The Girl Next Door

We love our neighbors.

In the fall of 2009, our country was in the middle of a recession. The housing market was bottoming out, and we were stuck trying to sell our house of 8 1/2 years in a busy north Chicago suburb where houses were just not selling. At all. There were 10 houses in our subdivision besides ours that were for sale. We were facing the fact that my husband, who had already accepted a job in Lexington, may have to move ahead of us if our house did not sell by the time he needed to be there. It was daunting. And stressful. Very, very stressful. I was in the middle of my busiest work season, trying to keep our house clean and ready for showings that just weren’t happening, and I was worried about how I was going to survive the winter in Chicago as a single mother to two young daughters who were missing their dad something terrible. Life was not fun.

We actually had an offer from the first people who saw our house, and then they disappeared, and we didn’t get any more showings for two more months. It was the longest two months of my life. But the next showing proved to be successful, and as soon as we had proof that the potential buyers were going to follow through with buying it, my oldest daughter (who was 11 at the time) and I drove down to Lexington to meet with a realtor that we had been talking with to look at houses. Six houses, to be exact, and we had 48 hours to choose one of those houses, sign all the papers and go back home. Which was actually 24 hours longer than we had to buy the house in Chicago. Yes…welcome to our lives.

My daughter and I did not like the first five houses we saw, but thankfully we loved the sixth one. We spent the day in a battle with another family that was bidding for the house and by that evening, got the wonderful news that we had got the house. I signed all the papers the next day and we headed home. My husband did not see our house until we moved in, two months later.

When we first moved into our cul de sac, there were no kids in any of the houses. This was a huge difference from our neighborhood in Chicago where all of the houses around us contained a multitude of kids the same age as ours, and the girls spent all day outside playing and running up and down the street in packs. And then we moved here and it was silence. The girls just had each other. They were 5 and 11 at the time so you can imagine how well that went.

Over the next few years though, nearly everyone who lived in our cul de sac when we moved in, moved out, and new families moved in (we tried not to take it personally).  And now, at any given moment when the weather is decent (and even when it’s not), there is a sea of kids swarming the court, playing ball, skating, drawing chalk pictures and riding bikes. We have cookouts together in the summer and shovel snow together in the winter.  We hide Easter eggs for all the kids in the spring and we clean up leaves together in the fall. And the dads…the dads play ping pong into the wee hours of the night many nights of the year  – earning themselves the nickname, “The Ping Pong Ding Dongs,”  laughing and hooting and carrying on like school boys.

They really are ding dongs.

We were really excited a few years ago when the house next door to us was sold to a sweet little family who, at the time, had one beautiful baby daughter. My oldest daughter started her first babysitting job with them not long after – it was perfect since it was right next door – and she has continued to babysit for them over the past few years as their household has grown from one baby girl to three baby girls. Three beautiful girls with dark hair and dimples and happy little faces that we adore. We have so enjoyed watching their family grow, getting to love on each of their sweet girls and sharing all the ups and downs with their mom and dad that come with parenting girls. We feel so lucky to have them in our lives. It made all that stress from the move in 2009 worth it.

This is their newest baby girl. We were set to do the photos a week before, but most of the family (except for the baby, thankfully!) came down with a stomach bug, so we had to postpone it a bit until everyone got healthy. She is 16 days old here and she was as good as gold.

I can’t wait to watch her grow.





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