Posted in Our Story

Living in a Dream Come True

We are in love with our neighborhood. You guys… I guess I should start saying y’all but I never was able to in the 9 years I spent in Louisiana. I don’t think I will this time either. No one notices because the military and local industry bring people from all over the world to Charleston. It’s been really nice to blend in. We haven’t had a single person comment, “You must not be from around here.”

Back to our neighborhood. You cannot access it without going through a separate neighborhood first. Homes that were built decades later surround our brick ranches from the early 1960s sitting on minimum 1/3 acre lots. It feels like you are entering a magical secret as you pass by houses that consume the land they were built on to reveal our neighborhood situated with nature in mind. Mature towering trees wrap you in their branches and tuck away homes with shutters and front porches that seem to smile. The houses relax on generous plots of green that invite you to open your window and put your hand out to catch the breeze. We even have our own soundtrack that varies with the creatures brought to life by the sun and moon. I would scout out houses before we scheduled a showing to get a feel for the area. I distinctly remember my first impression as my jaw dropped and I whispered to Annabeth, “We have to live here.”

We fell in love with the house instantly. The previous owners lived here for 24 years and the husband’s name was Thomas with middle initial J. The wife had his belongings marked “T.J.” Walking through the front door, you are greeted by a floor to ceiling brick fireplace with a cut out into the kitchen. They added on a stunning sun room plus an oversized screened-in porch that take full advantage of the landscape. The rooms were stuffed with antique furniture and the windows hidden behind lace curtains. The house sat on the market for a few days, which is unusual in this hot market. We see why people could not get past the half bath in the master, smaller closets, and clutter. Instead, we felt the joy and tears that the house remembered. We saw an entire half bath more than we had in Colorado along with almost double the square footage and an attached 1 1/2 car garage! More than that, I was brimming with emotion at the potential memories the house inspired from that very first moment.

We continue to be impressed with this house and the neighborhood. I have discovered a few treasures in my kitchen. The stove is a Jenn-Air with an automatic exhaust vent that separates the burners, which are interchangeable with a griddle, grill grates, and hot stones. It even has built-in grease catchers! I opened the cabinets to find a full spice cabinet, pull out drawers, and a massive lazy susan. T.J. has a garage that not only provides a bedroom for his Iroc but also has enough space to line the walls with cabinets, shelves, and tool boxes. Even filled to the brim, he still has more than enough room to work and walk around his car. Oh, there’s a 20’x24′ detached garage in the backyard too. We plan on converting that into a guest house.

There are 3 entrances to our neighborhood and each one drops you onto a major road that escorts you to a unique area. One takes you past the locally owned Sunrise Bistro, with a man selling boiled peanuts in the parking lot, straight into a shopping center. Another offers 3 options: a direct route across the Ashley River, one to the airport and outlet mall, and the other takes you straight into the historic downtown. Summerville is best known as the birthplace of sweet tea. Prior to the American Revolutionary War, citizens of Charleston and the surrounding plantations spent summers here to escape the harsh season. The last entrance crosses over the beginning of the Sawmill Branch Trail and into the heart of the city, just off the interstate leading into Charleston. The Sawmill Branch Trail is a 6.5 mile 10′ wide paved trail that follows the Sawmill Branch Canal.

Lastly, there are our neighbors. The guy a couple houses down gave us a general lay of the land. Most people are related to someone in the neighborhood. His wife’s parents live on the corner across from his cousin and he has a friendship gate into the backyard of his best friend’s house. He instructed us to keep an eye out for the several bars throughout the neighborhood, as most people have kids but still like to party on occasion. I’m pretty sure his best friend threw a Kentucky Derby party at his backyard bar- complete with a giant outdoor TV. We also have bunches of elderly people mostly living alone. I was with a friend when we saw a man who had fallen at his doorstep. He was significantly injured but she was able to help him into the house while I called dispatch to come check on him because he refused our offer to call an ambulance. We even love our trash service. You pile your yard debris on the curb and it is picked up weekly. Furniture and other bulk garbage are picked up monthly. The service is managed by the city and paid for with your property taxes.

