“It’s not that bad,” Curt said during the car ride home.
“Not that bad? Didn't you notice that weird smell in the basement? And the house is so small. How are we going to squeeze a family of five into a place like that?”
“We’ll make it work.” Curt said, unshaken. “Remember, it’s only temporary.”
I exhaled a long, cleansing breath. Maybe he was right. It wasn't ideal, but we’d definitely seen worse. We just needed a place to stay while we built our new house.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll work on my attitude. I promise.”
Unfortunately, I broke that promise only two days after we moved in. It all started one morning when my oldest daughter wandered into the kitchen.
“Morning,” I said, setting a box of Apple Jacks on the table. “How’d you sleep?”
Emily rubbed her eyes. “Not good. Taylor wouldn't stop talking last night.”
I grabbed a gallon of milk from the fridge. “You girls will have to get used to sharing a room.”
Pale-faced and shaking, Emily couldn't hold back the tears. She flapped her hands in utter disgust.
Well great, I thought, my heart pounding in my chest. Now I had another reason I didn't like the house. Unfortunately, that little gray mouse wasn't the only critter we’d encounter while staying at the rental house.
One Sunday morning Taylor rushed into the living room. Her eyes wide, she insisted she’d caught a glimpse of something with a long, bushy tail.
“Oh Taylor,” I said, “You probably saw a mouse. Dad needs to set another trap.”
But Taylor persisted and Curt soon confirmed it. This time the problem was bigger than a mouse.
“What? A ground squirrel? Call animal control!” I paced the floor, trying to stay calm.
Curt took matters into his own hands. He grabbed a cardboard box and shoved a towel under the bedroom door. Then he and Madison went to work. The two older girls and I listened from the hallway. I had to admit, all the commotion was kind of exciting.
“There he is!” Madison yelled. We heard a scuffle and a thump; then the sound of my husband scrambling over a bed. For a moment, there was silence. The girls and I leaned in, listening. I pressed my ear against the door.
“Did you get him?” I yelled.
Suddenly Madison shrieked. “Over there Daddy! Get ‘em!”
And the excitement began again. Every time we thought they’d caught him, Madison shouted another command.
Finally, the door swung open. With wide smiles and chins held high, Curt and Madison presented the box. We peeked over the edge. Then we all cheered.
Then early one morning I woke to the sound of loud, crashing thunder. I tried to ignore it, but the howling winds shook the windows. Sheets of rain pounded the roof. I crawled out of bed and pulled back the curtain. Through dark shadows, I saw a massive oak tree bowing overtop the house.
“Curt,” I nudged him awake, “I think we should get the girls and go to the basement.” I flinched at the sound of a tree limb rolling across the roof.
We gathered pillows, blankets and girls and headed to the basement. As we snuggled close, I realized that I didn’t care if the basement had a weird smell – or even if it had mice. I was just glad to have a basement.
After the storm, many people questioned whether a tornado had hit the area. The National Weather Service called it widespread, slow-moving, straight-line winds. Whatever it was, those winds had reached 95-miles-per-hour and left our area looking like a war zone.
As we drove back, I thought about the many surprises we’d had at the rental house. Mice. Squirrels. Storms.
But the biggest surprise came after the storm. That’s when my attitude changed about the house. Instead of my usual negativity, I suddenly felt blessed.