How long have you been dreaming of a log home? Have you wondered not just WHEN you will ever realize your dream? But IF you will? In this episode I share my story of how I got my dream log home against all odds. Thank you for joining me
Episode 1 of My Dream Log Home Podcast
Hello fellow cabin lovers! We are so excited to bring you this podcast to offer inspiration, motivation and education about log cabin construction, design, and experiencing the log cabin lifestyle. If you have longed to build a log cabin of your own this podcast is for you – no matter what stage in the process you are in. And really quick, I want to let you know about our Ultimate Log Home Planning Guide that is currently available as a pre-order. We are in the final stages of production. Once we have everything ironed out the price will be going up! So reserve your copy today. Visit Cariboucreek.com and in the top right corner you will see a button that leads right to the details on this offer.
Ok, let’s dive in to episode 1 of My Dream Log Home Show.
Hi cabin lovers- I’m your host Lindsay Sutherland and today I want to share with you my story to how I came to live in a log cabin in the woods.
It all began about a year after my first son was born. I was a working mom. My career was in the car business which required grueling hours and was very stressful. When I found out I was pregnant I new I would have to go back to work soon after he was born, but I secretly promised myself I would be a stay at home mom by the time he was 1.
On my son’s first birthday, literally the day of his party, I discovered I was pregnant with baby number 2. Again, I promised myself that soon I would be home with the kids.
My 3rd son arrived in 2012 – by now, I was sick and tired of making these promises to myself. I felt incredibly guilty going to work every day. To make things more interesting I was getting promoted into finance which had always been a dream of mine. When I had the idea to work my way towards upper management I hadn’t had kids yet. I’m sure lots of moms and dads wish they could spend their days with their kiddos instead of heading into the office. It’s easy to get caught up in the struggle between advancing in a career and balancing family.
For me, though, the grass was not greener in finance. Where I had been working about 45 hours a week before the promotion, I was now working a ridiculous amount of hours. I honestly couldn’t even tell you but I know my schedule only gave me 4 days off A MONTH – I often would stay past midnight closing deals and would sometimes have to open the next day at 8am.
There was a moment I remember vividly on one of my off days – I was sitting in the recliner in our living room watching my kids play. A strange feeling came over me when I realized I didn’t recognize my kids. They had grown so much in the months that I had been plugging away, that they suddenly seemed like someone else’s kids. The reality hit me like a splash of cold water.
There was no way I could keep up doing this – I no longer cared how lucrative the job was or how prestigious. I just wanted to be home with my family.
My husband and I had often mused about leaving the big city for a small town – building a cabin and raising our babies in the country. It seemed each time we spoke of it it seemed so unattainable. How would we find jobs – how could we buy the land – Where would we go? We just had more questions than answers and really never gave it serious effort. Life was good – money was coming in – kids seemed ok – there was really nothing wrong with our situation except my unhappiness.
In 2013 my father passed away. We moved into his house which was a nice ranch style home in a good neighboorhood. It had an acre of land and we started a small homestead. We had goats, chickens, a small aquaponics garden. Our dream of a log cabin in the woods was fading away faster by the day. We seemed to have everything we needed – but in order to sustain it – I was still working in the car business although, no longer in finance.
In fact, I had found a lovely Monday through Friday job that paid me well. I liked my job and the people I worked with.
Everything was hunky dory – My grandparents would visit us often. My grandma and I were super close and she was really close to my kids. The idea of leaving her just broke my heart.
At this time in our life we were pretty much just focused on paying off my dads house and maybe buying a second home up north.
Then in 2015 a bunch of things started to change. I had our 4th child – a little girl. I knew this child would be my last. I wanted desperately to spend as much time with her as I could since I missed out with the other three.
We had a nanny who was amazing – she educated the kids and played with them. She really became a part of our family during this time. My grandmas health started failing.
