Groszkiewicz Diary: Final Entry
Winners of Dream Home in Florida have a rough start but a happy ending.
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November 10, 2003
This summer has been one whirlwind of activity. Once the children were out of school we did something that, as far as we know, no Dream Home winner has done before.
We moved in.
Well, not really. But we did take the kids to Florida and spent 10 days in the Dream Home. Talk about a wonderful experience. Justin, our youngest, is still telling people about his home in Florida.
This summer was not without its challenges. The first challenge was closing on the Dream Home. We needed to coordinate paperwork which had to go from Knoxville to New York to Erie and then to Florida. Due to differences in the real estate laws in four states this was sometimes...interesting. We also had a small problem with homeowner's insurance. In order to get to the policy, the insurance company needed some information that was in the house.
The problem: the only known keys were in Erie. After four days of looking for someone to take responsibility for letting the inspector into the house, a representative of the St. Joe company stepped up to the plate and got us the necessary documents. Now we just needed $14,000 for closing costs and insurance. :)
The next set of problems was getting to Florida. The week before we were scheduled to leave, the transmission fell out of our van. The Envoy was not here yet and stuffing the family into our Escort did not sound fun. The van repairs were completed just two days before we left. We drove halfway the first day, which took us to Knoxville, Tenn. (corporate headquarters for HGTV).
We had a little difficulty finding the hotel. The directions forgot to mention one left turn. We got to the hotel after dark, without dinner and with four tired kids. A quick supper, then we settled down for a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, we did not get one...someone down the hall decided to put his cigar out in the wastepaper basket under a smoke detector. Waking up at 3:00 a.m. to blaring smoke detectors started our second day of travel. The kids were too upset to go back to sleep so we checked out and headed for Mexico Beach, Florida.
After a quick stop for groceries, we arrived at the Dream Home in time for a late lunch. I gave the kids a quick tour while Karen cooked. Things were looking up until someone asked to pass the ketchup. We went back to the store after lunch. Our vacation was not starting off so well. ;)
Once we got back to the house, we unpacked and settled in. The house quickly became home. Sitting in the great room that night we found ourselves joking about the problems we encountered getting to the Dream Home. One thing I noticed that was never in the pictures — at night, the windows in the great room act like a big mirror. It was awesome sitting low in one of the chairs, looking back at the great room through the "mirror."
The next day (John's) parents arrived to spend the rest of the week with us. It was fun showing them around. They had seen the pictures and videos but actually being in the house is so much better. We also got some sightseeing in. We were invited to spend the day with our friends at the Watercolor Inn. It was the first time our kids had been to the ocean and they enjoyed spending the day trying to catch the little fish in the surf. Well...all the kids except Justin. He does not like water and spent the day playing in the sand. :)
Leaving was met with mixed emotions. Everyone loved the Dream Home and we would not have minded making it our new home. But we had family, friends and a couple cats waiting for us back in Erie. It was nice coming home again, but it didn't quite feel like home anymore. About a week after our return, our van decided that it would like to have a new engine. We spent the entire month of July in a loaner car wondering if we were ever going to see our Envoy. Finally, the van was finished and we found out that the GMC Envoy was in Erie. What an exciting day it was when we finally got to pick it up at the dealership. We spent the day in the car fighting over whose turn it was to drive. After we picked up the kids, we put a DVD into the player. It was the quietest ride we have ever had.
(Karen, John, and John's brother Joe) were able to fly back down to the house for a couple days over Labor Day weekend. It was during this stay that we spent a day with Joann and Henner from the chat room. They were there to present us with the 2003 Dream Home quilt that was put together by Joann. The quilt is, well, what can we say except absolutely beautiful The time and effort put into it by everyone makes it very special. We look forward to displaying it proudly wherever we call home.
This experience has been very rewarding for us as a family. We have gained many new friends and acquaintances over the past few months. Even though the future for us and the dream house still remains unclear we would like to thank everyone involved in this project. There are too many people to thank individually, but we would like to thank HGTV, the Scripps Network and all of the sponsors. We would also like to thank all of the people on the HGTV Chat Room for their support, inspiration and prayers.
We are not sure what God has planned for us or where we will end up, but the Dream is just beginning...
The John and Karen Groszkiewicz Family