Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When the Living is Easy

(Okay, I actually wrote this a week and a half ago, so it's a little out dated... but I'm just going to post it anyway.)

This week, and the last couple of weeks, have been really busy. I finally feel like we belong here. Yes, in fact, I know this is where we are supposed to be. We moved down to Lehi into Jared's brother's basement and have been digging ourselves out of a mess of boxes, furniture and packing material ever since. Mostly me, because Jared has been getting up to speed at his new job and trying to get used to the commute. There is way more traffic here than there used to be, by the way, not that we are helping any by moving back. Anyway, it has been a little like Christmas, in a way. Because we didn't pack ourselves, we get to unpack all these mysterious boxes with unknown items in them. Great fun. Granted, it's all our stuff, used and worn, but it's still exciting. "Hey, it's our rice maker!" "Yay, we have silverware!" "Oh, it's... a container of baby food... wrapped in 4 pieces of paper." And our baby doesn't eat baby food any more. Totally my fault on that one. Should've gone through things better.

After unpacking all the boxes I realized that we were definitely missing a few things, like plates and bowls, the can opener, cheese grater, peeler, etc. Luckily, we found that box, marked wrong, in the front of our storage unit. There's more that we are missing (like all the piano books--we have a piano but no books), but for the most part, we have everything we need. It is great to be able to sleep in our own sheets, and use our own dishes. So comforting. I am happy organizing this place, even though we will have to undo it all in a few months. It's got a kitchen, bathroom, three smallish bedrooms and its' own laundry room. Really, everything we need. It even has a clubhouse, which is actually the pantry under the stairs that the kids have called as theirs, partly anyway. I even put one of them in there for quiet time the other day and there were no complaints (think Harry Potter's room under the stairs, only more fun).

Our front door opens onto the back yard where there are usually at least 6-8 kids roaming about at any given moment. There are 10 kids living here, which has been a dream for them all I think. They all have someone around their same age to play with. They disappear on me all the time and spend hours on the trampoline, on the play sets, or catching bugs. What a fun back yard! The weather is perfect for the kids to play out there without getting too hot and the grass is so soft on the feet. I laid down in it for a while today. I never realized what a luxury this grass was until I had crab grass for 9 years. We even have a view of the mountains from our basement windows because it is on a hill. This place will be great for us until our house is built, and it just may be one of the best summers of our kids' lives.

In a matter of 8 days our kids have seen and played with every one of their cousins but one, their one year old cousin who is in Maryland--7 on one side and 13 on the other. How they love their cousins. Oh, we love their parents too, it's just great to see our kids with instant friends. Family get togethers are great because we don't have to do anything for our kids--they totally entertain themselves.

Next week, all of the out of state relatives will be gone, and we will be almost all the way settled. I really hope to get into a routine of some kind, so that I can feel like I am doing something for my kids, as opposed to sending them outside to catch bugs for 12 hours. The plan is to do 7 things every morning/day and to call it "Kid Camp" (totally stole your idea Lamar, but my kids named it). It will include: 1. Post-its (with their daily chores), 2. Be Like Christ (talk about a Christ-like attribute, one per week), 3. Reading, 4. Writing, 5. Math, 6. Piano and 7. Exercise (which should be easy with the yard and trampoline and such). This is Kid Camp, and I intended to do all of these things as well, until Marissa informed me out of the blue that I am not allowed at Kid Camp because I am not a kid. Little does she realize that Kid Camp is just a spiffy name for mom making the kids do things they wouldn't normally do. You know, like learn and stuff. Boring. We will see how this goes. After all the daily things are done, we will try to go out somewhere or do something fun... or, they can just catch bugs for the rest of the day and we will call it good.

Thursday was a good day. Jared and I finished picking out everything for our new house and got the final total. We are one more meeting and a construction deposit away from seeing our house get built. Very exciting. The more I drive by the neighborhood and look around, the more I feel like this is home. Beautiful, mountainous home. And one with nobody else's fingernails in the carpet either. The same day we got an offer on our house in Florida. We had lowered the price again the night before, and the offer's not exactly what we wanted, but it's an offer and we are very happy to not have to worry about it so much anymore. Hey, I guess anything will sell at the right price, right? We decided not to respond until Monday to see if there is any more activity this weekend with the lowered price. I think there were two showings scheduled. So, this is all very good news. It makes me feel better knowing exactly how much 20% will be and knowing that with this sale we should be able to hack it. I feel extremely blessed indeed!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Take a Pitcher

I just feel like writing... something. First, we are experiencing a bit of culture shock. I am at least. And I'm not talking about seeing a church on every corner either. It's the accent. I grew up here, so it really shouldn't be weird to me, but come on--if you "fill" like taking a "pitcher" of me, I just might start crying. I don't mean to offend anyone that may actually say "pitcher" instead of "picture", but we have heard several people say it since we got here and frankly, it's kind of weirding me out. On the bright side, since I spent half my growing up years here and did pick up some "Utahn", I can now say "bolth" again freely, not that I ever learned how to say that one right anyway, and "freeway" instead of "highway" without getting made fun of. Just please, pleeease don't let me pick up "pitcher" and "fill", to name a few.

