Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Making it to Florida...One State at a Time

We made it!  Our move didn't quite go as smoothly as we'd hoped, but we got to Jacksonville eventually.  Here is the full story, in case you're remotely interested.  Mostly I just want to write it down so we don't forget it!  (But it was so eventful, I'm sure we'll remember for a long time!)

Adam's dad, Mike, came in town on Wednesday to help us finish packing up.  He was so helpful--I swear the man didn't sit down until we left Dallas!  He figured out ways to pack all the odd-shaped items that I hadn't quite figured out what to do with yet, like our printer, the sewing machine and an stackable drawer orga   nizer.  I found him rubbing down the walls with soap and water to get scuff marks out, and filling (many, many) nail holes I'd put in the walls.  (If I'd have known he was going to do that, I would have thought twice before hanging things!  I've never filled holes in walls of apartments before.  Oops.)

The moving company came to load up the Penske truck we rented on Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m.  There were three of them, and they loaded all of our stuff in just under three hours.   We were all amazed, and very glad that we were not the ones figuring out the Tetris game of furniture and boxes.

My dad came by to pick up Rye for us, since our pup wasn't quite sure what to do with all of our furniture moving, and he also took all the sheets and towels that I'd planned to wash that night so they would be fresh when we arrived in Jacksonville.  Dad took them home and washed and folded every last one of those things, and that laundry basket made me smile for days to come.

Thursday night, I went to the Ladies' Ministry dinner at Valley Ranch with Mom, Jonita and four of my sweet, sweet friends.  It was neat to be there on my last night in Dallas--the church that has had such an impact on my life, with people who mean so much to me.  I got to see so many familiar faces, and I loved every minute of it.  The speaker, Susie Davis, was a trip, and I would highly recommend using her if you're looking for someone to speak in that type of setting.

While Mom and I were doing that, Dad grilled for Adam and Mike, and we spent the night at their house since our mattresses were tucked away in the big yellow truck.


Friday morning, we were up bright and early ready to go.  There weren't any tears (that I'm aware of!), just smiles, knowing that I'd see my parents in a few days when they were coming to visit for the Players Tournament in our new city.  (Yes, I planned our move on purpose--they already had their plans!)

We got to Kilgore, Texas, which isn't all that far, when the engine lights in the Penske truck started screaming at us.  We pulled in, with Mike behind us in the pickup, and called Roadside Assistance.  Three hours later, they were towing our truck (with a big ole tow truck) to Longview, about 15 miles down the road.  We were still in Texas at 3 p.m., and the incredibly kind truck repair place told us they'd have it fixed by 5.

We killed some time in the town of Longview, eating lunch at Cheddar's at 2 p.m. (our eating schedule got increasingly off as the weekend wore on), and headed back to the trucking company.  At 5, they thought they had it fixed, but Adam pulled it around front, only to have it start screaming again.

We ended up getting the last room at the La Quinta in Longview that night, which is no small miracle.  They are one of the few places that allows pets and doesn't even charge for them.  The truck repair company told us they thought they'd have it fixed by 10:30 the next morning.

The next morning, we checked on our truck.  The emissions system was all messed up, and we heard over and over from various people "They just don't make trucks like they used to."  Apparently there was an emissions law passed in 2008 that required trucks to be made differently.  And we got one of those post-2008 trucks, which was actually only a year old, and "one of the good, newer ones," said the Penske people as they handed Adam the keys.

The truck repair people could not have been kinder.  They kept us informed, and on our second day there, they replaced a broken part on our moving truck with a new one they pulled off of one sitting in their lot.  It was valued at $3500.  I'm telling you, they were angels.

We finally got on our way with the intention of hitting Pensacola, Florida that night.  We got about five hours down the road, through Louisiana and barely in to Mississippi before the same thing happened again with our moving truck.

This time, we were able to drive it, ever so carefully, back to Vicksburg, Mississippi (about 15 miles), where we parked it at another La Quinta.

Penske agreed that we would need a new truck at this point, but they did have the nerve to ask if we could wait until morning to have a moving company come and swap out the truck load.  Adam told them, ever so kindly, that we were already way behind schedule and that we needed that swap done as soon as possible.  (That's my man!)

A new truck was brought to us, but they intended to tow the one we had in the parking lot right then.  Ha.  When we explained that it was still full of our stuff, the tow truck driver just told us to hide the key inside the fender of the front tire.  (Small town!)

Adam, Mike and I ate at Cracker Barrel, where we had the best fresh-sqeezed lemonade to date.  Dinner was good too.  (We ate at 9 p.m.--I'm telling you, it was a wonky eating schedule!)

