Mexican Domestic Goddess

Second Floor Living Without A Yard

Jacqui Skemp10 Comments
A good friend of mine has been making me and Iggy mixed cd's for the past few seasons. It's something I've been looking forward too, and maybe some day I'll actually return the favor. This years winter mix began with a song that I know and love. But as I listened to it for the first time this winter, tears ran down my cheeks. I had never really listened to the lyrics, but they are so perfect for our current family situation. 

"But in the meantime I've got it hard
Second floor living without a yard
It may be years until the day
My dreams will match up with my pay

Old dirt road
Knee deep snow
Watching the fire as we grow old

I got a man to stick it out
And make a home from a rented house
And we'll collect the moments one by one
I guess that's how the future's done "

We currently live in the upper level of a duplex that is over a hundred years old. It has plenty of charm and character. Along with that come many other issues like creaky old floors, large cracks in the window frames and baseboards, and apparently tons of mice. Since returning from our trip to California this past summer, we have dealt with a serious mouse problem. Our neighbors have at least two cats and haven't had the problems that we've had, so we're the only ones who've suffered with the extra "roommates".

At it's worst I was waking up early to clean up mouse droppings daily all over the apartment. We're talking bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, living room, even our couch. It was frustrating and depressing. I hated that my sweet boy had to be strapped in his high chair while I cleaned up, and I hated having to wash every pot and pan before we used it because, God forbid, a mouse had been on them during the night. Fortunately our couch is slipcovered, so I was constantly washing it. In the couple of weeks before we left to visit my parents in December we found mouse droppings between our sheets. I'm not sure how they got there, but I was so, so, so disgusted. We had an exterminator come out twice, set traps, put extra traps down at night and put poison out in special baby-proof boxes.

During those months of dealing with the mice, there was little peace in our home. I was embarrassed to invite friends over or bring dishes to other's houses. On top of it all I was dealing with the lovely first trimester issues, and a very adventurous toddler.

While in California we talked about moving and finding a new place. I started looking everyday, all day at listings for a new place. It was incredibly frustrating knowing we didn't have a clean place to come back to once we returned to Minnesota, and if it wasn't for my prenatal appointments, I would have canceled my ticket and staying with my parents until Ian could find another place for us to live in. Fortunately, it appears that the mice finally took the bait and died. So we're safe for now. But we really had to take the time and reevaluate our financial situation.

You see, so many suggested that we look into buying. The market is good. You can put zero down. Maybe… but when we got married we made certain decisions about our financial future. The biggest one being a spirit of patience. We would not rush into anything that wasn't wise. And for us, buying a house right now is not wise. We don't have a down payment. We don't have a substantial savings set up to deal with the very real potential problems that home owners have to deal with. And we have no idea how big our family will be yet. When we buy a home we want to have no other debts. We want to provide our own downpayment with cash that we've saved up. We want the financial peace and freedom that comes with those things, and it might mean not buying our first home until we're closer to our 40th year of life. And we are okay with that. It's not ideal for many or most.

When we got married, one of our best wedding presents was a book that my friend sent to us. It was authored by Dave Ramsey (who you may have heard of). Like he says, his ideas are not rocket science, and they definitely go against the popular ideas about money and credit. I'm still so grateful that she sent us that book (thank you Anna!) because we needed it in those early months of marriage. It helped steer us from some potentially terrible financial decisions.

So what does this all mean for us? It means only buying and driving used cars, living in a rented second floor apartment without a yard, buying used furniture, not going on fancy dates regularly or buying our friends and family the presents we would love to gift them. It means consignment shopping and more rice and beans. It means simplifying our life, reevaluating our goals and dreams and sacrificing together. It means humbly accepting help from our family at times and recognizing and truly appreciating the generosity of others. For me it means letting go of the idea that we need to keep up with the Joneses and to truly be grateful for the many riches that we already have. And those are definitely things we can live with.

Dinner on our porch/tree house