January 13 of this year was very different from January 13 of last year.
For one thing, it snowed this year--a wonderfully beautiful snow that slowed life and kept us home for the day. That definitely didn't happen last year!
How do I know?
January 13, 2018, was the day we moved into this house! And although I LOVE snow and never seem to get enough of it, I am so very thankful we didn't have to deal with that while we moved!
The whole process of finding this place and deciding that this was the one was interesting--especially because that's not something that was ever part of my growing-up years. During the last few months of 2017, Jeff and I looked online at many, many houses--and even drove by and/or visited other ones--but from the time we walked in the door of this one, I knew it was the one I wanted.
1. I was immediately drawn to the details in the entryway, living room, and dining room. The crown molding was stunning and really set this house apart from others. This is just a glimpse of the beauty I desired as soon as I set foot inside.
2. The kitchen is attractive with its dark cabinets and counter tops; I was really drawn to that. Plus, in comparison to the kitchen of our former house, it's very manageable in size. Now on the one hand, that could be seen as a drawback, and there are certainly times I miss the immense size of the kitchen I used to have! :) But it was a challenge to keep up with all that room and all those cupboards; in fact, every year, I would tell myself that SURELY this would be the year that I would be able to thoroughly clean and organize EVERY SINGLE CUPBOARD...and every year, I fell short of attaining that goal of completion. By contrast, I am able to keep up better (not perfectly!) with our current kitchen; and when a friend was over last evening and was looking in my kitchen cupboards for something, she commented on how organized everything was...and my heart beamed. :)
3. The downstairs family room is lovely and large...and filled (still!) with too much of our junk. :( That room was enticing to us, especially as we thought about the groups we like to have over; but we haven't been able to even come close to using it to its full potential because of my inability--so far--to carve out enough time to adequately devote to the task of getting rid of stuff. Maybe by the end of this year... ;-) Regardless, I'm very grateful to have this room!
4. There are beautiful built-in bookshelves in the family room--15 of them. I'm a huge fan of built-in bookshelves. :)
5. The house is bright and sunny; and as this year has gone by, I have noticed, at the different seasons and different times of day, precisely where the light is shining in--and where one would have to lie, if one were a cat, to take a snooze in it! :) On a sunny day, the main rooms are bathed in light, and it is splendid.
6. The fenced-in backyard was a significant draw, to be sure. Having a preschooler means that physical boundaries are still a very good thing for our family. :)
7. It's not on a busy street! This is one of those attributes that I didn't fully appreciate at the time (although I was aware of it). I cannot count how many times, during the past year, I have been grateful that we ended up on a little side street where we don't have to deal with much traffic.
8. There are foxes in the neighborhood! This is a big plus (and a total surprise, since we didn't have any idea, before we moved in, that there were foxes around)!! :) Even though we lived in the country before, we RARELY saw foxes (maybe once or twice in my life previously?). We saw plenty of other wildlife, but not foxes. Here, I don't think I've seen a single rabbit, skunk, raccoon, opossum, or snake (glory hallelujah about the lack of snakes!). But we have plenty of squirrels, we have birds, and--delightfully--we have foxes! It is always a treat to catch sight of one (it doesn't happen very often), and I am fascinated by them. I wouldn't be so fascinated by them if we were trying to have chickens in our backyard. ;-) But since we don't have anything they could hurt, it's just fun to see them.
9. Living here has opened the door for us to meet some really wonderful people: notably, our always-kind and helpful landlord Tuan; Fred & his wife Lynne & their dog Trouble; a couple from Bolivia, Jose & Hilde; our next-door neighbor Sandie; and Carolyn, a woman in her 90s who lives very independently and is amazing. I'm sure that in years to come, we will remember these friendly souls, and smile when we do.
10. During the past 365 days, we have made incredible memories. Life has been rich and full, and we have added abundantly to the treasure bank of our family times. This house has sheltered us, it has seen wonderful celebrations, it has heard some noisy voices ;-). We have played games in it, homeschooled in it, gathered around the dinner table with many friends. Moving in last year gave us a blank slate in a house that was full of promise. Looking back shows me how much joy--and some sorrow, too--has been written on that slate.
11. This house has stretched me and helped to shape my character--hopefully in a God-ward direction! :) There have been a few frustrations that have cropped up (most notably, some plumbing issues), and I have been given the opportunity to deal with that in a manner that is characterized by patience and good humor, rather than anger and complaining. Sometimes I have succeeded. ;-)
12. This year here has given me additional encouragement to pursue simplicity and minimalism--two areas that I love, but too often, fall short in. As a matter of fact, if you looked around my house, you might think that I've never even heard of minimalism, much less read books and blogs about it and pursued it! ;-) Oh, I still have so far to go. But the fact that eight people get to share 2,500 square feet, and each of the bedrooms houses two people, means that we can't let our accumulation of stuff get too crazy. I am not as far along in the process of letting go of STUFF as I had hoped to be (and that fact helps to increase my humility--another way this house shapes my character!), but I am inspired to make hopefully bigger strides in that department during the coming year.
13. One of the very special things that this house has done for me is redefine HOME. This topic is so important that it probably deserves its own essay, but suffice it to say that the process of selling our former house (my childhood home) and moving here uprooted all my preconceived notions about what home was and challenged my at-times overly-sentimental nature. Early on, I would find myself often thinking as I returned to this house, especially when I had gone somewhere by myself and my family members were waiting at home, "Wow, it is so strange to think that this place is now our HOME. Of all the places we could have landed, this is the one. There's nothing too unique about this house...except the fact that my family is there, and our possessions are inside, and we chose this space, and now these walls bind us together. This is home--not because it's the place my parents brought me to when I was born, the place I lived in so many years, but because this is the place we have chosen. Wherever Jeff is, wherever our children are, that is home. We CHOOSE to make it thus."
As night fell on January 13 of last year, I stayed up late and tried to absorb what had just happened. I got the dining room in perfect order (a relatively easy task) and found satisfaction in making one room of the house look good. It was a fulfilling feeling.
Tonight I've stayed up late, peeking out every so often at the gorgeous snow covering the ground, and remembering what life was like a year ago.
How immensely grateful I am for our first year in this home! What anticipation I carry within me as we begin the second!
Year Two, here we come!!