2018 In Reflection

My Facebook Year in Review has officially chosen the most liked pictures and created a little video for me to reflect on 2018 so guess what else that means? It is the time for my own reflections as well! The fifty degree weather, lack of snow, and limited holiday decor at our home are leaving me a bit on the Grinch-side. However, I am looking forward to 2019 and feel so incredibly blessed to have had all the experiences of 2018.

In tradition of the past few years, 2018 is being hailed as the newest Worst Year of All Worst Years. I didn’t get the message though. 2018 was by far my best year yet. 2019 has a lot to live up to when I look back at this past year, but I am so excited for what the future has in store.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Before welcoming the New Year, I want to take a second and be grateful for all this year has given to me.

January: I knew coming into 2018 my life would be different by the time the ball dropped at its end. In January I was busily planning G’s and my wedding and prepping to become a wife. I had no idea what all was in store, so I took the year one day at a time. I was able to be a part of coordinating one of my best friend’s weddings after the new year celebrations, as well as a few holiday parties at the Winery. Then at the end of January I made a life-changing decision. I left my career path in the wine and event industry to join the finance department of a nonprofit. The transition was huge, and it ultimately placed me back on track of what my degree is focused. I miss the wine industry but am content with this decision — it feels good to know my job helps to make a difference in my community.

February & March: Luckily I am fortunate to continue event planning through my volunteer work. For the fourth year, I was on the Pink Tie Ball Committee. This year’s gala raised over $24,000 in funds used for research and awareness of breast cancer. Plus, one of my goals for 2018 was to strengthen my friendships and grow my Tribes. I am blessed to have grown even closer to this group of Pink Ladies and know I have an army of support behind me moving into 2019.

I also was invited to assist in planning my church’s first IF:Gathering event. This women’s retreat took place in March and allowed me to meet more women in my church and grow those relations as well. In addition to my volunteer work, I continued to play in the YMCA volleyball league and tried out a few different types of yoga classes. As Spring rolled in, I was staying active in the community, my relationships, and wedding planning.

April: Every month seemed to gain more momentum as we neared our wedding date. April brought a slew of bridal showers and traveling to visit family members, scheduling vendors, and purchasing wedding items. G and I had to block off weekends simply to keep our sanity. We attended House’s annual Spring Retreat with twenty of our friends over a long weekend. Then the last weekend of the month, the Pink Ladies and I held a slumber party in remembrance of our dear friend Denise. 2018 marked two years since her passing, and the anniversary of April 19th remains painful. Spending time with one another always helps us, so we took a break from our hectic schedules in order to be together.

May: By the time I flipped to May on the calendar, most of the wedding plans had been secured. Perhaps we had a project here or there, but overall G and I took the month of May to complete our marriage counseling, move him into my apartment, and enjoy the remainder of our engagement. Over Memorial Day weekend, we went camping for a joint bachelor/bachelorette weekend. G and the guys did some “manly stuff” while my girls and I jumped into a limo for a wine tasting tour. It was the perfect way to wrap-up our wedding preparation with our closest friends.

June: June was an overall unremarkable month. ūüėČ

Just kidding…

June was the month I stumbled to an altar in front of my loved ones and locked down the best man in the world. The accumulation of the entire first half of 2018 came to a peak on June 16, 2018 when I married G. Our wedding remains the pinnacle of this year.

Following the wedding, we escaped to Tennessee for our honeymoon and then returned home to begin our married lives together.

July: As G and I started our journey as newlyweds, I shifted the focus of Uncorking Peonies from a wedblog to a Lifestyle blog. We began house hunting and welcomed our first nephew into the family. Life was perfect our first month as husband and wife.

August: I witnessed one of my best friends marry the love of her life on August 18, 2018. I will never forget watching the beautiful bride glow with happiness throughout the entire day.

G left his job in August after being sought by another company. He has been enjoying his new position since the change, and is also being sent to school to receive his Journeyman in machining. Though this switch threw a wrench into our schedules, we have become accustomed to his late workdays and take advantage of any time we have together. I am excited to see where he goes from here and find myself in awe of the man I married every single day — he is the most hardworking and dedicated partner.

