Missy and I are both planners.

For instance: when we traveled to Italy, I detailed our entire twelve-day-trip down to the hour on Excel worksheets, complete with hotel addresses and phone numbers, flight information, and all restaurant options for the area of the cities we’d be visiting any particular day. I then proceeded to print off a copy for Missy, a copy for myself, and a copy for our in-laws, so there would be no doubts where we were and what we were doing on any given day of our vacation.

For instance: when Missy has to be absent from school for any particular reason, she likes to type out her entire days lesson plan, complete with the specific, detailed instructions for the tasks assigned to the class while she is out. I’ve seen these lesson plans; she even types out the exact words the substitute needs to say. Without these plans, her students could possibly end up behind the rest of the fifth grade class.

There is one thing that we both have already learned to accept in these early stages of our long journey: plans change.

“So, what are your plans?”

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Missy and I hear this question at least a dozen times a week. At Hope, work, parties, and get-togethers; now that our pregnancy is common knowledge people want to know (with good reason) what our next move is. Unfortunately, we haven’t ever had a good answer to give.

We thought we had it all figured out. We’d live in our townhouse for 5-10 years, which would accommodate our first child along the way. We’d continue to save our money, and as our family grew, find a house that we would be able to spend the next 20+ years of our life in. However, once we found out that we were having triplets, we realized that a new course of action was needed.

So we figured our first move was to, well…move. We convinced ourselves that, clearly, our two bedroom, two bathroom, 1,100 square-foot townhome simply was not big enough for raising three children. So we searched. For the better part of January, Missy and I spent our week-nights scouring the real estate web pages, our Saturday’s driving all over the metro area visiting houses with our agent (who was awesome and extremely patient with us while we determined what we did and did not want in a house), and Sunday’s visiting open houses that interested us.

As the whole process began to take its toll on us, we soon realized that this was exactly the kind of stress Missy didn’t need.

The one...or so we thought.

Then finally, on a cold Wednesday night, the clouds broke and angels sang: we found it; the house we wanted…sort of. We had arranged a walk-through of an existing, already owned house, which happened to be almost identical to another house for sale, but which was only in the early construction stages. We knew immediately once we finished our walk-through that this is was the one. The floor plan was perfect, and since the major construction had not yet begun, we still had plenty of time to “customize” it to match our tastes. We also felt that the price was right, and the location was good…just a three minute drive from our townhome.

That weekend, we settled ourselves down in front of the warm, soft-blue glow of our laptop and began to number-crunch. We had previously worked out the rough figures, but now we really needed to get down to the nuts and bolts. An hour passed…two hours…four hours. Slowly, the true reality of our situation began to sink in. We simply had no idea how much monthly living expenses are with triplets. What if we need to spend up to $1,000.00 a month on formula alone? What if one (or more) of the girls ends up in the NICU for six months? What if cloth diapers are just not an option and we end up going through 25 Huggies a day? What if…? What if…? What if…? With Missy staying home next fall, we knew that supporting a family of five on my income alone was going to be a challenge, but trying to account for all the “what ifs…” on top of a car payment, a down-payment for a house, the larger monthly mortgage, and monthly living expenses was just not feasible.

We were broken. We felt defeated. We asked ourselves: how are we going to do this?

So we prayed. Hard. To our surprise, we quickly realized the answer was right under our feet.

15202 Greenbelt Drive.

We would stay put. Infants don’t need much space…and we can make room to give them what they do need. After all, who wants to move in the middle of the cold Iowa winter? Our house may be small, but the girls won’t know any different. They won’t be mobile for at least six months; all they really need is room to eat, poop, and sleep…and perhaps room for a few bouncy chairs. We’ve already got those covered!

And we thought, from a worldly perspective, this is more “house” than most people live in their whole lives. We’ve seen first-hand the 200 square-foot huts constructed from dirt and grass, where mothers in Ghana raise entire families in. They bathe their children in what would be the equivalent of a large, metal, salad-mixing bowl. Elsewhere, three generations of families in Mumbai occupy the same living space…so who’s to say that we are more “well-off” then they are? After all, we already have, and are prepared to give more of, what these babies need most…

love. Four walls and a roof will make a house, but love will make a home…no matter how big or small.

