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My brother-in-law and his fiancée are buying their first house.  Oh, how I still remember those days of doe-eyed innocence.  Life was a giant bowl of possibilities with a side order of naive rainbow-chasing.  Who can forget the thrill of holding that first set of keys in your hand, taking a picture in front of the sold sign in the front yard, carrying the love of your life across the threshold.

Seven years, three kids, two dogs, and a failed sump pump away from turning your man-cave into an indoor pool full of murky groundwater; and suddenly you find yourself puking up that extra helping of child-like wonderment like it was the last ill-advised shot of tequila during a night you can’t really remember.

“Wow Wordslinger, cynical much?”

I know, I know, that was a bit over the top.  The point that I so poorly attempted to make there was that your perspective on a house changes immensely from your first house to your second.  So when the wife and I were asked to accompany the young lovers to their potential abode, we brought a very different set of eyes with us.

While the young couple awaits news of whether their offer was accepted, our family continues the search for our next suburban château as well.  However, with a handful of humans and a pair of K-9s to consider; the house we eventually plan to call home has to come fully equipped with everything a growing family needs.

With that in mind, here are some features that I believe are important in our next home (but probably wouldn’t matter to those who have not yet felt the pain exhaustion joy of parenthood).

Exterior:

Fence built to sustain at least a Category 3 Hurricane: No, we are not moving to Florida or the Gulf coast.  The hurricanes I am referencing are named Cody and Bailey and are less of the heavy winds variety and more of the hyper-active Labrador variety.  We have a fence in our current backyard, and on more than one occasion these beasts have either jumped over it, dug under it, or literally plowed right through it.  I’m thinking something steel or iron ought to do the trick.

Interior:

A long hallway: Iz and the Jakester have apparently joined an NFL team without my knowledge.  This seems to be the only explanation as to why they have taken to doing wind-sprints every time we visit my in-laws.  They have a long hallway that leads from the front door to the family room, and these two tiny tailbacks run up and back at least 742 times during the course of a visit.  Considering our current home is about the length of a school bus from front to back, this will be a requisite feature in our next abode.

A dark, dreary, and very un-fun corner: If you’re a parent, you probably know why I’m looking for a good corner.  You see, with three kids under the age of 4, there isn’t a day that goes by without a time-out occurring.  In fact, there are days when we literally are shuffling kids in and out of the time-out corner.  We have to keep a tally of how many time-out worthy actions have taken place in order to assign the proper amount of time for punishment.  Perhaps if our time-out corner was more sinister looking, like a dungeon or dentist’s office, THEY WOULD STOP DOING BAD THINGS!!

Wow, that’s creepy…it’s perfect!

Stain repellent carpets, paint, and pretty much all surfaces throughout the house: There is a box in our basement that contains somewhere in the vicinity of 38 million crayons, markers, pencils, chalk, and all manner of things that can destroy a home.  I’ve been told by my daughter, in not so many words, that things will be bad for me if that box doesn’t come with us to the next house.  I know I’m the adult here, but I’m fairly sure I should do what she says in this case.

A clear sight line from the kitchen to the family room: As noted above, the little devils delights have been getting into some mischief lately.  Currently, their playroom resides in the basement, which makes determining the culprit of any particular incident difficult.  A clear angle into their little world or rough-housing would make things much easier.

4 Bedrooms: “That sounds like something anybody would want, Wordslinger?  Nothing specifically parental about this request.”  That is true loyal reader, however I feel the need to note it here due to the fact that baby Matthew currently resides in what used to be my closet.

I’ve only listed a few of our “must haves” here.  The truth is there is a long list of features we are looking for in what we hope will be our forever home.  However, with the walls continuously closing in on us at home, and privacy being a word that simply doesn’t exist right now, there is one feature that trumps all others:

Master Bedroom with a lock!

Does the Master lock? We’ll take it!

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