Day 14 – It’s here and it’s home

In all the writing I’ve done, I’m often given the most positive feedback on my ability to set a scene. I’m obsessed with settings, with painting a clear picture of my characters’ surroundings and establishing a vivid and concrete sense of place.

Dig deep into my psyche and there’s likely a link to my adoption. Adoptees often struggle establishing a firm sense of belonging. But my obsession also stems from the fact that my family moved around…a lot. From the time I was born to the time I graduated high school, my family moved to five different towns in two different states and lived in ten different houses, including a three-week stretch where my parents, sister, and I lived in my grandparents’ motorhome. My dad had a new job managing the Four Circle Co-op in Bird City, Kansas and we’d moved before he and Mom had a chance to find a house to rent, so we parked in a vacant lot across the street from the town’s only gas station.

We arrived in Bird City in the summer of 1986. I was five, and living in Grandma and Grandpa Luethje’s motorhome for a few weeks seemed sort of exciting at first, like an extended camping trip. Lindy and I fought over who got to sleep on the bunk bed that perched above the driver’s seat (an argument she won because my tendency to sleepwalk proved hazardous when the bed was more than three feet from the ground). It was a bit strange to be camping next to a grocery store on the main drag of a tiny town with one stoplight instead of some ironically-named campground out in the woods near a lake, but it didn’t much faze me at the time. It was just another pit stop on the parade of homes that dotted the landscape of my youth.

I can close my eyes and still see each house we ever lived in in detail. I can see the little  bungalow on Norris Avenue in McCook where our dog Tu-tu had her puppies. The concrete floor in the unfinished basement was always cold, but Dad built a makeshift pen with some blankets and spare pieces of plywood to keep the squirming black pups contained and comfortable. There was a little steel safe built into one of the concrete walls, and I sometimes imagined we were a family of spies locking away our collection of stolen secrets.

The kitchen was painted bright yellow, and Mom used to watch One Life to Live and General Hospital on the little black-and-white television that sat on the counter. Lindy and I shared the little bedroom at the front of the house (of course she got the top bunk), and Mom and Dad’s room was through the Jack-and-Jill bath. Sometimes when both bathroom doors were left open, Dad’s snoring would jolt me awake in the middle of the night, amplified by the bathroom tile.

I can see the first rental house in Bird City where we moved after the excitement of living in the motorhome officially wore off. The two-story house sat on the corner of Burr Avenue and West 3rd Street, just a block from where my best friend Mandy lived, which gave us license to spend just about every moment together when we weren’t in school or sleeping. There was a chainlink fence around the backyard, and in the winter the tumbleweeds would catch there and take over until Dad would eventually light a small fire to burn them, scolding us when we got too close or threw too many tumbleweeds on the crackling pile, sending orange sparks spiraling into the crisp autumn air.

There were two bedrooms and a large playroom with a 3/4 adjoining bathroom on the second floor, which meant Lindy and I finally had our own separate spaces. Our rooms were far enough away from Mom and Dad’s bedroom on the main floor that, for the first time, I could wake up and not hear Dad snoring. The entire second story floor was covered with mismatched scraps of brightly colored carpet. It gave the space a psychedelic circus vibe that started to hurt your eyes if you looked at it too long.

The kitchen had a set of ugly swinging doors, the kind you might see in an old-timey saloon–a wooden frame around a piece of orangish-brown opaque plastic. Mom nearly lost her voice hollering at us to “Stop running in the house!” as we chased each other down the stairs through the den and the kitchen and into the dining room, laughing each time we burst through those doors and heard the satisfying THWAP! as they slapped against walls and swung back into place.

Moving—to a new house or apartment, town or state—was always a nauseating mix of excitement and anxiety. I fancied myself an explorer, and I tried to imagine the fun new adventures I’d have when I arrived at each new place. But the unpleasant byproduct of the recurring upheavals was that it made it nearly impossible for me to ever feel truly grounded. I never really belonged anywhere. Thus, it became an exercise in survival for me to burn all the details into my brain so they wouldn’t get lost each time we packed up our lives and left another place behind.

When I graduated high school and decided to move to New York to attend college, everyone told me I was crazy. They couldn’t imagine a small-town midwestern girl like me fitting in in the big city. But this was the move I desperately needed. It was a chance to throw myself far outside my comfort zone and headlong into the depths of independence. It was a chance to figure out who I really was and who I was going to be.

