Merry Purgemas

Tis the season. So they say.

We joined most of the western world yesterday at a retail-outlet-near-you and completed our holiday shopping. Everyone had the same idea. It might have been just as busy as Black Friday at Hobby Lobby. Best Buy was a little better. Everywhere was crowded.

I had a better attitude while shopping this year and it freed me up to make some observations.

  • Everyone I interacted with in-person was nice and in a good spirited holiday mood. Some were tired from shopping and navigating crowds but nearly all showed some genuine goodwill towards men. One lady gave me a $20 coupon that she wasn’t able to use. A cashier suggested I make two separate purchases because the rewards system would save me $15. There was overwhelming care and concern.
  • Every car I met on the parking lot battle ground was a chunk of fiery metal cast from the forge of hell and the demonic drivers were all consumed with moving forward towards an unspoken destination and could give two shits about manners, traffic signage, or running over an elderly grandmother crossing the street. Civilization was coming apart at the scenes. I found myself happy that cars aren’t equipped with guided missiles because I would have blown at least three cars turning left (across five fucking lanes of traffic) into a flaming heap of aluminum and cheap plastic. I would have rummaged through the wreckage and taken any unburned gifts as my trophy spoils of war. There was overwhelming angst and rage.

Once we emerged from the madness and were on the ride home I thought about the whole experience. Is it possible that rage is an important ingredient in the Christmas spirit?

Is the holiday shopping experience just a version of the Purge? Do we empty the hate from our hearts onto random strangers so that we have more room for the good? Is this a version of the Orwellian Two Minutes Hate?

Purge2

Hear me out. Is there a pattern to holidays? Do you have to have good with the bad?

Let’s try some out.

Easter. It kicks off with Palm Sunday. There is a parade and kids get to carry palm leaves in memorial of the welcome ceremony for Jesus. The next Friday we get to remember the Angel of Death flying around Egypt and honoring an agreement that if a family will kill a sheep and rub its blood all over the front door then God will not murder their children. Seems more than fair to me, I love my children and I am lukewarm when it comes to sheep. There is also a brutal torture/murder where Jesus finds out he was setup by the trifecta of Jews, Judas, and (plot twist) his OWN FATHER. I guess the Romans had some blame as well. He handled it like a champ though. There was anger, sadness, violence, and the sweet release of death. Life starts to return to normal. Then BAM, Sunday it’s all rainbows and unicorns again because, just like a trick birthday candle, Jesus bounced back to life, busted out of his granite grave and encouraged a large rabbit to deliver candy eggs. DEATH WHERE IS THY STING? Jesus FTW! (Thats For-The-Win for you older people who are not hip to the text slang. If you read it too fast it would look like WTF and that would be an inappropriate sentence to associate with the resurrection.)

But you see what I mean about the holidays. The up and down mix.

What about Lent? There is a celebration period that climaxes with Mardi Gras which is notorious for splurge and excess and showing breasts for plastic beads. Drink all you want. Eat all you want. Steal a kidney or two on Bourbon Street. Live it up! Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and a week of fasting. After that, food returns and everyone is happy and ready to repeat it all next year. Except the guy who lost his kidney. He probably had enough of the whole thing. I’m out of my depths with this Catholic holiday stuff. Don’t bother correcting me on this one. I never listen.

Christmas fits this same mold. We start with Black Friday; a shotgun-start to the financial footrace to outspend each other to show our deep love through material things. There is the gluttonish excess of Thanksgiving and the pleasurable swiping of the credit cards to get discounted deals. The continuous holiday parties and office lunch. The parades of cars looking at lights. Sitting on an old man’s lap and asking him for free things. Holiday TV specials where underprivileged people are given thoughtful things by over-privileged people and we all smile on the inside because justice has been served. Life has balance. With all this warmth filling us up from the inside it is no wonder that our normal amount of ba-humbug is condensed and squeezed to one end until it erupts over the jackass who stole our parking space.

