So I posted something on Instagram yesterday about impending change for our family and Taylor called me a “vaguebooker.” Oops. I didn’t mean to create drama. It just came out as I was captioning my Sunday picture. Most people will probably roll their eyes at me because it’s not really such a big deal.
We are moving. Fifteen minutes from here.
Moving to the next town over, where you grew up, right down the street from your brother, and around the corner from your mom and dad isn’t exactly a big deal. I mean, let’s get real. When my sister, Liz, was my exact age with nearly the identical family make up (including a one year old!) she moved to Santiago, Chile. In fact, both of my sisters have lived all over the United States, uprooting their large families every few years and starting over in a new city, new school, new church, new everything. So for me to make a big deal out of this move is pretty telling of what a big fat baby I am. But it feels like a big deal to me. So I am writing about it. (While I should be folding laundry, grocery shopping, and packing.)
When Taylor and I finished up at BYU and moved back “home” to Southern Oregon eight and a half years ago we wanted to live in Ashland. Taylor had grown up there, I’d always felt at home there, and Taylor’s job is there. We quickly found that we would have to sell our first born to afford living there, and broadened our search to nearby Talent, a tiny little town of five thousand. Holy Moly! For the same price as a total fixer upper in Ashland we could buy a brand new home in the newest development in Talent. The neighborhood also had a beautiful new park and we could tell our kids would grow up with friends to ride bikes and trick-or-treat with. We were sold. We bought our first ever home, which two-year-old Blaine named “The Blue House,” (it was, in fact, blue. He’s very literal, that one.), and loved living their for six years.
We had moved in right as the economy took a nose dive, and, several years later, there were still several empty lots in the development. One day Taylor began looking at one of the lots that was now in short sale. We began to talk about how fun it would be to build a bigger home for our now bigger family without having to leave our beloved neighborhood, which had proved to be an incredibly fun place for our kids to grow up. Before we knew it, we had purchased the lot and Taylor was designing us a new home. The process was so incredibly fun for us. We are two creative souls and working together on a project like that is a true joy. I began to realize that Taylor had probably missed his calling in life, as I watched him meticulously plan and draw out plans. He designed our home brilliantly for all of our big family needs and was absolutely invigorated by the process. I jumped in when it came time for choosing the colors and finishes. Many date nights were spent at granite galleries and tile stores. We loved creating our home together. A lot of our friends joked that they could never build a house together, that it would lead to divorce! But Taylor and I found it unifying. (In my dreams we are the next Chip and Joanna. Ha!)
In July 2014 we moved into our new home, around the corner from The Blue House. It has been ideal for our needs and we have loved every minute here. And because we picked up the lot for a song and landed a builder before things started picking back up, we got more for our money than would even be conceivable right now. We feel like the luckiest ducks that we ever got to build this home.
We never thought this would be our forever home. Initially upon moving back to Oregon, we figured we would live in Talent while our kids were young and then move to Ashland. But only a few months after moving into our new home I started having thoughts about moving back to Medford, the city of my childhood. (Talent is right in the middle of the two.) I realized that as my parents continue to age I would like to be even closer to them. That, and a few other little impressions, began to turn my heart back that direction, after saying for years that I didn’t want to live there if I could live in Ashland. (Ashland has a geographical beauty and charm that is impossible to beat.) But there it was. The beginning of my heart softening.
A few months later my dad made a comment about us buying their home- the beautiful, creekside home in which I was raised. The one with an enormous garden, a swimming pool, and a huge yard to explore. “Are you serious, Dad?” I asked. “You would actually sell us your home?” “Absolutely,” he said. And so for the last two years we have been kicking around the idea of eventually buying my parents’ home. It’s something I still hope for, but I don’t feel like evicting my parents any time soon, so we are just waiting to see how life evolves. But in the process of fleshing out that idea, something important happened. My heart softened even more and Taylor began to consider Medford a possibility. With his current proximity to work and obsession with the trails we are so close to now, it was a hard sell, but he began to see the benefits Medford has to offer.
