Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Charmed Life

It's funny how certain things sneak up on you. I have to admit that I've always had this mental image of what my future "home" would be like: a roomy front porch with pumpkins and black Hunter Wellies by the front door and kids coming home after school to the comforting smell of warm chocolate chip cookies. The yard is landscaped with hydrangea bushes and a mini willow. We have sprinklers and a roomy garage with an automatic door. Every room is painted the color of our choice (okay, my choice). It's big enough for comfort but small enough so that I can still hear the echoes of my children growing up all around me. It's home. Every once in a while I see a house that fits that "mold" in my head and I feel a tiny pinch of jealousy.

How silly I am to think that way. And I know it, but I still think it. This week as I've decorated for Fall and Halloween, I've thought a lot about the "homes" we've already created in our family. Our first apartment in Sugar House was a tiny one bedroom with low ceilings and pipes poking out of the walls in the bathroom. But I remember hanging our wedding pictures on the walls and making the most of our limited decor. I loved the kitchen. It was nothing fancy but it had a lovely dishwasher that made that satisfying hum in the evening before bedtime. Most--nope, ALL--of our furniture was second-hand and mismatched. We didn't own a couch, but we did have a large armchair that was big enough for the two of us. We planted our first garden, had our first miscarriage, earned our bachelor degrees and started a new business together in that home. Sure wasn't the crown of the cul-de-sac dream of mine, but it was perfect for us at that time.

Our second home was a real house. A really OLD house. It had been built in 1890 and was absolutely beautiful except for the fact that it needed about thirty thousand dollars of updating. We were working full time flipping houses, so moving into one that needed work seemed easy enough. And then reality hit us full force. I was five months pregnant and a little more "particular" than either one of us expected. I spend the first night in our new house crying in the shower for two hours. We slept on a mattress on the living room floor for the last four months of my pregnancy while we renovated our bedroom with our limited resources. I'll never forget lying on my back, 8 1/2 months pregnant, caulking baseboards. We had barely moved into our bedroom when I gave birth to our first daughter (not in the bedroom, at the hospital). We were officially a family in a house with chipping paint, a leaky swamp cooler, and a creepy cellar that smelled like pot. (Literally. The last family that lived there had a bi-polar son who actually camped out down there. We had to tear down his Bob Marley poster). A huge thunderstorm hit one day and I looked out our back window just as a ten foot section of our backyard fence fell over. There was no dishwasher, the washer and dryer were in the kitchen and our "breakfast nook" leaked when it rained. None of the windows opened, our only bathroom was covered in forest green tiles and every time I went to take a bath, I thought of all the bodies that had lied down in that old tub and changed my mind. Seriously, I was so ungrateful and unfortunately, unhappy. I can't say that I had a change of heart and learned to love that house while we lived there. It's only looking back now that I realize that despite my dislike for the circumstances, we still created a home in that house. And it was all the things it lacked that have deepened my gratitude for all that we have now.

When we moved into our current home, I made a promise to never say "I hate this house" again. And it's been an easy promise to keep, not because this is our "dream house" that fits the mold I've had in my head all these years, but because the lessons are slowly kicking in. I know there will come a day when we can afford the house of our dreams, but it might be too late by then to have the "home" of our dreams. I have been amazed at how happy and content I've been feeling for the past couple of weeks. It's really felt like home and not because I've finally painted my living room the right color or got the timer on the stove to stop going off at random, but because there's this perfect space in front of the fireplace where my oldest daughter was spinning this morning. Because my girls love to race around the loop that connects the living, dining, and kitchen area. Because this house is small enough that I don't need a monitor to hear all three of my children when they wake up in their rooms. Because I have a dishwasher. I've brought two new babies back from the hospital to this house and watched them grow within these imperfect walls.

I think it's okay to have a standard as far as living conditions go. But I finally understand how those who have so little in the world can be so happy. I finally understand what makes me happy. I'm so relieved to not be waiting anymore for that dream home.
With all that we lack, we somehow have it all.

