4 Houses and a Storage Unit


May not have the same ring as similar sitcom and movie titles, but it is an accurate representation of our lives right now. My absence from the blog (and my business and my social life) is completely related to this reality. While we have known about our move for some time, it was hard to find the desire or motivation (or TIME) to begin packing. There were many factors that could have led to the sale falling through and we didn’t want to live out of boxes if not necessary. I also remind you-we are trying to plan a wedding! It was moved….due to the move, which means a shortened window, for a long task, that also hadn’t been started. While waiting for the closing on the house which would signal our acceptance of a definite move, we tried to knock some planning out.

In my last post, I updated you that with the move on the horizon just a week ahead of us, possible asbestos was found in the house we were moving in to. It was tested and confirmed asbestos. We now had to move out of one house, but with no house to go to. Friends began offering to give us a place to stay, but we are NINE people! That’s enough space as it is, but we also have stuff; so much stuff. While we knew our friends knew what they were offering and meant it, there was no way we weren’t going to throw a wrench in their lives with our presence. We can’t get away with “You won’t even know we are there.” Oh you will most definitely know we are there.

We have friends that were married a year ago and the husband of the duo is still trying to sell the home he owned as a bachelor. They offered us the empty house as a place to stay and we jumped on the offer! They are pretty much amazing and we are so grateful. Packing started Tuesday, they offered us the house on Thursday, and we had help offered to help us move big things on Saturday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday consisted of the type of packing where you take the time to look at things and pack based off of what things were and where they needed to go. The type of packing that consists of packing the things you don’t really use that much. The type of packing where, when you get overwhelmed you stop and think and breathe. The type of packing that, while productive, doesn’t really get you far. There was also never a moment with less than three kids present, so that affects productivity. Come Friday, panic sets in. David and I spent the morning at a pre-marriage counseling session (that was an amazing time by the way). After the session, David needed to do some work from home and I needed to go to the grocery store. I had made a plan for easy meals that wouldn’t take a lot of ingredients or dishes to prepare as transitions happened. When I got home, it was planning time. We needed to pack and plan what could go to the storage unit since we didn’t have much room to work with. We needed to pack and plan what could go to the little one car garage of the in-between house to wait for us but still be protected from the asbestos abatement process. We needed to pack and plan what needed to go with us to the farm (It’s just a mini farm with no animals anymore, but it needed a name to be able to keep our lives straight!). This means we needed to think about what we would need to live for possibly two weeks since we had no timeline, but also think about what we could live without because this was temporary and would all have to be moved again soon! I said 4 houses though-what is house number 4? Through all of this we keep dreaming of and building gratefulness for our home that is being built. We drive by often just to check progress; so far-zip!

While planning, we decided that packing suitcases was priority so that when everything else left tomorrow for various destinations, we would have clothes. After dinner, we set the kids up with a movie night in a basket that their Mawmaw had put together for them for Easter, and we got to work! We picked clothes for two weeks, with one laundry day accounted for, for the 7 kids and ourselves. After we were done in the bedrooms, we got the kids in bed and continued on projects we each felt were important to have done before help came the next day. For David, that was things for the storage unit since it would be the first stop in the morning. For me, it was the areas that would be harder to explain to people what I needed to be packed and what I needed to stay (like the bathroom). We worked till we dropped and had much still to do the next day.

Saturday came, and one person appeared early and two more later in the day. Friends reading-this isn’t written with any resentment! We know how crazy and needed and filled Saturdays are and this Saturday just so happened to be an eventful one. We know you love us. But little help means we had to kick our high gear into higher gear! David and his help loaded things for the storage unit and made a run out there while I stayed and packed like crazy. Somehow, there was still most of the house left to pack! When the men (and Grace, also known as “muscles” that day) returned, they went to work taking bunk beds and dressers apart and loading the trunk for the run to the garage of the in between house. I continued packing like crazy. By now my mom had joined me and for a few hours we had another friend stop by. Unfortunately for them, I had reached frazzled and unable to think point by then so I kind of just kept moving without giving much direction and they would jump in where they saw need.

