Friday, June 25, 2010

Roller Coasters

***Disclaimer:  I am well aware that billions of people on this planet who have lived before, now, and in the future have suffered, and will continue to suffer, from challenges much more severe than simply moving.  However, moving is my current challenge, and I am a wimp, so I am whining about it.  That's my disclaimer.***

The younger you are, the more time you have to lose, the less responsibility you have on your shoulders - it makes enjoying the ride a little easier in my mind. Nothing is that big of a deal.

Once you become a mother, it feels like EVERYTHING is a big deal, and the crazy ups and downs of life aren't so fun anymore.  That's why kids think grown ups are so uptight, because we are. Instead of enjoying the ride, we worry about whether or not someone did the required maintenance check that morning because we heard about that accidental death at such-an-such amusement park last year.  I want to be more like my children, more like I used to be, but sometimes I am all too aware of the risks on the ride and I start freaking out.  (Don't tell the kids -  it's their care-free, trusting faces that help me see things clearly when I'm feeling like this.)

What the heck am I talking about?

This whole moving business has just about done me in.  Getting out of here and over to there is so emotionally and physically exhausting I think I've hit a new level of "survival mode".  A little robotic, really.  Creepily calm.  Maybe the calm before the storm?  (What does it feel like before you have a nervous breakdown? Anyone?)

First, there's the getting out.  I've been pushing and pushing for months now on various fronts - the end of the school year frenzy and trying to plan a somewhat fun and "normal" summer for my kids while simultaneously preparing them to move, creating and teaching my classes every week for the last six weeks of school to practice for the "real deal" in July (boy, that's coming fast), and then the very physical and mental aspect of actually moving out.  House prepping/showing/selling, house de-junking/sorting/cleaning.  With our moving day getting pushed up a week, it's been a serious strain to get everything ready so fast. Brandon's new job is paying for a moving company to do the packing and loading - a HUGE relief - but, as anyone who has ever moved before knows, there is plenty of prep work.  So many "little" things that add up.  Like setting aside the various DO NOT PACK piles: the things we need for the next three weeks living at my in-laws, the things we need to leave behind for the new owners, the things we need to return to people/stores, the FOOD we need to get rid of.  I could go on and on, and I'm not even mentioning the phone calls and paper work related to our homes on both ends - purchase agreements, escrow documents, utility cancellations and set-up, changing banks, etc. Trying to do it all with four restless kids underfoot is no picnic in the park either. (My mother-in-law bailed me out the last two days - thank heavens!)

Then there's the emotional aspect of moving.  I almost shed some tears yesterday saying thank you and good-bye to the bug guy, Cesar, who sprays our house every month. Seriously - I am an emotional wreck when it comes to leaving people, places, and ERAS of my life behind, down to the exterminator and my double stroller.  I did shed some tears last week when I took my double stroller to the consignment shop. Total mess. There were some serious memories made in that double stroller!  It was my loyal companion for many years when I needed help getting all those little people and their stuff around.  (I know some moms reading this get what I'm saying, others probably think I'm nuts.  I get that too.  I can hardly believe I'm talking crazy like this myself.)   

I am digressing, and maybe this is likewise crazy, but I have a really soft spot in my heart for hired help - like Cesar.  I don't care if they are doing it for a job and I'm paying them, anyone who does something for me that I can't do for myself is immediately skyrocketed to the top of my list of people I'm grateful for.  Honestly, there are few people I feel more grateful for than Dina, my housekeeper - or whatever you want to call her.  I just think of her as my friend that saves my hide and restores my sanity on a regular basis. I hate to admit that I have "house help"to those women who feel this is a disgrace and/or an extravagance, but it is so commonplace here because of the relatively low cost and the need for work among certain populations. If you could afford to give up one date night a month (or some other "luxury") to pay someone who needs the work to clean areas of your house that no one ever gets to anyway (even with daily chores and Saturday jobs happening), you would do it . . . IF you could get over your pride.  (I say that because that was my hang up in the beginning.)  I just wish - for her sake and mine - that I had the money for her to be my "Alice".  (You know, the live in housekeeper on 'The Brady Bunch'?  Don't hate me for saying these things.  You know you want an Alice too.  It's okay.) Anyway, I digress from my original digressing . . . 

