Friday, September 30, 2011

The Forerunner

Our plan is simple. I'll drive the box truck to our apartment. Teri and Freja will fly in the next day. The two of us will set up the place and then I'll fly back to complete the house. After a LONG almost 12 hour drive I arrived in Mount Horeb.

After dealing with the details of moving into a new place I was ready for a break. I took a very short stroll and discovered the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub. Naturally I thought, "great name!" When I went in I found a lively crowd, a great wooden bar and lots of tables with a super high ceiling. It felt like I'd been here before. As I waited for a table I ordered a house stout. It was PERFECT, as was the food.

My waitress welcomed me to the town when I mentioned I'd just moved in. I'd worn a red t-shirt, it was one of two clean shirts I'd brought at random. As I glanced around the room I couldn't help but notice most of the patrons were also in red. Some of the kids even had painted faces. I asked the waitress what gives with all the red. Apparently I'd arrived on homecoming night.

I then walked to the game myself. I'd not been to high school game since I left school myself. It was an electric event. People were really happy to be there, and there were kids running around everywhere unsupervised. The fact that not only could I walk to games, as well as a great pub, but people felt safe enough to let their kids play really let me know I was in the right town. Especially when the learned the school team is called the Vikings!

So basically we've moved to a Nordic/Northern German town, complete with trolls!

The next day I was able to walk to Schubert's Diner. If you know me, then you know how much I LOVE old diners! The fact that most of the things I enjoy are in walking distance make this the perfect town for me.

Packing it Up

If you've never made a major move before, let me tell you, it's a real pain in the butt. I've moved many, many times over the years and the hardest part is winnowing out the things you need to keep from all the chaff. For me personally it wasn't so bad. I paired things way down in 1998 when my first marriage ended, and again when I moved from Pittsburgh in Greensburg. Teri, on the other hand, has been in this house for around 20 years and raised my step children here. Everyday I made it a point to empty, sort and pack at least one crate/area. My focus was on the garage and basement, where the bulk of stuff was stored. Teri tackled the kitchen, clothing and toys all of which required a lot of wrapping and sorting. All in all we did pretty well and it went a lot smoother than I had imagined.

Just how to get all this stuff from here to there? After looking a few options we chose to go with PODS as they had a great pricing and long term storage. I ordered two, both to be sent into storage until we move into the house. The first one I packed to the rafters, the second one awaits to be loaded as I write this. We then rented a box truck and it was packed with all the furniture, personal items and equipment needed to make the apartment comfortable.

Leaving Family Behind

The hardest part about moving so far away is all the family we're leaving behind. My parents, sister and niece, and Teri's older children, mother and sister are all in the general area. We'll miss them all terribly. It's one aspect of Freja's growing up in Madison I feel will be lacking is extended family interaction. It's going to especially hard on my parents, who've spent a lot of time with her.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Juggling for all We're Worth

While we're packing, buying a new home and raising our very active child we're also renovating our old home. Teri's lived here for about twenty years, me about five. This was a great house for us. Large enough we could all spread out a bit, but just a tad too large. With three full floors, basement and a detached two stall garage there were a lot of places to accumulate "stuff."

Trying to sort through everything, pack it up to ship and also renovate made for a hectic juggling match. I've never moved so many things around in so many piles. Not even when I was still at the museum, and they specialized in moving around piles of "stuff."

As things progressed I could then shoot the rooms as we finish them.

Miss Freja

This is Freja, our daughter. Let me tell you, you want to see a kid with more personality than most adults every hope to have, then this is the kid. I'm not just saying that because I'm her dad, OK, maybe just a tad. I think I'll let the photos from the last few weeks explain it.

I almost feel a little sorry for Mount Horeb. They have no idea about this little girl who may grow to be a woman in their quiet little town. It should be interesting.

The Last Two Weeks

While there we actually set a move date and came up with an action plan. The next two weeks were some of the busiest and most stressful as a couple. Thankfully we held it together and were able to make our move date.

As the two weeks went by I have to admit I began to feel a sense of sadness. While I never felt any ties to the Greensburg area, having only moved here a couple of years ago, I was the happiest here. I've felt such a simple joy at being a father and husband. Since I've met Teri I've found that intangible something I've always glimpsed over the horizon. Now I bask in that light.

The mother of my child.

I'm very proud of her not being timid in her decision to leave her old job. She'll always have my support! Besides, we always talked about this sort of scenario when we met. It's going to so exciting to explore, absorb and try to flourish in a completely new environment with her! 

House Hunting in Madison

With Teri starting her new job at the end of September, and us having no concrete place to move into, there was a lot of stress at the beginning of the month. On September 3rd, after leaving Freja at camp grandma (Nunna) we drove in our Jeep to Madison. The 11 hour drive actually went by quickly. I think we were both excited about the potential of find the perfect home for us.

The first two days we drove all around Madison, literally circling the city. Teri had prepared a folder filled with notes on homes we'd chosen from online sources. We ended up crossing off almost all of them from our list, and the ones left were not ideal. While we did enjoy exploring the area, I have to admit we were both beginning to worry.

Teri enjoying a break from our house search at Goose Pond Sanctuary north of the city. We really fell in love with the countryside. All of the farms we saw were healthy and active. Unlike here in Western PA, we didn't see any discarded junk, or dilapidated barns.

A sculpture at the sanctuary. I don't know the artist or I'd link to their site.

While it was sort of stressful trying to find just the right house, we also really enjoyed our time alone. We both love being parents, but Freja was born 15 months after we met for the first time, 9 of which she was pregnant of course. Getting to spend time with just us is a rare thing. Simply being able to enjoy a good breakfast without any kid drama set a wonderful tone. Also, we discovered to our amazement that the diners all serve Bloody Maries! They garnish with pickles, olives, lemon and cheese curds... what?

On the fourth day of our hunt our Realtor, Chuck Schwenn took us to a house we hadn't seen online. As soon as we got out of the car we were excited. By the time we went through the entry all three of us were grinning ear to ear. We'd found it! Our new home! It's an early craftsman style home and is in perfect shape for it's age. The owner was home baking a cake for her granddaughter's wedding. Not only the smell seduced us, but the house itself was simply perfect for us.

While we spent the next day looking at additional homes, there was no comparison. Also, every spare moment we had was spent in the town where the house is located. We met a number of really charming people. The restaurants were all good! There's a park at the end of the alley behind the house with a lake and trout streams. The town also has a brewery and a winery, which we used as sort of a field office for a few days.

Yes, Mount Horeb, Troll Capital of the World is going to be our new home. The only snag? The owner of the home was taking it off the market the day we saw it as she didn't want to move in winter. Understanding this, we made our offer and set it up so we'll take possession in the spring. With literally no time to spare we managed to find a townhouse to rent in the town. We signed paperwork, handed over a check and then raced to the airport to fly home, leaving our Jeep behind.

A New Chapter Begins

I've decided to begin my own photoblog. It's not going to be a photo/day type blog. I've done that before, taking photos everyday and then writing/posting them one per day. Instead, this is more about a journal of my life, career and family as we embark on a new chapter in our story.

As I write this first entry, it's more of a back story really, my wife and daughter are 600 miles from where I sit in our old home. This past weekend I moved them from Southwest Greensburg, PA to Mount Horeb, WI. My wife, Teri, has a brilliant new job ideally suited to her in Madison. I am looking forward to rebuilding my business up from scratch. With all that I now know, it's going to be refreshing to a have a chance to begin again.

I thought a blog would be a good way to tell our story, to help keep track of our new adventure.