Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Six stinkin' feet!

The boys and I have been staying with my parents for the last 2 weeks while waiting to close on the sale of our house. It was either that or sit there with boxes surrounding us, little food to eat, and no internet or TV. Thankfully, my mom and dad didn't mind us barging in too much ;)

While here, I decided we should start a reduced schedule for school, officially kicking off our first year of homeschooling Monday, June 22nd. It's been interesting so far. Not too difficult, but I'm learning what's going to work, what's not, and where we get distracted. While we had intended to use Life of Fred math for both boys, it only seems to be a good fit for Alex. Ethan is a very concrete, literal thinker, and even though he likes LOF, he isn't understanding some of the topics taught. We are going to try a more traditional math curriculum and use Saxon Algebra 1/2 and Algebra 1 for him, to give him more of a textbook feel and practice problems to really get it. He was being very hard on himself. Thanks to an amazing friend and fellow homeschool mom, we have both books, the practice and test keys for both, and test booklet for Algebra 1. I will need to find the Algebra 1/2 test booklet (it's an older edition, the 2nd edition, which makes it a little difficult to find, but not impossible hopefully.) I am so grateful to Sharon for letting us borrow these for the year.

Besides school, we spent the Saturday before Father's Day with my in-laws, went to the zoo with my parents and visited with friends.

On Thursday, Jason flew from Miami to Detroit, and I drove up to pick him up and go to the house. That's when the fun began...

I had to fill out a background check release for the HOA of the rental home we are trying to get and fax it over with a copy of the lease and my ID. They need Jason to drop off $25 dollars as soon as he gets down there to pay for it, and they said they would start it this past Friday anyway. We had to get a cashier's check for first and last month's rent and the security deposit so he can get the keys for us. This part went fairly smooth, but it was just the beginning of a very rough 4 days.

Jason had called and set up a truck rental with a certain company (not sure if I should share the name, as I don't want any issues...) early last week. Having spoken to a person, rather than doing it through the online or automated phone system, we were confident it was correct. The customer service rep told us a specific township near us had the 26' truck and 5x9 motorcycle trailer we needed and would have it ready at 9am Friday. Friday morning, we hopped in the van, and while he drove toward said township, I looked up the address from our confirmation email. As I zoomed out on the map, I was confused. It appeared that the location was on the other side of the state. Thinking this surely could not be correct, Jason pulled over and called the store. Sure enough there is another town/city with the same name as the township, and it's over by Muskegon, near Lake Michigan! No way we were driving 4+ hours each way! We called the original company's 800 number and explained the issue. They tried to fix it, but there were no trucks bigger than 17' on the SE side of the state, for the entire weekend. They found us a 5x9 trailer, and we could get that even if we used a different company for the truck. After calling the other 2 big companies that offer one-way rentals, and neither having an available truck for days, we were at a bit of a loss as to what we should do. We had help arranged for Saturday to load the truck, he was supposed to be on the road Sunday morning, and closing was scheduled for early Monday morning with us having told the seller we would be out and he would have possession at closing! No truck meant no moving out. First thing we did was take care of Jason's work. He called and let his boss know what had happened, and there was a delay in his return. His boss was very understanding. During the time we were calling his boss, and other truck rental companies, the original company called back. Upon returning their call, we were told they had found us a 26' truck to go with the trailer, and it could be picked up Sunday. We waited, and checked the confirmation email, only to see that the customer service rep (a different one from who booked our original reservation) reserved us a 17' truck!!!!! There was absolutely no way we were going to fit a 3 bed 1.5 bath 1900 sq ft home - not including the full basement! - into 17'! We called, and were told that rep had gone home for the day. Another representative assisted us, found a 26' at another location a bit further away that opened at 10am Sunday. Perfect. We called back and verified, as well as went online and verified. By this point it was about 5pm, and we were so done.

Fast forward a day and a half, to Sunday morning about 9:30. We pull up the the rental store, and seeing the trucks sitting there, we both agreed the ones out in the front of the building (a small shopping center) looked somewhat small. Hoping they had some more parking somewhere else, we walked in. The gentleman behind the desk asked if he could help us. Jason told him, I really hope so, we reserved a 26' truck and 5x9 motorcycle trailer and we've been having nothing but problems. The look on this poor guy's face. He proceeded to tell us that the customer who had rented the truck previously, and was supposed to return the truck the night before had taken it back to a different location. It was nearby, but unfortunately, they were closed on Sundays. He went to great lengths to help us, even sending an employee over to try to get the keys from the other store's lockbox and bring us the truck. They were unable to and with no other choices available, we had to take the 20' truck he had along with the motorcycle trailer. After all, we had to be out of the house by the following morning and Jason really needed to head back to Florida for work. We finally got the truck back to the house by about 12:30 Sunday. With the help of my FIL, and 2 friends, the 5 of us had the truck loaded by 5. The only problem left was the 5x9 trailer, and a garage full of bicycles, a grill, other outdoor toys, and a very large Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The truck had absolutely no room left, and we couldn't see a way to fit all in the trailer. Time for a decision. Jason called his friend who offered some space in his pole barn, and asked to temporarily store his motorcycle, and then loaded the other items in the trailer.

