Dirt in My Lip Gloss

  When the housing market took a dive a few years ago, my husband and I felt the window to take advantage of the record-low home prices was small.  We better act fast.  Within months of the sudden drop, we put our house on the market and started shopping for our final home.  We were excited about finding the place in which we would raise our family and grow old together!  Whichever home we decided on would be the epicenter for this life we had always dreamed of and it was unbelievable that the time had come to discover our future!  I grew up on the Dallas side of the metroplex and my husband and his family are from Fort Worth (though he was a military brat and didn't grow up there but visited often and moved back after college).  We knew North Texas well.  So, we started scouring the most obvious cities and found some great neighborhoods in exemplary school districts, but none of them felt right.  None of them felt like home.  

   In our heart of hearts, we picture ourselves living in a little bungalow on the beach somewhere without the threat of hurricanes and with a quality of life beyond our wildest dreams.  Who doesn't?

     However, my husband really loves his job and the perks of seniority since he's been with the same fire department for almost fifteen years.  What's a water-loving couple to do who can't pick up and move to the ocean?  Live on the lake! 

     Alas, we couldn't find anything affordable, or desirable, within short enough distance to his work.  So, we tucked our fantasies away and continued shopping neighborhoods in our current city.  It is a wonderful place to live anyway- great schools, a wide array of restaurants, a ballpark, a concert arena, a hockey arena, and home to the most highly concentrated area of retail in the U.S. (according to statistics a few years ago).  It has everything we could possibly need, except for something we so greatly desired after living there for seven years- wide open spaces.  The population was exploding.  Therefore traffic was heavy and road construction was constant. 

   Every once and a while on road trips, we would imagine the possibilities of a calmer and simpler life as we passed through small towns.  In the short time it took to drive from one side of town to the other, I would close my eyes and convince myself that I was Sandra Bullock and he was Harry Connick Jr. in Hope Floats.  Every morning we wake up with a smile.  With every step of our bare feet, the wide planks of wood in our historical home creak beneath us.  We spend our days feeding the ducks or fishing in the pond and our nights cuddling at the drive-in movie or boot-scootin' at the local honky-tonk.  Everyone drinks from mason jars and cowboy boots go with everything.  My daydreaming would usually come to a hault when I opened my eyes and noticed the closest mall or airport was at least two hours away.  No can do. 

   We never could have imagined a place that is far enough away from the city to be peaceful and spacious, but close enough that we're in a fantastic school district and I can run to the grocery store and back in thirty minutes.  We didn't think it existed, until an internet search changed our lives.

   My husband never sleeps at the fire station.  He's either up all night making runs (firefighter lingo for answering 911 calls) or lying awake in anticipation of the tones (if you think your alarm clock is annoying, go visit your local fire station for a bit).  Instead of tossing and turning in a fight against the insomnia, sometimes he entertains himself by watching tv or surfing the web.  Many of times a random box has shown up on our front porch that was, in fact, a middle-of-the-night-infomercial purchase.  None of these items have turned out to be a secret, life-changing product yet.  If one ever does, I'll be sure to post about it.

   It was on one of these sleepless nights he found some land online.  When he got home in the morning and I realized yet again he hadn't slept and was pumped full of coffee, I started to scold him about changing his habits to allow more sleep when he stopped me, "Get ready and let's hop in the car.  I have something to show you."  Long story short, he was online the moment a three-acre property in a beautiful neighborhood went up for sale and had already called the phone number on the listing before the sun came up that morning.  Numerous inquiries flooded the realtor's voicemail that day but since he had called so early and because we were waiting outside her office at 9am, we were first in line.  We made a withdrawal at the bank  (easier said than done) and signed the contract.  A little piece of heaven was ours!
For once, it's a good thing he stayed up so late.  Unfortunately for me, I have lost all credibility in telling him that searching for things online at 3 am is a bad idea.

