House to Home Countdown: #10

It is 5:07 am, and I just dropped Coach off at the airport.  He has been back and forth a few times since becoming “the” coach at TU, but this is the only time he has not left his truck in the lot.  I drove him there this time because this time he won’t be back.

That sounds so final and dramatic…of course he will be back; we have family in the area, tons of friends to visit, and he will be through here time after time on the recruiting trail.  He will see the Heart of Texas again.

But he won’t ever be back to this home.  And driving back to the house so early this morning, that fact hit me really hard.  Honestly, I am a bit shocked that it affected me at all.  After 7 homes in 19 years (Leonard, Stephenville x2, Denton, Pearland, Lorena, and China Spring), I know better than most that houses come and go; it’s memories and love that make a home.  On top of that track record, this home had a bit of a rocky start.  It took a little longer than normal to truly shift from house to home…

This house broke one of the Cardinal Rules of Coaching: never move mid-job.  There is little to no job security in football.  Even less in the coaching of college football.  When we make a move, we pick a house, and we stay put, paying extra on the mortgage principal from Day 1 to ensure that the equity is not upside down.  EVER!

But this time, through a series of events and decisions, we found ourselves moving from a southern suburb to a northern suburb after 3 years on the job.  As we scouted houses, we came across a new construction project that was just getting started.  The builder said we were early enough in the process to turn his spec house into a custom build.  There was still time to make a few floor plan changes, I would be able to select all the fixtures and finishes, and best of all, the project was slated to be on display in the 2011 Parade of Homes so it would have special pricing and be move-in ready on the final day of the parade which coincided perfectly with Coach’s summer schedule.

We never dreamed we would have the time assurances to build, we absolutely loved the neighborhood, and although it was way more house than we intended to buy, we liked the layout and could see our family living there.

I am here today to countdown the top 10 things that truly make this house a home for me (which is a very positive thing), so I am skipping over the building process (which is a very negative thing), but suffice it to say that it was an arduous journey, one that left me emotionally bruised for a while, yet one that taught me three very important lessons:

1.  Listen to your gut, and never be afraid to walk away.

2.  Believe in yourself, and never allow anyone to bully or berate you.

3.  Have faith in your strength, and never forget how strong love can make you.

Now for the fun part – drumroll please – the first entry on my House to Home Countdown is

#10: CHRISTMAS at 615 WHISPERING OAKS

We moved in to the new house on July 4, 2011.  Yes, you read correctly.  We were THAT family moving ourselves across town on July 4th, a national holiday, in the summertime heat.  MawMaw was the only person to show up and help that day, so it was Coach, two highly intelligent and directive ladies (like mother, like daughter…), two pre-teens, and 3200 square feet of crap to carry.  WAYYYYY FUN FOR COACH!!

I was so bitter about the building experience that for several months I really didn’t even want to be there.  After putting hours and days and weeks of thought into every little detail on the house, I had a hard time sitting in it while Coach and the kids were away during the days.  It wasn’t until I got ready to decorate for Christmas that first year, that I began to see the house as our home.

The first bit of excitement came with my library tree.  The library is really the blueprint’s study/office that I transformed into a library by adding 10 foot tall bookshelves on two of the walls.

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The third wall is painted a rich, chocolate brown and displays my (currently useless) collection of diplomas and certificates, an antique door that I turned into a desk, and the computer on which I am typing.

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The fourth wall is a half-pentagonal, 16-foot tall wall of windows that faces the street in front of the house.  The most amazing chandelier is suspended from the midpoint of the pentagon, and directly under the chandelier is an outlet, with a dedicated light switch, created especially for a big, beautiful Christmas tree.

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When Coach and I married on December 21, 1995, we chose a Christmas theme of red and green, and we put a Christmas tree in the reception hall to set a festive, joyous tone.  Shopping for that tree was the only other time I purchased a tree and all it’s decorations in one stop.  And Hobby Lobby wasn’t around then…but this time it sure was!!

I found a fabulous array of turquoise, tan, cream, white, and chocolate colored ornaments – everything you can imagine like glass and glittery balls, feathers and beads, plaid ribbon for bows, and snowmen – lots and lots of snowmen!  Putting up that tree was so fun, and it was new, and it was about this house, especially for this home.  It was the first time I believed that this house would transform into our home as all the ones before had done.  How perfect that my belief was brought to light by Christmas!

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My favorite ornaments are often the simplest:

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Well, my tree fun doesn’t stop there.  This house was made (intentionally, of course!!) for Christmas.  In fact, I have a total of 7 trees throughout the house – yep, SEVEN 🙂

The wedding ornaments and bows from 1995 are still around, and they go on a 7-foot tree in the dining room which is also visible from the street.

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I especially love our annual hot chocolate bar that sits next to the wedding tree along with one of the cutest Santa pics you’ve ever seen:

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Our ever-expanding collection of family ornaments and artwork go in the living room on a 9.5-foot tree.

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Books can be found on all my trees…no big surprise there!

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And even a message for Santa:

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I adore my most treasured tree skirt (which happens to be the same one that was under Mom’s tree throughout my childhood):

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The upstairs Baylor-themed game room is home to a green and gold tree which is decorated with all kinds of silly and random football memorabilia such as ticket stubs, growl towels, and bowl game trinkets.  This tradition will definitely continue next year, just with a new theme and a couple new colors to play with 😉

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The kids each have their own trees in their rooms: Angel Girl’s is pink, and SonShine’s is blue.  I love seeing how they put them together each year, and they never look the same two years in a row!

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Finally, I have a tiny miniature tree that travels with us when we are gone to bowl games for Christmas.  When at home, it presides over the kitchen from its perch high on the bar.

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Each tree is special, as are the garlands and goodies that I drape and set on every cabinet, mantel, and countertop throughout the month of December.  I am eager to see how they all come together in a new house in a short 11 months!  Just know, whoever spends next Christmas at 615 Whispering Oaks, you’ve got a great foundation for establishing joy and turning this house into your home…

With love and hugs,

Ashli

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