the houses that built me.

I have been looking up ways to display our Air Force adventure in our home for the longest time and I haven't been able to commit to anything. I have a cork board of the U.S. that was getting the job done, until Addi pulled all of the marker tabs off and I was too lazy to replace them. For our anniversary yesterday, I gave Zach these watercolor pictures of all of the houses we have lived in together.

They were drawn by a friend of mine that does amazing work and I am totally over the moon about them! It makes me giddy to look at them and remember how special each place has been for us. 

The bottom left was the first house we lived in in Del Rio, TX. I can remember showing up to that place and wanting to puke knowing that we were going to be living there for the next 2-5 years {or so we thought}. Looking back, we both cherish the memories we have in that house so much. It was our first year of marriage, I didn't have a job, Zach worked minimal hours, and it was just the two of us. I spent my 21st birthday there, where Zach sent me on a scavenger hunt to find all of my presents, which included a sewing machine {I was so excited!} and a pinata in the backyard. There I was, swinging a bat to break the thing open in my pajamas, no makeup, and rocking some awesome bedhead and it is still one of my favorite birthday memories. I also got my first taste of caffeine that day. Yeah, it took my 21 years to jump on that bandwagon. It felt kind of like the Mormon version of being able to legally drink alcohol. Ha! Zach also took me gambling for the first time that day as well. Man, 21 was good to me! We spent hours in that house watching Lost, eating ranch popcorn, and planning our future. We were able to spend so much time together and we will forever be grateful for the 7 months we spent there! Even if it was in the middle of nowhere. 

Next was the top right - Santa Maria, CA. I got a job working as a secretary in a tax office and Zach was in training to be a missileer, so the 'us time' was a little more limited. We lived in a townhome with a loft and I loved that place so much. It was perfect for us. It backed up to a beautiful park, where we spent countless hours running, trying to get fit. Spoiler alert: we didn't get very fit, but we had some of the best food ever while living there! We camped on the beach, visited Disneyland twice in the same month, spent our first Christmas together as a couple, and celebrated our first anniversary. We weren't there for very long, but we had so much fun!

6 months later to the day, we left and headed to Cheyenne, WY and were offered the house on the top left on base, during our drive out there. The house was built in the 1800s and while it was beautiful, it had its quirks. There was one useable shower in the entire place and it was connected to our bedroom. Having guests over was super fun. 😉 The only winter we were there, the heater went out and I remember reading the thermostat as 56 degrees in the main living area. We were so cold! Right after we moved there, I spent a couple of days visiting pharmacies in town and handing out resumes to work as a pharmacy technician and when I left a certain one, I remember thinking it was the last place on my list that I wanted to work at. I felt intimidated and like I didn't connect with the owner. I honestly sat in my car and cried because I didn't think I would actually be able to get a job anywhere. I ended up getting a call for an interview at that same pharmacy that week and got a job a few days later. That was my favorite job I have ever had. It was while living in that house that we also adopted Copper. I visited the local shelter and saw a litter of coonhound puppies and I knew that I was going to have to take one home with me. I came back later with Zach so we could play with them and we left as the proud owners of a 10-week old named Yodel. Haha! We quickly changed that name. And my favorite memory of this house was it being where we brought our wonderful Adelaide home to. Luckily, it wasn't the house she stayed in though. The staircase in that place was gorgeous, but was steep and slippery. I fell down those stairs once, about two weeks after I found out I was pregnant with Addi, and I swore I wouldn't have a baby around them. There were some not-so-fun times as new parents in those first few weeks, but there were also some really amazing ones. 

Addi was three weeks old when we moved into the house in the middle, 45 minutes south of Cheyenne, in Fort Collins, CO. It was the first house we bought and it is my favorite house that I have ever lived in. We had a few hiccups when we moved in, considering we were the first ones to live in it and had some kinks to work out, but that place was roomy, beautiful, and full of so much love. I did more growing up in that home than I have in my whole life. I had no idea how much parenthood could change me and that is where I spent two whole years witnessing it. It was in that home that I saw Addi learn to crawl, walk, and talk. People laugh at the fact that parents tend to document the crap out of their first child's life and slack on subsequent ones, but can you blame them? Never had I seen the day-in and day-out of a human going from this tiny, helpless thing to being able to dress and feed herself only a couple years later. It was amazing! I spent so many hours pushing Addi in a stroller as I walked and ran around that neighborhood, training for my first half-marathon. I talked with her as we did it and that time in my life still holds some of my favorite memories with her. The houses next to us felt like they were only an arm's reach away, but it backed to a greenbelt and I loved having some extra room to play. We didn't have grass in our backyard until we had lived there for about a year and Zach installed all of the sod himself. My dad planted trees and flowers for us and we had our own garden in raised beds that we put in ourselves. It was an amazing house and we miss it so much. BUT we are so happy to be where we are now.

Which brings us to our 5th and final house in the bottom-right, in Cheyenne, WY. We have lived here for 15 months. While it has brought some very difficult times, probably some of the hardest in my life, it has brought some of the most precious as well. Addi has been on a sleep strike for almost a year {Okay, it has gotten better in the past few months, but she still wakes up quite a bit. At least she isn't screaming and demonic though...}, we are 8 months into breastfeeding Graham and it is still painful {No clue why. I've tried everything. Literally everything.}, and I've struggled more with my body image than I probably ever have. But as hard as those things have been, I think the good outweighs the bad. We were able to get completely out of debt after moving here, which has been an incredible blessing that I used to dream about and wondered if it would ever actually happen. We have made some of the greatest friends that I thank God every day for. I don't know what I would do without them. And my favorite happening - this is where our sweet baby Graham was brought home for the first time. I can't begin to describe the kind of light that kid brings into my life. He is seriously an angel in baby form. We have loved every minute of watching him grow up, just like we did his sister, and have all fallen completely in love with him. I am so grateful for him. We expect to be in this house for another 9 months or so. We will find out where we are moving to next in March sometime and while we won't miss the wind here much, I already know that it's going to be heartbreaking to leave.

It's amazing to look at all of the things that happen while living in your home. None of ours have been big or glamorous by any means. On roadtrips, Zach and I like to describe to each other the kind of house we hope to live in one day and we daydream about what that would be like. But for now, I am grateful for these homes in helping us to learn how to love each other and to be a refuge from the outside world. As they say:

Love grows best in little houses, with fewer walls to separate. Where you eat and sleep so close together, you can't help but communicate. And if we have more room between us, think of all we'd miss. Love grows best in houses just like this.

-the mrs.

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