Feeling Like Home

It’s hard to believe but we have been Minnesotans for over a year and a half. We’re in the middle of our second winter which has been mild save for two weekends in a row in frigid, sub-zero temperatures. It’s not my favorite time of year here, but a small price to pay for the beautiful spring, summer and fall.

When we packed up the last of our belongings, drove away from our house and said our final see you laters to our friends and family, I had a knot in my stomach. I was excited for us to move on and out of Colorado to see what it would be like, but also terrified. Would we find a new house, would our kids adjust well, would I find a job, how were we going to make new friends, am I cut out to possibly be a stay-at-home mom, will we make it through a Midwest winter? To list a few of my many concerns.

When we arrived to the lush green land of 10,000 lakes (apparently it’s more like 11-12k lakes) a lot of my fears were put at ease. We enjoyed a beautiful summer and found our house. I immediately found an amazing running group and Josh settled into his job. Our friends Peter and Rachel were amazing. We saw them multiple times every week during those first few months. They really helped with the transition for us, even babysitting for me so that I could work when I was still trying to figure out what our new routine would look like.

Instead of going back to work as originally intended, I’ve continued consulting which has allowed me to do all sorts of fun stuff with the kids. Minnesota has an amazing early childhood education program that we’ve taken advantage of and tons of community events and classes for all of us.

I have to say we’ve had a really positive experience with our move. We found a house, our kids have transitioned well and I can’t really lodge any complaints. I love our neighborhood and really Maple Grove in general. There are tons of activities all year round from outdoor music and movies to sledding, tubing and cross-country skiing. It’s no wonder it was the #2 best place to live in 2014.

As for the cons, we absolutely miss our friends and family. We’ve had several visitors to show around our new digs. It’s really nice that we have a finished basement with a guest room and bathroom as well as living space. We don’t all have to be on top of one another now. We are looking forward to more coming…hint hint.

Outside of Peter and Rachel, who are our closest friends here, it has taken a while to make friends. We’ve been working on finding friends for ourselves as well as couple friends with kids our kids’ ages. If you haven’t tried to make friends as an adult, it is totally like dating and we’re on the market. I’ve found that most of the people I meet here are from Minnesota. This means of course that they have family and friends nearby. Breaking into the friend circle can be difficult but not impossible.

Over the past six months, I feel like we’ve made huge strides in the friends department. I have friends I can text or call to go for a run (of course), lament about a frustrating day with the kids or ask to have a movie night, ring in the New Year or chat with during various kids activities. Josh has even gone for drinks and such with some of the husbands.

I never thought I’d say it, but Minnesota is starting to feel like home. There is something to starting over in a new place. It forced me to leave my comfort zone. I’ve been forced to put myself out there to meet people. It has been scary and exciting, nerve-racking and exhilarating. Overall, this has been a good move for us. Do I feel like doing it all over again anytime soon? I think I’ll pass.

 

Making Moves

The wait has finally ended, as have our days in a small apartment with none of our own stuff. Over Labor Day weekend we moved into our new house! Of course our camera is currently holding the good pictures hostage.

new house

After closing on the Thursday night prior to the holiday weekend, we drove up with our first load of clothes and such from the apartment. Josh continued our tradition of carrying me over the threshold of our new house. We cleared out our cars and walked the kids around the house again as it had been nearly two months since we were in it last.

New house living room

Ella and I picked up a pizza and we had a little picnic in our new kitchen.

Kitchen picnic

Josh’s parents were nice enough to come up for the weekend to help us get somewhat settled which was really nice. They were even on board with having a ridiculous amount of Mexican food after my 20 miler. Even though I never wanted a hot tub, I really enjoyed the one in our backyard that night.

hot tubbing

Ella really enjoyed playing with her grandparents. She was so sad when it was time to say goodbye.

We have a lot of furniture to buy so we have some empty rooms and incomplete rooms like Ella’s which desperately needs a new dresser. We’ll get there.

Our neighbors have been very welcoming. We even had one bring over muffins. I thought that only happened in movies. It was so sweet. There seem to be lots of kids in the neighborhood and just a 10 minute walk from our house is a great park and a swimming beach which we will be able to utilize more next summer.

Weaver Lake

I’m so excited to be settling in. The return to some normalcy will be great. I may even have a chance to get back to blogging. Imagine that.

 

The First Few Weeks

We made it through our first two weeks in Minnesota. It flew right by. I’m still sane and everyone is happy and healthy.

Transitioning from being a full-time working mom to a part-time work-at-home/stay-at-home mom was a bit daunting to me going in. I’ve been using the past few weeks to get us into a new routine, find fun activities to do, explore the area and figure out how to balance working (very part-time) and the kids.

