Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sturm and Drang

Goodness friends, it's been a wild ride! I've been crafting this post in my head for a while now but all the storm and stress of preparing for an overseas move has gotten in the way. Soon after we received orders, I resigned from my work-at-home position. My new full-time job is keeping the house clean and photo-ready with 4 kids and a dog, as well as to research and secure housing in Hawaii... and everything in between! Plus it wouldn't be very realistic to continue in my position, after we move, with a 5-6 hour time difference.

Jude's vision of Hawaii. Where's Daddy you ask?

Why, he's surfing, of course!
I don't think everyone fully understands the responsibility that is keeping a house clean with small children. So I created these videos to help illustrate just what exactly we're talking about here. They're a bit long, but that's only because I covered the whole house. Yes, my kids affect my entire house. Let's just say we won't be posting these video tours for potential buyers!

One of the simplest ways, I've found, to keep the house clean is to just stay out of it. That's been a little easier these last few weeks because we've had lots of paperwork to get signed. Every single member of this family has to have a doctor and dentist sign off to verify we're healthy enough to travel overseas. That includes the dog, people. And speaking of the dog, he has to undergo a 120 day rabies quarantine. Which means he won't be able to arrive at the island until about 2 weeks after us. That might not be a bad thing.

Don't be fooled. As fickle as the month of March, one minute these two are all lovey-dovey BFFs, the next they're tearing out each others' hair over who gets to use the plastic "fishy spoon."
I also had to complete a short interview with the military to confirm that I was aware we were moving to Hawaii. I mean, is this a thing? Do some military personnel put in for/receive orders to overseas places and not inform their spouses? If so, I'd love to hear the story. Please.

One of the biggest challenges of this whole transition is feeling divided between two major events: leaving Maryland (and all that entails) and arriving in Hawaii (and all that entails.) Plus the in between, because timing is EVERYTHING.

Joci loves Noonday!
There are certain days of the week when all I do and think about is prepare to leave our current home--we're prepping to put it on the market, cleaning out all the things we don't need anymore, starting to pack up other stuff to get it out of the way. And then there are other days when I'm completely Oahu-focused--researching towns and neighborhoods there, downloading school paperwork, searching for houses ... Two very different places with two very different goals and I feel like my brain is split in half!

Thankfully, I'm married to quite the planner. He regularly keeps me updated with task lists and timelines. He's also already planned our fly-out date, reserved our temporary housing in Hawaii, and planned out his final days of work here and first days of work there. The tricky part will be determining the date we need to get our current house packed out and when we should pull the boys out of school. It is stressful, ya'll!

Friend's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Never again.
So here were are in March--one of my favorite months because of our anniversary and one of my least favorite because it is so indecisive.  One minute the birds are chirping and the daffodils are peeking up, the next it's cold and raining and the weatherman is threatening snow! And in between it all is THE MUD! The mud that these children continue to track all over my freshly mopped floors.

March - enjoying snowscapes in my backyard

Also March - eating Coconut Milk Chocolate Ice Cream on the back deck.
So yes, March. The month we're listing our house in the market. The plan was to send the kiddos to Pennsylvania for spring break and what will probably be their last Grandy Camp for some time. And then we were going to officially go on the market, hold an Open House, plan for lots and lots of showings during the week the kids weren't here, and then pray for an offer. Oh, and in the meantime, I was going to blog about all I learned about keeping my house show ready, meal recipes that don't cause your kitchen to stink, and all those cute little realtor tips I've come across on Pinterest.

Keeping the kitchen stink-free by cooking bacon on the back deck!

Keeping the kitchen stink-free with Apple, Cheddar, Spinach Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
It was a great plan! And we had a dry run of it all over the weekend when our realtor set up an early showing. But perhaps I'm moving to fast. First, lemme just say we adore our realtor. She was recommend to us by some military friends and within the first few minutes of meeting her we knew she was perfect for us! She's a former Marine spouse and has moved 20 times herself. Needless to say, she knows what's up! One of the things that really sold me on her was her suggestion for pre-marketing. It's when you send out an upcoming listing as "coming soon" to raise interest before it's even put on the market. It's really handy for people that are searching NOW for houses that will be available LATER. People like me and my fellow military people, for example!

