Changing the Tire | Marking 1 Year in Our 7th Home

Last summer, we went on a hike in Zion National Park. It was a pretty audacious hike for a 5 year old, but Henry wowed us by making it all the way to the top without a problem. It was on the way down however, that the whining and complaining started. Admittedly, it was very hot and he had just hiked a really long, hard way; but his shift in attitude was threatening to ruin our entire afternoon. Mid-meltdown, a fellow hiker came along; and as we tried to yield the trail so he could pass, he bent down to Henry and said “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere until you change it.” Greg and I had never heard the phrase before, but we loved it. We have kept in our “parenting back pocket” ever since and have whipped it out on occasion with Henry in recent months. Then last week, I was (yet again) lamenting something about our brown walls or brown carpet or dead grass or crowded street. Greg put down his book and looked me square in the eyes. “We’ve got two years left in this house, babe. You gotta change the tire.” I was aghast!!! How could he use our new favorite parenting phrase on me?!? “I certainly don’t complain that much, do I?” “Yes. Yes, you do,” he said without even blinking. Although my first instinct was to smack him upside the head ;), I also knew in that moment he was exactly right. It is time to change the tire. Does anybody have a jack?Inspirational Home Quotes: "A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can't go anywhere until you change it."It was a year ago this week that we “moved into” our current rental in Southern California. I say “moved in” because Greg, Henry and I (and Sammy in my belly!), along with suitcases and air mattresses, moved into the house; our stuff wasn’t delivered for another 12 days. This is our 7th home in 12 years. It’s the first time we “came back” to somewhere we’ve lived before. It’s the first time we majorly dropped the ball during our move, resulting in one of our hardest transitions yet. It’s the first time I don’t feel settled a full year later. And it’s the first time I’ve felt nearly paralyzed by the aesthetic constraints of a house and been unable to truly make it feel like “ours.” In fact, I think this is also the first time I don’t have a fancy, shmancy “look at everthing I’ve done in a year” post to share with you.

Psssttt – If you are curious what I have accomplished in this house so far, check out the California ’16 Slideshow HERE.Inspirational Home Quotes: "Home is wherever I'm with you."Some of you might be thinking, “Give yourself a break, Megan. You’ve moved twice in three years and you had a baby you waited years for!” But you guys, this is what I do. I take the home we have and organize and decorate the heck out of it so that we love it. I solve problems, get creative, and try new things in order to create a real home for our family. It’s how I thrive. It’s how I cope. It’s how I handle this lifestyle.

But if I’m being completely honest, it feels a little bit like this house has broken me. We have brown walls we can’t paint and brown carpet we can’t pull out. We have kitchen cabinets that are falling apart and plumbing that is suspect. We have a landlord who is anxious to let us do anything, and a neighborhood we don’t fit into. Usually, I look all these things in the face and paint them, wrap them in removable wallpaper, and put them in matching baskets until they are better. This is what I do. But for some reason…this time…I can’t…or don’t know what to do…or my usual tricks aren’t working…or all of the above.

In general, I think I am growing weary of our nomadic life. Of being uprooted every few years. Of living in other people’s homes and relying on temporary solutions to make them feel and look better. Of having to hoard things because we might need them “next time.” The timing is about right. We’re 12+ years into this rodeo, and the novelty of moving trucks and new homes and new friends has completely is starting to wear off. I didn’t feel like moving last summer, which spiraled into us not being as prepared as we should have been, which spiraled into jumping for a house that perhaps wasn’t quite right.Inspirational Home Quotes: "There are some things you can only learn in a storm."But the fact of the matter, as Greg will remind me, is that we have a house. A good house. It’s ugly and not our’s and in a place we’d never to choose to live. But how about some perspective. We have a roof over our heads, and my boys are happy, healthy and safe.  At the end of the day, that is what matters the most. Greg is absolutely right. This is our home for the next two years. But it’s going to be a long, painful two years (for all of us!) if I don’t change my attitude now.Inspirational Home Quotes: "The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attidude."The one year anniversary of moving in seems like the best time for me reign in all the negativity and shift my perspective. Right? Right.