I propose that we no longer fight this process. Feel free to scream and swear. Make rude hand gestures. Throw some serious Facebook shade. Get in a fist fight in the checkout line. This is America, we do what we want. No guilt. No apologies.

In fact, I think the shift towards a real and raw America has already started. I offer the following proofs…

IMG_4474

Gold plated metal turkey decoration.

If anyone reading this has one of these bad boys just say “guilty” in the comments. I want to know who Im dealing with.

IMG_4476

No PC language here. Just some genuine Piss-Remover.

Is urine a big enough problem to get a dedicated line of stain remover? Can we blame this on free range parenting? I feel like I am missing some context here.

If you have enjoyed holiday shopping, this post is for you. I’m exhausted. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Oodles of Noodles

I have zero doubt that we are on a special radar at school. Red flagged. The Underdaddy children are subject to shenanigans and special trips to the principal’s office a couple of times each year. It’s fine. At least they are making a mark.

So far we have visited for:

Fear of Alien Abduction

Hearing Voices

Random Excessive Crying

Bullying and the Fallout

Defacing a Religious Text

Attention Deficit Disorder

Sassy Preteen Mouth

 

Our legend gets passed by word of mouth and each new teacher is given a briefing from the teacher before. “Bless your heart, I had that one last year…” or “She is a little eccentric but really sweet. Good luck.” I’m not certain of this but people are people and the teacher’s lounge is like any other water cooler gossip spot.

But never in the disarray that is our life did I think that we were giving off a vibe of abject poverty. My kids are malnourished but it is through their own personal choice. They only eat whatever things they can confirm that we don’t actually have. If I only have Mac and Cheese, they want Hot Dogs. If I have Hot Dogs they want Mac and Cheese. They exist on juice and imagined injustices.

And I will admit that some mornings we don’t all roll out the door looking polished and primed for the day. Maybe someone has a ring of Oreo Pop Tart around the mouth. Maybe someone’s hair escaped a brushing. Same for teeth occasionally. These are signs of being behind the schedule, not of being poor.

I wonder what stories my children are sharing at school?

Whatever the cause, fast forward or err… rewind to a few days ago and Prima sets her backpack on the counter. Inside the backpack are some generic cans of tomato and chicken noodle soups along with some instant noodles.

 

UD: What are these honey? (Holding up a can)

Prima: (Shrugs her shoulders) Someone put it in my locker.

UD: Why?

Prima walks off as if I wasn’t talking to her. Her sister walks in.

Jane: They do it randomly for kids who need it.

UD: Okay well, that isn’t random. That is targeted and how did it get in her locker?

Jane: The guidance counselor does it sometimes. I’ve seen her.

UD: Does she know whose locker she is leaving surprises in?

Jane: Yeah. Probably.

UD: Sooo… they think we are not feeding you guys?

Prima returns to the room.

Prima: I like these noodles they gave me.

UD: That’s not the point. And don’t walk off on me while I’m trying to talk with you. There are other kids who probably need these noodles.

Prima: Can I eat them?

UD: No! Maybe. I don’t know. (Turning to Supermom who just walked into the room) Can you return angel tree food? I don’t know the rules.

Prima: I’m eating the noodles.

Jane: I’m eating the Ravioli.

UD: I’ll eat the Ramen.

Supermom: No! This food is for the children.

UD: For our children apparently.

Supermom: No! Maybe… I don’t know. Put it in the pantry.

 

So now we have nonperishable food items for our underserved children to heat up and leave sitting in a bowl on the table while the go play their Nintendo Switch and wait for me to pour it out later into the garbage disposal.

