Noah getting a bucket bath outside, when we ran out of water inside
I hesitate to post this... afraid that my rememberings will in some way appear like I am saying what we had before was bad and what we have now is good. Not at all. In both places, we were/are above and beyond blessed and held in God's hand. Every experience plays a part in the tapestry of our lives, and I feel that remembering is a part of contentment, gratefulness. I don't want to forget what it was like... nor what it may be like again if/when God sees fit to take us back where we were....
Every time I bump the temperature button up or down a few degrees, I remember. I remember living first in a climate that the highs reached to 104 much of the year... the nights that cooled down to the 80s. I remember the house was made of cement, hemmed into a row of other cement houses and that there was hardly ever a breeze I could get to come through the windows. I remember not having an air conditioner there for several months, at the end of my pregnancy. Keeping the curtains pulled shut all day long, hoping to keep the house cooler. Dragging the mattress out to the living room floor at night, hoping for more of a breeze. Sweating all the time, cold showers in the middle of the night to try to cool down. I remember filling a bucket with water and ice, sitting with my feet in the water--thinking cold thoughts. We did finally get an air conditioning unit, used from Rey's boss, and installed it in the bedroom. The bedroom was a glorious cold. We kept that poor machine on high day and night most of the time. It managed to keep the rest of the house a tepid temperature.
I remember the cold, how it came with the rain... causing the wall to pour down with condensation. Hot cement meeting with a rapid temperature drop. One wall unit blasting on Noah's crib, keeping him bundled, his crib swaddled in thick quilts.
I remember the next house we lived in, much more comfortable. It was 3rd floor, so there was much more of a breeze. The cold months were a little harder, but not bad with a large, gas heater we were given.
The third house, we found, would burn like a toaster oven as the sun poured through the floor-to-ceiling (uninsulated) windows. Noah would wake up from his nap with nose bleeds from the heat. In the cold months, those same windows made keeping it warm a near impossibility. I remember trying (highly dangerous) inventions involving metal piping from the gas heater to the kids rooms. Sleeping in several layers of clothes, a bathrobe, socks.
I remember basically dealing with living in a house just about the same temperature as it was outdoors. So now, as I adjust our family's temperature comfort with a mere pressure of my fingertip, I stop and say "thanks". Not because it is better, because it is so much easier.
I also am grateful for insulated windows and doors that don't gap open at the bottom. The houses I lived in never had insulated windows and hardly ever had screens. The doors leading to the outdoors usually had about an 1" gap between the floor and the door. One time, as I was reading, I looked up to see a mouse run in under the door. He looked like he knew what he was doing. Keeping a clean house was pretty much a laugh with the dust blowing in from everywhere.
I have it so easy now.
Every house I lived in before had roof issues. The rain would discover leaks in the roof, and we would wander around the house placing buckets, emptying others. No such problems now.
In the first house we lived, we didn't have a water heater for several months. Hot showers are quite possibly the "thing" I can't live without, so it was sad there for a while ;) When we did have a water heater, we conserved gas by only lighting it about 20 minutes before a shower. As soon as we were done, we would go turn off the flame. The water heaters were always located outside, so it would involve a quick check to make sure no neighbors were lurking around to catch me with crazy bed hair and in pajamas. It also meant that if I needed to do an "emergency" bath with the kiddos (think spit-up, mud, whatever kids do), it was often quicker to just boil up a pot of water on the stove and add it in to their cold bath water. I also washed dishes in cold water..... Now, every time I turn the hot water faucet, hot water comes out. Glorious.
In the houses I lived before, there was always "issues" with the water and electricity supply. In some places, the electricity would go off for a couple hours every week, without warning. Sometimes for days at a time. The same with the water. Most houses have a water tank attached to them. Some fill constantly, some once a day. Sometimes the water would be out for days at a time. Just disappear mid-shower or while running a load of laundry. Haven't had that happen yet here.
The clothes dryer! On sunny days, I often miss hanging out the laundry (a clothesline was one of the first things we installed at this new house)... but, when the weather is bad--or even just for convenience--how nice it is to, again, just push a button and--voila: dry clothes.
There were big stretches of time that I didn't have a vehicle. That made for long days with nowhere to go! And, speaking of places to go... I often struggled with finding places to take the babies even when I did have a vehicle. Things definitely were not as "kid-friendly" and even playgrounds often looked like attempts to get rid of children (broken glass, broken equipment, holes). Now, I have a vehicle...and places to go!
Also, I was often warned against going out "alone". Sometimes, it wasn't the safest thing to be an American girl out and about. Sometimes it wasn't a safety issue as much as an "annoyance" issue (read: drunk guys trying to get chatty). So, even if I had a place in mind and a way to get there, I would usually be trying to make sure it might be at a "safe" time of day to be able to get out and enjoy it. Now, such thoughts don't even cross my mind.
I guess my point in remembering all these things is--I don't ever want to forget what it was like. I don't ever want to become dependent on "easy". I don't want "easy" to become my idol. I don't want comfort to become a god. I want to be content--in plenty and in lack. I want to be grateful--for the central heat/air...and for the drafty doors. I love being able to experience such different things in life. And I want them to remain that way-- experiences. Not good or bad. Not rights or necessities. Not curses or badges of honor. In both places, I am in God's will.... and I love how He carries us. I love His adventures.