September & October: After a few months of horrific house hunting adventures, G and I became homeowners in September! I said goodbye to city-living and my cute little apartment, packing up my bags to move to our fixer-upper. Since September we have redone the electric throughout the house, demolished a wall, replaced all our external doors, repainted and refloored the first level, and finished quite a few do-it-yourself projects. We are currently in the midst of gutting and remodeling our one and only bathroom this week as well. (Wish us luck! Eek…)

Besides all our house renovations, G and I also ventured over to Iowa to meet our handsome nephew for the first time. It was a fun weekend spent loving on little Z, exploring the area, and laughing with family. When we returned, I learned my work had nominated me to be a student in a leadership institute instructed by our State’s Community Action foundation. This was a pleasant surprise as the institute takes only 30 students a year across the state. I have had two classes thus far, and will graduate with a leadership certification in July 2019.

November & December: All in all, the last couple of months have been relatively quiet for me. This is a welcome relief from the beginning of 2018 though. I find myself with a lot of free time in the evenings. During that free time, I am busily planning Pink Tie Ball 2019, crafting, writing consistently on Uncorking Peonies, playing YMCA volleyball, and hanging out with my husband, family, and friends. I love not having every second of my day scheduled anymore. I love being able to do more of what I have passions to do. And I love the Life I’ll be rolling into 2019.

Life has never been better.

Happy New Years, my friends,

Christmas In Chicago

For Christmas this year, my in-laws took G and I on a weekend trip to the Windy City. Only two hours away from our quiet little country town, Chicago is a quick drive to experience city-life every now and then. It was a quick weekend full of memories and festive attractions. A big thanks to “Ma and Pa G” for this great Christmas present! It allowed G and I to get out of the house, away from work, and spend precious moments with his parents. We are incredibly blessed.

If you are visiting Chicago for a weekend around Christmastime, there are a lot of places to visit and things to do in the city. Though we couldn’t squeeze every attraction into our schedule, here is what we were able to see and do:

My friend Saki works for Hilton and has included me in her family and friends list to be able to enjoy discounts through the company while I travel. Thanks to her generosity, our little troupe stayed two nights at the Hilton Garden Inn at McCormick Place¬†on the 21st floor overlooking the city. Our room’s window faced North, so we were able to glimpse Lake Michigan, Soldier Field, and the Wintrust Arena.

We pulled into the hotel relatively late after enjoying dinner en route. Not wanting to go out into the city at a late hour, we instead visited the VU Rooftop Bar and Lounge which was located on the 22nd floor of our hotel. We ordered drinks over conversation to kick off the weekend. I chose a glass of 2015 Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere from Colchagua Valley, Chile. This wine was one hell of a find! It was full bodied with green pepper, blackberry, and smoked oak aromas. It offered a dark fruit jam palate. Typical to Chilean Carmeneres, there was enough acidity to nicely balance out all the rich flavors with a long spicy finish. Yum!

The next morning we hailed an Uber and made our way to breakfast. I had been told to try the Nutella Cafe¬†on Michigan Avenue by a friend. As we entered to the sweet smells of pastries and coffee, we knew we’d made a good choice. I opted for a Nutella crepe topped with strawberries and a Nutella latte. You know, being as basic as possible for a tourist in the city. *hey girl hey*

Following the delicious breakfast, the majority of our morning and early afternoon was spent shopping on the¬†Magnificent Mile. For those unfamiliar with Chicago, the¬†Magnificent Mile is Chicago‚Äôs premier commercial district. A bustling area, this district is home to upscale shops and luxe fashion outlets. And around Christmastime hosts window after window of winter wear and Christmas decorations. We ventured into a few notable retail stores such as Under Armour, Nike, The Disney Store, and Dylan’s Candy Bar. Along the way, we marveled at some of the architecture such as the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, the terracotta Wrigley Building skyscraper, and the 100-story John Hancock Center.

