The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

The Fine Line Between Fun and Irresponsible

Square Footage of House: 6583
Eventual Price Per Square Foot It Sold For: $273.43
Number of Gangsters I Pictured In the Basement: 11
Number of Weapons I Assumed They’d Be Sporting All Pointed At Me And My Children: 19

While I have been showing property lately pretty regularly, it hasn’t been at quite the maniacal pace that I have been for the last year or so, and most of the houses we’ve been touring have been void of CSI crime scenes and the scorpions and black widows are hibernating, so things have been pleasantly uneventful.

So I the spirit of humility and gratefulness that everything lately has run smoothly, I thought I’d treat you to a story about a less-than-graceful (though probably not less graceful than that video I posted a few weeks ago) moment from earlier this year.

This was back in April when I was previewing houses for my clients who are closing next week on a house in Troon. Back then we were looking primarily in Fountain Hills, and had seen a ton of houses in a gated golf course community called Firerock.

My clients were coming into town the following weekend and I was trying to cram all of the previewing of houses in between my other clients and the various other forms of chaos in my life at the time. My oldest son, Ben, was visiting family out of town, but I had the other two (Gray, 4 at the time, and Jonas, 1.5) with me because it was some kind of a holiday or day off or something.

My thought was that we would see the final three houses I needed to view and then have lunch in Fountain Hills at Wendy’s or something for the kids and then head home to put them down for naps. So I tossed the kiddos in the car and headed over to Fountain Hills.

The first two houses were pretty obvious ‘NOs’ so they didn’t take long to preview, but regardless, with an 18 month-old and a 4 year old in and out of the car, patience on all sides was wearing thin by the third house. By the time we pulled into the massive drive of the final property, I was pulling out all of the stops to keep everyone entertained.


Pulling the kids out of the car again, I was greeted with groans and, “Another house???” from my four year old, and the long blinks of a hungry and exhausted toddler from Jonas.

“Last one, guys!! And then we’ll have Wendy’s! With Frosties and French fries!” I encouraged in my best ‘Clearly I am bad mother who bribes her children with fast food’ voice as I hipped the youngest and grabbed Gray by the hand and trudged up the long steep driveway. “It will be fun! Fancy houses are cool!” (Obviously. Little boys just love expensive kitchen appliances and Tuscan architecture. Right?)

I managed to get the lockbox on the front door open with Jonas still clinging to me and we pushed the heavy glass and steel door open to reveal travertine floors, insanely tall coffered ceilings and an expansive view of the 8th hole of the Firerock Golf Course. It was a stunning house, I could tell right from two steps into the front door.


We still needed to take a quick tour to check out the layout and look for anything deal-breaking (you know, mold, missing light fixtures, something dead), so we did a quick run around the top floor and proclaimed it deal-breaker-free (ok, I proclaimed it deal-breaker free. Gray proclaimed it BORING, mommy please can’t we ggggoooooo NOW? Jonas thought it was lovely for a low-blood sugar snooze on my shoulder with a thumb in his mouth.).

My surveillance uncovered a stairway downstairs and ultimately, what I originally thought was a closest, turned out to be an elevator.


“Hey guys, look! This house has its own elevator, how cool is that!” I said, seizing the opportunity to turn this into a more exciting outing for the kids. Gray, a sensitive artist of a child, was hesitant as I threw open the door and folded open the interior accordion door to reveal a closet-sized room, big enough for no more than three adults.

“I don’t think I want to go in there, Mommy,” he said, “Let’s just go down the stairs.”
“No, sweetie, it will be fun! Exciting! Let’s do it!” I cajoled, until he gave in and stepped inside with a concerned look on his face.

I shut us in to the closest-room and took stock of the buttons that made it work. Once the two doors were closed the room felt so much smaller than it looked before we had stepped in. In fact, it felt almost coffin-like. I reached for the button that said B (for Basement) and considered for a split second what would happen once we got to the bottom in the elevator. What would be on the other side when we opened the door? I hadn’t been in the basement yet, so who knew what was down there? The house was vacant. There could be squatters down there, or worse! A gang of Fountain Hills mobsters holding their weekly poker game/planning meeting of who to massacre next could be waiting down in the room I would step into with my two young children when opened that door.

And this was when I decided that no, um, actually, the elevator was not a responsible idea. I reached for the door and tried to wrench it open and, of course, it was locked and unable to be opened. And that is when I started to panic. The panic jumped up a notch when I realized that because I had so many things/children to carry, I’d made a brilliant executive decision to leave my cell phone in the car. So at that point, for those of you keeping score, my two young sons and I were locked in the elevator of a vacant house in Fountain Hills with no way to call for help and a room full of blood-thirsty gangsters waiting down below to kill us.

At this point, Gray decided that he was on board with the whole elevator idea and started begging me to push the button. “Come on, Mommy, let’s go!”

So I did the only thing I could at that point. I pushed the button, let the elevator creep to the bottom. When it stopped, and Gray reached for the door, I grabbed his arm and immediately pushed the button to go back up, my heart hammering and my stomach quivering. When the elevator ultimately shuddered to a stop back on the top floor, I reached out and grabbed the door handle again and said a silent prayer before trying to open it once again. Ohmylordinheaven it opened.

I clutched Jonas tighter, grabbed Gray’s hand and high-tailed it out of there, not taking a deep breath until after I’d eaten enough Wendy’s fried dipped in frosty to calm my racing heart.

When I took my clients back to the house the next weekend, I told them the story of the preview and refused to ride the elevator with them (I took the stairs and met them at the bottom). They laughed at me and loved the house. The downstairs wasn’t filled with gangsters after all, but a movie theater and bar. I now have an irrational fear of home movie theaters and bars.


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