But, there were 2 big things that shifted – One was in my life and one in my husbands. For me, everytime our nanny shared with me something new our daughter did or a fun memory – I felt a piece of me crumbling. I still wasn’t living up to the promises I had made myself and it was killing me. My husband, on the other hand, was starting to get concerned about the economy and the direction the country was going. He started talking about food shortages and inflation, riots and all kinds of crazy things. Honestly, at the time I thought he was going a little paranoid but I knew he was coming from a place of love. He wanted to protect us by getting out of the city. I wanted to get out of the city because I was tired of working so hard.
One day we sat in the living room talking – a rare moment for most parents I’m sure – We brought up the idea of moving to a log cabin in the woods again. I remember I just stopped and looked directly at my husband . I said. When are we going to stop talking about this and actually do it?
We just stared at each other for a moment and then there was this shift and the conversation got really serious about how this was going to happen.
Honestly, this is when the magic began. We promised ourselves that no matter what we were moving. It was no longer a matter of IF it was a matter of WHEN.
One big hang up was that Grandma was still sick and I feared if we moved she might die and I couldn’t get back in time. So we decided to talk her and my grandfather into moving with us.
We started taking action – clearing out our house to sell – fixing it up – We told the kids what was going on and surprisingly they were eager about it to.
We started really narrowing down where we wanted to go. We were living in Arizona at the time and property values in the northern part of the state were so high it was really out of our budget. So we started looking into other states.
We researched homeschooling laws, water rights, politics, building codes, gun laws, you name it we checked it out.
Little by little we started narrowing down where we wanted to go until one day my husband told me about a family that relocated to Idaho. He had been following them on Youtube. We started looking into the state and it met all of our markers.
We decided to take a family road trip through the state to see it in person. We had seen some homes in Bonners Ferry that just lit us up – but they usually sold before we even had a chance to make an offer. When we arrived in Bonners Ferry we met a realtor who showed us some land. At this time we were leaning mostly towards buying land and building our own home – well, I should say, my husband was leaning in that direction. I was not convinced that with 4 kids we would ever get a house built! Mind you , he wanted to do the work himself which meant I would be doing a lot of work with him, which I could just envision the chaos. So really, my mind was talking me out of that idea pretty quickly!
But at the same time I was so eager to move that I almost didn’t care about the chaos. This journey really taught me a lot about faith. I had NO idea how to go about doing this – I had never moved out of a state. I had no idea how we would earn an income – we had no friends or family in Idaho – I was not even sure my credit was good enough to get this project going.
One thing was certain – I believed that as long as we were committed to the plan, things would work out somehow. I believed God worked miracles, but you can call it whatever you want – luck – coincidence – in the end the things that happened blew me away at every turn. Starting with a conversation I had with God.
I asked Him to show me a sign of butterflies if this was the place we were to move to. After meeting with the realtor we went to check out a property that was listed. We drove up the “driveway” – I have air quotes up because it was like a shadow of a driveway – one that had at one time been bulldozed but now was covered with tall grasses and fallen trees. It was quite an adventure in our family mini van. We parked the van when we couldn’t go any further and all got out to scout it out.
Looking at land is really difficult. I don’t know if you have ever done that, but looking at this raw land all I saw was trees and forest. There was a small clearing for a house site but I could not really get a sense of what it would be like with a house. My husband seemed to have a better vision and was describing to me what it could be like. I didn’t feel totally enthusiastic about it, but I could sense possibility. When we walked back to the van, lo and behold, there was a swarm of butterflies flying around the dash inside the van! Chills cascaded down my spine.
I looked at my husband in disbelief. We ended our trip a few days later – and surprisingly never put an offer in on that specific property. We just couldn’t commit to that land.
Once we got home, we got back into our routines – Still going about fixing and cleaning the house.
Although my husband was still researching land options – I was looking for houses that were already built. With all the unknowns going through my mind, the idea of compounding that with building a house – which neither of us knew how to do – was a growing concern.
We found a property in Naples Idaho that fit our budget. Even though the house wasn’t everything we wanted, I think we were so ready to move we started lowering our expectations. Once our offer got accepted My husband and my grandfather rented a car to go check it out. He called me after looking at the land – he said the land is really marshy. It’s also on a steep hill . Even though it had multiple acres it was pretty much unusable. At this point, it felt like the only option – we were eager to get moving – so much so we tried forcing the purchase. The problem was the house was on a post and pier foundation – it was not financeable. We went so far as to try a hard money lender – When that guy said he wanted me to leverage my AZ house AND the property in ID I was like – I don’t know about this.