We ended our journey on Michigan Avenue at the Water Tower Place. Mainly seeking restrooms, we made our way through Macy’s and the crowds of shoppers to the third floor of the 74-story skyscraper which house a huge shopping mall. As we discussed our next plan of action, we moseyed around the mall and looked at some of the unique gift offerings. There was a succulent stand which I loved, and a chocolate seller with some spectacular wares! The Amazing Chocolate Workshop designs chocolate to look like a variety of different tools and gadgets. From scissors to pliers, and teacups to cameras, all of their offerings are made of chocolate. They truly are amazing! I simply had to buy something from their booth, so I bought one of the corkscrews for a gift exchange I had coming up.

Done with shopping, our group decided it was time to eat. Now, Chicago is famous for its food ‚Äď not only as a gourmet¬†dining¬†epicenter, but as the home of several local specialties. Some of these culinary staples include Chicago deep-dish pizza, the Chicago-style hot dog, and the Italian Beef. As any good tourists would do, we stuck to a classic and went to Giordano’s for some hearty lunch.

Since we visited Chicago on a weekend close to Christmas, the shops and restaurants close to the Magnificent Mile were packed with people. Giordano’s was no different. We were told there would be a half hour wait for a table of four. As we waited, we were able to order our deep dish pizza (sausage, mushroom, green pepper, and onion) so our wait wouldn’t be much longer to eat once we were seated. Deep dish pizzas typically take 45 minutes to an hour to cook completely. Once seated, we enjoyed an appetizer of Wisconsin cheese curds before our gooey pizza came out. It is no wonder¬†Giordano‚Äôs is constantly making headlines, both in Chicago and nationally. The pizza’s crust was fluffy perfection, the fillings were plentiful, and the sauce was rich. We nodded our stuffed faces as to why Giordano‚Äôs has been acclaimed ‚ÄúChicago‚Äôs Best Pizza‚ÄĚ by NBC, CBS Chicago, New York Times, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Eater, Home & Garden Magazine, Concierge Preferred and more!

Upon our departure from the late lunch, we decided to get off the streets and out of the cold. We chose to go to an AMC theater around the corner from the restaurant. Luckily, a movie was beginning within fifteen minutes of our arrival: Ralph Wrecks the Internet. Though not a great recommendation of sight-seeing in Chicago, being able to relax in the hustle-and-bustle of the city was welcomed by us “countryfolk.” And the movie was funny and light-hearted — a great option for our little vacation.

We exited the movie to a dark sky and hundreds of Christmas lights. Calling an Uber, we set our location to our only scheduled event of the weekend: the¬†ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. I have been to the ZooLights plenty of times in the past, but love to go every year. This one-of-a-kind experience offers a free, family-oriented holiday celebration featuring luminous displays and lots of seasonal activities. There are ice carving shows, carousel and ferris wheel rides, and over 2.5 million Christmas lights set up throughout the zoo. You’ll find lighted animal exhibits in the midst of a beautiful light show set to beloved Christmas music. The ZooLights are a must-see in Chicago during the holiday season!

If you do visit the ZooLights, also know you do not have to take a lot of time out of schedule to do so. We walked through the entire space within a half hour’s time. Though we definitely could have spent more time meandering the zoo, the cold temperatures of a Windy City December left us wanting to be indoors. Thus we looked up a dinner option and walked the short distance out of the zoo to Clark Street to find¬†Green Tea Sushi.

There is nothing I enjoy more for a meal than sushi. Unfortunately, Southwest Michigan does not offer a ton of fresh options. When G and I do decide to go on a sushi date, it’s always a fancier date night than typical as it means we’re having to go out of town or to a formal restaurant.

Therefore, we were looking forward to sushi in Chicago. Green Tea Sushi, by appearance, did not seem to be an ideal place to get a high-quality sushi like we wanted though. It is a small, skinny restaurant thrown into a corner of Chicago’s Lincoln Park. The restaurant only had six seats at its sushi bar and six tables for seating. When our group of four entered, we took up an entire fourth of the guests’ space. However, it was a fun experience and made for an intimate dinner. G and I ordered three rolls to split: a Philly roll, a spicy tuna roll, and the Dragon.

