houses and homes

Friday, we signed a contract on the house! Then, we headed home for a few days to continue packing and bring another load this way. It made for a long and exhausting weekend, but it was so good to be in familiar space again.

Well, except for that part about being in my house when it isn't really my home anymore. That part kept panicking me. I couldn't figure out where to start packing, so I ended up doing nothing for a good portion of the day except sit and stare.

Still, I got another 30 boxes packed, Dowlan got a trailer built and loaded up and the kids got to play with some of their best friends just a bit more. And church was Good. Once there, I felt settled and at home for the first time in weeks.

Today, Dowlan and I went to go to the title company to start that paperwork started. On the way there, I drove by the house again. Dowlan asked me if I was doing that on purpose and I geared myself up to explain that it was a through street and I don't know what all the through streets are and a lot of things randomly dead in, but I didn't have to say all that because he told me that he drives by it every day after taking the kids to school.

He's just as excited as I am!

Every house I looked at before this one was dreary and depressing. It was either tiny and well maintained or a large house with a large amount of work staring me in the face. I walked into this place and fell in love. What little work needs to be done is a matter of preference, not of necessity. We are buying it from the great-granddaughter of the man who built it and it has been lovingly and properly cared for in the 79 years since he laid the first stone.

As much as I hate to be moving, it feels really good to be moving TO something instead of just moving away because we ran out of other options, know what I mean?

The family we're staying with is amazing and we are more comfortable here than I ever could have imagined I'd be in someone else's home. We fit quite cozily into their playroom and things go rather smoothly around here.

But, still, I drive by each day, waiting for it to be mine.


Mommy: How was school today, Charlie?
Charlie: Bad. It was bad.
M: Why was it bad?
C: It was bad at me.
M: Did you make friends in your class?
C: I do not love dem yet.
M: What about Mrs. Clarke? Do you like Mrs. Clarke?
C: She is bad at me. She says bad words.
M: What words does she say?
C: Bad words. Like "Sit down".



Thus far, Dixie has had three perfect days of school. Melody has been described as 'a pleasure to have in class' and Charlie's teacher has described him as being 'like a four-year-old.'

I think that's as glowing as it gets.

My students seem to be within the realm of what I can handle. Having all 450 of them each day is mentally exhausting and I'm finding it hard to accomplish much in a 20 minute period. It isn't that the classes are too big, it's that the lines are too long and wiggly. Bringing 12 double classes in and then out each day means I spend over an hour each day telling people to turn their voices off and point their noses and toeses my way.
Still, we manage to get some actual music in. Today, we even played drums.

I am proud to say I know seven students by name.

The family we are staying with is fabulous. For those of you who knew me in middle school and high school, we are staying with Mindy the viola player from German class. She and her husband Kevin have an 8 year old boy and a 10 year old girl. The age difference is perfect and both us moms have detected a remarkable lack of in-fighting amongst the ranks.

Still, 9 people in one house is a bit much at times. Gryphon, unaccustomed to having a little guy attack him from behind, fell backwards onto the boy. As we were trying to determine the series of events that led to Charlie's wailing, Morgan succinctly explained it this way: Charlie broke Gryphon's fall, but Gryphon practically broke Charlie.


If all goes well

We'll do the paperwork to buy this house on Monday.

new house

The seller's great-grandfather built it in 1931. The stone walls are a foot thick.

Here is the backyard view:

new house

The wood floors are amazing:

new house

The dining and kitchen areas are lovely and large:

new house


Small Town Life

Yesterday, I was driving to work when I had to come to a complete stop to allow a chicken to cross the road before me.

Why? Why did the chicken cross the road?


Manna on the Ground

I'm going to go Old Testament on you for a minute here.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, they took the scenic route. They wandered through the wilderness for forty years, guided with a cloud by day and with fire by night. Each morning, they awoke to find manna and quail for their sustenance. They were instructed to gather just as much as they needed for that day, as it would spoil by the next dawn. Except for the day before the Sabbath--on those days they gathered two days' worth and, for those days, it did not spoil.

It was tasty at first, but soon grew boring. But each day, there was just what they needed, just for that time.