I genuinely LOVE Dina.  I start to cry every time I think of saying goodbye to her next week when she comes for the last time to help us clean the empty house.  It's almost worse than leaving family, because I know I will see family again.  It may sound crazy, but she has been a true friend to me.  We are always swapping favorite homemade foods, we give each other gifts for holidays and birthdays, she brings doughnut holes to my kids, and hand-me-down clothes from other homes she cleans. (That's where Elizabeth got the "High School Musical" beauty of a t-shirt I would have NEVER purchased, but she just loves to wear.)  My kids get more excited to see Dina than they do most other adults. (Might have something to do with the doughnut holes.)  She is the ONLY person who saw me at my worst after Rachael was born and lifted that burden of housework for me.  She was there for me in the same way after I blew out my knee in a skiing accident when Rachael was just a baby.  It's sort of unfortunate, but I think because I had a baby right in the middle of my four years here that I became a little isolated and probably too private as I tried to adjust and adapt to four kids.  Dina was the only person who came into my home on a regular basis and helped me when I needed it the most.  (I'm positively horrid at asking for help, so I mean no disregard to local friends!)  Having some sense of order and cleanliness in the home is a big deal for most moms with lots of little kids, and there is something so personal about being helped in that way that you almost can't help but develop a relationship.  She's been the most consistent and comforting "helper" in my life for the last four years and I don't take that lightly.  Brandon can't even remember her name, but to me, she's practically like family.  (Maybe he feels that way about his nurses . . .)

Speaking of which, I can't even talk about leaving family.  We had a special Father's Day dinner last week with everyone gathered together, and I could tell if I even talked too much I'd start to lose it, so I kept pretty quiet.  I've been holding in A LOT of tears lately.  I feel an eruption coming on at some point.  

Then there's the getting settled somewhere else part of the equation.  The other half of the physical/emotional exhaustion. The job/city searching, visiting various communities, researching the schools, looking at homes, narrowing it all down, actually choosing a house. Once we picked a house I called the ecclesiastical leaders of the church we will attend, got the school info to transfer records, showed the kids pictures of the house so they could get excited about where they would be living in a few short weeks.  But there are still so many questions that hang in the air like: will we like it there?  will the kids make good friends?  will I make good friends?  what will be our new routines and traditions?  what will the neighbors be like?  what will it be like to not have any immediate family nearby?  will our kids be okay? . . . . it's all part of the process of getting there physically and emotionally.

This ball started rolling over a year ago, but it's really just been in the last two months that everything has come to a head, and I have to say: I'm tired.

But I'm just warming up . . . it's a long story, the house story.  Out of about 20 houses we looked at over the weekend we were there (Perkinyaki weekend), it was the only one we were really excited about, and it had already been our favorite after researching online.  We went there with the aim of finding a seller interested in renting with an option to buy later.  (There are A LOT of empty and/or foreclosed houses just sitting right now, so this is a definite possibility.)  It turned out the sellers didn't want to rent, but they did want to get out fast so they were really underpricing the home.  We didn't really feel we could afford it yet - not with the amount of money we are losing on our house here - but it was such a great deal we went ahead and put in an offer.  The mother in me really doesn't want to rent anyway, especially if it means we don't end up buying the place and have to move our kids again.  I just want to finally settle down somewhere for good.  We only have 6 years left with Kate at home, for crying out loud!  But after coming back home and talking about it some more, we pulled our offer and went back to the drawing board.  I was a little devastated.  (I don't know how you can be a "little" devastated . . .)  Down the hill I went.  This was just two weeks ago.

Remarkably, the sellers came back and made us an offer we couldn't refuse.  Truly unbelievable conditions.  Both our realtor here and our realtor in Utah said they'd never heard of such a deal. The sellers said they really wanted us to have the house since we loved it so much, and - I don't know - maybe they liked the idea of a young family growing up there - I'm not really sure - but they were willing to make some pretty generous concessions/agreements so we could get the place even though they had another full price offer.  I told you it was unheard of.  So . . . of course we said YES!  (Weeee!  What fun!  I love roller coasters!)  GORGEOUS location tucked in the mountains with a view of the valley, apartment over the garage for guests/in-laws, over an acre of mostly unmanicured wild space (we like that) with a koi pond (for the Japanese in us) and on and on.  We've been pretty excited about it, especially after all the ups and DOWNS.  

Back to today - moving day.  Kind of a downer.  Brandon had surgeries scheduled all day because moving day was supposed to be NEXT Friday.  He didn't remember to tell me this until 9pm last night when the house was a wreck and I was exhausted.  So I rolled out of bed this morning at 7:30am (after tossing and turning all night - I think I have TMJ from stress related teeth grinding . . . do I sound like a basket case, or what?), hopped in the shower knowing the movers were coming between 8 and 9, and the doorbell rang at 7:45!  I went to the door in my bathrobe and asked for 15 more minutes. Then the termite guys showed up (supposed to be here yesterday) and they couldn't find a place to park because of the movers and the construction mess across the street.  It was a zoo, an absolute zoo.  The kids were still asleep, stuff was everywhere - I just wasn't ready for any of it.  I've been pushing and pushing for months now, and like I said before: I'm just plain tired and I DO NOT like dealing with stuff like this by myself.

