Craig had plans to open his own insurance agency once we got to Cache Valley, but there was a transition period while he looked for office space, trained with Allstate, and took a series of licensing exams. For almost 3 years, we lived in his parents' basement. Even though my in-laws had a lovely, spacious home and generously shared it with us, I don't often look back on those "basement years" with fondness. It was difficult for me to live in someone else's house with four little kids and most of our belongings in a storage shed. I longed for the day when we could buy our own home and I wouldn't have to worry about toys left in the pathway of elderly people. Eventually we did move into a perfect little house just a few blocks away from the grandparents, and family life returned to normal…for a little while.
We have moved into and out of three houses since those basement years, and I still don't think about them without remembering a good share of challenges. But today, when I came across these pictures, I was suddenly filled with so much gratitude for my in-laws, especially my father-in-law.
Craig's dad is an infinitely patient man who adores his grandchildren. I had forgotten until today about those days when McKay would climb up the stairs to read the paper with Grandpa in the mornings...
…and how Grandpa always invited McKay to help him fix things.
By far, McKay's favorite place to be was outside. As soon as the snow melted, Craig's dad was out maintaining his beautiful yard. And McKay was right there with him. Every tool Grandpa used, McKay had a matching one. Every job that needed to be done, McKay was the official helper. If Grandpa was wearing his work hat, McKay would wear his. Grandpa rarely made a move in those days without his small shadow right behind him.
And even though there were jobs to be done, and Grandpa was very busy, he always made time to not only include McKay in the work, but also to teach him and talk to him. They stopped to look at birds and worms. They talked about the kinds of flowers and trees they were caring for. They carefully cleaned and put away all the tools they used. And then they would sit on the deck and have a little lemonade after they were finished and admire all their hard work. And always, Grandpa would rave about how much help McKay had been to him. McKay learned from his Grandpa the joy of being outside, the pride that comes from a job that's done well, and the great talent of figuring things out. At ten years old, McKay is a meticulous sorter and organizer. He can take apart anything AND put it back together. And he is eager to learn everything he possibly can. I'm sure that is, in large part, due to those early years with a Grandpa who was a wonderful example.
Even though those two and a half years were long for me, they were such a huge blessing. Having grandparents around definitely eased the burden of keeping four children entertained. They were our on call babysitters when we needed to escape, and our live-in advisors when we had late night questions about Craig's business and our plans for life. Our kids were able to forge strong, lasting bonds with their grandparents in those two and a half years that would have taken them much longer had we lived in our own home.
So...ten years later, from a vastly different perspective, I am grateful for the places we've been, the roads we've traveled, the storms we've weathered, and especially for my kind and gracious in-laws for making so much of that possible. Our lives have truly been blessed because of them.