Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In which the Leverenz family become homeowners

Remember that time I had an obscure blog url because this blog was supposed to be about our camping adventures? Yeah, me too. How about that time I wrote once every year or so saying that I was going to start writing regularly - but never posted more? Yep, I remember that too. Good times. I am so consistently inconsistent. Amn't I? (Do you like that? It's a word my kids often use. At first I despised it, but it's growing on me now.)

 Anyway, we actually did go camping, and we have started our Little Viking renovation too! (Someday I'll actually post photos!)

 So, about this whole buying a house thing...?

 We did it. We're happy. The End

 You knew that wasn't all that there was to it. Didn't you?

 I can't ever make anything that simple, can I?

After reading this, you'll realize why I haven't been blogging regularly. So many ups, downs ins, outs, plans, and re-plans!

Here it goes...

 We bought a big house with a tiny yard. Smack dab in the middle of our little hick town. Are you surprised? So were we. Here's the thing, I just can't write this story without letting a little bit of my Christian show. "Hash tag sorry not sorry." I know that there is a God who is good. I know that this grand being loves mankind. I talk with Him and as delusional as this may seem, I believe that He talks to me too. Mark and I both believe this. We both believe that we have a relationship with our maker. This whole journey, this whole process has been fueled by the relationship that we have with Him, and the words that we perceive to have heard from Him. Therefore when I say something like "we really felt like" that is more than likely code for "these are the words we think we heard from God" it just makes me sound a little less crazy...

 The whole reason we were initially dreaming of a self-sustaining homestead (which, for anyone wondering: has not been altogether abandoned) is a very long, drawn out story that took us years to come to. Really though, it can be summed up in just a few words (or more, if you happen to be me. Which I am.) We want to live in a communal environment. We also want to stay far from the machine that is an unjust system based on greed and corruption (but that's for a later time...) We want to have the means to help people. We want to be the kind of folks who can give other folks, like us, a hand up. We want to help and share and grow and live and (pardon my Christianese) "do life" with people. But we were living in a townhouse and try as we might, we just couldn't convince anyone that the 3 bedrooms were big enough to share. No really, we were *just* short of begging people to move in with us. YOU might have even been on the receiving end of that nonsense. haha. Anyway, mostly we just encountered blank stares and crickets chirping in the background, sometimes it was a heartfelt "thank you, but no." So we realized we were freaking everyone out, and pretended to not have an urge to beg people to live with us. We started evaluating the current attitude most people had toward the prospect. Mostly "Oh, I could never do something like that!" (reasons being: personal space, and control over how much activity happened within the home...) Also we often heard "But, I want to walk around naked." in addition to, "I would, however, love to share responsibilities of a garden, animal care and childcare, just not shared living space!" So began the scheme to have a BIG property with lots of little, one-family homes. Giving the people what they want- shared resources without shared living space.

  (This is where I add a lot of pointless details, if you're pressed for time, feel free to skip...)

Then we moved out of the townhouse.

 Then in June 2012, we started talking with a local farmer about an awesome 5-6 acre parcel he had, right beside our good friends, the Young's property. It was lovely and beautiful and we were going to buy it from him, and he was going to hold the mortgage. It took months to work on the deal and in February 2013, he backed out and we were left at square one. It was incredibly disheartening. After 9 months of hoping for this close to perfect starter micro-farm, it slipped through our fingers and we were left with nothing.

 Then, we were going to buy an RV and live the life of nomads. It was going to be very adventurous and incredibly romantic. That plan didn't last very long, although it's not entirely off our radar. Our amazing friends Jeremy and Gia invited us to live on their land, but most of the logistics just weren't panning out.

 Then we decided we might have to take out an actual mortgage from an actual bank and just climb into bed with the cold, heartless machine itself. (which, thanks to some really wonderful people, didn't end up happening!)

Then we started working with a great Realtor (Jamey Hinman shout-out!) viewed lots of homes, and spoke to lots of banks. We even made an offer on a happy green house, but not long after starting that process, walked away from it, because the sellers were most unreasonable.

 Then we learned that due to some precarious numbers, resting right in the eye of the storm of what is job history and fico scores, we wouldn't qualify for a mortgage from a bank until January 2014.