Adam and Mike planned to take shifts as the movers were coming to swap out the truck contents at 11:30 p.m.  They estimated it would take about six hours to unload everything to the ground and then in to the new truck.  Instead, they just moved it from one truck to the other one at the same time, moving our refrigerator and washer and dryer over the wheels, since they were the heaviest.  Miraculously, it all fit.  Again.  And they finished by 2:30 p.m., so Adam just let Mike sleep.

Sunday!  A new truck!  A new day!  We hoped to cross the remaining state lines--Alabama and Florida in our new truck, and eventually, we made it.  Sunday was a very long day of about 13 hours of travel.

We were all weary but in good spirits.  I told Adam that we must've had tons of people praying for us, because we never once got short with one another, as can happen in stressful situations (as you well know, I'm sure!).  It was so nice to have Mike there with us, to have another head in the game, and to shoulder some of the stress with us.  Mom, Dad, Norene, Aunt Laura and a bunch of our friends were staying informed as well via text message, Facebook and Instagram, all cringing that there wasn't more they could do.  But they were so great to check in on our progress and encourage us along the way.  It was quite a trip!

We pulled in to our neighborhood and up to our house about 10:30 that night.  Our house, which we'd never seen before, was wonderful--just as the pictures and Austin & Rebecca had described.

With our late arrival and the truck swap, it was growing increasingly clear that finding our mattresses, along with those freshly cleaned sheets and towels would be difficult, so we stayed yet another night in a La Quinta, just five minutes from our house.  Let me tell you: that hot shower and bed felt so good.  And we ordered Domino's pizza, delivered right to our hotel room door, at 11 p.m.

Unloaders came the next morning, and we returned the truck to Penske that afternoon.   We ended up with 25% taken off of our bill, and two of the three hotel rooms paid for (the third one was our choice).  So although it wasn't what we had planned, it all worked out in the end.  Penske did everything in their power to help us out, never leaving us high and dry, just inconvenienced.

And that's how our adventure to Jacksonville started.  Whew.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Closing Up Shop in Dallas

{Cowboy Red River Date, 2014}


This is our last weekend as Dallas residents for a while.  It's very surreal, Adam and I have decided.  We've been on this road for over 20 months--that's more than 2/3 of our marriage.  And now, here we go!  We've been doing a lot of "lasts" lately, and it's kind of exhausting, but fun because I get to see people  and do all the things I love!

Last night, Adam and I went dancing at Cowboy Red River, where we met four years ago.  We relived the moment we met, danced quite a bit, and then laughed because we left at 10:30 p.m.  When we went four years ago, we were just arriving at that time.  My, how things have changed.

We spent most of today packing, but we did get a run in out in the beautiful weather.  Adam's helping me train for a 5k in Disney World this fall.  There's definitely lots of fun benefits to being in a new state.

And speaking of a new state, packing to move 15 hours away is a whole different ballgame than packing to move two miles down the road, like we did five months ago.  I found myself at Home Depot at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night very puzzled, and stuffing large and extra large moving boxes into my little Jetta.  It was hard work.  I realized that I would need a place to pack lamps and other oddly shaped stuff.  (Last time, we had six cars take loads like that over.  Not this time!)

The nice thing about moving so recently is that we only unpacked what we really needed.  I'm not sure what that says about all the things in the boxes we haven't seen in a while, but I guess I'll just have to deal with that later.  Ha.

Today Lyndsy and SMoo came over to help us pack.  They were so helpful, I can't even take it all in, actually.  I have hit the point where I have made so many decisions that I can't make any more.  I told Lyndsy I needed direction and needed to know what to do.  She graciously talked me through packing my clothes and how to do it.  And then she basically did it.  SMoo boxed up all my shoes very meticulously, making a Tetris game of fitting all of them in to one box, and then packed all the hangers for my clothes.  Next they packed up my bathroom and made a great dent in getting the kitchen boxed up.

Lyndsy arrived with a cooler full of  snacks and adult beverages.  SMoo came bearing Sonic drinks and peanut butter pretzels.  The power of showing up is completely amazing, but when you add snacks... takes it to another level!

Adam kept saying how helpful the girls were and how appreciative he was that we wouldn't need to be packing all this ourselves.  As I sit and look around our place, I am surrounded by boxes.  There's nowhere else for them to go, so they're just in the middle of things.  It's a little disconcerting, especially for Rye, but it's only for four days, so we will make do.

We ordered pizza and had quite the feast for dinner with all the snacks & goodies the girls brought.  Bryan and Claire stopped by after dinner, so all the brunettes could be together again.  We enjoyed catching up and hanging out.

