Wednesday, May 20, 2015

house #4

House #4.  We spent years referring to this home as the one that held the "glory years" of our marriage.  But looking back, this is only partially true.  This house was our home for a whopping 3 years.  A record for us at that point!

We moved out of the cute old brick house 3 weeks before I gave birth.  We spent one week in a hotel, our "things" in a storage unit.  I kept thinking please Lord, don't let me give birth while living in a hotel.  And thankfully our prayer was answered.  We moved into our little 1600 square foot all-siding home in the north part of town just days shy of birth.

Friends from church laid me on my couch and unpacked my kitchen for me.  People rolled out to help.  And yet, a whole week passed before I had my next little bundle of joy.  A boy.

We decorated his room in a barn theme and our daughter's in the cutest shades of pink and green.  Life was good on little ole Poppy Lane.  We were happy, arguing less and less, and finally figuring out that thing called marriage.

I was a stay-at-home mom in the truest sense of the word, enjoying every minute with my little ones.  We had many parties, playdates, and library story times.  I was finally getting to do all the things I couldn't with a daycare being run in my home.  I was LIVING THE DREAM.

The Mister, meanwhile, was working in pharmaceuticals still.  And during this time, he finally got on with a great company with an awesome product.  Remember the year the U.S. ran out of flu shots?  Well Mister was selling Flumist, a new product, and the windfall for that company was amazing.  He had a great season.

And YET.  He was still discontent.  He and his brother had talked for years about making a go of a home building company.  His brother had been mostly in commercial construction to that point and was interested in building homes.  Mister was the best salesman we all knew.  So WHY NOT?

Once again, the stable-job-holding part of me was crying out NOOOOO!!!  But the now-content wife was fearful of holding her husband back from his dream.  I couldn't stand the thought of hearing my husband tell me for years to come that I had kept him from his DREAM.  Nope, let's follow his lead!  And off we went.

He was having a great time working for and with his brother.  Life hadn't been better.

And YET.  At home, the walls were beginning to close in on him.  So I'm sure you can imagine what happened next when he came across what we call "house porn".  This little website where you can see all the houses for sale in our area?  Yep, he had found the next dream house.  It was in the far northeastern part of our town and it was huge!  And dirt cheap!  With a pool!  In a cul-de-sac!  He wanted that house.  And he wanted it bad.  We had the cash to remodel!  WHY NOT??..........

(to be continued....)

Friday, May 15, 2015

house #3

So there we were, living in our cute little white brick house on Terrace Place.  We had put blue toile wallpaper (are you seeing a theme here?) in the kitchen with our white woodwork, painted the old dark wood paneling, and recarpeted.  There were many things we did to that house to get it out of the 1960's.  It had been stuck, impressively.  Almost like a time capsule.

And then one morning, I woke up to a bright sun filtering in the windows.  I looked out the new french doors we had installed to the backyard and saw butterflies flying around the backyard.  The birds were chirping.  The flowers were blooming.  And in that moment, I wondered if I had walked into a Norman Rockwell painting.  I was literally pinching myself to see if I was really living this life.  And as soon as the joy sprang up, it began freefalling.  I suddenly had a knot in my stomach.  I wondered how I could be worthy of such a beautiful life.  Surely God was going to take it all away in an instant.  Soon.  I just didn't know when.  A feeling of impending doom fell over me and I started living like the ball was getting ready to drop.

Now, to clarify, I believe now that this thought process was probably part this little thing called The Baby Blues.  I didn't have full-on depression, but I would cry for no reason in the shower. "What is wrong with me?!?!" I would wonder as I sobbed. As time passed, life began to settle.

Our little white brick house with our first snow.  See the extra kids?  Those are my daycare children.  They were my daughter's very first friends.

Mister had a new job in pharmaceuticals and when my sweet bundle of pink joy turned 4 months old, I started an in-home daycare.  We started saving money to invest in rental properties.  I worked long hours and cuddled many babies and scrubbed floors daily.  I was exhausted, but it beat the alternative: working outside the home.  I was motivated to do my new job because of the preciousness that my new baby was.  I literally couldn't stand the thought of sending her to daycare.  I was willing to do whatever it took to stay home.  In-home daycare fit the bill nicely.

Around a year into my new career, we started building rental duplexes.  We were building wealth!  Wow, we were real adults!  And yet the fighting continued.