And for more than 15 years now, Stevie and I have been doing a lot of moving of our own—from New York to Arizona to Nebraska, from apartments and rental houses to our very own homes, packing and unpacking boxes, trying like hell to find the place that fits.

Here we are now, living in a quiet neighborhood in the heart of the Heartland. We’ve got two sweet kids, one crazy hound dog, and a house filled with books and memories and mismatched furniture collected from our families and our childhood homes—a table that came across the country in a covered wagon, framed family photos whispering stories from days gone by, the faded floral couch and matching swivel chairs where Richie and Diane sat drinking coffee each morning in their living room on Long Island. Our walls are covered with movie posters, our children’s scrawling artwork, and photos of the people and the places that we love most.

We are a collection of the people we meet, the places we’ve been, and all of our lived experiences. Our genetics and our childhoods give us a starting point—where we’ve gone from there is a hodgepodge, mishmash, shaken not stirred blend of all we learned and loved and left behind along the way. It’s messy and it’s beautiful. It’s ours and it’s everything.

It’s here, and it’s home.

I’m Baaaaaaaaaaaack!

As you probably noticed, I took a few days off from the blog. Nothing crazy. No earth shattering catastrophes or alien abduction or wackiness (well, nothing outside the usual wackiness around here). Just a few days spent with some very dear friends who came for a visit from Arizona.

We had a blast.

The worst part, though, is trying to readjust now that they’ve gone home.

The house is too quiet, and we’re trying to work our way back into something of a schedule. Cadence and Electra are both wondering where their friends have gone, and Steven and I are missing the good company and conversation that we always enjoy when Ervin and Erin are around.

It’s been just over 24 hours since I dropped the Flores’ off at the airport, and we’re missing them already.

I’ll share more of the fun tomorrow, but for now, here’s a little glimpse of the five fun days we spent with our friends…

And yeah, you know my kid is the joker who shoved an Funyun in her mouth for the photo. 🙂

Welcome to Excavation 2012!

My goal for 2012 is to keep up with my daily blogging, and if there is one thing I learned from my 2011 365 Project, it’s that some days it is just waaaaaaay harder than others to actually come up with something to write about and a photo to post. I want to take a moment to sincerely apologize to anyone who happened to stumble across my blog on one of really snooze worthy days (and I know there were a few). So, when I decided to try and keep up the daily blogging in 2012, I knew I needed something to help keep me focused.

Then, we moved.

Since 1998, I have moved 14 times. That includes small moves (consisting of a couple of suitcases and boxes from room to room in the Concordia College dorms), and larger moves across the United States requiring large trucks and moving vans. Somehow, with each move, the boxes just kept multiplying…and getting heavier, and I have to admit, after catching a couple episodes of Hoarders on on A&E, I started to think it was probably time to curtail my packrat tendencies and start getting rid of some of the ridiculous things I’ve been holding onto.

Taking inspiration from my good friend Kara’s Trashed 365 blog (click HERE to check it out and see all the stuff she managed to get rid of), I’ve decided that my 2012 daily blog will be devoted to sorting through every last box, bin, bag, and basket full of stuff in this house and either putting it away where it rightfully belongs, or getting rid of the useless and unwanted clutter. Of course, there will probably be a random post here and there when I just have something I wan to say, or some crazy Cadence and Electra adventures to share but, for the most part, I will be devoting 2012 to a personal excavation and decluttering of my life.

I can’t even tell you how excited my anal retentive, clutter-hating husband is about all this.

So, without further ado, let’s begin…

365 Project – Day 339 – Dude, Where’s My Stuff

The worst thing about moving is not the packing. It’s not the long road trip from on location to another. It’s not leaving behind family and friends. It’s not trying to adjust to a new place. Hell, it’s not even having to change your address on every account, subscription, credit card, mailing list, and everyone’s Christmas card list (though that part is certainly annoying). No, the worst thing about moving is trying to find all of your stuff once you’ve moved into your new place.

Let’s face it, unless you’re still living like a poor college student and can schlep all of your worldly belongings from place to place in a couple of suitcases and a large garbage bag, you can pretty much count on being completely stressed out the first few days/weeks in your new home because you’ll be spending all of your time digging through all the crap you wonder why you even bothered to pack in the first place and trying to find the things you really need. Things like hairbrushes and checkbooks and cell phone chargers are nowhere to be found, but by God you know exactly where to find your old ratty t-shirts and collection of V.C. Andrews novels.