We originally planned on being in the Charleston area for a couple years until we figured out where we’d like to be long term. Turns out, we can’t see ourselves anywhere other than Summerville, SC. Who knows if that will always be true but we love it here more and more each day. T.J. started his new job at Cummins Diesel as a service technician on Monday. It now takes him 5-10 minutes to get to his 7:30am-4pm Monday-Friday job. 2 weeks vacation and insurance benefits were available from the moment he started. He’s excited to be back in the blue collar and eager to pursue his new dream of becoming a technical trainer.

I’m off to paint the sun room a cheery blue while Annabeth follows Dad around tending to the yard and Cooper keeps an eye on those menacing squirrels. Come out for a visit some time. We’ve got a mason jar of sweet tea itching to meet you.

Annabeth in her princess, unicorn, fairy, mermaid, rainbow, grass and dirt bedroom.
Posted in Our Story

Our Little Piece of Heaven

We are officially home owners again! We closed on our house in Summerville, SC on April 12th. We spent 7 weeks in a condo living out of suitcases. The same things we’d brought with us on our road trip from Colorado. I expected it to be trying but I quickly grew to enjoy the simple purpose in each day. The complex was serene with abundant ponds, fountains, and greenery. Then came the landscape crew every morning at 7am blasting leaf blowers. Hmph… There goes our peaceful rental condo. We did enjoy trying a meal kit for the first time, taking Cooper for regular walks, and Dad coming home for lunch. I’m glad we chose to take in the experience rather than focusing on what we were missing; we flourished in the possibilities found within the emptiness.

Needless to say, we have counted the moments to Closing Day on the same hand that we scratch our head with doubt. We have been balancing between hopeful and hopeless so often here lately. Through it all, we were blessed with a good dose of humility. We found ourselves grateful to be in a condo stocked with dishes and towels. It even had a washer and dryer! I pray that we never forget being humbled by our circumstance. In that space, I remember thanking God for my family’s health. Just taking a minute to recognize something we take for granted that in a second could be taken away and turn comfort into chaos. This modern life shoves you onward, so focused on what you should be accomplishing. Take a full 60 seconds to smile at the memories and appreciate your current circumstance.

Annabeth woke up to rain and just had to take it all in!

It has been three weeks since we closed on this house. T.J. and I feel like we’ve won the lottery. We spend our days in the sun room and evenings in the screened-in porch surrounded by our little oasis while Dad tries his hand at grilling with charcoal. I am in a dream come true being able to decorate each room piece by piece. I’ve either 1) had no clue how or 2) not been able to afford or 3) been too cheap to buy anything full price. I still cringe if I pay full price. We have discovered a couple really neat re-purpose and antique markets. Annabeth loves going through the old books, purses, and toys. She’s started her own collection of treasures. I call them bribes because she earns them by staying next to me and only pointing to things that interest her. I’ve been taking my time digging deep to uncover my style.

We are so happy. T.J. is a breath of fresh air. Can you believe I just said that? He changes into shorts and sandals when he gets home from work. (I promise I’ll take a picture of that for you.) I guess he’s been inhaling too much salty sea air with those T-tops down. I’m sure there will be challenges ahead but in this moment, we are enjoying ourselves.

Reclaimed bowling lane coffee table
Posted in Our Story

Backwards Priorities

We officially sold our house in Colorado last week! Just like the last time we unloaded a house, we bought a 1988 Iroc Z Camaro. That’s right, we’ve done it again. I found a gray T-top Iroc with original red interior, original steering wheel, and original wheels. T.J. was clueless to my scheme. I had him convinced that he’d be getting a commuter car similar to the manual transmission 1999 Nissan Altima he sold just before we moved to South Carolina.