For the first time, really, it hit me that we are moving so soon.  I have so many emotions as I process this--excitement for what's to come, sadness for what we leave behind, gratitude for so many people who love us and are willing to celebrate this next step and help us.   (We've got Adam's dad coming down to help us move, meals brought over, people taking us out to eat, packing help, and even unpacking help with my parents and family coming to visit.)

I cried about moving for the first time today, and then again when I said "See you later" to the girls.  That's definitely been the worst part.  Tomorrow is Adam's last day at the fire station.  It will be really a sad day for him.  We snuggled on the bed tonight with Rye dog and talked through some of this, but it's just really difficult to leave this world we know so well.  We're taking it a day at a time and doing the best we can.  I made a playlist of hymns and other praise music on my phone and have been listening to that tonight.  I don't have words to pray or things to say, so I'm grateful for the music tonight, especially.    :-)

Four more days and the moving truck will be loaded up, and then one night spent at my parent's house (they offered us beds since ours will be packed, so you better believe we took them!).  It's getting real!  Here we go...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cha-cha-cha-changes are hard

Lest you think that our excitement is not without sadness, I present you this:

Last night, we went to a little local restaurant, Mexicali, for dinner.  On our way there, we passed by the park where March for Babies is held, and all the tents were going up.  March for Babies is this weekend, and this is the first one in about 10 years that I haven't been to.  It's the first one in four that I haven't worked.  

I definitely won't miss the 4:30 a.m. arrival, or being on my feet for days on end, but there is something so special about that day.  I will be gone this weekend, so it's just sad to miss, not to mention all the people I won't get to see.  It's just a reminder that I moved on, and it's a little tough.

And not thirty seconds before that, here comes Engine 31 with its lights and siren on behind us.  I yelled "Go get 'em boys!" Like I usually do, complete with a fist pump, much to Adam's embarrassment.

I let out a big sigh, saying how much I would miss March for Babies.  I was trying to explain all.the.feelings.  And Adam goes, "You feel like I just felt when the engine drove by, right?"  Yes.  Exactly.  

This move is temporary, but we are saying goodbye to a big part of our lives--Dallas, and the Fire Department.  I don't want to be terribly sentimental, as it will make me really sad.  

So we count our blessings, and the experiences and people who have made this part of our life so special.  And we look ahead to the unknown in a city near the beach.  I pray for a few good friends there and for us to thrive.  And for lots of visitors.  :-)  (Hint, hint!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Finding Our Florida House

We spent most of our spare moments last week online looking for houses in Jacksonville.  The plan was to narrow it down and have Austin and Rebecca go look at a few houses for us on Saturday morning.  We inquired about 35 houses or so throughout the week, and I kept a running spreadsheet of our list, with the addresses, how close it was to the school, price and other notable features.  Once I had picked several out, I would send Adam the list, and he would check the neighborhood to make sure it wasn't ghetto.  

We made a pretty good little team, and by Friday afternoon, we had a list of four places for the Flaggs to go look at for us.  Rebecca took over 200 photos and uploaded them to the PhotoCircle app so that I could see them.  This was particularly handy, because we didn't have to text or email all those photos.  
The house we ended up renting was the second home they saw.  From our week of experience, we knew the rental market was hot, and things were going fast.  The realtor on this home texted me and said that if we were interested, it would be best to go ahead and fill out the application and have it held.  After talking to Austin and Rebecca, I did just that, while they went on to two more.  The fourth house was also another great option in another area.

In the end, though, we decided on this one because it has three bedrooms, great closet storage, a huge backyard and a shed.  Adam gasped so loudly when he saw the shed.  (We had one in our last house, but we weren't allowed access to it.  So lame.)  
It got bonus points in my book for the red front door.

They call this room the "Florida Room," which is basically a sun room.  You can see that the house has been freshly painted and is a great blank slate.  My mom found some photos of the house before it had been re-done, and y' was so dated.  This is nice and neutral.

The kitchen has new counter tops and new tile flooring, and the rest is totally fine.  I could do without the florescent light, but that's what I get for working in the lighting industry now...I notice things like that.  Ha.    The bathrooms haven't been updated, but they are just basic tile on the floor and walls.  (I decided not to include a photo with a potty in here, because who really wants to see that?!)

And the boys of the house are incredibly excited about the back yard.  Rye is especially thrilled about all the space he's about to have, and we're excited that we can just let him out and not have to put him on a leash.  And don't even get Adam started on the shed.  In between studying, he has visions of all kinds of hours spent with wood and tools in the shed.

It feels SO GOOD to have a visual of where we will be in just 25 days, or so.  We're really excited, even though packing, saying "see you soon," and a 17 hour drive stand in our way.  We will get there!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our Next Adventure

Do you know what city this is?

