Well, here we are!
In five days we’ll be closing and our house will no longer be ours. It will be passed on to a new family. One with four children. And we’re confident they will make almost as many wonderful memories in our house as we have over the last 11.5 years.
Has it really been that long?!
Mama and Papa graduated from the University of South Florida in the summer of 2006. Before we graduated Papa already had a career lined up, one that moved us from the west coast of Florida to the east coast one week after commencement.
We’d moved one other time since marrying in 2001, but now we were moving to a city we’d never before heard of.
It was a terrifying move for us. All of Mama’s family lived in the Tampa Bay area, mostly in St. Petersburg. Papa had lived in the same area since coming to America from Russia in 1989. We were confident we’d settle down someplace in the same region.
But Papa got an offer we couldn’t refuse, and it was an amazing opportunity for both of us.
So we were packed up and moved into an apartment temporarily, paid for by the company who’d hired Papa, so he could begin his new career and we could look for a house.
In only a matter of weeks we’d found our home, but we kept looking. We’d fallen in love with everything about this house and compared all others to it.
Then Mama’s parents came for a visit and to join us on our house-hunting adventure. Together we looked at a few houses, and her parents kept getting annoyed because we wouldn’t look at each house for long. We’d already found perfection, but they didn’t know what we were comparing all of the other houses to.
So we took them to this house.
And then they understood.
As soon as you entered the foyer you looked through a huge picture window, overlooking the large porch and big backyard, complete with a vast view of one of the county’s largest canals. The kitchen was huge, beautiful, and perfect for entertaining. The large master suite had a huge his-and-hers walk-in closet and an attached bathroom with a gorgeous garden tub and large separate shower. The three other bedrooms were perfect for guests, an office…or kids. Two of those bedrooms shared a hall bathroom, and the last bedroom was in the very rear of the house and had its own nearby bathroom, called a pool bath, that also led to the back yard.
At the time there was no fence, but the neighbors on either side each had fences. Beyond the yard was…nothing. No road, no neighbors. It sloped downward toward the flowing canal, located about 75 yards from the back yard. About another 75 yards on the other side of the water were empty wooded lots and a few houses.
Privacy. And it was perfect.
Immediately, Mama’s parents understood. We again left that house and looked at others. At every house that followed the routine was the same: Mama and her mother walked inside to critique the interior — especially the kitchen — while Papa and his father-in-law walked around the outside, only to find either neighbors that were all around or standing water, which meant breeding grounds for mosquitos and possibly venomous snakes.
The next day the four of us decided we were done looking: we’d found our home. So we returned to the house to see it a third time. Then from the driveway we called the realtors, who were also the owners because they’d had the house built more than nine months prior only so they could sell it…but the house had yet to be lived in. We made them an offer and they accepted.
On September 29, 2006, we closed on our dream home.
And on April 26, 2018, we say farewell.
The emotions are just now starting to settle in. There are only a few boxes remaining and very little left in the garage. As the rooms become emptier, it gets harder on Mama.
No, she doesn’t want to change her mind. Yes, it’s just “stuff.”
But, oh, the memories!
The three additional bedrooms are located on one side of the house. For the first year the front bedroom was our workout room, the middle bedroom was our office, and the back bedroom was a guest room because it had a large closet and virtually its own bathroom, so we treated it like a mother-in-law suite, complete with our chest of drawers and wraught-iron queen bed that we’d had in Tampa.
Mama and Papa love ornate, dark wood furniture, so we puchased a large matching four-poster bed, night stands, and dresser with mirror, as well as a matching dining table-and-chairs and china cabinet set, all from a small local furniture store, where we also purchased two padded high-back bar stools for the bar that separates the kitchen from the family room and an entry table for the foyer. We managed to score a sectional that was marked down because it was a floor sample at another furniture store, followed by a bistro table set for the tiled area near the back sliding door, and then we bought a large dark-wood matching office furniture collection. Papa’s birthday was 1.5 months after we bought the house, so for his birthday we got his then-dream television set: a 61-inch Samsung DLP.