Here's some pictures of how we've been getting ready for Fall and Halloween!

Pumpkin Whoooooopies! A favorite fall treat in our home.
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A fun idea to decorate the mantle, thanks to this picture on Pinterest.
My husband hung every one of those pinecones for me. Not bad huh?

We cut out some bats to hang in our dining room, using this template.
You know the classic sucker ghosts craft? I love it.
(Charlotte is making a ghost's "Oooooooo" sound in this pic).
We used Dum-dums, tissues, and tiny rubber bands I use on my girls' hair. 
It was simple enough for them to do it on their own.


Hazel is adding the eyes and mouth with a black marker.
I found these clear 4x6 frames at Walmart for $1 each. We glued candy corns and pumpkins around the edges and the girls ate as many as they could along the way.
I forgot to peel off the protective cover on the front of the frame and our candies have been slipping off, so we need to re-do this one. I'll have to add a final pic later, but you get the idea. You could also do this with black pom-pom spiders with pipe cleaner legs or small leaves you find outside--anything!

And the happiness part of it all...

 Finding Charlotte asleep with her wings on.

"So a guy walked into a bar..."

I seriously almost peed my pants when I saw Eloise crawling around with this piece of chalk in her mouth. Doesn't it look like she's holding a lighter too? It's a grape.

Behind her in this picture is, well, a mess, but part of that mess was a can of black shiny latex paint that I used to paint the "BOO" on my white pumpkins. I left it out because my girls have never really messed with that stuff and the lid was on. I ran an errand and left Eloise sleeping at home with her Dad. Then I got a call. She had spilled the paint on our wood floors and on my beautiful area rug that I'd coveted ever since we moved into this house. 
I really wish I had a hidden camera in our living room so that I could have seen my husband's reaction to a catastrophe of this proportion. He knows how much I protect this rug from any and all possible danger. He said that she had spilled the paint without him noticing and then crawled over the rug, covered in paint, to where he was sitting on the couch. Then she patted his knee with a wet black hand and that's when he saw the shiny pool of paint spreading onto the edge of my rug.
He says that he grabbed her said, "We're in so much trouble!!" He finally set her down in her high chair, stripped off her clothes and started cleaning up the mess. It was then that he saw the can of paint and remembered that it was MINE. He says that he had a moment of relief and said to himself, "It's HER fault!" 
When I came home, he left to rent a professional carpet cleaner from Home Depot while I poured water over the stain to keep it from drying. Luckily for us, it all came out. 
While my husband finished cleaning the rug, I ran off to my first prenatal visit with a new OB. 
Did I mention I'm pregnant? 
We are expecting our fourth in March and all thoughts of black paint and stained carpets vanished as we learned that we are FINALLY expecting a boy!!
Pure happiness.

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  1. Congratulations!!! I think you are on identical timelines with a friend of mine...except she just found out her #4 under 5 is a 4th girl...:). S excited you get to experience a fun and will probably be very different for you! :)

  2. Perspective is such a nice thing... and congratulations!

  3. janelle you guys are amazing! congrats! SO fun to have a little boy... wow he is going to have A LOT of little mommies:)

  4. HURRAY!!!!!!!! Congratulations!

  5. Oh my! That's a great post with great insight! And congrats on having a Boy! We are very excited for your family!

  6. Yay! Yay! Yay! YAY!!!! I promise I'll go back and read the rest of what you wrote, but for now I just had to skim it to find out what you're having. Oh my GOODNESS, I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!!! YAY!! You finally get your Rorke or whatever you are actually going to name him! :) Bring on the blue!

  7. Congratulations! Great writing and great news! I will save my gently used boy clothes for when you know paint is out and it's going to get everywhere! LOL Congrats again!

  8. COngrates! Boys are so fun! I am about 2 months behind you. I am due May 2!