 Then, we were going to make a joint purchase of a mobile home in cash, with our good friends Christopher and Melissa Ray. We would establish 6 more months of consistent job history and work on credit scores... is it bad that I can't even remember why that fell through? It was for some ridiculous reason. But at that point we were used to things not working out, so it was just par for the course. (but at least we found a couple of crazies who shared our vision of community living!)

 Then we started searching for a place to rent in our immediate area. A place we could afford. We're all about tiny living spaces and cramped conditions, so a one bedroom would have been just fine and a two bedroom apartment would have felt like a mansion. However, all apartment complexes insisted that a family of our size would only be allowed to live in a 3 bedroom apartment. SO finally we bit the bullet and decided I would pick up a part-time job in order to help our family afford the high cost of a 3 bedroom. (Which, for the record, is almost as much as Mark makes per month) Then, we learned that all 3 bedroom apartments in the area have a year long waiting list. Then we started looking for a whole house rent that would allow two families to live there (which, according to the NYS fair housing guidelines and occupation terms, is perfectly legal, it's just apparently widely accepted that landlords can break these laws, and just do whatever they want.) We scoured craigslist and newspapers, and aside from the scam that shorted us $43, we came up with nothing.

  (It gets a little more interesting after this point, if you want to resume your reading here!)

Then, finally, things started happening. It was like someone opened a window and we felt a steady warm breeze. It was May- nearly summer. But it felt like the spring time of our situation was dawning. Christopher, Melissa, Mark and I all felt it. Little spiraling shoots of curling green, coming to life all around us. Something was happening, we just didn't know what. One afternoon, Mark was spending some time talking with God over his lunch break and he found this excerpt from Psalms 33:8-9 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will council you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you..." Even though this is an ancient script, written of a time and place far from here, Mark was inspired by these words. (I know nothing about the care and keep of horses, but apparently the bit and bridle thing is not good, and according to many memes in my facebook news feed, horses have more understanding than people. But I digress...) Mark was looking back on our past year, or few years, rather. He was having the mental picture of a donkey pulling a cart, with a rider holding a stick- dangling a carrot in front of the donkey. You know, the old cartoons where they do that... don't you?

 We realized that the very beginning reason we wanted our little self-sustaining homestead, was because we had an idea that we wanted to run with, but no one wanted to run with us. Therefore, we came up with a new idea. A slightly more palatable idea. An idea that seems a little more fun than it is hard. And who knows, maybe someday, we'll still get to do it- eventually. But for now- after every. single. dang. reasonable. door. was. shut... it brought us, here. Finally. Like a stubborn donkey, following that carrot. We just had to be lead this way. We had it so stuck in our thick skulls that lots of land and a bunch of little houses was the answer. The only answer. We probably wouldn't have been willing to walk this direction if we knew the outcome. But here we are- so happy and so excited about this adventure! I am still amused that we abandoned what feels like "the original plan" for what is actually the real original plan. Only now, we have someone to run with. 4 1/2 someones, actually. (at some point, I may share the actual house purchasing story, but not today.)

The plan is to live in The Happy Green House for a couple years, with Melissa, Chris, and their 2.5 kids. (Melissa is expecting, due January!) And eventually turn the house into a rental property.

I have grand ideas and schemes for the future of this place, but we'll see where that goes. 

Pretty soon, this blog will return to a family-camping-adventures blog and we'll start a coauthored blog under the title "the happy green house." You'll most likely find us writing about our home renovations, as well as shared living logistics and any sort of projects we have going on.

It's exciting stuff and we look forward to sharing with you, our thoughts on this journey!

Did you make it all the way here to the end? Good grief! You must be either REALLY interested in what we have going on here or REALLY bored. ;)

Either way, thank you for reading.

 Many, many blessings -Janice

 Any questions, feel free to ask.


  1. You guys are my favorite. I can't wait for The Happy Green House blog! So many blessings to you guys. xoxo.

  2. Ok. So. You didn't get a mortgage? How did you buy the house? Yes I must be bored, as I read the entire thing. Actually it was quite interesting and I love to see what God does in other people's lives. Oh and are you camping this year at a wonderful large commune (or as some people call it, "Campmeeting 2013").
    Blessings! Becky Harding