If you have been on the receiving side of a community act of compassion then this post is for you. We are going to try and notch up our hygiene and nutrition plans since we are sending poverty vibes. I wouldn’t mind if it were true but I lament the fact that someone actually needs these things and they got sent home with a clan of children who have complete meltdowns over the wrong kind of juice or getting denied two types of meat in one meal. Example: Lady Bug requested a bologna sandwich with a side of hot dogs. She is a terrible vegan and, obviously, a princess accustomed to luxury in her processed meat selection.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

TOH 2 – Wallaby Trees

Part of our planning for the new home included building a place for our wallaby Bindi to reside. She needs a place that serves two purposes; 1) She needs to be protected from the elements and other harmful things. 2) She needs to be able to not shit in my house.

The Bindi Bungalow serves both purposes.

After checking with some local retailers, I realized that I am not wealthy and therefore would have to build the critter condo with my own free labor. And by “my own free labor” I mean my children. And a coworker who was willing to work in exchange for pizza and pasta.

Wallahouse1

Maybe my only shot at an engineer.

We built a footing, joists, and a floor fit for a queen. The pad was ready for the DIY Shed kit from Lowes

We traveled across the barrens of asphalt and traffic known as “The Bypass” to the home improvement store. I purchased a pre-cut, unassembled shed that would look great and wouldn’t take more than a long afternoon to assemble. How could it possibly take longer than a couple of hours? It couldn’t. Impossible.

The staff at the home improvement store were not what I would describe as the sharpest knives in the drawer. They almost crushed my truck with a fully loaded forklift because of a general misunderstanding of gravity and geometry. I was able to wave them off before the springs exploded and I redirected them in actually unloading the pallet of wood into the bed of the truck. The load was really long and was trying to fall off the forklift so the operator stacked a pallet of mulch on top of the shed and tried to set both in my truck.

Wallahouse2

FYI, these kits don’t include roofing or paint. 

I drove home and promptly began construction… on something else. Then the next day I was able to begin on the shed.

Wallahouse3

Just as I finished the walls, our fall weather brought three inches of rain. It was a hard week of finding time to finish shingles to protect the high-quality particle board walls.

Wallahouse4

A few more days of details and painting and the structure was finished.

Wallahouse5

Then we started on the inside of the house. We waterproofed the floor with flex seal and added a wire grid to keep our dear wallaby away from the front door and prevent her escape; an escape that we have determined from past experience, is probably fatal.

Wallahouse10

After a solid three weeks of effort. It was time for Bindi to come home. She had been a resident in Mamaw’s basement for entirely too long. She had forgotten who we were and gave exactly two shits about leaving the basement. Oh well.

We loaded her into a pet carrier and drove home. We spread wood chips on the floor and wrapped her crate in blankets for insulation. Winter was approaching and she hadn’t put on any extra fur. Supermom had the fear that she would freeze to death. I had less of a fear and more of a scientific curiosity about the matter. I hypothesized that she would respond to the cold and grow fur. She did so everyone is happy.

Wallahouse9

Queen Bindi in her new castle.

We could tell that Bindi was stressed from her new environment so Supermom decided that she needed to be able to watch her remotely.

SM: I need to see what she is doing. She could be eating the floor coating or something could get in there with her.

UD: Video would be just like a baby monitor. Whatever bad things you are worried about, listening or in this case watching isn’t going to help. You just get emotionally scarred by watching the murder happen in real time.

SM: I need to see her.

UD: She is going to be fine. She is a T-rex goat deer. She doesn’t have a box of razors or hard narcotics. Very little to monitor.

SM: I. Need. To. See. Her.

Wallahouse8

Infrared wallaby cam 3000. 

Long story short – we got a solar panel, Wi-Fi-cameras, and a battery powered *(won’t stay charged so now I am likely running a power circuit out to the wallaby shed to power a 12v, 5mA) webcam.

Also, queen princess on high Bindi requires a leisurely area for her majesty to stretch her legs outside of her dedicated 8×12 day room so, I will likely be building a small fenced in area and a doggy door in the shed for her to hop in and out as she pleases. And I know that five minutes after I complete the fence and the webcam and we settle in to watch all the excitement beside a window-that-we-could-open-and-do-the-same-thing-but-it-is-cold-so-we-don’t, a giant hawk will swoop in and carry her away.

