Our Eczema Battle + Recovery Journey

10.22.2013

The last time I wrote on this blog I was dejected, heartbroken and angry. I've felt those emotions a lot in the last year. As we near the one year anniversary of the beginning of our plague of severe eczema (and moving into year five of our eczema journey), I've been reminded over and over the past few days of how far we've come as people continue to comment on my instagram pictures, noting how great Adalyn and Landon's skin is looking.

It is.

So great, in fact, that I've so quickly forgotten the lows we've been to in the last year. When we were in the absolute worst thick of it, I stumbled across a blog post a mom wrote that chronicled their year's journey with severe eczema, and it, along with the Sammy's Skin blog, kept me going. It gave me the faith I needed to persevere. When I thought, "This will never get better. Life will always be this hard," I was reminded that a mom has incredible power when she fights for her children. A mom can conjure up the strength of superheroes when it comes to her children. She will fight big fights and she will become a vocal champion of a cause, even if her nature is an introvert, when it comes to her children.

So, here goes nothing.

Our year in pictures + words from my heart:

In November of 2012, my children were happy, healthy and growing like weeds. Landon was five months old, Adalyn was 2 and Ben was 4.



At the beginning of December, Landon's skin began bothering him. He started clawing at it here and there, but I didn't initially think much of it. I thought it was just a baby doing what a baby does and vowed to be better about clipping his nails.



Then Adalyn got really sick. So sick that we took her to the hospital a few days after she'd begun antibiotics because she still wasn't getting better.



She was fine. It was just strep and scarlet fever. A bad case of it, but nothing that was going to jeopardize her health. But before we knew it, our happy, bubbly toddler became an extremely fussy, itchy, sleepless child. Her demeanor changed so drastically that I truly felt there was something wrong. I often contemplated getting her started in Early Intervention (and eventually, I did get it scheduled). She cried over almost anything. I'm not referring to typical toddler tantrums. I know those. This ain't my first rodeo. But rather, earth-shattering, "You may as well have just ripped my heart out of my chest with your bare hands and stabbed me in the eyeballs with a pencil when you told me no, mom!" tantrums. They would last sometimes upwards of an hour or longer. Her just screaming, at the top of her lungs, tears pouring down her face in buckets, me often joining her, but almost always curled up in the fetal position in some corner of the house, praying for God to give me my little girl back. 

Compounded by the fact that eczema is triggered by stress, we dislike emotional outbursts more than the average person because they're always followed by an eczema outbreak and intense scratching. She would often sit there screaming, clawing at the skin all over her body. She would bleed. Her clothes were almost always covered in blood. 

The eczema began the week she got strep, but got worse each and every week, for both her and Landon. It began fairly mildly, like this:






But by February, it was awful. Sometime in April, after reaching the end of my rope in coping with two of my three children covered in such extreme eczema, I decided enough was enough. I was going to solve their eczema problem. Period. By that point, they looked like this:



It was pretty horror story-ish. Especially to live it. But it all felt very normal at the same time. Like, it was what we knew. We just dealt with it. Because you really don't have a choice. 

After having gone through several different rounds of elimination diets, I felt confident in saying it was not a food allergy or intolerance. Then I stumbled across solveeczema.org, which I talked a lot about here, here and here. The site lays out the theory that it was the introduction of detergents into the environment in the 1950s that follows the upswing in eczema cases. Thus, many children with eczema or asthma are reacting to these harsh chemicals, and when removing detergents from the home completely (a long and difficult process, though absolutely worth it), the eczema resolves. 

I still believe this site is an incredible resource! We still live a detergent-free life. I have no plans to ever go back to detergent. I believe in the bucket theory, that we all have a "bucket" inside of us, where allergens and irritants are processed by the body. The body can handle so many of these before it begins to overflow, and at that point, everything becomes a trigger. It explains why so many people have intense allergy attacks in the spring and suddenly can't tolerate foods they can tolerate any other time of the year. Your body can fight off the mild food intolerance when it's not busy trying to fight off the pollen. Detergent is not a necessary product and we functioned fine without it for most of time, and in my pursuit to heal my kiddos, I heard from a lot of people who can't use products with SLS (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate) because it irritates their skin so much. This is not healthy or beneficial stuff, guys! If we can easily function without it (and believe me, we do, and it's much more affordable - but more on that another day), we should. My children initially got better.

