Dear House,

This is bittersweet. This is something I've never experienced before. Oh, yes, I've moved before. More than a handful of times, in fact. But never as an adult. Never as a homeowner. Never with my own family. This time is different. Definitely different. Because, well, you've been apart of almost every memory I've held onto the past 9 years. You've been a witness to every first in this marriage and family roller coaster ride. This love story that began before we inhabited you, became true, committed love within your walls.

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We learned so much while here....like the first married task of taking care of a 40 gallon tank of fish. Which, as a side note, is almost as time consuming and definitely more expensive than parenting. But I learned so much by watching my new husband methodically and very carefully tend to those fish every single day. And they were the crown jewel in our dining room (that's never been a dining room). Little did we know that just a couple of years later, our firstborn would refer to this room as "the barn".

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You've been privy to every conversation and every action both private and public. You've been both loved and abused. You've been constant and, at times, frustrating. Like the times your a/c stopped working mid-summer... Yet, you've always been filled with life.

You were home when we naively and exhaustedly took our first steps inside as new parents. You witnessed the massive amounts of tears and frustration that came with that new label. You watched as we grew into our new role and eventually the tears and frustration became fewer.

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You watched as our baby grew. You held the memory of his first steps and you held me as I struggled with new motherhood. You became my prison, but interestingly, I never could imagine being free again. You still are my prison, but content I shall stay.

You saw my Hunter and I dance in the kitchen each night after dinner. Just us two. New and in love. Only you saw those times. Only you hold the imprints of a time when life was sweet and uncomplicated. Just a mother and son learning and growing together.

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You saw one become two.

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Two become three.

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And three become four.

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You are where we learned to ride bikes, swing on a swing, climb a tree, catch a ball, be creative

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run, walk, skip, jump, wash a car, swim,

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read, and mow the lawn...

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You are where we loved, snuggled, had countless movie nights, and laughed 'til we cried.

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You are where most prayers were said and two eternities were sealed for heaven. You are where we fought, stumbled, and forgave. You taught us how to grow a garden, plant a tree, and enjoy a cardinal's song. You sheltered us from countless storms (both literal and figurative) and brought us joy each day when daddy came thru the door.

You taught us that outside is better than inside, ceilings may sometimes leak, and stairs with many little ones is a horrid concept.

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There have been countless celebrations and many times where comfort was due...boo boos needed to be mended and kissed and sick ones nursed back to health.

There were many delicious meals (and some not-so-delicious) and lovely baking smells that happened. I, for one, went from completely kitchen illiterate to a confident, learned-many-lessons-the-hard-way kitchen savvy supermom. (Ack! I didn't mean to use the word supermom). I perfected my chocolate chip cookie recipe in your kitchen. Amongst other things.

As we leave...as this house resembles more of an empty shell each day...I am torn. You see, I cannot fathom creating memories in any other home. This is where everything has happened. Where we've become one and we've become many. It's not that you aren't good enough for us, it's that it's time to move on and allow someone else to add to the special secrets and stories these walls now hold. And believe me, they hold many. More than I could ever begin to recall.

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As much as we are all excited to go, please know you will never be forgotten. The little home that started it all, that witnessed it all, you will always be in our hearts. We are so thankful and grateful to God for blessing us with the home that helped us discover each other and develop our dreams.

Now to continue our story...in Faith.

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Love, Mike, Alicia, Hunter, Carter, Avery, Olivia, and Baby.