I have been asked many times over the course of this week, "What are your plans for a home?" So I thought I would answer a few of those questions.
Where are we now? Currently we are in MD. Chaz is still being seen at Bethesda for his medical treatment. The WTB (Warrior Transition Brigade) has provided us with an apartment in Silver Spring. It is very spacious and is located in a great part of town.
Do we own a home? Yes, we do own a home in Clarksville, TN. We have owned it for 4 years now. Currently my mom, sister and friends are taking care of it while we are gone. Since the WTB gave a free place to live while Chaz is being treated, we are able to continue making our mortgage payments. We need a place to go home to when we go back so we will keep our current home until the new one is built.
What's wrong with our current home? The biggest problem is the stairs. Chaz needs a one story home. When we are home he goes upstairs at the end of the day and stays on that level. Then he comes down at the beginning of the day and stays down stairs for the day. Basically he is stuck on that level, he can get up and down the stairs, but life would be so much easier for him if the stairs were gone. Right now getting up and down those stairs is exhausting for him. He does it, because he wants to be with us all day long. He refuses to sleep on the couch or have me make the dining room into a bedroom for him. He says he "will be with his girls and that's that."
Our 2.5 bathrooms do not fit his needs at all. We have a shower bench in the shower for him to slide in and out of. He has to put his legs on to reach the sink to brush his teeth or shave. He truly gets a big workout tying to get to the toliet. The doors are not wide enough for him to wheel in. So I get the shower bench out of the shower and place it so he can slide from the wheelchair to bench then bench to toilet and then back. The girls bathroom is a totally no-go. He can't even get in the door. He can only wheel in halfway in the halfbath that is downstairs. When we have company, he has me distract them or get them outside so he can go to the bathroom or he holds it.
He basically can't do anything in our kitchen without help. The pantry door isn't wide enough for him to wheel into so he has to reach and if he can't get it then he has to yell for one of us. You cannot have the fridge, pantry, oven or dishwasher door open in the kitchen while Chaz is in there because then he can't get through the kitchen. The cabinets are eitehr too high or too low for him. He cannot reach the microwave, stove or sink. He is very stubborn and makes the best our of it, but Lord have mercy if he drops something.
We have dreadful transition pieces going into our kitchen from both directions. Which were hand crafted and I loved them until Chaz fell. The one in the dining room was the cause for Chaz's horrible fall. When he fell there was not enough space for him to flip himself over so I had to help him flip over so he could sit up and get back into his chair.
He cannot wheel out to the back yard right now because of the step down. He can go our front thanks to CSM St Louis contacting the VA and getting a ramp put in. If it wasn't for him we'd probably have thrown down a piece of plywood and make a redneck ramp. Oh yes we were going there, but then St Louis took over.
We cannot park in our garage and enter our house from there because we have steps into the kitchen. The garage is not wide enough to open the doors and have Chaz get around them. We have to stop in front of the garage and let Chaz out. Then I pull the car in and do whatever else needs to be done. There is no way we can park our van in our garage and use the ramp in the van for Chaz. The van will have to sit in the driveway. Which is truely not a big deal. I am a brat I like to park in the garage. I also like to spoil my hubby. (Can you tell?)
This is way more than you want to know, but it is the truth. Our apartment here in MD is way more handicap friendly then our home in TN. Now we need to make a home that will make Chaz feel welcome and at home. He needs to be able to do whatever he wants in his own home, especially go to the freaking bathroom alone, without help and have his privacy. To me he is almost a prisoner in our home. But we are so optimistic we just look at our home as another hiccup on our road to our happily ever after. We love that house, but it no longer fits our needs. It is time to pass those keys to a new family who can love that house like we used to!
What have we done so far? We have applied and been approved for our VA housing grant. We have met with our TN-VA advisor and he is super nice and helpful. We have looked at land online, but we haven't had a chance to do anything else and being in MD is not helping this situation. We put in an application with Home for Our Troops and have yet to hear anything back. We were nominated for an Extreme Home Makeover, but once again haven't heard anything. Either of which would be a freaking outstanding easy button for us!
For those who don't know, I am a tax and financial advisor. So currently I am saving, saving, saving for the house. Chaz's bathroom alone costs $25,000 and that is for the base line requirements from the VA. I haven't even looked at the rest of the requirements yet. If we do not build everything to VA specifications then we will not get the grant which is $64,000. I flew back and forth during tax season to keep earning money for this house. I know it will be expensive. I am just trying to save at least 25% of the down payment. We have some equity in our current home, but I cannot rely on that for funding because I have not done a market analysis yet. I have no idea what profit we could possibly have in that home.
What is our dream? We want to push a freaking easy button!! Seriously I dream that Ty Pennington shows up and blesses us with a perfect home for Chaz. The only problem is we don't want to destroy our home. If we can we would like give our home to another family. I was the PTO President at the girls' school for two years. We have so many families there that could use that home. There's one family that I would love to give those keys to, but I do not know if they still live in the area. I would like to go to our principals and counselours and find out who needs a home. We have many families who could use a back yard to play in and the room to spread out in. I know our school administration would know exactly who we could bless.
We want to remain in Clarksville, but move closer to Nashville. So we will jump school zones. Chaz wants more land and space for our family to grow. Our girls need room to run. If you make our home into a one level on that property then we would not have a yard left. In addtion, it would ruin the property values for the rest of the neighborhood and I could not handle that guilt. The market is bad enough, our fellow homeowners do not need a home that will price them out of the market. We were planning to move before Chaz was injured, now we just have a different reason for moving.
I hope this answers any (and maybe even all) of your questions. If you want to also nominate us for an Extreme Home Makeover, you have our permission. If you see another opportunity that is similar and want to nominate us, go ahead. We truly appreciate every one of you and your support! We are so grateful that you all want us to succeed and that you want to help us push that easy button! THANK YOU!!
Chaz and I both feel like God will lead us. We have applied and now we're leaving it up to God. Whatever our path is he will put us there and guide us through. He has helped us so far and will not be abandoning us anytime soon. He knows our needs and will provide for us. We do ask that you continue that you still pray for our family.