I committed to trying everything. I bought organic clothing and that's all they wore. I bought specialized eczema clothing that had built in sleeves and feet so my children couldn't reach any skin to scratch. I bought the Scratch Me Nots that went over their hands.


These things helped. They at least couldn't obliterate their skin.

I changed out nearly every cleaning or personal care product in our house. I bought mattress protectors to keep the detergent embedded in their mattresses from reaching their skin. I superwashed everything to death. 

Eventually, though, things got worse. Much, much worse. We had setbacks that I documented here. One week I'll never forget, Landon's face took a big turn for the worse. It was quite horrifying. He was miserable. My husband was out of town. I was clueless and felt helpless. I just knew it wasn't normal. I knew something was seriously wrong. 


It looked as though he was losing chunks of his skin. He had blisters on his face. I called our doctor and told him Landon had something that it turns out he didn't (impetigo).  We started him on antibiotics and went on our merry way, assuming he would get better. 

Two nights after we began antibiotics, while my husband was still out of town, I, by the sure prompting of God, somehow stumbled across a picture of eczema herpeticum. I wasn't even searching for anything to do with Landon's infection, because I assumed it was impetigo and he would be better soon. But the moment I saw it, I knew that I had been mistaken. Landon didn't have impetigo, he had whatever this was. And then, as I scrolled down the page on my phone, I saw this:




When I saw the words, "can be fatal," my heart dropped. I knew in that moment that our eczema journey had gotten out of control. I frantically called my husband, at one or two in the morning, pleading with him to tell me what to do. He was out of town and I wasn't sure if I needed to take Landon to the emergency room immediately or wait until morning. If you read our story when I first wrote about it, you know that I decided to wait until morning because he had been acting fine when I put him to bed that evening.

We did learn the next morning that my suspicions were right, that he did have eczema herpeticum, and that as it is caused by the same virus that causes herpes and herpes simplex 2, it behaves in the same way and can live dormant in your body and reoccur over and over and over. For those who have had it once, they are at a high risk of developing it again...and again.

I persisted on my journey to rid our house of detergent.

By Landon's first birthday, he was looking pretty good, but my daughter was still pretty bad. In fact, during the party, she ripped open her neck and we had to bandage her up.










The night of his first birthday party will always be one of the worst nights of my life. After we wrapped up the clean-up and got the kids to bed, we went outside to relax and unwind from the busy day. Adalyn was having one of her meltdowns, screaming and crying and just inconsolable. After about thirty minutes or so, my husband went in to attempt to comfort her somehow. By that point, she had worked her way out of her scratch sleeves and had literally soaked her sleeper in blood. The sight was horrifying. The backs of both her knees were so awful that I was speechless. They were completely raw, open and bloody. She had quite literally torn the first layer or two of her skin off. The next week, she could hardly walk. She was so infected. My mom was there with us at the time and for someone else to witness what we were going through, and to express her concern that this was just beyond anything she could possibly have comprehended without seeing it, made me feel justified in my desperation to fix this for my children.

In that desperation, I sought out the help of a naturopath after being recommended one by a friend whose life had been forever positively changed by her naturopath. He healed her when the entire medical community failed her and she was bedridden. So I called him and made an appointment, but the earliest he could get us in was a little over a month away. 

We lived as hermits at this point. We couldn't go anywhere without stares and comments. People found it completely acceptable to ask my daughter what was wrong with her face. Children told her she was gross. I felt as though we were living in hell. Truly. My depression during this time was incredible. There were days I did not know how to muster the strength to get out of bed and face the day. At one point, I documented a day in our life because I was so tired of hearing the phrase, "It's just eczema."

Ben and Adalyn went with my mom to South Carolina for two weeks shortly after this time. During the time there, Adalyn got better. We weren't sure if it was the climate or the house. We'd had mold growing on our basement walls that we had removed. Could that have been contributing?

After she came back, she began to get worse again. Landon was still awful.


