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June 11, 2014 |

Missed a Momplex Post?

We are DIYing our moms a Duplex in Alaska! Check out our progress so far as we owner build a home, step by step. Read the Momplex blog here.

posted by Ana White

Well, I’ve been dreading writing this post.  

You know that feeling when you give someone something and they put it on the shelf and never use it? I’ve got some disappointing news – my mom has decided for now that she isn’t ready to move into her side of the Momplex.

I know – I’ve had so many mixed feelings about this, and have been dreading having to let you down as well.  I am so terribly sorry to let you down.

We’ve got one Mom moved in, and she loves her new house.  But Mom #2, my own Mom, has her own reasons why she doesn’t want to move yet.  I say yet because we designed the Momplex units to be energy efficient, single level living – so when Mom does change her mind when she’s “old”, low maintenance easy living will be ready for her.

We’ve known this for a little while, and you have probably noticed that our enthusiasm level for working up at the Momplex has dropped off after getting Mom #1 moved in.  It’s certainly harder to put your heart into something when you know it’s just going on the shelf.

But we’ve been keeping at it, getting projects done, and with the new baby, time has been scarce anyway.  I’m delighted to say that we are almost done with the entire Momplex!

But what to do with this empty unit until Mom #2 is ready to move in?

We won’t be renting it out – that wouldn’t be fair to Mom #1.  And we have to continue to heat it and pay utilities for it, since it’s tied into Mom #1’s house.  

So we asked Mom #2 what we should do with her unit.

She suggested we move in.

We decided to build the Momplex because we ourselves need a new house.  I know that makes no sense at all, but we both felt like even though our house is too small (especially now that we are a family of four), badly needs updates and improved energy efficiency, I couldn’t possibly start working on a second house for ourselves (especially since this time it will be our forever dream home) until we built the Momplex for our Moms.

But over the three years that we’ve put our everything into the Momplex, we’ve put on hold all of the projects at our own personal home.  We’ve been needing better insulated windows, as moisture builds up on our cheapo windows in the winter (in Alaska, the temperature difference in the winter on either side of a window can be upwards of 100 degrees causing moisture to build), which leads to mold growth.  Kids can’t be barefoot on our back deck, as it badly needs to be refinished.  Our front doorknob broke, and the weatherseal lets daylight (and the harsh Alaska winter) through.  And I’ve always been concerned that our crawlspace is not poured in concrete, which commonly in Alaska is an opportunity for radon to creep into your home.

When we built our house, we were in our twenties, building paycheck to paycheck, with a newborn baby.  There wasn’t any extra money to do any more than the basics. We couldn’t afford good windows or to pour our crawlspace in concrete.  We couldn’t afford a few extra square feet to add a mudroom or pantry, or even make bedrooms big enough to turn around in.  

And now that we are in a little better position to make updates, our family has expanded, and there’s just no room to take those projects on.  Our rooms are all already doing double (and even triple duty).  The bedroom is also a closet and where I fold laundry.  The laundry room has been converted to the coat closet. The dining room has been taken over by crafts for Grace and projects that I take on for the blog.  The living room has been eroded by adding an office to one side, and a makeshift mudroom to the other.  My former office is now the baby’s room slash storage room slash pantry and cleaning closet.  There’s just no where else for the vacuum to go.  And Grace’s room is so small, with a bed in it, she’s just got a tiny area to play underneath.  

I love our humble little home, and have been thankful to have it.  But there’s no way we could take on major projects to the home itself while living in it with a baby and child.  Where would we live while we replace windows in a room? 

So we’ve made a decision to take Mom #2 up on her offer to stay in her side of the Momplex while we update our current house.  This is a chance for us to take on all those projects, without having to camp out in the yard with a baby (the rumors about Alaska mosquitos, friendly moose and bears, and endless sun are true).  Mom #1 is of course delighted to have grandkids next door (and we are excited to have our kids next door to Grandma who makes the best fried chicken and prettiest quilts).

We don’t know how long these updates will take, or when Mom #2 wants to move in, so we’ll be making it homey in the meantime.  I have a feeling Mom #2 won’t mind some upgrades and projects we take on for her house   as well.

We thank you for following along on this journey, and feel that although this isn’t our ideal ending, it is by no means an ending.  There’s always a door open for Mom #2 whenever she decides to make the Momplex her home.


Ana+ Family

Lady Goats's picture

Great news!

I think that's great news! How awesome of your mom to let you move in and work on your house. You'd mentioned a few times that your home was never finished because you moved in from the garage, and we all know that after move-in projects slow (or halt completely!).

So sweet.

Can I bombard you with questions? Only a few, I promise ;-)

Is the momplex bigger than your current home? Like, what are the square footage comparisons? I just never pictured the individual units being very big. (maybe because I only thought of it as single person living). Are you going to finish your current house and sell it? Add on to it? Build a completely new one on the same land and tear it down (OR GUEST HOUSE!?)? Use it for an office (what a great office an entire house would be!). This is becoming more than a few questions. I'll stop for now.

On another note, I don't know that anyone is let down by this. It's your mom's choice, and it's personal. I'm sure almost everyone can understand that. Can't wait to see what you start working on, now!

