In a previous post, I promised you the story of my house. I read somewhere, probably on Pinterest, about the idea of writing down the story of your house and hiding it somewhere for future generations to find.
John and I bought our first home about a year after we were married. It was small but nice, although the only bathroom was so small and configured in a way that if there were two people in the bathroom at the same time, one of them had to be in the shower and one on the toilet. And there was a window in the shower. Facing the front yard. This is not the story of that house. We had no children yet, so we were saving as much as we could each month toward a down payment on our dream home. John proclaimed that he was only moving once more, so the next house had to be the house.
Time passed, and we had our first child. For such tiny people, babies sure have a lot of stuff. (This baby was not so tiny, at 11 pounds and 3 ounces!) With all of the bedrooms now occupied (we had a third bedroom we used for the computer), it was time to get a little more serious about a house search. At some point, we grew tired of looking at houses and began looking for land on which to build. This was a small victory for me, to convince my husband, who grew up in town, to consider the country life. We found the perfect spot by accident one evening while driving around to give our son a few more minutes of naptime. Neither one of my children could be removed from the car without waking them.
With the land secured, we moved on to choosing a floor plan. It was funny how we had different approaches to this. I would look at the floor plans and pick out several that I liked to show to John. He just wanted to know what the outside of the house looked like. During this time, the land between our house and the one next to us was put up for sale. Not wanting our country paradise to get too crowded, we approached our neighbors about splitting the property with us, and they gladly agreed. I’m still very happy with where we live, but I will admit to the slightest twinge of jealousy every now and then when I see friends posting pictures on facebook of the fun they’re having in their neighborhood with lots of same-age kids to play with. But then it passes.
Finally we had a floor plan chosen and construction was about to begin. Not long after some of the site work started, I found out I was pregnant with our second child. I seriously considered waiting to tell John until I was absolutely sure work on the new house could not be stopped. He tends to worry too much (in my opinion) about our finances. But I told him anyway and luckily he didn’t freak out.
Fast forward to move-in day, December 1, 2004. Now, if you live in the Midwest, you probably remember what happened in late December of 2004. Around December 21, a massive ice storm covered the region, causing trees and power lines to fall. I woke early that morning to the sound of cracking branches in the woods around us. My husband woke much earlier when a massive cherry tree fell toward the back of the house and missed hitting it by about 12-15 feet. He is a very, very light sleeper, while I am a very, very sound sleeper. And I snore, so did I mention that he happened to be sleeping on the couch right under the window that the cherry tree fell toward? It was a very eerie thing, every few minutes to hear branches breaking and falling, while the house was silent. You don’t really realize how much of a hum there is from all things electric, until it’s missing. We had no electricity and no water either, because the county water company was also without electricity or backup generators. Not yet knowing the full extent of the storm, with no tv to watch and no smartphones to surf the web, my husband went off to work, and I thought C. (who was just over two) and I would stick it out. The house lost heat surprisingly quickly, and by midmorning I was calling John to see if we could go somewhere else. His parents, who lived in town, had power so we went over there. We weren’t there more than an hour and a half before a transformer down the street blew. On to Plan C. My parents lived about 14 miles out of town, and also had no electricity and no water, but they did have a wood-burning stove, so off we went. John’s parents decided to stay put. My sister was also there, and my youngest brother was home from college, so we had 7 people shut up in two rooms; the kitchen and family room had doors that could be closed to keep in the heat.
It’s amazing how quickly we start to miss the normal comforts of everyday life. The ham and cheese sandwiches my dad cooked (outside, in below zero temps) on the gas grill that night tasted amazing. We had pancakes cooked on the grill the next night. There was no water, so we used melted snow in order to flush the toilet. My brother managed to find his very first GameBoy and a few game cartridges. We played some euchre and passed the time fairly pleasantly, except for when I was feeling pregnant and miserable.
We missed our first Christmas in our new home. After a couple of nights at Mom and Dad’s, John’s parents got their power back on, so we relocated again. They still had no water, so on Christmas Day, we traveled to John’s sister’s house, about 50 miles away, and had our first showers in several days. Being clean felt soooo good. C. was too young to notice that Santa didn’t show up on the right day, and a day or so after that we pulled into our driveway to retrieve some more clothes, pushed the garage door opener hopefully, and…it opened! Our clapping and cheering annoyed C., who was more than a little grumpy over being displaced for several days. We still had no water, but a warm house was enough so that my brother and his wife could bring their new baby down for Christmas with the family.
Santa came a few days late that year, but the two-year-old didn’t mind, and he loved his shiny new red bike. He was able to ride it around the house in a circle, through the kitchen, dining room, and hallway, and when he wasn’t riding on it, he sat on it to watch tv. We got water back a few days later, but for many people it was another week before they had electricity again, and a week after that before they had water. We may have grumbled, but we made it through safe and warm.
I like to sit on my bike and watch tv!