Our house was fully furnished before the end of the year.
Then in October 2007 we found out we’d become parents!
The front bedroom became the nursery at that point. We painted it pale blue and green and put cute removable stickers on the walls. Mama’s parents purchased the nursery furniture for us, with the exception of a rocking chair and matching footstool that Mama wanted for rocking and nursing our new baby.
We welcomed our first son in June 2008.
We celebrated his first birthday in 2009, and shortly after that we decided to have a fence installed because he had started walking and we wanted to put in a small playground. We hired a local company to erect a wooden fence on each side, with wooden gates at the front, and a chain-link fence and gate to the back so we could still get unobstructed views of the canal.
In October 2009 we learned our son would become a big brother!
So the middle bedroom became our new baby’s. Our first son graduated to a toddler bed that was in the shape of a large blue race car and the nursery furniture was transferred to what was the office. Our family was completed with the arrival of our second son in June 2010.
With that, the guest bedroom had to go and became the office. We no longer had a workout or guest room. We were parents!
As our sons grew, we decided we weren’t going to send them to school. The front part of the house had been set up as a split dining- and living-room space, so we eliminated the living-room portion and made the room with the picture window the formal dining room while the other half became a playroom and informal homeschool area.
Soon, both boys outgrew their own beds. M ‘Skiy eventually got the toddler car bed and we purchased a twin bed for D ‘Skiy. Shortly after, the toddler bed became too small and we got a twin bed for M ‘Skiy. More frequently, however, the boys were requesting to either sleep together in one or the others bed or in a sleeping bag on the floor in one or the others room.
Then, only about a year later, the boys begged if they could share a bedroom. They’d apparently talked this through together and said they didn’t like to be separated anymore. So we purchased a full-over-full bunk bed and converted the back bedroom into their combined bedroom, again because it had the larger closet and bigger bathroom. The middle room became their playroom-homeschool room, and we kept D ‘Skiy’s twin bed so the front bedroom became a combined guest-workout area. The office was relocated to the front of the house, where the playroom-homeschool space had been. Also during this time some of our friends were moving out of state and we purchased their large metal swing set, as the boys had outgrown the small plastic one they’d had.
And the setup remained that way longer than it had been anything else. We started formally homeschooling D ‘Skiy in 2014, and in 2016 M ‘Skiy began.
We’d even repurposed their baby furniture! The dresser was placed in their closet and held their clothes. One side of the crib was removed, a piece of laminate was placed on the bottom, and the crib became their art and play table as well as group desk. Portions of the changing table were changed around, some leftover laminate was put in the middle, and that table became D ‘Skiy’s first desk…until he outgrew it and M ‘Skiy took it. The rocking chair and footstool became Mama’s reading chair in the master bedroom.
As the years went on they both outgrew the baby furniture. Their clothes were too large for the nursery dresser to hold both sets of clothes, so each got their own new chest of drawers. The changing-table desk became too small, so it was put to the road and someone picked it up to use for their kids, and then we went to IKEA and purchased each of them a small desk and chair. The crib-turned-table became too low for them to sit at, so it became a standing activity table and stored art supplies, but eventually the boys stopped using it and that, too, was put to the road for someone else to claim.
Over the course of the last year, the twin bed in the front room was sold, as was the elliptical. Then we sold the sectional and our dining room set to a friend of ours. We’d considered selling the bedroom furniture and bunk beds, and we even posted them for sale, but then we decided to hold on to them. We’re also holding on to our sons’ chests, our office furniture, and Mama’s rocking chair and stool.
Most recently we sold the boys’ desks and chairs to another friend, and Mama’s parents bought our lawn equipment, bistro set, and many other items. Yesterday we gave the boys’ full mattresses to one of the park rangers at the preserve we’re currently staying at, and those were the last of the large items.
We are literally down to boxes and miscellaneous odds-and-ends…and sometimes we wonder if it would just be easier at this point to get a few garbage bags, shovel everything into them, and call it a day. The last few and small items are certainly proving the most tedious.
