Monday, November 29, 2010

It's been a while!

Part 1

So this is going to be a 2 part post. The first part is like a virtual tour of sorts of our new home in Virginia. When Chris moved here before us it drove me crazy that he didn't take more pictures. I had to imagine what everything looked like because he wasn't taking many pictures. I know that some of my friends and family might be feeling the same way so here we go...
the entry way...

This is the front door (obviously). I have mixed feelings about the large window in the front door. It's kind of an invasion of privacy if you ask me... but whatever, I mean if the neighbors don't want to see me dancing they can look away right?
Hmm... here is the kitchen. Not the nicest kitchen. But it's cozy. 
Family room. My favorite.
I love this room. It's light and bright and it looks out to the street so that we can stalk our neighbors. When they come outside to do something we casually walk outside as though it's a coincidence that we are out there at the same time and then we strike up a conversation! See... we are going to make friends in no time!
Dining room. Again, light and bright and it's perfect for the dogs to look out the window and watch the squirrels outside!

This room deserves a drum roll. It's not pretty. It's functional! It's the mudroom!!! I love it!

 So that is it for now. I figured I better put some pictures up before Christmas explodes in here and the house looks totally different.

Oh and before I move onto part 2 I must include one picture of the dogs sitting on the window seat in the dining room. It's where they watch the squirrels.
Part 2:

We have been in VA for almost 2 weeks now and in the house for 1. It's still so surreal. I am still finding myself looking around going 'oh my God, I live here'. I moved 3,000 miles away from everything I have ever known. It's the most adventurous, most risk taking thing I have ever done. Growing up we never even considered living anywhere but California. My father would have never even entertained the idea of moving. My mom probably wouldn't have either. They needed to be near their friends and family. They would be shocked if they knew that this is where we ended up. So many times during the last 2 weeks it has bothered me that they don't know that I am here. I think 'what if they can't find me', but then something will happen and I will think 'they know'. Just yesterday Chris asked me if the kids' schools were going to need their social security #'s. I kind of blew him off because I didn't want to look for them, wasn't sure where they were. We had been gone for most of the day and I was tired. I walked into the mud room to get my mom's Rolodex out so that I could call some of her friends and let them know that we were here and all was good. I opened that little Rolodex box and right in the front in my mom's handwriting were my kids social security numbers. I don't even know why she had them, but she did and they were right where I needed them to be. I said out loud "wow, thanks mom". I felt so comforted.
Another thing that has brought me so much comfort is having my family's things around me. I am not one to keep pictures around of my deceased relatives. I feel like if I would walk in my house and think 'I see dead people', plus it's not the best conversation starter. I mean can you imagine, I invite new friends over to play bunco and they see a picture of my brother Mike on the wall and they say 'wow, you brother is good looking, is he single?' me-"um no, he died". Total mood killer. So instead I choose to have things that remind me of them around me. We have actually used several pieces of my mom's furniture,

my mom's favorite piece of furniture.

her artwork and some of her knick knacks to decorate. In my scrapbook room (when it is finished) Mike's guitar will hang on the wall in a shadow box, behind the guitar is a collage of all of his handwritten lyrics and music. On the shelf in the family room is my grandpa's fire Captain hat from the Vernon fire dept.

Grandpa Chico's hat.
 This hat is one of my most prized possessions. I have my Grandma Nina's china all neatly stacked in my china cabinet. Just looking at it takes me back to her dining room and all the yummy food she served on it.
These things have made me feel so much better. Made me feel like those who loved me aren't so far away.
Grandma's china.

This week is going to be a big week for us. The girls start school. I am so anxious for them to make new friends. I think we have sold my car in California so that means that we can buy me one out here. Having my own car will mean that I will be able to get a job. I have mixed feelings about that. I mean I know that I need to get one so that financially we can catch up for this bank account draining move we just made, but at the same time I really want to be able to be here for my kids, I want to be involved at their schools. I do know that when I get a job it will help me make some new friends too though and that is a good thing. I just am not sure what kind of job I want. I don't think that I want to work at a pre-school again. I love the kids and everything but my patience has run thin over the years and they are much cuter when they are in small groups! I am going to start looking around and see what kinds of jobs are out there. Who knows maybe this will be the place where I really find my true calling. Wouldn't that be great!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's getting better

So things are very quickly getting better. I mean we have only been here 4 days and I can honestly say that I am going to like it here. Tomorrow the movers will come with our stuff and that will for sure make it even that much better. We have gone by the house we will be moving into a few times and each time we go there I feel a little better. I am starting to picture where we are going to put things. I am liking the house more and more each time we go.

