Friday, May 01, 2009

This is the house that love built.

I have been lying avoiding the truth for quite some time now. It's not that I'm ashamed. I'm not. I'm actually very proud.

But when you are, by far, the youngest family living in an affluent neighborhood filled with uber successful lawyers, doctors, and business executives all of whom used hired help for the slightest leak from their Kohler sinks and you do not... you begin to learn how to fit in, by avoiding the truth.

"I knew someone moved into the old Kessler house when I saw your lawn boy mowing the lawn." The retired school teacher in the cul-de-sac greeted me, three years ago. "Oh. That was my husband." I blushed. "Oh. Oh my... he is. Um. Very young." It was her turn to blush.

Two winters ago, when we were buried under three feet of January snow, the surgeon across the street noticed that my in-laws car was stuck in a hand shoveled snowbank so he attached an automated pull wench to his Land Rover and pulled them to safety onto our horse-shoe driveway. "You should fire your plow service." He joked and we giggled in unison knowing very well that my husband spent the morning shoveling the driveway.

Last spring the entire family worked together pulling out weeds, chopping down dying branches, sprinkling mulch, and planting some pachysandra. "Your landscapers did an amazing job with the spring cleanup." An incredibly fit jogger ran in place breathless and offered the compliment. "Thanks." I smiled and hid my filthy unmanicured fingernails.

How did we end up being the youngest family in an established neighborhood? We married in our early 20's (he married me, an immigrant, who is always yearning for more and more of that American Dream) and I pushed, screamed and answered "Why can't you be happy with what you have?" Well... because I spent half my life waiting in lines for days old poultry and now that I have many choices I would like a swanky pedestal sink.

Together we invested in real estate early on and meticulously rehabbed two homes in dire straights of a remodel to Pottery Barn perfection making a killer profit before the ages of 28. By ourselves, with the guidance of our parents. So here we are at 31 and 32 or maybe even 33 (it's easy to lose count) living in our dream house on a tree lined Ohio street overlooking a calm pond with three children, lovingly tending to our home ourselves.

All of this leads up to present day when in February our dream house was flooded and I have, since then, been actively lying avoiding the truth about our remodel. "I am unable to attend, I have to manage the construction." I reply to just about every social invitation.

We are in the midst of a complete remodel of our expansive main floor. New mud room. New kitchen. New wide plank wood floors. New ceiling. New paint. New lights. Have you met the construction team that I manage? Jay has demolished every wall. Lola has organized the nails in patterns. Fifi has learned how to climb a ladder. I have learned how to paint trim. My husband and his father have taught us all.

Each pipe that has been re-directed has my husband's and father-in-law's fingerprints over them. The exposed wooden beams that frame our house have permanent doodles left over by my youngest artist. My honest first born smiles with pride when his play dates see all that he has demolished and ask, "Did you really use a crow bar?" And the middle child, oh the middle child, she skips over the missing tiles in our kitchen and asks when we can return to the Home Depot so that she can stare at the nationally based paint ad her face is plastered over as the model (starts with G and then lid and ends with den).

This home. Is the house that love built.

So. The next time a curious neighbor stops me on the way to the mailbox on garbage day and asks, "I see you are remodeling. How exciting! Who's your contractor/interior designer/plumber/electrician?" I will come out of the closet and show them a framed collage of photos documenting our hard work that will hang on the walls of my pale grey mudroom, over my perfectly tiled new floors, next to the bench it took me weeks to design and from head to toe I will be overjoyed with pride.

This is our home.

To all my friends... so sorry I have been MIA as I have been busy "managing." To my classy neighbors.... so sorry for all the late night drilling/sawing/pounding, I promise we are quasi normal folks.

63classy comments:

Naomi said...

Manage away, girl. And continue being honest! Your kids will learn more from watching you then you realize!

Hang in there!

Junebug said...

Seriously, you are the coolest woman! You've every reason to be proud.

Jill said...

Oh how I love handy families!! I think that it ends up making your house truly a home... with walls and floors put in with loving hands.