Gina - Lady Goats
DIY Blogger (when I'm not procrastinating)

posted by Lady Goats | on Wed, 2014-06-11 15:42
Ana White's picture

Hi Gina, thanks so much! The

Hi Gina, thanks so much!

The Momplex actually isn't bigger - unless you include the garage - but the space is better planned (more closets, mudroom, better storage in kitchen). It's not necessarily an upgrade for us (except the energy efficiency, low maintenance, mountainview, and Grandma as a neighbor), but it's an opportunity for us to be able to put some TLC into our current house.

As far as our current house goes, we aren't sure what we will do after the updates and if/when we get a new house built. We'll definitely be tackling the major stuff like windows, but we've decided against an addition or demolition because it's a very nice house - we just outgrew it when the kiddos came along.

Thanks so much for your kind note. We'll of course still be trucking along on project for the Momplex - still have to get a kitchen reveal post out and want to do a ton of furniture pieces for both sides!

XO Ana

posted by Ana White | on Wed, 2014-06-11 16:29
yurra-bazain's picture

Happy for your family and your mom!

I am sorry for your disappointment, Ana, but I am also so happy for your family and your mom. "All things work together for good" and the opportunity to spruce up your own home, while living in the Momplex next to one grandma may be a huge blessing! We live upstairs of my own mom, and being so close to her is a wonderful thing (9 times out of 10, haha). :) I look forward to the work and life you all build together!

Yvonne @ sunnysideup-stairs.blogspot.com

posted by yurra-bazain | on Wed, 2014-06-11 16:54
spiceylg's picture


I certainly didn't expect this post. My initial response was empathy for what was probably initial disappointment for you and the RAM after putting your heart and soul into the build. However, it sounds like it has turned into a blessing for your family home and the much needed TLC! So I am now happy that you have this opportunity and that the unit won't be vacant, but instead full of warmth love. Who better to appreciate all the love it was built with? There is seriously no need to apologize to us, either!

posted by spiceylg | on Wed, 2014-06-11 21:05

A Blessing

Definitely no need to apologize, you haven't let us down. You have showed empathy for your Mom about her not yet being ready to move. It's a blessing that her side of the Momplex will receive warmth and love in the mean time. Plus we get the added enjoyment of seeing your home receive its needed TLC, as well as all the wonderful furniture projects you have planned for all. Rock on, Ana, it's another new adventure ahead! We're excited to be along for the ride!

posted by JoanneS | on Wed, 2014-06-11 21:34

Exciting new chapter for the Momplex

Definitely no need to apologize, you haven't let us down. You have showed empathy for your Mom about her not yet being ready to move. It's a blessing that her side of the Momplex will receive warmth and love in the mean time. Plus we get the added enjoyment of seeing your home receive its updates, as well as all the wonderful furniture projects you have planned for all. Rock on, Ana, it's another new adventure ahead! We're excited to be along for the ride!

posted by JoanneS | on Wed, 2014-06-11 21:37
birdsandsoap's picture

I think you just described my

I think you just described my house! We are busting out at the seams since we had our third baby. Once you live in a house for a while, it really gives you some idea of what you want in your next house (closets!!). How nice you get a bright, shiny, and new space while you make your future plans! Storage, storage, and more storage are on the list for our next house!

posted by birdsandsoap | on Thu, 2014-06-12 00:20

I completely understand

For the record you have in no way disappointed me or let me down at any point. I would definitely feel a little dissed if I were you but I am glad that it is turning out to be a blessing in disguise b/c even if you don't get extra space at least you're not trying to reno the house while you're living in it WITH a baby underfoot!! And yay for nice new modern, efficient features you can enjoy in the mean time. Tho I'm not sure I would be thrilled to be sans bathtub with a baby...

And I COMPLETELY understand outgrowing your house. Thats exactly where we were with our house before we moved. Its nice to know I'm not the only one who has NO WHERE for the vacuum to live!

I for one will be very sad to see the complex posts end. I have really, really enjoyed reading them (I've read every single one!), so I would be delighted to follow along as you update your house (as I'm liable to be doing something similar in the future...).

posted by amjoda | on Thu, 2014-06-12 03:04
dakotatransplant's picture

What is that saying? Life is

What is that saying? Life is what happens when you're making other plans!?

Like Gina said, no one is let down. Just looking forward to reading about the next adventures! Can't tell you how often your posts are "timely" throughout our own build and how much I love reason along. I don't know how you get it all done! Thanks so much for everything you do selflessly! :)

posted by dakotatransplant | on Thu, 2014-06-12 11:23

Walk Through

Does that mean you could possibly do a video walk-through of the space? I would really love to see it now that it's all done.

posted by Amanda W | on Thu, 2014-06-12 12:15
Jasi's picture

Great news!

That's fantastic! Perhaps eventually you can build a bigger house for your family next door when Mom #2 wants to move in! Ooh, and you'll have to show us how to decorate a new build. That's something I'm still working with. What will you do? =)

posted by Jasi | on Thu, 2014-06-12 14:22

I like this development

I'm sorry you feel some disappointment about this, Ana, and I'm glad you've all found a way to make the most of the situation. What you've written about your mom in the past suggests to me that she is a very strong, independent person, and I can completely understand her desire to put off moving to her "retirement" home for a little while, even if it is the most fantastic, loving, selfless gift ever!

