this is not brick and mortar, it's not a roof over our head

[Originally Published on 12/18/2015 on, the blog that preceded]

From today onward, this house is a full and complete envelope that will hold our little family and contain a chunk of our hearts. It has been transformed from an MLS misfit into OUR house. This house was eyed up and printed out and pondered over and compared and contrasted over from January through March 2015. It was like nothing we had seen on the market in a long time in our price range. This house was bid on after the old house was sold in just 3 days after a bidding war that has a story of it's own (post to come). This house was won through tedious price negotiations with the sellers, approved after the stringent pokes and prodding of the VA loan department, won through the approval of the mortgage company, and bought through the blessings of extra freelance jobs and overtime. This house has forced more patience upon our family than most things ever will. This house was the subject of debates and decisions and plans and schedules. This house was budgeted and budgeted over again. This house was reviewed by inspectors, appraisers, contractors, surveyors, uncles, aunts, moms, dads, and friends. Then, this house was closed on, toasted to with several large margaritas, and immediately became like a reclaimed piece of barnwood that looks like crap until you make something of it.

The sledgehammer met the walls with fervor and utter satisfaction. The bathtubs were demolished. The walls were ripped out. The ceilings were pulled down. The pipes and wires and vents and studs were re-done, redesigned, and refreshed. Fingers were sliced, lungs were full of dust, and feet were throbbing. Then the wiring was finished, the plumbing was completed and the shower base installed. The tile was done, the drywall was done, the grout and putty smoothed and sanded. Switches, outlets, wiring, and lights were installed. Flooring and carpeting was selected, tested, bought, and delivered. Measurements were taken, double-checked, and triple-checked. This house was remediated and renovated and remodeled with the very hands of the Husband and with help from children's Grandfather, YouTube, a HomeDepot Bible, and the commitment of a man ready for battle. Husband guided it all and did it impressively well, armed with no prior experience. If Home Depot had a frequent flyer club, we would be medallion, million-milers with elite status and a VIP seat in the club lounge on a first-name basis with the GM.

The to-do list was a ferocious beast of great proportions but was tamed one minute, one step, one "I'm headin' to the house" at a time. This beast is now whipped into shape and serving us dinner. This house saw tender love and care during very late, late nights, early morning visits, and 18 hour shifts. This house oozed excitement, disappointment, elation and frustration. Wife and husband researched, priced, budgeted, bargained and selected over and over. Cabinets, fixtures, tile, lights, colors, wood, carpet and repeat. Money was cleared out and earned again. Wife touched and coated and coated again nearly every square inch with a paintbrush -- a fresh, blank canvas to the walls that were covered from floor to ceiling in another family's stories. 3 yr old daughter proudly helped paint her room pink.

Grandfather offered priceless advice from his experience and a calm demeanor to assure everything was going to be ok (or at least he appeared that way - ha!). Grandmother cleared brush and debris, cleaned shelves, lined drawers, and sanded lightposts. Grandmother offered childcare in priceless proportions. Husband and wife came after full time jobs, part time jobs, childcare, good life events and sad life events. They came to this house when they couldn't wait, when they didn't feel like it, and when they were utterly exhausted. Wife and her mother (Grandmother) drove each other crazy living together and Husband learned maybe more than he wanted to about in-laws (haha!). Grandfather was quiet and kept everything cool and Grandmother worried and worried, but they both still exuded energy and generosity of their time and their home until the very end. Husband and wife went to the house independently and together and then back to parents / in-laws to run daily life. They hired extra sitters, extra daycare days and utilized great friends' offers to help. They knew this was going to be a test on their marriage and they drove each other crazy, but came through still holding hands, stronger, and still in love.

We will move in. YES! We will move in. We will move furniture, arrange, rearrange, and tweak. We will unpack, unpack, unpack for weeks. We will break down boxes. We gaze upon piles upon piles of "stuff" and say " what the hell is all this?". We will call the VVA, post on Craigslist, and visit consignment shops with a cause. Gather, donate, repeat. Then say "we are offically on a buying freeze". The great joy of husband and wife will be to wake up 1 week after moving in -- Christmas morning -- with their girls and think "It was all well worth it." They will not be able to wait to entertain their first guests -- it has always truly been one of their favorite things to do since they met back on the Ranch over a decade ago. Wife will relish hang, hang, hanging fine art, kids art, photos, calendars and grocery lists on walls. Husband will relish finally just sitting in his home rather than working on it thinking "this house will be our girls' someday".

This house is our powerful, powerful place that will provide respite from life's storms and shelter from the cold world. This house is going to be capital L.I.V.E.D. in. This house will be the center of childhood memories for two little, precious girls as they grow from ages 1 and 4 to age 18. This house will be full of tears -- lots of them -- tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears that pour out over the years from broken hearts, lost friends and family, bruises, scrapes, and quarrels. This house will be full of Carl's good doggie vibes, brought straight from pre-marriage California and comforting presence and in this house he will pass into the next life. This house will hold and care for more doggies that we will love and cherish. This house will make us crack up and laugh 10 years from now in remembrance of how it all started. Hysterical laughter will echo through the long hallway. This house and it's yard and trees and grasses and gardens will be our stomping ground. This house will be the foundation for our family to experience, share, and remember this precious, delicate life in. This house is not brick and mortar, not a roof over our head. This house is part of our earthly home. Finally, finally, finally, our home. Not just the physical thing but this place, Western PA, we have finally, finally, finally, after years of struggle with what state or habitat to live in, have come to peace with this spot in all the world. God brought forth this long-awaited peace to be HERE, in this unexpected part of the country, where we didn't plan on being today, but we ARE today. Thank you God for getting us to this point of peace and leading us to confidently let go of the West for now and bloom where we are planted. Bring on 2016.