We live in a house that Mike built for our family. Here is the story.
Fourteen years ago, Nora and her mom were driving to have lunch together close to Lake Michigan where there are really good restaurants. They were driving through the countryside outside of town and passed a road with a house for-sale sign. On impulse, Nora and her mom turned down the road and pulled into the driveway of the place that was for sale. The home was so ugly. It was old and falling apart and had an off-center porch and dirty, white siding. However, there were beautiful trees, a woods behind the house, acres of grass and prairie and a vegetable garden. Nora said to her mom, “This is it.” Here’s the weird thing, later that day Nora and her mom drove Mike out to look at it. Nora remembers her mom’s shock when Mike got out of the car, glanced around and said the exact same words, “This is it.”
Mike made one of the outbuildings his woodshop. From there, he began to recreate the sad house. Out came the brown, shag carpet, the chipped tile, the centrally placed bathroom that you had to access behind a utility closet. One day, Nora came home to find that Mike had gutted the kitchen. He said, “I can’t take it anymore.” Nora thought it hurt his carpenter’s soul not to go all-in and fix the place. He basically tore everything down and started over. Now, the house it a testament to Mike’s artistry (yes, Nora is writing this) and his love of family. He built bedrooms for children, a secret passage for playing Nancy Drew, a library and a room that will be hidden behind a bookcase door. Nora loves decorating for Christmas and the walnut, curved staircase is perfect for winding lights and greenery up to the second floor. We love music and have a baby grand piano, a violin, ukelele, dulcimer and Mike’s bass guitars. With the cathedral ceilings, the acoustics are perfect. Most of the family holidays and gatherings are in our home. It’s cozy on winter days when we have the fireplace crackling, music playing and Mike’s cookies baking in the oven.
The home sits on over thirteen acres, with 8 acres of woods. We have a pond and many walking trails. These are especially fun in the woods where there are wildflowers, plants and signs of deer, owls and honey bees. We would like our child to grow up with a love of nature and are excited about the fact that we live in a place with plenty of room to run, play and have adventures. In fact, there is a lawn to one side of the house that is large enough for family football games! Soon, there will be a backyard fence to create a fun play space for younger children. The yard will include a playset with swings, sand box, monkey bars and a playhouse - built by Mike. Nora also wants a basketball hoop to recreate her glory days playing “pig” and “horse.”
Though our place is in the countryside, we live five minutes from Lake Michigan and 15 minutes from a mid-sized town. Our neighbors are racially and ethnically diverse as is the location of our school district.
The town is great for raising kids as it has a beautiful library, sandy beaches and a fun zoo, to name a few things. There are many family-friendly activities, such as harvest festivals, parades and art walks. At Christmas, the zoo creates a light display; this follows a winter parade. In summer, there’s an outdoor farmer’s market. We like jumping in the car for a quick drive to one of the many ice cream shops in our area. It’s important to support local businesses! :)