Meanwhile our oldest son has struggled mightily with his growing anger and inflexibility. One of his largest issues is school- wanting to go, believing they have anything to teach him, being willing to do the assignments he deems stupid. I won’t go into any more details here, because that just feels impertinent, but I will just say that in the last month both Blaine’s emotional struggles and school problems reached a climax and I began to feel that we urgently needed a change.
Then, one Monday morning, as I was hurrying around the kitchen making breakfast and school lunches, Taylor came downstairs, and said emphatically as he put on his socks and shoes for work, “It’s time to move to Medford.”
Even though we had been throwing the idea around for ages, his certainty shocked me. For two years I had been the driving force and, though willing, he seemed pretty uncertain at times. Now our hearts were aligned.
We didn’t have a plan. We checked in with my parents but nothing was really moving there. We saw a great family home for rent but the price was way too high for us.
Then, last Sunday, we drove past the house again. They had reduced the rent significantly. Suddenly we found ourselves calling the landlord. We walked through the home the next day. It is an amazing, large rental home, something that is extremely difficult to find. The school offers several programs that we hope will be an improvement for Blaine. The house is within walking distance to my parents and my brother’s family and is just minutes from both of Taylor’s sisters and grandmother.
For two days last week Taylor and I stewed. Were we nuts to move this suddenly? Could we bear to leave our new home that we had so carefully designed? How would the family members that live on this end of town feel? How would our children react? Let me also just add here that we are currently listing The Blue House, which has been a rental for the last two years, so we have been consumed with having it painted and working on repairs, deep cleaning, and staging. We have also been traveling a lot to sell the new line of Bioskin compression running tights that Taylor has been working on. And we have an important speaking assignment to all the local youth of our church coming up, so everything just kind of toppled on my mind as we tried to decide about moving! But, even with all the stressors piling up, I knew the change was right. I felt a lot of sadness about leaving our home, but honestly, it is just walls and a roof, right? In the end that is all it is. We felt resolved that this move is what our family needs right now so we decided to move forward, though trepidatious about telling people and bearing the financial burden of having two homes on the market and renting another. We have shed many a tear with people as we tell them the news. For Mormons, changing wards (what we call our congregations, which are divided up geographically) is a big deal. We have been in the Ashland ward for eight and a half years, twice as long as we have been in any other ward, so it feels really sad.
For me, three things that happened have validated and reaffirmed our decision. The first came when I shared the news with my dear friend, Julee, who I work in the church youth group with. She told me, “I just had this feeling on Sunday that you would be leaving us. I tried to brush it aside, but I think now that the Spirit was helping my heart be prepared.”
The second came when we quickly had an offer in our hands for our home. Yes, you read that right. We sold our new home in two days without even having to put it on the market.
And finally, the greatest tender mercy of all came when I talked to Blaine about the move. At first he was extremely upset. He didn’t want to miss the school Checkers tournament, which happens in the Spring. He came in second place last year and couldn’t wait to compete again. And change is exceptionally hard for him. (Case in point. We had the Blue House repainted because it was looking a bit shabby and decided to make it gray to appeal to a larger range of buyers. He cried for hours and will probably never forgive us for it!) I found myself not only trying to sell him on the neighborhood and school, but telling him all about my two big sisters and how much they moved as children (my dad was Army, so they lived all over the place, but since I was the youngest, I spent my whole life in one home) and how much they have moved as adults. I explained to him how much braver they are than I am. How good they are at doing new things, making new friends, figuring out things that are hard. I hadn’t planned to talk about that, but I just felt guided, and it really clicked with him. We talked about his chance to start completely fresh. Within an hour he had gone from angry to excited, a phenomenon I cannot overemphasize.
I can see clearly several reasons why this move is right for us. Other reasons will unfold later. As I look back several years, I can see how the Spirit has softened and prepared our hearts for change. Mine, Taylor’s, and now the children’s. We have loved our home, our neighborhood, our whole life here, and this move does not come without sadness. But we know change will be good for each of us and our family as a whole. We know we have been guided and are so grateful for the way things have fallen into place to make this change possible.