On a positive note, there have been some pleasant changes as well. One was when Jared went in for his first day of work, they handed him a paper with his salary on it and it was more than what they had told him. It was actually the amount that he had asked for when he got the offer, but they told him they couldn't raise the salary. Instead, they gave him a sweet relocation package to make up for it. So not only did we get the relocation package, but we got the amount we wanted as well. First day on the job and he already got a raise. Sweet! Although, he hasn't had a raise since...

I kept hearing about the cost of living being lower here, but I don't know, everything seemed affordable enough in Florida. It was all we ever knew. As it turns out, a lot of things are actually cheaper here, like cheese and milk. Today I called to get some rates for car insurance and found out that we can get it for 75% less than in Florida! And our home owner's insurance for a year is just over the amount we were paying for one month! I guess the hurricane risk is a bit lower here. I am so glad I am going this direction and not the other. These people probably think I'm so weird when they tell me the rates because I keep asking if they are mistaken and repeating the numbers. It's a little baffling, to be honest, but a great change. Seriously, these Utah people don't know how good they have it.

Everything has seemed to go really smoothly so far with the move, and I owe almost all of it to the previously mentioned relocation package. It really has been such a blessing! I fill--I mean I feel so spoiled. All of our stuff arrived here on Saturday, and mostly all in one piece. There were four different stickers marking our things to show which place it needed to go and whether the packers boxed it or the mover marked it. Just a little complicated. I was so impressed by how good these people were. We had the best driver and the best helpers. They were amazingly fast. I cannot even imagine trying to pack and move everything ourselves. Our driver said it would have taken at least two U-Hauls. It ended up being 12,500 lbs. I don't know if that sounds like a lot or a little. Sometimes I feel like a hoarder and that I should have dumped half of it, but our driver reassured us that this was actually not a lot of stuff. We put about 1/3 into the basement apartment and 2/3 of into a 10' x 20' storage unit which, I am a little embarrassed to say, is almost completely full. The movers packed it as tight as they do a truck. Yeah, it's probably too much stuff. But, in my defense, there is a lot of food storage, furniture and lawn equipment in there. That's all stuff we want to keep. Plus, I'm sure that a good portion of it is made up of packing material.

The next piece of the puzzle was getting our cars. They arrived yesterday, quite dirty, but other than that, just how we left them--minus the duct tape that was holding on the door handle. Yep, that's the kind of car we drive. I was so happy to see them, and even happier to drive them. You would think I would have liked the brand new SUV rental better than our 12 year old mini-van, but driving it was a source of comfort, I guess. And it was much easier to get the kids in and out of, not to mention the double stroller. They said they were dropping the cars off between 9:00 and 10:00 am and needed $2300 in cash or certified check, neither of which I had or would have by 10:00 am. So, since Jared took the rental car, I walked to the grocery store with the kids to get a certified check because the bank there opened at 10:00. "Do you have an account here?", the nice man asked. "No, but I have this debit card... it's my husband's, because I left my wallet in the rental car... ha...ha... Sooo, that also means I don't have my license. I have a passport though... with my maiden name on it... oh, and also, it's been expired for four years." Looking back, I have no idea why he gave me that check for $2300 when the name on the debit card had absolutely no relation to the name or picture on the passport. It's like these people just expect you to be honest or something. I mean, I was and all. But in case you are someone that's not, this would be a good way to get $2300. Here's a hint though, take four kids with you. It ups your credibility, I can only imagine.

The other day driving back from our weekend at Jared's parents', Marissa said, "I just want to go home." It was at that moment Jared and I realized that this isn't home. I mean, it just doesn't feel like home yet. Not at all. That could have something to do with the fact that we don't actually have a home here yet and are still living out of suitcases. Our routines are all skiwampus and we've been roaming from house to house trying to make sense of this place. I'm sure things will get better once we are more settled in our temporary dwelling.

We've also been having meetings with our builder trying to finalize all of our architectural changes and design decisions, which are extensive. Good grief. They make it sound like this house is so inexpensive until you find out what all the upgrades are. "Oh, you wanted windows and a roof?" Okay, it's not that bad, but the things we want are really adding up. We are trying to limit it to things that we can't change later, like the third car garage, the cold storage and the laundry room drain (yes, that's an upgrade--and we're getting it because it's on the second floor). Even so, we are definitely over budget. And these decisions are hard, like matching floors, cabinets and counter tops while still being economical. It will be done soon and the building process will begin. I feel so good about this home and have never had any second thoughts about it since we made the decision. I love the neighborhood, the plan... everything. Sometimes it seems so arbitrary and random, how you pick a place to live, but I do think God has a hand in these decisions and guides you to the right place. I can only go by my feelings, and I do feel like it is the right place.

All these big changes, and being homeless, have kind of all come crashing down on me lately, and as a result, I think I am manifesting it in being boring and socially awkward. Has time really sapped me of all fun? I used to like fun. I can only blame the stress, so as to convince myself that this phase is temporary. I don't think I idealized Utah in any way, but I am finding it hard to find my place socially. I mean even among family. I don't feel like I fit anywhere yet. I hope I can at some point. About half way through the big family reunion we had on the 4th I just gave up trying. It was a good day for a lot of people, but I guess not really for me. I wished I had been at the 4th of July party that we have gone to for years in Florida, with my friends that I already know I would have fun with. Oh well. Like I said before, there is a lot of good here in Utah and I will find my place, whatever that may be.