So here we go. Here’s how I’m gonna crank up the jack and replace that flat tire:

Focus on the Things I Can Change

No more whining about our brown walls, brown tile, brown cabinets and brown carpet. That’s a pretty tall order for me right now, but the saying “fake it until you make it” comes to mind. Hopefully, if I stop verbally whining about them, my brain will slowly start to let them go too. To fill the void of lamenting the things I can’t change, I am going to focus instead on the things I can. There are still many tools in my “renter’s toolbox” that I haven’t used. There are still many, many spaces that I haven’t touched. Inspirational Home Quotes: "If you change the way you look at things, the thinks you look at change."Just the other day, I finally took the time to organize our master bathroom cabinets and drawers with drawer liners and labels and bins…and it instantly made me love the entire space so much more (even if the window treatment is still sitting in the corner of our bedroom). There is a lot about this house I can’t change. But I can reduce clutter, organize every nook and cranny, add in temporary details and bring things into our home that I love…and little by little, those things will make a difference.

Just Do It Already

My list of project ideas and room updates is a mile long. Seriously. I have a design plan (in my head in some cases) for each and every space in our house. I’ve just been too busy whining to do any of them. If putting the vinyl stripes up on the family room wall taught me anything…is that something is better than nothing. This is not going to be my dream home. It’s not going to be perfectly design or exactly what I want. But it can be better than it is now.Inspirational Home Quotes: "Happiness is Handmade"The projects and updates I have in my mind will make this house look and feel better, so I just need to start doing them. There’s not a lot of time these days for entire room overhauls, so my goal is to tackle one decor and one organization project each week. Like I said, I just organized the bathroom cabinets. Let’s see if I can get the window treatment up this week too!

Embrace Rental Life…Even More

For better or for worse, this is not our forever home. And because of that, we have a unique opportunity to do and try things we might never get to do again. Each and every home offers us the opportunity to experiment (like with a certain wall color, a playroom upstairs versus down, single story versus two, etc), so that when it comes time to find that forever home, we have a better idea of what we like. Inspirational Home Quotes: "Difficult roads often lead to beautiful desitnations."Thanks to this particular house, we now know what wall color I won’t be painting our forever home ( 😉 ), but we also know how much we love the open kitchen:dining:family room layout. These are things we maybe would have never realized had we not lived here. It’s time for me to remember and focus in on the opportunities that come from being a renter, and use this house to continue to experiment with renter-friendly fixes and solutions we might not get to try anywhere else!

It’s Not All About the House

It’s also important for me to remember that it’s not all about the house. We are pretty lucky to get to live in San Diego not once but twice in Greg’s career. It may not be where we see ourselves long-term (we are learning we are East Coast-ers at heart), but it’s a pretty great part of the country nevertheless. There is so much to do, the weather is great, and it has a rich and varied military presence. What we see and do outside the house can influence our time here just as much as what we do inside, so it’s time to step out of the house, make some friends, see some sights, and actually enjoy the perks of living here. Who knows if we will ever be back!Inspirational Home Quotes: "Never let the things you want make your forget the things you have."Two years from right now, everything I lovingly do to this house will be taken down, packed back up and loaded onto a truck for our next destination. And despite my whining and loathing, I guarantee you I will shed a tear or two as we pull away. Because aside from the house itself, this is and will always be one of our homes. Brown walls and all (ooops…I said I was going to stop talking about them). This is where part of our life happened. It’s where we brought Sam home for the first time, and where Henry learned to ride a bike. It’s where I (finally) found peace as a stay-at-home-mom and where Greg embraced professional challenges we didn’t see coming. Although it’s a bit hard to see and believe it now, it will become a place we love. It always does. It’s just taking a little longer this time. But it does…we always look in the rearview mirror and smile. Every time. At the end of the road, wherever that may be, this house and our time here will be just another leg of our journey, and all of my whining will seem so silly. So…it’s time. Here’s to me changing my flat tire so we can continue along on our great adventure!

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19 Responses to Changing the Tire | Marking 1 Year in Our 7th Home

  1. My friend DeeDee had the best attitude about life. When life handed her problems she could not surmount, she would shrug and say “oh well.” The Oh Well Factor came in handy with my own kids during meltdowns. “I want candy/toys/pizza!” Not raising voice, just shrug shoulders, say ” Oh well.” And walk away. The kids never knew what to do after that. They were stunned when I didn’t try and placate them. I have had many of my own painful “oh well” moments in life but it has taught me that I really don’t need half of what I thought I did…except chocolate. Lol
    Your ability to handle two kids and frequent moves speaks to your character and devotion to your family. I love your new mantra. But if you have the occasional “brown” moment, cut yourself some slack. Maybe call a friend who can relate to your frustration and go out for coffee. You can both throw up your hands and say “Oh well!” and toast to a new day.

