52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History, Week 4: Home

I spent the first few years of my life in a tiny little corner house in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. I only have fleeting memories from living here though and I don’t think of it as “home”.

When I was still in preschool, and my sister was a toddler, my parents decided to transplant us from the city to a little wooded island in the southern Puget Sound.  I was approaching school age and Seattle was trying out a new system of bussing kids to different schools through out the city, so that they could diversify the schools.  Great idea in theory, but when it comes down to it, it makes the neighborhoods lose a sense of community.  My parents were upset that I might not be attending the school just down the street – and that I wouldn’t necessarily be going to school with the neighbor kids.  They didn’t want their Kindergartner riding across town to another school and I thank them for that.

My parents had already bought 5 acres on the aforementioned island and I think that they visited there on weekends when I was little – camping and clearing the land.  I have a bunch of pictures of me in the woods.  Here is one of them. This had to be about 1977 or 78. Don’t you love our ax-murderer van?  No windows in the back.  And plaid pants?  Very cool.  I especially love my Cookie Monster hat though.

We lived in a duplex a few miles away for a short while and then later moved into a trailer on the property while the house was being built.

Here I am in the unfinished house:

It was pretty small – 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, a large kitchen/dining room and a laundry room.  That was it.  I remember that my mom let me paint the walls Pepto Bismal pink.  I was in a Strawberry Shortcake phase. I would live to regret that decision, because I was stuck with that color on the walls for years….

After my two brothers came along, the house didn’t seem big enough anymore.  We added onto the house.  The “addition”, as we still call it, was actually larger than the original house.  It added on 3 more bedrooms, another bathroom, a formal dining room, and a 900 sq foot family room.

Yes, this is actually my sister and I in a septic tank.  I promise that it hadn’t been used yet. :)  We were just checking it out before it got hooked up to the house.

The addition became an ongoing project.  Both of my parents worked on houses and my dad was actually a contractor for a while.  When you have the skills, you just can’t pay someone else to do it – even if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.  So, a good portion of the addition just sat and sat.  My parents used the back “family room” as a shop for their woodworking tools.

Since I was the oldest kid, they finished my bedroom first (yes, I got one of the new rooms).  I had the coolest bed on earth.  It actually wasn’t even in my room.  My parents cut a large hole in the wall (near the ceiling) and put a queen-sized bed in there.  The neighboring room was a storage room and since my bed was a loft bed, it simply made a section of the storage room lower.  I had to climb a ladder to my bed, but it was the neatest cubby hole.  I really loved it.

The family room didn’t get finished until after I had already moved out of the house.  That’s what happens when you’re the oldest.  Your parents end up having more time and money as they have less kids int he house. Darn!

I feel lucky to have spent almost my entire childhood in the same home.

And now my parents are all alone in that really big house.:)

Someday, (if my husband ever retires from the Army), we’re going to be building our house on the adjoining 5 acres.

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  • Greta Koehl - January 26, 2011 - 7:37 pm

    “When you have the skills, you just can’t pay someone else to do it” – oh, boy, that was so much my dad’s (carpenter/general contractor) philosophy – and living in a “work in progress” was very much my experience as a kid.ReplyCancel

    • Jen - January 26, 2011 - 9:34 pm

      Yes, me too!! The funny thing is that there are still things that aren’t finished in that house. The plumbing still has to be hooked up to the 3rd bathroom. And why isn’t it done? Because my little brother is a plumber of course!ReplyCancel

  • Marian Wood - January 27, 2011 - 4:05 pm

    Fascinating post. I love your memory of the cubby-hole bed and I especially like the photos–particularly the one with you looking out from the septic tank (pre-use, of course).ReplyCancel

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