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Slow and steady, right?  Isn’t that the fable’s answer to getting ahead?

Oh, good.  We’re right on track for winning the Get Your House Unpacked marathon.  Woo hoo!

It’s been more challenging than we anticipated, figuring out each room’s use and finding ways to house the odds and ends we have.  Our garage sale pile is growing (again, slowly but steadily), but we do want to keep some of our stuff.  Garage sales, trips to Ikea, Craigslist purchases…bit by bit, we’re organizing and storing.  Stay tuned for some updates in that arena!

As a placeholder, how about one of my favorite Bench Monday shots to date?

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I know a lot of you have heard of it: Project 365.  I’ve seen blips and blurbs about it, on blogs, on Flickr, and I must admit, it intrigued me.  Taking a photograph a day for a whole year?  Sounds easy enough!  Then I thought about it.  It really is quite a commitment.  Goodness knows, I’ve nearly forgotten my Bench Monday shots now and again, and that’s only once a week.  Not only are we talking about a commitment and follow-through in general…it’s a commitment to be creative – if only a teensy bit – every single day!

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Ooh, now there’s a challenge worth pursuing!  Daily creativity feeds the mind and soul, right?  So, I decided to jump in with our first day in Seattle.  It should be an interesting documentation of our first year here, don’t you think?  For those of you who read my blog through an RSS reader, please click through just this once, and you’ll see a Flickr widget on the left, streaming my photographs.  Just wanted to let you know it’s there.  (And if you want to receive my 365 in your reader, here’s the RSS feed.)

As for the rest of life…moving in is going a bit slowly, but as soon as today’s chiropractic visit catches up with my body, I’ll be hitting it hard again.  I’m loving our house, and I’m beyond excited about fitting everything into place, decorating, and making it ours.

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Happy Bench Monday!

Did we make it to Seattle?

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Did the movers get here with all our stuff?

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Do we have too much of said stuff?

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Have we gotten any unpacking done?

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Is it just beyond great to have the family back together again?

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Okay, I’m beat!  The movers came and loaded up all our stuff yesterday, and the resulting adrenaline crash has been something else.  As I’m in a very uncreative (and tired) mood, this month’s 12 of 12 is a collection of photos of things that are not here.  Welcome to my Not 12 of 12.  (My apologies for what I fear is a rather boring series of photos.  They’re the result of an exciting process, I assure you!)

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1. My parents’ garage is Not full of boxes and furniture! (They are so excited at the prospect of actually parking in there again.)

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2. The top of the driveway, where my car is Not parked.  (Where my car Is parked: Seattle!  Jason took delivery of it last night – woot!)

100_23003. This is Not the kids’ sandbox.  The porch no longer says, “Welcome, small children live here.”

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4. Welcome to the spot that does Not house our grill and outside garbage cans.

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5. This is Not my yarn; it’s all Mom’s!  She does Not have to share stash space with me.

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6. This corner does Not house the old English wardrobe Mom and Dad used for their linens.  Now it’s home to the old leather chair we found at a garage sale last week.  (The wardrobe’s moving with me!)

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7. Not my closet.  (You can tell by the absence of elfa.)

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8. The wall my desk was on, where I am Not sitting while I post my 12 of 12.

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9. These are Not the boys’ beds.  I mean, well, they are beds (camping cots), and the boys are sleeping on them this week, but…  Ack, you know what I mean.

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10. The playroom is Not housing a train table, but there’s so much more room to run around!

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11. …and I do believe these are Not all of the boys’ toys!

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12. Now that our bicycles are Not taking up this whole space, we have a much better view of the water heater, dehumidifier, and crawl space entrance – thank goodness!

Stay tuned for next month’s 12, which will be brought to you directly from the great state of Washington!  Happy 12th, everyone!

Tomorrow at this time, most of our stuff will probably be packed on the moving truck.  I wonder if the whole moving thing will hit me then.  Or will it be when we’re getting on the plane?  Or will it be in a few weeks, when we don’t “come home” from Seattle?

I have been a packing fiend the past few days.  I didn’t realize quite how much stuff we had scattered through Mom and Dad’s house, but it’s all done now, except for a few key entertainment things: the Wii, a bin of DVD’s, the lego bin, my computer.  Easy enough to finish up this afternoon and evening.  (And in the case of my computer, probably late tonight.)

