Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Home Sweet Home

(because really, any excuse to throw some 80's rock up on this site is a good one, don't you think?)

Disclaimer: Very long post. All about me. And how the world revolves around me. Imagine that.

Now, that’s really funny that some of you would wonder if we bought a home in Alaska. I mean, I know I’m impulsive, but really? Alaska? I mean, there’s "normal-people impulsive", and "Kristie-style-impulsive" --- sure, I make travel plans at the drop of a hat, and don’t think twice (although I certainly should) about spending a hundred dollars on a great pair of boots … on second thought, maybe I’m not *impulsive* as much as I am *compulsive* … or maybe I just have a spending problem, as evidenced by the fact I NOW HAVE THREE MORTGAGES HOUSES!!! And by "I", I mean "Blaine", since, um, yeah. I don't work. At least not at a job that pays me anything that would allow me to make a mortgage payment.

Um, anyway. Going to Alaska on vacation and buying a house there would rate as "over-the-top-impulsive", even for someone as impetuous as me. Although I will totally confess to yammering at talking with Blaine, while on the shuttle bus at Mendenhall Glacier, about the fact if only we had skills in high-demand career fields, like maybe computers or nursing, we could totally move to Juneau and live there. And maybe I even tried briefly to convince him to go back to school and become a nurse so we could do that very thing. ... "because look how beautiful it is here and can you imagine living in nature’s majesty like this there’s a glacier here for pete’s sake, and hey, look, there’s another bald eagle, ooh, and a beaver’s dam, and they even have a Wal-Mart alas no Target but a Wal-Mart is better than nothing and we could totally make this work if we were both nurses!!!” but unfortunately, he shut me down. Cold. Turns out he’s completed all the graduate school he intends to. (sniff) Whatever.

No, we bought a house in Oklahoma. Remember my post awhile back, where I alluded briefly to the fact we were having a problem with our retirement plans, and then I pretty much dropped it? Because although I knew I was being a whiny brat, and could hear the whiny brat-ness in my own head, the act of actually putting the words to paper and doing the real-life, actual whining about our situation make it even more clear to me just how whiny and bratty I was being. Truthfully, I sort of hoped the whole situation would simply go away if I ignored it and pretended like I never mentioned it, and then you guys wouldn’t know exactly how whiny and bratty I really, truly am. Bloggers’ remorse, I guess you could say. Whiny, bratty, bloggers’ remorse.

But now? Now that our problem has (for the very much most part) resolved itself and I feel like singing again and spinning around and around in happy circles with my arms flung wide? Now? I’ll go ahead and fill you in.

But I promise to give you the Cliff’s Notes version, so as not to bore you to tears.

Wait. Who am I kidding? Cliff’s Notes version isn’t even a possibility with me, and you darn well know it. Hence the disclaimer about the very long, and very self-absorbed post. Which they pretty much all are, so why am I even mentioning it?

Like I mentioned in that previous post, Blaine and I have always, always wanted to move back to our hometown and have our kids go to the same school I attended. I attended, and my sister, and my mom and dad, and aunts and uncles, and cousins, and grandpa, etc. It’s not a private school, but a small public school, and I loved it growing up. I was one of those obnoxious teenagers who actually enjoyed junior high and high school. A small school, in a small town, close enough to a large city that we’re not missing anything, but overall, definitely a small-town atmosphere. Same classmates from kindergarten on .... I’m sure my rose-colored rear view mirror is painting a much more nostalgic picture than is completely true, but for me, the whole scenario was very Norman Rockwell, and I wanted my kids to have the same thing. It’s certainly not the environment that works best for everyone, but I liked it and have always, always, always wanted my own children to go there, too.

Because it’s a small school, that means it is located in a small school district. One that is land-locked, so no hope of ever getting bigger. One where 99.9 percent of the lots in the district have been occupied for years, and have houses sitting on them that are at least fifty or sixty or seventy years old. Or older. Not cute-quaint-charming-farmhouse old, but tiny-crappy-rundown-old. And small. And did I mention old? Within the district, there are “older, but well-maintained” areas, and there are “hovering between rental and hud property” areas. Just to give you an idea.

