Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why I Sew

This Halloween, I decided to make the kids matching trick-or-treat bags, as one does when they have too many things going on.  My mom had made my next older sister and I matching bags when I was younger, and I LOVED them. Also, while Finn inherited my old bag, I had nothing for Enna.  Previously we had used a wee knit bag that came with some of her stuffed fruit.  This was fine for a 1 and 2 year old, but I knew it would not fly this year.  (See picture documentation.)

See Enna's wee bag.  Finn is holding my old trick-or-treat bag
I got quite excited about the project.  I figured out a pattern I could use (the drawstring bag from "Little Things to Sew"), I added appliqued cat and ghosts, and I tried a new-to-me technique of free-hand embroidery to add the words, "Trick or Treat" to the other side of the bags.  It was while doing this new technique that I inadvertently broke my machine.  I was able to finish the embroidery part, but my machine was seriously skipping stitches and needed to be fixed.  I could not actually construct the bags in its current state.

I was so bummed!  The shop gave me an estimate of 12 working days before it would be fixed.  They had the day before received a huge influx of machines that needed servicing.  In a final plea, I asked the women in my congregation via a Facebook post if anyone had a machine that they would let me borrow so that I could finish the bags.  I just really wanted to be able to finish the project before Halloween, less than a week away.

One woman responded.  She is a mother of 9(?) kids.  Her responses were along the line of, "Why are you even doing this?  Why don't you just use pillowcases?"  And yes, I can see that as a mother of nine, sewing trick-or-treat bags for your kids is probably not the best use of your time.  And if it was just her, maybe (ha! probably not), I could have let it go.  However, I also detected a bit of resistance from Mr. F. in regards to my sewing.  So, I felt there were at least a few people who were silently or not so silently questioning my decision to sew and whether my time could be better spent elsewhere.

I felt people were missing the point, but I hadn't really articulated in my mind what that point was.  I spent a lot of time thinking about my desire to sew.  Finally, it hit me.  First of all, sewing is a creative outlet.  This point is valid, but could also be viewed by people as extraneous--something to be indulged in when one has the time.  However, sewing for me in my current situation is also an intellectual outlet.  Yes, I could read scientific journals and brush up on my statistics.  But I currently have no application for this knowledge.  Ultimately, I would forget most of what I read.  Sewing provides a lot of new material to read up on, especially in regards to alteration and fit.  I have to educate myself on different types of fabrics, construction methods, etc.  I then get to use that information to make useful, wearable clothing for myself and my kids.  There is the challenge of taking a two-dimensional drawing and making it fit on a three-dimensional person.  And as I am pretty much a novice to all of this, I have loads of stuff to keep me intellectually engaged for a long time.  Making meals, cleaning the house, breaking up arguments, etc: none of these activities really provide me with a whole lot of intellectual stimulation.  They are worthwhile activities and need to be done, but they do no fill the void of wanting to learn, apply, and create.

This is the point that I made to my husband as he was stuck, prisoner in the car for an hour on our way to the pumpkin patch last month.  He gets to go to work, think about useful, practical, intellectual things and then apply them.  He gets to associate with colleagues and have adult conversations with them.  No, he does not have any time to pursue any of his hobbies that he is interested in.  And for this, I think he perhaps felt a bit resentful that I was pursuing my interest of sewing.  However, I think he finally understood, that it was more than just a creative hobby of mine.  That, currently, sewing is filling an intrinsic need for me as an adult to stimulate my brain.  Are there other venues for this?  Certainly.  In the past, some of this need has been met by photography and even blogging.  I am sure that the activity will change as my situation does.  

Luckily, I was able to find someone willing to lend me their machine so that I could frantically finish the bags prior to all the Halloween festivities.  I felt a lot of satisfaction seeing them being toted around and filled with candy.  And, hooray hooray, my machine is back from the shop so I can start attacking all the projects I have in mind.  


Monday, November 7, 2016

October Happenings--the 2016 edition--in which a lot happens in a very small amount of time.