Now all of the bedrooms and bathrooms are empty. We’re leaving the bar stools, LP grill, the boys’ tire swing hanging from the front oak tree, Mama’s back yard fire pit that the boys and Papa built her one Mother’s Day, and Papa’s DLP television for the new owners.
The empty rooms and yards and bare walls that once held family pictures keep tugging at Mama’s heartstrings, especially as memories flash through her mind:
Mama hanging window treatments and shopping for linens and other accessories with her mother, while Papa shopped for a new lawn mower and other items, as well as picking up our new state-of-the-art French-door refrigerator, with his father-in-law, all within days of the house becoming ours.
Hanging lights, fans, and speakers because either there were none or the few included were small and dim.
That mid-morning a nauseated Mama took a pregnancy test and then called Papa at work to tell him the news, in tears of excitement, anxiety, and fear.
The other morning two years later when Mama took a pregnancy test, walked into D ‘Skiy’s room, where Papa had just finished changing his diaper, and decided to make the announcement by picking up their son, giving him a kiss, and asking him loudly enough so Papa could hear, “Are you ready to become a big brother?” which was quickly followed by a gasp from Papa and a group hug full of elation.
The morning Papa got up for work while very-pregnant Mama started to walk out of the bedroom to make his breakfast and lunch for the day when her water broke right in the doorway.
The hundreds of tummy kisses from D ‘Skiy because he was so looking forward to meeting his baby brother.
The middle of the night when Mama started having contractions very close together, so Papa called her OB, who abruptly said we should go to the hospital, despite D ‘Skiy was sleeping soundly in his bed…and remained asleep, even while in the delivery room with Mama as she was delivering his brother.
The sleepless nights Mama and (mostly) Papa spent when our babies refused to sleep or simply wanted to nurse, either out of hunger or comfort.
The first coos, giggles, words, and birthdays.
The crawling on the uncomfortable burbur carpet and hard tile, and the dependency on the furniture to learn to stand and walk.
The scary fevers, vomiting spells, wasp stings, scrapes and bruises, and bumps on the head.
The month M ‘Skiy was in a full-body Spica cast and couldn’t walk, crawl, stand, get wet, or adjust while sleeping, needed help going to the bathroom because he couldn’t use the toilet (only a bed pan and urinal), and could only get occassional sponge baths, followed by another month of him trying to learn how to walk again because his muscles were so atrophied he was unable to do anything with his legs without a walker or other assistance.
The evening cuddles around books for bedtime stories…and the many “just one more” requests.
The plants and trees we’ve adorned the yards with, and the above-ground gardens Papa built for Mama that yielded several seasons of vegetables before the weather got the best of them.
The games of hide-and-seek, Shutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Checkers, Wii, Play Station, Uno, Skip-Bo, scavenger hunts…
The support beam just inside the foyer that marked the heights of each of our sons in green and blue marker since they were babies, now covered over by layers of silver-birch paint.
The chalk trails and roads drawn in the driveway for scooters and cars.
The removal of training wheels from bikes, inline skates with head-to-toe safety gear, pogo sticks, street hockey, and tossing around baseballs and footballs.
The day we had to say good-bye to our aging corgi Cici, the day we welcomed our cat Luna to our family, and the day we had to bury our betta fish Samson.
The boys’ birthday parties, the many playdates, and the backyard get-togethers and barbecues.
The above-ground pool that we had for nearly three years, preceded by other smaller pools, and an inflatable water slide that has been used at least a dozen times, which we now have stored away with the other items we wish to keep and use again.
Our neighbors that have also become our very dear friends, who we love and will miss very much.
And thousands more happy, sad, thrilling, terrifying, and wonderful memories that simply can’t be listed.
Now we can’t help but wonder: Come Thursday, the 26th, will our hand help us hold tissues as we tearfully pass over our keys, or will we jump up and high-five as we officially begin our next big adventure?
It’s a good thing we each have two hands, because we have a feeling it’ll be a bit of both.