This may be my last post before we hit Seattle, so here’s a proper Bench Monday send-off:

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The tape gun and I are very close friends now!  We have a lot in common.  You need to keep us fed to keep us working, and neither of us works as well out in the humid garage as here in the nice air conditioning.  It bites when it’s in a bad mood, though.  I don’t tend to bare my teeth that often.  (I hope.)

As I was lying in bed last night, a list of people began forming in my mind.  These are the people without whom this move might not have happened.  I think I’ve thanked them all profusely in private, but they also deserve a public hip-hip-hooray:

Mom and Dad: Duh.  Hello, they offered up their home long before the thought would have occurred to us.  They rearranged the house, gave up grandparental spoiling rights for a few months, and allowed us the greatest gift of all: choice.  Because of them, we had the choice of following our dreams when Jason was laid of.

The G Family: Who have put Jason up rent-free since he got to Seattle in early March.  They gave up their privacy and their guest room (a special Thanks to all their other visitors during this time, who were displaced to couches and play rooms), and they provided transportation to and from the airport, great advice, and amazing friendship.  Also to their boys for being our boys’ built-in, ready-and-waiting friends in a new place.

Jason’s Mom and Dad: Their basement/garage has been our storage area since December, when we started getting the house ready for market.  Like my parents, they have also been extremely supportive of our decision to move so far away.

My Swister: She told me it was okay if I couldn’t afford to come up for her law school graduation in May, which was incredibly selfless and made me more determined than ever to be there.

The R Family, here in the ATL: Heather keeps me sane (and sometimes simply identifies with and validates my insanity), their pool kept us entertained, and the whole family are the best friends we could ask for.

The O Family in OKC, and the E Family in Wyoming: They provided housing on our drive across country, and they both gave me awesome birthday celebrations, too.  Not to mention, they’re simply great people & friends!  (Best of luck to the O Family with your own move this weekend!)

The June Mommies: They keep me sane, too, and are an amazing gift.

Our Awesome Realtor, Cheryl: She worked hard and was so helpful in selling our home.  She had an emotional interest in doing the best she could for us, and it showed.

Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover: We’d been following his plan for nearly two years when this thing began, and without that plan, we would have been in much more dire straits.

Everyone Else: Who has prayed for us, visualized us in Seattle, bit their tongue if they thought we were nuts, and loved us.

…and last but definitely not least, Jason, Nicolas and Kalen: Jason made the biggest leap possible outside his comfort zone in moving three thousand miles away, not knowing how long it would last, and never having lived apart from family before.  The stress has been unbelievable, I know.  The boys have handled this thing with amazing grace for nine- and six-year-old kids.

To all of you (and to anyone else I’ve forgotten in my current scatterbrained state):

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none of the above!

I promised an update last week on the house hunt.  Unfortunately, we went back and forth (mostly in our own minds), and nothing was settled when the end of the week rolled around.  We Jason commenced hunting again over the weekend, and as of today we’re happy to welcome The Sprinkle House into the family.

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During the hunt, Jason and I took to nicknaming all the houses we were considering.  With the odd naming convention in the Seattle suburbs (Every street is numbered!  Like for miiiiles out into the suburbs.  It’s weird, I tell you.), we couldn’t keep them straight.  So, we had Aimee’s house (my early favorite), the Pink House (which was taupe, but apparently photographed poorly), the Bathroom House (you don’t want to know), etc.  This little yellow charmer was quickly dubbed the Sprinkle House, because the listing mentioned a “sprinkle system” in the front yard.  The missing ‘r’ tickled me, and the name stuck.

So The Sprinkle House will be our home for the next year, at least, as we settle in on Seattle’s Eastside.  Jason gains possession a day or so before the boys and I fly in.  The plan is coming together.*  It still doesn’t seem real, and I wonder when it will start to sink in.

Tomorrow the car carrier comes to take my little car.  Tuesday, the movers come to take all our stuff.  The following Monday, the boys and I get on the plane.  The sinking in should happen somewhere in there, don’t you think?

*Go ahead, say it.  You know you want to!

As if Bench Monday weren’t enough…

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…from now on, Monday will hereafter also be known as the day of the week Jason was offered (and accepted) a job, setting the wheels in motion to move the boys and me out to Seattle.

Happy Monday!!!  We’re moving to Seattle!!!

Yes, the house did sell.  Closing was last Tuesday, although the funding and finality weren’t ours until Wednesday.