  2. Thanks for this post. It has opened my eyes to how I’ve been looking at our home and given me food for thought. It’s not my dream home, but it’s what I’ve got and I am grateful for that. Rather than doing nothing, I need to work with what I have. It won’t take much – just action rather than complaints. I want to make big changes but that’s not possible, but small changes would make a big improvement and that’s something I can do.

  3. As someone who has relocated a few times and has lived in a house for 15 years that I never liked, I could totally relate to this post. One thought: maybe you should take a picture of those problem areas and ask your fans for their input. It might let you see the problem areas in a different light. Just a thought. Hang in there!

  4. I love that idea. Change the tire, to get yourself moving. All the little quotes you have sprinkled throughout the post today are perfect. Hang in there, you got this. And yes a little at a time and it will be home… for now.
    Thanks for the reminder. I’ll be putting that quote up everywhere to remind me and my kids!

  5. I love that quote (and all the other ones in this post such a cute way to put them). I can relate to this so much and I’ve had to change my tire on a few things and are working towards some others as well. One tire at a time! But good for you and I love your outlook now, you have totally got this!

  6. Great post, and tidbits for thought. You might get weary of certain home conditions, so take a few minutes to wallow/throw a mini-fit, then shake yourself off, look for the positive (God sends mini blessing EVERYWHERE), and chug on. Easier said than done, but it can be done. One step at a time, with love. God bless.

    • Greg – you’re the best! Thanks for the laugh! Reminds me a little of my brother-in-law, who says “I thought I was wrong once, but it turned out I was mistaken.” Only he’s not kidding!

  7. Oh this sooooo speaks to me right now! After 21+ years in, 13 moves (4 in the last 4 years), a absolutely crappy base house, and an attempt by the Pentagon to move us again this summer (really? after 9 months?) I am so, so, so, so very done.

    But. . . but . . . but

    My husband has a job, we have healthcare, my neighbors are fabulous, we have an awesome church.

    So, this was very timely for me, I need to change my tire, and I really need to print all all of your quotes from this post and put them around my house!

  8. This is absolutely your best post ever! It has so much to offer all of us, your readers, regardless of our age, stage, or circumstances. Thanks for reminding us all to change our flat tires and get back on the road of life. Thanks, Megan!

  9. This is what I like about your blog: it is real and honest. I really appreciate that you are sharing this personal journey of your mindset is changing. Thank you for your honesty and authenticity.

    Even though I am not Christian, those very wise words have stuck with me and have been very helpful. I think they resonate a lot with your post.

    God grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference.

  10. You know, when you first posted pics of this house, I was a bit surprised. Brown walls? Megan? But, it’s temporary, and nice thing is, you know just how temporary. So many of us move into a place and end up there so much longer than we thought, lol.

    Plus, it’s kind of a … gym for your designing skills. It’s a place that challenges you and causes you to grow even when you might have thought you couldn’t. 🙂 Just think of all the mad design skills you’re going to have when this is done!

    You’re making an awesome lemonade here!