To me, it was fate. We have been anticipating this tour of a replica Santa Maria expected to be in Beaufort, SC. We closed on our house in Colorado on March 28th and the ship was arriving on March 29th. The car was only about 20 minutes from the ship, so my plan was to pull up next to the car and reveal my intentions. I found out the night before that the ship had been delayed due to inclement weather and damage to the mast. I panicked and tried to explain that we should still keep our plans to head out there. T.J. was more interested in checking out a car he’d found and finally going into Charleston for the first time. I blurted out that I had found this car. He thought I was joking until I started pulling up photos and repeating the conversation I had with the owner. I saw a tear or two well up in his eyes, even behind those sunglasses.

This repeat car was also symbolic of our growth. We bought the first one (the first one we owned together) a couple months before we jumped into our first total reno house, less than a year before my Mom passed away, and two years prior to giving birth to our long-awaited daughter. In no time, the car started showing signs of the neglect and ignorance it had experienced from previous owners. We had several conversations about the extensive work that needed to be done. I desperately wanted the car as an opportunity for him to let off steam. We moved so far out that it was impossible to get to the gym and I could tell he needed that release. In an attempt to hold onto his youth and independence, the lies started. Annabeth was a newborn at this point and T.J. worked 12 hours 5 days a week. He was home by 5pm and in bed by 7pm. I pumped exclusively for Annabeth and those 14 months passed by in a cloud of sleeplessness. I’ll take this minute to brag about the 43+ gallons of pumped milk that I donated! I honestly wish I’d spent more time wrapped up in my precious baby and less hooked up to that contraption. Anyway, we both struggled that first year.

I want to make it clear that I have been guilty of this exact same thing, even to this day. Not being able to let go. T.J. fought to revive that red Iroc like he was on a mission to maintain his own sense of self. I know my Mom would cringe hearing me say the “S” word but the whole thing was stupid. Every little thing we’d started to renovate on the house sat unfinished, our pillowy financial situation had a new baby sized dent, and free time was a foreign concept. This was no time to talk me into pouring a concrete foundation in the shop so he could begin the endless project of swapping everything but the new exhaust he’d installed on that car.

Things are different now. I never thought I would give a second thought to a sports car, let alone a reminder of those times. Truth is: We need that reminder of where we’ve been to remember how blessed we are to be here now. That goes both ways. Never forget how blessed you were back then either!

We hold our breath as we watch missed intentions pass us by. The loss of outdated dreams and irrelevant desires consumes our sense of success. I am not a failure for neglecting to fulfill each dream I’ve ever had. Dreams are fluid and I am proud that I’ve had the foresight to leave some behind. I fail at that constantly but I try to remember that dreams fill in the gaps of each individual moment. My dream on Friday was to spend the day rummaging through stores for design inspiration for the house we’re closing on this coming Friday. Annabeth made it clear that she needed closeness and a standstill sense of security. In that moment, my dream morphed into a wish for peace in her oversized heart. She built a beach in her bedroom and turned on her nightlight to watch the stars wave across the ceiling. The day was filled with Annabeth clinging to me like dog hair, to the point of hitting her face on my butt as I took a step back to open a door. I fought my disappointment and spent too many moments distracted by the thoughts in my head. All while my dreams were nuzzled under my armpit being ignored.

This new car is a nod to our new life. May our dreams continue to be renewed with every single breath we take. We pray that the smiles it brings come with a little spark of motivation to not repeat the past but treasure it at the same time.

May we never stop discovering our own sense of self in these moments of being present enough to adjust accordingly. To soak up our dreams as they come true right before our eyes.

Posted in Adventures

Magnolia Plantation

Our adventure this past weekend was to explore Magnolia Plantation, just across the Ashley River from our rental condo. We’ve been excited about this visit since we arrived in town and had planned to go for Annabeth’s birthday. The grounds did not disappoint! I was unimpressed by the plantation house but maybe I was spoiled by the ones in Louisiana.

Watching the boats go by

The property has been in the same family since 1676 and is still managed by their descendants. The gardens have been open to the public since 1870, making it the oldest public garden in America. You could easily spend all day walking the gardens and taking tours. They offer a river boat tour of the rice fields, a tour of the plantation house, the swamp tour, the nature tram, and the award winning slavery to freedom tour.

