Thursday, December 20, 2012

This Is Our Story.

Do you ever have those  bad dreams, where you're trying to accomplish something, and you never can?

When I was a kid, I always dreamt it was Halloween and I could never quite make it out the door to do my trick or treating. 

As an adult, it's senior year of high school and I never even went to English class.  Or I took all those classes in college but I didn't know about that one last math class, and so my degree isn't real and it's been a decade and I still haven't graduated.
Crap like that.

Now, hold that thought.

I wanna tell you somethin'.  It's gonna be the most personal, all-up-in-my-biznis story I've ever told.  Might be my most important story, to me.  For me.

9 years ago, hubs had graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering.  We had one child, and we couldn't find a job anywhere.

 Honest, I can't think of something that tears a man down more than searching for a job and not being able to find it.  I've said before that I wouldn't wish that kind of unemployment/money misery on anyone.  We had a little savings, but what we did have was getting eaten up right quick.


see my wall.

It has always meant a lot to me.  Today, it means even more.  Tell ya why.

Hubs did eventually get a job, and these are all the places we lived, by choice, over those first 5 years of his career. 

I look back on those 5 years of moving with happiness.   I do.  I also like to think of that time as a combo: 

"Big Adventure/Huge Sacrifice".

I loved all the places we lived.  Met people that mean a heckalot to me.  It was an experience.

Lemme tell you why we moved to these places, by choice.  We got paid per diem while we lived away.  And we wanted one thing:

No debt.  Of any kind.  Financial security. We wanted to sacrifice for a few years, and then come back home owning our house outright.  That, was the dream.  Biggest dream I ever dreamt.

We bought a house for $200,000 in 2005.  There were renters in it, and we figured we'd move around, get this house paid off (hopefully), finally move back, and make us a home.  Our home.

Yes, this home is our "other house".  The one that was on the market.

This piece of paper:

 in the back of my journal, was kinda sorta my whole life.

I could go on and on and onandonandon about the goods, the bads, the highs and the lows of 5 years of living away, as a small family, in little apartments, moving, sometimes a year later, and sometimes 4 months later. . .

but just know,

that I slept on an air mattress for a year when I lived in Indiana, and a bit in North Carolina.

(this was the living space.  It was empty.)

A typical work day for my husband was leaving at 6:30 a.m., and typically arriving home at 8:00 p.m.  We had one car, and he took it with him 98% of the time (long story).  This meant I got to be in our little apartment, with 2 (or 3) little boys, all day, 6 days a week, sometimes 7 days a week.  No friends.  At first, in a new city, only knew my way to Walmart and back.

Just know,

that two apartments we lived in boasted bean bags for furniture, a little TV and DVD player that sat on the floor (and had no actual TV channels), a folding table and chairs to dine, and plastic plates to adorn.

Just know,

that you can, in fact, fit 3 little boys, all in car seats, in the backseat of a small sedan, if you close the doors just right.

Just know,

that this picture makes me not a little sad, because this is the apartment we lived in when I was most unhappy.  We lived over a nurse who worked all night and slept all day, and I had 2 little boys that never walked anywhere, and my job was to keep them quiet and tiptoeing during daylight hours, because the apartment peeps wouldn't let me switch places.

Other not-awesome events include a friend making fun of us for this ridiculous thing we were doing, and a co-worker's wife visiting us once, and then announcing to everyone at a work dinner, in front of the big boss, that we were living in "ridiculous conditions" and that my husband was so "mean" that I didn't "even have cable TV".  Kind of embarrassing.  Not as embarrassing, as say, being the star in a new STD drug commercial, but you know, embarrassing.

Honey, if I'd have wanted cable TV, the hubs would have gotten it for me, trust me.

All that while, we threw every dime we had into that "other house". 

And this, was a dream come true, indeed.   We celebrated as family, on that day we made the last payment. 

Now, hold that thought.

Let me make this very, very brief:  when we moved home, the renters wanted to buy the home, and so we purchased a different home.  The one we now live in.  They backed out, and this, is why we have two homes.

Remember what I said about those bad dreams you have, and you thought you accomplished something, but you really didn't?  This is my bad dream, but instead I'm awake.

Until today.

Sale on the house went through, and I am happy, nay, abso-freaking-lutely overjoyed to report,

that we are debt free, no if's, and's, or but's.  It took a while longer than I ever anticipated, but it got done.  Now excuse me while I go cry it all out.  Told you I had "feeeeelings" about that other house.  Sheesh.


-Lisa said...

Holy crap Mandi!!! (pardon my language). What an incredibly story. I so admire your long term goal and the ability to follow through with it during some tough times, especially with a house or should I say apartment full of little kiddos. So who's the fool now? Wish you could invite those judgmental ladies over now and boast your paid off house. No small feat.
I am so happy for you and your husband, you should be so proud.

