We built our house in Hanover back in the summer of 2002, and since then we've seen so much change in the neighborhood. Our house was one of the first few to be built in our development, so we watched each new house go up and pretty much served as the "welcome wagon" as best we could. Many wonderful friendships have been formed within our awesome neighborhood since then. As sad as it had been to say goodbye to neighbors who have moved on (we miss you Fennigs!), I don't think any of those can compete with the "loss" we're going to be feeling tomorrow - the day our dear friends & neighbors, Jason & Jacki move away for an exciting new experience in Chicago.
I still remember the day they came and looked at the house behind us. We were those creeper neighbors who were peeking out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of the people looking at the house...they could potentially be new neighbors, so creeping on them was completely justifiable, right? ;) I remember seeing Jacki walk out on to the deck, visibly pregnant, and then Jason and a little man (Will) followed. I thought to myself, Well that could be fun - another young family! We watched their black Jetta pull out of the drive after the showing, then we saw it come back around through the neighborhood again as they scoped out the surrounding area. Funny thing is, I had absolutely no clue that this family would end up being so special to our family.
Fast forward a few months, and the new neighbors moved in. It was late fall, so we didn't truly have a chance to really get to know them all that well right away since we were all holed up in our houses for the winter. We did pop over while trick-or-treating as they were busy unpacking and painting. But that spring we began chatting more often in the backyard as the kids played. Peyton instantly fell in love with Will, frequently declaring her love for him to all of us (remember the running in to the tree incident, Jacki, after Peyton proposed to Will? LOL!). We were pretty excited to have some nice neighbors we could occasionally meet up with in our shared back yard.
As the months turned in to years, our families became even closer, to the point where we found ourselves hanging out any time we were both home. The kids loved playing together and Will & Mason were getting old enough to actually enjoy playing with our kids even though they were a couple years older. Then came the news that baby #3 was on it's way...and a fence must be put up to contain the boys - for Jacki's sanity. We wondered how that'd go since Peyton had free reign of both our backyards for so long. But any and all concerns were put to rest when there was a knock at the door. There stood Jacki with a piece of paper we had to sign regarding the fence. I remember her saying something about she had to get signatures from neighbors who the fence bordered their property lines. Before she left, she had one quick question for us..."Um, so, would it be totally weird if we put a door in the fence so there'd be easy access to both back yards?". We thought that was a great idea! The gate literally was the beginning of our families truly living our lives together in many ways.
Once Miss Norah was born and things settled into a bit of a routine, we were thrilled when Jason & Jacki decided to join our small group from church. They'd come to check it out a few times previously, and had gotten to know many of our friends from various social get-togethers we'd hosted. It was fun to have them included in our awesome group of "church friends" now, too! But even though we have so many wonderful friends, there's nothing quite like having best buds literally right in your own back yard! I can't tell you how many times we'd sneak out in to the backyard once the kids were down to sit and hang out around a campfire, or we'd swap houses so Jason & Chad could hang out and watch sports together while Jacki & I crocheted and chit-chatted. Heck, we even had breakfast on the deck a few times in all our greasy-just-woke-up-and-still-hadn't-showered glory! When everyone else in the neighborhood was gone for the weekend, we always had each other.
Growing up with 3 brothers, I never knew what it was like to have a sister, or really, even to have a friend close enough (in my adult life) to come close to understanding this type of bond. Well, I'd finally found it with Jacki. We shared a similar up-bringing, the same sense of humor, a love for the outdoors, and the same "tough girl" exterior (i.e. it takes a lot to make us cry). I know I told my mom on numerous occasions just how thankful I was that God had dropped Jason & Jacki into our lives because they were truly something special. Our families hung out, we attended church together, and, what are the odds that God would drop a web designer in my backyard? Jason and I have even worked on graphic design projects together...it's been an awesome few years for us!
And now here we are ... things are changing as Jason has accepted an incredible new job promotion, requiring them to relocate to Chicago as I said. That means no more playdates in the backyard, no more birthdays celebrated together, no more crochet nights or craft shows, no more hanging out after church watching football, no more cookie-painting parties, no more campfires, and no more breakfasts on the deck. Don't get me wrong, we're so very excited for them as they move on to this new chapter, but we can't bear to think about not having them, an extension of our family, in our backyard anymore. The kids are taking this news pretty hard, too. Each night before bed, Peyton stands at her window before we close the blind and says, "Good night, Will - love you, sweetie!". It's going to be a HUGE adjustment for all of us.
To Jason & Jacki - thank you for the great memories and your friendship! You both will never know what your friendship has meant to both Chad & I - you were dropped in our back yard at the perfect time when we both needed a true friend. While we're sad to see you go (mostly for selfish reasons), we are confident that God is going to continue doing great things in and through your family. We love you guys and your sweet little ones. And we hope you're prepared for us to bring Libby Land to Chicago! Safe travels and we'll see you soon!