We decided that if there was even a chance the climate in South Carolina was the reason for the improvement, we had to move. So we got our house ready to sell, put it on the market and it sold pretty quickly. In a month, we would no longer be residents of Kansas. We would be relocating to South Carolina, where if nothing else, we would have the support of family. During that time, we met with our naturopath, who told us we had to go on the GAPS diet.



I'm not going to lie. I'd already heard all about GAPS and knew there was no way I could do it. I researched it myself several times. I knew that people tout it as a tremendous help for all sorts of ills, eczema being one of them. But I was so reluctant because, first, it's a very difficult diet to be on. Secondly, my kids were already mega picky. How could I possibly get them to survive on boiled meat, boiled vegetables and lots and lots of bone broth?! My naturopath (and several blog posts I'd read from moms who have already been down this road) said that no child would starve. Within 7 days, the kids would not only eat what I gave them, but their bodies would be reconditioned to crave this food that we've eaten for most of time. I agreed to give it 7 days, but was extremely skeptical. At this point, Ben, my five-year-old, would literally throw up at the table if forced to eat things he didn't like.

If you don't know about the GAPS diet, I'm not going to rewrite what so many others already have written, so instead I'll point you to a good rundown here. If it sounds like something that could help you, I would highly encourage you to buy the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

Our adored family physician confirmed that this was probably a good move. He said that even though we'd tried unsuccessfully to implement elimination diets before, we never did them long enough. He said most people go for a month and think that's long enough. They don't see results, so they quit and forever go on assuming they aren't intolerant of those foods. It's simply not enough time, he said. Some people need six months. And the philosophy of GAPS is that leaky gut syndrome is responsible for so many of our allergies and intolerances (and for many other diseases, even mental disorders), and it can take up to 2 full years to heal a leaky gut. So really, one should not give up until they've given it two years, but I fully recognize that it's a nearly impossible feat to do something like that for 2 years before losing faith. I committed in my mind to six months.

The next few weeks looked a lot like this:


It was four days of misery. Four long, miserable days. We started day one of the GAPS diet with a tummy bug that took out both Ben and Adalyn. Needless to say, almost no food was consumed by them. For four days, Ben ate nothing. He is already a tiny little thing. I watched him lose two pounds and inside, I began to panic. I knew it. I knew he wasn't going to eat. I told my naturopath he was too picky! But then, on the fifth day, he ate. Just a little at first. But by day seven, he was shoveling all the food into his mouth happily. Plain ole' ground beef. Broccoli, carrots, peas, squash, even ONIONS! Fish, chicken, all of it! All three of my kids had a healthy, awesome appetite by day seven. They were eating meat and vegetables for breakfast. I was in disbelief.

But I was ecstatic. Maybe we should take a cue from these kids. Maybe if we could all muster up the strength to do this for a month, we would find ourselves also craving the food our bodies really need.

This was Landon's face right after starting GAPS. He still had scabs on his chin.


Within a few weeks, his face was mostly clear.


So was Adalyn's face.


Adalyn's body definitely had improved quite a bit, but while her face was totally clear, she did still have quite a bit of eczema all over her body by the time we made it to South Carolina, which was about a month after we started GAPS.

The move to South Carolina did complicate the diet. How was I going to drive with three children halfway across the country and still move forward on this diet? How would we house shop day in and day out while on GAPS? Admittedly, I moved through the phases of the GAPS diet much faster than recommended. I even introduced foods I wasn't supposed to earlier on in the process than I should have, mostly because of our move. It was just not possible to keep this up. We were mostly operating on the Paleo diet, which is nearly identical to Full GAPS. No grains, no processed food, no dairy (some can tolerate fermented diary like yogurt), no nuts.

For our move, I packed a cooler full of things like bone broth, cut up chicken, ground beef (they'll eat it cold), cold peas, carrot sticks, chunks of cheese I pre-cut (my kids do fine with cheese), yogurt and raisins. We made it with no problem. My husband and I, who had been on the Paleo diet all this time, fell off the wagon during this trip and are just now getting back on.