Ten years ago, we bought our first home, and five years later, we sold it to buy this house.  We’ve done a lot of work to this house: replace the termite-eaten wood under the front window, replace the window over the front door, new exterior paint, new roof, a gutter here and there…  By “we,” I mean the men we hired to do these things…or the men the insurance companies hired.  Our personal involvement was more limited: new paint, little fix-it jobs, moldings in the dining room, and the piece de resistance, the built-ins Jason made for the den.

On Tuesday morning, after delivering the boys to school, I did a last walk-through to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything.  The day before, we’d discovered two kitchen drawers that had been overlooked, and a paintbrush soaking that Jason had used for some touching up.  On Tuesday, there was nothing left.

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My stripes are still there, though.  I wish I could have brought them with me.  I’m sure you can’t tell, but they exactly match the stripe in the fabric of the roman shades.  I love doing that: choosing a fabric for a window treatment that draws in the furniture I don’t have the budget to change, then basing every paint color in the house on that piece of fabric.  It’s a simple and fun approach, and it usually turns out stunning.

Painting the stripes certainly wasn’t simple.  It was a true team effort between my parents and us.  I love those stripes.  I was happy and relieved to learn that the new owners love them, too, and they won’t be painted over any time soon.

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So where does this leave us?  The boys and I are very comfortably ensconced in (and slowly taking over) my parents’ house.  Mom and Dad rearranged their lives to make room for us, moving offices and beds.  It’s quite a nice arrangement.  Jason heads back to Seattle tomorrow, where he will find a just-right job before sending for us.  The old phrase Dad used to tease me with as I left the house holds entirely new meaning for me now: “Write when you find work.”

We are houseless now, and it feels weird, but we’re not homeless.  No matter what occurs, we can take comfort in the fact that home really is where our hearts are, and our families hold our hearts.

For the time being, however, I still feel mildly unsettled.  I doubt that feeling will abate before we are firmly settled in our own new home, whenever that may be.

I have been crocheting lately, just not saying much about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that a friend of ours had lost her sister.  It was not a sudden death, but of course, it is a tragic and heartwrenching loss.  I decided on the spot that our friend would need a hug, so I spent the week crocheting this for her.

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Pattern: Feather Stole by Elizabeth Myers
Yarn: Reclaimed Acrylic/Angora
Hook: I’ve already forgotten (oops…E, maybe?)

If you like it, if you want to compliment it, I ask instead that you visit the Scleroderma Foundation and make a donation with our friend’s family in mind.  Even if you can only manage a dollar or two, please consider it.  This is a disease that – in its most serious form – can completely debilitate its victims, with no known cure and unknown cause.

I’ve felt oddly out of crochet mode since finishing the stole.  I’ve worked a bit on a hat and some other things for the Mattaponi project.  I know I’ll get back in the mood shortly.  I have too many unfinished projects and too many hanks of yarn tempting me from their drawer in the closet.

Today, Mom and I visited Knitch for some yarn fondling and to find her a set of DPN’s.  (She’s going to knit her first socks!)  Yarn was fondled, and DPN’s were purchased, after which we headed out for an amazing lunch.  I needed a few hours of not thinking about the near future.

In a couple of weeks, Jason and I will be driving to Seattle, where I’ll leave him to find a room to rent, and I will hop a plane back here.  Again, Mom & Dad come through, offering to watch the boys while I’m gone.  I’m decidedly unthrilled at the upcoming indefinite period of single parenting, not to mention missing my best friend in the world like crazy.  Still, I know it’s what needs to happen, and it is only temporary, after all.  Jason’s already lost one position to a Seattlite, for the sole reason of distance.  One that we know of, that is.  He needs to be local to get the interviews.

We’ve had two showings in the past three days, after a drought of more than a month.  I hope this is a sign of things to come, and that the rebate for first-time house buyers in stimulus package encourages more lookers and an offer or two.  As our Realtor says, “Everyone wants a deal,” but what ‘everyone’ fails to realize is that they’re already getting a deal.  Regardless, we can’t afford to be too choosy.  Serious offers will be considered and counter-offered, and a deal will happen.  Someone is going to get an incredible deal, indeed.

Last week, we had parent-teacher conferences.  Kalen’s consisted of, “Any questions?  No?  Here, sign these forms…he’s doing great.”  Nicky’s was nearly as simple.  Consequently, I spent too much time just chatting with the teachers, wonderful women all.  Okay, not too much time; nothing but good can come from being friendly and on good terms with your children’s teachers.

The boys have taken the news of Jason moving very well, which leads me to wonder if they really grasp it.  They had been prepared for the possibility of his getting a job and moving before the house sold, but this is a quick decision and thus a quick blow.  We’re working on assigning simple chores that will help them fill Daddy’s shoes and give them some responsibilities and distractions.