Last night we went to a football game in another county. One of my very best friends from high school lives a county or two over, about 45 minutes away and her son plays football. It was so much fun. It was freezing, but we had a blast. It is so comforting to have her here. We have been separated by many years and many miles but it as if we haven't missed a day. She has lived here for 16 years so she is my area expert!

Today we went to DC! That was exciting. I mean I have lived a very sheltered life and going to DC just to have lunch, is a pretty cool thing. Living that close to so many cool monuments and so much history is awesome. I love that my kids will experience these things while they are still young. They will learn so much about American history by living here.

I can't remember if I have ever shared the story of how we got here. I may have, but it's a good one so I am going to share again. So as many people know about 11 months ago I found out about a brother I never knew that I had. My mom had a son with her first husband and failed to tell me for 40 years. When I finally found out I couldn't wait to find him. I found him, it went great and we now have a good relationship. If you haven't read the story you can go here. Anyway, when Chris started looking for a job we were really concentrating on North Carolina and Texas, for whatever reason those two areas appealed to us. I have never been to either state so I honestly had no idea what they were like. I was really just going by things I have read. So I was telling my new brother (Randy) about our search and he said to me "hmm, have you ever considered Virginia?, it's my favorite state, you should check it out". Well as the little sister I have always listened to my big brothers, even IF I had just met them! So I said to Chris 'Randy really likes Virginia, we should look into it' so Chris went online google searched "custom cabinets" in Virginia and this company came up. They weren't hiring. It wasn't a job search website, he simply did a google search. He sent them his resume to them and within a week they called and offered to fly him out for an interview. This was after he had sent his resume to dozens and dozens of places that were hiring. He had already had several offers but they were in places that didn't really appeal to us (really me). So how crazy is that, all that time searching in other states, not knowing where we would end up and Randy made a simple suggestion and now here we are! If that isn't divine intervention I don't know what is. A year ago I didn't even know Randy existed. A year ago my mom was still alive and we were just plugging along in the desert with absolutely no intentions of moving anytime soon. Now here we are 3,000 miles away. Crazy. Oh and one more crazy thing for those of you who don't know, six months after I found out about Randy, after we had met and my mom knew that he didn't hate her and he had grown into a wonderful, smart, happy, man she passed away. It was like she was waiting for that final piece of her puzzle. Then it got even crazier, two weeks after my mom died Randy's dad died. Out of the blue, he was gone too. So had I not found out about him when I did I don't know that I ever would have because the two people that had kept the secret for so long were both gone. My life has had some crazy twists and turns in the last year or two and it has been stressful at times but at other times it has been wonderful. I am so thankful for all the craziness, it makes me appreciate all the rest!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is not as easy as I had pictured it...

I am trying very hard to stay positive. Trying so much to be a trooper. I wanted this. I needed this change so bad. But now that I am here, it's hard. It's different. I am stressed. My kid is sad. I want it to be the right thing. I want this to be the place for us. I really, truly do. I so want to know that we made the right decision. But it's going to take a while before I know it's right.
The movers are going to be here in a few days with our stuff, I am hoping that will help. We are so over on our estimate from them and we are completely freaking out about that. We are over by 5,000 pounds. Five thousand pounds of stuff. Really? I mean come on, I purged. I tossed. I gave away. and still 5,000 pounds more than they estimated. Oh and the other thing? There is still stuff in our house that didn't fit on the truck and my car is still in California and we have absolutely no idea when we are going to be able to get this stuff.
The house we are leasing here is way smaller than our house in California, not just smaller square footage wise, smaller in room size, ceiling height, etc... this means our stuff isn't going to even begin to be able to fit. Leasing a house online, sight unseen wasn't the best idea. We are living and learning for sure.
I know we will get through this. I know moving is stressful. I hope that this part of it ends soon. I think that I was thinking that when I got off the plane all of my anxiety and second guessing would go away. Not so much. I think it's worse.
I hate writing posts that sound all negative and whiney. I hate facebook status's that are all negative and whiney too. But here I am whining like a 3 year old.
I am going to bed now and I am going to wake up with a new attitude. I am going to do my best to stay positive and to keep my chin up. I will let you all know how that works out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"I live on the east coast now"

"I live on the east coast now" that is exactly what I said as the plane was landing tonight. The pilot had just announced that we were here and that was what came to my mind. It's crazy. It's surreal and it is so exciting too. While I was on the plane I wrote my blog post, here it is...