We were there for over 3 hours and did not nearly see everything.  We chose to tour the plantation house because this was TJ’s first ever visit to a plantation! We also did half of the Swamp walk and got to see several alligators, two babies were sunbathing along the path. They offer plenty to do even without the tours.

Audubon Swamp Selfie

The petting zoo was adorable! Goats, geese, ducks, peacocks, and deer freely roamed the area. Quarter machines were at the entry with food for them. A small room housed some snakes and there was even a display of poison ivy! I was so excited for Annabeth to see the pasture with 3 mini horses but she could care less. There was a replica of a cargo boat that would have been used at the time to transfer goods down river to the port. The boat was a research project done by a local university using construction methods and materials of that time. We even found a small cemetery that had someone buried as recently as the 90s.

We will be getting a membership, as soon as we are official residents of South Carolina. Please come visit us and we’ll take you! Plus, they’re doing a ladybug release party in July that I cannot wait to take Annabeth to. She gets a box of ladybugs and brings them to her own special place in the garden, then all the kids set them free at the same time! There also doing a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party this coming Saturday… Complete with life-sized chess and flamingo croquet.

Now I know why visitors to CO think the deer are domesticated.
Posted in Our Story

All Up In Our Business

On a more personal level, let’s talk about ourselves. Annabeth officially turned 3 on our 3rd day here. T.J. went in for his first day on Monday and took Tuesday off to celebrate. We wanted to go to Magnolia Plantation but the weather was drab and Annabeth had a cough. We went to the credit union to set up a bank account instead. We had breakfast at an adorable cafe. Annabeth got pancakes covered in rainbow sprinkles and didn’t take a single bite. We had dinner at Mellow Mushroom with a peanut butter cookie a la mode. She loved that and I think T.J. has a new favorite pizza restaurant. We were at an extended stay hotel for the first few days and it was in the neighboring lot. He still casually suggests Mellow Mushroom every chance he gets!

T.J. is a Service Estimator for a shop that formerly worked on select trucks and transmissions. They recently opened the doors as a full service shop and will be building a new facility soon. His previous position lumped the job of a foreman, service advisor, and service estimator into one. He was responsible for 19 technicians, roughly 50 regular accounts, plus countless walk-up customers for an operation that ran 24/7/365. His current shop is open Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm. There are 8 technicians and 3 people to take care of his previous responsibilities. They also have a dedicated Human Resources lady! He saw the H.R. representative, that they shared with the entire Rocky Mountain region, maybe once a year. He is stunned but welcomes the change of pace. We are temporarily renting a condo that is 2.5 miles from his office. He comes home for his hour-long lunch! He even got 2 weeks of vacation the very minute he started!

Annabeth thinks everyday is a beach day. She wakes up asking if the sun is out. She is nearly always ready to go. I say that but today is what we call, a sensitive day. We’re staying home to make masterpieces and cuddle. She has bursts of tears when the simplest thing upsets her. She slumps away but makes a u-turn to point at her lower lip poking out and says, “Look, this is my sad face. See it?” She resists my offer to give a hug but whines that she’s cold and asks to be bundled up next to me. I don’t mind. I’ve been taking everyone’s advice and savoring these moments.

As for me, I am in love. I was born in Colorado but I feel like I am really from Louisiana. I grew up there. It is the only place that I feel a strong connection to. I never caught the bug and fell in love with Colorado. I loved being near to my family and I did enjoy the mountains. I just never felt at home there, unless I was in my mother’s house. My soul is a converted Southerner. I catch myself lost in happy thoughts driving down the streets under a canopy of trees and lined with flowers, taking note of historical markers to research when I get home. That is, until Annabeth screams for a snack that I know I’ll later dig out of the car seat. I say a prayer in jest that Cooper sniffs it out before I do.