Need that piece of mail you tucked in the box you were carrying on the way out the door? Forget it. Can’t remember where you packed the toilet paper or dog treats? People who have joined the Witness Protection Program have been located faster.

It doesn’t really matter how carefully you pack, how clearly you label the boxes. There’s always that random thing that gets tucked into a box just because it happened to fit. And who hasn’t gotten down to the final stretch of packing for a move and just started tossing crap in boxes and saying to themselves, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll just sort through it all later.”

Later. Ha! Who the hell are we kidding? Everyone knows that “later” is code for “never”. And if not never, then definitely more than a year from now.

Steven and I are determined not to fall into the Later Trap. We’ve been living out of boxes for over a year now, because we were stubborn and refused to unpack anything more than absolutely necessary while we were living in the rental. Now that we’re finally in our own home again, we’re both anxious to get everything unpacked and put away. Unfortunately, Steven is away at work all day and I’m busy chasing Miss Cadence and working on photos. So, instead of being able get settled and feel at home right away, we’re forced to take it slow and unpack one box at a time.

While the clutter is driving my poor anal hus band crazy, I’m trying to look on the bright side of the situation. I’m planning to use my friend Kara’s Trashed 365 blog as inspiration in 2012 and go through every single box and bin we have left to unpack in this house. If it’s garbage, I’m going to throw it away. If it’s halfway cool or useful junk that I simply don’t want anymore, I’m going to sell it. And if it’s some old thing I haven’t seen in years that I can’t bear to part with, well, then I will find a place for it and hang onto it a little longer. In the end, it will all make for some really good stories of where it all came from and where it might be going.

Stay tuned…

 

365 Project – Day 333-338 – We’re Movin’ On Up

What a week! I gotta say, whether you’re going 1000 miles or just 1.5 miles, moving is no joke. It has been a crazy few days around here. Steven and I closed on our new house on Tuesday and the moving mayhem officially began. We were working quickly, trying to beat the snowstorm that the weatherman was predicting to roll in on Friday, so I didn’t get a chance to take too many photos. But, here are a few highlights…

Tuesday – Day 333 – Closing day! Woohoo!!! Papers signed. Keys in hand. We’re homeowners again!

I gave the house a good cleaning, and then Steven started loading and hauling all the boxes he could fit in the back of the minivan. He hauled 2-3 loads, and then we decided it was time to break for the night and head down to the Haymarket for a celebratory sushi dinner with Miss Cadence.

Wednesday – Day 334 – Mom and Dad arrived around noon on Wednesday with Dad’s pickup and a trailer. Boy did things start to move a lot faster after that! Our goal? To haul all of the boxes and beds over to the new house so we could spend our first night there. Papa Shawn even hopped a flight from Denver to come help, and once he arrived that evening, we were on a roll. Mission accomplished.

Thursday – Day 335 – Dad, Steven and Shawn spent the day hauling everything that was left, which consisted of a whole lot of odds and ends (things like Steven’s life-size R2-D2 cooler, our drum sets and more hangers than we know what do with) as well as all our big heavy furniture. After getting our king size mattress stuck in the stairwell for a good 15 minutes before we managed to muscle it through (thank God the box springs are split or we would have had some real issues), we knew that it was going to take some manuevering to get everything where we wanted it. We managed though, and with the exception of our extra couch being banished to the sunroom instead of the office, the boys managed to make everything else fit.

While they did that, Mom kept an eye on Cadence, and I got started unpacking the kitchen. Here’s a little surprise I found in one of our boxes of wine glasses. All I have to say is, I’m glad this little guy was already dead when I found him…

Friday – Day 336 – By Friday, everything had been moved, except for cleaning supplies and a few groceries in the refrigerator. We spent most of Friday unpacking more boxes and arranging furniture in the house. Steven got the TV and Blu-Ray player hooked up so Miss Cadence could watch a movie while we worked. Somehow Papa Duane got sucked into watching Despicable Me, and whether he wants to admit to enjoying it or not, he sat right next to Cadence and watched the entire movie.

