7/29/2014

The Story of Our House: It's OURS!

Getting the house was the easy part...making it livable wasn't so easy.  The first thing we did was pull down the dark curtains off of every window, and pull up the carpet.  We had taken a peak under the carpet when we looked through the house, and there was beautiful hardwood in the living/dining rooms, bedrooms, and hallway.  My daddy graciously volunteered to refinish the floors, which saved us a boatload of money!  He did a pretty awesome job:
(The living/dining room after the carpet was pulled up and my daddy finished the floor.)
(click on the pictures for a better view)
We also installed a new floor in the kitchen (to replace the lovely imitation red brick linoleum) and continued that into the front hallway (going over the 60's small tile..which was also in the bathrooms).  We discussed tile, but I was nervous about it not withstanding 3 boys.  Plus, we had a neighbor in SC who is in the floor business, and at one time he told us that to maintain the tile correctly, you have to clean it with certain products or else you'll ruin it.  So, we went with snap-in linoleum that looks like tile.  
We had to have some plumbing stuff updated, and we had to have some electrical things updated.  And, of course, the heating & air wasn't far behind. 
Paint:  I feel like I painted for an eternity!  Especially the master bedroom, kitchen area, and hall bathroom.  Those were the rooms where the previous owner spent most of her time...and she was a smoker.  That wouldn't have been bad, except she was a smoker who hadn't cleaned the walls & ceilings in forever.  We "Kilzed" the ceilings and walls in those rooms multiple times before giving them several coats of paint.  I even took the registers off and painted them.  About a year after we were in the house, I took the doors down, sanded them, kilzed and painted them.  And then I understood why the house still smelled like cigarette smoke:  it was even in the doors.  
I gave the kitchen cabinets a good cleaning, and even cleaned the bricks on the fireplace.  I was determined to get that smell out of here!  Even now, there are times when there's a faint smell of smoke, but those are coming on fewer and fewer.  
Ready for some "Then and Now" pictures?  Here's the living/dining room:
The actual wall color now can be seen in the bottom left picture.
These were the easiest rooms since they were blocked off by shut doors.  I don't think they were used very often.  All we did in these rooms (besides the floor) was paint.  We discussed taking the divider down, but we're not sure if the hardwood floor was continued under it, or what.  I'd like to maybe cut part of it down so it isn't so high and find a decent top for it.
For the sake of the length of this post, I'll continue the "Then & Now" pictures next time!
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7/28/2014

The Story of Our House: Getting the House

  As you can imagine, I am just not feeling like blogging. I had already written this series on my house prior to my mother's passing, so this week you'll get to read all about our house.

I've said several times that I need to do a post about our house, but I never got around to it.  Since we've been in it for 10 years in August, I thought it was the perfect time.
When I was little, every time I went by my present house, I always thought it looked neat, as in tidy, well taken care of.  The road in front of the house is where, as a child, our family dog got hit by a car and was killed.  All because one of my sisters & I decided to walk home on the busy road and not through the neighborhood like we should have done. I'm pretty sure it was my idea, now that I think about it.
When I moved back to the Small Town, CH & I looked at about 150 houses.  We looked all over our county, and Knox County.  We had a hard time deciding on one.  CH kept saying that I wanted a house just like my parents, which really wasn't true.  After putting a contract on a house in Knoxville and having it fall through, CH decided that we needed to live in the Small Town.  It's hard to find an affordable house in this town; people just don't move, and the only way to get a house is to know somebody.  I had even started looking in the obituaries to see if someone I knew had passed.
We were living with my parents until we found something.  I was driving OS to work one morning.  When I got to the top of my parents' street, I noticed a "for sale" sign just to the right.  I was pretty excited, because it was in a great location:  right next to the park, and within walking distance to the schools and the pool.  I called CH & our realtor right away, and told them we needed to look at it ASAP because it wasn't going to stay on the market.
When we looked at the house, my parents were curious to see it, too, so they tagged along.  As we were going through it, the daughter of the lady who owned the house was there.  Her mom had gotten sick and had passed away that winter.  She recognized my parents and talked to them for a while.  She had gone to school with one of my sisters.
After we left the house, CH & I had a tough decision to make.  We found another house in a different section of town, but there were some legal issues.  We also needed to decide (quickly) whether we wanted a house that was pretty much move in ready, or if we wanted a fixer-upper in an almost ideal location.  We saw a lot of potential in the "good location" house, so we decided to go for it.  The next day, the daughter called me & told me that she didn't know if we were planning on making an offer, but there was someone who was going to, and she told me how much he was offering.  I told her that we weren't planning on offering as much as he because we were a little concerned about the water standing in the basement.  She told me that she would rather someone she knows have the house.  (Her parents built the house in 1962.)  CH & I resigned ourselves to the fact that it just wasn't meant to be, but a couple hours later, she called back and said the man decided not to make the offer so the house was ours if we wanted it.  We had my dad (who is an engineer) & one of my brothers have a good look at the structure to make sure we weren't getting into something we'd regret.  The man owner was also an engineer, so everything looked promising.  We put in an offer, and it was accepted.
I mentioned that the house was built in 1962.  We are only the 2nd owners:  the original owners both worked in Oak Ridge.  The woman actually worked on the Manhattan Project, a fact that her daughter didn't realize until she found a certificate thanking her for her service tucked away in the basement.  One really cool thing about this house:  we have a bomb shelter.  The man wanted to be ready to protect his family should there be a nuclear attack, and, given our proximity to Oak Ridge, thought if one did occur, the "Secret City" would definitely be a target.  One of my sisters said she was always jealous of the daughter in the house, because we would have to go to a nearby public fallout shelter while she only had to go into her basement!  The only thing missing is the door.
This is how it looked when we bought the house:
(click on the pictures for a better view)

