By Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist, Regional Support Center
When I go to visit my parents in a rural town in northwestern Illinois, I always say “I’m going home.” I don’t intentionally do it. And I never say that I’m going to visit my mom and dad or that I’m going to Lanark. It is always “I’m going home this weekend.” The reason is simple. Even though I’m an adult with my own home, it will always be home in my heart.
My family in the old kitchen
In 1976, my parents sold both their Corvettes, they each had a Stingray, so they could buy our house for less than the cost of a compact car today. It was a “fixer-upper” that required constant improvements. Before major remodeling began it was a small house. But that small house was packed with a lot of love and overfilling with memories.
First day of school pics
I spent my entire childhood in that home, so when I think of the house itself, there are so many memories flooding back that I can’t pick just one. Some of my #FlashbackFriday favorites are:
- My sister and I took photos on the first day of school each year in front of the French doors that my mother had lovingly refinished.
- As children, my sister and I used to tell the babysitting kids that if they were naughty we’d put them in the dirt part of the basement…not very nice, but effective.
- My very first memory was in my parents’ room in front of their closet mirror throwing a temper tantrum when I found out my parents wouldn’t be home for my birthday because my sister had just been born (the day before my 3rd birthday). Eventually I warmed up to her.
- We still refer to a remodeling project as “the new edition” even though it is about 24 years old (I just dated myself.)
- My mom had a lot of babysitting kids and thankfully she made the rule that they weren’t allowed upstairs. We loved the kids, but that rule and the sturdy, antique door at the bottom of the stairs saved my sanity in high school more than once.
Now my nephew gets to go visit Grandma and Grandpa. He has even told my mom that when he grows up he wants a house just like theirs. You may think that he says that because there are minibikes, a four-wheeler, toys, games and he gets spoiled rotten…and some of that may be true. But the biggest reason is that he knows it feels like home, too.
Lana and Barbara at a dance recital.
By Lana Simon, Communications Specialist, Regional Support Center
When I look back at my childhood home I feel warmth, love and friendship.
As a child, my home was always host to numerous play-dates and sleepovers. Home is where I always fostered bonds with my friends. We would spend numerous hours pretending to be grown-ups, playing “house”, Barbies, hide and seek and numerous games. My friends and I would also play in the backyard, ride bikes, roller skate in my basement, play ping pong, listen to music and more.
My very first friend was Barbara. We had revolving doors to each other’s houses. We met at age three and lived on opposite corners of the block. Our mothers would walk each of us to the middle, to meet up and then go to one’s house to play. To this day, we are still in-touch. Every time we get together we always reminisce about the good ol’ days and all the fun times and laughs we shared together.
As I got older, the play-dates evolved into watching VCR movies and home was a place to hang-out with friends and of course, boys! I look back today at all the dear friends I had growing up, the silly antics and the warm memories of friendship.
By Shannon Perkins, Marketing Coordinator, Regional Support Center
I remember being extremely bored throughout my parent’s home buying process. At age eight, I had a hard time comprehending that this was one of the biggest decisions that they would make together. Once I realized that our move would not allow me to move closer to my childhood best friend I was completely uninterested in the entire ordeal. However, even at a young age I understood that finding a home near a school district with incredible special education resources for my brother made this process more complicated than most.
I dreaded looking at houses and could not understand why we had to look at so many! I had finally grasped the concept of sharing with my younger brother and felt that every home we saw had more than enough room for the both of us. My parents finally decided on a beautiful three bedroom corner house in Westchester. Our new home consisted of four levels and offered a lot more space than our former two bedroom apartment. I initially was overwhelmed by the amount of space and have vivid memories of being terrified of walking to certain parts of the house by myself, specifically the sub-basement. This area both intrigued and terrified me. It was a great conversation started as most people I talked to had never heard of a sub-basement, however I refused to step foot in that area after the sunset by myself until I was a teenager.
Twenty years later after several sleepovers, family parties, years of renovations and a dog; our spacious house doesn’t seem so scary anymore. I am glad that I still have the key to the place I will always call home. It’s been filled with so much love and so many memories that the only thing scary about our house is the responsibility I have to find one just like it for my family.
By Amy Eiduke, Director, Marketing Communications, Regional Support Center
Ok, so I didn’t really grow up in a gingerbread house, but I often had friends say that’s what it looked like. I only knew it as home – a place where I felt safe, cared for and loved – a place I treasured.
But, as I was decorating a real gingerbread house with my sons this weekend, and then began looking through old photos, I realized that in many ways my childhood home was quite similar to a gingerbread house:
- My parents were constantly improving, enhancing and decorating our home to make it feel welcome and homey. The house they bought when I was 1-year-old looks quite different than the house they sold 30 years later.
- Instead of candy adoring the windows we had beautiful flowers, trees and landscaping. In fact, it was so lovely I took the majority of my wedding photos in our backyard.
- Much like with gingerbread, we had some pieces that broke once in a while – but with a little bit of icing and glue it was made whole once again.