There were times that it was literally just impossible for us not to eat out. We survived with Jimmy John's, Jason's Deli and Chick-fil-a. Jimmy John's has unwiches, which are any of their sandwiches wrapped in lettuce leaves instead of bread, and Chick-fil-a has grilled chicken nuggets with fruit cups or applesauce as kid's meals and Jason's Deli is awesome for compiling a plate of veggies and fruit and some meat. Aside from one stop at a Fatz (where we found their kids menu has grilled salmon and broccoli on it, how awesome!), those are the only places we have eaten out at with our kids and we've done it very rarely. We didn't allow one cheat, although technically even those would be considered cheats because the quality of food is incredibly important on GAPS. It's supposed to be organic, pastured, grassfed, etc. Our kids definitely have had digestive troubles when eating out, even when it was relatively healthy, but at least their eczema didn't flare.

I tried hard to stick to the GAPS diet because I was nursing Landon, but I'm sorry to say that I was not successful. First, I lost about eight pounds the first week on GAPS intro and my milk supply tanked. Because I've been down that road twice and lost my supply with both of my other children, I immediately switched to the Paleo diet instead, desperate to keep my supply but hopeful that not being on Intro would be okay. I thought the Paleo/full GAPS diet would be good enough since so little of the food proteins come through our milk anyway. Or so I thought.

I already had a gut feeling that my kids were sensitive to a lot of foods, so I just made sure not to reintroduce any of the suspected foods, even if the GAPS diet said we could. I also found out during this time that Landon is allergic to eggs. The first time I gave him eggs, he projectile vomited. He swelled, he got hives. Not sure if it was the eggs or something else, I gave him eggs again, and again he threw up and got hives. Finally, I tested a patch of yolk on his skin and he broke out in tiny little bumps all over. Yep. He was allergic to eggs.

Other things I didn't introduce, or removed immediately after trying to introduce because their eczema flared:

-Strawberries
-Apples
-Berries of all sorts
-Melons of any kind
-Bananas
-Tomatoes
-Any citrus
-Sweet potatoes
-Carrots (my daughter can have these but Landon gets awful digestive upset)
-Peanuts
-Milk (they eat yogurt, butter and cheese without a problem, but no other dairy products)
-Wheat/grains/legumes
-Nightshades

I definitely know we have some sort of citrus allergy or intolerance. I have read this is extremely common among children with eczema. I've read many people's eczema will flare if given any citrus. It's definitely that cut and dry for us. One day about a month ago, I gave Adalyn and Landon pineapple and within an hour, they were both clawing at themselves quite violently and their eczema was just awful by that evening. They react the same to any melon - watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, you name it.

I read about Oral Allergy Syndrome/cross-reactivity at some point in our journey and I want to mention it here because I think it's a part of eczema and allergies and asthma for some. Pulled from the Mayo Clinic's website:

We found the kids' banana allergy to be weird. Who's allergic to bananas? Finding this really made a lightbulb go off in my head. I think my kids must be allergic to ragweed, because they react to melons and tomatoes, too. There are more in-depth charts elsewhere, too that were really helpful to me in deciding what to eliminate for now.

On about the two month mark of our GAPS diet, and after narrowing down our food list to very few foods, I noticed one day that Adalyn had almost no eczema anywhere on her body. She was a super happy child again. She was sleeping through the night. She was bubbly and giggly and just...so happy. It was an unbelievable sight.

While I noticed this, I also noticed that Landon had not had the same experience. He was spending most of his days in his scratch sleeves because he would just tear his arms up.




I had to deduce that perhaps it was not the environment (or that the environment alone was not enough if you subscribe to the bucket theory like I do). What could I control with Adalyn that I could not with Landon? Diet. I was still eating things that Adalyn was not. Berries, melons, sweet potatoes, bananas and so on and so forth. I made the decision to wean him. He was still waking up 6-10 times a night at this point, he is nearing 18 months old, and after a lot of thought, I decided it was the best decision.

I went away for three days with the older kids and my husband graciously took on weaning Landon. The first few days, there were no changes in his skin. By the fourth, I looked at his arms and noticed that the scratch marks that had covered most of the surface of his arms were gone. His face was looking great.

This was him just a week and a half after weaning:













At this point, I couldn't deny that for us and our buckets, food was the predominant factor. Food intolerances and allergies were filling our bucket the fullest. We could get rid of detergents and mold and possibly other allergens in our old environment, but until we got rid of the food intolerances, we couldn't heal. If we had only focused on food, that might not have been enough, either.

