Monday, July 26, 2010

our migration to the east coast

Did I ever tell you how we decided to move to Virginia?

It's a funny story and goes something like this...

The Tuesday after my first methotrexate treatment, when my hormones were all over the map and I was crying every 10 minutes, give or take five ... I called my boss and told him that I couldn't take the job in Virginia. Even though it appeared that I now wouldn't have a newborn at Christmas (sob!), I did have four small children and the thought of being away from them everyday was debilitating (sob!).

He suggested I call three separate people who were in Virginia and ask their opinions before I made my final decision. One of the women was on maternity leave (sob!), and the other two were unavailable so I left messages. That night, as I went to bed, I told Charlie that REGARDLESS of what the people told me, I thought that it was - without a doubt - the absolute best choice for our family if we STAYED in California (sob! sob!).

Although, yes, sure, a bigger space would be awesome and being closer to my family would be fantastic, I wasn't ready to work in an office every day. And while he didn't come right out and say it, I could tell that Charlie was disappointed. Because he - perhaps even more than me - had high hopes for a new chapter in our lives.

Then, I went to sleep on it. And much to our surprise, when I woke up, I still wanted to stay in California. Since my mind changed every 15 minutes, I was more convinced of it then ever. So while Charlie ran off to Starbucks to buy a big cup of coffee and a few bags of French Roast whole bean, I set about getting ready for the day.

A few minutes later, the phone rang.

One of the people who I had called for advice was calling me back. The man was someone who I trust - and admire. Seeing as he has run the Boston Marathon in under 2 hours and 49 minutes, he simply inspires me.

So I gave him the full scoop. I was offered the job, I accepted the job, I found out I was pregnant. (Wow. Do you guys have any other hobbies?! Congrats! That's great!) Then I continued by telling him that my pregnancy was nonviable, I was undergoing treatment (sob!) and now I'm faced with the decision of what to do?

He told me, "GO FOR IT. You'll love it here. You'll do GREAT in this new job and since this area has some of the best school districts in the country, the timing is excellent since your kids are about to start Kindergarten."

I don't know what happened (crazy raging hormones gone wild?), but during those less than five minutes that we spoke, I totally and completely felt like he was absolutely right and my decision was flipped 180 degrees. I thanked him for calling, we hung up, I ate a half bag of Dove chocolate squares, cried some more, and two seconds later - my boss called to get my FINAL decision.

There had been so much back-and-forth, people needed to know once and for all.

Was I coming to Virginia, or not?

Just as I was about to give him my answer, the front door opened - and in walked Charlie holding a bag of coffee, and sipping a Grande. I was staring in to my husband's eyes as I said the words, "YES. I'll accept the job in Virginia. What next?"

Coffee shot out of Charlie's nose.

Then he said something like, "Woman, you are CRAZY!" and he walked in to the kitchen, laughing. I finished up my conversation with my boss and rejoined my husband. He had a sparkle in his eye and a spring in his step to match the sparkle in my eye and spring in my step.

While there is no doubt that we loved it in California and our lives were very comfortable, deep down, we both felt like we needed a change. We needed to MIX things up a bit. I, especially, felt the overwhelming need to be closer to my family.

Life is short. What better time than now?

That was just over two months ago and while we haven't waffled in our decision, and are both VERY HAPPY that we made the move, I must admit, this entire process of getting our house in California ready for sale, moving cross-country, living in a small hotel room with four small children, settling in to a new (highly challenging / highly visible / highly time consuming) work role, all the while searching for the "perfect" and yet "affordable" house, hasn't been easy.

Why ... it often feels like my hair is on FIRE.

Although, I have been doing my best to enjoy the experience. If you can look at it, with the right type of perspective and faith, the excitement is unbelievable.

That being said: Our house, which hasn't been on the market for two full weeks yet, has received two full price offers and two slightly less than full price offers. That's a grand total of four offers.

We're currently in escrow.

Going in to this, I really felt like the sale price that our Realtor had suggested (and which I begrudgingly accepted), was too low. I brought it up, countless times, but was consistently told that "similar" models were going for a certain price - and we couldn't ignore the comps. But in my opinion, our house is anything but "similar" to all the other models and I don't believe that our house can be compared to others, based solely on size. When we bought our house 13 years ago, it was already higher than the comps based on the location and upgrades. And that was before we unloaded a small fortune in to it for even more upgrades.

Whenever I mention to someone that we're already in escrow, they all tell me how "incredibly lucky" I am. Maybe I'm confused, because the one that I see as being "incredibly lucky" is the person who is going to buy a beautiful house, in a beautiful community, within walking distance from excellent schools, for a 10% discount. And believe me, that 10% would REALLY come in handy right now, considering the homes that we're looking at are approximately 100% more.