Well here we are on the plane. One hour away from our final destination. Our new lives in Virginia. I haven't been able to write a post in a while because, well because I have been busy. I have been packing the final pieces and have been busy trying to not have a nervous breakdown. Moving is stressful. Moving cross country without my husband there to help me almost sent me over the edge!
Here is the story of our last few days in California. (I can't wait to look back on it in a year or so and think 'wow, I don't remember it being that crazy'.
So on Friday morning at 9 am the movers showed up. They were a super nice crew who didn't mess around. They got right to work. They worked and worked until 11:30 pm. Yes, we really have that much stuff. Believe me I have questioned why we have that much stuff 100 times during the last month when we were packing. When they were done they called me and said "umm, so all of your stuff doesn't fit on the truck." WHAT??? They assured me that it happens ALL the time and it's not that big of a deal and that they would have another truck come out on Monday. Oh and one more thing "your over on your weight estimate, probably by like 2,000 pounds." Great. But honestly I wasn't super surprised by the 2,000 pounds, this company has you take your own inventory online and it truly is just an estimate of your stuff because you don't know how many boxes you have until everything is packed and ready to go. So I clearly underestimated. We were not happy about the overage but what were we going to do, they had all of our stuff. Monday came and I waited to hear from the company to find out what time they were going to be there to pick up the rest. I had called them several times but they were not calling me back. When I finally heard from them at 2:30 pm they told me that another truck was not coming that day, as a matter of fact it would be at least 3 days until they could get another truck there and it would be another month before they would have our stuff to us in Virginia. Oh and P.S. the overage was not 2,000 pounds... it was actually 5,000 pounds. I almost passed out. That means that our bill just went up by $3,000 and we didn't even have all of our stuff on the truck yet. To say that I freaked out is an understatement. I was in complete crisis mode. I might have even rolled up into the fetal position at one point. (ok so maybe not that bad but almost).
I really had no idea how in the world I was going to get on the plane the next day (today) and fly to Virinig knowing that our move was not complete. Knowing that the house was still a mid move disaster. There was still so much to do. All I could do was cry.
Well the good news is that I have an amazing group of friends. They just rallied around and totally took care of us. Friends were cleaning out the fridge, taking out the trash, organizing things, all while I stood there trying not to have a complete nervous breakdown. My in-laws came over and did so much too. It was amazing. These people were truly my saving grace. It was humbling and overwhelming to have all these people in my house doing all of this for me. I was grateful but at the same time somewhat embarassed. You know how some people have a hard time accepting compliments, I have a really hard time accepting help. I automatically always say "no, it's ok" or "hmm, I can't think of anything else that needs to be done" when people offer help.
I have spent the last 8 or 10 months of my life pushing people away. Shutting them out. In the process I may have lost some people that were really important to me. People whom I have inadvertantely hurt. I really truly didn't mean to. During my last week in California I have learned a huge life lesson. I have learned to let people in. I have spent my entire life thinking that people didn't like me. (I do not mean this in a martyr type way, I really truly have this weird hang up). Teachers even commented about it on my report cards in elementary school. Lately I have realized that I am loved. I have a wonderful group of friends and I need to rely on them more often.

So that was as far as the post got on the plane. The flight went well. It actually went great, it was the first time that I have flown that I didn't have some anxiety. I was calm and peaceful the whole time. I think it went so well because I am so ready for this. So excited to start this new chapter. Not because I wanted to get away from my friends and family on the west coast but because I think our family is going to thrive here. Because I am pretty sure that this is where we belong for now. I will never say never about moving back to the west coast, but for now we are going to make this work. Not just make it work but we are going to make it totally fabulous!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Last days...

