The last two months (and a little more) have literally FLOWN by. This whole moving into a fixer-upper thing is legit. Lemme tell you. That being said, I think the big, initial, move-in push is finally winding down. So, recap.
We closed on our home on March 30th. We then went to our home-base in Livingston, TX. This was a bittersweet time for us. We love our Rainbow’s End home base and the people we met there. It truly did and does feel like home. (You may wonder then, why we didn’t move to Livingston. Honestly, the answer is we moved where God told us to move. We looked in Livingston and we would have loved to have moved there. But, that’s just not what God had in store for us). It was so hard to spend our last two weeks at our home base, but also, we were so anxious to get to our new home and stretch our legs a little.
We officially moved in on April 12. It was about a four-hour drive. So, we headed out first thing in the morning (with some Lemon Tree Bakery goodies for our morning sustenance in hand), I was driving the RV towing the toad, Kev drove the truck towing the enclosed trailer. Flashbacks to the AlCan were in full effect. About halfway here while pulling off for a fuel-up we encountered a massive dip at an intersection. Kev was in front and so I had the benefit of watching how the vehicle / trailer situation handled it and was able to adjust my approach accordingly. Unfortunately, this massive “dip” resulted in a broken hitch for the truck / cargo trailer. I did fine with the RV. The toad situation was also a little shorter of a load which made it a bit easier as well.
While all of this was going on we also had some family health issues that were pulling our attention (Not one of the four of us, but still close family). First Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” Which is what I strive for daily anyway. But there was no striving this day. Prayer was my ever breathe as I was so concerned for our family, then the hitch broke, I was excited / stressed / nervous about how things would roll out upon arrival to the house… all of it was a lot.
Thankfully Kevin was able to find replacement parts for the hitch in the town we had stopped in, and after about an hour and a half we were back on the road, and on the way home. Which we did make it to. And the landing went fairly smoothly. We had to trim quite a few tree branches in order to fit the RV and the cargo trailer into the driveway, so we basically blocked our narrow street for about an hour while we were clearing our path. The few neighbors who drove by were very nice and friendly about it.
Next up was the hunt for sheets. We had blow-up mattresses, but we needed sheets! We were all so exhausted we just wanted to make our beds, cook some pizza, eat, and go to bed. Unfortunately, thanks to my masterful Tetris packing skills finding the sheets proved to be a task. You see, I used them for packing material. So, we would have one fitted sheet here, a different flat sheet there, a random pillowcase over here, etc. So, when it was all said and done, we had actually unloaded and dug through about 90% of the cargo trailer. All the while we are making tentative plans to be on sight with our family to help out during the health situation, possibly leaving as early as the very next morning.
It was decided, however, that we would hold off on making our way to our family until more information was gathered so that we could be of maximum use if the situation continued as we expected. Praise the Lord, our family member’s recovery was full and much quicker than estimates proved. We weren’t needed there in the end. We are SO thankful they are doing so well now!
The next month and a half we literally have not stopped. Well, that’s not entirely true. We stop every night. And we’ve taken a couple of days off. But when you have to spend HOURS deep cleaning EVERYTHING before you can even begin to start thinking about what goes where the move-in process takes FOREVER. Let me give you an example so you get an idea of what we are dealing with here. We are so thankful they left the refrigerator, so we didn’t have to go out and spend money on one of those right away. But it took me literally eight hours to get it clean. Maybe we should have just scrapped that whole project and gone and bought one right then and there, but the problem is I didn’t know it was going to take me eight hours until I was in so far there was no way I was giving in. I needed to conquer that refrigerator and prove that my investment into its cleanliness was worth it. I’m not sure I did that because it took me eight hours, but I did get it clean and that in and of itself is somewhat vindicating. Side note: Having a full size refrigerator after living with a tiny little RV fridge for a year is nothing short of glorious.
