Our Five Ring Circus: A Walk Down Memory Lane - Our First House

Thursday, February 6, 2020

A Walk Down Memory Lane - Our First House


Grant and I have been together forever! We met as teenagers, we married young, and we moved into our first house while our friends were still living in dorms. It wasn't the perfect house - actually, our parents HATED it at first - but it served us well!


A few weeks ago, we took on the task of cleaning out from under our king size bed. It involves moving the mattress and box springs, so it isn't something we do often. We ended up finding a big box of old pictures, and we've been having so much fun going through them with our kids! I started sharing one old picture each week on Instagram for Throwback Thursday, and I thought it would be fun to make it a regular series on my blog, too. Just one picture, with the story behind it, every Thursday!

Just a few nights ago, after the lights went out, I found myself in tears thinking about my grandma. On February 18th, it will have been 20 years since she passed away. I have lived my life longer without her than I lived with her, but I still miss her so much. I was too young to think to ask the important questions about her life, so everything I know about her history comes from other people. I just kept thinking how I would love to go back for just one day, and ask her all the questions I didn't think to ask while she was here...and give her one last hug and tell her thank you for loving me so fiercely. Although this blog is part business, I also want to share these stories so my children and grandchildren can read through them one day, and know that these stories came directly from me! So let's kick it off with our first house...


Shortly after we got married, we started looking for our own place to live. Grant ended up finding a little house, and when he took me to it, I said NO WAY. It was a tiny, old cottage, in the middle of the woods. He kept pushing, so we took our parents to see it, and they said the same thing! BUT, it was time for our own place. It was in a convenient location, the landlord allowed pets, and it was affordable for a very young couple. 


We compromised. I said I would move in, with the promise that we would fix it up, and make it our own. Our family and friends pitched in, and we turned that old, tiny house into a cute cottage! We painted every surface of the exterior and interior, put in new carpeting, added a fireplace, my dad built shelves, and we filled it with all of our new wedding gifts and our beloved possessions from when we were children.

This picture was taken (before digital cameras were a big thing) on our last day of the renovation. We were covered in paint, our many pets were moved in, and our families were heading home, leaving us behind to spend our first night together in our new home.

We started calling our house our "cottage in the woods." (Now, we lovingly refer to it as our "shack in the woods," grateful for the years it served us, but so thankful to have moved on!) We only lived in our little cottage for a few short years, but that house was filled with so many memories. 


Our home was always filled with family members and friends. It was overflowing with pets. We enjoyed our young married years together with my chihuahua, 4 stray cats that we adopted together, the Cockatiel I owned since I was a young child, fish, and our ferret. We were a family in that tiny house.

Shortly after we moved in, we decided to get another dog. I wanted a large dog since I was often home alone for a few hours at a time. Grant had never owned a dog, so he got to choose the breed. Lady Morgana Le Fay, a black Great Dane, joined our little family. We drove so far to get her, and I remember how tiny she was when the breeder put her in my arms. I cradled her the entire drive home, excited to introduce her to our family. She was our baby, and we spoiled her as much as our other pets. At first, our little pup ran around our house in tiny sweaters and a bumblebee costume for her first Halloween, but soon she grew and graduated to wearing Grant's Steelers jersey for the games, and carrying around a deflated football.

Some of my fondest memories from our time in our little cottage involve me coming home from work, being greeted excitedly by our menagerie, and taking the dogs for a walk, rain or shine. That usually involved Morgan running on the leash beside me, and Pepe, our chihuahua, tucked under my arm because he was too lazy! I truly believe that caring for all of our pets, prepared us for parenthood. (That, and having 20 nieces and nephews!)

Those few years in our first home went by so quickly. We celebrated holidays together in that little house, and hosted many parties and game/movie nights. I had my first - and ONLY - hangover after one of them, and never really drank again. I spent so many hours standing in the kitchen while cooking and cleaning up, looking through the little window that separated the kitchen from the living room. I can vividly picture how the living room looked, and see my husband and all our beloved pets hanging out in that room while I worked. 


We ate our meals at the dining room table, surrounded by cats and dogs, who knew not to touch. We bathed our pups in the shower, and when our Great Dane grew bigger than me, I would simply climb in with her. I would tap my shoulders, and she would stand up and put her front paws on them. She was the BEST dog. I would lather her up, and we would spin in circles to rinse off.

Laughter and love filled that house. But there were also funny, scary, and sad moments. Just like any other young couple, our marriage was tested. We just happened to stick together and persevere.