Wow.

Talk about an experience. The sushi was by far the best I’ve ever eaten. Fresh. Flavorful. Gorgeous to look at…

It goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover. This little gem will forever be a staple for our future Chicago travels. We chose two “safe options” with our typical Philly and spicy tuna rolls, but the Dragon was outside our comfort-zones. The roll featured shrimp tempura, crab, and cucumber wrapped with fresh water eel and avocado. It. Was. Delectable. I am still having dreams about this sushi roll and cannot wait to return and discover new rolls.

All of those attractions and food adventures took place on Saturday. On Sunday we returned home. But not without stopping by the Lighthouse Place Outlet Mall in Michigan City, Indiana on the way home. It was interesting to see some of the same products at the stores in Chicago (namely at Levi and Nike) at half the prices at the outlet mall. G and I were happy we opted not to purchase anything in the city, and instead bought a few Christmas gifts at the mall for a fraction of the cost.

All in all, we loved our short trip to the Windy City with my in-laws but are happy to be home in our little corner of the world. The city is fun to visit. But for this girl, I love my small-town life.

Until next time,

 

 

 

Do you know of any attractions and/or restaurants that are go-to’s in Chicago during the holiday season? I would love to hear from you and add to my list for future trips. Please leave a recommendation below in the comment section. ūüôā

6 Lessons I Learned In 6 Months Of Marriage

Today marks a half-year since G and I said “I do” in front of our loved ones and God. Honestly, I cannot believe it has only been six months. A lot has happened during that time including a career shift for G, both of us enrolling into coursework, a new truck and house, an adorable nephew, and all the other thrills of being newlyweds with busy schedules. While enjoying sushi at our favorite restaurant on Friday, we reminisced about all of our milestones since the wedding. The ink is barely dry on the marriage certificate, but we are excited for the next memory we’re able to make in this adventure.

One thing we had fun talking about over dinner was what we’ve learned so far as newlyweds. Some were foretold during marriage counseling and illuminated during our few months as newlyweds, others we’ve uncovered on our own. We have learned a lot in this short amount of time, and I can only imagine how much more we have to discover.

1. Eat At the Dining Table together

When we married, G and I had set a goal to eat at our dining table together for the majority of our meals. Though this has not been a priority as of late, we still aim to sit together when we eat. With our hectic schedules this means we may not technically eat together but we try to make sure when one of us is enjoying a meal the other is sitting down in “active togetherness.”

I am a big proponent that relationships flourish over food. When you’re sitting down with your spouse, family, or friends, you are savoring every flavor and topic of conversation. Sitting together at our dining table/coffee table/counter top allows G and I to catch up on the day’s happenings and weekly goals. Or maybe vent, rant, and what have you, which is also just as important. Make sure you opt for open time to discuss any and every topic while having dinner — or any available meal — together.

2. Remember You Are Always Team Number One

Marriage means having a teammate in every situation. Are you having issues with work or maybe with a friend/family member? Your spouse should be your key point of communication when needing to talk things through.¬†That may mean giving some tough love and providing valuable insight when your partner is in the wrong. Or maybe its being emotional support as your partner works out a solution. Either way, you are one another’s team members first and foremost.

Luckily, you probably have more than your spouse as your “Life Teammates.” However, sometimes you will need to narrow your team to only two people: you and your spouse. Do you have family members giving advice on how to handle a situation with your kids? Maybe you are giving too much time to an extracurricular activity outside your marriage? Whatever the case, if you see (or are told) by your spouse that they need you to take their side, DO IT.

Being a good teammate comes in a variety of circumstances too. You may need to voice your spouse’s opinion for them to an opposing team (i.e. telling a family member that you appreciate their advice, but this specific situation is strictly between you and your spouse.) Or it may mean putting an extracurricular on the sideline to be present for your spouses’s needs. There are a lot of different reasons your partner may need you to step up your “marriage game” so be on the lookout for red flags and pull your weight.

