Family, Favorite Things, Life, Marriage, Motherhood, Photography

Where I Lived Wednesday. Briar Ridge

I recently migrated from my blog and some pictures didn’t make the move. So imagine pictures where captions are.Β 

I am taking part in Where I Lived Wednesday over at Ann’s blog today.

Watering the flowers on Briar Ridge

There are lots of really cool writing prompts that bloggers take part in on a weekly basis.
Normally, I am just an armchair participant.
Reading some amazing stories from writers much more vivid and deep than myself.

It wasn’t until I had seen last week’s mention of an upcoming prompt that I wanted to take part in.
But it wasn’t just the prompt that set me in motion, it was the timing of me seeing it.
Where I Lived Wednesday.


Easter Egg hunt on Briar Ridge
where we hunted for eggs

Last week, they alerted me that a house that had a special place in our heart was up for sale.


Helping with the Christmas tree on Briar Ridge
where papa got help opening boxes

At first, my husband and I were so excited!
Oh yes!
Let’s take the girls through the house!
We ran numbers in our head, did the math, HARD math, and talked about plans like how the girls wouldn’t even have to change schools and how we would re-decorate the kitchen!
But before we go further, let me give you the history.


Anna and Papa watering the flowers on Briar Ridge
where watering the plants was full of unabashed glee

Briar Ridge is where my parents built a little ranch house on a beautiful reed-filled marsh.
It was to be their “forever home”.
They had settled for several homes over the previous nine years, rented a house that they didn’t love, and worked hard to get to a better place.
When in 1996 they found this amazing little neighborhood where they could build their forever home and paid a little extra for the beautiful marsh behind it, it was a dream come true for them?
It was their fairy tale house.
It wasn’t a massive palace, but an adorable and quaint one-story cottage-type home.
It was perfect.


Grilling in Hawaiian shirts on Briar Ridge
where, apparently, Hawaiian shirts were all the rage

This home welcomed lots of beginnings.
It had a front-row seat to my brother and his new fiancee dating.
It hosted many Super Bowl Sunday, baby showers, Sunday dinners, and Christmas ornament parties.


Wedding party on Briar Ridge
where we took the picture in front of the house next door

It served as the backdrop to my brother and his groomsmen getting ready for his wedding.
It was where my parents held the party to celebrate my brother graduating from college.
It was the home where my parents celebrated the birth of their first grandchild.


Great and baby Anna on Briar Ridge
where naps could last all day. until your arms were numb

They gave it love as a beautifully finished basement that my brother and dad worked diligently on.
They made it shine as they built by hand a massive deck that spanned the entire length of the house to show off that beautiful northern Illinois wetland behind it.
It was polished with every paint job my mother lovingly applied, the stencils that she placed in my grandmother’s room (whom my mom cared for until she could no longer), the curtains hung with care, the picket fence my dad worked on in the front yard, the beautiful butterfly garden my mom tended to every spring and summer.

Dad and Matt building a deck on Briar Ridge
where building a deck is a family affair

This house also saw pain.
It watched as we said goodbye to relatives, friends, and others in our lives who meant so much.


Anna and Mommy on Briar Ridge
where I felt comfort in a very uncomforting time in my life

It was as a 32-year-old that I moved into this home.
I moved in as a wife and mother of a two-year-old.
It was three months later that I was living as a single mom in this home.
This home became my home in 2002.


Mamie and Anna on Briar Ridge
where Mamie got help in her garden

It was within these four walls that I learned to become an independent woman while surrounded by three adults who loved me unconditionally.
It wasn’t always easy.


Family on Briar Ridge
where family would gather

I was never lonely in this home.
This home and all its occupants watched as I grew up in a way even I didn’t think I could.
It watched me become a single mom, take on a job and get a college degree.
It was there for a late-night Taco Bell run with my mom.
For lots of tear-filled nights when my daughter would go to her dad’s for the weekend.
It was there for my daughter to read, color, and snuggle with her Mamie and Papa while laying in their “marshmallow bed”.
For amazing conversations while listening to music that, when I listen to it now, takes me back to Briar Ridge all over again.


Post partum Kari on Briar Ridge
where you find a haven for postpartum depression


It was in the driveway where my now husband and I had our first kiss.
It was at the foot of my mama’s bed that we would have long talks about life, love, and hurt.

It was at the table in the kitchen where I found out that my parents were being transferred four hours away.
It was in the lower level of this home where my daughter and I shared a bed even though she had a perfectly adorable bedroom upstairs because we just wanted to be together each night.
It is on the deck of this house where many stories were told, many dreams were whispered, I had lots of laughs.

Mike and Anna eating a popsicle on Briar Ridge
where my husband learned how to be a father figure

Years have passed, my parents now live 11 hours away in a beautiful home.
My brother and his wife live 8 hours away and have a son, my nephew.
My gramma has since gone to Heaven but lived to be 102 years young.
The husband and I are going on eight years of marriage, almost 12 years from that first kiss in that driveway on Briar Ridge.
My little two-year-old is now almost 14, a beautiful strong teenager.
And she has a sister now, a precocious but amazingly loving six-year-old.
We live two minutes up the road from Briar Ridge.
I have timed it.
I have driven by that house probably thousands of times since 2005 when my parents sold their forever home.
I still get tears in my eyes, I still get a lump in my throat and I still miss that damn house.

Dog birthday party on Briar Ridge
where dogs wear birthday hats

We had the chance to see it again in person with a realtor last week.
But I couldn’t make myself go.
I told my husband that the past is just that, the past.
If I go in, it will be too much emotion for me to handle.
We are making a life here in this home, for our children.
And I know that someday we will have amazing memories of this house.
So strong and real that you can reach out and touch them.

Anna first day of preschool on Briar Ridge
where my daughter’s school career began

Because the house on Briar Ridge isn’t a home anymore.
Not to us.
It stopped being home in 2005.
When the people who filled it with such love moved out of it.
And I wouldn’t dare to replace those memories.


43 thoughts on “Where I Lived Wednesday. Briar Ridge”

  1. It was such a warm and comfortable place to visit. I miss that house too and the people who once lived in it. What an awesome post. I got goose bumps and had flashbacks as I was reading this!


  2. Love. Love. Love. And I am so glad you DIDN'T go through the house. It could have broken your heart but more importantly, it would have tainted your memories, to see it altered from your memories. What a beautiful post, Kari. πŸ™‚


  3. I feel every bit of the emotions all stirred up and set free with this house…and the bitter sweet beauty in knowing you are planting more memories somewhere else. just loved this.


  4. Beautiful memories and lovely B&W photos! I don't have a house like that since we moved around so much, but I can definitely feel the closeness you have with this house. Leave it the way it is in your memory–full of love and life!


  5. You have the ability to tell a story and allow someone to feel as if they are a part of it. Like opening the front door and welcoming them inside. This is one of those stories. The pictures were like holding a scrapbook and turning the pages. You rock!! And, I think you made the right choice. You can never go back. Memories grow better with age.


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