Just as soon as we got the inside of the house to a somewhat livable state, we immediately turned our attention to the outside which was also sorely neglected. Summer was on its way, and we needed to get some stuff done out there on the double before too much heat and humidity ended any outside productivity motivation. So we killed fire ants, weeded, trimmed trees, mowed, killed fire ants, weeded, ripped up moldy carpet from the back patio and cleaned all the carpet glue off the cement, “de-bugged” the back patio, front porch and gazebo, killed fire ants, weeded, ripped out the weird brick fire-pit border and repurposed the brick into a griddle patio, mowed, installed a dog fence around the “yard” area, fixed outside lights and security cameras, killed fire ants, weeded, stained the gazebo, removed a 20×30 area of rubber mulch and the brick border surrounding that got re-purposed into a couple of walkways, and then killed fire ants and weeded some more. All of this yard work also led to our first family swim parties.
Here’s the scene. It’s hot, we’ve been working our butts off, within eyesight of the pool ALL DAY. One by one we each start slipping into our swimming suits. But we continue working…until someone finally gives in and surprises everyone else with a cannonball off the diving board making a splash that energizes everyone else. It is on! Workday is over and pool party is beginning! We grab the speaker, turn on some tunes, grab some grub, and let the water cool our aching muscles and invigorate our tired bones. My girls are laughing and screaming in delight, smiles larger than life plastered on their faces. Beautiful oak trees surrounding us, a late afternoon sun shining down on us…
We have been blessed beyond measure with all of the amazing opportunities and experiences we have had in our lives, and what we have been able to provide our daughters. ATVing in the mountains in Alaska, foraging for berries, hiking on glaciers, camping on riverbeds in the midnight sun, cross-country skiing, snow-forts, amazing friendships, educational opportunities, traveling the country… the list goes on and on. But family pool-parties after a hard day’s work is definitely one of my top ten favorites of all the amazing ways we have been blessed.
When we felt / heard / confirmed God’s call for us to leave Alaska I was terrified of what that would mean for the kind of life my girls were going to live. I loved how the Alaska lifestyle was building a ruggedness in my girls. I knew how good we had it. And we did. And I miss it so terribly much. I miss our friends so terribly much. I miss all of the amazing ways our children were growing up there so terribly much. Traveling the country for a year was a very effective distraction. We got to do and see some truly amazing things. But it was never permanent. And I still didn’t know what we were going to be able to provide our girls. We were content with what God had us doing, but I still didn’t know what kind of life the Lord was leading us to.
Following God is *always* the right choice. Always. His way is always the best way. It is not usually the easy way. But it is always the best way. It was and is so incredibly hard to leave Alaska and my girls’ best friends and the life we had there. I literally cry about it every single day. But here’s the thing. My girls love learning, they love doing. Don’t get me wrong, workbooks are the bane of their existence like every other child. When it comes time to sit down and do math or spelling, etc. they groan with the best of them. But teach them how to install a new electrical outlet, how to drive a zero-point lawn mower, how to install a fence, how to cook a new meal, etc. They literally inhale that stuff. They get one project done and can’t wait for the next. This is a big part of the reason we bought a fixer upper. The girls wanted to! They wanted the projects. They saw and we discussed each and every single thing we could find wrong with the house, and they got more and more excited about all of the projects they were going to get to work on, everything they were going to get to do and to learn how to do.
They have grown by leaps and bounds this year, and especially this last month and a half. Stepping up to take responsibility for things. Taking on tasks we didn’t even ask them to. Working hard on their workbooks so they can get them done and move on to house projects. I mean, they also devoured their Legos which they hadn’t seen in a year, have been reading books non-stop, playing with the dogs, running around the land, and of course, swimming as well. They are kids, btw…they still play. But they are thriving here. And when we all jump in the pool with the music blaring, and the laughter loud and clear it makes up for missing the mountains just a tiny bit. It makes up for missing our TKD dojang, it helps a little with the missing of our best friends, it makes up for missing Fred Myer and Jitters and our neighborhood all in just the smallest way. Because now, this is home. This is Living Texas. We fight fire ants, we fight weeds, we fight spiders, snakes, and scorpions, we learn new skills, and we SWIM!
I know we still have a lot to learn about life here. And we will, in between weeding, fighting fire ants and swimming. But here’s to blooming where you are planted. Here’s to LIVING TEXAS y’all!!!