3. Pick Your Fights

I know this is one I mentioned back during our marriage counseling days, but it is still so good! Little arguments are bound to happen in any relationship. However, not every squabble needs to be a blown-out smash. Consider if making an offensive or defensive statement will help or hinder the issue at hand. If you’re saying or doing something to cause harm to your spouse, then you don’t have the best for your relationship in mind. The same goes if you’re attempting to elevate yourself or your objective. Remember, you are a team!

Some fights are better off just letting go for the benefit of everyone involved. Ultimately, you and your spouse have the same goal(s). Learn to choose your battles well and let any unnecessary issues drop to the wayside.

4. Be One Another’s Cheerleaders

One of the best parts of marriage is knowing you have a personal cheering squad in your spouse. Whether you achieve your goals or fall a bit short… Your spouse is behind you to encourage and uplift all your endeavors. Be open to sharing all your achievements with your loved one, and also freely share those little goals you haven’t quite reached yet. More likely than not, your spouse will provide the motivation, encouragement, and advice needed to reach all your milestones.

This is particularly necessary in those instances you are being hard on yourself. Take the love and adoration your spouse gives you to heart! He or she chose you and continues to choose you every single day, and that in itself should be praise enough even when you might not be feeling especially high in self-esteem.

5. Learn To Be Selfless

One of the biggest learning curves both G and I have struggled with in our marriage is something I think humanity as a whole struggles with: putting someone else’s needs before your own.

Personally, it is so easy to get caught up in my own schedule and bucket list that including my husband into the equation took a lot of self-control and mindfulness. G praised me on Friday for my effort though, and I was proud to hear I’ve been making headway in this arena of our relationship. (Insert pat on the back.) It took some practice to eliminate criteria off my weekly planner, but I did so knowing time with G was more important. In the same respect, G has gotten so much better at putting aside his perfectionism and goal-oriented mindset to sit back and relax every now and again. We compromise and enjoy common interests much more often than we go do something only one of us enjoys. It really has become the best of both worlds!

Actively attempt to put your spouse’s needs above your own while not forgetting to be an individual. You’ll be amazed at the new things you gain interest in and the adventures you and your partner can share when you prioritize your time together.

6. Enjoy the Little Things

Last but not least, my last piece of advice is a common phrase from one of my favorite movies: Zombieland. Enjoy the little things in life. Together.

G and I are still in the process of organizing our new home. We don’t fold the laundry every weekend, and we forget to dust sometimes. I don’t spend as much time reading as I’d like, and G isn’t able to work on his truck during his free time. Though that time might be a quick 30 minute viewing of my latest cooking-show binge or lounging on the couch playing cards, G and I make time for each other every day.¬†While we certainly have our separate activities and we make time for our friends and family, finding quality time together is our number-one priority. And one we take very serious.

Fellow newlyweds, do you have any lessons to add to the following list? Everyone has different experiences, and I would love to hear yours. Please feel free to share in the post’s comment section below.

Until next time, friends,

What Love Isn’t

At the beginning of this week, I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine on the topic of heartbreak. Though not a topic I’ve discussed in awhile, it brought a lot of memories to mind as I recollected on my past. Then today as I was driving to volleyball I heard the song¬†Love Ain’t by Eli Young Band on the radio. The song portrays what love is by giving examples of what “love ain’t.” It had me thinking even more deeply on the topic. Add this with the knowledge that this weekend marks six months of married bliss — something which I once could only dream of achieving — I formulated my own version of what love is not.

Playing off the idea from the song Love Ain’t, I began to take note of instances in my past which I thought were love but turned out to be a mirage. Fleeting and forced feelings, endless questions, and a myriad of memories where silver-linings are hard to find.¬†¬†With all these circulating thoughts, I began to consider the misguidance and mishaps of my past which shaped what love truly means to me.