It's our new place to call home--Jacksonville, Florida!

Yep, we've sent our money, signed a lease on a great house and are making plans to move May 2.  That's just 26 days from now.  {Excuse me while I try not to hyperventilate.}

We are so excited about this.  It's my last week at work, and then next week I start a new gig that I can do remotely.  Hooray!

It has been a long 20 months since we started this whole PA school process, and it feels so good to finally have answers as to where we'll be.  Getting the answers took a lot longer than we anticipated (like four months longer), but we made it.

We have the Flaggs in town to help us navigate (literally and figuratively) this new town, and they were the ones to help us find this house on Saturday.  I'm so excited to be in the same city as Austin and Rebecca.

A million thank yous wouldn't be enough to convey our gratitude for all the prayers you've prayed on our behalf.

Please come and visit...we are just about 30 minutes from the beach!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Arboretum & Our Engagement Anniversary

In the last several years, Spring in Dallas has come to mean that it's time that I make a trip to the Arboretum.  Growing up, I think we only went a few times, but now it seems to be a yearly occurrence for me.  Of course it helps that it's just down the road from us now, too.  The tulips were blooming and the cherry blossoms were on their way, and even though I wore a winter coat, it was a beautiful day.  I went with Molly, and catching up with her is always a treat.  It was a great way to spend the afternoon!

And I guess it's safe to say that we have a few other things on our minds right now, and I realized a few days late that we completely forgot our annual tradition of cupcakes on the day AMP proposed!!  (You can read the story here if you'd like.)

We grabbed cupcakes after church on Sunday but decided to wait to have them after dinner.  We lost count of the years, so that's why it says "Happy 4 Year Engagement" on the box.  Ha.  While technically this is the fourth time we've shared this tradition together, it's only been three years.  (2011, 2012, 2013 and this year, 2014).  Whatever year it is, I'm thankful that he asked and that I said yes.  What a journey it's been so far.  I'm excited for what is ahead.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Key Lime Pie Miracle

So there we were, in sunny Florida, still grinning and laughing from being at an amazing wedding and dancing the night away.  Dancing together will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Back home, our friends were trapped in ice and most of our family's flights were delayed until the next day.  How great was it that we were "stuck" in Florida?!  Sunday was going to be a great day, I was sure of it.

Well, that was until we ended up looking at three houses that were in the ghetto of Jacksonville.  I had very little luck with three (yes, three) realtors pointing us in the right direction.  We were really discouraged and were wondering if we could really make a life in Jacksonville, Florida.

We checked in to our hotel and snacked during their afternoon reception.  Neither of us were particularly good company, and we were really discouraged.

BUT...I suggested we push the reset button, go to dinner, and try tohave a nice time.  I also informed AMP that I'd be getting dessert.  (We don't typically get dessert when we go out, because, you know...our self-imposed budget.)  But a reset button called for dessert.  I was happily going to go with Blue Bell Ice Cream, as I was just glad to see it on the menu.  (Dr Pepper isn't offered as a fountain drink too often in Florida, so I was happy to see something very Texan.)

Adam suggested we share Key Lime Pie, and I figured that we couldn't go wrong with it, considering we were just six hours north of the Florida Keys, home of Key Limes.  (Seems logical, right?)

Let me tell you, this Key Lime Pie was the best reset button.  We laughed.  We enjoyed our pie.  And we were smiling again.  It was a miracle.

We talked with our waitress, who was in grad school for Marine Biology and was about our age.   I asked her if she could point us in the direction of some better areas, and she confirmed that not all of Jacksonville was, in fact, ghetto.

We left the restaurant in better spirits than when we arrived, and fell asleep fast in our hotel room.  Adam couldn't sleep at 5 a.m., so he got up to do some online research on the city.  He looked up good neighborhoods, crime rates and Google satellite maps.  By the time I woke up at 8 a.m., he had a plan and a few houses to look at that seemed promising.

We headed out with a new plan, a new outlook and smiles on our faces.  First, we stopped at the school so that I could see it.  We got a little "mini tour" by an administrator who told us we looked lost.  :-)  She was darling.  And then we headed out to look at houses.

We quickly ran across a neighborhood where women were out running alone, cars were not parked up and down every street, and Pawn shops weren't a regular occurrence.  We were breathing easier!

We found a house on a cul-de-sac that we would've rented without even stepping foot inside.  From the photos online and what we saw peeking through the windows, we were ready to move in.  Unfortunately, the timing wasn't quite right, so we probably won't end up there, but it gave us hope in finding an area that we liked.

After a few more houses, we headed to the beach and stopped for lunch.  We ate outside and soaked up the sun.

It turned out, that this city might just be a good fit for us, after all.