what long drives are good for

I have never enjoyed traveling.

When I was younger, motion sickness was one of the culprits.  Being squished next to multiple siblings was the other.  Having several hours of not being able to move much any time you’re trying to go see family was yet another.

Even now, my reasons haven’t changed much.  If I sit in the front of the car, I feel ok.  I can’t read, and if I have to look behind me for too long, look out.  The kids have gotten used to not having my eye contact much in the car.  They have to talk to the back of my head for the most part.

Anyway, on the first half of our trip back a couple days ago, it felt great to have it fly by.  Why did it fly by, Dr. Suess?  Well, because we had a good conversation keeping us brainstorming, three kids happily watching Satellite TV, and a sleeping baby!

The result?  I think I have “found” a way to make our house continue to work for us (or work better for us, that is).  This is a good feeling since for years I have spent inordinate amounts of time troubleshooting and rearranging to make our home suit us, only for those efforts not to work out well (or work out for very long).

When we found out that Child #4 was on the way, we had to face the thought that the time had possibly come for us to get used to the idea of moving (yes, I worded that wordily to impress upon you our reluctance).  That was part of why we refinished the floors and redid the kitchen.  We knew those things would help make our house more “sellable”.  Now that Baby is here and the kitchen is done, I really don’t want to move!  I love my kitchen!!!  I’ve realized that I can’t attribute my having fun experimenting in the kitchen to my whole meal-points system.  It’s just the new room I’m loving.

Anyway, it’s working out ok–for now–to have Baby sleep in our bedroom.  I’m realizing, however, that it may only work so long to force our 7-year-old son (with sensory processing issues) to share a bedroom.  Try as I may to find other ways to give him the down time he needs, it’s tricky since he shares a bedroom.  Even if I can conjure up ways to get around that, the fact remains that it’s a tiny bedroom to eventually put THREE boys in.  Yes, we could squeeze in another bed.  I’m just not sure that’s the best solution–cramming in an even littler brother to further overload his senses.

So, here’s what I came up with on our trip: we raise the back roof of our house (like some neighbors did waaaaaaay before we ever moved onto the street) and fit in a small bedroom upstairs in the corner of our (current attic “secret playroom”) new upstairs, wall in our bedroom and extend it into the “new” part (since we would lose some of the current space to walls and a hallway), and probably would actually have enough space for a closet–if not a walk-in!  Then we have a four bedroom home, although they’d be modest-sized rooms.  The downer is that the only way to get into the upstairs bathroom is through our bedroom, but it would remain a master en suite, and if you knock on Mom and Dad’s door, we’ll probably let you in.  If someone else would move in someday, maybe they’d choose to use that upstairs “extra” bedroom as an office.

At the top of our stairs we have a hallway that runs beside our front crawlspace.  Currently, we store all kinds of things (like Christmas ornaments) inside the crawl space.  If we opened up the wall and make closets or built-in shelves, we could access such items much more functionally.  Just open the hallway closet!

The other part of the process would be dividing the closet in our boys’ bedroom to create a double-sized entryway closet and a single sized closet in their bedroom.  If we do sliding bypass doors you can’t access the whole space at once, but since our front door swings towards where the closet would be, I don’t want to do bifold doors (and break them when someone inevitably leaves the door open).  The left side (behind the front door, when open) would be more of a utility side (I’d have a place to store the vacuum!!!) and off-season storage (sayonara, winter coats, please!) and the right side (easier to access) would be for shoes, coats, and backpacks.  The closet in the boys’ room would be behind their door (which is not ideal), but I’m hoping that we could take the handle off their door (which is broken anyway) and see if the door could be converted to a pocket door.  The wall will be opened up for the closet construction anyway, so it’d be the perfect time to make that change.  Then you can’t slam the door, the door would never swing in front of their closet, and their closet would also have a pocket door.

Then there’s our daughter’s room.  I just can’t find a good solution to add a closet in her bedroom, so I think that we should ask the man who made our kitchen cabinets to make a custom wall solution similiar to our kitchen cabinets.  They would flank the window looking out at our neighbor’s driveway.  To the left of the window would be her hanging storage (maybe with a dresser drawer below, at her feet), below the window would be a couple drawers (and a window seat created if we’d cushion above the drawers), and on the right side of the window he could create a simple desk by attaching a board from the cabinet to the wall.  Her heat vent comes out below, so it’d be more invasive/expensive to have to reposition it…but nothing would get covered up, it’d be cozy sitting there at her desk, and shelves could go on the wall above.  Plus, I envision three cabinets at the top of each section for more storage: one above the hanging storage cabinet, one above the window, and one above the desk side.  Voila!  Yes, she loses floor space, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the most practical way to  make her room function better for her, for years to come.  Her hanging storage would have two doors, so you don’t lose as much floor space swinging them open.

Then, we actually are left with an EXTRA room!  There’d be no need to keep the basement clothes room, and if we put an egress window down in it, not only is our basement safer, but you just have options.  OPTIONS????  Wow.

The issues I’ve had with our house, over and over, have had to do with functionality and storage.  I really feel like my solutions suitably address this problem.  You never can tell well until you make the changes and try to live with them, but I’m optimistic that these changes would make a big difference.

Now the question is, what would this cost, and can we really do it?  Is it just a dream?  I don’t want to be extravagant, thinking wishfully, and greedy.  I really think these changes are important and hope that we can find a way to do this.  This time I would not be pregnant and should be more level-headed (less hormonal) during the renovation process (right?????????????????).

And if it comes down to it, it made the car ride go faster, dreamin’.

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