We did our own version of pre-marketing. It's called two cute girls having a picnic on the front lawn waving at everyone that drives by.
So a little over a week ago we pre-marketed our humble abode. We put a sign out in front that said "coming soon" and a stack of [very poorly designed] flyers. Zillow included a few teaser pictures of our kitchen (because a renovated kitchen is kinda a big deal here in the land of 1960s originals) as well as a few pictures of our house from last spring (taken by my iPhone, no less.) Just to give people an idea of what's to come. Before going to market, a professional photographer will come out and do some fancy pictures and then we would create a personal website just for this house.

But then the interest we created ended up being a lot more than we anticipated. People were calling from California, some military families were hoping to see it when they arrived in April, and the amount of cars that would s-l-o-w-l-y drive by, then turn around and come back again, was getting a little out of hand.

Pinterest suggested fresh flowers for house showings--not a problem! I would have baked fresh-bread but ran out of time!
Another realtor contacted our realtor and asked if her clients could come see the house early. They were coming from out of town to see the house down the street and were hoping to see ours at the same time. We had made a lot of headway on our to-do list by then so we said, sure, why not! And got to work checking off the last few items--which ended up taking almost all of two days. In fact, we were not moving as quickly as we hoped. So when the family arrived to see the house, the kids and I were still sitting in the car in the driveway, waiting for Jon, who was trying to clean the garage as quickly as possible. The best part of the story is when he waved at the potential buyers from outside, while standing in the yard holding a hatchet.

Subtle hints...
I counted 8 people (8 people!!), including a small child and an elderly grandma, as the kids and I pulled out and drove around the block before swinging back to nab Jon. Oh, did I mention the dog was in the car too? Also, Joci was screaming that she wanted out of her seatbelt, Julia was asking me to write down all her friends' names (it's a new kick she's on), Jack was crying that his ear hurt, and Jude was yelling that Jack was messing up his Minecraft world. Yay, house showing! It was STRESSFUL! Have I mentioned that enough times yet? Selling a house is STRESSFUL, you guys!

I got this little scale from Jon's grandparents' estate. Grammy used it to weigh my father-in-law when he was a baby! Anyone else notice that Joanna Gaines regularly uses scales in all her kitchen renos?!?

We bought lots of live plants for inside and outside the house. They'll have to stay, since we can't exactly move them overseas.

Not a new live plant. This one has survived at least a dozen moves since I had it long before I was married! I also picked up that candle stick for $1 at our "competitor's" estate sale down the street.

It took the entire drive to shake off the feeling that maybe we just weren't ready for this after all. And then we arrived at our friends' house, dropped off the dog, and went out to dinner with our besties and our combined 8 children.

And this is where I'll stop for now so I can quick clean up the house ... again.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A giant leap

Happy Leap Day! I know, two days late. But that's about two weeks sooner than this second announcement which is: WE'VE GOT ORDERS! Most everyone has already heard, but since it's not real until it's been blogged about, the Coast Guard is sending us to ...

wait for it ...



Bananas, people, just bananas. And I'm not even talking about the fruit. Although if I were, I'd mention that it'd be really great if we could find a house there with a banana tree, considering the amount of fruit these children of mine have been indulging in lately. I digress.

Back to Hawaii. Or thoughts on Hawaii. It's been a long road. If you remember, our original goal was to stay here one more year and then aim for the beautiful state of Colorado. We found out in early fall that that option was off the table. In December, we found out that our #1 choice (the one that I had devoted 95% of my research towards) wasn't going to be open after all. From then on, there have been so many times when we thought we were getting orders "any day now". They ended up pushing the deadline back two weeks. And right around the old deadline, the detailer called to offer us a job not on our list. It was an excellent position for Jon, close enough that we could stay in our house a few more years but far enough that the commute would have been a beast. Couple that with some predictably long hours and we were faced with a tough decision. After a few days of lots of thought and prayer, we turned the opportunity down and were assured we'd "be happy with our assignment" and that we'd get a call "next week."