Thankfully, my beloved sister-in-law, Shauna, took the kids today (my debt is growing . . .), so once they woke up and I got them some breakfast in the already torn up kitchen, I drove them over.  With the kids gone and my make-up on, I was ready to face the day.  (No pun intended.) I started working ahead of the movers, answering questions along the way about what should stay and what could go.  It wasn't too bad.

Then Brandon called.

The sellers changed their mind.  Today.  They want the other "regular" full price offer.

So as of this Monday we are officially homeless, and I find myself at the bottom of the coaster again.  (I feel strangely numb - what does that mean?  Calm, cool and collected, or about to lose my mind?)

Eric, Monte, James and Pat (the moving guys) were very sympathetic, and offered to pick me up a tuna melt from Georgee's during their lunch break.  I really am grateful they were here today.  They prevented me from bursting into tears and feeling completely overwhelmed.  (Though I shed my fair share of tears after they left.)  Just for today, I traded in four needy kids for four helpful grown men who did for me what I couldn't do for myself - they packed up my life and taped it shut as we talked about their new babies, their girlfriends, their other jobs to make ends meet. We even talked religion, crazy conspiracy theories and why Mormons store so much food in their homes.  I know it's silly, but I feel really grateful to them. (Kind of like Cesar and Dina.)  I can't handle handling anymore of the "things" in my life that only serve to remind me of days gone by and the uncertainty of the days ahead.

Then Brandon came home.  The man.  And we talked.  He reassured me that just like we thought Spokane was the right place back in January, and just like it didn't work out as we had planned, and just like figuring out the right place to go took us clear up to our summer deadline - maybe this failed house plan is the same.  We've got to believe that in the end we will be guided to a better house, the right house - and it just might take us right up to another scary deadline.

Does anybody else sense that God is trying to teach me something?

I can't help but think it's to learn to let go of the bar and enjoy the ride . . .

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Me and the kids have spent the last two days (the first two days of summer) de-junking their rooms, the toy cupboard and the craft cupboard.  We swam a little at Grandma's yesterday, and they enjoyed the slip-n-slide for about an hour today, but mostly I'm trying to enlist their help and work with them.  They did the entire toy cupboard today on their own - nice! Kate is especially helpful, but I forget that they are just children and don't have an endless capacity for sifting through and categorizing junk.  I also sorted through all my kitchen office papers and made some action lists for this coming week.  Brandon took care of some of the garage and backyard stuff today, but he ended up in the hospital for about 4 hours since he's on call.

It feels good to de-junk and get organized, but I'm realizing we still have a lot of stuff I don't want to take with us and there's still a long way to go.  The best part is, the moving date keeps moving up - now it's next Friday!  It's going to be a long week.  Anyone want four kids to play with???

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Four Years

A good night of rest didn't do much for my melancholy.  I'm realizing it's just one of those things you deal with when you are making big changes, leaving behind an era of your life, a place you have called home, people you love.  There's just no way around it.  I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I feel like I can say this because I have been through the experience. To me, leaving our would-be life in California behind feels like having a miscarriage.  When we first moved here, we had so many hopes and dreamy plans for what we could only assume would be our permanent life here.  Now that we've made this decision to move, that life is over, and I guess I'm not totally done mourning the loss.

I don't consider myself a terribly sentimental person (who am I kidding?), but as I look back over four years of pictures, it's pretty amazing what has taken place here. Four years of family gatherings, four years of birthdays and changes in our children (including the addition of our fourth), four years of school and friends, four years of exploring this beautiful state and making many wonderful memories.  California will always be the place where Brandon first started practicing urology and worked with his Dad. It will always be the place where I had my last child and was introduced to The Power of Moms.  California will always be the place where Kate morphed from girl to young woman, where Will got baptized and learned to ride a bike, where Elizabeth started school school and learned to swim, and where Rachael was born - even though she'll never remember anything about this place, just like Elizabeth doesn't remember Iowa.  

Here's a random sampler, and since I literally have thousands more, I stopped trying to get a good balance after awhile and gave up.  You just can't capture four years of family life in a blog post.

Sunset on California . . .

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