My love-journey captures a variety of things: from snippets of hurt I’ve seen in my friends’ lives to the pain of my own, as well as my own failings in relationships and regrets of what I could have done instead. Pain is unavoidable through Life, but I’ve always aimed to learn from the hurt. Without knowing what love isn’t, I would never have discovered what love is. As I move forward with joy over the true love I have found and relish in knowing the pain it took to realize what I deserved, here is my own version of what love is not…


Tears are meant for sad movies or happy occasions, and wine can be used to forget. Rebounding is allowed in basketball. You can save a space on your plate for dessert. Use a cabin to getaway, use yoga to reset. But one thing that is never a cure for loneliness or measure of escape from your past? Love.

Love is not something that must first start with someone else. It is not magic for the mirror. It is not an antidote for the heart or mind. It is not a one-size-fits-all fix.

Love is not a remedy when you find yourself alone. Love is also not a status quo or a way to keep up appearances and stack your popularity ratings.

Love is not what you should have by such-and-such a time. It is not the missing piece to your happiness. It is not your only reason to be alive.

Love isn’t questioning your worth every time he has a bad day. And it’s not asking, “What more can I do for you?” when he cancels another date.

Love is not being at his beck and call, or dropping what you’re doing as soon as he finally asks to see you. It’s not wondering why his friends, family, dogs, sports, job, hobbies, health, car, or the bar push you down the list of priorities. Love is not a reflection in the mirror with an open question as to what more you can be. And love is definitely not changing who you are to fit the mold he has set for his ideal partner.

Love isn’t a quickly beating heart as you read another cryptic text. It’s not mixed signals and trying to “break a code.” Love is not worrying yourself to death.

Love should never mean you struggle to know where you stand. Are you together today? Can you call him now? Does he want to hear from you? Love should never be stressed.

Love isn’t changing Valentine’s to Galentine’s because your date canceled the day before. It’s not wearing that new dress alone as you sip drinks to a text dated 5 minutes past your meeting time, “I don’t think I’m going to make it after all.” Love isn’t having plans but changing them when something better comes along.

Love is not forgetful.

Love is not resentful.

Love is not spiteful.

Love is not a place-card holder while waiting to see if feelings arise. Especially not while chatting up other girls in case there may be sparkles in their eyes. Love does not give up easily or walk away with no care. “The grass is always greener,” they say when things turn dark and dim. But before moving on, you might try fertilizing and sprinkling water from your own tin.

Love is not jealous. Love does not question every motive and contemplate every word. It does not entrap or possess. It is not narrow-minded. It is not short-sighted.

Love is not looking for a mistake to be made or a toe to step out of line, and love is not fear of consequences in those moments your humanity shows through. It is not constantly demanding apologies and never asking to forgive. Love does not condescend, rolling eyes instead of cheering on. Love does not mock the highs or scoff at the lows. It does not focus on every failing. It does not see every character flaw.

Love is not yelling when you’re drunk and begging forgiveness the next day. Love is not holding your tongue and always watching what you say.¬†Neither is love shrinking back from an angrily raised hand, nor is it sitting idly by when you need to make a stand.

Love is not purely physical. Love is not purely beautiful. And Love is never perfect.

Most importantly, love is not painful. Love will not cause harm knowingly nor will it hurt to prove a point. Love will not leave you on the floor, crying, and wondering why. It does not cause turmoil or stress or heartache. If you’re finding your love is causing hurt or coming at a great physical cost… Then you need to question what is in your life, because that is not love.

Love can be a lot of things, but there’s also a lot it cannot.

When it comes to love, it is not easy. Love is a messy, trialing road. But with persistence, patience, and selflessness, love wins. You’ll have to put aside some of yourself to be obliging to another, but love will never ask you to change the very foundation of who you are.

Find a love you deserve. Find a love who deserves you. 


If you’d like to hear Eli Young Band’s song, here it is:¬†

To G, the love of my life, I am so thankful to have found my matching soul. Here’s to a lifelong winding road with you by my side.¬†

 

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

House Hunting Adventures v. 3

Lesson Learned v. 3: Don’t Force Feelings

G and I are loving being homeowners. We are continually working to make our new house a home and have completed a number of projects thus far. These include demolishing the wall between the dining room and living room, repainting six rooms, reflooring five rooms, trimming rooms, and hanging blinds. We both have the week of Christmas off in order to gut our bathroom and remodel. It has been quite the adventure already!