I can't wait to see the final project!

the planet of janet said...

this totally rocks.

i know this life, as i sleep with my plumber, electrician, gardener, painter and handyman.

:-)

Elaine A. said...

That's amazing, as an example for your children and because you have SO much pride in your home. Most people are NOT that way these days (as you made clear in your post!)

I just love you (in an innocent bloggy friend kinda way!) : )

Jessica said...

I think it's wonderful! You go girl!

Cecily R said...

I have goofy my-friend-OH-is-so-freaking-awesome chills!!! I agree with Junebug. You and your family are just about the coolest ever!

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

A full remodel, eh? You ARE ambitious!! Hope it goes well. And just think of all that your kids are learning from this!

Sooo.. It sounds like you are settling into this home becoming your permanent home? I hear less of the city yearning and more of the pride of your home... Just interesting to notice.

Zoeyjane said...

Exactly! I wish I could, and I'm so happy you can live your dream and get your hands dirty doing it. Makes it all the more worth it, righto?

DysFUNctional Mom said...

You have so very much to be proud of!

Karen said...

Congrats on doing the job yourself. There's much pride in accomplishment, and think of all that Jay is learning.

We built our home ourselves, with the help of my father and a few friends. I love every piece of it. Except the dirt that has accumulated since.

Jessica said...

We are getting ready to do the same thing. You guys should be so proud of yourself. That house is completely YOURS from the inside out. The people that hire to get their work done do not realize what they are missing. You are giving your house just an extra dose of love and you children are learning to do the same. This basically is reason #159 that you are a rockstar!

Smart A$$ Mom said...

Every home we have lived in, I have been asked a myriad of questions from 'Did your parents help you?' to 'Is your husband a lot older than you?' But I don't skate away, I just hold my head up and say 'Nope. Did it alone. No parents help at all, we help them!' However, we know nothing about remodeling, and would have had no choice but to sign a big check!

Pu├ža said...

heheh I understand you, it's what some society circles have. Just be honest, you'll feel so free, and if they do not understand is their proble, not yours. You have a great family and life and way of doing things. Making your house with them is such a great experience, they will always remember that!
Go girl!!!

Managed Chaos said...

I can SOOO relate to this post. We live in a similar area and we mow our own lawn, shovel our own snow, do our own remodeling (guess that's just the way we were raised. Why pay someone to do it when you can do it yourself). When we moved to this posh suburban area, we joked that we're the poor white trash, but no more. I'm proud to say that we manage and we're better for it. Thanks OHMommy for the reminder.

amanda said...

i think that is fabulous! be proud of them, be proud of your self for 'coming out'. i think it is awesome. and it's funny because my hubby does most of the fixing around here and i'm SOOO thankful because i know if he didn't we'd just go without it being fixed! i love how we're all so differently made!

Krystyn said...

I love it. We're learning as we go with the repairs and the fixes.

Everybody always comments on how young we are, too! Honestly, it gets old.

But, yes next time, you should fess up and show them your construction team. After all, Jay is very reasonable!

LceeL said...

You just go right ahead and manage. I, on the other hand, will cringe in embarrassment at all the things that need doing around MY house that I haven't gotten to. Yet. Perhaps I will use your drive and enthusiasm as inspiration for the things I need to do.

Kel said...

You go girl...that is amazing that you and your family do this together...I think its wonderful!
~K

Courtney said...

There is nothing else to say, except you & your family are amazing!

Lisa said...

You should be VERY proud! Please post more pictures of the remodel?!?

Leslie said...

I love it. Way to go for doing it yourselves. What an excellent example to your children. High fives. :)

Don Mills Diva said...

You are setting a wonderful example for your children and you SHOULD be proud of what you are doing!

Amy said...

What a great post (and I love the collage!).

We deliberately chose an upscale neighborhood but not the "uppest." So, everyone sort of mixes what they hire out and what they do themselves. Some people have the lawns done, but we like yard work so we do a lot of ours (I do like to have a yard guy come sometimes and trim trees and bushes and clean and mulch). Same with maids and all that.