The holiday craziness is upon us!  This is always such a hectic time of year.  I feel pressure to make sure the holidays are fun and meaningful, while trying to manage my health and well-being.  Having Finn in school has added to the craziness as there are special, holiday-related activities to participate in as well.  (And I am fully aware that this isn't the half of it!  I hear the older mothers chiming in with, "wait until he has concerts, games, etc."  Don't worry.  I see the apocalypse coming.)  I just wish all the joy was spread out over the entire four weeks instead of just the one.

Pumpkin Patch
First off, we visited a pumpkin patch.  This required some prior research on my part since we are new to the area.  I searched community Facebook pages to see which were the best "patches" in the area. There was MUCH agreement that one of the best ones was an hour away at the tip of the Hood Canal.  The day started out very much like a badly written and cliche' sitcom.  The kids were misbehaving beforehand and Mr. F. was super sick and cranky, but it was the last second to last weekend in October and it was slotted to be a gorgeous PNW day, and by jingo, we were going, and we were going to ENJOY it, even if it killed us all.  On the ride down, the kids tried our patience even more by complaining about how long it was taking, even though I had mentioned repeatedly that it was going to be a long drive.  *Sigh*.  However, once we got there, despite it being PACKED and having to move around the mass of humanity, we enjoyed ourselves.  The place was extremely well run which made the mass of humanity a bit less soul-sucking than I would normally find such things.  It was the first pumpkin patch I had been to where you actually went out into the fields and picked pumpkins!  My kids decided to pick the biggest pumpkins they could find, and Mr. F. had to manage hauling both of them to and from the wagon and car.  (I had my own pumpkin, of course, so I couldn't help.)
Enna loved looking at all the animals, and both kids enjoyed sliding down the black tube tunnel slide set up in part of the hay maze.  I might try something closer next year and not quite so commercial.  We will see.

Children's Museum
Finn had parent teacher conferences the last few days the week prior to Halloween.  I originally played around with taking the opportunity to visit Seattle, but the cost of everything (ferries, said activity, etc.) started tallying up.  A friend suggested we go with her and her daughters to the Children's Museum in Tacoma.  There is free parking, a free train ride, and the museum itself is by donation.  Perfect!  The kids loved every single part of the experience and were asking me as we left when we could go again.  I loved it because I didn't have to deal with my two kids destroying a very small space for the entire day.  Win/win!

Trick or Treat Street
Finn's school hosts a Trick or Treat Street for the community each year.  The PTSA decorates the school and the teachers dress up and pass out candy.  It was really fun.  However, it was also very popular. About 1000 people come.  They are good about letting people in slowly so that it isn't too crowded in the school.  I couldn't really take a lot of pictures because most of it was rather dark, lighted only by strings of lights, etc.

Salmon Viewing Days
So the county has salmon viewing days at different river locations in October/November since this is when a lot of the chum salmon return.  Obviously, I had to go, because once a Salmon Girl, always a Salmon Girl.  I saw one listed at a park near our house and decided it would be perfect.  In theory, yes.  However, it was 1) raining and 2) no salmon were swimming upstream to view.  Honestly, it was the second one that bothered me the most.  I asked which creek/river was the best to view returning salmon, so I will use that information for later/next time.  (And of course, this is the time to plug the necessity of restoring salmon habitat!)  Grandma and Grandpa had arrived by then and came with us, and Grandpa was there to take pictures.  I love the break from being the family photographer.  It is also the only time we get shots of us all as a family.

