Guerrero, Mexico

The girls taking the public transportation to the swimming pool with their cousins. (February 2015)

Tlaxcala, Mexico

Erika picking out pan dulce at our favorite panaderia. (January 2015)

Bend, Oregon, United States

Our family photo taken in Drake Park with all three of my daughters (October 2014)

San Francisco, California, United States

Enjoying the beautiful view from the top of Twin Peaks (July 2015)

Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Exploring the ruins of Palenque during our Great Mexican Road Trip. (May 2014)

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ten Years of Gratitude

7/30/2009: Signing the closing documents
I have been looking forward to this day all summer long. The chance to celebrate and share the joy in my heart for the wonderful things that I have in my life. Ten years ago today was a day that changed my life. I signed the closing paperwork and became a homeowner for the first time in my life. And it wasn't just that it was a home but that it was a Habitat for Humanity home. This was a home that was built on blood, sweat, and tears. There were happy tears but there were also sad tears. This house holds a decade of memories for our family.

Mia 1yo, Erika 6yo
This home has seen my two youngest children grow up. The youngest doesn't remember any other home than this. The coordinates to this home are tattooed across my right foot to help guide me home at the end of my travels. Before this home became my point of stability, I changed addresses at least once a year. My landmark memory was starting and ending the same school, much less living in the same house for that much time. We've painted the interior walls a wide variety of shades from dark pink to lime green and all colors in between. We've even changed the exterior color of our home from blues to purple and teal. This is a house that makes me smile every day that I pull in the driveway.
2009: Making it a home
Contrary to popular belief, Habitat for Humanity didn't give me a home because I was a single mom barely scraping by. I had to prove that I had a steady income that met the guidelines, my debt to income ratio was not out of proportion, and I needed to show a willingness to partner with the non-profit. I put in over 500 hours of sweat equity as I helped others build their home and then my own. We were fortunate to be able to enter the program when Habitat could offer a zero percent interest loan and the Feds were offering a $50,000 Federal Home Loan that was forgivable after five years, not to mention the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer tax credit that sweetened our tax return. Our first investment into our home was putting a wooden fence around the property to protect our little ones from venturing out into the busy street and later to keep their little puppies inside as well. The tiny lilac that we planted out front is almost as tall as the house now. The shrub in the front is tall enough to be decorated with Christmas lights in December.
2017: A fresh coat of paint for our home
This house has given us the freedom to follow our dreams. We've had to leave twice in order to achieve another milestone in our journeys and we've always come home. The first time was 2014 when we picked up and headed to Mexico in the hopes of returning together as a family with a visa for the man in our lives. Next we were off to Spain in 2015 so I could earn my Master's degree and mark another item off the bucket list. Our lives would pale in comparison to the richness and grandeur that they hold now if we hadn't been so fortunate to own a Habitat home. We have not had to worry one day in the last decade that we would not have a roof over our heads. Our mortgage payment was an amount that we knew we could always pay no matter what and that gives you a sense of security like nothing else. It gave us the opportunity to weather the lean winters when José was laid off from the golf course, we survived the year on unemployment when I couldn't work another day in that call center, it gave me the freedom to work part-time so I could spend more time with my daughters, it gave us far more than anyone could ever imagine. As I finish mentoring my third Habitat family, I can only hope that I'll be able to pay back to Habitat a small portion of what we've received and pay forward this amazing gift that we received.


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