Six feet. That's really all we needed. That extra six feet of truck that we fought to get for 3 days, we really did need it. If we had that extra six feet, we wouldn't have needed to change up anything. Six stinkin' feet!

After a very long day of packing, Jason rode 40 minutes to drop his bike off, and got a ride home from his friend. While he was gone, I finished vacuuming, cleaning up and loading my mini-van with little things. We spent our very last night in our home of nearly 5 years, before waking up to go to closing.

Closing went smoothly, and we received a check, although we had to delay depositing it for an hour or so, while they awaited confirmation of funds being transferred to their account. After stopping by the bank, Jason and I went to the house, and he picked up the truck full of everything we own. An end to a chapter. No longer homeowners. No longer residents of Michigan. Turning to a new page in the book that is our life.

Jason made a quick pitstop by my parents' house to see the boys for an hour or so - they hadn't seen each other since June 8th - before getting on the road. He should be nearing his destination in the next hour or so.

The boys and I spent the evening and night at my parents'. This morning we went for a short visit to a friend's to let the kids play, drop off a bread machine, and pick up the math books before going to lunch at Red Robin, just the four of us.

Tomorrow, all three of them are getting hair cuts before we head over to Jason's parents' house for dinner and a visit. Thursday morning, we start our trip South. The plans have changed some due to some unexpected things, but it should be fun. We are spending the holiday weekend in Columbus, Ohio at my sister's house. Then early Tuesday morning, we will drive to Southern Maryland to visit a long-time friend for about a week, before finally heading to Florida on July 13th. We had planned to swing by Greenville, SC, but it's not good timing for us, or my friend who we planned to visit so that will be put off until later in the year or next summer maybe (we WILL get together soon, Jenny!!!). My hope is to be in the Miami area by afternoon/early evening on July 15th, that gives us 3 full days to drive (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). With it being 16 hours of drive time, it should only take 2 days with one overnight about halfway. I know with 2 big kids and 1 little kid, we will be stopping every couple of hours for bathroom breaks, food, plus gas fill-ups, so I'm figuring 10 hours each day gives us 8 hours driving and 2 hours for any stops. I'd LOVE to make it in one day, but I'm doing all the driving so there's no way. Now here's hoping all works out with the rental this week, and when we get there, I just have to help Jason finish unpacking, and we can settle in to our new normal!

I will be forever grateful for all the help from family and friends this weekend, and this whole move so far. From people opening their homes up to us to stay or even visit for the day to storing the bike to helping with the physical move to teaching my boys while I was gone to listening when I have been stressed to loaning us books, it's been amazing. Even with all the twists and turns, the wrenches thrown in our plans, it has worked out ok in the long run so far. I know it can only get better from here.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

And we are off!

Taking some time for myself lately has entailed watching some TV shows, and printing off lots of paperwork!

It's been quite a while since I sat down and written anything. Far too long. My laptop is still on the fritz, so I'm sharing Jason's (turned-family-computer) laptop.

So much has been happening for us. Jason started his new job last month, but has been training up here in MI while we have been preparing to sell our home. He leaves MONDAY! to drive to South Florida. E and A have just over a week left of school, with their last day next Friday.

Our home went on the market just 3 weeks ago! Within a 10 days, we had an offer, and executed contract. Last week, we went through inspection, and just had the mortgage appraiser out on Tuesday, and the septic tank paperwork taken care of. The buyer has been satisfied so far, so unless something extraordinary happens, we should be closing on June 30th. I'm feeling beyond grateful that this process has been fairly painless so far.

We don't currently have a place to stay in FL, but the boys and I will stay here until Jason flies back to load the moving truck. Then we are spending a little over a week with my parents and visiting the inlaws, followed by about 10 days at my sister's house in Columbus, OH. Then we are off on our "little" roadtrip! A week or so visiting a friend in MD, another week near Greenville, SC "meeting" another, and then a drive down the coast, stopping in Charleston, Savannah, and wherever else we decide to on our way to the greater Miami area. While we are stretching our trip out some, Jason will be looking for a home and maybe even moving our things in. Better than all 5 of us staying in a little hotel room for over a month.

