Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Trailer House Edition

This weekend I volunteered on the set of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. As I mentioned before, the brother of my friend, Marlana, and his family were chosen to receive an Extreme Home Makeover. I worked the midnight to 6:00 am shift and it was then that I began to think of another extreme home makeover that I was once a part of.

The following is my very own, Extreme Makeover story:


If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is this: Never say never.

I dated Steven for a little over eight years. 12 days over eight years to be exact. (Not that I was counting.)

There were so many things that drew me to him....with his sense of humor and his drive, being at the VERY top. Oh yes, I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen.....but this wasn't at the top. Just very close.

Steven from a very early age knew exactly what he wanted out of life and he didn't just will it into being, he worked towards it. And by worked, I mean worked.

Before he could drive Steven did odd jobs for neighbors, ranging from milking cows to hauling hay. He mowed a community cemetery. He saved almost every dime.

At the ripe old age of 16, when his friends were thinking "fast cars trucks and freedom", Steven wasn't buying a new vehicle- even though he probably could have paid cash. Nope, he bought an old truck and saw it as a way to allow him to, that's right, work more.

You see, Steven wanted land. That's it. Just land. Well, maybe not JUST land.....he eventually wanted the family, too, but he knew that he needed land, or in his words, "a place", before he tackled anything else. Since he wanted land, a house wasn't necessarily part of the equation.

I remember, with my 21 year old indignance, informing him that I would not live in a trailer. Period.

It wasn't that I thought that I was too good. It just wasn't what I had envisioned for myself. I mean, we girls don't dream about Prince Charming taking us back to his mobile home. And after all the time I had invested in wearing him down devotion to him, I just thought I needed more.

But, what did I know right? I also remembering arguing the fact that I wanted to work full-time when I had children while he maintained that he wanted the mother of his children to be home with them. My 20 year old self had very little "real life" experience to draw upon but many ideas of how this "real life" was supposed to work.

That was going to change.


I think I was a little jealous of his ability to know so early in life what it is that he wanted out of it. I mean, I knew I wanted and it was a family, but until that happened, I was without purpose, without drive. Right or wrong.

But Steven had drive. And I waited not so patiently by. (Did I mention we dated for 8 years and 12 days...)

He worked and worked and worked.

(To this day he is the hardest worker I know. )

And he put the money back.....waiting for the time, and "place" to be right.


On April 4th, 1997 our world, as we knew it, was turned upside down.

You see Steven had a bullriding accident. You can find out more about it here.

Needless to say, he almost died. In fact, the doctors don't know why he didn't.

He (obviously) survived, and one month and one day later, and with thousands upon thousands of dollars in medical bills (no insurance), he came home.

This new dose of reality had us re-evaluating everything.


A little over a year later my Grandpa S. died. It was while the family was gathered at my grandparents house, while funeral arrangements were being made, that Steven heard about some land for sale a little over a mile away. It was land that I remember taking walks across as a child. It was land that bordered my Grandpa's childhood home.

Bottom line, it was land.

Several months later the deal went through, and Steven was the proud owner of 120 acres.

The land was in shambles. And, yes, land can be in shambles. Someone had lived there in an old trailer house not that long ago. They had taken the trailer and left behind everything else. The land was grown up, there was trash everywhere. We lost count of old car batteries and tires. There was a pile of tin cans and diapers that measured approx. 12 foot tall.

We had to brush hog the front "yard" in stages for fear of running over something. Gradually we lowered the blades until finally we could make a clean sweep.

We cut brush. We cleared out cedar trees.

I became close personal friends with chiggers.

It was great.

At this point Steven had been working out of state and would return "home" on the weekends to work on "his place".

He hated being away and I hated it too. Eventually he quit his job and began working for himself. Thankfully, this ended up being a very good move.

I had just graduated from college and it became clear that the only thing holding us back from marriage aside from Steven's fear of commitment was the lack of a home.

At the rate we had been going, we knew that this would not be a quick process and since building a house was not something Steven wanted to tackle financially, we began to look for, that's right, trailers.

Cheap trailers, none the less.

And wouldn't you know it. We were in luck. If that is what you would call it.

Not three miles from "his place" Steven found our first home. It was a beauty and for the sweet price of $800 it could be ours.

That is right, $800.