We will both cry but for different reasons.

Just kidding. I love Bindi and the shed and the challenge of making things work for this weird pet. It makes life interesting. And I don’t think a hawk could carry her away, she is getting huge. An eagle maybe, but a hawk? No.

Somewhat related subject – The previous owners left a palm tree and it is an impressive palm tree. I did notice that we live in an area where palm trees are not native but I really like the palm tree so I had an interest in keeping it alive. They told us that it would need to be moved into the sunroom for the winter. Makes sense.

Over the next few weeks I learned that I am the only person on the planet who doesn’t fully understand the value of this palm tree. Apparently, a palm tree that reaches eight feet tall in the south is an equivalent value to one of the tablets that Moses carried off the mountain where he talked with the burning bush and it burned moral suggestions into solid stone. I learned this fact in the following way…

One afternoon I decided to move the palm tree inside. I found it was rooted through the container directly into the ground. Problem number one. No matter, the roots were small and I could probably break it loose by grabbing the top and swaying it from side to side. I grabbed the top and felt a shooting pain through my fingers down to my spine. I swore loudly, “Holy border wall Batman! What fresh hell have I summoned?”. Of course, that is a paraphrase but the Lord was referenced at least once. I looked at my now bleeding hand and realized that this particular palm tree has a double row of serrated teeth that look like the back of a dragon. I let go of the base with my other hand and the tree rocked back into place and slapped me with a giant palm frond. My next thought was, “Fuck this tree. It can die in a deep winter freeze and rot in the spring like an unharvested potato in a field.” I relayed this sentiment to Supermom who disagreed.

UD: We don’t really need it. We will have to do this every year!

SM: I like it and they worked hard to keep it alive. We cant just let it die!

UD: Watch me! Effortless!

SM: Do you know how expensive a nice palm tree is?

UD: People pay lots of all kinds of stupid things. We bought a wallaby for godsake!

SM: You don’t mean that!

UD: I’m just angry about the thorns in my hand.

SM: It is a scratch.

UD: TWO scratches!

SM: We are keeping the palm tree.

UD: In a hole in the ground after it dies.

A few days later my stepmom, GJ, is at the house.

GJ: You need to bring in the palm tree.

UD: I’m not keeping it.

GJ: Are you just going to let it die?!

UD: Pretty much.

GJ: You can’t do that. That is a really nice palm tree.

UD: Only nice palm trees deserve to live? It is not native. I will have to do this every year.

GJ: They are expensive. Your dad can help you move it inside.

UD: I’m not in good standing with that tree I think we just need to let it die.

Later that afternoon my phone rings.

Dangraddy: GJ says you need help moving a palm tree.

UD: Nope.

Dangraddy: Did you already move it?

UD: Nope. Screw that tree.

Dangraddy: That is a nice palm tree. You cant just let it die.

UD: YES I CAN. IT IS MY TREE. I DECREE IT HAS OFFENDED THE KING AND ITS SENTENCE IS SLOW FREEZING DEATH ON MY PORCH. WHAT IS IT WITH THIS PALM TREE? DOES IT OWE YOU MONEY OR CURE CANCER?

Dangraddy: Your wife wants the tree you need to save it. It is going to frost tonight. Cover it up and I’ll come help you move it tomorrow.

UD: Just look the other way and this will all be over tomorrow. We can go about our lives and forget about this magical albatross tree.

Dangraddy: Cover the tree. I’ll see you tomorrow.

UD: Fine.

I attempted to cover the tree with a bedsheet and a canvas drop cloth. It was comical but it worked. The next morning we wedged it out of the ground and moved it into our sunroom with a furniture dolly and a work ethic fueled by bitter hatred of the tree. I stepped in dog shit and cut my hand a few more times. One of the barbs went right under my thumbnail and into the layer below. Other than those little annoyances the move went smoothly. I thanked my father for his help and for forcing me into the right decision. Supermom was happy and the tree was safe for the winter.

