After more than three decades combined of high-powered jobs in Washington, D.C., Kyle and Lynnel Ruckert were ready to come home to Louisiana.
And now the native New Orleanians, who met in D.C., are living in their dream house in Baton Rouge.
"It was a great chapter, a fun chapter, but we always talked about returning to Louisiana," said Lynnel Ruckert, who was chief of staff for U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, making her, at the time, the highest-ranking Republican female staffer on Capitol Hill. Kyle Ruckert served for many years as chief of staff for Sen. David Vitter.
Their journey home started in July 2015 when Lynnel Ruckert brought their son, Jack, now 10, to Baton Rouge for baseball camp at LSU. With time on her hands, she drove around with a friend to some of the local neighborhoods and looked at a few houses, including one in Meadow Lea.
"From then on, when I pictured Baton Rouge, I pictured this house in Meadow Lea," Lynnel Ruckert said.
Six months later, the Ruckerts moved to Baton Rouge and into that "dream" house. They joined St. Aloysius Catholic Church, and their children started at the adjoining school.
"We were so happy. We thought God was winking at us," Lynnel Ruckert said.
Can't see video below? Click here.
Their spacious new home is different from their Washington home, just 10 blocks from the U.S. Capitol, where Jack shared a trundle bed with his sister, Mary Kyle, 7.
In Baton Rouge, it's all about wide open spaces but also about memories.
From their years of working on Capitol Hill, there are framed letters from both Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush congratulating the Ruckerts on the births of their children, framed newspaper pages from historic events, political cartoons and photos of the Ruckerts with leaders of government. Their most precious item is a framed piece of carpet from the House Chamber given to them by former House Speaker John Boehner. The carpet, which had been on the House Chamber floor during the 9/11 attacks, was replaced in early 2014.
Their new home is fronted with stately brick columns on a wide porch. There's a large living room with a dining area and a comfortable den. Kyle Ruckert's office, off the living room, is headquarters for his new political consulting firm, Bold Strategies. Lynnel Ruckert is chief of staff to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
And, when everyone gathers in the kitchen, there's plenty of room to spread out over two islands, flanked with cypress cabinets, stainless appliances and a separate dining area overlooking the backyard. Near the kitchen is a homey den with big sofas, where the Ruckert children and their friends can have sleepovers.
The youngsters' bedrooms are personality driven. Mary Kyle, who told her parents she would move if she could pick the color of her room, went for the pinkest of pinks. LSU is the theme for Jack Ruckert's room. "Our first Christmas in the house was everything LSU for him," Lynnel Ruckert said.
The master bedroom opens to a pool and patio area that connects to the backyard planted with lush tropical greenery. The patios are accessible from the kitchen and den to give the home excellent flow for entertaining.
The family is delighted to be living at a slightly slower pace. Lynnel Ruckert recalled how difficult it could be to find a place to park near their home in Washington. Once, when Jack was young, she cried out while circling the neighborhood, "One day, I am going to have a driveway!"
That's when Jack asked, "What's a driveway?"
The Ruckerts have made lots of friends in their short time they have been in Baton Rouge. Their neighbors have made them feel so welcome that they hosted the neighborhood Christmas party last year.
"We love the community here," Lynnel Ruckert said. "We feel like we have fallen into a nest."