If you read my blog and have been wondering where in the world I’ve been lately, well, I have sort of a good excuse. I moved across the country!!!
After Andy retired last summer (2015), we talked about moving back to the East coast someday. Washington is beautiful, and we made some great friends and wonderful memories there, but it never really felt like home to us. We discussed whether we should live in Texas (closer to my small family) or Pennsylvania (closer to his large family). I really love Pennsylvania. Together, we chose Pennsylvania.
As much as I love Texas and will always consider myself a “Texas girl,” I truly love the four seasons you find in the northeastern United States. I love rolling hills, mountains, deep valleys, and farmland. I love the brilliant red, orange, and gold trees of fall and nippy-aired, gotta-drink-hot-cocoa-and-wear-boots-weather. I love watching snow speckle tall, dark evergreens in silver splendor, and gracefully cover rolling hills in fluffy, white blankets during the winter. I love pale pink cherry blossoms and happy yellow daffodils blooming in the spring. And I love cool, bright green grass pricking my bare feet during balmy summers that make me sweat and want to jump in a pool (as long as it doesn’t last more than 3 months). Pennsylvania has it all!
(Yes, I got my hair cut. Andy HATES it, so like a good little wifey, I’m growing it out again.)
After our middle daughter Sky graduated valedictorian (yes, I know, I can’t believe I actually produced a VALEDICTORIAN!!) from high school in June, it was time to say good-bye to the Pacific Northwest. We purchased what we call our “forever home” and are now living in the glorious, rolling green hills of south-central Pennsylvania, only an hour from my husband’s hometown, and right on the edge of Amish country. Since Andy is still young(ish) and couldn’t imagine being completely retired yet, he is now working at a federal job in human resources.
I absolutely love it here. Just love it. Our forever home is my dream home. We actually bought it without seeing it first! Can you believe that? I mean, really, who does that? Our friends back in Washington thought we were crazy. They really let us know about it, too. Haha! One friend told me she had done the same thing and deeply regretted it. But the trip from Washington to Pennsylvania is so long, plane tickets are so expensive, that we just wanted to go for it. We contacted a real estate agent who was recommended to us by a friend, and went forward in faith. We wrote out our wish list, prayed hard, asked for the intercession of St. Joseph, and ultimately, trusted God. We spent a few months looking at houses online but nothing really “popped.” Andy bought a plane ticket one weekend and looked at many properties with our agent, but came back to me with nothing. He couldn’t find one house that had everything on our wish list. We were both frustrated and disappointed.
Then. THEN, a few days after he had returned, our agent sent us a link to a new listing that had “all the things.” All the things on our list, which happened to be:
- Everything in good, working order – no fixer uppers
- 4 or more bedrooms
- Open floor plan
- Wood floors on main level preferred – but we knew it was something we could eventually add if needed
- Finished basement
- Eat-in kitchen
- Separate dining room
- Two living areas
- Master bedroom suite with private bath
- 2 full bathrooms, plus at least one more half-bathroom
- Good-sized kitchen so I can cook (my hobby!)
- Fenced-in yard (Luke, our goldie, likes to um, “explore” a little too much) – another thing we could add ourselves, but HOA rules were important to know since some neighborhoods don’t allow fences, and it would need to be done ASAP
- Move-in ready (we didn’t mind if it needed some paint or whatnot, but we really didn’t want to deal with any major issues; old appliances that needed to be replaced; mismatched wallpaper or outdated border; crazy paint colors that needed to be changed ASAP, etc.)
- A quiet neighborhood with spacious yards (our lot in Washington was tiny and we like more privacy)
- In-ground swimming pool, or a yard that could accommodate one…
Andy and I love swimming. As long as we’ve been together, we’ve dreamed of having our own pool in our backyard. So, the in-ground pool was something we had really hoped for, but had not really expected to come by so easily. We used to routinely buy those gigantic blow-up pools that went up to a depth of 2 feet of water and set them up for the summer. Of course, they were trash by the time fall came around. But it was the closest thing we could come to having a pool in our backyard. In Washington, summers were too cold to bother with one.
When looking for a house, we decided to budget for an in-ground pool installation. We thought it would be nice to find a house that already had one, but most of the houses we looked at did not have a pool. The ones that already did just didn’t have the other things we were looking for.
But this house had everything – including the in-ground pool!!! We could not believe it. Not only that, it was in a gorgeous neighborhood where houses had neatly manicured lawns and were spaced far apart. (Google Maps is great for discovering this kind of stuff!)