Then, Friday afternoon, Mom, Dad and I headed over to the old house to give it a good cleaning and to make sure there wasn’t anything left behind. We called the landlords to let them know we were finished, locked the keys in the house, and said our final goodbyes to the rental. Then, we headed out to dinner to celebrate.

Saturday – Day 337 – After being gone for four days, Wendy, Whitney and Collin were sure missing Papa Shawn and no doubt counting every second until he returned home. Unfortunately, we weren’t quite sure if the weather was going to cooperate. The rain began late Friday night, and then the freezing rain and snow came. By midday Saturday, we were driving on icy roads through several inches of snow to get Papa Shawn to the airport. His flight ended up being delayed just 20 minutes, and he returned home without a hitch. We are missing him something fierce around here. After getting to see the Osborns on Thanksgiving, and then having Papa Shawn return almost immediately to spend another few days, we are having serious withdrawals around here. Guess we’re going to have to start planning the next visit.

Mom and Dad originally planned to head back home Saturday, but after seeing how bad the roads already were, they thought it was probably smarter to spend another night in Lincoln and wait for the weather to clear up. Cadence, Electra, and I just couldn’t pass up the winter wonderland outside our windows. While Electra tracked squirrels through the yard and Steven shoveled the sidewalks and waited for the guys to arrive to hook up the internet, Cadence and I bundled up to go play in the snow and build our first ever snowman. Cadence was great help, until she discovered how delightful the frozen snow felt on her sore teething gums. After that, I spent most of my time making sure she wasn’t sampling any yellow snow. We had a blast, and luckily Mom snapped a few photos for us.

Sunday – Day 338 – After a long week of moving, we decided the best way to spend our Lazy Football Sunday was to do a little bit of work around the house, and then to just hang out and watch some movies (since we don’t have our satellite hooked up yet to actually watch football). At this point, the kitchen is nearly finished, Cadence’s room is completely unpacked, our computers are set up and online again, our dining room is recognizeable and our living room has been rearranged (for the 3rd time). We still have a lot to do before we are completely settled, but we’ve made a lot of progress already, and we’re both just really excited to find a routine in our new home.

As you can see, Electra is already feeling quite comfortable here. She’s a big fan of the latest living room arrangement, since the squirrels seem to enjoy playing in the tree outside this window the most. From her new perch, she can sun herself and catch a few zzz’s while keeping an eye on them at the same time.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to a new beginning in our new home, and to Mom, Dad and Papa Shawn for helping to make the transition here a smooth one! Now, who’s gonna come visit next? 🙂

365 Project – Day Three-Freakin’-Hundred! Go Me!

I’ll admit, back when I first started this 365 Project, I wondered how far I would get. 60 days? 3 months? Maybe, just maybe 6 months? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not usually the type to start something that I don’t finish. In fact, I tend to be the type that will see something through to the finish, even if it nearly kills me. Let’s just say I have a highly overdeveloped, and downright irrational fear of failure. Just the thought of failing sends me into a panicked frenzy.

So tonight, as I log in to blog my 300th consective post, I have to say, I’m pretty proud of my accomplishment so far. Granted, not every entry has been Pulitzer Prize worthy, but there has been something written every single day, and that, I am proud of.

Today’s blog is even a little sweeter because Steven and I got word on the house we bid on earlier this week. The sellers accepted our offer, and we got to sign the papers on our house today!!! Woohoo!!!

We are still several weeks from closing, but everything seems to finally be moving in the right direction for us. We cannot wait to move in and finally unpack all the boxes that have been cluttering up this rental house for the past 10 months. Finally, we will be able to say goodbye to the leaky basement, and to install a dog door so Electra can come and go as she pleases instead of harassing us to let her out every five minutes so she can rid the yard of rabbits and squirrels. And boy, will she be in hound dog heaven in her new home. The yard is huge, stretching all the way around the house, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies and places to sniff. Plus, the chainlink fence perfectly suits her nosey personality, and will allow her to keep an eye on the neighborhood and everyone walking by.

So, we’re just asking everyone to continue to send positive thoughts and prayers our way so that we can make it through the inspection period and closing with no major issues! If all goes well, we will be moving in and celebrating our first Christmas (and maybe even our first Thanksgiving) in our new home…

Tonight’s 365 Project is dedicated a quick and painless move, and to me on my 300th post with year! Thanks for dropping by and reading!