|Our home in the Spring of 2015 when we were redoing the front garden bed.|
When my husband and I moved our young family back up to this area many years ago, we searched for an affordable place to raise our family. Housing was much more expensive up in this area than where we had just sold our home in Southern Oregon and we had very limited choices in the homes that we could afford to buy. We knew we wanted to raise our boys in a small town but still be close to my husband's parents. We soon found ourselves looking at the house that we have lived in for close to 24 years now.
When we moved into this place, it needed lots of work. It was UGLY!!! We thought it would be a temporary shelter and stop on our way to buying our dream home. However, life happened and we are still here. Over the years, as time and money has allowed, my talented hubby has remodeled the inside of our home and we, including our son Chris, added gardens full of flowers and fruit bearing plants. We also put in 2 vegetable gardens. These gardens have nurtured our soul and fed our bodies along with those of our friends and neighbors.
It is a funny thing though, even when I was first dreaming of what our home could look like if we remodeled this and painted that, we still had the home that everyone came to. Our small, outdated and at the time very dark interior and sorely in need of repairs home, become the gathering place for our kids' friends and our's also. This taught me that there is a huge difference between having a beautiful house and having a home. I do want to preface this by saying there is nothing at all wrong with wanting and having a beautiful house, but it is the memories that you make and the love you share with others that makes a house into a home.
So what do you want your home to be? For my husband and I it meant having an open door policy for our friends and family. We wanted our friends and our children's friends to feel loved, wanted and valued when they came here. They were greeted with smiles and hugs and were welcome to share a meal and spend the night (or many nights in some cases). We wanted this to be a place of safety and refuge, love, acceptance and laughter. It was a place where they could be themselves, shed tears, pour out their hearts and know that no matter what, they would be loved unconditionally. It also became a place where we had to at times do the hard thing of holding those kids that flocked here accountable for their actions, because we loved them and wanted the best for them, just as we did for our own children. We helped them sort through things and make tough decisions. We were there for them when their worlds were falling apart. They became part of our family and we loved them like as we love our own children. Thus they became our hanai (adopted by love) kids and remain so to this day. Our friends became hanai family also and are like second parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents to our children. Those same wonderful people still come "home" to see us and visit whenever they get a chance. :)
Our grandchildren have their own huge filled toy box and loads of books and movies to choose from in our home. They also have Tonka trucks and shovels to play with outside and are free to roam around the gardens and pick things to eat to their heart's content. They have their own bedroom where they stay when they come for special Grammie and G-pa time. They love to take baths here in my big soaking tub and getting to play in the hot tub is a huge treat that they look forward to. They even have friends that live right down the street that we meet at the park to play with. We have are building fun traditions like doughnuts for breakfast, cuddling up and watching movies in Grammie and G-pa's bed and snuggling on the couch to read stories or watch fun kids videos on Youtube. I want my grandchildren to alway feel like our home is their home too.
Our grown children still enjoy coming home and we try to get together as often as we can. Now that my cousin Jeremy has moved up to the area, he joins us for many of these fun times. We usually do a potluck style meal and our kids also know they are free to invite their friends to join us too. We don't want anyone to be alone, especially on holidays so we have always encouraged our boys to bring their friends here who have nowhere else to go. We had lots of college kids from all over the world join us for holidays over the years and it was wonderful! We were given a hot tub by my hubby's very generous boss and then my hubby built an enclosure around it so we can all use it year round. There are plenty of towels and bathrobes for everyone to use when they come out for a visit or stay. It has been fun to watch our grown kids and their friends enjoy it, then our grandchildren when they came along and were old enough and of course my hubby and I also make good use of it to relax and to soak away those aches and pains that come from hard work and age. ;)
There are more remodeling projects that still need to be done. Our home is not exactly what we wanted it to look like, but it is exactly what we wanted it to be. It a place where people are enveloped in loved, feel comfortable to just be themselves and know that they are always welcome. I hope that we can continue to provide that "home" that our family and friends have all come to enjoy and to do that for other people also for many more years to come.