It is Sunday evening. Adam fell asleep early. Ben and Simon just crashed. I have finished the first week out of school. The house is quiet, I am alone listening to the rhythmic raindrops falling outside.
Today was the first day that the four of us stayed all day on the farm. No commitments, no errands, just us. It was the breath of fresh air I needed to remind myself that this ambitious move to the farm was worth it.
We have been scrambling for almost a year making this move happen. Simon was just around 6 weeks old and Ben almost two. We were sitting in this home that we had invested so much sweat and tears into and we realized that it was exactly NOT where we wanted our kids to grow up...
We had spend four years renovating an old home, our first. When we bought the place neither one of us had more than a few pennies to rub together and we both shared a history of living in tents in the woods and traveling instead of building a reputable rental history etc necessary for buying that first home. So, needless to say our options were limited. We fell in love with a gorgeous yet dilapidated old home in a not so good neighborhood. It was in the budget and it had character...both of us full of passion and ambition were quite sure that we could walk into that old house and into that neighborhood and turn it around. Rather naive in retrospect. So for four years we worked in that house living in what felt like eternal construction. We tackled some big projects first and then just worked away room by room. With each baby we managed to pull another room off and the house came alive again. The gardens are amazing. Throughout the four years we saw many of the houses on the street be condemned and amazingly enough young people, some with kids moving into the neighborhood. So things are looking good right? Sort of. People don't change...we found ourselves very proud of ourselves and what we had accomplished but when we looked around we saw that no matter how much we modeled a strong work ethic we would still be the odd couple out. Our kids would be the odd ones out. I was the only working Mom on the street. So we decided to begin looking for that perfect property.
We wanted enough land that Adam could better operate and manage his landscaping business. Of course we had to work in a budget so we were looking for a home that was modest, hopefully didn't need a ton of work.
We wanted to be able to use our high beams coming home at night because there wouldn't be any traffic.
A home where we didn't need blinds because the neighbors were far enough away.
A place for the dogs to run free and not get into too much trouble.
A place where the boys could run and play outside all day long, breath Mother Nature in all her glory (stay outside while I run in the house to grab some water or pee and not worry that they are going to be in the street or snagged.)
Well we found the place pretty quick and out of fear that it would get snatched right up put in a low offer (the only thing we could afford) with the expectation that we would never get it. To our surprise the took the offer and thus began the longest move ever...
I work full time as a teacher.
We had an infant and a toddler.
Adam owns a small business.
The house needed some work and the last thing either one of us wanted to do was spend the next five years in a construction zone...didn't we just get over that!
We had to carry two mortgages (who is going to buy that old diamond in the rough in this economy...)
We still had to finish the kitchen in the old house to get it ready for tenants.
I do believe that the list could go on if I wasn't so tired of thinking about it.
Ambitious and clever as ever Adam dreams up renovations that I can barely get a hold of in my brain. The old house had 12 ft ceilings and enormous rooms and neither one of us wanted to be segmented off and closed in. We decided we might as well accumulate a little debt to get the place in order and Adam is slow in the winter so let's get too work.
Of course renovations are never easy and always comes the unexpected. We were robbed, all the tools stolen. Adam worked all day at the house and came home to office work and an exhausted teacher/mom who had very little left for her husband. Needless to say everything in our life seemed to suffer. We were both worn out physically and emotionally. I would spend all day at work, come home to the kids, and on the weekends pack up and head to do as much as I could to help at the house. Thus the name "The Painting House Farm". We kept telling Ben that Mommy had to go paint and he began calling the place "The Painting House". We felt that it was all too fitting and it has stuck! It was so hard because we both new that this decision was what was best for our family ultimately, it was true to who were are and the environment that we wanted to raise our kids in but the stress of trying to make it all work was overwhelming and we were always second guessing ourselves. Was it worth it?
I think so...The children are remarkable resilient. I know that they felt the stress from Adam and I and probably still do as we are not quite out of the woods yet but they are both so happy.
They both love this place so much. We are outside everyday from morning to night. The TV is rarely on. The boys are dirty from head to toe, often requiring a quick bath before nap time, and a good tubby before bed. We take walks on the property to inspect the "baby apples" as Ben calls them, the baby pumpkins, baby grapes, and baby figs.
It is amazing...just when I thought that we made the biggest mistake because it put all of our relationships on the line I watch Ben at his play kitchen the other day. He walks over to me and says "Mommy, I am taking my compost out." And he walks out the door with a little tub full of random toys to the yard.
I guess no matter how hard life gets the most important thing is that you greet everyday with hope, ambition, and live the life that is true to you.
We have two healthy beautiful boys who are going to grow up in a beautiful space, watching nature do her work, with two parents who work hard and model positive behavior to both people and the environment, and who have stuck together when the going got rough to each other and our dreams. AND IT IS WORKING...BEN HAS A PLAY COMPOST BIN.