Wallaby_Palm

Perfect fit. 

Five minutes after getting the devil tree settled.

Supermom: That container is kind of ugly and falling apart. Can we change it to a bigger pot?

UD: (Left eye twitching) …No.

With the wallaby safe and the blessed palm of Jesus safe we moved on to other projects. Like the fact that we can get a really tall tree into the sunroom.

Wallaby_Tree

Everyone likes the tall tree. Supermom was right again.

If anyone is a constant victim of what they feel is misplaced effort, this post is for you. You’re welcome. It is all worth it in the end and happy wife does equal happy life. I promise. More of our adventures to come.

Oh and I almost forgot. I got this page from a coloring book and I am trying to interpret what my seven year old was trying to convey. It is from a fire safety book.

Wallahouse7

All I can deduce is that Bob’s mom has a hot ass. Supermom says I am incorrect. 

What weirdo hangs the smoke detector on the wall. It goes on the ceiling at the highest point. They would be dead before this thing went off.  And the floating tree out the window. Why are they checking the smoke alarm in a tornado? I’m so confused.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

TOH Part 1

I am a month or so behind on documenting our move. This month has been a black hole of time and energy. I have lost weight from the constant business of moving into a new old home. We knew it would be work. We knew it would be a level of effort to bring it into the 21stcentury. We were correct.

Tom Hanks starred in a great movie called The Money Pit. A young couple buys a charming old home and it basically falls apart at every turn until their marriage is on the rocks, constant construction is the norm, and one of them has sex with a guy in the symphony. Our ongoing adventure has felt a little like that at times, minus the affair with a musician and marital issues. Consider the next few blogs a potpourri of those stories. I will call them This Old House Part x, or TOH for short.


Our first day was a whirlwind. We signed away our old home, bought our new one, and backed the moving van into the driveway. We walked to the front door, slid in the brass key, and turned right and left with the force of an industrial torque wrench. Nothing happened. The eons of patina that had built on the deadbolt held it steadfastly in place. No matter, there were two other doors. The carport door opened right up. On the counter was a bottle of champagne and a note wishing us well in our new home. The previous owners, Mr. Richard and Mrs. Kay, left a trinket treasure hunt for the girls all around the house. So far, they have located teacups, an old pen, a photo of Dr. Langdon, an arrowhead, a metal rose, and some blueprints.

Various friends and family members showed up to help us move and every one of them came at the exact right time. I can definitely say that we would not have survived this process without them. A special thanks to Familydoctormom and her husband for serving us the first ever meal in our new home. A delicious spread of Rock’n Dough pizza.

OldHouse4

OldHouse3

Lady Bug was the only one adequately prepared for this move. 

Supermom released the dogs to explore their new home and within thirty-five seconds, Jasper took a shit in the foyer. “Joy! Let me find those packed paper towels.” He has never had a poop issue in the house so I assume he was showing his displeasure from being in his box all day. The dogs’ potty issues would turn out to be a continuous theme. We were all accustomed to having a fenced backyard. I plan on fencing in a portion of our new one but it is further down the list.

OldHouse2

It isn’t home if a dog or child hasn’t soiled it yet. 

Closer to the top of the list – a home for Bindi; our wallaby who is living in the basement at my mother’s house. We are making good progress in that area. When all is said and done I think racecars would be a cheaper hobby than our exotic rabbit deer. But again, I am ahead of myself.

There were some specific items we wanted to update. Item number one was carpet. The existing carpet was plush and dense but there is something about carpet that needs regular changing. My best guess is that the existing carpet had been in place since the 1980’s.

We got a price from a local company to put in some new flooring and one of the line items was “Removal”. I remembered that one of our dogs removed half a room of carpet in thirty minutes so I figured that would be an item that we could complete ourselves to save some money. I was right but my scheduling was ambitious. We agreed to the carpet installation on a Monday morning and we only had two days to get things ready.