I'm excited for the next chapter in the Momplex! You'll be able to tell us how it really lives firsthand! I hope you chronicle all your home updates, old and new!

posted by VintagePicnic | on Thu, 2014-06-12 15:22
freefromburdens's picture

Thank you for sharing with us

Thank you for sharing with us who follows your site. So glad things worked out.

posted by freefromburdens | on Thu, 2014-06-12 16:05
shastacoke's picture

I can understand why you

I can understand why you would be disappointed. I get it, but in the end it kind of works out, right? You get a brand new place to live in while renovating your home. So cool!!! So…let me ask, what would your dream home look like? Is it a timber frame home, a log cabin, or a stick frame construction home? I'm just interested and can't wait for the dream home to begin construction. LOL!! Seriously though, you've done an amazing job and there is no need to apologize to us. I'm glad its getting some use and not sitting empty. Continued luck on your future endeavors!!

posted by shastacoke | on Thu, 2014-06-12 19:06
CassieD's picture

Our Window Install...

I'm not disappointed in the least (and why concern yourself with us readers - it's your life!). It seems like a great opportunity!

I wanted to respond to your sentence "Where would we live while we replace windows in a room?" with a picture, because it made me laugh... but I can't figure out how to attach a picture. Here's a link though. This what we did for while installing our windows.

While I didn't hate it, I like your option better :)

posted by CassieD | on Thu, 2014-06-12 19:20
bhoppy's picture

change is hard!

My heart hurts for you guys. I know how disappointing it must have been to get that news!! I remember you once saying your mother had always lived off the grid so maybe she just isn't ready? As the others have said though, it seems to be a blessing. I have loved following along with all your projects and the momplex posts and look forward to seeing how you will update your home! xoxox

posted by bhoppy | on Thu, 2014-06-12 22:08
Pam the Goatherd's picture

You haven't let us down at

You haven't let us down at all!
As an extremely independent person myself, I can understand your mother's desire to wait to move into her "retirement" home. It is great that you have been able to take what is a disappointing situation for you and turn it into a positive experience. Now you'll get to enjoy all the wonderful details that you put into making the Momplex a great place to live!

posted by Pam the Goatherd | on Fri, 2014-06-13 14:12
brookifer86's picture


I'm so sorry you're going through this crazy transition. Of course we would never be disappointed IN you, but I sure am disappointed FOR you! To see all that love and devotion and hard work, and then have the recipient just not be ready to receive it, well, that's got to hurt no matter how well-intended it happened. I'm so glad for all of you that you were able to work out a solution, but I'm still sorry it didn't happen the way you envisioned it in the beginning. All for the best though, I suppose! At least you will be warm and dry this winter, with a great workspace.

I have a couple of nosy questions as well, if you don't mind. You mention that you're wanting to build a "forever home", does this mean you're fixing up your current home just to sell? Or are you fixing it up to move back there temporarily while you then build your dream home? I have to say, I'm super pumped to see what the Ana White Dream House will be like! I'm envisioning built ins galore, a jaw-dropping pantry full of intuitive storage, custom cabinets out the wazoo... ;)

posted by brookifer86 | on Fri, 2014-06-13 21:13

Your house

Well I would really love to see your house - the floor plan at least! I hope we will get to see plenty of pix as you fix it up! Yay for having such an ideal home to stay in while you work on it. Plus it will be great to have a grandmother next door.

Caroline B

posted by carolinelb | on Sat, 2014-06-14 00:26

Please don't be sad ......

Rock on, Ana, it's another new adventure ahead!

Ana, don't be sad; next June you will laugh about this
situation :-) and everything will be OK then.

Please don't stop writing about the "Momplex", I like
to read your blog!!

One question:
The Vanille kitchen - is it the kitchen of your Mom
or the RAM' s mother?

All the best to your and your family and your Mom :-)

posted by chhelga | on Sat, 2014-06-14 16:20
UlrikeDG's picture

I can't wait to see what you

I can't wait to see what you take on next.

posted by UlrikeDG | on Wed, 2014-06-18 23:58
tracysmith's picture

I'm with everyone else, you

I'm with everyone else, you have nothing to be sorry about. Your family including your moms, know what is best for you. I second what another person posted about having a walk through or maybe a total recap of each side of the momplex. I'm trying to remember what the floor plans are for them and that would be kinda fun to revisit the whole project. Maybe give sources for the colors again, cabinet door manufacturer, etc. Recap the whole thing in one post or each side in a post of their own or something where it's really easy to see what you chose for the finishing. I'm really into that. :-)

Congrats on getting it done, can't wait to see the next step!

BTW, I totally have to tell you...your side of the momplex gave me inspiration to update my kitchen. If I hadn't seen how it would all look together, I would still be leaving my oak cabinets, oak.


posted by tracysmith | on Thu, 2014-06-19 20:29

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