When it came time to load boxes, my control started to activate. We had of course now accumulated more for the storage unit so as I was watching things fly out the door, I was so worried something would end up at the wrong place of the three and cause a problem when it was needed (or take up space when it was not needed). I was telling myself not to stress it but I don’t think my self was listening. We worked till the two men we had had to leave and looked around to find that even though so much went out, it seemed there was still so much left to do.

We were still staying in our current house until Tuesday so thus started suitcase life. One thing we have learned is how little fun a vacation for all of us at this point in our lives would be! All my nope. On Sunday after church, we needed to visit the friends lending us the farm to move a fridge from their house to the farm because (of course) the farm fridge was on the fritz. As we drove the fridge out there, we got our first sense of the distance. It got prettier as we drove, but oh so far. As we rounded the last corner, we looked out over a field of cows. This was so different from where we had been that we decided to call this house the vacation house. This would be fun! We arrived, opened the gate, and pulled into our first views of the farm. The property was beautiful and the little house was adorable from the outside.

Allow me to reiterate that we are so grateful to our friends lending us this place and we are so grateful that an empty place existed so all nine of us could fit without being a bother! That being said, the place is not exactly what we expected. We walked from room to room checking out the situation. We had planned for the kids to stay up in the loft room, but after two kids cried on the steep stairs, and the older kids said they were a little scared up there (it is unfinished so it looks like an attic to them), we knew that plan had to change. When we came outside to tell the kids to load up, we found them all in the van already. We asked why and they said that, at 2pm, they were getting eaten by mosquitoes and didn’t want to be out there. We both decided that if we were marrying young and without kids, buying a place like that would be a grand adventure! The house is super cool and full of potential and the property as I said is so pretty, but with 7 kids, it was going to be interesting! We dropped off the fridge, ran Grace to youth group, and then went back to the current house to prepare a load for the farm (we had already changed our minds on the title “vacation house”.

Now, in all the wedding planning, I have accumulated a small….ish collection of things (including a box of dresses that don’t fit the girls but don’t get me started on that!) and David has the arbor he is in the middle of building. Neither of us want to be far from our projects or let them too far out of our sight for fear they will get lost. This means we packed up all the decorations, the clothes, the arbor and wood, and all the tools to take with us to the farm. We also packed the trailer with all the boxes of food we wouldn’t need for the next few day or even weeks, but that we couldn’t take to the in-between house to wait for us because of the asbestos abatement that would be happening. With all of this we got back in the vans to pick up Grace and go drop the load.

On Monday evening, we all got cleaned up and went to see Madalyn and Meredith perform in the Spring Concert at their school (I’ll skip the part about when we realized we had be at this and how to fit it in.) After it, we got the kids asleep and let Grace stay up and read. We do not leave Grace with all 6 of her siblings when they are awake, but since everyone was asleep and we were only going two streets away, we figured she could handle the tough job of reading on the couch. See, we had to move the remaining things for the house that we didn’t get to on Saturday: a deep freezer, the washer and dryer, and a second fridge that was in the garage that my grandmother said we could have. Thank you, Shaun T, for preparing me for this task. We loaded up and headed to the garage of the in-between house. Now, while the guys had left a path through the center of the garage that held so much of our stuff, it was not quite wide enough for the appliances we were adding. So we pulled things out of the garage, maneuvered the appliances to the back by the plugs, then refilled what we had taken out. It was about this time that we decided that this whole experience would do more in preparing us for marriage than any preparatory class ever could!