(My maid quit maiding in my area last year and we can't find a good replacement, and I have to say it sucks.)

The 5 Bickies said...

I love this! I would love to be that family just missing the "handy" genes.

Can't wait to see the finished project!

*jimaie.marie* said...

you are AMAZING. point blank.
I would be lying if I said that I'm not jealous of you b/c I AM, in a stupid number of ways.
-BUT- you and your husband have worked so hard to get where you are and I respect you an insane amount for that.
You didn't just ride on someone's coattails and end up sitting pretty after doing nothing for a lifetime.
You, OHmommy, are someone that women (young & old) can respect & look up to in so many ways.
You home is a home filled with love and it shows! I love what you're teaching your children through these projects, you are THE coolest.
:D

Legallyblondemel said...

Good on you for being willing / able to do the hard work yourself. More power to you for the real estate success, too; my husband & I married late (not for us, but relatively speaking) and are just getting our savings/ investment stuff up to speed, but I hope to do something similar one day.

Becca said...

I think that this is wonderful. By doing everything for yourselves, y'all are setting such a great example for your kids. Plus, the finished product will be even more treasured! Which, by the way, I can't wait to see!

Nap Warden said...

Props to you...There would be no hope in Hell, if it were my husband and I:P Go you!

Katie said...

Seriously, I LOVE that y'all are doing this yourself! So wonderful and what great memories you're making with your kiddos!!

Huckdoll said...

This was awesome...I loved hearing a bit of the background on how you and Mr. OH got your start.

Also, my parents built the home I was born and raised in from a rancher into a massive, sprawling home - with just a few contractors, but mostly themselves and friends. My brother and I were around for years of building and that house will always hold a special place in my heart.

Way to go - yep, awesome for the whole OH fam!

Loukia said...

You know what? There is nothing better then doing things for your home yourself! It sounds like you have a lovely home and a wonderful family that is able to help! Lucy for me, my husband also has done all the renovations/projects in our house, from the landscaping to the nursery rooms and even the basement. Nothing better, knowing that love was put into a house!

Every Day Goddess said...

I can't wait to see the new rooms!! Kids love that the best when they are involved in the project, they apprectiate it much more, at least mine do(sometimes) :D

anya said...

Very beautifully written and very inspirational. I love to see dreams become reality...especially by your own two hands, and the hands of your family.

Kelly said...

I'm lucky to have a handy family and we have done almost all of our renovations ourselves. It not only is a money saver, but it certainly gives you a sense of pride to look at the finished job and know that you did it yourself. It's a great lesson for your kids too. We just got our basement flooded this week and it looks like we will need to be doing some work too. I posted some pics on my blog. Not pretty!

The Daily Stroll said...

I would be very proud too! You guys are so inspiring! :)Unfortunately we are not very handy so we usually just sign the check and let someone else do the work! We have also made it on our own without "help" from our parents so it's nice to hear about other couples that have done the same. Wishing you lots of luck with the remodel and can't wait to see pictures!!

Ed said...

I honestly believe that there is NOTHING more satisfying than doing a job yourself. You should be proud!

Stephanie said...

How sweet! I think it's great you do everything yourself!

So I guess this means you're not selling anymore? Enjoy the fruits of your hard work living in your neighborhood. You should be very proud of yourself!

Tara R. said...

That is an awesome photo. You SHOULD be proud. All the work and love you put into your house, you can really say now that you've built a HOME. Nicely done!

rockanddrool said...

and that is why your children will grow up to appreciate things.
i think you're awesome.
now...when you are finished with your house, i have a bathroom that is gutted and is awaiting remodel. wanna??? ;)
xo
http://www.rockanddrool.com

BusyDad said...

Please tell me you guys start the day with "Can we fix it?" YES WE CAN! Because that would totally rock. Way to take care of your own, with pride!

Melissa said...