Culture is unlimited in every direction. The pace is relaxed and stress comes in the form of having too many choices of where to go next. The rain and humidity are revitalizing. I felt Colorado’s weather was harsh- dry, sunny, hot, and cold. I think the soul finds rest in a cloudy day. Colorado is more ideal for vacations than permanent living, in my opinion. Regardless, we are in the right place at the right time for our little family. You could almost feel the tension release from all of us in the first few days here. There are several more factors involved than location. T.J. has the mental capacity and time to participate in his personal life. Annabeth frolics as she walks. Frolic may be an embellished word but not if you could see her skip hop style. I am active and engaged at any given moment. I fall asleep decorating our new house and wake up taking notes from my dreams.

Not a single step to get here has come easily for us but this is the reward. We are at peace. Finally. I never want to paint the picture that this has been a fantasy but I guess it has been a Grimm Brothers style fairy tale. Now that’s embellishment.

Posted in Our Story

Drop the Expectations

Here I am browsing through sectional couches at 10pm after spending a weekend at furniture stores. How do people do this?! I feel like my head is spinning after walking through one store. Granted, Annabeth did have a little too much fun with the remote on one of the mattresses. Adjustable base with massage function in the hands of a toddler really does induce dizziness upon standing. Top it off with constant sitting and standing right back up… Maybe loading up on coffee wasn’t such a great idea.

We feel so blessed to be in this moment. We knew that we had a strong desire to leave Colorado. We honestly had no idea what we did want. How crazy is that? Charleston came up and it was a bit of a disappointment after our Raleigh-Durham letdown. Arriving in a whirlwind of chaos with the looming tickle that we may be making a gigantic mistake, we now wholeheartedly believe we have found home. Maybe for always. We never once considered a coastal area would be somewhere we’d fit in! MeeMaw Jackie is jabbing me in the side with this one. Ha. Take that, Mom. MeeMaw. I’m certain that Annabeth’s love for the sand and sea is a raindrop on her soul sent from her guardian angel.

We have been here for a month. T.J. started his new job on 2/18/2019. We arrived in town the day before. Things have moved so quickly! Now we are under contract on the home of our dreams. Seriously. It’s simply lovely but the path to it was just ugly. I feel like this journey has taken all of our comforts and thrown them out to sea. That house is perfect for you and timing is right to make a smooth transition? Nope. You would be comfortable in Raleigh at this amazing company with a wonderful owner? Not going to happen. Selling an adorable house in Colorado well below market value in a timely manner? That’s going to take 3 failed contracts and over 4 months! If you ever decide to take a risk, on anything really, our advice is to expect and prepare for devastation. Wrap it up with blind hope for unintentional joy and blessings. Sprinkle with faith and prayers for peace of mind.

This move has been so different from anything we’ve ever done. Backwards. We have always decided what we wanted, planned and researched, then it sought out. This time, we recognized our unhappiness and had almost no idea what we were searching for. Throwing expectation out the window is refreshing. Our dream was always to own a piece of property in Colorado with a couple kids (of the goat and human variety), a chicken coop, and a nice big garden. After much discussion and soul-searching, we were able to see that our dream made no sense for our current lives. We blame it on Annabeth. I think the heart of the realization is our new definition of family and fun. We enjoy exploring museums with her. Our new perfect day is throwing together a picnic lunch and seeking the coolest park we can find. We want to be busy with community events and entertain guests in our conveniently located home. Letting go of a dream is painful but creating a new one is magical.

Our house in Colorado will officially be sold on March 28th, pending no further issues. We are set to move into our house here in Summerville the weekend before my birthday. It is more than we would have ever been able to dream up. We are beyond excited. T.J. comes home for lunch every day. We walk around ponds, through flowering bushes, and under blossoming trees at our rental condo. Weekends bring so many options, we can hardly decide where to eat or which attraction we should explore.

Have dreams. But leave some room for those dreams to transform.

Posted in Our Story

We have arrived

We are here in Charleston! We actually haven’t truly been to Charleston yet. Ever. North Charleston and Summerville, but not technically Charleston. We were in Savannah last November and that’s the closest we have ever been to South Carolina until now.

