Yeah, a dose of reality – I guess.  I am not sure how to put it any other way.

My wife and I (along with our daughter) moved a little more than a year ago.  We love the area.  And, we love the house.

As soon as we moved, I was making plans for the “train room”.  I had it all figured out.  The room was slightly bigger than the last area I had.  So, I could make the layout slightly larger.  There were a couple areas where I had to compromise.  But, all in all, it was a great train room.

Oh yeah, within a year of living at our new hose, my wife and I had a baby boy.  He is perfect in every way – just like his sister.  (I can say that – with a big smile on my face – because I am the ‘dad’).

After a lot of work, I had the train room almost finished, when it happened… (The story to follow)

When the Economy tanked a little more than a year ago, my work (at work) declined drastically.  I basically sat around with very little to do for more than half a year.  The company, not wanting to let me go, and believing the economy would turn around, kept me employed.  Boy, do I thank God for that.

However, the work load (at work) has not picked up in the area I work.  And, it is not expected to pick up anytime soon.  So, I had a choice to make.  Either, I could be let go, or I could do work for another one of our companies clients.  Seeing that I now have two children, a wife, and house to support, I choose the latter.  The unfortunate consequent of this choice is I will be doing a lot of traveling.  UGH!!!

My wife and I both do not want me to travel.  But, it seems like our options are limited.  We can leave things status quo – and tough-it-out while I travel – trying to make the best of it.  Or, I can get a different job – most likely resulting is less pay (and most likely less stability).

So, here I am – traveling for work (I am currently on a work assignment as I write this).  My wife and I both are having a difficult time while I am on the road – not to mention my daughter (now 3) does not like having daddy gone.

What are we going to do?  Well, for now, I am traveling.  So, I guess we are going to tough it out – at least initially.  But, long term, there will most likely be a change.

Making a job change will not be easy.  I have been employed with the same firm for over 15 years.  Leaving the benefits and vacation will not be easy.  Leaving a known salary, and job stability, will not be easy.  Leaving a company that has been good to me will not be easy.  Either way, leaving my job, will mostly require us to make a life-style change.

Another thing we could do is move – again.  Moving into a house of much less cost would allow us to be closer to debt free (or being mortgage free).  This would allow me to get a different job – potentially making less – where we could still afford to live a comfortable life.

But, neither my wife nor I want to move.  So, to offset the cost of our current mortgage, and allowing us to stay in our home - we could rent out our basement.

We have a few options, and choices to make.  But, either way – moving or renting – I lost the train room.

We have discussed moving.  But, we both feel that moving is not an option – at least for a little while (several years).  We have too much “personal property” to move again any time soon (the first move a year ago was difficult).  And, we both love the house we are in.  Besides, we are in the middle of several projects (like redoing the master bathroom – because of a water leak) that make selling difficult (nearly impossible without a finished bathroom).

We have also discussed renting our basement.  However, this option be came less attractive when a rental house across the street caught on fire.  We both agreed that having renters does not sound like fun.  But, having a renter does give us some flexibility that we might not otherwise have.  And, it would allow us to stay in our current home, which we both see as a positive.

But, then again, I lost the train room (and that is what this blog is all about).

So, here is our current plan; first we finish the mater bathroom – just in case we have to sell.  Then we will finish the basement – to allow us to rent. 

Realizing these projects will not happen over-night - I am continuing to work for my current employer – and traveling as needed.  And, because I am doing these house projects myself – I am busy.  And, when warmer weather arrives, there will be dozens of other things to do as well.  My wife even mentioned using my work vacation time to allow me to get some of the things done around the house (she would normally insist we use my vacation time for personal travel vacations).

What does this all mean for model railroading?

Well… not sure how to put it… But, having a train room – then not having one – then having one again – then not having one again – is very taxing on the motivation for any kind of layout.

Does this mean I am giving up model railroading?  No.  But, it does change the way I view it.

Future modeling railroading will need to be small and low key (non-intrusive).  Any layout I make will have to be small and very portable.  And, I will most likely not have a permanent train room.  I may occasionally have a room to do modeling in.  But, I can not view it as permanent – there is too much volatility in our lives for any kind of permanent layout (or “train room”).

However, I do have plans to use a storage room in the basement for my “train” stuff.  This “storage” room could be finished into a bedroom – for either a second bedroom for the rental, or another bedroom for us.  But, for now, we are only planning a one bedroom apartment rental – and we do not need another bedroom for us.  So, this space will be my “train room” - for now.

As far as the progress I made on my “layout”.  The bench-work is too big for the storage room (to be “train room”).  So, I can not use it there.  And, since losing the train room a second time, I have no interest in building it anymore (I am not interested in making more progress on it, just to have something else come up that makes it unfeasible again).  I have come to the conclusion that a home layout (built in) is just not in my future.  So, I will be giving away the bench-work to anyone who wants it.  Hopefully, I will find someone that wants it.  Otherwise, I may be forced to cut it up for the trash hauler.

I have also been doing some serious thinning of my RR equipment – keeping just the items that make sense (or at least make sense today).  I attended a recent RR flea-market, and did well.  I may do this again in the future as I thin more.

I still have a couple N-Trak modules (two of my originals from many years ago).  I am not sure what to do with them.  They are really my only layout at this time (even if I do not currently have them set up).  I could part with them.  But, I really struggle with this because of the amount of work I have in them.  And, they are of the location (prototype) I want to model.  Not to mention that these could be the “portable layout” I am looking for.  I will have to think about this before I can actually bring myself to parting with them.

I do have some other ideas in mind for a small “portable” layout.  But, that is something for another blog.  There is a lot to think about, and there is a lot happening in life.  Some good (birth of my son) and some not so good – like the travel requirements of work.  Things happen so fast – it is like getting a slap in the face, like getting a dose of reality.

Until next time, God Bless.

(Added February 26, 2010)