I had posted this on my old blog, as I thought it was just a cool idea for a post, so I’m going to re-post it here. Only it won’t be exactly what I posted on the old blog – I didn’t save any of the text for that. So it’s all new, but essentially the same. And it will be quite lengthy, just so you’re aware.
Let’s see if I can remember what I said….
Like I mentioned in a previous post, when my siblings and I were younger, the family moved. A lot. They were all job-related relocations. Most of the homes we’ve lived in were rental homes.
But, you know, they were all home to us. So.
Just a disclaimer: I’m going entirely off of memory here when I describe the houses. If I could draw, I would attempt to sketch out a layout of the floors as I remember them. Alas, I cannot draw, so I will have to try to explain it with words. Please bear with me.
The first house we lived in – where life began for my siblings and I – was in our hometown in Illinois:
This house was about a block east of Nana and Pop’s house, which was all right, considering Mom and Dad had us four kids. Plus, it was a really small town, where everybody knew everybody, and so we kids had everybody looking out for us, even if we didn’t realize it at the time. It was a great place to be, and since relatives still live in the town, we get back to visit as often as we can. Often times I’ve wondered what life would be like if we hadn’t moved from the town….but oh well.
The layout – the porch you see used to be all screened in, and there were two front doors, one to the west side and one at the north side. The west front door led you into our living room, which had the TV and sofas. Off of the living room was our kids’ playroom, a big, bright, airy space. Our playroom had a second door leading to the bathroom and a hallway. If you went down the hallway, or if you were to enter the house through the north door, you’d come to what we called the ‘piano room.’ The piano room was the biggest room in the downstairs, so named because the family kept Mom’s piano there; we kids would also dance around to records in that room, and at Christmas time we’d put the Christmas tree up there. The kitchen was towards the back of the first floor – I remember it was painted a bright yellow, and I think the cabinets were all white. The kitchen had a door leading out to the backyard. The stairs leading upstairs were off the piano room. I think there was a bathroom upstairs, but I don’t remember for sure. I do remember that my and Older Sister’s room was painted a purplish-pink and was on the west side of the house, Mom and Dad’s room was across the hall on the east side, and the Brothers were in the south room at the front of the house.
(Confused? So sorry! I told you to just bear with me.)
Then came the first relocation, for job purposes. The family packed it all up and moved to the great state of Georgia. And this house:
This house was on a cul-de-sac known as Woodington Place, which was a pretty cool neighborhood by virtue of there were a lot of other kids our ages living in the area. We were never bored, let me tell you, but more on that later. And everything about this house (with one exception) was white – yeah, we didn’t ever give any room in that house a paint job. It was white. Boring, basic, sterile, hospital white.
The layout – when you first walked in, you were in the living room/dining room, and the stairs going upstairs were immediately to the right. I say ‘living room/dining room’ and I mean that, because they were essentially combined; we used that old ‘put the sofa just so, so that it breaks up the space’ trick. The kitchen was the only room in the whole house that wasn’t white – it was actually dark, with dark appliances and dark checkered floors; we always had a light turned on in the kitchen, even during the day. I remember really not wanting to set foot in the kitchen because it seemed so foreboding in its color. Back in the living room, there was a study/office area off the living room (seen as the front bay window), which was actually my and Older Sister’s bedroom. There was a first floor bathroom not far from our room, too. The stairs going upstairs were in two sections – steps, landing, steps – and in the wall, there was a really cool hexagonal shape cut out, so you could see the downstairs through that hexagonal shape. Practically at the very top of the stairs was Mom and Dad’s room, and another bathroom down the hallway, and at the end of the hallway was the Brothers’ room. But the coolest thing about this residence was the outside area. Like I said, there were several kids our age living nearby, and we would all bike around the cul-de-sac together, and play on our tire swing in our backyard (yes, our backyard came with a tire swing), and our favorite neighbors the Barrons would set up their Slip-n-Slide on the warmer summer afternoons and we kids would all take turns on that. There was even a creek running through the backyard, only we kids were not allowed to go anywhere near it, because the people living behind us had a barbed wire fence set up near the creek, and Mom and Dad didn’t want us kids anywhere near that. But all us kids did catch a snapping turtle from the creek under a bucket once. Yeah. It was fun.
Our stay in Georgia lasted about nine months (one school year), and our summer that year was spent with grandparents and relatives in Illinois while a new job and a new place to live was found. Which led the family to Wisconsin. And this first house:
This is the one house I really don’t remember that much about. This house was a duplex; don’t know if it still is, though it looks to be. We lived in the left-hand side (the taller side), and the landlords lived in the right-hand side….if they ever lived there at all. Hmmm. I don’t remember the landlords, but I remember Mom and Dad being very wary of them. Hmmm.
