Finishing up in San Diego

{ This post was written on August 9, 2016 but is just now being published. }

We have a lot of last minute things to do before we leave. Like make sure both cars are good for the long drive up. 

Hanging out waiting for the Subaru to be finished.

Hanging out waiting for the Subaru to be finished.

Running errands like this with the family makes me think of our days cruising. We did so much together as a whole unit. Sometimes that was really stressful, but mostly it was wonderful.

C had her last piano class. We will miss Alexis, her teacher, and my friend, who you may remember from the previous post about the baby quilt I made for her.

We got a chance to have dinner at our friends, Ryan and Alex's new home, a house that is only a 10 minute walk from our San Diego home. We're so happy for them, but this dinner was bittersweet. We've been friends with Ryan & Alex for years and years. They sailed across the Pacific several years before us and had their daughter, Stella, in New Zealand. She was born just six weeks after Lyra. Our friendship has been long distance for a long time. It would have been a dream to finally have them as neighbors, yet as they were unpacking from their boat to this new lovely home, we were in the middle of packing to leave for Mammoth.   

:sigh:   C'est la vie, or something. Maybe one day we can live close together again. One day!

We also had to say goodbye to our dear friends, AliReza and Halime. I met them when I started volunteering with San Diego's Jewish Family Services Refugee & Immigration Services. I was assigned as a 'Friendly Match' to Halime and Reza's family and we have become close friends over the past nine months. There were tears as we hugged each other goodbye but I know I'll see their family again and I can't wait until they can come visit us in the mountains.

Just a few weeks before the real flurry of moving began, Jewish Family Services asked me to meet a newly arrived refugee family from the Congo. The mother spoke Swahili and the father spoke French. They connected me with them because I speak French.  I sent a call out in my personal and online community for donations for the family of four (they had two young children) and was overwhelmed by the immediate response.

People really do want to help. This was exactly the kind of response I received last December when I told my network about Halime and Reza's family as well. I put the girls to work cleaning some of the baskets and bins that donations were sent in and helping me organize everything as well. It's very important that they understand why we try to help others and cleaning like this was a way they could really help.

My car (and thus the girls' car seats) was in the shop when we were ready to bring over the first round of donations. Eric brought them over personally himself in his car. Good man. He doesn't speak French at all. Here's the thing, you don't need to speak the same language to pull up to someone's home, smile, wave, and show them what their community has brought for them. He even brought them San Diego beer to really welcome them in style (and yes, we checked first to see if they drank alcohol.)

We delivered one more load of donations to them before we left for San Diego. This load included packages mailed from afar (answering the call for help I had sent out via Facebook), cash donations from generous community members, and toys. Glorious toys. LOOK AT THAT FIRE TRUCK. You should have seen the look on the children's faces when we pulled up to gift these things to them. The gratitude from the mother and father is something that motivates me to continue to work with incoming refugees. They need our help and welcoming them to our country is one way we can truly do that.

(The blurred text in the photo below is to mask the family member's names. Without their express written consent and understanding, I cannot share pictures of them or their names, and that is totally fine; I have their faces and names written in my heart.)

Even during the last week and a half before we left, when the house was a total jumble of boxes, I was still sewing. I had a project to finish for the Bumfuzzles and I had some special gifts I wanted to give the girls for the drive up to Mammoth and for their new home. I'll show you what I sewed for them in the next post.

I hit up the laundrymat for what might be the last time in a long time. Our new home has a WASHER AND DRYER. Oh, the luxury. We are now just days away from leaving. More soon.

YESSSSSSSSSSS - Loan Funded - Closing This Week!

{ This post was written on August 6, 2016 but is just now being published. }

We got the news on Tuesday that they finished with underwriting (after the VA appraisal was approved) and that the loan would be funding sometime this week. It funded on Thursday and we signed the loan docs which started the 72 hour mandatory waiting period before we could close. Of course even AFTER the 72 hour waiting period passes, we'll still have a few more hurdles but nothing that will stop the loan from closing, just paperwork, paperwork.

You know what this means? It means it's happening. It's REALLY happening. At dinner on Tuesday we told the girls with surety that we were really moving to Mammoth. Until that moment, we had always told them that it might not happen. No more. We all cheered! Lyra has asked day after day when we were moving to our Mammoth Home. "Is it TODAY? TODAY?" This time we told her, 'not today, but next week!'

Our current plan is to drive up on Friday the 12th. Friday morning I'm going to wake up early just so the first thing I say to the girls when they wake up is 'now TODAY is the day we're moving!' 

I don't know how well you can see this photo, but these are our happy faces. We managed to also have a babysitter scheduled for the night the loan funded. Here's us bursting with happiness right before the new Bourne movie starts.

I don't know how well you can see this photo, but these are our happy faces. We managed to also have a babysitter scheduled for the night the loan funded. Here's us bursting with happiness right before the new Bourne movie starts.

