A Big Move Deserves A Tiny House Painting

Something big happened last week: my parents sold the house I grew up in.

They’ve been planning to do this for a while, so it’s not a shock or anything. It’s also not as depressing as it could be since they’re selling it so they can move to Richmond (right now they’re about 2 hours away in Northern Virginia). My parents are both retired and have been planning to downsize for a while now. They picked Richmond for a bunch of reasons, including that four of their five grandchildren live here. So all in all, we’re really happy about the news.

But there’s still something major about the closing of this particular chapter, so allow me to be sentimental for a moment.

My parents moved into this house in 1979 (forgive the not-so-pretty winter pic above). It was a new construction home at the time, so they – along with my two older sisters – were its first (and up until now only) occupants. If you’re keeping track that’s two years before I arrived, meaning this is the house they brought me (and later my little sister) home to after we were born. So as you can imagine, a lot has happened in this house over the 32 years they have owned it. Including my mom taking annual pictures of us on the porch for first days of school and for our birthdays (note the homemade banner taped to the storm door behind me).

When we heard they accepted a buyer’s contract early last month, we took the first opportunity to gather there one last time for a family portrait. My sister Emily even made an homage to my mom’s birthday sign tradition for us to pose next to. Here’s the “original” six Petersiks (aka, the “Petersix”)…

…and now with our expanded family of spouses and children (can you tell that it was POURING rain during these shots – fortunately my bro-in-law the professional photographer knew how to handle it).

In addition to these pics, my sisters and I wanted to honor this big moment with a gift. After debating a few things, we decided to get them a drawing or painting of the house. They already own a pen and ink sketch of it, so (thanks to some suggestions from you guys on Twitter) we landed on getting a painting of their front door from artist Kal Barteski (she calls her series T+A – tiny and awesome). So I sent Kal this pic of the door…

And a couple of weeks (and $100 – split four ways among me and my siblings) later, this arrived. Tiny and awesome indeed.

It’s actually 5 x 7″, so it’s not that tiny. Kal paints them on thin onion skin parchment paper which is why it looks a bit wavy and textured. It threw me off a little at first, but when I read that she does it so your painting looks truly like original art – not a print or a replica – it won me over as quite charming.

The onion skin paper is also translucent so she invites people to mat her paintings on colored or patterned paper to customize them and add even more texture. We had fun trying a few colors & patterns underneath but ended up going the straightforward route and putting it on white card stock since we thought my parents would like it best that way.

We finally presented it to my parents this week and they LOVED it. Woo hoo!

Oh, and since some of you might be curious – my parents got very lucky when it came to selling their house. Before it was officially listed on March 1st, they had a preview showing at the end of February and that person put in an acceptable offer on the spot. Not bad right? Since it happened a bit faster than any of us expected (including them) they have around six weeks until they can officially move into their new house in Richmond. In the meantime they’ll be bouncing around between their Delaware beach house, my sister’s house in Northern Virginia, and my sister’s house here in Richmond. But we can’t wait for the day that they can officially call our city their home.

Psst- The babyproofing adventures continue over on BabyCenter where we’re sharing how we anchored a giant wall mirror in our bedroom (thankfully it wasn’t rocket science).


  1. says

    You will be so thankful to have your parents in the same town. Clara will also think it is the greatest! I can’t tell you how rewarding (and helpful!) it is to see my kids grow up w/ their grandparents. :)

  2. Angela says

    What a beautiful family! My parents still live in the house we (3 girls and 1 boy!)grew up in…..I know it will be hard when they leave.

  3. Loi says

    It’s so important to have that chance to say goodbye. My parents sold the house I grew up in and moved to another state while I was in college. While I love the new house (it’s by the water and thus feels vacation-y), I do wish I’d had the chance to visit one last time. You just inspired me to look at the house on google streetview. Creepy- yes!

  4. says

    Your front porch family portrait, “I am 32” banner, and tiny and awesome painting are the cutest things ever. I am getting sentimental over here and it’s not even my house. I am also going over to Kal’s website. :)

  5. says

    This was such a sweet post! I think as homeowners, many of us hope to have 32 years of those porch pictures and it’s so nice to see that someone was able to do it! My parents still own my childhood house, but we don’t have any picture taking tradition. I hope to be that mom that sits my kids on the steps every year for a picture :)

  6. Hannah says

    I thought my mom was the only one that did the whole sign-thing on the front door! It was really embarassing on the first day of school (with the neighbors out with their kids), but now it’s really cool to look back at!

  7. says

    Love this idea for a gift!

    Also, love that your poster at age 6 was printed on a dot matrix printer. Ah, I remember those.

    You were a little cutie John. Looks like Clara got good genes from both sides.

  8. Barb says

    So thoughtful for all of you kids to give that to your parents.

    In our house we call this “PAYBACKS” in a positive way. Children coming “full circle” and giving back to the parents for all they have done for them . It means a lot!

    So once again, I say BRAVO John and sibs. You did a “good” thing for the parents.

    Nice job!!

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