OldHouse6

So carpet over hardwood was a thing for a while. 

Nothing will make you feel more at home than getting down on hands and knees to pick out a billion staples with a pair of pliers. You learn a lot about a place. We found hardwood under the stairs. We found old water damage in Delaney’s bedroom. We found old termite damage in the master bedroom. Neither problem is currently active which is good to know also. The carpet installers spent two days getting our new floors in place. They did an excellent job and I bet they would have been fantastic at removal too.

OldHouse7

Floor done. Walls next. 


My story from the Struggle Bus today is the story of our new dishwasher.

It all started one evening when I tried to cook a pizza. I turned on the oven and as it warmed I noticed a strange smell. A strong vaporous cloud that had hints of sweet, sour, and old grease. My first thought was from a few years back when a mouse made a home in the top of our stove. We turned off the oven and went on with life. I added the smell to the list of things to work on “later”. A day later I loaded up the dishwasher and started it on the normal cycle. I was impressed with the efficiency of the dishwasher because the outlet into the disposal only had a trickle of water during the pump-down cycle. Then, during the heat dry cycle, the strange smell returned. It was more overpowering from the dishwasher and we actually had to stay out of the kitchen for about half an hour. We had planned on appliances anyway so we purchased some a arranged to have them delivered a couple of days later.

On the day the appliances arrived we couldn’t start the install until that evening because of work and life. I tackled the dishwasher first because it would probably take the longest. A few wood screws were holding the dishwasher in place. I removed them and started to slide the unit out. The smell that rolled out from behind the dishwasher was familiar. All of the girls including Supermom gathered around to watch me work. When the dishwasher was about halfway out of the cabinet, something large and grey ran across my foot and under the stove. I let out a, “Oh holy fudge!” My audience didn’t see the rat so they asked, “What? What?!”. I said, “A rat” and they screamed and jumped up on whatever was close. It was so funny that I took out my phone and took a picture. While looking at my pictures I realized that Prima has the strongest survival instincts.

OldHouse8

This is the face of a woman questioning all her previous life decisions. Notice Prima opening the window. That kid is gonna make it. 

So the smell was indeed a rodent living under the stove and pooping under the dishwasher. Our dishwasher was not a high efficiency model, the rat had eaten the drain hose completely in half. The water had been running out through a hole in the floor. Awesome.

I was standing in the kitchen with a dishwasher half in the floor and the knowledge that a large rat was under the stove. My choices seemed limited.

We built a barrier of foam boards that were supposed to be a multicultural market school project. I put on boots and got some gloves. I slowly slid the stove out from the wall. The space under the cabinet was open on both sides. I lowered my phone into the gap to take a picture so I could assess the situation at a safe distance.

Right side = no rat.

Left side = no rat.

Superhuman power of deduction… –> the rat is in the stove.

We lightly strapped the stove to the furniture dolly and moved it into the carport with all of the other abandoned appliances that I’m sure have convinced my neighbors that rednecks are taking over the neighborhood. I checked and rechecked all the possible rat entrance/exit locations and the stove was the most probable location. With it safely in the carport I went back to removing the dishwasher. The plywood was completely soaked with rat pee and sealed with a layer of turds. I poured an entire container of cat litter under the counter to try and pull out the moisture. I noticed a hole in the floor that was probably the entrance location. I also noticed that the dishwasher supply line wasn’t connected under the sink like most lines and that there was not a place to turn the water off. That means I couldn’t remove the old dishwasher without turning off the water and immediately reconnecting the new one. I grabbed a wrench and went to the water meter at the road. Somehow in the process of turning the water off I pulled a muscle that runs from just behind my right nipple to an area between my shoulder blades.

