Photo by Sean Murphy
Story by Sean Murphy
I’ve read my share of fairy tales to my kids, but one particular story — The Three Little Pigs — came to mind as I prepared for writing this, my final installment of our log home journey.
As we all know, the pigs build houses of straw, sticks and brick. The first two pigs quickly put their straw and stick homes together and are out dancing and playing long before the third pig completes his brick home late in the day. As the wolf visits each house, he blows down the first two with ease, and all the pigs end up in the brick house, safe together even after the wolf tries to come down the chimney (and they devise a plan to start a fire to chase him away once and for all).
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Houses are made of all kinds of materials … logs, metal, stone and myriad others. A home, however, is made of far different components. A home is made of our blood, sweat and tears. A home is made of the echoes of our laughter mixed with the joy of our accomplishments. It’s made from tearful disappointments that serve as our strongest foundations. Beyond everything else, a home is made of love. So, while a house can be damaged by life’s big, bad wolves, a home will always survive so long as love is at its core.
As Amanda and I took the keys from our builder and walked into our house with our three-and-a-half children (no, the half is not me; we recently learned Amanda is pregnant!), we knew our next mission was to turn this exceptionally beautiful house into a wonderfully loving home. Sure, there was the normal exhaustion that comes from moving day. There were plenty of times spent digging through stacks of boxes to find that one thing we needed but had no idea where we packed it. (I nearly left for work that first Monday morning wearing sneakers, since I couldn’t find my dress shoes for an hour! How they ended up in a box in my home office I’ll never know.)
We spent that first night on mattresses laid on the floors, the kids together in one room and Amanda and I down the hall in ours. New-house noises combined with excitement and the stark silence of a home set on 10 isolated acres made it a bit difficult to sleep. Logs do, in fact, make different noises than typical home materials as they twist, shrink and expand. Despite it all, I feel strongly that logs bring a special warmth to a home, kind of like they are a living part of your family. I still stop and hug them from time to time.
We pushed our builder hard at the end to get our temporary certificate of occupancy so we could move in. In doing so, that meant there was still plenty of work left to do after he was gone. Lots of log staining, paint touch ups, window cleaning, shade installations and dusting. But if these chores meant we would finally live out our dream, we were up for the task.
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A few words to the wise: If you don’t like dusting and cleaning floors, don’t get dark hardwood, or at least swap out your HVAC system filters frequently when you move in. There will be a lot of mud around your home for a while, but that’s OK. Consider it your right of passage for being able to live in a custom log home. And do your best to test out everything you can … fireplaces for proper venting, baths and showers for water and drain operations, and light switches and outlets. Most of the time you will have a home warranty from your builder for the first year that covers you, but getting things fixed soon after you move in is best.
It’s kind of like that last little pig: The ones who take their time and put the most of themselves into planning and construction end up in the most stable, satisfying homes.
Enjoy the journey while you are on it, even during the times that seem the least enjoyable. Amanda and I live in our home with the family we always dreamed of. This is a significant chapter in our own fairy tale, and we’ve been honored we could share it with all of you. Though the journey might seem like it’s at its end, we feel like we’ve only just begun. So, I’ll leave you with this: Here’s to all of you finding your own “log home happily ever after.”