Carving Pumpkins
Both Mr. F. and I got sick right when Grandma and Grandpa came.  I guess that was convenient. Anyway, it was nice to take a break and to "delegate" the job of carving pumpkins to Grandma and Grandpa.  (O.k., I sort of planned that when I saw the GIGANTIC pumpkins that kids picked out at the patch.)  Finn carved his pumpkin almost entirely by himself.  Grandma was saying how his arms were shaking as he was sawing away.  Enna showed Grandpa how she wanted the face to look on paper.  Despite the success of the carving, I dropped the ball because we didn't have any candles to put in the pumpkins once carved, and we never got any in time before the pumpkins rotted and had to be tossed.  There were tears.  Weeping and wailing.  And once I again, I was reminded about how I routinely fail as a mother. *Sigh*

Trick or Treating
Downtown hosts trick or treating for two hours (4-6) on Halloween.  All the shops hand out candy, it is light enough and early enough for young kids, and it is PACKED!  However, everyone is super nice and considerate so it isn't too bad.  I loved seeing all the kids in costume, and there was such a feeling of small-town camaraderie.  We were done in about an hour, we came home and had dinner, and the kids were in bed close to the time they normally are.  Trick or treating for the win!  There are a lot of fun pictures that Grandpa took, so check out the rest of the pictures on flickr (along with all the other pictures from all the other activities that I didn't share.)

I decided to try the Switch Witch this year.  Due to all our allergies (Enna is allergic to nuts, and I have Celiac), we are left with very little candy for us to eat.  The candy that is left is all full-sugar, nothing remotely healthy, full of dyes, etc.  Gag.  Anyway, it is always depressing.  So I decided that it would be the best for everyone just to let the kids keep a few pieces (Six.  I let them keep six) and the rest would be left for the Switch Witch.  In return for the candy, a toy would be left in the bag for the kids. This kids loved the toys and were happy with the few pieces of candy left for them.  Parenting win!

Cookie Decorating
Not pictured, is the cookie decorating.  I decided that it would be awesome to decorate sugar cookies (which I never make), and so I ordered some halloween cookie cutters online.  Well, it was craziness before Halloween, so we made them the day afterwards.  It was a hit.  I actually used only half the dough.  (I used this recipe for the dough with modifications and this for the icing.)  And guys, I am so lame.  I just can't bring myself to use regular food dye.  I need to buy some natural ones.  The kids are always so sad when I say with fake cheerfulness that we will just be using one color!  (In retrospect, I should have made chocolate icing, since that would have been great for the faces on pumpkin, ghosts, etc.  Instead, I just left it white.)

Friday, September 2, 2016

First Day of First Grade

Choosing to homeschool Finn for kindergarten was the best decision for us, especially as we moved in the middle of the year.  However, I experienced severe burnout by the end.  Right before the move and after, I stopped doing the fun projects and just concentrated on the basics, sometimes skipping even that.  In honesty, I resented the time that school work took when I had so much else I needed to do.  In addition, I was homeschooling while coping with an autoimmune disease.  This meant I had a limited amount of energy.  If something didn't get done before noon or 2 o'clock at the latest, it didn't get done.  I felt a lot of pressure to get the most needful things done by that time: dinner, homeschool, laundry, other food preparation (breakfast, yogurt, bread, etc.)  There was just so much to cram into such a small window of time.

Finn and I also were experiencing a disconnect.  He was bored during the large amount of unstructured time during the day and causing trouble.  I spent all my time disciplining him.  There was a lot of yelling, and this really stressed our relationship.

Our recent move placed us into a good school district.  I repeatedly heard great things about the local elementary school from everyone I encountered (therapist, hair dresser, other parents).  However despite the fact that everything pointed to Finn needing to attend public school this year, I still doubted and worried.  I had drunk the homeschool kool-aid, and changing felt like failure.  Part of me really disliked the relinquishing of control over everything: curriculum, environment, knowing what was going on, etc.  Part of me worried about interactions with other children.  Would they be nice?  Mean?  I had *huge* anxiety over lunch.  What would I send?  Would he want to eat the cafeteria food?  Would he want what other kids were eating more than what he ate?   Would he throw away the food?  (I mean seriously, I don't know why my anxiety was greatest over the lunch situation, but it was.  In actuality, it is fine.)  And then I worried whether he would be academically challenged enough.  With homeschooling, you work on an individual level vs teaching to the class average or even lowest common denominator.  I knew I would be giving that up.