I believe these allergic kids have different factors impacting their skin, or their lungs, or their sinuses. Whether it's eczema or it's asthma or it's allergies, you can do something about it. And it doesn't have to be medicine. Maybe for your child it's harmful chemicals. Maybe it's food intolerances. Maybe it's environmental allergens in your home. Most likely, it's a combination of several things, but quite possibly, your child's body will be able to do its job and fight off at least one or two of its sensitivities if you find the predominant one.

It's been an insane journey. But when I see these pictures, I believe that it was worth every last tear, every last hour poring over books and websites and research articles. It was worth every dime spent, every trip to the doctor, every trip to the naturopath. It was worth all the failed attempts.





I don't blame moms who let their children be dependent on medicine or shrug their shoulders and say, "It's too hard," or "It's not going to work," or, "This is as good as it will ever be." I can't tell you how much I relate with all of that! But I do wish I could somehow convey how worth it this all was! I see my friends' kids' struggling with asthma or eczema or allergies and I just feel so brokenhearted for them. I know exactly how horrific it is to watch your children suffer. But because I know that very few kids have it as badly as ours did, and we were able to beat it, I just wish I could get everyone to try it for six months. We did finally get to the bottom of it! It was hard, but a year of hard is so much better than four years of hard or six years of hard or, God forbid, a lifetime of hard! So many people are stuck in the steroid cycle. And they think that's as good as it gets. They think it's their only option.

We don't have to be dependent on steroids or inhalers. We are told we have to by some in the medical profession, but that's just not true. No matter how many times we failed in our newest "breakthrough" or "trial," I never stopped believing that God gave us the tools to heal ourselves. I never stopped believing that somehow, if I kept trying, I would finally find our trigger. I am such a believer in the power of instinct and utilizing what God gave us. I am such a believer that we have created many (most?) of the diseases of modern man. If we can create them, we can undo them, too. I believe GMOs and pesticides and the mass amounts of chemicals that pollute our environment are the reason for the scary allergy epidemic (and for so many other things that now plague our children). I get angry, and I allow that anger to propel me to work harder and harder to advocate for my children. I will never stop fighting for my kids. And I have become passionate about food and our very broken system in the last four years because of my children.

There is a fear inside that the winter climate will overfill their buckets and their eczema will return. And it might. And I have to be prepared for that. But I do think that no matter what, we found a huge bucket filler in their food intolerances, and at the very least, if they do see a return of their eczema in a few months, it will be much milder.

Finally, I was able to test out this theory once and for all recently. I reintroduced oatmeal last week and within a day, Adalyn's eczema was back all over her legs. I gave it to her two days in a row and then stopped. And within a few days, her eczema was mostly gone again.

Landon had two allergic reactions last week. The first was when I was juicing and carrying him in the Ergo. Some of the juices splashed on him and he suddenly started scratching all over. I took him out of the Ergo when he started crying and noticed hives spreading rapidly all over his exposed skin.





That same night, I stupidly put mayo on his fish, completely spacing the obvious fact that mayo is egg-based. He threw up shortly after dinner and his eczema flared up.


For the next several days, he was much itchier than normal.

This is our life. I'm not happy about it. I'm actually quite upset. And it's why you'll hear me continue to fight against GMOs, to continue to push for whole foods, for the local food movement and to continue to make my own personal care and cleaning products. Landon is truly allergic to most foods. Adalyn isn't as sensitive as he is, but she's darn close. It's gotten out of control.

According to a study released in 2013 by the CDC, food allergies increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the ER. Potentially deadly allergies like an allergy to peanuts are dramatically on the rise (peanut allergies tripled in the same time frame noted above). I don't feel that it's alarmist to say that this epidemic is frightening and if we don't figure it out, we are going to quickly see it escalate out of our own control.

I've spent the past year or so feeling guilty for my "radical" views on food and our food system and being incredibly selective about what I share for fear of offending people or making anyone else feel badly. That ends today. What I've seen in the last year has confirmed what I already knew in my gut. I'm in a unique position to do something about this. I have a crazy drive, a passion for food and a mama bear's instinct. Today is the day I begin to fight for my children and their future...and I'm not going to stop until real changes occur.