Anonymous said...

The one word that went through my mind, was "Wow"! Wow for the heartaches you had, and wow for the end result! I bet this will be the best Christmas, save the birth of each child, that you will have had as a married couple. And, you deserve every minute of it! Congratulations!!!

Meghan said...

How wonderful! It was a long road to get there but one that ended with joy!

JoDana said...

Congrats! that is amazing, you are inspiring Mandi!!

Rach said...

Yay!! No easy road for you guys....I'm so happy for you and wow for all the sacrifices you guys made along the way!

Mel@Mellywood's Mansion said...

Congratulations, all your hard work paid off. Great post, and I'm really glad you never had to appear in an STD commercial although it might have added a few more bucks to the coffers

San @ Made in Hem said...

Woohoo! Congratulations! Bet you will be sleeping the best nights from now on, knowing everything you touch is truely yours... What an achievement!!! ♥

Spencer & Lorilyn Crum said...

Oh my goodness. I can't imagine how hard that must have been. Just a couple long days in a row with Ransom and I'm already going nutso. Congrats on being debt free, you have definitely earned it.

Little Oak Creations said...

Oh my goodness. CONGRATULATIONS. Seriously. I wanted to jump up and down and clap for you at the end of the post. We are struggling right now with student loan debt that is about the same amount as a modest house, and I could not find a job with my degree (A Bachelors of Science in Advertising...and I finished my degree RIGHT when the market tanked (about 2009)... might as well went for basketweaving. Thankfully my husband was able to find gainful employment but like yours, he's a mechanical engineer and that requires moving around a bit.) So I am so excited to see that someone can do it... sometimes it feels like we'll be in debt forever but it's so heartwarming to see that eventually the debt does go away. Thank you for sharing this post, it meant more to me than you'll know. :)

kkasun said...

Wow, you are crazy strong to have survived that without killing someone. What a great goal and a strong will to accomplish it.

I am sure it was hard on your husband, but I imagine it was harder on you day-to-day.

Congrats on selling your house, being debt free and accomplishing such a lofty goal!!!!!

The Miller Five said...

Wow! Congratulations! That's incredible.

Kimbo West said...

man that's awesome....! I wish i had your...restraint? um...resolve? what's the word i'm looking for? anyways. you're my idol.

and i died last post... "How much tree could a Jeff fluff fluff if a Jeff fluff could fluff Jeff?"

Layne Bushell said...

Yes!! SO glad that the house is sold! Now here's to praying we have wonderful new neighbors! You are so amazing on many levels. I wish you could teach me your awesomeness...I could use it over here....

Michelle Johnnie said...

That is AWESOME! I wish my husband wanted to be debt free. I keep trying to pay of debt and he just wants "more" of stuff. SO HAPPY FOR YOU!

I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar said...

That is incredible and inspiring. WOW. You guys rock. I can't wait until we pay our home of totally, but your story is so amazing. You fought hard for it. You are one strong lady. Thanks for sharing this with us.


Suesan Kennard said...

Did you ever know that your my heeeeeeerrrrrrroooooo? You're everything I wish I could be....The day our second house sold was a day of ultimate joy. Congratulations. You are a Rock Star, but I'm sure you are tired of me telling you that by now. :D

Cathie said...

You will find, the more you talk to people about it, that that kind of dream about not finishing school is terribly common. It is my most recurring nightmare, and there is always one or more classes that I just forgot to go to and now 13 years later they're telling me my high school diploma is no good unless I come back and retake the classes...It's horrible.

Oh, and congrats.

Michelle Wilkes said...

I have always liked you because you are funny and creative, but now afer reading this post, I like you even more. You are awesome. Congrats. You have inspired me!

Maureen said...


This is awesome. So very happy for you! We are working on our third while still owning the other houses. Being a retired military family, I know all the fun about moving and living with next to nothing with small children. BUT you are so much stronger than I because I only did it for two months where as you did it for years. You need to be still and enjoy the moment.


Sheila Fish said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. I think. So I just wanted to say thanks for posting your inspiring story. The goal that was your is currently the goal that is mine (and my hubs), and we're right in the middle of the "big adventure/huge sacrifice" part. He is gone right now three or four weeks out of the month right now for work leaving me alone to fend for myself and two little kiddos.. one with special needs. I'm really learning what it's like to be a single mom I think. It's sucky.

Anyway, the days can be long, as you well know, but we keep telling ourselves it's going to be worth it when we are debt free and our house is completely paid off. It's nice to know it can actually be done and we haven't been lying to ourselves this whole time whilst living in our small apartment that my hubby lovingly calls "the cave of claustrophobia".. or maybe that's not really a term of endearment. Huh.
To sum up my long comment in case ya skipped to the end, sure 'preciate ya letting us get all up in your biznis. Makes me feel a little less crazy.