What generation after generation has done, and what we planned to do as well, is buy or build our “forever” house (you military people know just what I mean by that phrase, don’t you?) outside the district and send our kids to the school as transfer students. My parents did it for me, my friends’ parents all did it for them, my sister is doing it for my nephews, and many of my high school friends are now doing it for their own kids. It’s the best of both worlds --- decent homes, in decent neighborhoods, and a small school setting. After moving around for twenty years, often living in military housing, the thought of getting to build a home of our own, and actually live in it for more than two years, was wonderful.

To that end, Blaine and I purchased an acre of land several years ago, about fifteen minutes from the school, had contacted a builder, had sketched and planned the floor plans we wanted, and were ready to build as soon as he got close to retirement. We had our military retirement decided in concrete --- we had a plan of action, we had been committed to the same plan for many years, and we were sticking to it, by golly. In fact, I think we were so committed to our plan, that we weren’t able to entertain any other possibilities, and our (my) inflexibility is what came around to bite us in the ass later.

So, continuing with the story, a year or two ago, we ran into a glitch. A pretty big glitch. Apparently, so many people were following the same plan on action that we intended, by living outside the district and transferring their kids in, that the school filled up. As in, there was no room for any new students. The school is legally obligated to take in-district students, so in order to control student population, they simply shut down their transfer program. As in, no more new transfer students accepted.

Period. End of story.

And there Blaine and I stood, with the deed to our land in one hand, our floor plans in the other, and most importantly, our TWENTY-YEAR, WE'VE BEEN PLANNING THIS FOR TWENTY YEARS PLAN firmly in place --- none of it doing us any good at all. There was no grandfather clause, no alumni preference …. Nothing. No way to live where we planned to live, and get our kids into the school we wanted for them. We were stuck. Or at least it felt that way. And, to be honest, we felt cheated. For all those years we had been moving around the country, people had been doing exactly what we wanted to do -- setting up house where they wanted and getting their kids into our alma matter like they wanted. And once in, students stay in. But by leaving our hometown twenty years ago, and moving around with the Air Force, we had missed the window of opportunity to do the same thing, and it felt as if we were being penalized. In case you haven’t guessed, I do NOT do well with change, and really resented the school’s transfer policy being changed in the middle of my game.

So, first I pouted. For quite some time. I do that well.

Then, decided we had two options. One was to go ahead and build our dream-forever-home on the acre we bought, and send our kids to *that* school. The other option was to somehow move into the district of the school we really wanted.

Option A: We really loved the addition our acre was in, and I was more than in love with the floor plan for our house. I had spent twenty years day-dreaming about building the perfect house, and was excited to put those plans into action. And, to be honest, it was in a good school district …. Just not the district I wanted. I’m sure my kids would have been fine going there. It’s just not what my gut told me was right for us. This, however, was the option that Blaine wanted.

So, over-riding Blaine's opinion and going with Option B: Getting into the old school district was priority number one; number two was finding a house that would be suitable for our family for the next fifteen or so years. This is the part of the story where I sound like a spoiled, snobby brat. See, a great number of the houses in this district are tiny and old and run-down. The ones that have been maintained well don’t go up for sale that often, and it’s especially hard to keep your eye on the market when you live a thousand miles away, in a neighborhood where the “good” houses are often sold by word of mouth.

Last summer, when we were home for my dad’s funeral, a house went up for sale in one of the older, more run-down parts of the district. The house itself was ok, but small, and old.

{I know I keep harping on the old thing, but you have to trust me. I'm not talking about "a little elbow grease and hard work and I bet we'll find beautiful hardwood floors under the carpet and the antique architecture is actually quite charming" kind of old. I'm talking "cracks in the walls and smells like your grandma's musty basement and window unit air conditioners and paneling on the walls and all the kids will be in one bedroom because the entire house is only 700 sq feet" kind of old. NOT exactly what we had been dreaming of, and aspiring to, for the last twenty years.}

It was actually one of the nicer homes on the street --- which should tell you something about what our potential neighbor’s houses looked like. The good thing was that it sat on a lot and a half, so we felt like there was some potential for re-modeling, or enlarging the house. Blaine didn’t like it, and I didn’t like it, and the whole thing was very discouraging, but it seemed like maybe the best we could do. We would drive up and down the street, and the sinking feeling in my stomach got bigger and bigger …. We were giving up the opportunity to build a brand-new house … in a brand-new addition … on an acre of land ….. for THIS??? But it did have the few extra feet of lot in its favor, and I convinced myself that it was a sign from above …. Since we were home for Dad's funeral on the exact day it went on the market, it was a sign that it was meant to be. So we ignored our misgivings, and bought it.