Tuesday night I slept better than I've slept in weeks. At last I can really look at things as a 'last.' Like the last time I had to do a daily 45 minute commute to drop the girls off and back up from their schools. The last shopping trip at my local Target and Trader Joes (the closest of either of these stores is 3 hours away in Carson City, Nevada. It will be a long time before I see them again). The last time I'll sweep up all the pine needles from our back porch. The last time I'll clean our bathroom :)

Yesterday I took the girls on a walk through South Park to visit my friend Lizz. We walked past the house I lived in when Eric and I said 'I love you' for the first time. I drive past the house all the time because it's in our neighborhood, but this time it felt bittersweet. Standing before me were the two human beings we produced from a deep mutual love, and they were directly in front of the house where so much of our adventure began. I explained the significance and took these photos and then Lyra asked for a drink of water and if we 'were there yet.' We weren't, so we continued our walk and I tamped down happy tears as I watched my daughters stride confidently ahead of me.

The 'lasts' keep coming. There are the birthdays that we won't celebrate again in San Diego.

Katie's, Eric's, Rich's.

C's last piano class with my friend and one amazing teacher, Alexis.

Last trip to the San Diego dentist (we've loved Dr. Nora at Point Loma Children's Dentistry.)

The girls had their last check ups with Dr. Shailam.

Dr. Shailam has been our family doctor for years. She and her assistant, Jorge, have taken care of us well. When we came back to San Diego when Lyra was sick and after losing Rebel Heart, the Navy drove us straight to Dr. Shailam to transfer care from the Pararescuemen who had cared for her, to Dr. Sunita. As we left I looked at the spot where we had last stood with the four men who risked their lives to care for my baby and I asked Dr. Shailam to take another photo.

I can never say thank you enough to Nate, Eric, Miles, and Klay, but I'll keep trying.

April 2014

August 2016

When I got home from that appointment I emailed the PJs the updated photos. If you didn't already know, last year, the amazing man on the left of the photo, Pararescuman Nathan Schmidt, died in a skydiving accident. His friend, Pat Gault, wrote this moving tribute about him in Havok Journal. RIP, big, tall Nate. You are missed.

It won't be long now before we leave San Diego. The news of the loan funding is joyous, but I'm holding deeply the knowledge that there are many I will miss. Especially my brother, Rich. Rich has always, always been there for me. I've tried to always be there for him too. He is not thrilled that we're moving 8 hours away, but I keep telling him he'll like Mammoth and that he better come and visit.

He has been doing what Rich does best, helping. Rich, thank you so much.

Time to finish more lasts. Like my last few sewing projects completed in the San Diego house. More on those soon.

And there is the solar system wall that needs to be repainted. Props to C for carefully helping me take down the planets and the ABCs as well and to Lyra for always wanting to help clean. 

More soon!

Four More Boxes | Chipping Away at Packing

{ This post was written on July 17, 2016 but is just now being published. }

We celebrated C's sixth birthday today. After a wonderful day at the park we all headed home, showered, rested, and then got back to the grind of slowly chipping away at packing. 

Last night I took down all the picture frames from our gallery walls and wiped and dusted them so they were nice and clean. Bye bye, gallery walls!

From this:

To this!

Clean as a whistle.

Clean as a whistle.

I painstakingly wrapped all the frames from the Gallery Wall and all of our larger art pieces from around the entire house. I remember how often artwork and frames are usually forgotten in moves. At the very end things are plucked off walls and tossed haphazardly into cars or open boxes. Not for this move.

Every frame small enough to reasonably fit in boxes got packed. I wrapped the bigger frames individually and have everything tucked away in our bedroom upstairs to keep the potential glass hazard away from the kids.

I managed to do all of this while my children entertained themselves. It was amazing. The older they get, the more freedom we all have. They gain independence, and so do I. Yesssssssss. This is good stuff, I tell you.

The emptied shelves and boxes slowly piling up keep us all in a simmering state of excitement. Are we setting ourselves up for failure by packing before the close of escrow? I truly hope not. Cross your fingers we aren't jinxing things. I'm pretty sure I've crossed the threshold of 'I'll just unpack if the sale falls through.' The urge for a new adventure is too much. We'll have to go somewhere or implode.

Today I had a moment to go to Target alone and while getting things on my list I was channeling my old nautical days of provisioning. I grabbed three bottles of face wash and the same in my favorite body lotion. I kept my head swiveling, what else will I need? What else won't be available up there?

On the way home I started laughing out loud. There might not be a Target, but there's an eff'ing grocery store and a pharmacy. They'll sell face wash. It's not like I'm cruising the Sea of Cortez. Old habits die hard. I think the similar level of excitement of leaving before a passage just has me completely in the same mindset as the old days.

But this move is very different from preparing for a sailing trip and I'll have to get used to a new adventure and a new way of doing things. For now, though, I'll get to Mammoth with a lot of extra face wash :)