Enough dithering.  Obviously, I felt all the feels, so let's talk about how it went.  

Too intent on getting on the bus that he can't spare a full glance my way.  See ya mom!

Finn's thoughts?  It was such an exciting day.  He had so much to tell me after his first day, so many exciting things to share.  First, there were so many new rules and new routines.  There were recess "policemen" (his words) with whistles!  Different whistle sounds mean different things: line up on the line, stop playing, etc.  There were the school rules to learn!  He typed up a sentence on the computer!  There were Lego books on math to read!  He loved morning work!  He shared with me how lunch worked and told me that he was the first one to finish eating.  He said that other kids had more food, but his was more filling, and I had packed the perfect amount of food to eat.  He told me about the different activities available at recess.  He enjoyed riding the bus and sharing with me the things that happened.  (A boy missed his bus stop!)  He made a new friends on the bus!--a girl from the neighborhood that lives up the street.  The first thing he said when he got off the bus was, "the only problem with the bus is that it is too loud all the time.  The bus driver said he couldn't even hear." (The second day, he reported that it was a bit quieter.)  When we lie down at night, there are still more stories for him to share.  Tonight, after I had put Enna to bed, I came in to lie down with Finn, and he said, "can we talk about school now?"  We hadn't really stopped talking about school, but bedtime is his time to share everything without being interrupted by anything or anyone else.

This look?!  Kills me.  He is so excited and happy here.
How did I like the first day of school?  It was, in a word, heavenly.  There were a total of three time-outs for the entire day (right at bedtime of course.)  And three time-outs? Cake when you haven't spent the entire day refereeing a death match.  My well of patience at the end of the day is still full and brimming vs. barren and desiccated.  Enna and I were able to spend some quality time together, and as she is much more capable of entertaining herself than other children I could mention, I was able to get so much more done than normal.  Heck, I even cleaned our bathrooms, and if you don't think that is a celebration, you obviously have not seen the state of our bathrooms. It is also nice to know that after-school time is dedicated to my children.  I have a large chunk of time during the day to get my things done so that when Finn comes home, I can focus on him.  This wasn't so clear cut before when we were homeschooling, everything blended together.

I am sure the novelty will wear off, and Finn might not find school quite so thrilling.  However, after all my worry and anxiety, I am so grateful for a positive first day of first grade.


Monday, August 29, 2016

In a blink of an eye

I have a previous camping trip that I want to post (and I will and back date it), however, I thought I would post something timely for a change.  And so I bring you the craziness that was our past weekend.

It started as a really fun camping trip--one last Hurrah before Finn started school.  (!! But that is another post for another time.)  We chose to camp at Kalaloch, WA--part of the Olympic National Park that is right on the Washington Coast.

Mr. F. purchased new shades for the kids which was an awesome surprise.  Enna really, really liked hers and wore them most of the day.  We got to the campsite at 2:30.  By pure chance (since there weren't a lot of options when I made reservations), we had an awesome campsite with camp sites on both sides but otherwise at the end of the campground and really close to the water.  There was even a little enclave where we set up tent amidst the trees and brush.    

We set up camp and then went down to play at the beach.  I didn't bring swimming clothes since it was going to be cool, and I mistakenly thought that we wouldn't get wet or swim in the water.  That was silly, because it was nice to splash in the shallow waves and Enna's shorts got soaked.  (And then stayed soaked because they were jean shorts.)   Regardless of the temperature, I think I should always bring swim gear.  It is just easier even if the plan is to just play in the sand.  Finn was petrified of the waves.  He was scared that they would suddenly and unexpectedly get huge and break over our heads.  He was afraid that the tide would come in quickly and get our things wet.  We tried to get him to splash and play in the water, but he wouldn't.  He then freaked out whenever the rest of us spent too much time in or near the water.  That was really frustrating, because I was enjoying it so much and so was Enna.  I didn't want to deal with his anxiety.  Enna on the other hand was having a blast!  In fact, I wished she showed a bit more caution.  She would walk towards into the water, not realizing the waves would return.  When the waves did return, she would get quite wet and be thrown off balance.

