ten years. Our home is centrally located within a mile of Aldi, Sam’s Club, the library, my favorite used bookstore, several discount stores, the ReStore thrift shop, my bank, the post office, etc. The elementary school where my two youngest children now go is just three blocks from us, too. My part-time teaching job and our church are only twenty minutes away. Inside our four walls, I've tried to make a nurturing home for my family. It’s still such a challenge to keep the house clean and tidy and it's not always (or even very often) quiet and peaceful. Nonetheless, I have many sweet memories here mixed in with the inevitable trials and tribulations. I intend to stay in this house for a long, long time!
Well, that’s just a little bit of reminiscing. If you would like to see the rest of our home, click on over to my new Homemaking Index and check out the Room-by-Room and Season-by-Season sections!