The layout – when you walked in the front door, you’d have been in the living room, and the stairs leading upstairs were literally in front of you. In contrast to the Georgia house, and with one exception, this house was completely dark inside – dark wood paneling on the walls, dark carpets, dark paint, very cave-like. The kitchen was at the very back of the house, similarly very dark. Upstairs at the top of the stairs was the bathroom. To the right of the bathroom was my and the Brothers’ shared room – it was a big room, but it was an odd triangular shape, with the dark wood paneled walls and a horrid orange shag carpet. Older Sister was at that age where she wanted her own room, and she got it at the other end of the hallway; her room was similarly dark, but with blue ‘accents,’ as it were. I mentioned one exception to the darkness of the house, and that exception was Mom and Dad’s room – it was really bright and light. I think we kids spent more time in Mom and Dad’s room than in our own rooms. Outside the house, there wasn’t much to speak of. We never ever went into the backyard because it was horribly overgrown, plus Mom and Dad said the landlords were often outside for hours at night, doing who-knows-what. Hmmm. In the front yard, there used to be a huge gnarled tree, right about where the car wheel is parked in this picture. I remember that tree. We kids were not allowed to play on it or near it because it literally bled sap year round.
We also only lived in this house for the duration of one school year, because the company that Dad was working for was going to be moving to a bigger building across town. Therefore, the family also decided to move across town, to be closer to Dad’s work. So we found this house:
It may not look like much, but it was actually a pretty central location to everything in our lives – school; work; church (which was just a street or two behind the house); playgrounds and/or parks; plus there were plenty of hilly areas nearby which we could speed our bikes down. And heck, right across the street from our house – right across the street! – was a convenience store! Talk about kids in a candy store!
The layout – upon entering the front door, you were in our living room, which had a huge picture mirror on the wall and a huge picture window to the north. The stairs going upstairs were to the right, as well as a coat closet and half-bath. The front windows in the picture actually enclose a study/seasonal area, which was separated from the living room by heavy sliding glass doors; because it was west-facing, during the summer when the sun was setting, that room got really stiflingly hot. The dining room was at the back of the first floor, as was the kitchen. Upstairs, at the very top of the stairs, there was a bathroom, and then a hallway. My and Older Sister’s room was at the front of the house (the second floor windows you see), Mom and Dad’s room was right across the hallway from our room, and the Brothers’ room was down the hall at the north side of the house. The backyard was one of the best things about living in this house. It had the proper layout to play softball. Seriously. It did. There was a stone planter perfectly placed to serve as first base; there was a concrete patio slab at the far back of the yard that was second base; another perfectly placed stone planter that served as third base; and home base consisted of touching the back porch wall. And the Hmongs’ yard behind ours was home run territory. There was also a huge oak tree in the back yard, although it was nowhere near suitable for climbing, so we didn’t. The other best thing about this house was the basement. The basement had a cement floor that had been painted fire-engine-red and the walls were sea-foam-green plaster. On inclement weather days, we kids could be found playing kickball down in the basement. True story.
Another job relocation saw the family moving back to Illinois. Southwestern Illinois, to be exact. And this house:
When we moved to this particular city, this was considered a relatively newer area of town. This house was also a duplex, on a corner lot….and then there was nothing. Literally. There was our neighborhood, there was our corner house, and then there was nothing but fields and undeveloped area until your eye came upon the nearby hill in the nearest road that ran by. I’m pretty sure that’s drastically changed by now, and that area is probably all built up now. *SIGH* Well, that’s progress.
The layout – we lived in the right-hand side of this duplex, and the landlords lived on the left (and the landlords of this property were a heck of a lot nicer and much more sociable than previous landlords). When you walked in the front door, the stairs going upstairs were right at your feet, but you were also in our living room, which was huge and long; it was actually a combination living/dining room, but we used it solely as a living room. The first floor bathroom was off the living room, and it also had the washer and dryer in it. The kitchen was, once again, at the back of the first floor, and it was really bright. It also had a decent eat-in area – I guess one would call it a ‘breakfast nook’ nowadays, but it served as our official dining room. Mom and Dad’s room, the Brothers’ room, and a bathroom was upstairs, but I didn’t really get upstairs in that house much. The basement was interesting, and that’s where Older Sister and I had our rooms. Here’s how it went – as soon as you walked down the basement stairs, you were in Older Sister’s room. Then there was a partially unfinished room next to hers (which we did use only once as a guest room, when a family friend came to visit). Right next to that room, right beneath the kitchen/dining room, was my room. The yard wrapped around the whole east side of the house – front, side, back. Perfect for the Brothers to run amok and tire themselves out, and it was also the perfect place to practice when I attempted to take up color guard for marching band. This house was also the first house we ever lived in that had central air conditioning. Yeah, it did take us that long.
Another job change saw the family moving to northeastern Illinois, to a suburb of Chicago. And this house….well, actually, they called it a townhome:
Yes, I know, not the best photo, and I actually do not have any other photo of the outside of the house. But look closely. Do you see all the little arrows converged in a circle? That is the very unit my family and I lived in.