We spent an hour at the beach and then had to return back to camp to get started on dinner.  The kids rode their bikes around the campground while Mr. F. and I prepped dinner.  We kept it simple with hamburger patties, potato packets, cucumbers with hummus, and apple packets.  

We were in the process of cleaning up when Enna, being silly and teasing her brother with the fact that she got a bite of cookie and he did not, bumped into the fire pit, lost her balance, and placed her hands into the fire pit with the still burning embers.  Mr. F., using his quick reflexes that apparently I lack, scooped her up out of the pit.  Luckily, we had a tub of water that we were going to use to rinse dishes and so we placed her hands into that immediately.  I then tried to soothe her while also trying to calm down Finn who was in a full-on panic mode, saying things like, "Is she going to die?!" over and over again.  (And I know it is really scary for him too, but dude!  I can't give him comforting hugs because I am trying to take care of his sister--the one that is actually hurt!  It tried my patience.)  Meanwhile, Mr. F. was calling Dr. C., a best friend and pediatrician, to see what we should do.  Answer: clean, put Neosporin on it, make sure it stays wet, and bandage.  The answer was not to put butter on it, which is what I was thinking.  I don't even know where I get these ideas.  Historical fiction novels?  I swear I have read that butter is good for burns, but obviously, not in the current day when there are first aid kits available.

We also needed her to be seen fairly quickly at either the urgent care center at home the next day, or the ER in Port Angeles (on the way home) that night.  In either case, the burns had to be kept clean which meant that we had to pack up camp and leave as camping is not conducive to cleanliness.

(Confession:  I was gutted, and still am actually, that we had to leave.  I was having *such* a good time, and it was so pretty there!  Plus, it was a three plus hour drive, and we hadn't even been there for that long.  Also, I had put in a weeks worth of effort for camping only to have to bail within a few hours.  It makes me feel horrible that I was/am so upset about having to put my daughters well-being first.)

Mr. F. turbo packed everything up in the car while I sat in the car comforting Enna (and Finn) while entertaining them with videos on the iphone.  Then we drove the two hours to Port Angeles to wait in a super packed ER room.  Apparently, that was the busiest they have ever been, and we were lucky to be there on that auspicious night.  We arrived at 10:30 and didn't leave until 3.  Enna was pretty awesome during the whole thing, content with being held.  Although she broke my heart when she kept apologizing for falling in the fire.  My poor little lamb.  Finn on the other hand......

Finn was in full-blown panic/anxiety mode.  He was freaking out about staying up so late and not getting any sleep.  He repeatedly asked (and by repeatedly, I mean every few seconds or minutes) when the doctor was going to come with the paperwork so that we could leave.  His "ticks" were in full force: twirling his hair incessantly among other things.  He was just crying and circling and all together miserable and not in control of himself.  He also kept apologizing for not behaving, which twisted my gut, but just couldn't prevent himself from asking and twirling, and just going crazy.  

The ER doctor broke that news to us that this particular ER was ill-equipped to handle burns.  Instead, we needed to drive to the hospital in Seattle that houses a burn unit and have them take care of Enna.  This, of course, was after much back and forth consulting with various hospitals, taking pictures of the burns, etc.  I knew that Finn was in no condition for more waiting at hospitals (he had been pushed past his emotional limit).  That he, not to mention myself, needed sleep desperately.  However, I also felt that Enna needed to be seen sooner vs. than later.  As we basically live on the way to the burn unit, I had Mr. F. drop off Finn and I, while he continued on with Enna.  I also, knew however, that Mr. F. was in no condition to drive to and from Seattle on no sleep that night and very little sleep the night before.  We ended up making a few calls at 3 am on a Saturday morning to a few people at church, hoping to find someone who would A) answer their phone and B) could drive Mr. F. and Enna to Seattle and back.  Thank goodness we did, because Mr. F. was fried and would have been a hazard.  

