Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quit Planning an English Garden and Start Smelling a Few Good Roses

New nursery in progress!
Lovely stripes.

My new home office.

My old home office in conversion to a nursery for Baby E.

Out with the blue, ready for yellow!

My mom and dad's house at Christmas.

My big, snowy backyard

Let me explain.

I grew up on two acres of fun. We had a swimming pool, a custom built treehouse, two barns, a shed, a root cellar (supposed to be just for tornado season...), large trees, grass, hills, and even a tire swing. Behind my parents' house is a national forest, so more playspace. My parents' house is 100+ years old, a beautiful Victorian farmhouse, with lots of space. I shared a room with my little sister (which I used to hate but now, looking back, remember how much fun we had) which was large and had original hardwood floors and four large, sunny windows.

I crave space for my own family even though I no longer live in the country. Nope. We are in an area just outside St. Louis where there is lots of shopping, parks (instead of fields), schools.

As we planned to adopt a second child, I was convinced that our home was going to be too small. We live in a three bedroom, two bathroom ranch with a full, unfinished basement. The upper level is about 1500 sq feet. We do have a lovely, large, lush backyard (about 1/3 of an acre total) complete with a Weeping Willow tree, a veggie garden in the summer, and a roofed-over deck. But anyway, baby stuff takes up space. There's a vibrating chair, a swing, a play mat, a bulky car seat, etc. Plus the baby. Plus a toddler (and all her toys). Ahhhh!

Even though our house is new (only five years old) and nice, I was hung up on the lack of space. I had a running list of complaints in my mind: too small living room, only three bedrooms (where would my office go once baby #2 arrived?), cramped garage (who defines "oversized" for the realtors?), and a tight laundry room/garage entryway.

I spent time browsing homes online that were $200,000 over our budget. I convinced myself that if I worked hard writing more articles and cut back on spending, we could afford one of those homes. Ha! When I say cut back on spending, I mean no vacations, shopping, organic groceries, gym memberships, or anything else. Yeah...right. So basically give up some of the things that are most important to us for a house? Where was my reality check?

But now that we have Baby E, I'm realizing that our home is perfect for our family. With a few changes here and there, I find myself satisfied, if not thankful that we didn't move. How in the world would I clean a bigger house with two babies underfoot? Why would I want to spread my family throughout a house instead of keeping them close for cuddles, projects, and play?

I also realized how ungrateful I was. I spent too much time thinking about possibilities and not enough time being thankful for what I have---a cozy, warm, clean, new home.
I was watching House Hunters the other day, and the twenty-something engineer who was searching for a new home found one she liked that featured a large master bedroom walk-in closet. She laughed and said to her friend, "Now I have to go buy more clothes to fill up that closet!" That remark stuck with me. That's how crazy Americans are sometimes (myself included!). We think more is better. Bigger home equals needing more stuff to fill it. More, more, more, more, more. But more, I think, tends to deplete us of the most important things in life.

To feed my need for change and newness, we make little changes to our home. We recently converted my old home office (bedroom #3) into Baby E's nursery. We hired painters to stripe the room yellow, and we purchased a computer armoire for our dining area which, amazingly, matches our kitchen cabinets almost perfectly and doesn't take up a lot of space. Not that long ago, we converted part of our unfinished basement into a semi-finished play space---complete with carpet, bright yellow walls, butterflies hanging from the ceiling, and lots of toys. And speaking of toys, we rotate Miss E's to keep our living room clutter free but still a fun place to play. I keep a few large shopping bags in my closet at all times, and when I find an item we no longer want or need, I toss it in. Once a month the local children's home comes around and picks up donations. It's great because we get rid of items and get a tax deduction while helping out the community. Ahhh! I love a good purge!

I still want my dream home someday. I picture it in my mind often. I still browse home plans and online listings. I keep a binder of inspirational home pictures for that "someday" house. But, the best things in life are often right in front of my face. And I'm so thankful for the blessings in my life.

To read more on "bigger isn't always better," I highly suggest checking out Living Large by Sarah Z Wexler. I'm reading it right now and she talks about everything from homes, to megachurches, to cars, to our landfills. It's fascinating, humbling stuff!
I think the idea of going green ties into this blog post. I spent a lot of 2010 reading and implementing ways to waste less and live healthier on another blog of mine. Feel free to explore by clicking on "healthy living" or "green" tags on the right hand side.

And of course, the Bible has many things to say on the subjects of contentment, thankfulness, etc. Philippians 4:11, "[. . .] I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."

1 comment:

  1. I've had the exact same thoughts, and I'm trying to get my hubby to agree. We're ok with less. Will our kids be happier in a larger house? No way! Your yellow stripes look great.


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