Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

3 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

Dear Jack,

It was exactly 8 years ago tonight that Mommy and I fatefully met each other at the taping of an episode of CMT’s Crossroads, featuring Lindsey Buckingham and Little Big Town.

Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

Here we are now, 8 years later; with you, nearly 4 years old.

Back on September 7th, in my 1st letter announcing our family’s new home purchase, I included pictures of the broken ground and foundation. (See Dear Jack: We’re Building A New House In Spring Hill, TN as well as Our 2nd Visit To Our “New House”/ 2014 Lexus GS 450h: Family Friendly Review.)

Well, about a month later, it’s time to update those photos. But first, a quick video I made…

Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

Yesterday we had made the journey to Sprill Hill to check in on the status on the building process. I expected very little progress, if any.

In fact, I was quite surprised when Mommy pointed at our house. At first I thought we were on the wrong street somehow.

Seeing this progress was a great encouragement to me. It’s easy for the process of selling our current townhome, plus the thought of the move itself, to overshadow the fun parts of this.

Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

But just look- this is our house “being born.”

I particulary enjoyed the view out the windows from upstairs. I was able to get a good view of the farmland behind our lot, as well as a view of our next door neighboor’s background; to get an idea of what ours will look like as well.

There’s no doubt this is a scary process, though. I admit that at any given second, I am sort of expecting this to somehow fall through.

Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

However, we’ve went through the budget more times than we can count and we know we can truly afford this new home and still have a decent amount of cash going into our savings. It’s very important to us we don’t become “house poor”; meaning all our paychecks just go into paying the mortgage every month.

Of course, we drive 10 year-old used Hondas, we don’t eat out at restaurants, we don’t have cable TV or smart phones, and the electronics we do own are laughably (!) outdated. So to say the least, we are an extremely frugal family.

If we hadn’t become as ridiculously conservative with our money as we needed to in order to get out of the $60K debt we had worked our way in, there’s no way we could have ever gotten ahead… to get to where we are today.

Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

So having lived through that blessed/cursed learning curve that so many couples in their late 20s (at the time) have to encounter when it comes to the budget, or the lack thereof, we are now (in our early 30s) able to start catching glimpses of what Dave Ramsey has always preached on:

“Live like no one else now so that later, you can live like no one else.”

Based on my financial mistakes in the past, I guess there’s part of me that feels I don’t deserve this house.

Even now, I personally feel… hesitant… about showing info and pictures about our family’s new house.

But it’s important to me that I not only show you this “footage” for future nostaglic and historic purposes, and that I teach you to be as annoyingly frugal as I am… but also because you have many family members on both sides of the our family that want to see the updates on our house.

Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

As for you, you’re still trying to understand that the model home is not actually our new home.



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Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It Vs. I’ve Already Got One, Thanks

Fighting the urge to the live by the new American motto: If it ain’t broke, get another one anyway.

Like it? Love it? Gotta have it!

I can almost remember a time when I was a kid, where it was normal to really really want something for a long time and then when I would finally get it, my heart was content.  The newly obtained item gave my heart rest, and I was happy, as any kid should be.  Whether it was a new Nintendo game like Super Mario Bros. 2, or a bicycle, or a rare Ninja Turtle action figure like Splinter, April O’Neil, or Ray Fillet, I got what I had wanted for so long.  And funny enough, I never wanted a replacement after I received my prized possession.

But somewhere along the way, whether or not we can blame it on “typical capitalist American behavior” or the mindset of Generation X (I just barely made the cut- it’s anyone born between 1961 and 1981), it became normal to want a “new one” though the old one still works just fine.  Maybe just an innocent desire to keep things fresh.  Or maybe a potentially dangerous pattern.

My Italian grandfather was one of the most influential people of my lifetime.  Having grown up in an orphanage in Kenosha, Wisconsin (his mother died when he was young, and there were 12 kids in the family), he lived a minimalist lifestyle, only spending his money on his few children and grandchildren.  Hardly ever buying a new (used) car, new clothes, or new furniture.  Never buying anything name brand.

This way of thinking definitely shows up in my everyday life.  My wife jokes that I have more clothes and shoes than she does.  And it’s true.  Because I don’t get rid of them unless they’re literally rotted.  Like my old red running shoes I have delegated to only use for walking and riding my mountain bike on my lunch break.

It’s true that I own over twenty pairs of shoes that still look less than a year old.  But most of them are indeed at least ten years old, in actuality.  Because I have certain shoes I wear only if I know I will be outside or if there’s a chance of  rain that day.  Those are my “outside shoes”.  By wearing them instead of my “inside shoes”, it keeps my newer shoes looking new.

While I’ll never be as frugal as my grandfather (who when my mom was a little girl, reused dried out paper towels multiple times before throwing them away) I subconsciously try to imitate his lifestyle.

I can’t see myself ever buying a brand new car, knowing that it loses thousands of dollars in value as soon as the first owner drives it off the lot.  And I can’t see buying a different car until my current one costs more to repair than it does to actually buy another used one.

Not that buying a new car is any kind of moral issue, or that going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe is necessarily evil, though it’s probably not a wise decision if it involves a credit card (I’m a Dave Ramsey fanatic).  But for some of us, that strand of “gotta get a new one” serves as toxic acid in our DNA.

It gets tiring hearing of men leaving their wives for another woman.  That’s definitely a familiar theme this year already in the media.  And while some could say, “What does to me if matter if Tiger Woods or Jesse James cheats on his wife?  Why is that national news?”  Because it does matter.

Not because we’re nosey.  But because in some sense, the reflection of the lifestyles of celebrities causes a subconscious call-to-response for the rest of us:  “Hey look, it’s normal, he did it.”

We have to either say, “No way, that’s not for me.  No thanks!”  Or “Well, maybe that’s not so bad…”

It shouldn’t be that hard to be happy with what we’ve already got, even if it’s not perfect.  And really, that’s a mindset that is often difficult to accept and adopt: Near-perfect is as perfect as life can really get.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?  Yes, of course it is.  But the irony is this: You’re already standing on the other side.  Somebody’s else’s “other side”.

You’re already standing on the greener grass.

"I don't care how... I want it NOW!" -Veruca Salt