2011 No Money Remodel Challenge

So … why do this?
After seven years of nomadic living and moving every year for school or work, our little family  closed on our first house in July 2004.  Our 1979 split-level was nestled among the boom of brand new neighborhoods all round us.  And while part of me wished that we could have bought one of the builder’s specials like the one directly across the street, we were homeowners now!—members it seemed of some elite club with our first big piece of the American Dream.
We loved the yard—generous by suburban standards—with it’s garden, shed and slide off the back deck.  And loved the upgrades around the upstairs: bead board and chair rail in the living room, crown molding in the master bedroom, newer carpet.  But there were some real quirks, too:  the terrible we-can-do-it-ourselves finish to the downstairs, the non-existent entry way and the screwy wiring everywhere. I think Hubs and I figured we’d enjoy the upstairs and yard, put up with the downstairs and be happily onto one of those shiny new houses across the street in a few years.
But enter life.  And kids. And job chaos. And college a second time. And a crap economy. And blah, blah, blah.  So here we sit nearly seven years later still in the same house with no plans to leave.
And while I am grateful—so very, very grateful—to still have this house, you wouldn’t know it from looking around.  Because I haven’t taken care of this house like I cherish it.  
And it kills me to admit that.
Because admitting that means I have to cop to the fact that part of me has given up trying to make this house feel like a home. Starting THRIVE has helped change my mindset, but there’s still so much to do.
Part of the problem is that I have six, young kids who are crazy busy and I don’t have eyes in the back of my head. Every time I repaint, every time I wash walls, every time I scrub milk-juice-syrup-paint-marker-mud out of the carpet, I wonder what the point of trying my best is (or even trying at all) because it’s just going to happen again.  After all these years of kid destruction, I’m just tired.
But the other, more important part is that I’ve realized that I’ve been playing the wo-is-me-card way too often and using the excuse that we can’t afford to remodel any thing the way we’d like so why bother to put my heart into this place.
And so as I walk around my house each day, I’m face-to-face with everything I love and hate about this place.
“The kitchen is crazy tiny and terrible for entertaining …”
But life revolves around this kitchen. And I’ll never forget the day I was standing in this kitchen when my autistic son spoke his first sentence, “Please mom, I want some more milk,” and I screamed and cried and picked him up and twirled him around the room and called everyone to tell them about our miracle.
“The split-level entrance and stairs are miserably small and impossible to navigate …”
But the coming and goings of our life are up and down those stairs with babies coming home from the hospital and kids leaving for school.  And I’ll never forget both those days when my husband came home from lay-offs with his cardboard box … and I met him at the top of those stairs … and we held each other and whispered through tears that everything would be okay and that it was the start to a new, amazing chapter in our story.
“We don’t have enough bedrooms to have an office, so we cram computer desks and worktables around a king-size bed and two closets…”
But that room is my haven where Hubs and I unwind from long days and connect through the computer to family and friends stretched around the world. And I’ll never forget that horrible day when I realized we could loose our house … and I retreated to this room in tears, desperate to push back against the heaviness and despair that seemed to be closing in … and logged into Blogger and registered the name ChooseToThrive.blogspot.com … and told the computer screen that this was bottom and I was moving up … that this experience would define, but not destroy me.
If these walls could talk, they’d tell our story.
And for that reason, I love this house. I am so grateful for this house.  And this house deserves better. 
So I’m going to stop envying the houses across the street and choose to fall madly, desperately in love with this place I have to raise my Dirty Half Dozen.
I’m going to stop focusing on what I don’t have to spend on remodeling and focus instead on what I can build with time, love and some mad crafting skills.
I’m going to stop teaching my children that mom has given up and instead teach them that we show the Lord how grateful we are for what we have by how we treat it.
And if we ever do leave …
I want these walls to say that we loved this place for everything it was … that we poured our heart and soul into making it the very best home it could be … that we faced the trials and sorrow of our life as a family, gathered together safely under this roof.
I Choose To Thrive … here.