My kids deserve nothing less.

That time we made a bunch of huge life decisions all at once.

10.01.2013

We've done moved down south, y'all! 

I know I was super quiet on this blog for a long time. In fact, chelseablogs.com was down for months. And I did nothing about it. For shame! What?!  That's so not like me. I neeeed this blog. But, life calls, and in between sick kids, a massive cross-country move (that included getting our entire house ready to sell in a month - and it needed A LOT, let me tell ya) and a side business, it was simply a matter of ain't nobody got time for that. ;)

A few months ago, we hit the road in one stupidly full van, headed southeast to our new city in Greenville, South Carolina (technically we headed to our temporary home in Lexington, SC, but you get the point). A move that's been in the making for almost five years now, we decided a few months ago that there was no better time than now. Our son starts school next year and the real estate market in Kansas City had exploded, so we threw caution to the wind, listed our house FSBO and boom. It sold, fast. That was that. We were headed back to the land of Zaxby's, chicken bog and boiled peanuts (or "bowled" peanuts as we say 'round here).

I can hardly believe all our family has gone through in such a short period of time when I go through my camera roll from the last four months. What started as my declaration that we were going to sell our house turned into a solid month of working 'round the clock, pretty much sun up to sun down. We had a lot of work to do to get our house ready to be put on the market. Lesson learned. I will never, ever, ever put off so many little "I'll do that someday" things again.

There was the attack of the chiggers after weeding our insanely weedy beds (and my selfless friend who endured said chigger attack to help me), the horrifying discovery that our basement was seriously cracked and had been strategically hidden with some caulk and paint by the previous owner, the contractors who let us down one after the other which eventually resulted in me repainting the entire (900 sq ft!) basement by myself the night before our first open house. I started at 10:00 at night, mind you, after two straight days of non-stop physical labor getting our house ready to go on the market!

My husband was out of town almost the entire time our house was on the market (um, for sale by owner). Thanks to even more selflessness, my friends stepped up to the plate to watch my kids, sit with me at open houses, decorate my home, etc. Blessed doesn't do it justice. Leaving those friends was truly one of the hardest things I've ever done and I miss them every minute of every day.

Being the geeks we are, my husband created an iPhone app and I made a website for our FSBO listing. It was maybe way more work than it was worth, but it was fun and it makes for a good story, right? ;)

Once the house sold, we loaded up a PODS and busted our butts getting our house cleared out, cleaned up and the paint touched up. We sold off a ton of our possessions since moving cross-country is very expensive, as it turns out, and we only had one PODS (and hello, those things are much smaller than I'd envisioned). We said our very, very tearful goodbyes as we left behind the "family" we'd created in Kansas City to head toward real family in South Carolina.

We temporarily set up in my parents bonus room until we decided to rent a beach house for a month. That was one of the greatest decisions ever! We figured we'd never have this opportunity again, so why not take advantage of a long 45 day closing and rent a beach house?! In off season, it's as cheap as our mortgage!

Hubby and I are picky folks, as it turns out! We spent four weeks house hunting. We found several homes we love. I found several absolute dream homes that the hubs nixed because they weren't bikeable enough. He's not a cyclist per se, but he loves to be able to leave the car at home if he can head to the store on bike and he puffyheartloves (my words - ALL my words) to take the kids out in the bike trailer and go scout out new parks. In the south, this is no easy feat because so many roads are old, narrow, winding roads. It was seriously comical as I sent him address after address of potential homes and he sent me back super annoying bicycle faces.

What's a bicycle face, you ask?



I mean, totally cute until you're like DUDE, EVERY SINGLE HOUSE I LOVE IS A FROWNY BIKE FACE AND IF I SEE ONE MORE BIKE FACE I'M GOING TO GO OUT TO THE GARAGE, GET YOUR BIKE, FIND THE NEAREST LAKE AND FEED IT TO THE FISH.

Not that I had a freakout moment after four weeks of frowny bike faces or anything. I would never.

For fun, let's visit the contenders!