Next week came and went with no news. And then the deadline came and went with no news. And then we found out they had extended the deadline yet again. Finally, [what seemed like] years later, the detailer called again and said he had us penciled in for one location but did we want to re-consider this other job at the bottom of our list? Well no, we don't want to reconsider. Just tell us!

And that is when we found out we were headed to the youngest State of the nation.

A few minutes after we got the news, I dropped my phone. A really terrible time to have a busted phone.
Several years ago, I'm pretty sure I was quoted as saying "Hawaii is the last place I'd want to live." It's just SO.NOT.ME. I love autumn and snow and seasons that noticeably change.

I really, really love this view.
I like old and established--I regularly look up 200-year-old farmhouses along the Eastern Shore on Zillow for "retirement research" and I nurse a passionate affection for all things British. But try as I may, there's nothing British about Hawaii. (Except for maybe these fabulous Rattan chairs from Target. I feel like if Jane Austen ever had a chance to visit Hawaii, she'd have sat in a chair just like this.)

Oh yeah, and crowds and traffic make my skin crawl. Should I mention here that Hawaii is one of the most densely populated states??

Then there's the whole proximity to family card. We have always lived within driving distance of our home state of Pennsylvania. Our kids regularly enjoy visits with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And these last few years in Maryland have been that perfect mixture of not too close/not too far. Hawaii is going to be a different story. Plane tickets average around $1000 ... each. Multiply that by 6 and, well, Happy Birthday/Christmas/Anniversary/Everything for the next year, Family!

Breakfast + Zillow, every morning!
And while we're on the topic of finances, Hawaii is outrageously expensive. Thankfully, the military helps alleviate that burden, but there's still the sticker shock of $8 milk and $6 cereal. And we're also adjusting to the fact that a million dollar home could mean no AC, 70's paneling, and NO DISHWASHER!

Don't forget the notoriously under-peforming schools, vog, drug problems and rampant homelessness. But let's not go there.

Now that I'm done airing my anxieties, lemme just say that we are TRULY EXCITED! Well, most of us.

Jude is a little apprehensive about flying. But once Daddy assured him he could sit next to him, he seemed much more willing. And although the boys were originally gunning for some place with lots and lots of snow, I think they're starting to warm up to the fact that Hawaii schools end much earlier in the day than our current one!

House shopping is a family affair. Although the kids' wishlist is much different than ours!
We're also thrilled that our kids will have this chance to experience a different lifestyle. Not everyone gets to say they live in Paradise! We're looking forward to being in an area that's a bit more ethnically and culturally diverse than what we've been used to. And as for my cooking skills--I think Asian Fusion is going to be a good, healthy stretch for me! Then there's the whole outdoor living aspect. I'm hoping that the next four years will be full of quality family time hiking, swimming, surfing, fishing, and whatever else people do over there!

I'm thankful that our kids are now old enough that we can enjoy these types of things. And I'm also thankful that they're all close enough in age that we can start off this transition with our own built-in friendships. I've always said that God must have had a good reason to give us so many babies in so little time. And I think that this move is just a glimpse of the fruit of our 4-babies-in-4-years labors.

But you know what I'm most excited about? That God is leading the way for us to Hawaii. We didn't put it on our list because of the crystal blue waters and glorious sunsets. We put it on the list because it's a good career move for Jon. And slowly, over the last two years, God's been warming my heart to this giant leap into the unknown.

It felt like spring for a second!
For the first time, I'm completely at peace with leaving the east coast. I find the idea of flying overseas with 4 kids hilariously entertaining. We're leaving the sweaters, gloves and skis behind and packing our tambourines because I am confident that the Lord is going before us and preparing the way for this next great adventure. These final few months will be filled with sad goodbyes, as we prepare to part ways with all we've come to know and love here in Maryland, as well as joyous expectancy as we prepare to say aloha to Hawaii!
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