Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I'm fairly sure I designed a house...

Pretty sure I mean.

The housing journey for Beloved and I (With boys in tow) was a year-long process that was more or less started out of nowhere.

Literally, one day we were talking about having to make a decision about which country we should stay in because our old house was getting far too cramped with small boys in it, and the next we were buying a plot of land.

But within that year was a lot of hard work and sweat in terms of design. We about drove the architect nuts with the changes and challenges (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my house, but it is somewhat of a Frankensteinian monster welded together between American and Japanese notions of houses), and I know we drove the boys nuts with constantly visiting housing parks around Nagano with tape measure and cameras in hand to measure and shoot anything that looked remotely interesting.

Said year was also one for great arguments, as in Beloved and I would end up almost screaming about changes and adjustments, sometimes it came down to playing rock, paper, scissors to see who got who's way (This, in hindsight, was a mistake. Beloved turns out to be a champion at janken). All that said however, when the dust settled I was able to note to Beloved that we had a beautiful house and one that we knew every square inch of had been fought over, every compromise was one that we knew we could live with because we were the ones who made it; they weren't forced on to us by a housing company.

The only downside to being so involved in the design and construction phase of our house is the lack of surprises. Now don't get me wrong, this is, for the most part, a GOOD thing. I mean, no one wants to find out a bad surprise about the house they just bought (Like the family whose house turned out to have been a former meth lab and is now unfit for human habitat), but there's very little about the house that we now have that we didn't consider in terms of what we could use it for so there's very little in terms of surprising new uses.

Enter the boys.

Now when we designed this place, we came up with the idea of having a hallway on the north side of the house on the first floor. Said hallway, which is wider than normal for a Japanese house because the American husband refused to bounce off of the walls, connects the entrance, the toilet, bathroom/changing room, wash area, and the laundry room to both the living room and the master bedroom. One idea (Beloved's) being that we could "close off" the living and sleeping areas of the house to preserve our privacy from visitors to the door and to allow people to go to and from the bath and toilet without having to trek through the living room. The other idea (Mine) was to shut off areas of the house that didn't see heavy use to conserve heat from the wood burning stove that's our only source of heat during the winter.

Now during said past winter, the designed worked wonders. The hallway would be slightly cooler, almost cold, compared with the warm and toasty living areas and bedrooms, but that was ok, no one wants to hang out in the hallway and the bathroom has its own heater. It wasn't until this summer, with the need for keeping the doors to both the living room and bedroom open to allow the air to move through that we discovered that we didn't, in fact, design a house.

We designed a racetrack. Given that the master bedroom connects to the living room via our Japanese style guestroom, we have one BIG circle running through the house that can allow a little boy to rev up some serious turns of speed and provide opportunities to corner and practice their ability to dodge, jump, and of course, just run. The race starts as soon as its light enough and hot enough that the doors are open and ends when Mommy shuts them for the night.

But I'm fairly sure we were designing a house. The boys, however, seem to be hearing "Gentlemen, start your engines!"

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