One evening I went to dinner with some girls I've called my Yayas for about 16 years now.  I told my Yayas about the fighting.  And wisely, they told me something that has stuck with me ever since.  "Kim, you need to go to counseling."  But I can't afford counseling.  We're tight on money right now. "Kim.... Counseling is a LOT CHEAPER than a divorce.  It's worth the investment NOW."

Oof.  Touche' friends.

And that was when the counselor taught us something we had never understood or considered.  WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM.  It's US against THE WORLD.  We needed to keep fighting, but not against each other.  We needed to begin fighting FOR our marriage.  It was that or divorce.

Not long after that, I finally got pregnant again.  I had miscarried earlier that year and was desperate for another baby as perfect as the first.  And this is when the talk turned back to houses.  Just when I thought we had settled in a home where we could stay, we made some quick realizations.  I wanted to stop doing in-home daycare as soon as my new baby arrived and we couldn't sustain the mortgage on his income alone.  And by now I was coming to the realization that a house was not a home.

And just like the last story ended, we started planning another move.  This time we would build again.  But smaller.  We drew up plans and his brother started building in a hurry.  We had a deadline again!  There was a baby coming in July......

(We lived in the house on Terrace Place for 2 years.)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

our dreamchild

Earlier this year, through a series of texts about a craft show in Northwest Arkansas, my friend Carol and I dreamed up an event called The Farmgirl Fair.  Remember Carol?  She's The Unlikely Farmgirl.  You must visit her website.  But you're more lucky to just know her in person.  She's amazingly multi-talented.

Anyway.  We sat down at a restaurant with our other wildly talented friend, Lindsi, and dreamed some more.  What would we want sold at our fair?  We love the idea of all local.  We love handmade items.  We love art!  We love unique.  How big can we make it?  What would we call this?  Who would come?  Are we crazy to think this could actually work?

We believe the answer is yes.  And we can't wait to share our vision with you in person on September 26th.  Imagine with me, if you will, Charlotte's Web County Fair.  There are pigs and horses, booths with local artists and produce, a pie tasting contest, hayrides.  Are you catching my drift?  Bunting strung all around, a petting zoo, and the cutest things available for purchase.  Can you see why it makes me so giddy to think about?  Yes, you need to mark your calendar and make plans to attend.  There will be live music and food to purchase when you get hungry.  I just know you'll love it.

Also?  Are you a talented gal or guy who handmakes amazing and unique items?  Are you a vintage collector wanting to share your collection with other people who would want to buy it?  What about the produce you grow or the eggs you collect at your urban farm.  Interested in selling them?

We have a limited number of booths and they are beginning to fill up.  We would love for you to apply!

Did I mention that the meager $5 (or more) entry fee will be donated to the Center for Children and Families this year?  See?  You're a philanthropist for attending!

The Farmgirl Fair will be held on a Ranch in northwest Norman on the only off week for OU football in the fall.  See?  There's no reason to miss!  We made it easy on you!  So plan to come.  Can't wait to see you there!

Monday, May 11, 2015

house #2

Woooooowwwwww.  My story was interupted by a little thing called a TORNADO and then another little storm 2 days later called HAIL.  Both of which suck.  Pardon the language.  I'm two windows less than I was a month ago and my roof has pock marks like a teenager with acne.  Bless.

yah, that's hail.

But we will survive.

I was reminded of this when I went for Indian food at lunch with my mama today and the owner was telling us that he had talked to his friend in Nepal and his damage was nothing compared to the devastation occurring in their country.


So with a fresh perspective, I bring you chapter 2 of my story.

We moved into the house we built in a gated community in southwest Oklahoma City 13 months after we were married.  Did I mention that we had only dated for a hot minute?  We were married less than a year before our first anniversary.  We had never ACTUALLY argued before we got engaged (3 months later), much less disagreed.  So it's no wonder we were struggling to figure this whole marriage thing out.

House #2 was a cute red brick home.  It had 3 bedrooms and an office.  We put brick pavers in the kitchen and toile wallpaper in the bathroom.  Yes, that was a fun time.  I was getting to decorate a home with my "French Country" style.  I felt like a real grownup.

We were excited to move into this house, Mister's dream home plan of his bachelor days.  I was just excited to decorate.  But right about the time we moved, Mister had recently left his career in home building.  He wanted to have weekends off to spend with me and the kids we would eventually have.  So he decided that the best way to make that happen would be to go into pharmaceutical sales.

