I’m delighted to introduce you to Jordan Grantham, who lives in Dallas, Texas. The first thing that caught my attention in her beautiful home was the amazing gallery wall in the living room. I love when a home feels curated and collected — pieces gathered over time, each with stories to tell, some expensive, some thrifted, some given by friends. And Jordan’s gallery wall seems to have that exact vibe going for it. She and her husband are parents of adorable twins, and have a long-time love of DIY projects. In the living with kids home tour, Jordan shares some really lovely thoughts about motherhood and the struggles we often go through to create our families. Welcome, Jordan!
My husband and I live here with our two-year old twins, Hope and Evan, and our adopted mutts, Shiner and Rory. I work in marketing and communications for a sports medicine organization.
My husband and I are high school sweethearts, and our first date was 15 years ago. Most of our early courtship happened over AOL Instant Messenger! We’ve grown up together. He’s a high school football coach (we’re truly living out the Friday Night Lights existence here in the heart of Texas) so we’re still around that high school environment all the time, and I am always reminding my coach/husband that he didn’t have it all figured out in high school, either.
Living with kids is a constant source of entertainment. They just turned two years old, and they are learning new skills every single day. Having boy/girl twins is a little bit like a science experiment because their environment is completely the same, yet they are growing side by side at completely different rates and developing very different personalities. My daughter loves to irritate her twin brother, and I can’t help but laugh sometimes. Yesterday she was yelling his name over and over in the backseat when I heard our son tell her in his most serious voice, “Please stop talking, Hopey. Please.”
These days I just turn off the radio and stay quiet while we’re driving because my favorite thing is eavesdropping on their backseat interactions.
Our neighborhood is a quirky little street in a Dallas suburb. It’s basically one street with 35 houses that was built on what used to be a tree farm, so the canopy of trees is really lush. That’s what first attracted us to the house — the beautiful tree-lined street in a suburb that had a lot of new developments with no trees. (Now we have to maintain a yard with constant tree debris and it’s not quite so romantic, but we still love the shade they provide in the brutal Texas summers.)
The Dallas/Forth Worth Metroplex, much like a lot of other big cities in Texas, is experiencing a really competitive housing market that is driving up our housing prices. When Toyota recently relocated from California, it was just one of the companies bringing tons of employees here who are used to paying much higher housing and rental prices. In 2010, when we were getting married and buying our first home, the average price for a house that needed a little updating but was in a desirable location with a quality school district was $100/sq ft. Our first house, which we still have as a rental property, is now appraised at $156/sq ft.
I think it is much harder to be a first-time homebuyer in this market than it was when we were newlyweds. It’s pushing people further and further out into the suburbs, with longer and longer commutes to their jobs. Many people are choosing to rent, so those rates are going up as well.
This is the second home we’ve bought since we got married, and both searches were competitive. We are middle class people with average incomes, and the competition is fierce in our price range. We bought our first home on the final day the government was offering the first-time homebuyer credit (remember that?). We viewed it at 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and it had been on the market for 2 hours. We wrote the offer in the driveway of that house under the flashlights from our cell phones. Our offer was accepted just in time to use that glorious tax credit!
With both homes, we made offers on three houses before actually having our offer accepted. I’m a mega bargain shopper so it absolutely kills me that we didn’t get a “deal” on either house, but it’s nearly impossible in this market. You’ll usually need to offer full price or above asking if you’re trying a buy a home in a nice area, and that isn’t completely falling apart. We were in a multiple offer situation for this particular house and it was its first day on the market, and I’m still amazed that we got the house. I don’t think our offer was anything special, but it was full asking price. I did get them to throw in the fridge, though. (What a bargain!)
I grew up in a DIY family. My mom was a first grade teacher with superb crafting skills and a great eye for decorating, and my dad was a tireless worker who was also very frugal. It was the perfect combo for DIY greatness. When I reached adulthood, I basically turned into my mom and married someone just like my dad. The DIY apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
I didn’t realize my husband would be so great at home projects when I married him because I’d only known him as a high school and college kid who was all about playing football, but I should have seen the signs. For example, he bought the world’s heaviest pool table for $25 at an estate sale in college. He played quarterback, so naturally he asked his offensive linemen to carry it to his rental house. (See, he was already resourceful!) Just for fun, he watched YouTube videos on how to re-felt the table and spent hours working on his little side project. The end result was impeccable. I’m pretty sure that’s not a normal college hobby, so I should have known his detail-oriented personality would be perfect for DIY projects.
When we were newlyweds, our income was tight so the DIY projects were done out of necessity. Now we have a little more wiggle room financially, but we still do a lot of DIY projects because we find them very satisfying. The only problem is that the twins and our day jobs are so consuming, we rarely have the time to dive into big projects anymore. Thankfully we did most of our big projects before they got here.
