December 23, 2014

A Cup of Courage

For the last week I have been enamored with a plastic object.

It started late in the week. I was heading off to work and I saw that someone had dropped one of those insulated cups made to look like a fast food drink cup. You know the kind...
This one was clear with a green tinted lid. It was lying on its side next to a car parked at the curb. It looked as if someone had accidentally knocked it out of the car as they were getting out. My thought as I drove by was that surely the owner would see it when entering the car, and hopefully it wouldn't be crushed before then.

On my way home that afternoon, the car was gone but the cup was still there. How did the cup manage to survive the car pulling away without getting hit? What a clever little drink cup. It was still there in the morning and again that evening. This started my fixation.

Every time I left the house I would look for the cup and coming home I'd do the same. Sometimes it would  get pretty daring with how far out into the street it would venture, but then it would have second thoughts and roll closer to the curb. I actually had to take care to go around it several times to avoid crushing the thing after it had become especially adventurous. This went on for several days with no damage to the cup so surely I wasn't the only one playing the chicken game with a drink cup. After all, no one else had hit it either.

I believe everyone else on the street was as enraptured as I was at watching the tale unfold of the little cup that had been abandoned in the street but then decided to make the most of it, living fearlessly and laughing in the face of danger. That's it, little cup, be BRAVE!

But on Sunday morning, the cup's audacity finally caught up with it. On the way home I noticed there was now a large hole in its side, as if maybe it had survived a close encounter with the side of a tire. It was still holding strong in the street, however, despite the battle wound. But how long could it last with that kind of damage?

The answer? Not long. Leaving the house for work on Monday I was saddened to see hundreds of clear and green shards of acrylic scattered across the road. That poor little drink cup was no more. I can only assume that its demise what brought about by a foreigner to the street, someone who hadn't witnessed the struggles and triumphs of our orphaned cup, someone who had no idea that they had just snuffed out a mini ray of sunshine.

I wanted to stop the car and sweep up the pieces--it just seemed cruel to leave the remnants out in the street like that--but I wasn't sure I could explain why I was blocking the street to pick up trash. So I just mourned in silence.

It was a good cup, a brave cup. For a few days it filled me with anticipation, brought a slice of whimsy, and even offered up a bit of hope. Things looked bleak for that little cup but it made the most out of the hand that life had dealt it. I can't help but be inspired.

Or maybe I just need to socialize more...

December 11, 2014

Let the Planting Begin...

Over our 19+ years of marriage, MC and I haven't had the best of luck with houses. There was our first house which flooded, attracted both cockroaches and mice, and had wall-to-wall linoleum--in every room. Our second house had the distinction of being only one house away from my sister, but it also came with split level stairs that were tough to navigate while pregnant and herding a toddler, a rabid squirrel that didn't take too well to the fact that our bedroom window faced his tree and frequently woke us up in the mornings with his thoughts on our location, and a kitchen that looked like a 1970s Sears ad for the hottest look of the year--olive and goldenrod. Our third house also flooded, but only in the basement--where our friend/renter and my craft business were housed. We also had a grand plan of remodeling but never finished so we lived for 2 years with no bathroom sink and half our kitchen countertops gone. That's not even mentioning our 3 apartments, rentals, and various family members who've allowed us to crash with them for months at a time.

For a girl who moved into her family's house at the age of 2 and never left until the age of 18, not having roots was tough. It was even tougher knowing my kids didn't have a house that they could say was the house they grew up in--there's been too many to keep track.

But finally, after more than 2 years of being a dual income family and finally having steady paychecks, we were ready to try again. We were ready to ditch the rental and find a place to plant ourselves--at least for the next 7 years, when Sassy graduates from high school. But where to move?

Originally, all we knew was we wanted to move away from Mesquite and head farther east, or even northeast (which will mean nothing to you if you're not from the area, but stay with me). We began looking at Garland, Sachse, Wiley, Rockwall, and Fate. During this time, I was going through the worst experience with Bubba's school and the teachers working with him. It became clear that our #1 factor in finding a new house had to be a good school district. Here's where it gets fun.

We heard so many good things about Rockwall schools and especially their special needs program that we decided we would move to that district. We spent the next few months doing most of the legwork ourselves. Looking at real estate postings daily while getting our credit together, saving money, researching financing options, and checking out all the individual schools. Here is what our potential housing area looked like:
That's the entire school district. That line that cuts across the lake is Highway 30--similar in size to Highway 512 in WA.

We decided for many reasons that we liked one high school over the other so we eliminated any neighborhoods that were feeders for High School #2. That took out everything to the south of Hwy 30 and shrank our pool to this:
No problem. That still left us lots of areas to look at. During our search, we put our stuff in storage, moved in with my brother-in-law and his family who live in RISD, and got the kids registered for school instead of moving them mid-year. My drive to work was now an hour one way. After 2 months, we came to the conclusion that Fate was just a little too far for us. There are 2 bridges that cross the lake and having to cross the 2nd one from Rockwall to Fate added another 15 minutes of drive time. So, we made the decision not to look for houses beyond the first bridge (Dalrock Rd). This left us with an area only 2 1/2 miles long and very narrow as one side of Dalrock is Rockwall schools and the other side is Garland schools. This is what we had to work with:
Yes, the INSIDE of the blue marks was our target. There are still lots of houses in there so we're all good, right? Oh, but wait. We needed 4 bedrooms or a 3 bedroom with a room we can convert. A garage was a must. We also needed a formal dining room that we can use as an office. Plus it either needed to have a pool or be cheap enough and roomy enough that we could put one in. (A pool is the only thing that will get our kids outside.) No galley kitchen. And, if possible, Mama would really like a fireplace and a craft area. And we were really hoping for a two story. You know, if possible.

I'm not even kidding.

We looked at every single listing that even came CLOSE to having MOST of it. We made lists and rejected many. Finally, we narrowed it down to a few candidates. Then we called the real estate agent. During one Saturday, he took us to see 4 houses. Two we had to reject outright and two were possibilities. We went home, crunched numbers, prayed, crunched numbers, discussed, crunched numbers, and then made a decision that night. At 1:30am, we put in an offer on a house that had 4 bedrooms--a master downstairs with 3 upstairs--a formal dining room, a storage area perfect for crafts, a 2 car garage, a fireplace, a pool, and a kitchen that makes me want to cry it's so pretty.

We had to negotiate a bit, but we finally found terms everyone was happy with and our offer was accepted. We picked up the keys yesterday. This is it, our new patch of soil in which we're putting down our roots...
While we don't actually get to sign until January, they are letting us move in now.

Welcome home, Slacker Family!