It seems crazy that we’ve only lived in our house for a little over two months. Not even four months ago we were casually house-hunting. I’ve shared with you our first six house visits here and here, but I have one final story in that journey to tell. It took visiting three more houses for us to find our little lovely corner of Southwest Michigan. Here are those final three tales…

Family friends lived around the corner of House #7 and brought it to G’s and my attention. This old farmhouse was exactly what we had been searching for: it lay on a beautiful country lot, it had a large garage and interior rooms, and it was within our price range. It had its quirks such as a door which opened to a brick chimney and awkward closet placements. However, we both shrugged our shoulders at those knowing we had witnessed worse issues. Following a tour of the first and second floors, we were pretty set to make an offer. Then our agent, Dawn, directed us to the basement.

Ah, yes, another basement story…

The basement was another dreary and wet Michigan basement. There was your typical cobwebs, dirt clumps, and steel support jacks.

That’s right.

Steel. Support. Jacks.

It seemed the house’s owners were attempting to prevent any sort of floor collapse from the early-season flooding by propping the entire house up with two jacks. These jacks were about a foot in diameter and rested at two opposing corners of the two-story home. In addition to the jacks, many of the floor rafters were strapped with steel bands where large cracks had appeared. Thankfully the day we visited was a calm, pleasant day outside because I worried what might happen if the wind blew.

Hundreds of questions flooded my mind. How long would this house remain standing? Were the jacks sufficient? What sort of additional support would be necessary in the future? Had an inspector seen this?

As we drove away, G and I discussed a lot of our questions and decided we would sleep on the house and rejoin the next day to talk more. We loved everything about the house. We wanted to say yes. We wanted to place an offer. But ultimately our gut told us that House #7 was not our forever-home.  So we passed and went on to House #8.

House #8 rested in a cute neighborhood close to the state highway. It was probably the most modern and cleanest house we visited, and G and I both liked it. A lot. There was a decent-sized kitchen, a large living room, a two-car garage, and each of the three bedrooms were decently sized.

Though we couldn’t disagree the house had a lot of potential to be our First Home, we had one concern. There was no property. Directly to each side of the house was a neighbor not even 10 feet away. The backyard was fenced, but was only about 30 square feet in size. This wouldn’t be a big issue if the house weren’t also one of the more expensive homes we viewed. Yes, that price included many modern features and the lack of much work needing to be done — House #8 was definitely turn-key ready. Yet we knew within a few years and a child or two we’d have to move.

Moving wasn’t a deal-breaker, but we had gone into our house-hunting adventure with an agreement we’d search for a home with “Forever Home” potential. House #8 held no future promise once our family grew.

Since we said no to House #8 strictly on the principle of size, I’m not sure why we ventured into House #9. This little place was a mere 780 square feet.

I guess we simply wanted to leave our apartment where our upstairs neighbor’s bathroom water was flowing down our kitchen wall. Ugh.

House #9 made for a quick visit because there was not much house to see. A kitchen, a bathroom, a living room — all small. Not to mention the two bedrooms which couldn’t accommodate our party of three (G, Dawn, and me.) let alone a bed sized larger than a double. It was a nice house, but did not fit our needs.

As we pulled the door shut of House #9, I turned to Dawn. The mid-July sun was setting when I said,¬†“I think we’re going to wait and start hunting again in the Spring.”

G agreed, “We are getting disheartened, and with the extra time we can save more on a down payment and look into a higher house-purchase bracket.”

Dawn nodded knowingly, understanding our dilemma. We went into this adventure with no pressure and we easily could wait until Spring to find a house. There was the potential housing prices might increase, but G and I had already spoken on the topic and were willing to wait. We started walking to our cars. Then Dawn turned to us.

“No pressure, but there is one more house we could look at tonight. I showed a couple earlier who decided to pass on it. Its currently vacant so we could stop by since its on the way home for us both. It is a solid house.”

G and I looked at one another and shrugged. “Might as well.”

And with that, we drove into our future because that random little house ended up being our First Home.

Onto the next project,