On a sad note, we had to euthanize our dog last week. His body was failing him, and though he was alert and aware, he could barely stand, couldn't get up and down the steps to go outside/come inside, and the night before, he laid on the floor and didn't move from that spot until after he passed away and was carried to the hospice vet's vehicle. I'm glad we decided to have her come to the house, where we could all be there, and he was in his home, comfortable, not in a cold room on the hard floor with just Jason. It was sad but also comforting.

As we are slowly packing our things, to move from the house we've lived in just shy of 5 years, in a state we've lived in for almost 6 years, I try to think of all the adventures we are going to have. Moving so far - 1500 miles - and away from family and friends, to a new state, a different climate (after all Michigan and Florida don't share much in common when it comes to weather/seasons) will surely be a challenge, but there is a whole new place to explore, people to meet, and things to learn. We are leaving behind so many friends that we've made over these last few years, and I, as well as Jason and the boys, will miss them very much. What's that saying? It's not goodbye, it's see you later? Everyone that has touched our lives will not be forgotten, and thanks to cell phones, the internet and social media, we don't have to lose contact. So, as I've been reminding my 12 and 10 year olds, we aren't just going to make new friends, we are going to add more to the ones we have. Friends are forever, and we just have to remember to cultivate the relationships. A had his last den meeting last Friday, and at the end, I was on the verge of bawling. The other parents are so awesome, and nice, and so are their boys. Then there's Julie and her 3 guys from Learning Life with 3 Sons, and the boys' friends from school and their parents. Not to mention that our parents, Jason's sisters and brother, one of my sisters, nieces and nephews, and now my little, sweet baby great-nephew won't be just a short drive from us! That may be the hardest part. I know we lived 8-10 hours away from them before when we lived in MD, but that was many years ago now. And Florida is the furthest from "home" we will have ever lived (well, minus Jason when he spent 6 months overseas as a contractor...). I'm scared, and excited, and just overwhelmed about it all. In the best possible way. I feel like everything is falling in to place BECAUSE this is what we are supposed to do right now for our family. The timing couldn't be better - end of the school year - and the house is selling quickly.

If you haven't been following on Facebook, you may not have seen our other announcement! And no, we aren't expecting a baby ;) We have made the decision, partly due to the large school size and poor rating, especially for high school where we are moving, that we are homeschooling the boys next year. There are other reasons, and because we have also tried every option out there besides this one (public, private, special and now public charter) we feel this is going to be a good fit. It took a lot of discussion, research and planning to come to the decision. Not something we chose lightly, and I really feel it is the best decision. Many who know me personally, know that I would have loved to homeschool from the start, but it wasn't in the cards for many reasons. That's ok. Now is the right time. We plan to go for a year, and then take it one year at a time from there. We will be doing an eclectic curriculum, a mix of classical and Charlotte Mason. Chronological (classical) history, starting with ancient history using living books and a textbook. Latin. Spelling. Grammar and writing using Institute for Excellence in Writing, Shakespeare, poetry, and novels for literature. Chemistry, biology and possibly physics (middle school focus subjects). Life of Fred middle school math (fractions and decimals & percents) and LOF beginning Algebra. Nature study. Bible study, Catechism and Saint study. Art and Music study. Handicrafts and life skills. Health and couch to 5k for PE. Maybe even throw in some Spanish after we get settled. With our move, we are taking some books for the start of the year with us, while the rest will go with the household goods. We are planning year-round school, per the boys' request (!) and my preference. 36 full weeks of school, starting July 27. Broken into two 18 week semesters.

The first 18 weeks will look like this:
5 weeks of school (7/27 - 8/28)
1 week break (8/31 - 9/4)
5 weeks of school (9/7 - 10/9)
1 week break (10/12 - 10/16)
5 weeks of school (10/19 - 11/20)
1 week Thanksgiving break (11/23 - 11/28)
3 weeks of school (11/30 - 12/18)
2 week Christmas break (12/21 - 1/1)

The second 18 will be:
5 weeks of school (1/4 - 2/5)
1 week break (2/8 - 2/12)
5 weeks of school (2/15 - 3/18)
2 weeks Easter break (3/21 - 4/1)
4 weeks of school (4/4 - 4/29)
1 week break (5/2 - 5/6)
4 weeks of school (5/9 - 6/3)

Summer break from June 4 - mid July with some reading and writing assignments probably and Nature Study just because ;)

On top of all the changes, we are also working towards 1000 hours outside! Slow going so far, but we are trying.