A week after Christmas 2001, we were informed the house we were renting was being sold, and we had until March 15th to find a new place. We decided as soon as the holidays were over and we started putting away decorations, we'd start packing too and start looking so that's what we did. Four weeks later I came down with the worst case of mononucleosis the medical community has ever seen. Ever. In the history of all medical communities ever, worldwide. Well, it sure felt like it anyway, and I was literally down for the count. I tried to pack/clean/look for rentals but it was mostly on Kevin as I couldn't get up for longer than 30 minutes at the most without feeling like I was going to die. So on his days off he'd scour the rentals and make appointments and we'd go look. Nothing, nothing and again a whole lot of nothing. We were getting down to the wire and finally had one last place to look at out in the middle of nowhere. It was a great big farm house on a great big piece of property, about 40 minutes away from where we were living at the time.
So, we went, we looked, we really liked, and the owner said he'd get back to us, as another couple was coming to look as well. A few days later (and one week before we had to be out of our current place) the owner called, said we had first right of refusal but the place was ours if we wanted it. Kevin talked to him, I was laying on the couch, dying from mono. He said "yes, we'll take it and thank you". I screamed, thanked the Lord for His provision, then fell asleep.
No question about it, the Lord was gracious to give us a place to live just in the nick of time, and we were tremendously thankful. I want to make sure I say that, because then things got a wee bit hairy over the next few years and I've constantly struggled with feeling like I am not thankful, or grateful.
The first few years we lived there, we really lived there. We used toilets and door knobs and showers and electrical outlets and locks and cupboards and things that had not really been used in a long time (former owner lived there alone for many years, and never replaced a lot of things), so they quickly wore out just from being old, and being used. The new owner that we rented from did replace things as they wore out but that stopped after about 5 years after we lived there. We'd tell him things were not working and they just never got fixed (or at least not by him - a lot of things we just fixed the best we could, or rigged them to work, or in many cases just wrote it off, and made do) so we just lived in a very broken house.
The former owner let his dog pee on the carpets so ours did too. We tried and tried and tried to break her of it but it was a losing battle. I bought a carpet cleaner and at least once a week for the last 5-6 years I ran that thing through the living room and dining room. It never got rid of the smell. The roof had a leak which came through to the bathroom ceiling which caved in as a result. That never got fixed. Multiple doorknobs broke off and because they were ancient doors fitted with knobs when Moses was a kid, there was no way to run to the hardware store and buy new ones to replace them. We rigged every one of them to close, without knobs and without key locks. The water pipes froze one year and fried the plumbing to the downstairs shower, and that was never fixed. Both toilets stopped flushing correctly and it got to the point that the upstairs toilet had to be plunged every single time it was used, for about the last 2-3 years. The deck was falling apart, the balcony was rotted, siding had blown off in winter storms, the basement was filled with mold and constantly flooded (and had cracks and holes large enough for animals to come in, and they did), the garage doors were broken, one didn't shut all the way and birds would come in and nest in the insulated ceiling leaving a horrific mess. Some of the windows on the west side of the house (the cold side) had fallen into the rotted wood under them and left gaps where the wind would howl through. We sealed the gaps with duct tape, but the windows were never fixed either, just like all the other things that were never fixed. From about April through November the kitchen was filled with flies and gnats, and nothing ever got rid of them. This is just the short list, I assure you. At our lawyer's suggestion, before we moved out I went around the house, inside and out, from the basement to the top floor and took pictures of everything that was broken or damaged from normal wear and tear. There are 47 pictures. I will not post them for anyone to see but after I took them and scrolled through them I just wanted to cry when I realized what we had all become so used to. If you were to see them, you would never believe a family actually lived there, but we did.
I don't know why our former landlord never bothered to fix any of these things. I know we could have called someone and forced his hand, but we never did. We just tolerated it and kept telling ourselves "soon, we'll find a house to buy and be done with this, forever". That day came on June 27, 2013. Eleven years, three months and 14 days exactly after the day we moved in there.
Despite all of that, we had 11 years of birthdays, Christmas, new babies, Canada Day parties, pool parties and all sorts of other awesome family memories in that house (or in the huge yard) and we'll all remember those quite fondly.
So, all that being said... we're out of there and have a new house. It's our house, and it's clean and smells nice. The dog has almost been broken of her old habits and in 3 weeks has only had 5 accidents, instead of 2-3 per day like she used to. She goes for walks twice a day and is learning quite well where the dog-toilet is.
In our new house, everything works like it's supposed to. If you plug in the vacuum, the power doesn't go out. The toilets flush, the showers work, the doors lock and the lights turn on by the switch. I have a smaller kitchen but it's got tons of cupboard space for all my things, and we even have a kitchen table in there we all eat at. All four burners on the stove work, the fridge doesn't leak and we even have a dishwasher! Right now we're in the middle of a heatwave (it was 110 today, believe it or not) so there are a few flies here and there but nothing at all like out at the farm.
We've already had Father's Day (it was late, but we had it all the same), our Housewarming, and Ruth's birthday and our entire clan was here and there's more than enough room on our deck & back yard for everyone to spread out and be comfortable. It's not the huge yard we had before and we had to get rid of the trampoline and the pool, but the pool will be replaced next summer since most of us are pretty much dying without it. We're about a 5 minute walk from the Thames River, and the other day a bunch of us walked down there. We were eaten alive by mosquitos but it was a nice walk and the entire river front is bordered by paved walking/biking trails. Roller skates, here I come!
Now, I suspect most who would be reading all this have already seen the pics I've posted on FB but in case you haven't here's some brand new family memories in a house (okay they're all outside but that's okay, lol) that works, and one we're SUPER thankful for:
|My new friend :-)|
|Our new back yard|
|Kev bbq-ing for Ruth's 10th birthday|
|Jordan and one of the party guests with Hailey|
|Party time on the patio!|
|Samuel, Joost, Jessica, Kev, Kim and more party-going :-)|
|A patio full of girlies|
|I think the cupcakes were a hit :-)|