We realize that our townhome is a short-term solution. What are we going to do once these babies do become mobile?

This answer came almost as quickly as the first: build a house that is right for us.

Missy’s parents had prepared to give us an amazingly generous monetary gift once the girls arrived. After what I’m sure was a lot more serious prayer and discussion, they offered us our choice of either this gift or…land to build on instead (they currently live on approximately 20 acres west of Willow Creek Golf Course and offered us a small portion of this). Knowing that the benefits alone of having family so close greatly out-weighed any of our other current options (and knowing full-well the costs of land in Iowa), we chose the latter without too much hesitation.

So, we’ve devised a new plan:

  • Stay put in our townhouse in Urbandale until after the girls are born and we are able to get a handle on our finances.
  • Once we determine all is well, temporarily move in with the Florer’s late this summer so that we can prepare our townhouse to sell and begin construction on our future house.
  • Move into our new house once it is complete.
  • Raise these girls in the presence of our great families and our wonderful friends, with all the love and compassion we have to offer.

Is this the right answer? I don’t know. But it is the answer Missy and I feel most comfortable with right now, especially with so many unknowns in our future. And that is what’s important. We realize that we are unbelievably blessed. We realize that there will be help around every corner when we need it and when we don’t. But now that we have settled on a plan, both Missy and I feel a lot more at ease as we continue forward on this amazing adventure.

It feels great keeping you in the loop and getting this out in the open; please let us know your thoughts here.

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

8 thoughts on “Plans

  1. Love love love it. Although I’m willing to put some money on you being at the Florers 2 nights after all three of those babies are home. Sounds like a great plan to me (and Jake)! I’ll put the monsters in the mail to Urbanedale!

  2. i already knew the plan but it still brought tears to my eyes. i love you guys and i love our family and i am soooooo incredibly excited for the girls to arrive and for the Florer-Bixler-Hardinge clan to be all together!!!!

  3. La dolce vita…Peg and I are so proud and happy for you guys! You’ve got more common sense than I certainly ever had and I think it’s a fantastic plan. We love it!

  4. Sounds like a GREAT plan! I can only imagine how good you feel having that all figured out, for the time being. What a weight off of your shouldrees it must be. Good things happen to good people 🙂 It will all work out.

  5. When you were home, over Christmas, our first thought was that the townhouse was going to be too small. But, from the vantage point of a little person who is only 19 inches tall, it’s a pretty big place. I was hoping you would decide to stay there until you knew what was what, then, regroup and make a decision when you have more information and a reworked budget. You guys are so smart. But, the most valuable source of wisdom you tapped into was prayer. Now, the peace you feel is the Lord’s way of endorsing your new plan. God bless the five of you.

  6. this sounds like the least-stressful option 🙂 which is totally what you need right now. babies dont take a lot of space, but their stuff does – especially when you buy things off season and on sale and ahead of when they need it, as i know my frugal friends will as i also did! so, we have a “hardinge” room in our basement just waiting for stuff 🙂 we will of course be glad to help with townhouse cleaning, selling, flyer designing, babysitting – WHATEVER you need, but the most valuable thing for you at this point might be storage space, and we have that, too 🙂

    also, if you want to borrow things instead of buy them, just ASK US!! we have this nice big baby einstein jumper thingy that brady doesnt use, and that we wont use for quite some time, so instead of buying (times three), just borrow our stuff as you go 🙂

    • Ah! Cassie…sorry, for some reason your comment went into the “spam” folder…hence why I am posting two weeks after you wrote. So sorry 😦 Anyway, thanks for the note…we’ll most definitely take you up on your offers…we have plenty of stuff that needs to leave our house, as well as plenty of stuff that needs to come into our house for the babies. We’re so fortunate to have such great friends as you, Joel, and Brady!!

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