For anyone who is intimidated by DIY projects, I would tell them: The internet is your best friend! I can’t tell you how many things my husband has learned simply by watching how-to videos online. He even taught himself how to install our artificial grass backyard just by watching a ton of videos from different experts. You’ll be amazed what you can do, and you will feel SO GOOD about the money you save by doing it yourself!
Some of the small projects are my favorites, like the antique window we made into a mirror above our kitchen sink. My parents bought me that mirror when I took them to the Round Top flea market for their 60th birthdays. Shortly after, my dad passed away in a car accident. That mirror was the first DIY project we did after his death, and it felt like a tribute to him since I remember him happily carrying it around the flea market for me without complaint. You just don’t get that type of emotional connection to something you buy at HomeGoods. (But don’t get me wrong; I love HomeGoods.)
My husband takes great pride in the projects that took him hours and hours of hard work to complete, like the wall of closets he built in our master bedroom, our covered patio project or his huge backyard makeover. I think he measures his projects in sweat equity. If I were the one doing the heavy lifting like he is, I’m sure I would feel the same way.
We struggled for years to get pregnant. We tried all of the medical interventions, and the end result was always the same. We progressed to IVF, which is a physically and emotionally draining process. I was actually in the middle of my first IVF when my dad died, and a couple weeks later we got the news that once again, I wasn’t pregnant. It was a series of devastations before we got the double blessing of our miracle twins. I’ll never forget how that struggle changed me. It shaped who I am as a person.
Now I’ve been able to mentor other women — both my friends and complete strangers — as they walk through their own fertility problems, and I find purpose in that. Social media has allowed me to connect with women who need encouragement, and I signed up to be a mentor on Fruitful Fertility after reading about it on Cup of Jo. They connected me with two strong women here in DFW who are riding their own infertility roller coasters, and now those women are real friendships. Infertility is lonely, but it can make all the difference to vent, cry, commiserate and even laugh together with someone who understands the grief and validates your feelings.
Living with kids has changed me. I used to make fun of my left-brained husband for having so many systems and routines, but as soon as they got here I turned into a logistics person. I became that girl who was upset if the dishwasher wasn’t loaded with the breast pump parts in exactly the right place for maximum efficiency. I didn’t even recognize myself! I think it was a survival technique that manifested when I was alone with two tiny infants and suddenly had no control over anything. I learned that certain systems help life go more smoothly, yet I’m still a naturally disorganized mom who can’t catch up on laundry to save her life. I asked my husband what my mom superpower is, and he said: “You don’t need much sleep.” That does help.
I hope they remember me pushing them around in the laundry basket with my best sound effects like we’re trying to win the Daytona 500. I make a fool of myself daily to earn their laughter. I hope they forget that I have bad spatial awareness and often “tap” their head on the car door frame when I’m loading them in the car seat. (Cringe.)
I absolutely love the pitter patter of their plump little toddler feet on our hardwood floors. They have the fattest, most delicious feet in the world, and I don’t even mind that we have to buy special, expensive shoes for those chunky toes! I would bottle that pitter patter sound up forever and use it as my ringtone if it were still 2004 when everyone had to have a cool ringtone. I already miss them yelling “Mooooommy!” on the baby monitor when they wake up in the morning and waving at me from the front window when I leave for work. I miss them hanging dramatically from the fridge handles, yelling “Meeeeelk!” (milk).
I wish someone had told me that parenthood can be agonizing. I had this idea that each milestone achieved would lessen my anxiety. That when I finally got pregnant, I would release the tension I had been carrying around because of our fertility problems. That when we got through the first trimester, I would enjoy the rest of my pregnancy without fear. That once the babies had arrived into this world safely, I would be less concerned about their safety.
The reality is, living with kids, I worry about their wellness and happiness every single day. The thought of anything bad happening to my babies is true agony. I pray myself through my worries every day and remind myself that those feelings are part of the privilege of loving another more than you love yourself.
Thank you, Jordan! What a positively lovely home. And that backyard is just a dream — can’t youjust imagine spending warm summer nights there? Those big, arching trees really are magical. I’m sure Jordan’s twins (and the two dogs) will make many happy memories there.
I really loved (and really appreciated her willingness to be vulnerable in sharing) what Jordan said about the agony of parenthood. So much of being a parent is realizing that you don’t have very much control at all. You can do everything perfectly and little knees still get scraped (or worse), and toddlers grow up into teenagers who get to make their own choices that you might not always agree with. I also think Jordan is spot on when she says, “those feelings are part of the privilege of loving another more than you love yourself.” So wise and so true.
LIVING WITH KIDS SOURCES:
Formal Living Room Rug
Kilm Extra Long Pillow
Art above Sofa
Jordan’s blog and so many of her amazing DIY projects (like that “G” bookcase) can be found here. Or follow her on IG. Living With Kids is edited by Josh Bingham — you can follow him on Instagram. Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.