What a wild ride it took to get us here! I wish I had written sooner but we honestly have been going nonstop since Annabeth’s birthday party (which she still talks about constantly). T.J. accepted the position on February 5th, while in Louisiana interviewing at two other separate jobs. We planned a birthday party, packed up the house, and reduced our belongings by at least half in 8 days. Movers arrived early on Valentine’s Day. We knew things had been going too smoothly for comfort… I found T.J. in the garage being told that the original quote was tripled. We went inside for a couple minutes because he was so upset that his fists were clenched. After a call to the guy who built the quote, we found out that they brokered out the move because their crew was stuck in the mountains. We decided to cancel the movers and reschedule with the original company after we arrived in South Carolina. I rushed to Home Depot for a few boxes and we reorganized everything! We went next door to eat dinner with the neighbors, who have become our dearest friends. Then, we hurried in the dark to shove our luggage into the car and head out. We shared a tear-filled goodbye with our friends while we waited for a load of laundry in the dryer. An hour later and it seemed just as damp as before, so we stuffed it in a duffel bag and left.

I didn’t know it was going to feel that way. Driving away from our home and life for the past 5 years was more than bittersweet, it was heart wrenching. T.J. was taking the truck he’d borrowed from his father back to their house while I stopped for gas. I grabbed some stuff out of the back and threw it in the trash. We decided to pack our Hyundai Tucson to the brim and I refuse to drive without a view through the back window, so it had to go. We had already given away so many things. I kid you not, we lined the curb with boxes and furniture for at least a week. We gave away everything we could even vaguely fathom replacing. Eliminating a few items from the car was natural at this point.

I met T.J. at his parent’s house and we all hugged. Annabeth was so excited to see Grandma and Pop Pop. That brought on the tears. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I couldn’t breathe. That was the moment I wanted to drive back to our house and pretend none of this was happening.

The house we made into our first family home.

Next thing I knew, it was 10:20pm and we were on our way to Memphis. We made a stop in Wichita, KS at the best Cracker Barrel I’ve ever been to! I drove through a couple hours of freezing rain while T.J. slept. I needed a rest, so we stopped for gas and I gave T.J. tips on how to drive through freezing rain (not at all like snow, Colorado people!). We pulled out of the gas station and the sky opened up to sun! Seriously!?!

Freezing Rain! You don’t know until you’ve survived it.

One more stop in Sallisaw, OK at Braum’s Ice Cream and we were halfway to our final destination. We pulled into an old friend’s driveway just before dinner time. I haven’t seen her since 2002. We’ve communicated occasionally through Facebook and she shared a bunch about various places she’s lived when we announced we were looking to leave Colorado. That’s it. There I was with my husband and unruly toddler walking into her house! We ordered pizza on GrubHub and there we were chatting like we’ve been in each other’s lives this entire time. Now let’s talk about ordering food on an app, or even having food delivered to your house at all… It’s been one time in 8 years. We ordered Pudge Bros pizza once when we lived in Henderson and it took over 2 hours to arrive. My neighbor in Hudson just told me today that the grocery store finally delivers, which would be the very first food delivery option the town has ever seen!

Anyway, this was yet another piece of our journey that unexpectedly turned into something special. We often get asked how we could possibly make such a drastic change in our lives. These are the moments that have given us the peace and assurance to move forward. Through all of the fear and uncertainty, our faith has been nurtured by blessings that come when we least expect. A pit stop turned into a renewed friendship. Sunshine bursting through clouds of freezing rain. Uncovering ourselves, our joy and purpose with each step.

Never stop seeking. Do not get stagnant. REFUSE to be in a place that does not inspire your absolute greatest self. We were consumed with stress, debt, and obligation. Now, we are busy unveiling our future happiness. Whatever that may be. We won’t know until we find it!