Ultimately, it just didn’t work out. It was back to the drawing board.
For any moms listening you’ll appreciate this analogy – to me – this dream was like pregnancy and birth. When you first think you might be pregnant its hard not to get excited with anticipation. Then maybe you find out you’re not, or worse you miscarry. The feelings of let down are so strong. Sometimes, you may want to stop trying. That is pretty much how I was feeling right now.
The subject line of the email that popped up said REDUCED – MUST SELL – It was a log cabin just outside of Bonners Ferry. Hmm, I thought, let me see. I peered at the add – the price was $310,000 – it was over our budget, but I showed it to my husband anyway. He was willing to make an offer at a price well below their asking price. $60,000 below the asking price as a matter of fact. It was the middle of summer. Houses in Idaho were flying off the shelf. I was sure this was a waste of time, but we asked our realtor to make an offer.
She called me a few days later – “Well, they didn’t say no and they didn’t say yes” What does that mean?! I asked her.
She explained that they were willing to accept my offer, but with a clause that allowed them to keep the house on the market until we close. If they got a better offer I had the first right of refusal.
No way – I was not going to invest in inspections and flights out there and risk losing my job ( I still hadn’t told my employer my plans just yet) just to have the house priced out of our reach. I asked her to find out what there “take it off the market price would be”
SO MUCH back and forth later – we had a deal. Wow, I’m telling you, this was like a roller coaster ride. It was incredibly gut wrenching.
Oh, I forgot to mention another miracle that happened. When I first reached out to Jaclyn, our realtor, I asked her how in the heck do people relocate? How can you get a house with no job? She said often people rent or pay cash. There were hardly any rentals in the town we wanted to move to and I didn’t have enough cash to buy a property outright. She started asking me about my credit. I hadn’t checked into it in a while but I just assumed some things from my past were going to make financing a second home impossible. Incredibly, I was able to fix a few small things on my credit report to get my score high enough and I was making enough income to qualify for a 2nd home! I leveraged the equity in my AZ house through a home equity loan to use as a down payment on the Idaho house.
I think my jaw must have hit the ground when the mortgage broker confidently told me he could get my loan approved and quickly too!
August 30, just a few days after my birthday, we closed on the Idaho property! The joy that filled me was so overwhelming. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Our Az house was still on the market – then it happened – another set back…
Then Grandma fell and broke her hip – there was no way she could move to Idaho. My grandpa couldn’t really take care of her either. Hospice came once a week, but they needed more. We decided to convert our garage to a mother in law suite and have them move in so we could be there to help take care of her. Our dream was immediately put on hold.
But, despite our hustle to get that room put together Grandma passed away not long after she was released from the hospital. I think her spirit just gave up – she wasn’t one that could deal with being bed ridden – she had always been spunky and full of energy.
We had a memorial at our house and soon after Papa moved in with us.
It was not long before we got back on the plan to move.
If you have ever listed a house for sale and had kids at the same time, then you understand the utter chaos that comes with it. The call from the realtor that someone wants to see the house and you have 30 minutes to get out – You shove toys in toy boxes – pick up toys and whatever else is in the way in hampers – dirty dishes go into the oven – oops, did I just admit that publicly haha – You get it though I’m sure…
Keeping the house in order was a nightmare – a daily battle – all while working during the weekdays and working on the house on the weekends. The house was built in the 70s and even though it was remodeled in the 90s it still needed major rehab. It was a constant fixer upper project.
One day, I was driving to work – I was having a complete meltdown. The whole process was so incredibly difficult – To say we were burnt out was an understatement. I was getting to a point where my resolve was being tested. It would have been so easy to pull the house off the market and just stay. It was during my hour-long drive in to work that I was crying and letting all the feelings out – I shouted to God – I could use a little help here!