So, Steven called my dad and our neighbor and they arranged to pull it "home".

As I stated in the previous post, when my mom saw it she cried. Granted, I was her daughter and I was still living at home and not even married. Not even engaged. But I think that she knew that this was the beginning of the end and from her perspective it didn't look like a fairy tale ending.

My dad, who I had milked cows for from the time I was 11 or so, up until I started college, stated that "he didn't think [I] could live in it." I think that was saying something considering that he had once witnessed me scraping cow poop from the holding lot on a daily basis. I mean, it wasn't exactly like I was high maintenance.

Later, Steven's mom told me that she would not have stuck around if that was what had been offered to her.

As you can imagine, this caused a lot of tension at home. My mom and dad were worried. I remember my mom sitting in the living room and asking me, "Is this how you want to live the rest of your life?"

In a true "Lifetime Movie" moment I remember saying to her, "I would rather live in that trailer house with Steven, than in the finest home with anyone else."

This time, she didn't argue.

Looking back, I think that she and dad really didn't give Steven enough credit. I think that they thought that he would be complacent and not ever strive for anything more. Granted, if it were just Steven, he would have been completely happy with that trailer and land. Of course, land. End of story.

However, what my parents didn't know was how seriously Steven would take the role of husband and father.


My dad had no more unhooked from the trailer when I began to survey what exactly I had to work with.

The result? Not much.

Thankfully I am not afraid of getting in and getting dirty. In the months to follow we were in a continual state of improvements.

We painted-inside and out. We replaced all the flooring. We replaced all the counter tops. Steven built on (yes, we are those people) a utility room for a washer, dryer and deep freeze. Also, he (we) intended to heat with wood, so room for a wood stove was essential.

After all was said and done, with surprisingly little cost, we had finished the renovations.

Shortly thereafter, we became engaged. A year after our engagment we were married.

And, surprisingly, I came to love that home.

It was here, in this small 600 sq foot trailer that we arrived home from our honeymoon. It was here that we overcame two medical set backs. It was here that we brought home Miss L from the hospital. And it was here that we celebrated paying off the note on our 120 acres.

It took less than five years.

Did I mention he was a hard worker?


Shortly after paying off one debt, we acquired another.

This time it was for a house. Because, although a house wasn't important to him, it was important for our family. It was the natural progression.

Not to mention that I don't think that one more person could have fit into that trailer.

We unhooked our trailer house, and pulled it up in the yard. Since I didn't want to build on the back part of "our place", which was Steven's preference, he decided that we would build on the exact spot we had lived (together) for almost four years.

And so we did. And while building it I found out I was pregnant with Mr. B.

I think it would be fitting to say something here about "not a moment too soon."

Although life isn't a fairy tale, and God knows, I hope this isn't the ending, I enjoy seeing where this story, the one I call life, takes me.

Oh....and our trailer? The one we bought for $800? Well, shortly after moving in our house, we sold it for $2500.00.


Anonymous said...

This is what I needed!

~Sharn Jean

~*Michelle*~ said...



I just loved every word...and yes, this certainly is a true fairy tale that only God could have written.

Your husband seems like an amazing man.....living proof of hard work paying off. And it looks like you are a perfect match for him

have a beautiful day~

The Sour Kraut said...

This may be my favorite post you've ever written. I love it. What moves me the most is the faith you had in Steven from the beginning.

You two did a great job on that trailer! Love the new house too!

Mama Goose said...

I agree with Sour Kraut. This is an incredible post. There's so much love and faith and trust; it's just beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing this very personal journey.

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Kim, thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. And WOW, this is SUCH a great story! I’m so glad I popped over to read it. Now I can’t wait to read more . . .

Manda said...

it is so neat to see pics of the trailer...i remember visiting baby L in that home as she lay in her little tanning bed! love this blog..and you KNOW i love your house...(secretly my dream home...LOL)

Kelly's Kwips said...

Oh, my gosh! I came home at lunch, saw your email where you posted on my blog and took a look at yours. I love this story, you made me cry - so sweet! How amazing. I loved what you did with the trailer. Some people make the best of what they have and they end up loving it so much. I will read your blog more when I don't have to hurry back to work. Amazing story, your husband sounds like a very determined man. How proud you must be! And I bet your mom and dad are proud too.