For twenty-six months, I've found myself wandering. I think of those mothers, shepherding their children while feeling lost themselves. I wonder how long it was before they trusted that the next day's manna really would be there for their children's bellies to be filled with. But each day, there it was. Each time, what they needed was there.

If you were to ask me how we've made it through this time, I don't think I could tell you anything, except that there was always manna on the ground. Each time things got to the point that I truly had no idea where the next month's living expenses were going to come from, it was there. Provisions came from places I never expected. H-E-B gift cards arrived regularly and mysteriously. Temp jobs came for just long enough before they went. Kindnesses I'd never imagined serendipitously appeared. Manna.

It has not been easy, no, but no need has gone unmet. No bills were paid late, no meals missed. We never even made it to the point of having to eat the strange things in the back of the cupboard coupled with whatever's in the bottom of the freezer.

This month was going to be the first time I really, truly ran out of money and ideas. I've had moments of panic, but always just enough lead time that I could plan out for the next month or two how it would all work. Never more than a day or two worth of manna, but always manna. Until August.

I had just enough for the mortgage, nothing else. I had no idea where the kids were going to school, still no idea how to get Charlie the help he needed. Music teacher jobs opened and closed all around me and I couldn't figure out why nothing worked. I interviewed for one teaching job in the area after three straight years of applying and then acted like a rambling airhead the whole time.

I just didn't get it. But I knew that the same God who led them through those years was leading me. All I could hope was that He knew where I was supposed to go.

Then, in rapid succession, a job, a place to stay, insurance and benefits, approval for a mortgage, closer to home. Grandmas to watch kids while Dowlan packs and I start work. The means to pay August bills arriving through acts of kindness. The ability to cover the old house and fund the move arriving seemingly out of nowhere.

Thank you, thank all of you.

It's all coming together so quickly that it is not quite real. But it seems we have arrived.



On Monday, I finished my last day of work at my tutoring job, then headed straight for the new town. (Yes, I'm being deliberately vague, this is the internet.) I got there around 4:30 and drove to the new school to see if I could see my new classroom. The principal introduced me to the AP and then gave me keys!

My new classroom is fantastically stocked. I have 11 xylophones, 27 glockenspiels, three 1/2-size guitars and an autoharp, for starters. It's a good-sized space with lots of storage for instruments, costumes, books and music. I have plenty of drums in several styles. I'll have just about anything I need.

Then I invaded my friend's home again. I ate her food and stole her away to go dig through the dusty-covered goodies in my new space. We could have gone on all night, but realized that it was nearly 11 and called it quits.

I started my new-teacher-to-the-district training the next morning. Found out that they hired just over half the number of positions that they normally hire and that there were more applicants than ever. Made me feel even better about being hired. During lunch time, I registered Charlie for pre-k, talked to someone about school for the girls, got more paperwork turned in and then went to my room to look through the curriculum and books there.

That evening, I looked at five houses and am already overwhelmed on that front. I found one I think will work, but it will take work and I'm not entirely sold yet.

Today, I got to meet the rest of the teachers on the campus. Had lunch with the coach and know I'll enjoy working with him. Got a few bulletin boards up then went to another training. Left when it was done to buy a few things for the room, then went to the bank.

I'd been really nervous about the bank thing, as I was rather afraid that they'd laugh at the very thought of giving us money for a house. We got preapproved for just about the right amount we need for the houses we're looking at. That took a load off. Then, I met with the district financial rep to sign up for life insurance, dental, disability insurance, etc.

It just doesn't seem real at all.

Dowlan and Charlie are back home, packing and unpacking, respectively. The girls are with grandma, wearing her out. We've never been in three places for this long. I feel odd, unsettled.

I've also never really up and moved. I mean, I went away to college. But everybody else did, too. Then I stuck around that town for the next thirteen years and figured I was good there for at least that much longer.

The weirdest part came when I was walking around Wal*Mart. You know how there are 3 basic Walmarts and they just repeat from town to town? This one is different. I couldn't find anything I was looking for. And the People of Walmart were not the same people I'm used to finding in my Walmart. These People of Walmart have more children and bigger hair.