Immediately, my phone pinged. My Idaho realtor, who now was more friend than realtor, texted me – You are on my mind, is there anything I can help you with?
You have got to be kidding- I laughed out loud and said, real funny God, do you think I could get help from someone in Arizona?
Then my phone rang- it was my older sister who NEVER called me. She says, Oh, I’m so glad you answered. You were really on my mind and I almost didn’t call because I figured you might be working. How are you?
WHOA!!! I unloaded all of my thoughts and feelings on her. I said, it would be so much easier to sell the house if we weren’t living in it.
She offered to let us all move in with her temporarily until our house sold and we moved to Idaho. It was truly another miracle and a massive blessing.
December 7th – that was my last day at the car dealership. Our AZ house still had not sold, but we were concerned about the winter weather taking a toll on our house in Idaho. And after a few months of all 7 of us sharing a house with my sister I was afraid we would soon blow our welcome. This was a HUGE risk – we had some savings but we didn’t want to spend it all on 2 mortgages. But, we decided we would act on faith. When I told my boss what we were doing he was shocked, but I assured him I would make sure I left in good standing. I trained my replacements and wrote processes for things I did. They had a wonderful farewell party. It was a great memory.
My husband and my grandfather had already taken a load of stuff up to the new house in October – but still we had SO MUCH! Even after loads of trips to goodwill, yard sales, and just throwing things away, we still had an amazing amount of things! We rented a 24 foot Uhaul and got it to the house. My husband noticed a mechanical problem on the way home – I called uhaul and asked if we could bring it back and swap it out. They denied us – they said they had to send a mechanic out. Really? We had literally just rented it. This was the first delay.
When the mechanic finally admitted he couldn’t fix it we were able to get a 2nd Uhaul. We got it loaded – Then the lights on our car dolly weren’t working – Late into the night my husband and my neighbor worked to fix it. Finally, the next day our little caravan took off – My husband drove the Uhaul with our camper trailer behind that. I drove our Ford truck with a car dolly towing the mini van and my grandfather drove his little Dakota with a dump trailer behind that!
Grandpas small truck was so light it was getting pushed around by the heavy dump trailer. We could not go over 50 miles an hour the entire way! I’m telling you it was like everything was slowing us down.
Kids had to pee – then they were hungry – then I had to pee – then my husband needed coffee – then grandpa got too far behind so we stopped and waited for him. What should have taken about 2 and half days ended up taking 5.
A week before Christmas we arrived. Luckily it had been a mild winter so there was no snow on the ground. After a grueling week long trip, we spent the next 2 days unloaded in a hurry because we didn’t want to be charged more days on our rental.
One of the first things I did was get out the Christmas Decorations. Sitting by the wood stove looking at our beautiful Christmas tree all lit up agains a log wall just made the whole agonizing trip worth it. I almost couldn’t even believe we were there – It had felt like it would never happen and then there we were. The property turned out to be even more perfect for us than we could have imagined. Even the listing didn’t mention the jacuzzi or the handmade log cabin in the yard that we could turn into a clubhouse for the kids. The 5 acres was useable and had been beautifully landscaped. After nearly 10 years, the log cabin dream was finally a reality.
I hope my story is proof that anything can happen – that despite all odds, if you have a dream it can be reality. My advise to anyone wondering if this can be them is to first get really clear about what you want – don’t let your mind get in the way muddying the dream with uncertainty and doubt. Just imagine that you CAN have what you want – imagine that NOThing will stop you – what is your dream – get very clear.
Then, commit to the journey, no matter what gets thrown in the way – promise yourself you are still taking action to get your dream.
Then take the action – one baby step at a time – keep moving towards the goal.
And finally, trust that things will work out. Trust that, if you have this dream, it is meant to come true.
I look forward to being your host on this podcast. I look forward to sharing other stories with you like mine as well as useful information from experts in log home building. Thank you for subscribing to the show. And in celebration of our launch we are giving away one of our Ultimate Log Home Planning guides. Enter to win by heading over to Itunes and leaving us a review – then screen shot the review and tag us on Instagram @CaribouCreek.
Thanks for listening and remember – dreams do come true!