SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa | A Christmas wreath hangs on the white front door at the Nicolas and Veronica Leon home on Kingston Circle in Sergeant Bluff.
The stockings hang just inside the front door, on a decorative wall that's the upper portion of a staircase leading to an expansive basement. The Christmas tree serves as a focal point for the living room.
Two pillows rest upon a seat in the entry. Both bear the word, "Grateful."
"I saw them at Marshall's and bought them," Veronica Wood says. "We are grateful to be here."
Here is a new home not far from Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School. The six-bedroom home that utilizes 2,000 square feet of living space on both floors was first seen by Nicolas Leon when he reported to work at this site in 2015. Nicolas owns Leon Insulation. His task that day was to begin insulating the residence.
He came home from work, retiring to the home he and Veronica had purchased a few years ago. He talked about the spacious home he was in at Sergeant Bluff. A few weeks later, they drove by this home.
"My husband had talked about the blue house," she says. "I saw it and liked the color."
The contractor wanted to sell the Leons this home. The trouble? They weren't yet looking all that hard.
"We had just done work a year earlier in our home," Veronica says. "Nicolas did hardwood floors and put in a bathroom. We'd painted it."
The family, though, was growing, what with children Ivan, Yaritza and baby Joshua soon needing space of their own.
"The contractor bought our house, kept it for a year and sold it," Veronica says. "That's not how this usually works."
Instead, the Leons found themselves moving from Sioux City to Sergeant Bluff. They relocated in June and spent their first Christmas there, attitudes of gratefulness all around.
"I really like this home," says Ivan Leon, 14. "In our old home, I didn't have my own space, really. Here, I have a lot of space."
Ivan is soon to have his own bedroom and bathroom in the basement, adjacent to a family room featuring TV and pool table. Another room nearby is the exercise room. There's also an office where Veronica plans to do the paperwork for Leon Insulation, which employs six and does projects from Norfolk, Nebraska, to Okoboji, Iowa, and parts in between.
"I've been doing paperwork all over the house," she explains.
The main floor has a living room, kitchen and dining room all set in an open concept. The kitchen island has a sink and spots to easily accommodate the children as they eat on raised chairs. The browns and yellows of the granite counter-top blend with the neutral olive tones of the living room, an area set off with beige carpet and a tiered ceiling that's darker in color.
The backsplash on the island matches that found beneath the cabinets on the other side of the kitchen.
"We didn't have a dining room in our other house," Veronica says, explaining that the kitchen area has about doubled from house to house.
The master bedroom, located just steps off the dining room, also represents a doubling in space from the couple's previous master bathroom. Additionally, there are his and her vanities in the master bathroom, a towering shower and more than ample walk-in closet space.
Past the kitchen is a doorway connecting to a three-vehicle garage. Another room to the west is the laundry/mud room.
Moving past the living room, one meets the second main floor bathroom, one shared by the children using the upstairs bedrooms, the rooms used by Yaritza and Joshua.
Yaritza shows off her bedroom, including stuffed animals that rest by-day atop her pillow. A kindergarten student at Sergeant Bluff-Luton Elementary School, she smiles and tucks her face next to her mother, admitting that "Mom makes my bed in the morning."
"I was worried a little about moving, because she was starting school," Veronica says of their relocation. "But Yaritza loves school here."
Ivan, meantime, is a freshman at West High and plans to stay there throughout high school, as it was the school in which he began. Once he obtains a permit, he'll make the short drive each day.
Until then, he'll have room in this new home to explore and savor, just like his mother and the rest of the family.
"It's so comfortable having more space," he says.
"I am still getting used to the house," Veronica adds. "I really like the space."