This one will go down as my all-time favorite EVER. When I walked into this house, I practically cried. Before I could convince my husband that living out in the country is actually something to be desired, not feared, this one sold. For a billion reasons, this was my favorite home. But mostly for this:


This:


And this:


And this beautiful Charleston style home, which is my absolute favorite construction style (the color would totally have to go at some point, but this thing was incredible inside and parked right next to the most amazing amenities I've ever seen in a neighborhood, including a farmer's market):


There was the farmhouse that I fell in love with the moment we stepped through its beautiful front door:


This was the picture I snapped of the house from the gorgeous neighborhood pool which was literally right across the street:


That pool!


There was the kitchen I just couldn't get enough of. 


The front porch!


There were a ridiculous amount of bathrooms, and the one that would have been the kids' bathroom had double vanities. So friggin' cool.


Everything in this house was upscale. Not just "flipped" upscale, but true upscale. All cabinets were that soft-shut (I have NO idea what the technical term is, but it sort of grabs itself and shuts slowly and quietly), the trim in every part of this house was beautiful. Big crown molding! Big baseboards! Granite everywhere, real hardwood floors, brand new carpet, a gorgeous mudroom and super large laundry room. Every single room was HUGE. And it was even the perfect layout for our family in terms of not having that dreaded formal living and dining room like almost every other home we saw did. We are not formal room peeps! I don't want to have to buy a second dining table! Why do I want two of them? I don't. I don't want a room that gets used twice a year. I'd much rather use that square footage for big bedrooms, which this one had. Four of them plus a gigantic bonus room, in fact.

But, alas, this house wasn't meant to be. It had a few really big, giant strikes against it. On our second showing, the realtor (finally) mentioned that the house had been moved. As in, picked up off the ground and shuttled elsewhere. Oy. We've done the foundation issue thing. We're scared. We paid the high price for it. Like the realtor we eventually hired said, you just can't know for sure. You can't see inside the walls. 

The house was also moved into a neighborhood of much less expensive brand new homes that were just starting to go up. We've also done the most expensive house in the neighborhood thing, and we don't want that again. I've seen those low price range new neighborhoods ten years down the road, and honestly, they just don't usually hold up. In ten years, they look outdated and run down. I don't want our older, classic farmhouse stuck in the middle of a neighborhood that may or may not be awesome ten years down the road. And I don't want to live in the middle of construction day in and day out for the next few years. I have three kids whose sleep I cherish. 

And it had no fence. And no trees in the backyard. And no screened-in porch, which for a mosquito magnet like me now living in South Carolina, that's a big deal. And like full-on, brutal sun shining on the treeless backyard all afternoon long. Our quote to screen in the deck was thirteen thoooooooouuuuuusand dollars. No bueno. 

We kept the house on our list because we loved it so, despite those big ole' strikes. We made our list of five homes we really loved and could see ourselves in, and we set our "we won't go higher than this" price and decided we had the advantage here. If the first house didn't happen, no biggie. We had four other homes we would absolutely love. 

But...it did. Everything worked out painlessly, and as long as everything goes as planned during inspection and appraisal, this lovely little classic brick gal is ours November 7th!


I'm so excited it all worked out the way it did! It has the most space of all the houses we were considering with the smallest price tag. It's the only brick one we looked at, and I crush hard on brick homes. It has the front porch and a huge kitchen and a downstairs master bedroom, and 2(!) pantries, which is something I can't even wrap my mind around considering we didn't even have a pantry in our last home until the last year we lived in it, when my husband converted a coat closet to an inconveniently-placed pantry. It has a screened-in porch and big, beautiful trees lining the whole backyard on protected land that won't ever get developed. It has a fence and sprinkler system and a master closet almost the size of our last master bedroom. It has a neighborhood park and pool and four bedrooms, a huge bonus room and an office! It has vaulted ceilings in the living room and the biggest under-the-stair closet I've ever seen. It has beautiful landscaping and the best curb appeal of almost every home we saw. 

So...you see...things work out. Just six months ago, I swore we were stuck in our house forever. I thought the market was too depressed. I thought there was no way we could even get enough for our house to pay off our existing mortgage.

And now? Now we're living in South Carolina.

I miss Kansas daily. I stare longingly at friends' pictures on instagram and I want to wrap my arms around them all so badly. 

But things worked out. God provides.

Many more house details and dreams and desires to follow another day. :)
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