- A gingerbread house brings joy and happiness around the holidays. My brother and I have wonderful Christmas memories at our house: Annually decorating the entire place the day after Thanksgiving, hosting festive gatherings, and when we arrived home from visiting out-of-town family we found Santa had filled our stockings while we were away.
- Finally, my childhood home was fun! From playing basketball and running bases to hanging out with friends to making homemade cookies to snuggling with our dogs and cat to simply enjoying family time there are so many amazing memories I can’t even begin to name them all.
While my house today looks nothing like a gingerbread house, I can only hope to create the same incredible memories for my two boys that I was lucky enough to enjoy in my own personal gingerbread house. Happy holidays!
By Derek Light, Manager, eMarketing
This is the house I lived in until I was eight. I can’t believe how tiny it was. I was the Greatest American Hero and flew off of the front porch, that led to some stitches, I seemed so much taller then (theme). You can’t see the backyard but it’s about three times the size of the front. There was a metal swing set, lots of pine cones to step on with bare feet and lots of Spiderman webs to lose. There was a shed in the far back where a snake or frog of sort could always be found. My best friend lived next door, we played every day. His name is Chris, we keep up on Facebook but I haven’t seen him in years. I remember sneaking out of my room one Christmas and seeing so many toys, like the size of the house I’m sure it was smaller than my little boy mind imagined. My best memories are the times watching Monday Night Football laying in front of my dad pretending to hide so mom couldn’t put me to bed. As I write this and look at the house I’m overwhelmed with memories. It seems like a different lifetime.
By Brooke Balco, Communications Specialist, Regional Support Center
Growing up I lived many places, everywhere from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois and even all the way across the Atlantic in Paris, France. As I reflect back on my childhood and some of the best memories of my life, the one place that always stayed consistent to me that I could truly consider home was my grandparents’ house. “Grandpap” built the house from the ground up brick by brick with his own hands (I can’t tell you how many times I heard that line growing up!) in 1951 and lived there until the day he died. In rural Pennsylvania at the bottom of the steep hill and miles away from civilization, Grandma and Grandpap raised four daughters. Those four daughters all went on to have daughters of their own, and poor Grandpap was stuck with a house full of females for every holiday to come.
“my name will be cemented there forever…literally”
So many memories were formed at that house from the tractor rides through the woods, the Fourth of July pool parties and the dreadful creepy basement that my sister and I still had to accompany each other down to as adults. According to my oldest cousin the horse head statues on the walls moved and watched us sleep, which is a ridiculous lie that we somehow still believed to be true.
What was most special about the house was that it brought our spread out family together for good times– creepy basement and all. And although I never lived at that house at the bottom of the hill, my name will be cemented there forever…literally.
By Janice Ruzich, Marketing Manager, Central Region
My childhood home
I’ve been thinking a lot about the growing up in our little house in Country Club Hills since we began the process of preparing my Mom’s house to be put on the market. Mom lived in the same house for the last 47 years. We tried over the years to get her to move closer to us or move into a condo but she wasn’t going to budge! This was her home. As it is for so many people, her house represented her independence.
As we were packing up the house I came across bags of seeds from her flower garden. This brought back memories of my sister and me pulling weeds on a Saturday afternoon. Why did I complain so much? Now I love nothing more than to work in my own peaceful garden – even if I’m pulling weeds! Maybe that’s the point – creating your own beautiful garden in your own home.
Mom’s garden phlox
As we cleared out the bedroom I shared with my older sister, Bonnie, I had to show my husband the closet. We shared one closet! I guess we didn’t have as much stuff back then. I still remember thinking my brother was lucky because he had his own room! But our room had two sunny windows and faced the corner where the school bus stopped. I remember how often I would hear the bus coming and dash out the door just in time!
Our little house had three bedrooms and one and a half baths for five people. My husband was not impressed. His family had one bath for six people! We all seemed to manage just fine though.
Backyard ice rink
But not everything was small. We had a huge yard to play in. I remember my cousins from the city coming to visit and saying how they loved to come out to the country! There was enough room to swing on our swing set, play catch or build a snow fort. I remember the awesome snow fort we built after the blizzard of ’67. (Yes, I’m that old!) I don’t think we actually called it “awesome” back then. That was back when I looked forward to snow. And I remember a few years in a row when my little brother Jimmy flooded the back yard to play ice hockey. All the neighborhood kids would come and skate until they were called in for dinner.
Our terrier mix dog, Sammy, loved to run around in the backyard, sometimes dig up the flowers – and escape under the fence! Coincidentally she had two litters of puppies in that house. They were so adorable. I miss that dog.
Garden phlox and lilies
And of course there was plenty of space in the yard for my mother’s beautiful garden. There are beautiful Peonies, tall Phlox, Lily of the Valley and other old fashioned plants passed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother to my mom. These beautiful specimens are still in the garden. And I have them in my own garden right now as well. I’m hoping to pass some cuttings down to my son, Josh and his wife for the garden in their new house.
Mom’s garden has become overgrown over the last couple years. But the flowers and plants are there waiting for the right person to love the garden and make it beautiful again. I am confident the new owner will add their own touches to create their own beautiful garden.