We're coming up on a year of being in our house. Because Matt and I had to save like crazy just to be able to build this house (not because it was expensive but more because I was only working part-time), we weren't able to afford things like landscaping for the front or back when we first moved in.
We finally saved enough to have the front yard done, and we made the decision to go ahead and take out a loan in order to have the backyard done. Normally, we are save-first-and-then-spend kind of people, but we thought about it quite a bit and realized that we were okay with taking out a loan to build a pool and landscape the rest of our yard so we can enjoy it sooner and longer.
Of course there's a huge part of me that feels guilty about even wanting a pool. Pools are ecologically irresponsible, financially irresponsible, and just one more indicator of economic disparity in our country.
What I really wanted to do was build an intentional neighborhood with at least three other families. Then we would have shared a pool, a garden, lawn tools, occasional meals, etc. When that goal fell through, I realized that I didn't want to give up on having a pool. As a kid, I spent every summer in Florida with my grandparents and my aunt. Pools are common in Florida, and I loved everything about my summers there. Even when it was sweltering and the heat was oppressive, I was perfectly content to play outside in the pool.
I want that same kind of active, fun lifestyle for my family, too. I want my boys to enjoy long summer days in and out of the pool. I wish that we were reducing the ecological and financial impact by sharing it with other families in a pocket neighborhood, but this is where we are right now. While we have a beautiful neighborhood pool just 0.8 miles away from us, it's only open for a very short season (because the lifeguards are mainly in high school). I've also heard from neighbors that it gets overrun with teenagers and isn't actually a fun place to take your family. We do swim at the YMCA sometimes, but they also close their family pool for most of the year and limit swimming to the lap pool (and they don't let you bring in any floats or toys).
We will work hard to pay it off as quickly as we can. The only debt we want to carry is our mortgage.
I'm so excited about getting even more settled in our home and our community. I'm brainstorming ways to create more of that "pocket neighborhood" feeling. One thing I want to start doing is sending out spontaneous invitations via text (like, "We're hanging out in the garden if anyone wants to come over!" or "We're jumping into the pool if anyone wants to come over for a swim!"). With families, the spontaneous is much more appealing than the planned. I really want to create the "Hawaiian life" I read about a couple years ago. I want people just to stop by and to stay awhile.
It's starting to happen a little with our neighbors, which is really fun. One family stopped by to see if we wanted to go for a walk, and another family stopped by just to hang out in the garden. I'm excited to create the kind of backyard that welcomes and relaxes people.
Overview of the landscaping plan:
- Bocce ball court on the left (a really great way to take up a lot of space with crushed granite which reduces watering)
- An orchard with 7 pear trees, 3 peach trees, and 4 plum trees
- A firepit area
- A mulched kids' play area
- Two small areas for playing on grass
- The part you can't see on the plan is the hill that goes down to the creek. The landscaper is going to use the dirt from the pool excavation to make the hill less steep. I'm really excited about that part.
When I was growing up, we moved every couple of years. Up until high school, the longest I stayed in one place was for 5th and 6th grade. It feels really good to settle into a place, knowing that we're going to be here for a long, long time.