And then I walked by the toy aisle and saw something Dixie would love, only there was no Dixie there to love it.

I would like my family back, and soon.


A Big Boy Named Tchawie

Charlie never really seemed to catch on to the concept that he was three years old, which is increasingly frustrating in polite society. Adults have a compulsion (I know, I share it) to ask kids their name and how old they are. When you have a kid who doesn't really know what to do with these questions, it creates frequent awkward moments. With his fourth birthday party this last Monday, we've been working on the idea that he's four.

How old are you, Charlie?
No, Charlie, how OLD are you?
I big.
Are you four?
Don't like nicknames. I dust a Big Boy Name Tchawie.

I finally had a breakthrough yesterday when I asked, "What's your number?" and he answered, "Four." After getting that one right a few times, he made the connection between that and the more typical way of asking it.

He quite often insists that he is Big Boy Name Tchawie. If you call him by his full name, he says, "I not dat name. I dust a Big Boy Name Tchawie." If you call him Mister Charlie Pants or Boofer or any of his usual names, you get, "Don't like nicknames. I dust a Big Boy Name Tchawie."

Okay, I get it. You're four. You're practically a man. But, for a few days, we couldn't even call him Charlie without getting the nickname lecture.

Wednesday, as we headed to our new town for me to sign paperwork and for them to scope out some houses, Melody said it all. In the middle of the 200 mile drive, she sighed, then said, "It will be nice when we go back to calling him just Charlie again."


Breakfast Chatter

Dixie: I think I'm pregnant.
Oma: *cough* Why do you think that?
Dixie: Because I hurt and feel sick.
Oma: Being pregnant doesn't hurt.
Dixie: I still think I might be pregnant.

(one week later, on a car trip)

Gretchen: Dixie thinks she's pregnant.
Dowlan: Oh, wow. Didn't see that one coming.
Gretchen: Yeah, but that's what she told Oma last week.
Dixie: I'm not kidding, you guys! I hurt and my tummy has grown a little. SEE?
Gretchen: Maybe you're just growing.
Dixie: I am growing. A baby. I'm growing a baby.
Gretchen: Well, don't expect me to raise it.


As we drove the 213 miles to sign new hire paperwork and get started with house hunting, I turned to ask Dowlan, "Does any of this seem real to you?" and he replied with, "It's so fast, it doesn't even seem possible."

We left the house at 5:15 and got to the admin building at 8:50 to get a badge and sign up for benefits. Benefits! Actual insurance! While I was in there, Dowlan and the kids went around with a realtor. We're not sure if we're buying or renting, but needed to get started. In what can only be described as a bizarre turn of events, the realtor they went around with today lost his wife on Monday. Despite that, he insisted that he was fine with the appointment.

After they picked me up, we went to my friend's house to leave the first PennyVann load full of stuff. We had just time enough to empty it all before heading home. We got into town at 5:35 and I was at work ten minutes later.

I am tired.

Oh! Two days ago, Charlie turned 4. Two days from now, Dixie turns 7. My babies are so big!


since last sunday, I

  • drove to my parents' house
  • switched dixie to a booster from a car seat
  • gave charlie an emergency haircut
  • drove 500 miles to new mexico with seven people in my seven passenger van
  • got to meet two family members i'd never met before
  • took charlie michael to meet the woman whose son is where the michael came from
  • rented a car
  • sent my family off into the mountains for 4 days
  • drove 450 miles to a small town on three hours' notice
  • spent the night of a friend i hadn't seen in 12ish years after finding her on facebook
  • went to wal*mart for a haircut and good shoes
  • toured a state university and drove around a small neighborhood
  • interviewed for an elementary music teaching job
  • drove home
  • slept for three days
  • made preliminary moving plans
  • and got a phone call today saying i got the job
 I'm really glad I got this job for many reasons, not the least of which that I was going to be really irked if I missed my camp out for this interview and didn't get the job. Steady income and health insurance are good too, I suppose.

I start work next tuesday and the girls will start school there two weeks later. the moving-on-short-notice bit could get interesting.