Posted in Our Story

Speed Cycle

Decisions have been made and I’m sure you’ve been hanging onto the edge of your seat for days awaiting our announcement. I’ll just come out and say it:

Charleston, South Carolina will be our next adventure!

T.J. went to Shreveport and Monroe last Tuesday thru Thursday to visit with potential jobs. It felt like I was holding my breath every moment he was gone. I even went to bed at 9pm the first night he was away. Completely out of character for me. I look forward to my 9pm glass of wine like Annabeth anticipates a poop-in-the-potty treat. The final verdict: the companies/jobs and people were amazing but the locations were not what we are looking for. Throughout this process, we have shifted directions numerous times. Our priorities have shuffled with each turn, bringing new ones to light. That aspect alone has made this journey exhausting. At the same time, the chance to fine tune the vision for our future has been enlightening. It came down to quality of life taking first place.

T.J. came home Thursday at noon and by the time the sun went down, we were celebrating our plans to move to Charleston. We decided to really challenge ourselves and planned a birthday party for Annabeth in 3 days. Yes, we are insane. The little party was a success in our eyes. We came home and went through Annabeth’s haul (of gifts and memories made). All we could talk about was how grateful we are to have only the highest quality loved ones. The gifts she received reflected the careful thought put into each selection. If we have one regret, it is that we weren’t more inviting to those we love here in Colorado.

Valentine’s Day 2019 will double as moving day for us. The moving truck is scheduled to pick up our boxes in the morning. Boxes of the cardboard and tool variety. We have given away our furniture and every single item we’ve been needlessly holding onto. Some pieces were set on the curb and others distributed to our family and friends. We still have a few things to get rid of but the house is emptying quickly. I guess that happens a little more easily when your house is a cozy 794 square feet. I refuse to let go of my cast iron and Instant Pot. T.J. would sooner shave his beard than leave his tools behind. I’ve never once seen his face without hair. We’re trying to find balance between retaining our identities and ushering in a season of exploration.

We’re stuffing a few suitcases in my Hyundai Tucson with a dog, a toddler, and two insane adults. The first leg of our journey will be 16 hours to Memphis, departing at 8pm Thursday night. We’ll be storming into an old friend’s home, someone I haven’t seen in half my lifetime. Poor thing has no idea what she’s welcomed into her house… The remaining 10 hours will be split over Saturday and Sunday. We’ll arrive in Charleston two days before Annabeth’s third birthday.

This is the speed cycle. I pray we get a turn in the dryer once we’re settled in Charleston but it is not likely. I think I need to set my sights on the joy we are seeking. I’m getting the hint that cleansing is exactly what we’re asking for. Maybe the dryer is exactly where we’ve been the past few years. Bring on the detergent!

Blurry photo. We were busy making precious memories.

Posted in Our Story

Washer’s on the fritz

On Wednesday of last week, our options were Nashville and north Louisiana. Wednesday of the week before was when we were told that the opportunity in Raleigh did not feel T.J. was a good fit for them at this time. That was the day after we lost the second contract on our house. Closing for that contract was set for the 31st of January. What once broke our hearts now keeps us from being homeless. Remember, even if we don’t get to see the benefit that results from what we believe is a tragedy, there is another perspective. My mother encouraged us to trust our gut and if she was feeling uneasy about us going out, she’d ask us to stay home. I hated it growing up but I love the outlook she passed on to me. She would check to see if there had been a car accident along the way or a storm came through. She believed that her instincts were keeping us safe from unforeseen harm. I learned two important lessons from her: 1) Trust yourself and your unexplainable impulse to react one way or the other. 2) Let your imagination run wild with all of the possible positive outcomes of your unfortunate circumstance.

