Houses and Home

I've lived in lots of houses in my life.  Let's see if I can name them all. 

It may take a bit, so if you need to go grab a cup of coffee, go ahead.  I'll wait. 

Go on.

There.  Better?  Okay....

Let's see...first was the house that my parents lived in when I was born.  I don't remember much about it, but I've seen pictures.  And although I remember it being a brick house, I really just remember the mint green dress that my mom was wearing in a picture taken in front of the house.

Then we lived in a The White House.  Not THE White House.  But Our White House.  I know nothing about it except that it was white.  And had a huge yard.  And we made card houses at the dining table.  And my daddy made me a Holly Hobby birthday cake in that house...to which I also had the knee socks, thank you very much.

Then it was on to cabin living in the mountains of Georgia.  Don't be thinking that Jim-Dad turned all mountain-manny on us; it was where we lived for missionary orientation.  And all I remember about that place was that I had barrettes shaped like puppy dogs. 

After Georgia, we lived with my Nanny (Jim-Dad's mama).  And I spent hours and hours playing with her old adding machine and rearranging her eclectic salt-and-pepper collection.

I guess we got tired of living with Nanny while we waited for our time to head overseas (or she got tired of living with us), so we moved out into an old, old, old farmhouse that everyone just called Aunt Roxie's Place.  I remember old wallpaper.  And cows.  And I remember that being place where I watched Star Wars for the very first time.

We left Aunt Roxie's and headed out on the mission field.  First up...a two-story duplex in the capital city of Bangladesh that we shared with our very best missionary friends.  I was bitten by a wicked tropical spider; played many a game of hopscotch; had my hair played with by my ayah; and witnessed the horror that is iodine -- all in that house.

Then it was out to village life.  We moved into our missionary house smack dab in the middle of a bustling village.  The only other white person in that village was a Catholic priest, and my best friends were our servants.  I flew kites with our gardener; watched our cook wring the necks of chickens; and lived through our dog being stolen.  Our home was raided for flowers; my daddy fell off of a ladder; and it flooded...a lot.

Next up....Thailand.  There we lived in the church parsonage of the English speaking church that my daddy had moved to pastor.  The house had stairs, which were such a novelty to me.  I also remember a huge photo mural of palm trees in one of the rooms which still bumfuzzles me.  I remember our yard and the floods and the bugs. 

We only lived there for a few months before it was time to come back to the United States for missionary furlough.  We lived in a house provided for missionaries to use, and I remember thinking we lived in a palace.  It had air conditioning!  A true luxury after spending the majority of my life in sweltering tropical climates with only an occasional fan or two.  I can remember making mud pies in the back yard and getting my first Cabbage Patch Kid.  I remember thinking that I must have died and gone to heaven my first trip to WalMart, and I remember getting to watch things like the Disney Channel and Wheel of Fortune.

After the year of all things American, it was back to our house in Thailand.  We stayed there for several more years, and I can remember my mama being so very sick in that house.  And playing Chinese JumpRope with the rubberband ropes stretched between two dining room chairs.  And listening to contraband Madonna and Bon Jovi tapes that I sneaked out of my sister's room while she was out with her friends. 

One summer during that time, our family came back to the States to settle my sister in for her freshman year of college. Since it was uber-temporary, we set up camp in one of those roadside inn/stay-for-awhile motel places.  I remember watching endless episodes of Little House on the Prairie there.  And Jeopardy.  And Bonanza.

After the summer of motel living, we headed back to Thailand and our house by the church.  I remember heading out of the compound gates and buying a plate of chicken fried rice at the street vendor or heading to the hotel right outside the gates to buy an ice cold bottle of soda.

Then my parents retired from the field.  And it was time to move back to the States.

We lived in a quaint house just down the road from my Nanny, and I can remember it had a drop-down den.  But other than that, I don't remember much.  But I think it is because I spent more time down at my Nanny's house than I did at my own.  We'd watch soap operas and play cards and go shopping at WalMart just for fun.  That was the summer of me and Nanny.  And it was precious.

Then my dad got a new job.  In Missouri.  So we moved.  Again.  And we lived in a house at the end of a street next to woods that I was convinced were haunted.  And we had neighbors that didn't believe in throwing anything away.  And I had a pet rabbit that was nothing short of the spawn of Satan.

We rented that first house in Missouri, and after a couple of years, my parents bought another house in that same town.  I loved that house.  The neighborhood was great; the yard was great; and I loved my room.  It was black and mauve, amazingly countrified, and my bedspread looked like a shower curtain.  Ahh...the 90's. 

I lived in that house until college.  And while at the glorious land of all things purple and gold, I managed to move my way around 3 different dorms.  I had psycho roommates and precious roommates and lots and lots of giggles. 

Then I married the love of my life, and we started out on our own pretending to be grown-ups.  We lived in a teensy tiny little white house that was no bigger than a sequin on a spanglefied stiletto.  There was stuff crammed in every nook and cranny, and we stepped on eachother every time we turned around.  But we were happy.  And in love.  And wouldn't have wished to be anywhere else.

Until we wished we were somewhere else.  And bought our first house together.  And we have been there ever since.  We still have stuff bursting out of every closet, drawer, and shelf, but three precious babies have filled that home with more love than stuff.  I could tell you lots of things about our house, but I won't...because it is just home now.  It's where we're comfortable.  And can be ourselves.  And it's where we just do what we do.

