A story of finding home

A story of finding home

I posted previously about our efforts to move to Virginia and trying and failing to find patience while waiting for things to work out at the right time. This is the story of how that happened, and how in both the chaos of the process and the arrival at the destination, we were blessed beyond what we ever imagined. I should have written this much sooner. I should probably have written through the process even – but it’s a scary thing to put the things that might be and could be out for the whole world to see before they solidify into reality.

We had been searching for homes and I had been searching for jobs for over a year. There were homes that we liked and wanted to be the one, but in the end, just weren’t right. I got a couple job interviews, but nothing that led to any offers. It was discouraging. Then we found The House. A beautiful, old house on a lovely wooded lot, in the perfect little town. The schools were good, the town was lovely, there were beaches everywhere, it was a mere 20 minutes from our marina. Amazing. And then, the fear… wondering if we were even really ready. Our house wasn’t even on the market yet, and it wasn’t ready to be. We took a chance on it and made an offer, which was accepted. We scheduled settlement as far out as possible and delved right into the overwhelming project of getting our house ready to sell.

I wish I had taken decent before and after pictures of the improvement in the house just this summer, but I didn’t. I won’t be able to do justice to the amount of work that went into it, and the amazing results that followed. There was drywall work, and painting, and repairs to the heating system we hadn’t used in years. There was more painting, putting in a bathroom, and finishing a wood floor. There was cleaning and staging, putting up moulding, and a ridiculous amount of painting. We set a deadline to have the house market ready and made an appointment with the realtor to keep us accountable to schedule. We worked late into the night, then stayed up later cleaning up the mess left by our progress. It was stressful and overwhelming, but it was never lonely. We had help all the time, showing up to do drywall or paint or help move heavy objects. Words cannot express our gratitude to the family and friends that put in all those hours with us.

We worked from deadline to deadline. We worked our tushes off for the first meeting with the realtor. He gave us a to-do list before actually listing the house. We worked our hineys off again before he came back and we actually signed the listing agreement. This was the most stressful part: keeping the house in showing condition- while we continued to work and make improvements.

Meanwhile, I was continuing to apply for jobs. We would soon have the new house, our house was on the market, but I had no prospects for a job. I hadn’t had even a single call for an interview since we made the offer on the new house. The stress on both fronts was eating at me and I was exhausted to the bone from all the efforts.

Then, one amazing thing happened. A mere 8 days after listing it, we got a good offer on the house, so we accepted it. The buyer requested that some things be done, but they were reasonable requests considering the price of the offer, so we agreed to most of them. And so – more deadlines. Getting as much done as we could before the inspector and then the appraiser showed up. Then finishing everything by closing. More near all-nighters of work. But still, our help kept showing up.

I finally got a job interview in the area we were moving to around the same time we closed on the new house. I prayed that this would be the right job. It would mean a pay cut, but jobs in the area were scarce. It was a strange interview. It was conducted in a manner unlike any other interview I had been to, but it was with a state government agency; they all have their own ways of doing things. I got called for a second interview, and we got through the home inspection and appraisal without problems. Things were looking good.

We continued to work on fulfilling the things we agreed to per the contract as the clock counted down. On the job front I had mixed news – the hiring panel from the first job had been unable to reach a decision. They decided to scrap the announcement, but they would repost it, and encouraged me to apply again. I was crushed. It had been my best prospect. But I got an interview for another job. A different position in a different office for the same state agency. As it turns out, this interview was conducted in the same manner as the other one. This time, instead of being thrown off by the process, I felt prepared. I had already been through this kind of interview – twice. This position also paid quite a bit better and the office was located just a few minutes from the new house. It seemed too good to be true. I dearly hoped it would be the one.

The interview went well and they asked me back for a second, a mere 3 days before we were due to close on the sale of our house. Projects were finished, we were in the last days of packing and preparing for the moving truck. It was a hard time to spend a whole day away. But I didn’t have to wait in suspense long. They called me back with a job offer while I was driving home to Pennsylvania. Everything was coming together perfectly, at just the right time.

Oh, the packing and moving. I wouldn’t do this tale justice if I didn’t acknowledge the exhaustion of that last day and night before settlement. Loading the moving truck… Realizing all our things weren’t going to fit in the moving truck… Getting help trucking loads of things to family members’ houses just to get it out of ours. So late, late, late into the night. Here’s my top moving advice: don’t ever think you can go with the smaller truck. Ever.

And then settlement happened. It really happened. We sold that house. I tried to take some pictures the morning of settlement, but the batteries in my camera were dying, so the pictures are few and don’t do it justice. It was quite a lovely home when we left it.