In one week, T.J. had 3 offers through a recruiter. Shreveport, Monroe, and Nashville. Both of us were not very excited about these locations. So Wednesday of last week, we went out on our own and applied to several dealerships in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Within minutes of sending out his resume, people were calling him. He spent 6 hours on the phone answering questions. I was at home replying to emails from potential employers who’d seen his application and reached out immediately. This was not unusual. It seems to come in waves. Again with the washing machine cycles. Tons of interest, offers, pick one, falls through midway, and we’re spit back out for another go at it. Now, don’t forget, we’ve been at this for months. It was August of last year when a recruiter from a Kenworth dealership ran across T.J.’s resume and wanted to see if he would be interested in filling a need for Service Manager at their Cheyenne location. I can still hear his voice laughing it off, “I told him that I am not leaving Colorado.” Umm, WHY NOT?!?! That was the beginning…

We had a frank discussion about our lifestyle and future in Colorado. We came to the conclusion that a move out of state was in order. We pursued the offer in Cheyenne but an internal candidate from Iowa came forward unexpectedly. We moved on with the job search, slowly at first. By November, we were flying to Atlanta. Then we picked up pace.

Now here we are. One moment, prospective jobs are drying up and all interest in our house has ceased. But every second is a chance for the winds of change to blow in. At this moment, we have three offers on our house in the works and a solid job offer in Charleston moving on to the next phase of hiring with T.J. On Tuesday, he will fly to Shreveport via Dallas to formally be offered a position there. The company in Monroe appears to be extremely interested in T.J. and has requested he drive to them instead of fly back home then turn around and get back on a plane to Louisiana. We agree. Less time on a plane or in an airport is always a good thing. 2 hours in a car is better than several hours in a plane plus layovers. Then there’s Nashville, the most recent player in the game. T.J. took that interview on Thursday thinking it was for a foreman position. It was a shock to hear that they were interviewing him for a Service Manager role. They loved him but had three more applicants to interview. The interviewer asked how long he’s been searching for a job and T.J. responded, “Since the end of summer.”

“We hope your search ends here.”

History tells us that our journey does not end here. You may look at this chaos and wonder why we continue to subject ourselves to the ups and downs. The way we see it, these pieces are building our purpose and taking us one step further in self-discovery. Cheyenne opened our hearts and minds to change. Atlanta taught us to dial in on what we need from a location and position. Raleigh brought genuine heartbreak. Each and every single experience throughout this journey has illuminated our path, repaired a crack in the road, or uncovered a split or turn along the way. We are weary and hoping there’s a bench up ahead soon. Truth be told, our faith remains.

Open your heart and prepare your mind for the upcoming stretches. Apply for that promotion, give sushi a try, learn to golf, start classes to get certified as a foster home, or dig deep into your soul to uncover your next adventure. Hopefully, there will be no end in sight to the growth.

Never stop seeking the next step in your mission to enjoy all this life has to offer.

You might just like it…

Posted in Our Story

You will be missed

We abruptly lost our sweet dog, Chucho, Wednesday night. We are still processing the loss.

We stole him from some friends of ours on Labor Day weekend of 2017. He was scared of his own shadow when he first arrived at our house. It took him weeks to get comfortable walking through the kitchen to go outside. He was content to lie under the dining room table and watch Annabeth play. All. Day. Long. I swear he had the strongest bladder of any creature I have ever known. Annabeth loved Chucho from the first second she saw his massive amount of fur. At the moment, she thinks he’s visiting the doctor. We’re going to tell her that he’s gone to play with Addie but we’re just not prepared for that conversation yet.

Every single person who met Chucho fell in love with him. We even had a lady come look at our house and asked if he was included in the sale. Both of our neighbors offered to adopt Chucho when we move. Not sure if we would have disclosed his addiction to people food though. I once caught him pull a piece of cake off of the counter and gently set it down on the floor without so much as a jostle.

I’m sure there are those who want to slap us in the face and rub our noses in this tragedy. There are two ways to view our situation. ONE: See what’s right in front of your face and abort mission ‘Move Out Of Colorado.’ TWO: Chucho was showered in adoration for the last days of his life. We questioned his sustainability with a move across the United States and worried that he was not able to regain trust with a new family, yet again.

You will be missed, Chucho Dug. We love you. Your coming, going, and everything in between were made for our little family. Give Addie kisses from us.