So, Finn and I slept  (Finn woke up after 6 hours saying he was refreshed and ready to start the day, blast him) while Mr. F. and Enna spent the next 12 hours traveling to and from and waiting at the hospital.  The final prognosis was first and second  degree superficial (meaning skin only) burns.  We have to change the bandages every 24 hours, keep them clean and dry, and try to stretch her hands carefully every hour while she is awake.  She is also on a strong pain medication.  In reality, she is doing awesome! Although she occasionally complains and fusses that she wants her bandages off, she mostly acts normal.  She can even color pretty well with her left hand (her dominant hand and also the one more severely burned) although she has taken to coloring with her right as well.  

The whole experience has been stressful and emotional obviously.  It is alarming how something can go so easily from delightful to nightmarish.  

And I definitely want a re-do at Kalaloch.  

Friday, May 20, 2016

Moving out and driving across the country

Just a little photo documentation of our move and drive across country.  Shockingly (*sarcasm*), I didn't take many pictures on our drive.  That could be because 1) I was just trying to get me and my dodgy thyroid across the country before one of us failed.  2) I drove the entire way.  3) I was traveling with young kids.  4) We had a fairly tight driving schedule based on the need to meet the truck in Washington and the number of hours we could realistically drive with the kids before their whining rendered us unconscious.

Phone picture dump:

I wasn't going to take pictures of our house before we left.  Good riddance and all that, but someone mentioned that I should so, I did.  The inside pictures were taken to share with the kids who were at a friend's house.  They wanted to know how much longer it was going to take.  Actually, I loved our townhouse, and I REALLY loved the central air.  I just didn't love the neighborhood or the area.  Now I really dislike the fact that we can't rent or sell it.

We picked up Grandma and some cool shades from Grandpa's ophthalmologist office.  We also gave the kids our old iphones and some headphones and let them listen to a bunch of audiobooks.  To be honest, this worked much better with the 6 year old than the 3 year old.

My top advice for surviving a long-distance trip across country with two kids:  Take two separate cars and split the kids up.  On the second or third day, I asked myself, "Why is this trip so pleasant?  This is actually really enjoyable!"  And then I realized that it was so enjoyable because I only had to deal with one child, who was easily entertained by audiobooks for most of the day.  The last part of the trip with me and both kids was not nearly as wonderful.  Luckily, Grandma was with me to mitigate the bickering.  Mr. F. and I have seriously thought about taking two separate cars on all of our family trips as a result.

Visiting cousins for the first time.  These two girls are only 10 days apart in age.  We also saw college and high school friends in Illinois and Wyoming.  

Visiting Great-Grandparents.

Finn Lost both his front teeth on our trip.  Thank goodness the Tooth Fairy was still able to find us!  The first tooth was lost while visiting Great-grandparents.  It came out while he was chewing a piece of caramel candy.  The second tooth came out while visiting an Aunt and Uncle.  We joked we needed to stop visiting family or else Finn wouldn't have any teeth left.

In the end, the trip showed that a lot of my anxieties and concerns were unnecessary.  The kids did a great job sharing a hotel room and being in the car for a long time.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Mountain is Moving Part III: The Move

Health and life has delayed me finishing this post.  It is August and we have been living here for 4 months now.  However, I want to finish the story as it is a reminder to me that this is where we are meant to be.

Mr. F.'s new employers wanted him to start within a month--the beginning of March.  I wanted him to start in two or three months.  I didn't want to try to sell our house, pack, and drive across the country in such a short time (or manage all of this by myself while he started work).  In the end, Mr. F. asked for a slight extension of a month and a half--March 21st.  We were going to move together even if it killed us.