The layout – when you walked in the front door, you were in a small foyer. The stairs leading upstairs were immediately to the right, and there was a coat closet and the door to the garage on the left side. There was a short, and I mean short, hallway leading to the living room; on the left of the hallway was a half-bath, on the right was the door leading downstairs to the finished basement which served as the Brothers’ shared bedroom. The living room, dining room, and kitchen room was all one big room, so to speak, and it was all really bright and airy, because the whole back of the house was full of windows. At the top of the stairs leading upstairs was a closet area which housed the washer and dryer – this has been the only house we ever lived in that had a second-floor washer and dryer, because Mom cannot stand second-floor washer and dryer. Mom and Dad’s room was at the front of the house. The upstairs bathroom was actually attached to Mom and Dad’s room via a door, so it would probably have been considered the ‘master bathroom,’ but everyone used that bathroom, because it had the only tub and shower in the house. Older Sister’s room was a little ways away from the bathroom, and my room was at an angle away from Older Sister’s bedroom door.
This house was my favorite house we’ve ever lived in. And the reason is so obvious – it was because it was along a lake. Yup. My dream come true. And my room had the best view over the whole entire lake. You can see in the picture that we had a back patio, and the patio had steps leading down right to the lake side. On good weather days during the spring, summer, and fall, I would be sitting lake side, with my notebook and my Walkman close at hand, just soaking in the day and the solitude, alternately listening to my music and the rustling of the weeping willow branches in the breeze, and writing like crazy. There was also a walking trail along the lake, and I would walk the trail a lot. There was even a bridge not far from the house, and I’d go stand or sit on the bridge for a long while. It was a fantastic place to live, and I was so sad when we had to move again.
But we did, per a job relocation. That’s how we ended up in Iowa. We lived in this house first:
If the townhome in Illinois was my most favorite house we’d ever lived in, this would be my second favorite house we’d ever lived in, because it was so big.
The layout – when you walked in, there was another small foyer area, and the stairs leading downstairs were right in front of you. The upstairs living room was long and narrow, but it worked for us. The upstairs living room also had a huge south-facing picture window. The upstairs had a long hallway, and the first door on the right-hand side of this hallway was Youngest Brother’s bedroom. Then the next door on the right was a bathroom. Then at the end of the hall were two doors, one leading to my room, and the other leading to Mom and Dad’s room. Downstairs was another living room, this one a little more wide and open, and another huge south-facing picture window. Off this living room was another little room, which was Younger Brother’s bedroom. The kitchen was the biggest kitchen we’ve ever had, space-wise. It sort of had two dining rooms – it was that big. One of the dining room sections could be closed off via sliding wooden doors; we actually turned that into a bedroom for Older Sister. There was also a laundry room and another bathroom downstairs. The backyard was pretty big, but narrow, and it sloped down, which made mowing sort of difficult. The landlords had their garden in our backyard, which was fine with us, except for all the rhubarb. Yuck! We had a small patio in the backyard, and lots of iris plants near the patio.
Most likely, we would still currently be living in this house, but for two things. We actually were sick and tired of renting a house, and the landlords wanted to get out of the rental business. Yeah, they decided to sell the house, and they did offer it to us first, but it was above our budget. And, well, the landlords were not going to budge on their price, which they were actually very apologetic about; we liked them, and they liked us.
So we packed up and moved one more time, to our current house:
When we first saw this house, we thought it was going to be too small, because it does look quite small from the outside. But once we saw inside, it was sweet and cozy and it had all the space we needed. And so, we took the plunge and bought it. So this is the first house we have ever truly owned.
No rent. Just mortgage.
The layout – first of all, we primarily use the side door instead of the front door to enter and leave the house, so I’m speaking as if entering the side door. Upon entering the side door, you’re right in the kitchen and dining room. There’s a hallway leading to the first floor bathroom, Youngest Brother’s room, and Mom’s room. To get upstairs, you walk through the living room, which is a decent size for us. My room and Younger Brother’s rooms are upstairs. (Older Sister bought her own home not long after we bought this house; perhaps I’ll post a picture of her house later.) We also have a basement, which has the laundry room and another bathroom.
I know – it’s a sparse description of the layout. But as I live here day to day, I know it. So it’s sort of hard to describe. I mean, I know it’s not much. But it’s our home.
And, well, there you have it. A photo history of all the places my family and I have ever lived in.
It was as fun posting it this time as it was posting it the first time on the old blog. I actually think I did a better job at it this time around.
Sorry if I lost anyone with the sheer length and breadth of this post. That’s a lot of info to go through, I know, and just so you know, having written this, having racked my brain and my memories, my thought processes are sufficiently scrambled for the day.
That said, I’ll leave you now to enjoy the rest of your day.