Forgive my stream-of-consciousness, a literary style I greatly despise.  My brain seems to be in that mode lately, though, so I suppose it’s best to just let it go.

So, where are we?

Well, obviously, since I haven’t begun blogging about packing and movers and signing contracts, we’re still in Atlanta.  The house has been on the market for nearly three weeks, a tiny drop in the bucket of time these days.  Considering how the housing market is going, the three walk-throughs we’ve had can be considered good traffic.  We’re lucky to be at a low price point, although that already low price is going to be falling, due to the foreclosure in the neighborhood and the house down the street that closed for significantly less than the listing agent hinted it had sold for.  Regardless, if we can sell without owing money to someone somewhere, we’ll have to consider it a win.  Our Realtor is awesome, working hard at marketing us, and checking in with us often to ask how the job search is going.

On that end, I have to admit, it’s tough.  Jason went out to Seattle last week (There are some incredible airfare sales right now, folks!  If you want to travel, now’s the time.) to meet in person with some of the recruiters he’s been talking to and some of the other folks he’s met through networking.  This includes a drama friend he hasn’t seen since high school graduation.  How cool is the internet?  We can thank Facebook for that reconnection.  The job boards are starting to pick up dramatically in comparison to their holiday slump, although we’re still getting word of companies putting positions “on hold” due to economic strain.  It is not a fun time to be job hunting anywhere, but add in a 3,000-mile removal, and you have to work twice as hard.  Jason did get a cell phone with a Seattle area code, however, in anticipation of the house selling (Mom and Dad don’t have a home phone, so we’ll both have to have cell phones at that point), and to show recruiters and HR folks he’s serious about moving out there.  We think the trip he took really helped with that.  He’s no longer just a name on a resume to them.

As for me, I am in limbo.  I’m loathe to commit to anything here, knowing (in my optimistic frame of mind) that we won’t be here that long.  Nicky’s karate contract runs out next month, and we’ve passed on the sign-ups for spring tee ball for Kalen.  (He’s quite upset – not about the game, but about missing after-game snacks.  Apparently, my snacks don’t compare favorably to the Oreos and donuts often provided by parents at practice.)  I’m beginning to stress about the money running out in a couple of months, and I’m frustrated at the lack of nibbles for the stuff we want and need to sell – the china, the crystal, the dining room suite (and, yes, the house).  I’ve contacted an auction house about the furniture and dishes, so it’s a good feeling to have that decision made.  They will sell at auction (no reserve); the only question now is for how much.

I’m also feeling a bit cut off from the world.  My internet relationships (how funny does that sound!?) are all the same, but with the public decision to move, the IRL contacts have become fewer and further between.  I realize this is probably 100% my doing, as I’m working so hard, mentally, at placing us across the country, I can’t realistically be “here” in any significant way.

The kids are feeling it, too.  Both have gone through a rough patch at school with their behavior (Kalen not so much, but to a certain extent), but I think they’ve evened out as of this week.  We had discussions on what happiness is, and Nicky and I especially had a heart-to-heart about what truly makes us both happy.  I told him I am happier when he is happy, and I wondered out loud how happy he could really be getting in trouble like that at school?  I could practically see the light bulb turn on as he made the decision to “make good choices all day.”  His behavior reports have been stellar so far this week, so I’m crossing my fingers.  I know we’ll deal with this off and on for the remainder of his school years, but I love that his emotional maturity has come so far.  They are both such cool kids.

I realize the time has come for me to commit to finding a job myself.  My fall-back plan of working at the store I worked at for so long is a no-go.  They wouldn’t even take me on for the busy season, when in the past they would hire upwards of twenty people for this busiest time of year (their post-holiday sale is usually busier than the holiday season).  My only other option besides retail is getting back into admin.  I refuse to take a long-term job.  Besides the fact that I am trying my damndest to retain my positive visualizations about moving out of state, I could never in good conscience take a job under the assumption that I’ll be there longer than I plan to be.  That leaves administrative temp work.  I can say with all modesty that I am a really freaking good administrative assistant.  I have six years out of the work force (I did admin for a while right before Kalen was born), but the great thing about temping is that they test you on all the computer stuff, so those blank spaces in my resume don’t speak very loudly.

On that note, this long-winded update comes to an end.  Now, let’s hope I still have a copy of my old resume in my computer files somewhere…

My boys

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