We moved into our home on a warm summer’s day in June 2017. My two older boys and I came directly from Togo at the 34 week travel cutoff for pregnant women. My daughter would be born late that July. My husband stayed in West Africa to finish up his work at a little hospital there. The memories from those early weeks are treasures.
We were overwhelmed by the beauty around our new home. We barely knew it before we moved in, having bought it on a wintertime visit home to see family during our time in Africa. We felt a wave of peace wash over us when we toured it. Seeing it in the summer with my boys was an entirely different experience. The hills were rolling and green and the lupines and peonies skirted our back deck. Our woods were expansive and filled with little trails, a stream and bridges. Perhaps the most fantastic feature of all was the 1+ acres of old variety ripening blueberry bushes that comprised our front yard.
The powder blue Jack n Jill bathroom, floral pink valances and wallpaper borders, and burnt orange shag carpet in the house were timestamps that gave clues to which members of their large family lived where and when aesthetic updates took place. It was dated, yes, but timeless in it’s quality and layout. The boys were thrilled with the carpet that dressed the stairs. They took giant moving boxes and slid down them time and again as I navigated cooking in the new kitchen. Everything felt fresh and clean and special after our 2 years in Togo (we had a lovely home in Togo but minimal belongings and everything was very, very well worn).
I remember how incredibly quiet everything felt those first days in our new house. In Africa, we could easily see 20 visitors per day. Our children woke up to the sound of motos and people greeting one another on their way to work early in the morning. They went to sleep to frog songs and people chatting in the distance. Here, it was utterly silent and days would pass before we had any visitors. We filled those 3 weeks waiting for their dad with family, hosting simple waffle brunches and checking out the town’s 4th of July parade. We lingered over meals and imagined what their dad was doing in Africa and what their baby sister would be like. What a delight it was to discover the best firework show in town could be seen from our back deck! We ate ice cream and baked cookies. Inevitably, they would end up sleeping in my bed. Once I did transition them to their own room, I would peer in nightly to see their sweet 3 and not quite 2 year old faces peacefully resting in the spacious room enjoyed by another family’s kids for many years prior. I vividly remember my boys snuggled into their little twin beds, side by side in a room decorated with pink floral wallpaper border. The flood lights shone out their window and lit the woods where owls hooted and deer made their beds among fallen trees. It was a magical place for two boys who never lived near woods. What sweet days we had together.
Bryant made it to our new home and the joy he felt seemed to jump out of his skin. He couldn’t wait to explore his new land and harvest the blueberries. He arrived just in time for their peak. Just two weeks later, our sweet girl was born. She was promptly snuggled into a baby wrap where she slept as her dad spent countless hours picking blueberries to freeze. The richness of that time, of new life in our home, the pleasures of fresh food from our land, the delights of wooded hikes, catching frogs and stomping in creeks, cannot be understated.
Time sped up greatly that first year. Our daughter arrived and my husband started his new job. Another little baby boy came and my toddlers turned into pre-school then elementary kids. Life moves quickly when you are loving widely and deeply engaged.
Now, we’re in the process of moving. We sold our house after much prayer and reflection, countless conversations about the implications for our family. Our house has become a home in every sense of the word. A shelter, a place we share 3 meals a day, my workplace, the territory for my children’s adventures and their school. We’ve renovated it, planted gardens, hosted countless meals, and built daily fires in the winter. Our home has been everything I hoped it would be and more.