November was a crazy, crazy month. One for the record books. It started with a super-fun trip for me–a surprise birthday celebration for a dear friend. We kidnapped her and took her to Chattanooga overnight. It was rainy and cold and fun.
The next day was an overnight trip to Jacksonville to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. All the cool kids were wearing dark red (see below), Laina and Micah lit up the dance floor, rivaled only by Nan and Uncle Mark. Aunt Steph has five kids, spaced exactly the same as my five kids. Bottom picture: her baby on her lap and my baby on mine.
And then came the saddest bit–saying goodbye to our dear friends, who were moving home to Australia. The Wheatleys became such good friends to us during their time here in GA. We homeschooled together, ate BBQ together, celebrated birthdays and holidays (introduced them to Thanksgiving!), watched the eclipse together, worshipped at church and studied at small group together. We miss them fiercely, still.
We had them over for BBQ one last time. We hosted an open-house going-away party. We cried many tears. Australia is far away–but we are so thankful for the time we shared face-to-face with them, and we are so thankful for FaceTime now!
A few days after they left, we headed to Florida. We went to Orlando first, where the kids and I hung out while Jeremy flew to Colorado for a work trip. We canoed and went to the beach.
Then we went to the Hot Air Balloon Festival, where the kids got to jump in these jumpy things (like how descriptive I can be?).
And then Laina and I, along with Titus, Laura, and Curtis, actually went up in a hot air balloon. Seriously, something I’ve always wanted to do. It was a tethered ride, but I’m counting it as crossed off the bucket list (although now that I’ve tasted it, I’d for sure go on a “real” ride). It was so much louder than I thought it would be, and the heat from the fire was intense when it was firing. But it was so fun. We went up in the blue and green one below.
After Orlando, we drove to Brandenton to spend Thanksgiving with Jeremy’s family. Cory spent most of his free time fishing and hooked 20 fish in one day. We slid down a snow hill on tubes, ate a lot, visited with family, and packed a lot of fun into a few short days.
In Florida, I talked to Nan about how they decided to move from a house that my grandfather built for them to the Lake House where I grew up. The house they lived in before, they loved. It was close to his brothers and their families, and it was, of course, amazing and special because he built it. But when it seemed, for various reasons, like it wasn’t a good fit for their kids, my grandparents decided to move to the lake. It was a beautiful property with a house that needed a lot of work, and it was better for their family. Hearing her talk about this was interesting to me, because I grew up at that lake house, and it was always the best place in the world to me. But it wasn’t, at first, to my grandparents (until they made it a home). Nan was encouraging me to think about if it would be better for my kids to move to land, or to build on to our house to give us more space. Jeremy and I had talked about moving now and then, but always we decided that we loved our home more than any we could find in our area, so we’d stay put.
When we got home, I told Jeremy about my conversation with Nan. We were running into several issues in our family, and when we have people over, and we wondered if more space would help alleviate them. I broke it down into three possible solutions: 1. drastically reduce our possessions and keep on top of it, changing how we and our families do gifts, etc, so we have more space. 2. add on to the back of our house. 3. move.
I was pretty sure #2 was the answer, and was stunned when Jeremy said he thought we should move. Both of us like living in a relatively small house (by American standards, for the size family we have, etc). But we realized that, just as my grandparents left their forever home to better serve their kids, we needed to do the same. Jeremy clarified the issue by saying that, rather than deciding “We’ll move if we find a house we like better than this one,” we needed to say, “We need to move. Let’s pick the best house we can.” Game-changer.
(I know this is getting long, but I want to remember how it all came about, and God’s faithfulness and leading in the midst of a big decision.)
It’s important to us to live in a neighborhood. We wanted big enough living and kitchen spaces that our small group and others who come over and served well. Jeremy works from home, so we needed office space. And our kids are loud and crazy–they need space to run. And I need TREES. Could we find all of that, in our price range, still in the area our church reaches? We doubted it. I pulled Zillow up on my phone and typed in a few qualifications. And up came a house, with another for sale next door to it. It looked promising.
The next day, we drove by it, and we loved it. We went to go see it a few days later, and on my mom’s advice, saw the one next door, too, so we could compare them.
The first house was a no-go, because of the layout. The next door add-on? It was perfect. Coming home, we talked to the kids for a long time (they had come to see it too, of course). Together, with a lot of worries and sadness about leaving our home, we decided to pursue this new place.
It had Scripture on the walls, and homeschool books in the basement. The family had five kids. I wrote them a letter, telling them about us, and how much we loved their house, asking them to go under contract with a contingency clause. The house had been on the market since October, so we didn’t know what they’d say. But they agreed, if we could get our house on the market in two weeks. We got to work.
11/24 – we decide to move. I find the two houses on Zillow
11/25 – we drove past and loved the first house
11/28 – we saw both, and the second house was perfect for us
11/30 – our realtor Paul (who goes to our church and is great at his job!) came over and told us everything that needed to be done to our house, if we wanted to list it–repairs and packing up a ton of stuff into a POD. I start packing like mad.
To be continued…