Your family is so awesome, by doing your own work instead of letting people do it for you!

We are the youngest people in our neighborhood too!

Kat said...

That is awesome!!! The way it should be in my mind. :)

Todd and I are now considering buying a MAJOR renovation project in a very upscale neighborhood (we would be the youngest as well-by far). It needs SO MUCH WORK that it is a little scary, but it would be so worth it. We'll see how that turns out.

carrie said...

And I bet your remodel will turn out more beautifully than any contractors!

My husband used to be a contractor...so when we needed to add a 4th bedroom I got lucky! And, I'm really good at painting trim too, I had a good teacher! ;)

Java Cupcake said...

Congratulations on your home!!! I'm sure that the appreciation your children will have for it will far surpass any of your neighbors kids.

Great work my friend!! :)

Rhea said...

I think that's incredible. And awesome. And yes, of course you should be proud! I'm so impressed!!

just jamie said...

You know something? I just adore you. Yup. Sure do.

♥spoiled mommy♥ said...

Ummm, can you come and do mine!?!?
WOW-thats amazing girl...you should be proud, very proud! Thats highly impressive!

Mrs4444 said...

Terrific post, and that pic is a treasure. I really loved this.

Karen MEG said...

Good for you, and I am so amazed that you are doing this all, all on your own. And proud that you have accomplished so much at a young age.

We felt pretty young on our street as most were older with kids in university, and a couple in their 50s moved in to what they called their "dream home" ...but we moved in almost 10 years ago.

I so wish we were more handy...having gone through a major kitchen reno a couple of years ago, I had a hard enough time being my own general contractor, keeping my hard hat on :).

I can't wait to see pix, if you'll share!

zandor said...

That's awesome.

K said...

My husband and I bought our house at 23 and 25. It is the smallest house in a nice neighborhood and we are still by far the youngest family around.

I so understand.

Elisa said...

It is SO much better to do at least some stuff by yourself than hire others to do everything! I know it's a cliche, but I really do believe it does build character, as well as physical strength and independence. 'cause who wants to be dependent on others for every little thing that needs doing?

I applaud you P. You and your family have got it right.

Kari said...

Even more reason to be proud of what you have! Don't hide it! By the sounds of things, you are doing as well, or in some cases, BETTER than the professionals! I would be "all up in that neighborhood" yelling LOOKIE at what my family and I have done!!! ha ha
I am looking forward to seeing pictures of the finished product!!!

Babe in Babeland said...

Hi! First-time commenter. I say good for you!! You're doing it YOUR way. My husband and I are putting up a wall in our apartment to make a two-bedroom out of a one-bedroom...might not be the best way for everyone, but for us, it'll work. I say whatever works for you!

C and C Mommy said...

I am envious....I would love to remodel. However, I totally feel the "managing" perspective. We gutted and remodel our kitchen when I was about 5 months pregnant with our son!! You talk about crazy....it was the kitchen that love and HATE built!

C and C Mommy said...

I am envious....I would love to remodel. However, I totally feel the "managing" perspective. We gutted and remodel our kitchen when I was about 5 months pregnant with our son!! You talk about crazy....it was the kitchen that love and HATE built!

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

That is really great. Good for you for just letting it all hang out there! Your house will be all the more special to your family and the kids will be so proud that they got to help make it that way.

Even so, good luck managing the chaos while it is underway. :)

Daddy Rogue said...

Congratulations!

Looks like you've got a great family, and when you're done, your home will be all the more wonderful for the fact that you did it yourselves.

Great post!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I agree with the masses - a house is far more of a home when you "build" it yourself. Athough I'd really love to have "people" who do things for me sometimes...

Jenera said...

You may not have an entire army of 'people' to do your bidding but you will feel more pride in your home and family by doing it yourself. You will instill great work ethics and pride in your kids. And THAT is more important than fitting in with the neighbors.

Michele said...

I love it! You and your family can be so proud!

Jaina said...

Sounds like the best construction team around! Can't wait to see pictures of the finished product ;)

 

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