Here's the funny thing:  It was built by the brother of the guy that built my parents' house!  They are both basement ranchers.  My parents' next-door-neighbors' house has a very similar layout to ours.  
So, we got the house:  as is, no warranties.  Now for the "fixer-up" part...
(The house now has  a new roof and new windows)
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7/22/2014

The Hole in my Heart

After having such an incredible day last Tuesday, my world (along with my daddy's, siblings', and our spouses') fell apart on Thursday morning.  I was at school working on my new/old room when one of my SIL called me.  I dropped everything and got to my parents' house as soon as I could.
We knew this day would come, although we didn't expect it to happen as it did. My Mama went to be with her Maker in Heaven last Thursday. God took her the way she would wanted:  quickly, before Daddy, and before her mind was too far gone. Mama was a devout Catholic; there's no doubt in anyone's mind where she is.
I am so thankful that God saw fit to put me into a large family with this mama & daddy.  They truly loved each other:  they were married for 61 years.  She, along with Daddy,  showed all of us children what to look for in a spouse, and how to be a good parent.  They taught us morality and compassion.  They taught us how to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously.  Mama taught us to love music...all kinds of music.  At one time, she wanted to be a concert pianist, but then decided she wanted to eat (she wasn't too hyped up on being a starving artist!).  She also thought about being a nun, but met Daddy and had 10 children.  She was a nurse by training, which came in handy with all of us kids.
She was beautiful...inside and out. She was always smiling (it hit me the other day that people say the same thing about me), even when she was in pain.  She never, ever complained about her hip or back pain unless you asked her about it.  And her laugh...How I loved her laugh.  And her singing.  She was the organist at church for 42 years and the choir director for most of that time.  She & Daddy moved to this area shortly after the Catholic Church we attend began. She & Daddy very rarely missed Daily Mass.  Mom would lead the congregation in singing the hymns during those masses.  The priest told me on Sunday that she kept all of them in line when they needed it!  
Mama loved her family & God:  Her family and the Church were her life.  She was such an incredible woman and amazing mother.  As one of my sisters said:  we knew we were loved...always.  
I know there are going to be times when I think of things to tell her, ask her, or just things I see that I want to share with her.  It's going to be hard to not be able to pick up the phone and talk to her.  I'm going to miss her calling me and asking for help figuring out her cell phone or something on the computer when my oldest brother wasn't around or they didn't want to bother him.  
She is in a much better place:  she's not hurting, and she's not worrying.  I imagine she's up there praying for all of us, and getting started on lists that 1 of her friends said she's already hit her up for!  I know she's reunited with her mama & daddy, and all of her siblings, and they're having quite the reunion, just as all of my siblings were getting together at their house.  That's the way she would have wanted it.  
If you've lost a parent, you probably know the feeling of the huge hole in my heart that I have.  I just wasn't ready for her to go, but then again, I probably never would have been.  I'm just very, very grateful that she didn't suffer through a prolonged illness, because she definitely wouldn't have wanted that.

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