(Keep in mind: I know nothing about real estate, so am quite likely overly emotional.)

(Also: the house that we saw over the weekend has been on my mind nonstop. I have no idea if we'll end up putting an offer in or not because it really does need A LOT of work and they'd have to drop the price by about 30% for us to even consider it. But we'll see what happens. I kind of hope that it works out because I think that the "good spirit" there was touching all of us.)

This morning, I had to be in the office for a meeting that started early.

The children were all still asleep, but just before I left, Henry toddled in to our room and rubbing his eyes told me that he "want to go home." Then he took me by my hand and led me in to the kitchen - opened the small refrigerator and said, "HOME!"

Tonight, when I came back, the children were already in their pajamas. While I was off working, Charlie spent the day with them in Washington, D.C. checking out the sights. I'm very glad they had so much fun - but beneath my joy for their exciting adventures - I felt a pang of sadness and frustration, because yeah.

Although it's only been a week, this arrangement of me leaving before they are up and coming home just before they go to bed, isn't going to be sustainable for an extended period of time. My kids are more important to me than any career.

My mantra has and always will be: I work to live. I don't live to work.

While I don't want to rush in to anything, and I want to be absolutely certain that we're finding a home that is just right for our family (preferably larger and warmer in the winter than a refrigerator), we really need to get settled soon. Because I don't feel like I can get in to a good routine, and manage the work-life balance, until we ARE sufficiently settled.

With any trace of luck, we don't commit financial suicide in the process ... or I'll be running my fastest pace ever when I chase down the marathoner who convinced us to move here.


  1. Eat, Pray, Love. We are all pulling for you.

  2. I am thinking once the kids start kindergarten, it will be easier for you.

    The transition (of moving out of your home into a hotel and finding and moving and settling into a new home and job situation) probably will be seriously tough -and you'll second guess it a million times. There is no doubt in my mind that your kids KNOW they are first. That foundation of love you have given them all their life -it will help smooth over these transition periods for them. I really think it will be harder on you than them.
    Hang in there.

  3. Chill out Jen and roll with it.....everything will work our great.


  4. Is there any way you can simply raise the price on your old house? If not, and if people are bidding on it, the answer is simple. Hold an auction! Sell it to the highest bidder! I have read of houses that two people REALLY wanted, and they kept bidding against each other, and the final selling price was ASTRONOMICAL! :O *WAY* more than what it was supposed to sell for! :O

    Hold an auction I tell ya, hold an auction!!! :D

    ~Helpful ~Cindy! :)

  5. OH the sucky life of a full time working mom. That must just be heartbreaking after being able to spend so much time with them.

    LOVE Henry's idea of home - a refrigerator : )

  6. It sounds like things are coming together. This process has been guided by a higher power and getting your house sold in this market is a serious BLESSING! I am sure that the right house will come a long and your life will begin to make sense again :)

  7. Can the 2 full price bidders bid against each other? Is it too late? Can't your realtor tell both clients that you have multiple full price offers and to prepare their best and final offers so you can consider which to take?

    When we sold our house (before this real estate problem) the realtor wanted to ask less based on square footage, but based on location and location WITHIN the neighborhood, I pushed to ask for more. We did and we got our full asking price as well. Since you already have 2 full price offers I think you are in a powerful position to see how much higher they are willing to go. You will know based on what they come back with what people are willing to spend.

  8. Okay, number one I am so far behind on tracking you that Gator has got to get me a new computer soon (and Kyle goes to bed sooner and people have to stop abusing their kids and have to finish kicking the school district's bu-- for letting the aides go and putting new ones in the special needs classes who have no experience with special needs children and oh I'm now on the steering committee for building a special needs playground and ball field and after last night's school board meeting I will be helping the school district write grants to benefit our special needs children)!!! I just figured out during jury duty this week how to read your blog on my blackberry! Number two: email me your real estate questions.....guess you forgot Gator is a Realtor and could guide you. Number three: couldn't go thru SC without showing the kids the Gaffney peach (B---)! Wish I had known cause I would've met you! Number four: things will fall into place and we are thinking of you. Number five: we want to visit once you're settled (like next year) hahahaha. wonder I never have time for myself and to update my blog
    love ya.

  9. You poor thing. Too many things at the same time. In aus it's perfectly normal to rent a house for 6 months - year after you mone somewhere new. It gives you time to find your feet and decide where you want to live/ school etc. Great houses are available because there is a tax advantage in owning an investment home ( you guys haive same for your personal home, which means there are few rentals ).

    What I'm saying is. You poor guys. Overwhelmed by choices and way too much on your plate. But you will get there.

  10. hi been reading and i really like it.