So....Amber, why take us on this long journey through the houses of your history?  I mean, my first cup of coffee has already run out, and I've moved on to my second.

Well, I'll tell you, dear reader.  It's because this week I'm spending the week at home.  Not my home-home.  But at home.

I'm at my parent's house in the beautiful mountains of Arkansas.  This house has never actually been my house, since they bought it and moved here after their retirement just last year.  But this place is home to me.  My mom still takes an hour to get ready every morning.  My dad still snoozes in front of the tv.  The box of Cheerios that are my mother's life-blood are sitting pretty in the cabinet, just like always.  My dad's garage is still packed to the hilt with boxes and boxes of our history and memories.  My mom is still a meticulous housekeeper, and my dad still worries about how much gas I have in my car and if I have cash to get home.

We've moved a lot in my life.  A lot.  A lot.  And even though Kirk and I have made our own house into a home, there is still nothing like coming home to my parents.

Sitting and soaking up their voices.  And their smells.  And their mannerisms. 

And realizing that no matter how old I get, or where I or they move.....

They are....just.....home.


Lindsay said...

I didn't go for coffee but enjoyed a leisurely reading of your post. Gave me "warm fuzzies". Love it when Jimdad posts. Is that him i the picture?

Carpool Queen said...

There's no place like home. Every time I go, my daddy asks to borrow the car keys, ostensibly to move it for some reason or another, but he takes it to the gas station to check the tires for air, fill up the windshield washer fluid, and vacuum it out for me.

Now I want to go home.

Jessica said...

I know what you mean. We moved a lot, too. I guess it just comes with the territory, doesn't it. My parents now live in a house none of us has lived in, as well. It's so funny because we each try to claim a "room" and my mom reminds us they're all her rooms. :)

Speaking of my mom's--Stephanie and I (and Justus) are headed over there either Tuesday or Wednesday. Wanna get together?

lisa@littlesliceoflife said...

Sniff. Sniff.

That was just beautiful.

I feel like I need to hug your parents.

And call my mother.

Tiffani said...


I am soo teary and weepy now!!

How in the world did you manage to write all of this AND drive 4 hours to their house?!!

I feel many of the same feelings when I enter the homes that were safe and peaceful to me as a child...my grandmother and my Aunt Gail had those places for me.

Can you believe I never even lived in a house until I was 15 years old?! Always an apartment w/ my Mom.

This was precious, Amb, because I got to find out more about you and your life....I still just get overwhelmed when I think about you growing up in the jungle!

I am certain that I would love your parents place and just one of these days..I'll visit!!

Gretchen said...

This may be the finest Thanksgiving present you could ever give them. What a great family. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Jim said...

Thanks for the walk down memory lane. It was nice to peek in again at all the places. Makes me want to scoot back for a look-see to capture any memories I may have left behind in the moves. We did move a lot, didn't we?

The palm tree picture in that room in Bangkok was a mural of the seashore that I pasted on the closet door of the spare room we turned into a TV room with beanbag chairs. I thought it gave a little idea of a picture window scene on a tropical coast.

Now, I remember the cabin in Georgia. It was on the grounds of Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain GA. I loved the bicycle rides we took around the whole of the place with its manicured lawns and flower gardens, and the numerous golf courses where we could play for free during that 3 months that we lived there with some 100 other missionaries be trained for foreign mission assignments.

Ah, so many memories. We'll have to explore each one of them. And hey to all of Amb's blog friends. You're welcome to come by for a visit. (We're only 40 miles from Branson, if that's a good draw for you.)

Enjoying you and the boys, Amb.

Jessica said...

Completely get what you're saying! We have our own "home" now, but Mother and Daddy's will always be "home home" =)

Tiffani said...

Can't believe I forgot to say yesterday this: how have we not discussed the fact that you lived in Georgia??!!! I cannot believe y'all lived in PINE MOUNTAIN!!!

That's only like an hour from me and we LOVE CALLAWAY GARDENS!!!!

Neat-o Dorito!

Sami said...

I loved reading this. I can relate to may aspects of it. My dad is a pastor and we moved a lot throughout my life. I still say that I am "going home" when I go to their place even though I only lived there for a few months after college. I actually got married there in their church. But it was home because they were there.

Mich said...

Awww... I love you guys! Wish I was at home with you right now. Please tell me home is not the same without your big sis.

By the way, you use to sneak in my room and steal my tapes?!!! MOM!!!

Love you more than words. And of course I loved this post.

Michele said...

Girl. . . this story was so sweet. .. it was worth all the 5 cups of coffee I've had while reading it . . . *wink*wink*. You make me smile. Your heart makes me smile. The way you tell a good story makes me smile. Oh to hear of your travels. . . I could probably pick your brain for hours.

I feel the same way about my parents and grandparents house. . . and I'm so excited that on Wed. afternoon I'm heading home. I totally agree with Dorothy, there truly is no place like home.

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

I have a strong sentimental attachment to every place I've ever lived.
You are very lucky my dear. To have parents that are still together. Mine split after 20 years and when I go home, although there is love there and happiness it isn't quite the same as it would be if both mom & dad were there together. Then it would truly be home!