To be continued …..

(not because I enjoy the suspense, but because I’m truly lazy and still haven’t finished the laundry from vacation and if I don’t do it soon, no one in the family will have clean underwear for tomorrow …)


Renee' said...

Congrats on your new house.

jadine said...

Oh! I'm so glad you're explaining all this, because I was a little confused by the 2 OK houses thing :)

Tracy said...

Can't they be naked for a little while! :o)

Amy said...

ARGH. I HATE to be continueds. Sheesh woman, you are frustrating me these last few days! LOL....just kidding of course!


Sandie in MN said...

God! I even stopped reading your post, went downstairs grabbed Doritos and a Diet Coke and prepared to read the saga of the houses. To be continued is just not acceptable!!!!

Anonymous said...

You're killing me!!
mary cron schulman

Kathryn Campbell said...

Who needs underwear anyway? Sheesh. You know what is funny? We were quite literally two months from letting bids to begin the process of building our "last house" (corporate moves and we are in house number 8 not to mention 8 years of apartments when we moved every ding-danged Halloween), when we saw a house that just went on the market. It was/is perfect! At our age, we were not looking forward to building again. So, next week our "dream lot" (third one of those, too) goes on the market, and if we are lucky, we will have the perfect house to stay in forever!

Anonymous said...

Kristie, ok, so did y'all build the dream house? And so you have a GA house, a dream house, and a house in THE school district. I;m kinda slow and wanna keep up with ya girl!! I love the story but you're killing us w/ TBC! I used to hate it when that would happen on Three's Company!

Can't wait for the "finale."

Claire in TX

Natalie said...

You're killing me here, Smalls. I give you 24 hours to complete the story, or I'm. . .I'm. . .well, heck, I don't know what I'm going to do. Don't leave us hanging too long!

Anonymous said...

Geez, I hate it when you do that! LOL!


Jeanette said...

You don't sound like a snobby brat-you sound like a mom who would do anything to give her kids a wonderful opportunity. Congrats! Having three mortgages does suck though.

Anonymous said...

Now that's just mean!! :)

Mary in Illinois

Anonymous said...

C'mon.. I've been waiting for months for you to explain why your retirement plans weren't working out.. you start the story, then TO BE CONTINUED???????

C'mon, I'm with Tracy, they can be naked, can't they?

Mary from NY

lizinsumner said...

ARGH!! I HATE it when you do this! (the cliff-hangers, I mean). But, I know what you mean about the old houses....housing prices have gone up so much in the greater Seattle area in the last 10-20 years, and well - I like old and quaint and charming, as long as it's ALSO well-maintained and updated. I mean, who wants to move into a house that gives you flashbacks/nightmares of what 60's/70's kitchens looked like???!! And, for another five years until my son graduates high school, I am also "tied" to a particular school district, so I know the feeling. BTW - Boeing simply loooooooves to hire vets and military retirees....sure you wouldn't want to trade OK for WA?? (or TX, or Missouri, or Alabama, or southern Cal. - oops, forgot, been there, done that one!)......or Virginia

lizinsumner said...

or Florida, or Arizona???!! And, nosy person that I am, I sure wish that I could juggle 3 mortgages with one salary!! You go, girl!!!

Andrea said...

Okay, I'm going to be a spoiled bratty blogger now: I don't care about your dirty underwear. I want to know how the story ends!

Just call me Varuca Salt.

Anonymous said...


angela conklin
a friend thru your entries

The Running Girl said...

When is the saga going to continue? We have to know. It's kind of like waiting for the last Harry Potter book. I know what you mean about living in "small town" atmospheres. I'm back living where I grew up and my kids go/will go to the same elementary, middle and high schools that I did.

JoAnn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daisy Duke said...

I just wanted to throw in there that Harry Potter 7 was the best... and I just spent a day not moving off my couch in order to finish every last wonderful second of it.