We started the process of seeing what our options were for selling our house.  It turns out they weren't awesome.  The real-estate in our little corner of the woods was/is still incredibly stunted. We were trapped in a small neighborhood with 15+ foreclosures which made it impossible for us to sell.  We were left with two options: short-selling or renting.  We chose to rent it.  We also chose to work with the realtor who left us with hope rather the dementor-like one who sucked all hope and faith out of our life and ate it for breakfast.  

Next on the agenda was to find a place to rent in our new location.  Unlike in Maryland, Washington was/is experiencing a real-estate boom.  In fact, there was a bit of a housing crisis.  Demand is much greater than the supply.  Places to rent are posted and have three applications (or more) in that same day.  Most of the property management companies also would not allow you to fill out an application unless you had (or had someone for you) view the property.  I was calling perfect strangers (in whichever church ward boundary housed the property) and asking them to view properties for me. However, by the time I could arrange it with all the pertinent people, multiple applications would be in and the property was no longer available for viewing.  Everyday, I scoured Zillow and other sites, hoping something new would show up that I could act on right away.  Time was running out.

Or was time running out?  Our move date also kept changing during this time.  As I was desperately trying to find a rental, Mr. F. called me one day with bad news.  With the job offer, Mr. F. was offered a set sum of money to help with moving expenses.  It wasn't enough to cover all moving expenses (i.e. having movers pack and move across country), but it was enough to cover the loading and moving if we did the packing.   (A lot of the more cost-effective methods like pods, etc, were not available to us due to either starting or ending location.)  However, there was a glitch in the paperwork and suddenly the moving stipend was no longer available.  Would Mr. F. still take the job even without the stipend?  Mr. F. called to ask me what he should do.  Would we still take the job if we had to pay for the move all by ourselves?  

When he asked me, I couldn't even answer.  I just burst into tears and started sobbing.  My thought was, "Really Heavenly Father?  Is this some sort of sign that we aren't supposed to leave?  Because, you need to throw me a bone here.  I can no longer jump through any more spiritual hoops."  Mr. F. then called back Human Resources and told them, no, we would not be able to make the move without the stipend--a huge act of faith on his part because we REALLY wanted to move.  Amazingly, that was the correct answer.  The HR representative had an alternative scenario available involving resubmitting correct paperwork, however, she was not able to offer it unless Mr. F. declined the job.  (I know, messed up.)  This was great!  Except it changed our move date indefinitely until HR completed the paperwork.  So, we placed a temporary hold on our moving plans.

For a week or two, we lived in moving limbo.  Mr. F. sort of had a job, but we didn't know when that job would start.  We could pack some things, but not others.  I went a little crazy.  Then we heard back from HR again.  "Oh hey!  The paperwork is finished, and can you still start work on March 21st?" they asked.  At this point, March 21st was ridiculously close.  The feasibility of us packing and driving across the country by then was virtually non-existent.  We told them no. We would need that extra week or two that it took them to re-do the paperwork for us to pack and move.  But problem!  The new work location was switching over to a new pay framework.  Basically, there was a hiring freeze between March 21st and April 18th.  Either Mr. F. had to start on the 21st or wait until the 18th of April to start, Mr. F could choose.  Ultimately, we chose April 18th.

And so, the paperwork snafu was in fact a blessing in disguise.  Instead of frantically packing and traveling, we were able to get things done at a more relaxed pace.  We also had time to visit family while we drove across country.  Mr. F. also had a week to help us get settled before he started work.  This was awesome!  Especially as I had a thyroid set-back a few days before we moved and also after.