I went to Lowes and arrived ten minutes before closing time. I grabbed a few water line supplies and a tool to open and close the water meter valve. The perky checkout girl commented, “I hope you are having a great night!” I relied with, “Look sweetie, if someone is buying this assortment of items at 9:55pm and smells like the underside of a diaper… It is not a good night. It will not be a good night. It will be something they will survive at best. And my right nipple is numb so let’s just bag this up.”

I don’t think she expected such an overshare of information. I apologized for being grumpy and assaulting her with random facts about my nipple. I made my way back to the house to finish my rat cleanup and dishwasher install. The dishwasher had to sit outside the cabinet for two days while we dried and sanitized the floor. I bought a box of rat poison and placed a block under each cabinet and crammed a cube of it through the floor hole before sealing it off with expandable foam. With everything connected and cleaned I felt victorious. I had driven out the rat and reclaimed my kitchen.

A few days later we noticed a small odor. The next day the odor was a little stronger. Something like… dead rat?

Maybe that last angry block of poison I shoved through the floor hole landed in a family of rats and they were scattered around the crawl space like victims of mass murder. Slowly rotting and exacting the final revenge. I had to know so I removed several vents around the crawl space to look under the house. I could actually crawl under the house but that sounds terrible so I just looked from the sides. I saw a couple of large piles of poo that were from something larger than a rat. Definitely a predator. Raccoon or cat.

If any of my neighbors are missing a cat, I think I know what happened.

If you like a series of random events, this post is for you. I have several to work on; Wallaby House, Fun With Asbestos, Welcome to Mayberry, Renovation Realities, Dining Room Dreams. We are still excited about our home but it will continue to be an adventure for the foreseeable future. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Home

Our move looms in the distance. One week from today. There seems like an endless supply of quality junk that we don’t really need but poor people are suffering so it seems rude to throw away. Like three tubes of perfectly good Silicone Caulk. Someone could use that and I’m chunking it into a bag like I’m King Midas. “I’ll buy more if I need it.” What an arrogant thing to say but where do you put this stuff? I’m a reasonable hoarder. That’s all I can conclude.

Maybe we won’t use the crystal glassware laser lithography Santa Clause platter but that doesn’t mean you throw it to the curb like some classless trailer whore-man-person. Geez.

Some of the rooms are empty for the first time since we moved here in 2009. I had a vision from the first day we were moving in and Jane was barely older than two. She had a mullet, two from teeth, and overalls with a pink t-shirt. She was the cutest little redneck on the planet. I thought about her standing there today, eleven years old and so tall. Such an independent, hard headed but soft hearted young woman. Time flies.

We were excited to get the home and I have to give props where it is due so Obama, thank you for the first time homebuyer credit. Sure it was a form of welfare but it was for the working man because we had to put the money down before we got it back. That program got us off the mean streets of Bemis. But over the years, our house has grown crowded and we need to spread out.

Home4

This is how they are choosing to sleep in our last two weeks at the house. One is actually sleeping in the crack between mattresses. I found her one morning sleeping in the closet.

They say the average amount of time in a home is 10 years. Looks like an accurate number for me. Both of my parents are anomalies, 1987-ish for mom and 1992 for dad. You guys are messing up the average. Time to move.

I hope we get about 40 years in this new home. I hate the uncertainty of moving and the whole dance. Low-ball offers. Arguing over who fixes a crack or ding or bad place in the paint. Home inspections that pick you apart and appraisals that magically go for about what the listing price was. I guess if the sellers get an offer in the ballpark then that must be what the home is worth?

You need lots of paperwork and bank statements too. Lawyer money, title money, closing costs, taxes, insurance, fees earnest money, utility deposits, moving trucks, and eating fast food for three weeks while you pack your house into storage units. Who says renting isn’t better? Pull up the tent stakes and move whenever you want. That sounds kind of awesome.