Tuesday came and it was the day. Today we would leave this house and move on to the next thing. I spent the day finishing our packing process between all the usual duties life brings. We decided to go out for a quick fast food dinner before yet another awesome friend came to help move the last of the heavy items downstairs. We had hoped to be able to move everything in one trip, but because we had to bring so many big items with us, space filled up quickly. We had to bring the futon so the kids didn’t have to sit on the tile floor. We had to bring the tv because…well, we were scared not to have the option! So many things keep happening that weren’t expected and we didn’t want to be without entertainment if it would be needed. We had to bring the table and benches so the kids would have somewhere to sit and eat. We had to bring many mattresses so everyone would have a place to sleep. We had to bring dishes, and all the food we owned, and a big cooler and bathroom things, and bedding, and suitcases, and backpacks, and boxes of pull-ups, and boxes of shoes….all for one week. We packed and loaded vans and the trailer for almost an hour. We made the first trip to the farm and it took well over an hour due to the distance. We loaded again and did the final walk throughs to make sure we had everything. We took our final moments, looking back and remembering our times in this house. My grandparents built this house before I was born. My mom was a single mom who raised my siblings and I three houses down from this house. I spent so much of my life here as my mom worked so hard to provide for us. It was my second home. My life went full circle when I moved into this house two years ago as a single mom, working hard to provide for my kids, with my own mother just down the road. It was hard and beautiful at the same time. I did not want to move in here. I fought it. I called it going backwards, but I didn’t see how forward it was going to be. The time I spent here in the middle of my journey was a time of change. God did so much in me and for us. My faith grew as I grew and became a different woman than I had been: loved, accepted, strong, cherished. As God moved my story along, this house then became the first place me and my future family shared together. So much has happened here-I grew up here, I grew here, my family grew here. I am so thankful for all this house held, and now it is time to move forward again.

We began our final trek out to the farm after 9:30. I was so worried about the kids and getting them in bed. When we arrived my first priority was getting the kids in bed. We brought some light bulbs and put them in the bedrooms and did just what was necessary to get the kids laid down. We came back out and put light bulbs in the main living areas….but still no light. We spent half an hour messing with the breaker box, with outlets, with switches and pull cords. It finally became clear that the problem was wiring based. We could twist the bulb just enough that the light would come on, but then it would go back out 20 seconds later. We finally continued our work to the glow of some of those little electric candles with the fake flame and every now and then twisting the bulb to have light for a small quick task. We did just enough to be able to call it a night and both be able to have a place to lay. I think we both went to sleep unexcited and unsure.

Wednesday we were up and out super early and didn’t return until evening. The tv stayed off last night, lamp light pierced the darkness that had been and hours of conversation filled the living room. We went to bed last night agreeing that no matter how long we are here, God is already using this place to do big things for us and our relationship. Things we could have never anticipated. It is now Thursday. I have things a little more put away and we got the furniture laid out in a way that makes sense and almost fits. I am sitting on the steps of the front porch typing away at this while the three youngest play with brooms across the wrap around porch. There is a breeze blowing and sunlight is flooding the house behind me. Surprising to me, I love it here right now in this moment. I am thankful to be in this place. I am thankful to be on the farm. I am thankful for the role God has planned for this place in our story. Forward.


I leave you with a list of things I will NOT miss about our house of 2 years:


Carrying laundry up and down the stairs.

Forgetting about the laundry (sometimes intentionally) because it was so far away.

Uncovered, outdoor stairs to access the home itself (fun in the rain!)

Watching children have to learn to navigate the stairs without you.

~I think you get the stairs thing~

The smoke alarm going off every time I blow dry my hair.

Going downstairs to do laundry, telling the kids to behave while you are gone, and hearing the opposite of behaving happen above you.

Sharing one bathroom.

Sharing ONE bathroom!

The bathroom heater that one child insisted on constantly turning so you walked in to the bathroom to a flood of heat.

A huge loud house fan that often scared the children when accidently flipped on.

Peeling wall paper/unapproved child activity.

No dishwasher (though we still won’t have one until the new house gets built).

Hard Water (though we will still have that until the new house gets built).

Doors that I couldn’t unlock from the outside without removing the doorknobs.

Closet doors that constantly fell off.

A sliding glass door that constantly came off the track.

To these things I say: Bye Felicia!


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Ashley Karaffa

Ashley is mother to a blended family of 10 and appreciating the beautiful chaos of it all. She enjoys creating systems - because how can you survive a family with 8 kids without systems - and spending time celebrating her family.

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