But wait!  We still don't have a place to live yet!  During all of this work crisis, I continued to frantically contact rental properties and perfect strangers.  One property manager, bless her!, took pity on me and said, "send me all the details of what you are looking for in a property: rent, location, size, etc. and I will pass it around the office.  If we have something come up that fits, we will notify you before we post it online."  I sent her the following:

  • Rent maximum of $ Z.  Ideally, it would be in the $X -$Y range.
  • Location in A or B School Districts.  If A, any elementary schools except Woodlands is fine.  Anywhere in the B County school district is fine.
  • No more than a 30 minute commute to Work.  
  • 3 bedroom ideal (number of baths not important.)  However could be 2 if 1) living space was large enough (i.e. approximately 1500 sq ft) and one bedroom was large enough to fit 2 beds.
  • No previous cats or 1) mostly wood/laminate floors 2) carpets professionally cleaned afterwards.
  • No water damage with potential unresolved mold/mildew issues
  • Nice but not a deal breaker:  Nice yard for kids to play in.    
I didn't hear back for a while, but then while we were at the aquarium, we got notification of a property that would soon be available.  People, I am not kidding, it met every single criteria plus my bonus:
  • A rent $50 less than our given range.
  • Location in B school district (so great schools).
  • A 15 minute commute to work AND bike-able.
  • 3 Bedrooms
  • No cats previously (although there was a dog and the carpet smells funny, but I can live.)
  • No water damage, etc.
  • A nice, large fenced in backyard.
The property was not available until April 9th, which initially we worried about (because we were still unsure of start date), but in the end was perfect (all due to the crazy paperwork saga.)  Before and after hearing about the property, which (spoiler!) we took, I kept looking for other properties and nothing even remotely feasible was being posted.  NOTHING. If this isn't evidence for Divine Intervention, I don't know what is.  

So, I think that is it.  Sort of.  Our house in Maryland has not rented in the 4 months that we have been here, and we are at a bit of a financial crisis.  But!  I look back at this amazing story, and I have no doubt that this is where we are supposed to be.  So, yes, the mountain is still moving.  Perhaps in a few months/years, I will have another update on more divine interventions.

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Mountain is Moving Part II: The Job

After a year of sort of looking at job openings and then another year of serious looking, three potential jobs (with the right locations and qualifications) suddenly appeared around Thanksgiving of last year.  The locations were Ohio, Utah, and Washington.  Mr. F applied to all three.......and then we didn't hear back about any of them for two months.  (Normal?  Who knows, but it wasn't exactly confidence inducing.)  At the end of January, Mr. F. was contacted by two of those jobs for phone interviews: Utah and Washington.  This was even more promising!  However, as Mr. F. repeatedly reminded me, we didn't want to get our hopes up since government personnel are required to post jobs and hold interviews for positions despite already having a person cherry-picked for the job.

Well, Mr. F. might have been able to play it cool and not obsessively think about possibilities, but I couldn't.  To play it safe, I should not hope.  Hoping would have me "flying on the wings of anticipation," but then I would plummet into the "depths of despair" if it didn't work out.  That was my inclination: to play safe.  However, another part of me told me I should hope.  That hoping for something so awesome, would show faith.  Faith that God would answer our prayers.  Faith that he had a plan for our family.  To play it safe, or to be daring?  Those were my options.

When considering a move, I tried to be open minded about where we would end up.  Ultimately, it didn't matter as long as it was best for our family.  I really did try to set my will aside.  But man, did I have a preference!  I grew up in Washington state, and I will always consider the Pacific Northwest to be my home.  It is the most beautiful and diverse place in the whole country.  I have kicked myself for leaving, not knowing how good I had it.  (Although ultimately, life progressed in its intended way.)  And when considering the two potential locations, I honestly did feel better about Washington vs. Utah.  My sister said I was biased, and that may have been the case, but I also think I could have been convinced if I had felt a different prompting.

So, I decided to be daring.  I opened my heart up to the possibility of something awesome: to be able to live in a place that I loved.  I poured all my hope into moving back to Washington.  I started envisioning a life there.  I investigated cities, houses, and public library systems.  I contacted my former college roommates--people who would all live less than a two hour drive from our new home.  I told them to pray, wish, send out positive vibes to whatever Being they believed in.   It was frightening, to hope so much for something, and to be open about it.

And it happened.  Mr. F. was offered and took the job in Washington state!  I was heading home!  I was dumbstruck.


Of course it wasn't smooth sailing, you know that right?  To be continued........


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