The first big pharma job he got was a contract.  He made a whopping $40,000 per year.  And I was teaching at a private Catholic school where I brought in $1500 a month.  Money was tight.  And there were many hours spent trying to figure out how to make our money stretch.  This life was a far cry from the stable job my dad had modeled for me his whole life.  I thought a man should get a job and stick with it.  And my new husband was not living up to my expectation.  I hated feeling house poor.  And the fighting continued.  I hadn't laughed at one of his jokes in a year.  We were both unhappy and plugging along at marriage.

His contract ended and suddenly my new husband was job-less.  After a few different job prospects and throwing around the possibility of relocating, I got pregnant.  We had planned this, it was no surprise.  But now?  Our focus was different.  I had never wanted to work once I had a baby and Mister was in no position to support us alone.  So we did what we were beginning to know best.  We planned another move.

I had worked in Norman, we banked in Norman, we shopped in Norman, we ate out in Norman, and we even dry cleaned in Norman.  But we had built in SW Oklahoma City.  We were out of our element.  Time to go back home.

Mister found a cute older house in an older neighborhood in Norman and we borrowed money from family to fixer upper before we moved in.  I was 9 months pregnant when we moved.  We moved on Saturday and Sunday.  I had my last day at my teaching job on a Tuesday.  We were set to induce on Thursday.  And then this little wrinkly baby made her debut before we were ready, on Wednesday morning.

We hadn't sold the house in Oklahoma City, but we eventually rented it out to a family and eased the financial burden.  We began to settle into a new life in house #3......

(We lived in house #2 for 1 year, to the weekend.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

house #1

In 1999, I got married.  It was a lovely wedding, in an unexpected March snow.  Our honeymoon was a cruise through the Western Caribbean.  And then life began.

Mr. Mister had already owned a home.  It was a tiny house by the railroad tracks in my hometown.  He bought it from an old couple who were moving into a retirement home.  He paid a WHOPPING $19,000 for that little 850 square foot home.  And after the wedding, I moved in.

As a wedding present, Mister had his brother, a contractor, come in and replace the countertops and sink, plus add a dishwasher.  It was a complete and total shock to me, and I was THRILLED to not have to hand wash every dish we used!

Additionally, his mom spent the week we were gone on vacation unpacking my boxes.  We literally came "home" to a new house.  Gone were half of his things and in their place were my decorations and furniture.  It was an amazing feat and I remember well the admiration and appreciation I felt.  We were able to open our gifts and settle into life as a married couple.

I loved that little house!  It had one bedroom, but the one car garage had been converted to a second bedroom which was larger than the first, but across the house and down a few steps.  It held the washer and dryer, too!  And our office on one end!  It was a tiny house, packed full of 2 homes (we were 25 and 26, established in careers already).  Yes, that house was good.

I've always been amazed by people who talk about the magical first year of their marriage.  What?  You got along and had googly eyes for each other for a year??  REALLY?  Yah, ours was NOT the happy first year.  Because along with the joy of owning our own apartment on land, we were desperately trying to figure out how to be married.  We had both come from broken homes and hadn't obviously seen a healthy way to fight modeled for us.  So we came at each other with vengeance when we argued.  Who could yell louder?  THAT would be the winner.  Because we NEEDED a winner in our fights.  SOMEONE had to come out on top.

Yep, that's how we approached our first year of marriage.  It was ugly and bittersweet.  But we were determined to make it work.  And so we plugged along.

Those first few months were a whirlwind of settling, arguing, and dreaming.  We dreamed a lot about what would come of our lives together.  Mister had a hard time imagining us sitting on the porch sipping tea in our 80's.  And when he couldn't imagine it, I began to wonder if we'd make it there.  We were struggling.  But we both loved Jesus.  And we both wanted to be married for a lifetime to one person.  So we started dreaming together.

At that time, I was a teacher and he worked for a homebuilder.  So it was a natural thing to dream of building our first home.  And only 3 months into our marriage, we were breaking ground on our first home.  Well, really, our second home, but we thought of this as our first house we created together. 

We worked really well together when it came to finishing touches on that house.  It all came together just as we dreamed.  And one year later, we were moving!  Time for our new lives to begin.  The place where we wouldn't have reason to not get along.  We both knew I was the winner of all good fights.  Or wait, was it him?  Was he the winner?  Let's duke it out to see who wins the "winner of all fights" title......