Some of our neighbors were interesting, to say the least. One of them was a very old, very angry man. There was another man that our Great Dane growled at EVERY time he came near, and she was gentle and loved everyone. My sister lived in one of the houses for a while - and later, our friends moved into that house! 


My favorite neighbor story, however, involves the flood. A small creek ran behind the houses on our lane. Because the creek was just a rerouted run off, it never flooded. Then we received a huge amount of rain, and it flooded. Our house was safe, because it was the only one on a hill, but all the other houses, and the road, flooded. The water came up to the edge of the yard, but we were okay.

Instead of freaking out like I thought they would, the neighbors partied! They were floating around that night on pool rafts, drinking beer. The next morning, I walked outside with the dog, and our neighbor was in our yard, sleeping naked, on a raft. He literally floated until he fell asleep (and removed his clothes apparently), and ended up drifting into our yard as the water receded. I just turned around, went back inside, and told my husband to go out! (During the same flood, Morgan freaked out when she went outside and saw the water, and ended up getting her leg stuck in between the steps. Grant and I panicked, because we were worried she was going to break her leg. We ended up getting her free, but Grant still has a big scar from that night!)

In that home, there was a moment when I began to think that I just might believe in ghosts/spirits/bad energy. Our dogs slept in bed with us. One night, I woke up and Morgan was growling. I looked in the direction she was staring, and a man was standing at the foot of our bed, smiling. I screamed, and rolled over Grant to put space between me and the man. 


Grant immediately woke up, flipped on the light, and nobody was there. Our dog, however, was still staring at the same spot, growling, and her hair was standing up. We searched the entire house, and everything was locked up, and nobody was hiding anywhere.

To this day, I'm not sure what happened, why the dog was growling, and what I truly saw. It's definitely something I'll never forget.

In our little cottage, I found out we were expecting our first baby. We were so young, we didn't have plans to try to conceive until we were at least 30, and I wasn't sure how to tell Grant. I called my best friend with the news, and she arrived within minutes with ten pregnancy tests! She made me take every single one, then we sat on the front porch, holding them in our hands, in shock. 


We quickly adjusted to that life changing event, and everything began to escalate from there. My cockatiel passed away from old age.  I experienced preterm labor issues, and had to take a break from work. Our area experienced a major flood, and my parents lost their home - the house I grew up in - in that flood. Many of their pets had to be re-homed, and they had to find a new house. I was hospitalized with preterm labor, and on the day they released me, we took our beloved Morgan to the vet because she had been losing weight. We found out she had advanced kidney failure, and only had a few weeks to live. We were DEVASTATED.

Morgan only lived for one more week after that appointment. I was on bed rest, and I cuddled with her every single day, and watched the life drain out of her. I held her in my arms as she took her last breath on our bed, the place where she slept with us every single night. Grant immediately came home, but because it was so late, the vet was closed, so we couldn't move her from our house. We slept on an air mattress in our living room, and cried all night. As her body was carried away the following morning, all I could think about was how much I wanted to leave.

Our tiny house only had one bedroom, so we were already actively looking for a new house to buy. When my foot went through the floor in our bathroom, and I could see the crawl space UNDER our house, we knew it was time to expedite the process! Within just a few weeks, we found a new house, bought it, and moved in with our possessions, and remaining pets. 


(There was an incident with our fish. We couldn't fit them in the car the night we moved our pets, and Grant said they would be okay. We didn't think about how cold it was, or the fact that the heat was turned off in our cottage, and sure enough, when we returned, they were floating with slivers of ice.)

The first few weeks in our new home were sad. I was still on bed rest and couldn't move from the couch. We were missing our beloved dog with all our might. I was still reeling from the loss of my childhood home. Our new house felt so big, and different, and lonely.

Soon enough, our home was filled with happiness again. Dylan arrived in our lives, a full month early, and life was never the same again! And here we are, fifteen years later, in the same home, and it is full of love and joy. It doesn't feel so big and different and lonely. None of our original pets are with us anymore, and although they are missed so much, we remember them so fondly. The only thing that remains from our first home is us and some of the furniture and items that filled our first house.

Our first home no longer exists. The owner sold it, and the new owner tore it down. All that remains is the plot of land where it once stood, and an abundance of memories. Our tiny cottage in the woods served us well, and we are so thankful for all the happy memories we made while we lived there! Living there is an important part of our history, and I will always carry a little piece of that cottage in my heart!


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