It's the last night we'll spend as a family sleeping at 224 Ferring Court. It's 10:30 pm and I have this house entirely ready to go for the movers tomorrow. I'm pretty darn thrilled about that fact.
Though I am a self professing, over the top emotional woman, I am not by nature sentimental. Figure that one out. So I haven't cried about leaving the first house I bought as a married woman or that I brought my babies home to. And, I'm likely not going to cry as I type out these snapshots of memories I have of this home.
But, I do LOVE recounting God's goodness and faithfulness to me and my family, and I don't want to miss the opportunity I have now to do that by recalling some of the ways God has shown Himself merciful and strong in and through this home!
Soon after moving into 224 in March, 2003, we hosted a costume party with a number of other couples from our local church. We didn't have window treatments up or furniture in all the rooms. We didn't care. We just wanted to provide a gathering place for fun and fellowship. And, lo and behold, people came! It didn't seem to matter to them either that we didn't have a fully decorated, newly painted home.
Having the boys was a major game changer in life for Lawrence and me. For 3 months, I had meals provided by various families from our church. Additionally, for almost two months, I had women come to my home from 9-3 to help me with the transition of caring for my twins.
I can still see the lovely fruit basket Therese Griffin brought for me to keep by my bed, and the chicken tetrazzini Rebekah Stryker made for us that was so good. I remember Carole Eberwein holding both my boys and feeding them at the same time! Ironically, she was helping her daughter in law with her brand spankin' new twin boys this past week.
I remember my dear, dear friend, Heather Griger rushing up from the bottom of the court (when she and Ed) lived at the bottom of the court) into my room to help me deal with a nursing "issue". I think that moment forever solidified our friendship. She saw too much that day. There was no going back. :)
I sat on my bedroom floor, on that horrid pink carpet and nursed and watched my baby boys play on their Baby Einstein play mat for the entire month of August, 2004. I can't remember seeing the light of day that month except for trips to the hospital with Judah.
My mom and dad's trips to 224 almost always involved my dad fixing something in our home.
We were blessed to have LA's family eat Sunday lunch with us once a month for the last several years. And, Sam and LA would give each other hair cuts after our meal.
Hosting caregroup here was a blessing and a challenge. Thankfully when we did, our group was fairly small so the living room accommodated. Mark Hurtch brought his guitar, and my boys would run down the stairs once they heard him strumming.
I had beautiful rose bushes on the side of the house for many years, but one year decided I didn't want them anymore. I think I thought I would plant the entire side of the house with vegetables. So, one cool evening, I dug them all up and gave them to our friends, Joel and Cindy Rishel, who now have them at their new place.
Living next to a virtual horticulturalist, my attempt at gardening always fell a bit flat. I loved watching Cheryl so diligently water her flowers, each year buy new ferns to hang all around her front porch. Cheryl and Ed love to go all out with adorning their home, so whether it is Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween or Christmas, they will have it decked out!
The kitchen has been the "hub" of my home. I recall a time Jo Powell brought a vase of fresh flowers to me because I was having a hard time about my hubby's work hours. She set them down in the middle of my island, looked me in the eye and boldly but lovingly said, "You can be miserable and make everyone else miserable about your hubby's work or you can make the best of it." I'm so grateful for those hard words from a loving friend. The flowers were a nice touch, too. :)
I also remember standing at my kitchen sink with De Neumann who had some equally hard but loving words for me regarding LA's work hours and my stinky attitude. Noticing a theme?
Donna and Mike Bishop sat with us on couches that my parents gave to us that are now gone and shared memories with us of when their boys were young. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry about the potential that lay ahead of us with our own boys. :) But, I so enjoyed our time together. And, I still remember Donna's chicken and stuffing in the crockpot she made for us when the boys were born.
Food is a big deal here, and we've shared lots of meals with lots of friends over the years. Foodies group with the Benge's, Jones' and Rishels, and more recently the Smiths, Powells and Jones' have been some of the best eats.
I've made countless batches of pancakes, bowls of oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for my kids at 224. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting kiddos to eat veggies they wouldn't normally eat at home, like Nadia and Alyssia who gobble up cucumbers while Alana and I chat over our glass of wine...red and sweet.
There have been plenty of hard times had in this home, too...nights when marital conflict was so thick I wanted to run away, but my hubby never let me. One time, in the midst of a particularly difficult season of our marriage, Jason Reyes came over and sat in our living room to try to "talk me off the ledge" of raging emotions. He and Laurie have been kind, kind friends to LA and me. Laurie and I have spent time chatting on our deck while watching the kids swing or sitting in my living room drinking iced coffees from Dunkin Donuts.
Family pizza/movie nights became a tradition for us on Friday nights, and sometimes we'd include friends, too. Having a small sofa in our basement, Shawn and Jennifer Lyttle sat on the floor with LA and me during the movie. But, it didn't matter. We just wanted to build memories and be together.
Birthday parties were a rather big deal in the kids' earlier years. Bella was able to celebrate her 5th with a dress up/tea party. Crystal, Jazmine, Emma, Lucy, Jess, Tessa, and the girls' mommas all crowded around our dining table to enjoy flower shaped pb & j sandwiches, fruit and tea.
For a season, a friend and I would make dinner for one another. I would make dinner for my family and Diana's two nights a week, and she would make dinner for us two nights a week. Nights that Sam would drop off dinner often allowed for quick chats by the front door before he would run home to eat dinner with his own family.
The pine tree on the side of our house has become a favorite for climbing. The kids have loved playing with the neighborhood kids, and they are going to miss them. Julia, a little older than most of the littles playing outside most of the time, is an unexpected and free 'sitter' and blessing to me as she often will play with Bella. I always felt more at ease when Julia was outside with her while I made dinner.
Having out of town guests, while challenging because of space, was always fun to look forward to. Some of my BFF's from college have come to stay. Amanda helped me for several days after I had the boys. Beth and Tommy have stopped with their girls, Emma and Norah, on their way home from the beach. Toby and Beth have come. One of my favorite visits that I will forever cherish deeply is when my friend, Emily, came with her mom, Gretchen, and her little girl, Alivia, who is now in Heaven. Being able to hold that memory of Alivia in my living room here at 224 is precious and forever treasured.
It took one very long day and several bottles of beer, but LA was able to install the wood laminate floors in our living room with one of his favorite buds, Jeff Cole. And, I have since greatly enjoyed those floors!
I've had a number of "home/sales" parties here, Pampered Chef and Norwex among my favorite. I remember one PC party I held to raise awareness and funds for the Sturge Weber Foundation. Terri Reardon did a great job as my consultant at the time, and we were able to raise $500. Again, my tiny living room didn't have lots of space, but it didn't matter. We squeezed in and enjoyed the closeness.
One fabulous memory I have is when I decided to surprise LA while he was gone on a week long work trip. I updated/restored a round picnic table and benches that we received from our "old" neighbors, Jim and Judy Wilmot for free with the help of a few of my friends. Sam, the Grigers, Chambers and Brittons all pitched in with the most excellent of work being done by Heather Holston who artistically drew MD Terrapins on the benches. We loved that picnic table, and initiated it with a birthday party for LA that summer.
So many other memories have been had here at 224, but what is most meaningful to me is not the sticks and bricks that make this a house but the people who have lived here with me and crossed our threshold as friends and guests who have made it a home.
I'm so excited about all the potential that awaits us to make the house of Montford a home, too.