Our current house and our new house will both close new loans on the same day. We will load up everything we own the night before and hope signing day goes well. Then we will drive to our brand new house and vomit a load of boxes into the largest and closest rooms. The beds and furniture will be set up first and the boxes will dwindle but they will hit a critical mass where I feel that all my important things are out and the cost-reward ratio starts to favor other activities. That is how boxes of old CD’s get lost in an attic and found one hundred years later by a pouty teenage hiding from their parents. Suddenly Ashley Simpson and Jock Jams infects a whole new generation. Vintage. Retro.

So yeah. I’m excited about the house. I’m not as excited about the moving process and settling in to the new lifestyle. But…I am strong and the girls deserve a little more room to stretch their legs.

Home2

Typical afternoon shade.

Our new house has a cool history and once we are in I will share more. For now, know that a family built the home in 1965.

 

Home1

Notice the mother has her good southern lady pearls. 

There were four children. The oldest was eleven and the youngest was five. The home has never been sold and the youngest sibling has been living in the house while working through the parent’s estate. The stories parallel and I’m not much on things being meant to be but there are some strong coincidences that make my heart happy. The youngest sibling was so excited that a similar family was getting her family home that she insisted that we meet the older sister. We went to visit on a Friday afternoon and brought all four girls to visit. My four girls surrounded Ms. Lynn and took her on a tour of her own childhood home, telling her all the plans that they had for each room and all the wonderful games they could play. She told them all the history that she could squeeze into a thirty minute visit. “This was my room. That was my brother’s. This came from our cabin. This was from a trip to Europe.” After each room was visited and recounted the girls went to play outside on the giant steel swing-set and the older sister joined the group of adults talking in the kitchen. She embraced Supermom and I with tears in her eyes, “I’m so glad you are making my home your home. It needs little girls and playful laughter. That’s what it was built for. I hope you have many happy years just like we did.” It was a really good visit.

Home5

Original blueprints were pretty cool.

There is something special to me about a place that was built purposefully and lived in. Made into a home. A safe place of refuge where anything in the world can be wrong but home is still there just as it always has been.

When either of my parents start talk of selling their homes and moving I understand what Ms. Lynn was feeling. So much has happened between the walls. So many memories and pictures and Christmas mornings and late nights talking the hours away. Waking up to emergencies or camping outside just far enough away to feel the danger of the forest but close enough to retreat inside if you needed to. Moving away is tough for kids, at any age. Our current home is the only one that they really remember. Only Jane has ever lived anywhere else. Lady Bug was born in our bedroom at the foot of my bed. It doesn’t get much more personal than that. We lost Biscuit here. We adopted Chester who ruined the carpet. We tried to buy vinyl hardwood and the cashier rang me up for 5 planks instead of five boxes so I was able to redo my living room floor for about twenty nine dollars. She threatened to call management on me for protesting her error. I was trying to do the right thing and pay correctly and she got so mad at me for implying she was wrong. I felt bad but I wasn’t going to get arrested for being a nice guy so we took the flooring and counted it as a win.

We hid in the master closet on several occasions during tornadoes. We rode out a couple of impressive floods. We fenced the backyard. Adopted a squirrel. Tried our hand at decorating only to find that we are not decorators. I’ll always remember the squeals of the girls when they hear that key turn in the dead bolt on the front door, “Daddys home!”. I will remember forever and ever, a period of about a year when I would put Jane to bed and tell her, “I love you.” She would say, “I love you to Daddy. You’re my best friend.” I choked back tears every single time and replied, “You are my best friend too.” My wife and I adopted the saying for each other at bedtime and Jane doesn’t say it anymore but it is as true for me as it ever was. I hope she reads what I write one day and knows that a girl never has a better ally than a Daddy who loves them.

Home3

So… If you ever have packed memories and happy tears into boxes to move on to the next great adventure, this post is for you. You’re welcome. It is hard to look back and forward at the same time. I have a week to say goodbye to this home. It has served us well and is going to a family who needs the same care. I planted some trees that will be just right for a treehouse in a couple of years. Maybe the craziness will continue. Anyway…. On to the next.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.