006177173

They say that work expands to fill the time allotted. True story. The night we moved everything, we realized there was a piece of moulding missing. Alan was nailing it down about a half an hour before the walk-through.

174Just so appropriate.

We love the new house and the area even more than we thought we would. The big porch…

057The yard.

050The beaches down the street.

056The kids are wonderfully happy in their new school, and I absolutely love my job. The gratitude I feel each day for where we are and how we came to be here, it just fills me up.

I prayed for so many other things along the way. Things that would have been so much less than what we have now. Houses, jobs, communities that weren’t right. But I wanted them to be enough so that we could move on and move out of Pennsylvania. This journey was hard. I don’t know if I gave due credit to the stress and anxiety along the way. But we always had help. Not only the helping hands with the work, but the prayers of our friends on earth and in heaven. I especially sought the intercession of Saint Joseph through the past year, entrusting to this great worker and provider prayers that our work would be accomplished and we would find the means to provide for our family through this transition. The way things worked out perfectly, all at the right time, in ways I never could have imagined- that was a thousand prayers, answered. And Home, of course, turns out not to be the place we ended up as much as the people that surrounded us all along.

In praise of real dishes

In praise of real dishes

If I wanted to, I could figure out when the big kitchen/bathroom renovation began. I don’t want to. Not at all. We’ll just say it’s been a long time and leave it at that. During this long time, we’ve lived with a temporary kitchen set-up in my dining room while the “real kitchen” (as the kids call it) basically became Alan’s workshop. There have been some inconveniences to this arrangement, but none so difficult as the lack of a kitchen sink (or any other plumbing downstairs). The rest of it, I can deal with. I find a recipe I’d like to try, but it’s just not possible without a full sized oven – as opposed to the toaster oven we’ve been using – okay, we’ll have something else. I need the use of two burners, but I only have one? I’ll make things in succession instead of concurrently and use the slow cooker to help keep the first thing warm. I’m pretty adaptable. But dragging dishes upstairs to be washed in the bathtub and then back down? Running upstairs anytime you need water for a cleanup or even to make a cup of tea? Oy vey iz mir!

But look! My Valentine’s Day present! A working kitchen sink in my (getting so very close to done) REAL kitchen!

IMG_4596I know this could possibly come across as sarcasm, but I was really, really genuinely happy. Now, if you ask Alan, he’ll tell you that this is all part of his elaborate plan. Buy a rundown house with potential (always beware the word potential), and renovate it slowly, taking away all the conveniences of modern life long enough for me to get used to doing without them… Then buy a boat! Amazingly, the little galley on the boat seems wonderful! Also, our house had ZERO closets when we bought it. Zero. Connection to storage situations on the boat? Hm….

At any rate, we’d been using a lot of paper dishware for convenience during the dark, sink-less days. Today, I finally had a chance to dig our our real dishware from it’s hiding place in the attic. Hallelujah! What a wonderful thing real dishes are. They make me feel so civilized. There was a bit of a mystery, though. I couldn’t find our glasses, anywhere. There are boxes of kitchen things that got packed up, waiting for the day when I had a real kitchen with cabinets to store them in again, and I’m sure the glasses were among them, but that box must have somehow gotten put in a separate location than all the other kitchen boxes. I did, however, find a treasure. I had forgotten that at some point I was given my grandparents’ “H glasses,” as I always called them. They just got packed away with the rest of my kitchen goods – until now.

IMG_4627My grandparents’ surname begins with ‘H’, and as it happened they had only daughters, and among all their progeny so far, I’m the only one to end up with an ‘H’ name. Good thing, because I loved those glasses and I probably would have wanted them even if that wasn’t the case. I remember using these glasses at the *special* dinners at their little house: somebody’s birthday or some other little occasion to celebrate. It was such a treat to get them out tonight and celebrate the return of real, solid dishes to our dining experiences.

Arrr, The best playhouse in the world!

Arrr, The best playhouse in the world!

Felicity said it better than I could: “We’re going to have the best playhouse in the whole world… even in Chinese!”

IMG_4409

Alan is building the kids a pirate ship playhouse. A pretty massive, awesome pirate ship playhouse. He used plans here as his basis, although he has modified them somewhat. Our version is longer to allow for the addition of a second mast so the kids can climb the rigging between them.

Construction began early in January, when the ground was still frozen.

IMG_4411

IMG_4439Our clever neighbors began to ask if we were concerned about floods.

IMG_4479One suggested that years from now, when the kids are done with it, we take it to the Bay to “see how well it floats.” I’m pretty sure there would be some hefty fines associated with that experiment.

IMG_4590

IMG_4593IMG_4594 IMG_4595At some point after the boat itself is complete, he’ll cut down that tree and add a swingset to the side coming off one of the masts.