We spent most mornings walking on horribly ugly paths like these:

Lone Lake Trail

and playing at parks like this:

Bryant Lake Park

Most days we’ll walk (mainly the dog and I walk) up to eight miles. I swear we are in the hillest city in the Twin Cities area. Our apartment is in a valley of hills that have been working me, especially when I’m pushing two kids in a stroller. It’s no wonder I found my clothes are fitting a little bit better.

When it’s sunny we like to spend time by the pool. Not by the pool, but rarely in it because the kids deem the water too cold.

photo 1

Or by the lake which has been the biggest hit of all.

Shady Oak Lake

In an effort to meet some fellow moms and find some playmates for Ella we also ventured to story time at Barnes and Noble. Ella was pretty excited about making this butterfly for me.

Ella and her craft

We’ve done some house hunting too. We’ve found houses we like, but nothing that has said, this is home to us. We loved everything about one house we saw this week, except for the lot it was on. Of course that same model on a better lot is about $80k out of the price range. Damn! We will find one, it may just take some time.

We’ve gotten to spend some time with Josh’s friend Peter and his wife Rachel. It’s been great getting to know Rachel better and have their guidance around our new city. They even watched the kids for a few hours for me so that I could work. I think I may just take them up on their offer to make it a regular Friday thing.

I also met some runners for a nice nine mile run. It was so nice to have some people to chat and run with. Several of the ladies are training for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon so I’ll have training partners! I’m excited about that.

I miss my mountains, our friends and family, little things like the grocery stores I know like the back of my hand and not having to rely on Google Maps to get around. But, I think we’re going to like it here.

Long road Minnesota

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We’ve made it. We are officially living in Minnesota as of yesterday. The drive took about 17 hours total but we did get to stop in Lincoln for a few days. We are exhausted.

Now I just have to figure out how to get anywhere without relying on google maps and what to do with two kids and a dog when it’s raining.

So behind on everything here including Anderson’s nine month update and news of a big fall race for me. As we get settled they will start popping up.

Packing a House Without Fighting – A Few Tips

Today movers will arrive to fill this with all of our stuff:

moving 2

We have been amazed by the amount of stuff we’ve acquired over the past several years. Even with carloads of donations being dropped off at Goodwill, selling baby clothes and equipment, furniture and such, our house still looks like this:

moving 1

Needless to say, the packing process has been painful, especially for Josh who has been doing the brunt of the work since I’m not done working until Friday. Here are a few tips (in no specific order) on how to not kill fight with your significant other while prepping for a move.

1. Hire someone to do it for you.  I know what you’re saying, duh! We got quotes for full service moving companies that would box, load, transport and store our stuff until we find a new house. Estimates were coming in at $12,000-18,000, plus additional fees for each month of storage. Ouch! Even with the relocation money, we figured it couldn’t be that hard to pack up ourselves and save some of the money for getting a new house up and running. We were wrong.

2. Find funny things to reminisce about. Our office was probably the best room to pack up. I found a whole box of old pictures with gem like these in it:

halloween 2008 senior luncheon

Nothing lightens the mood like laughing about how awkward we were, how crazy we were or how stupid we were (hello 21st birthday shot notebook. Yikes!).

3. Add a cocktail. We’re not huge drinkers, though after the last few posts you may think otherwise. Sometimes you just need something to take the edge off. After all packing up all your possessions and your life as you know it is stressful.

4. If that doesn’t work, work in different rooms. Together time isn’t necessarily the best thing while packing. It’s definitely not advisable when packing styles or speeds are not aligned. If you’re starting to snap at each other about bubble wrap vs. brown paper padding, you need to move to a different room.

5. Take breaks. It just took me five tries to type breaks instead of breasts. Wow, must still be thinking about organizing my breastmilk for donation the other night. Back to my point, everyone needs a break. The other night Josh went for a ride with John, the night before I fed Anderson and went for a run. Physical activities and time spent away from packing tape, boxes, bubble wrap and Sharpies do wonders for stress levels.

6. Set daily goals. Before we go to bed at night we’ve been talking about tasks to accomplish the next day. Josh has a set and I have a set. When I get home from work we talk about where we stand and how I can best help once the kids are in bed. This keeps us from getting to the point of standing with a box in our hands just staring at the chaos around us.

7. Breathe. Passing out is not advisable. Seriously it will really cut into productivity levels. But then again, it may temporarily relieve you of your job. You may want to go that route if you’re desperate.

It’s been a stressful few weeks for us, but we will get it done. The last boxes will make it into the truck even if we have to put it on there ourselves. Whether or not we can fit the stuff we’re taking to the apartment in our cars and still accommodate the kids and dog, that is another story. Maybe I should think of my non-argument strategy for that too.