  11. Great post and while I agree with many comments I’d like to suggest this idea too.
    Stop focusing on disliking brown (or look at where that comes from) instead think of the things in life that are brown yet lovely, important.
    Tree trunks, hedgehogs, Autumn leaves when they’ve crisped up, roast chicken/turkey, toast, coffee, hot chocolate for starters.
    Also remember your attitudes, likes/dislikes, predjudices will colour Henry and Sam’s lives and you won’t realise it. Just as you didn’t realise how much you verbalised your dislike of this house.
    It is only 2 more years and you have a loving husband and 2 loving children! I’m widowed with no living relatives and I need to move because getting in and out of my flat causes excruciating pain as I go up the one step to the front door.
    My living room is a corridor, okay it’s an 8′ x 14′ room but there are 2 doors on each wall + a chimney breast on one. A window takes up most of one wall and a bay window the other. The kitchen is so small that you can stand in the middle and touch both walls. I can’t stand and so need a “perching stool” but it’s too wide so I have a folding chair which has to be moved to get to the washing machine. If I open the oven door it’s impossible to take anything out from the front because their is no space.
    Everywhere suffers mould (wooden spoons in kitchen draw went mouldy after 2 weeks and they hadn’t been used). My landlord says the mould is my fault because “you cook without lids on” I can’t reach top of cooker so only microwave. “You hang wet washing up” Because I have no access to drying space outside and no room for a tumble dryer I use launderette and everything comes home dry. “your heating is too high” I’m disabled and my heating is kept at that suitable for a newborn. My landlord is my local council and I’m waiting to move but it could be 5 years, I’ve been here 5.5 already. Oh and I’m harassed/stalked by an elderly neighbour!
    On the plus side I have 4 adorable cats, a couple of good friends not too far away. A sense of humour, I love crafting though on a 6 week break due to hand injury 🙁 I’ve survived worse, I’ll get through this too.
    Not written this to make you feel bad Megan, just to remind you that there are other things that could make your lives so much more uncomfortable. Lucy ~ England

  12. Oh man, you spoke to me today!
    I had actually been living in Laguna Niguel, CA for a few months when I discovered your blog. We had those brown walls in our apartment, along with cheap carpet, ugly faux wood floors and HORRIBLE spray painted counters. I felt stuck, and I didn’t even want to try to make it a home.
    When you moved to Kansas, and posted about why you put in the work, even though it was temporary, you made me think about changing my attitude tire. I put in work, but I also embraced the space as an experience in itself.
    Instead of evolving the space, I let it evolve me.
    I have so much more I could elaborate on, but this is just a comment.
    I do want you to know that I admire you and your reflection posts. It speaks volumes that you can step back, recognize and resolve your actions and attitudes. You and your husband seem to have a respectful and insightful dialogue.

    Just from my experience with the SoCal color scheme, concrete gray (surprisingly) white/cream and very light sky blue work well with “California renter’s beige.”

    I’m looking forward to seeing you in action!

  13. Hi Megan, thank you for this great, very personal post. I always enjoy readig about your military life, because it’s so much diffrent than my life. And I absolutly understand your problem with the brw*… but I’m sure you’ll find a way to cover it 🙂 Lena

  14. Hi Megan

    What a lovely yes as it is so true and honest post ! I do understand your feelings as I improved them and still do some days. We made more things in the houses we’ve been inside for a short time than in this one, bought not rented, and in which we’ve been for so many years. I do agree with you and I’m sure you will manage, don’t forget you have two boys to take care of, it takes time and energy. I do love all the quotes and the idea of the tire is a great one.
    Have you and your family a wonderful 4 th of July !

  15. I feel your pain Megan! I would feel utterly trapped if I couldn’t make any changes to my house. But if it makes you feel any better, visiting the San Diego Zoo has been on my bucket list forever and you live right there! Every time you take the kids to the zoo, just think of me on the other side of the world, patiently waiting decades for that very same opportunity. You might not be able to make all the changes you want, but don’t forget you’re inspiring people all over the world to change their own homes for the better. This is your teaching period, your dream home will come later 😉 xx

  16. Thanks for sharing your journey, Megan! I’m sure this post today may have been hard to share with the world at large, but thanks for showing the areas you need to work on. AND for sharing your plan on how to work on them. I appreciate these real-life glimpses into who bloggers really are as people much more than I do a Pinterest-ready post. What you’re struggling with is something we all struggle with at some point. Being content with what we have instead of discontent with what we don’t. Making the most of a non-ideal situation. Building adaptability and flexibility into our kids.

  17. I love this post! I find myself in the opposite situation, we’re currently in our favorite house to date, but we don’t like where we’re located. At all. Combine that with my husband being at 19 years and we’re constantly playing the “what if we just retire” game even though we’d both like to stay longer. We’ve been trying really hard to make the best of the location because CA does have so much to offer. I think I just need to “change the tire” so we can appreciate the surrounding area while we’re here and not focus on our immediate surroundings. I won’t complain about being in the middle of nowhere….I won’t complain about being in the middle of nowhere…I won’t complain about being in the middle of nowhere!

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