Lindsey Griffiths said...

I had to comment because I SO can relate to you. I also have an awesome EE hubby (can't spell geek without a "EE"!) who was having a hard time keeping a job (worked for Worldcom) nine years ago in an economy that didn't have a whole lot of job opportunity.

We (my hubby, toddler, and I) lived on the road, in a new town and new hotel each night until I had complications with my second pregnancy and had to go live with his parents while he traveled 95% of the year. It sucked, but we were blessed.

We had the same goals of financial security and stability through NO debt. We don't buy much that is new (cars, houses, etc. Pretty much everything but food, shoes and undies).

The Lord watched over us and eventually hubby was able to get a better job with MUCH better pay and benefits. We are moving back to Utah, which I am not really looking forward to that as I love living in the Woodlands, TX, this month because he got a promotion and raise with the company he works for.

I am so happy that you guys sold your house! I was thinking about you having your house on the market as we have searched for homes up and down the SLC corridor. Give yourself time to heal emotionally, but also give thanks. :)

Leah Ketchum said...

Congrats!!! that is such a huge accomplishment! I am really happy for you and your family. I cannot wait to be able to buy our own home (we are military, so it is a matter of figuring out where we want to end up) and I know we will be a lot like you guys, making tons of sacrifices to be able to pay it off quickly and be debt free.
Great job and Merry Christmas!

Renee said...

SO happy for you guys! What an awesome goal to achieve!

...hey you forgot about your neighbor who blew all the leaves - in a straight line - on your side of the yard! :}

You endured much, but how awesome for ya'll!

Jocelyn said...

I needed this! Thank-you for the reminder of sacrifice!

Elisha Albretsen said...

I laughed as I read your post. Not because it's funny but because it sounds so familiar to my life. We've been married 5 years and still no cable, although I would like it (I'd probably gain 20 lbs if we did have it, so I guess its a good thing). I can relate to the "embarrassing" stuff too- like my sister coming to visit and saying she "doesn't know how we live like this". My hubs is still 2 years away from an engineering degree, so we've got some more of this to get through. Thank you for sharing your story. It gives me hope for our future!

Tracy's Trinkets and Treasures said...

You amaze me all the time. I have no other words.

Unknown said...

Inspiring. Truly. We are in a situation of sacrifice right now, but it's not quite the same. We did own a home in the San Francisco Bay Area and our county was one of the ones hit the absolute worst in California by the housing crisis. To top it off, our neighborhood was the worst in our county. The more the houses dropped in value, the more people chose to walk away and then the more house dropped in value. I have yet to see anyone lose as much in value as we did. End result was over $350,000 loss in value. No matter how you looked at it, we could NEVER come back from that. And that didn't factor in the fact that it was a major fixer upper that we never got the chance to fix up. After years of heartache and worry, we did what was best for our long term financial help and walked away. We are now renting a small (much too small for our family of 5) house, but it is at the end of a quiet court in a great neighborhood with a neighborhood pool. 99% of the time I am miserable that we have such a teeny house, but then I remember what it was like for us 2 years ago and I know how blessed we are to be in a situation where we are saving. And someday, we will be able to own again. It is truly inspiring to see that we are not the only ones sacrificing things now for the hope of a better future. I don't think we'll be able to own outright as long as we stay in the bay area (cause a normal size house here is still at a minimum of $350K-500K). I'd love to move somewhere where we could own a big house for less than that, but for now, my husband's job keeps us here. Thank you for sharing this story!

Andrea Haywood said...

As a reading about all of projects with pure envy, I wondered how you landed Bob Vila. Then I wondered which Home Depot did you boost sales for. I LOVE your story!! And I love your blog!! Keep it up!!!

Andrea Haywood said...

As a reading about all of projects with pure envy, I wondered how you landed Bob Vila. Then I wondered which Home Depot did you boost sales for. I LOVE your story!! And I love your blog!! Keep it up!!!

Emily said...

Congratulations on selling your other house!! I'm so glad that it sold and everything worked out, even if it took a little longer than planned!

Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

How did I miss this story?? Mandi - wow. Jeesh!! I am so crazy impressed with how you held onto that dream despite how difficult it was over the years - you & Jeff must be so thrilled to have that house sold!! So happy for you!! It's not easy, I know. When we moved here it was a get-out-of-debt move. I think everyone in our life thought (thinks) we must have been in serious financial trouble but really we just found having debt to be so oppressive and didn't want to live that way anymore. So we we traded the debt for our beautiful bologna countertops and the rest is history! No seriously, worth every bit of speculation by neighbors, stupid remarks, and looks of pity. Thank you for sharing your experience - it's so inspiring! I have often thought of writing about our journey but it's hard to put into words. But more importantly, TO THINK YOU LIVED WITHOUT CABLE!!! How did you survive? :)