   A few years later, we saved enough money to build and we moved into our dream home about six months ago.  It has been quite an experience.  Gone are the days I fill the time by shopping at the mall, the nights my friends call me to grab a quick drink after our kids are in bed, the endless hours of road noise, the many times we drove forever before seeing as much as a horse in a pasture.  Life has changed completely.  The only noises we hear outside are the hypnotic croaking of frogs or the bewildering howls of coyotes in our treeline.  The protected areas in our neighborhood are home to the most awe-inspiring (to li'l ole sheltered, suburban-raised me) wildlife.  Since we've lived here, we have seen hawks and owls with at least five-foot wingspans, a family of twenty or so deer that wander around and snack on everyone's yards, a mama cougar and her cubs have been spotted strutting on our neighbor's property, and we finally understand the lyrics of the state of Texas's very popular anthem, "The stars at night, are big and bright.  (clap, clap, clap, clap)  Deep in the heart of Texas."  Our neighborhood as a whole is quiet and spacious.  The kids can play in the street without fear of a passing car for hours.  If a car is coming, we can spot it for what seems like a mile away.  When we do head to town, we pass several sprawling ranches.  Many times we open the windows or stop the car only to have a few friendly cows or horses come to the fence to greet us.

Baby Girl's favorite friend

Little Girl's favorite friend
   As wonderful as that all is, where there are wide open spaces and green pasture, there are also copperheads, scorpions, and hungry coyotes.  Granted it was summer and breeding season, but we found and killed over a hundred scorpions (almost half were inside our house- unnerving to say the least) within the first three months of living here.  When we were laying sod I mistakenly identified a copperhead as a chicken snake.  (Until now, the only time I have been around snakes was when Mr. Dunlap brought Katy the snake to visit our school or between a thick layer of glass at the zoo.)  Fortunately my husband takes no mercy on any kind of snake.  And just a few weeks ago, a coyote tried to drag our little fluffball of a dog (a pomeranian-poodle) Sugar into the woods.  I don't know if it was because I stormed out into the darkness screaming, or if her roly-poly figure was too much of a mouthful, but the coyote finally let her go after a few minutes.  Luckily, the only physical signs of the attack were a scathed ear from being dragged through the thorns and a sopping wet jaw mark on her leg.  But she won't go potty at night unless we stand very close.  And since then two more small dogs have disappeared in the neighborhood. 

   On a lighter note, it's hilarious to watch us city-folk try and maneuver in the country.  I grew up in a suburb that was so new almost every tree was held up by stakes and rope.  The extent of my knowledge of country livin' I either learned watching the tv show Hey Dude, or people watching in my high school boyfriend's hometown while we rode his dirt bike, threw field parties, sold fireworks every 4th of July and New Year's Eve, or took the boat out to Ticky Creek on Lake Lavon every summer.  My $140 pair of New Balance running shoes that barely stepped foot outside of a cushy gym floor are now constantly covered in mud and the heels crack when I walk from the many times I beat them on the tile floor checking for scorpions.  My brand-new hot pink and tan suede uber-cute work gloves have proved themselves useless because they don't do a durn thing to protect my hands from the millions of thorns in our now yard, formerly four-foot-tall brush.  My hands get blisters during my few attempts to sweep every speck of dust off our hardwoods.  And the other day I came in from pulling weeds with a layer of dirt stuck to my lip gloss.  Dirt in my lip gloss.  Well doesn't that just sum it all up?  Delicious.

   Each day we are reminded of the circle of life and how small we are in this world.  I consider ourselves blessed to be able to raise our children amidst all the wonders of nature, yet in a great school district, and near enough a major U.S. city and an international airport so that none of their dreams are squelched.  Our town is a short ten minutes away and has a charming downtown square with a farmer's market and quaint little shops, but it also has a trendy new area of restaurants and shops on the lake.  The best of both worlds!  Although my original idea of the girls frolicking through the forest behind our house in fairy wings and crowns of fresh flowers is not such a great idea anymore, there will still be s'mores, four-wheelers, starry skies, and a rope swing or two.


  1. Love it. I could tell similar tales of how we adjusted to life in small town USA. Sometimes I wonder if im crazy to even consider moving back to it all. But, one thing remains--FAMILY! As long as we can be near them, I think I can adjust to big or small town living :) Oh- and I forgot that Mr Dunalps snake was named Katy! Thats my Katys spelling too :) (Though technically its the same as Katy, Texas)

    1. You sure could! Everything has its perks! Remember him?? So funny! Thanks for reading! :)