Everything seemed perfect. In fact, so perfect that I knew something had to be wrong with it. We told our agent that on the surface, it seemed to be “the” house, and I prayed fervently to St. Joseph for his help. My prayer was that our plans to buy the house would be sabotaged if it wasn’t right! I was so scared. I tossed and turned in bed every night, wondering if choosing the house was a big mistake. Andy’s two sisters, a brother, and a nephew all went out with our real estate agent to look at the house for us. They sent feedback and took tons of pictures for us. The biggest complaints? It wasn’t pristine. The molding around a screen was out of place. The bathrooms were filthy. Everything needed a good scrubbing. Other than those few, minor cosmetic details, they all really loved it!
I am forever grateful to all of our family members who spent their time helping us make this huge decision. In addition to check the house out to us, a couple of his siblings went over and beyond to help us. Andy’s sister, Esther, spent hours at our house, cleaning and scrubbing it so it would be move-in ready for us. Andy’s brother, Don, who has a pool of his own, came out every few days to check on our pool, to be sure it stayed in good working condition while we still lived in Washington.
Andy flew to Pennsylvania to close on the house with a power-of-attorney for me. He called me to tell me that the house was absolutely perfect. He said it was everything we had always dreamed of and hoped for together. The neighborhood was perfect. The location was perfect. It was such an amazing feeling talking to him, and knowing that we had finally found our dream home. It may sound cheesy, but I felt my heart bursting with love when we talked! All Andy’s hard work through the years had paid off. I felt at total peace once he saw the house. We have been together for over 25 years, and I knew if he said it was perfect for us, then it was. He knows “us.”
BUT!!! Then he had the audacity to throw a swim party with our family! He had his mom, siblings, nephews, nieces, and cousins, all over to swim while he grilled and served food on paper plates. They all got to swim in my pool and party at my house before I even stepped a foot inside it! Haha! I was so jealous, but in a good way – I was so happy at the same time. I only say this in jest. I seriously couldn’t wipe the smile off my face thinking of my all my in-laws, nieces, and nephews, playing at my house. I wished I could be there, but it made me look forward to moving day even more! My niece, Madysin, was so sweet and even sent me a “walk-through” video of my own house. I loved it.
One of the biggest things that made this move so joyous was that John and Whitney moved with us! In fact, John found a job near our new home and flew up a few weeks early to start. He was waiting for us at our new house when we arrived.
Finally, the day came that we all caravanned across the country, from Washington all the way to Pennsylvania. We were quite the motley crew with 3 cars, 9 people, 2 dogs, and it took us 8 days. Our son, AJ, drove along with us and has been staying here until he goes back to CWU in September. So yes, NINE people(!) – Me, Andy, Sky, Emma, Whitney, River, Austen, Chase, and AJ. Whitney’s car, two of our cars. Our dog Luke, and Whitney’s dog Colby. It was quite the adventure, and we stopped to explore many interesting places! I took about 400 pictures….but I promise I won’t post them all on my blog! At least, not all at once! Here are a few pictures we took during our trip…
John & Whitney & the grandkids have been living with us temporarily since we moved in. Thank goodness for the 3-car garage, which is literally holding all their household goods until they move to their own place. Haha! But that won’t be much longer. They have found a house in a little town only about 20 minutes away from us. I can’t tell you how happy I am that they moved here with us!
As much as Andy and I are loving our new life in Pennsylvania (which is especially cool due to the fact that for the first time in our marriage, we actually got to choose a place to live!), it hasn’t been so easy on our youngest two. Sky and Emma have some really close friends back in Washington and are quite attached to the PNW. To say the move has been smooth sailing for all of us would be dishonest.
Sky has started college here and Emma Rose started 10th grade at a local Catholic school. It’s been extra hard for them, especially Emma. This is not the best age for a cross-country move! I had to change high schools between 9th and 10th grade and I remember, it was really, really hard. I wasn’t even moving cross-country. If you are so inclined, please keep Emma in your prayers as she tries to adjust to a new home, a new school, and making new friends. (And having to wear a uniform that she thinks makes her look “gross” but I think is adorable…)
As you can see, it’s been a crazy, busy summer for us! I am looking forward to getting back to blogging. As things settle into more of a normal routine, I will be doing a “new house tour” and will also be doing more of my favorite thing: cooking!! Namely, trying out more low-carb recipes! In fact, I have a dish in the oven right now: “Beef Burgundy” from 1,001 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender. It smells divine and I can hardly wait to eat it! I’ll let you know how it turns out. Have a great day!