We Closed on our Dream Home!

Our Dream Home

            Wow!  We did it, we closed on our dream home!  Usually that is such exciting news, but in this case, it was rather bittersweet.  Why?, you may ask. It’s because we closed on SELLING our dream home.  Yes, we said goodbye to the home that we designed, built, and loved. 

            Let’s go back to the beginning back in May 2006.  It was in May 2006, that I noticed that a man named Frank had looked at my profile on Match.com.  I later learned he had just joined and didn’t know that I could see that he had viewed my profile.  After reading his intriguing profile and determining he lived fairly close, I shot him an email and noted that we seemed to be in the same “neck of the woods” so to speak. (We were on the edges of Houston, Texas.) Our first emails on the platform led to some direct emails and then IMs (yes, a little dated term – Instant Messages).  He asked me out and our first date was on May 10, 2006, at Pappasito’s, a popular Mexican Restaurant with numerous locations around the Houston area. After our first date, we both returned to our homes and proceeded to IM each other for another hour.  He then asked me to an Astros game, and the rest is history, so to speak.  We saw each other at least twice a week and IMed each other every night for at least an hour. 

One year later, on May 10, 2007, he asked me to marry him and of course I said yes!  We then began looking at the logistics of combining our lives.  After looking at a few homes, we determined we should probably build our own in order to obtain everything we wanted.  My cousin recommended Owner Builder Network and we started looking for a lot.  We discovered a great corner lot that was in an unincorporated subdivision with easy access to major highways.  We started designing our dream home using PowerPoint slides while we IMed each other every night.  (We were so high tech! lol) I needed a formal living room for antique furniture, wanted a formal dining room for the holidays, and Frank needed an office.  A main floor master, excuse me, primary bedroom, was planned with a large master suite, closet and attached laundry room. A large kitchen, pantry, family room, breakfast area – you get the idea.  We knew we wanted a garage apartment for his 18-year-old daughter to live in at the beginning.  Four upstairs bedrooms, two entertainment areas, and a laundry area upstairs for my boys were also designed.  It turned out to be 4,475 sq feet in the main house with a 1,034 sq foot garage apartment.  Two garage slots (which would never house a car) and a workshop. Oh, plus a half bath for the shop and future pool.  Our dream home was designed, and an architect figured out how to make it work. By going through Owner Builder Network, we became the general contractors. Ok, Frank became the general contractor, and I became the number one helper.  (I was responsible for the port-a-potty and the dumpster.) 

We were married on a Friday night, June 6, 2008, so I would be out of school (I was a schoolteacher) and we could take trips on our anniversary.  The foundation was poured the day after we returned from our honeymoon, Tuesday, June 10, 2008.  We made every decision for the house, from the spa tub (It was the first thing we bought, and it was huge!), to the light fixtures, paint and grout colors; we picked it all.  We also did a lot of the work ourselves since our personal homes were not selling. It was 2009; remember the housing market fall out? My first tiling job was the kitchen backsplash and then I graduated to the pantry and laundry room floors. 

I don’t know how we survived 2008 – 2009, but we did and I remember it as just a great time.  After our marriage, Frank moved into my house with my three boys while the house was being built. I started a new teaching job in a new district in a different subject.  Having taught history for 20 years in one district, I switched to teaching English in a different district with a new last name.  I stuttered a lot that year when introducing myself and calling parents as I tried to remember my new last name, new school, and new subject. lol.  I also kept writing the wrong room number down on hall passes since I had been in my previous room for 18 years.  (Another story for another time.) So, during our first year of marriage, he moved into my house, I started a new job, a new curriculum, a new name, and we built a house.  It was wonderful! 😊

Fast forward to 2016 and the oil and gas business bottomed out and Frank no longer had a contract with Exxon-Mobil.  We had been preparing for this and wanted to flip houses, after all I had watched all the shows on HGTV, Frank was very handy and we had built our own home.  Flipping two houses and buying some rental homes was a lot of work and a flood, or two, didn’t help.  Harvey? Also, another story.  We were asked to renovate someone else’s home, so we did.  We only paid $1000 to have that privilege and learned a lot.  That’s right, we did not make any money, we lost money on that remodel. 

Frank urged me to retire from teaching when I was eligible in June 2017 to help our clients more with picking materials, etc… in the remodeling business we had now established.  So, after 31 years of teaching I retired.  I absolutely loved helping clients pick out their materials and making their visions come true for their houses.  We expanded to four employees, an additional truck, a van, and a trailer.  However, it was a lot of work on Frank, and he was run ragged.  After a few years, he downsized to just him and his youngest daughter, but he was still working way too hard.  So, we pivoted again and began only selling RTA (Ready To Assemble) cabinets and installing them.  In the long run, remodeling, selling, and installing cabinets was not bringing in enough money for us to maintain our lifestyle.  We could still pay the bills, but it was stressful, and we could do nothing else.  We were no longer able to eat out on a whim, go do something fun, travel, or buy nice Christmas gifts. 

Frank and I had talked about traveling the US in an RV previously, but it was always with the thought we’d still have our home and come back to it.  I finally broached Frank with selling the house to “free” us.  He (and I) didn’t want to sell our dream home, but the reality was it was now just the two of us since the youngest son had gone to college. We were alone in a 4,475 sq foot house and an empty 1,034 sq foot apartment.  I advertised the apartment on Next Door and we found a lovely tenant about my age. We never saw her except when she paid her rent and that helped our finances. However, there wasn’t much wiggle room.  We could have continued, but we would not be able to enjoy other aspects of life. Finally, after a difficult day, Frank said, “List the house.” However, it didn’t immediately sell. We did start downsizing. We had garage sales and started giving the kids some of the stuff. There were things that needed repairing and some freshening up.  After all, we had lived in it for 11 years with three boys.  There were still some things we had not finished.  We ended up taking it back off the market, working on repairs and Frank was still selling cabinets and installing them locally. 

We relisted the house in 2021 and we had a lot of showings this time and an offer we accepted.  It was the perfect deal in that they wouldn’t be moving in until mid-June and we could close in May, buy our RV, pack it, and sell the rest of our stuff. So, that’s what we did.  We were scheduled to close on a Wednesday; we found the RV we wanted (and could afford) and make a down payment on it Monday before closing. We went back on Friday to purchase it and drive it off the lot. We were officially debt free.

That is the long story of how we became full time RVers and the Texas RV Couple. Whew, that was long.  Hope you stuck around for the full story. Have Frank and I RVed together before? A few days over Thanksgiving back in 2010 with the three boys was the extent of our RVing together.  I had grown up traveling the US with my parents in a small travel trailer for three weeks every summer, but that stopped when I was about 13.  So, we have begun our adventure and so far, Frank has learned a lot about our motor home and what wasn’t working.  I’m so glad he is handy!  Right now, we are down to just two items that aren’t working correctly: the leveling jacks and the dishwasher.  They will be fixed.  Oops, found out the central vacuum isn’t working this morning.  Have to add it to the list. UPDATE: The dishwasher and central vacuum are now working. Frank doesn’t know what he did that made a difference, but they work now!

You are invited to explore with us as we travel the land that we love. We welcome suggestions for places to visit, sites to see, restaurants, and RV parks to check out. Our first trip is under way. We will try to update our location / route on our website, and we hope to figure out YouTube. Please be patient as we learn.

Come Explore with Us!

The Texas RV Couple