And just like that, we were in house #2...

(We lived in house #1 for 13 months.)

Monday, May 4, 2015


Y'all, I am so excited about that book that I've been reading, Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels.  First of all, she's a blogger.  And that's something I aspire to be.  And secondly because her story is so like my story that I see myself in all of her pages.

I have people tell me often that I should be a decorator.  I have NO qualifications for that, but I do have a huge heart for making my home a place that people not only love to come visit, but want to stay a while.  I love to look around my home and see my blood, sweat, and tears.  And I love to do life with my sweet family inside my walls.  I love opening my home for parties and showers and football watching.

I am hoping that as you're reading this, you're thinking the same thing about your home.  Because if there's one lesson I've learned in 7 houses, it's that a HOUSE does not make a HOME.  Your home is wherever your family is!  Your home is where your memories are made!  Your home is not a roof over your head.

I know this because with each move we made, I learned it.  Slowly.  God showed me that I should bloom where I was planted because each dwelling was a temporary place.  Don't wait a year to decorate those walls!  Do it now!  You never know how long you'll live in that house!

It seemed an unstable way to live.  And truthfully, it was.  But all those houses and all that moving taught us a lot of valuable things.  Like not getting too attached to the temporary.  And realizing that this world is not our home!  But that's for another post.

So today, I'd like to share with you my new vision for this blog.  I'd like to tell you my story.  It might be like your story!  Or it might help you avert a story like the one I've lived.  But either way, I hope it brings you hope and enjoyment.  And we'll decorate it all along the way.

Are you new here?  Even if you're not, you can follow along and not miss any of the fun by subscribing to this blog by email.  Over there on the right?  Just fill in your email and you're subscribed!  I PROMISE it won't send you spam.  Pinky promise.  I swear.  And if you get spam related to me and my blog, you can smack me the next time you see me.  But really, you can trust me when I say this.  Because I subscribe to a lot of blogs.  :)

Anyway, before my story begins, let me show you my front living room.  It's finally as complete as it's going to be for now.  Because I'm choosing to be content with the things I have.  Remember?

So there she is.  The red sofa that I'm SO OVER.  I'm ready to pitch her to the curb!  But thanks to Melissa Michaels, I'll be loving her for a while longer!  No no, I won't be going out to buy the cute white sofa and chairs from ikea that I so desperately want.  Nope, I'll be enjoying this view.  Which is a PERFECTLY FINE VIEW.  Yes!  Thank you Jesus for my red sofa!!

So, stick around.  I hope you'll be encouraged by my little ol' blog and my crazy kooky story.  It all begins in a little 850 square foot house......

Friday, May 1, 2015

a work in progess

I'm a do-er.  Take for instance yesterday.  After working all day, I came home and hung a pantry door, installed light plates and planted a pot of flowers for our front yard.  Then, I took pictures for you, dear reader, and fell into bed.  It was a long day.

What I'm coming to find in this new home is that there JUST AREN'T ENOUGH HOURS IN MY DAY.

Can I get an amen?

Slow and steady wins the race and today you get to see the next step in my slow race journey.

The new pantry door.  It's a magnetic chalkboard, like the REAL DEAL, not homemade.  I got it from Forest here in Norman.  Check them out y'all, because they have some UNREAL kitchens and cabinet hardware!

I have this wildly talented and extremely generous mother-in-law.  This week my husband had his 43rd birthday and his mama made him curtains for our new kitchen as a gift.  He is the ONLY man I know who would be happy to get curtains for his birthday, by the way.  And only because he is bothered by open windows in his home.  I could leave them open, but he doesn't like feeling like he's in a fishbowl.  I say who really wants to look at us anyway??  But nevertheless, I do love a good curtain.  Especially when they're made by his mama.

She gave us the "lipstick" for our breakfast room.  We are still debating what to put above, fabric wise.  I know, I know, this is very non-committal of me.  But I need to look at more fabric stores before I decide.  :)

Also, I haven't been good about showing you the living room!  So here is a shot from the kitchen.

And here's a view of the backside of the kitchen wall.

Don't hold the empty walls against me.  Remember, I'm a work in progress.  I mean, my HOME is a work in progress.  wink, wink.  :)  Let's keep it real, we're ALL a work in progress.  Amen?