Today was our last day, my last day at work and the kids last day at school. To say that it was hard is an understatement. It is the part of this journey that I hadn't given a whole lot of thought too. It was probably a sub conscious move on my part, only wanting to think about what lies ahead in our new lives, not wanting to think about saying goodbye.
The first time I started working at Tot Stop I was a young girl living at home with my parents. I wanted that job so bad I had called the owners and begged them like 3 different times for the job. I knew it was the right fit, I knew that school was where I belonged. Growing up I wasn't a super confident person. When I started teaching preschool at 19 years old it became the very first thing that I did where I had utter and complete confidence in myself. I knew I could do it. I knew I was a good teacher. I had a passion for it and I loved those kids so much.
They finally hired me. I actually have a journal I kept at that time and the entry from my first day at work says "I started a new job today at Tot Stop. I am really going to love it there"
That school has seen me through so much. It is where I was working when my dad died and it was also where I was working 18 years later when my mom died.
I haven't worked there for the whole 19 years, I have left a couple of different times for several years in between. The first time I left to stay home and run a home day care (yea, that was a really bad idea) and the second time I left to pursue something new, (long story, whole different post). But it has been a place where I could always go back to. My connection to this school runs deep. My memories are vast. The first class I ever taught are all 21 and 22 years old now. (did I just say that?) This school has been such a comfort zone for me.
I have made so many friends over the years at this place, other teachers, parents, and even the kids.
I am not the same person as I was in the beginning for sure. I mean for one, I have obviously gotten older, thus (lets hope) wiser. I have had a lot of life happen to me since that day in 1992 when I walked through those doors.
I have lost both parents, met and married my husband, had two kids, and bought and sold 3 houses. Those are the big things that have happened to me in those 19 years. There have also been so many little things. I had the chicken pox working there, I was 23 years old and it was NOT pretty. I took a class on a field trip and ran out of gas in my car with 3 kids in my car. I had the worst morning sickness ever through my pregnancy with Allison and puked every single day in my classroom. I watched both of my own kids go all the way through this school. They both graduated from the same Kindergarten class that I have been teaching for the last 22 months.
Saying goodbye to the teachers, students and parents wasn't easy, although I did a really good job holding it together. The staff had an awesome pot luck lunch for me with 3 chocolate cakes for dessert! I mean come on what is better than that!
I hope that some of the parents keep in touch, I will miss them. They were all so unbelievably supportive and understanding when I told them I was leaving. I am sure I will keep in touch with the staff, the owner is a really good friend of mine so that will help keep the connection.
Today was also the day that my girls had to say goodbye at their schools. This is only the second year that Gianna has been going to her school. She has loved it, she has made some great friends and everything but obviously her connections aren't the same. It was still hard to say goodbye but not nearly as hard as it was for Allison. Gianna's biggest struggle right now is not saying goodbye, it's missing her daddy. She has missed him so much and is so anxious to get to the other side of this journey.
Allison saying goodbye was a whole different story. When Allison started high school last year as a freshman we decided that she would go to the brand new high school that had just been built by our new house. It was just opening and it was only going to have two classes, as in it wasn't going to have any juniors or seniors. It was a beautiful campus, it was only going to have 650 students and it was right around the corner from our house. No brainer, right? Well the only problem was that all of the friends that she had grown up with literally since Tot Stop were going to La Quinta high, the school that was by our old house. All of her friends but one of her very best friends, Chandler, she was going to Shadow Hills too. Making the decision to go to SHHS wasn't an easy  one, it's beautiful and it's brand new but starting a new school with only one friend is kind of hard. It has turned out to be the best decision we could have made. Allison has loved her school. She has made some friends that I know she will be friends with for the rest of her life. I love these girls. She also has her boyfriend that is awesome and we all love so much. Allison is captain of her cheer team, and she loves those girls to pieces. I don't know if she will ever find another group of girls that she gets along with so well. These kids are amazing. Chris and I have also grown very attached to them, we are even having a really hard time saying goodbye.
Today she said goodbye to them at school, but tomorrow they are having a party for her. I am sure the tears will be flowing. I just wish we could take them with us. Hopefully we will have lots of visitors in Virginia this summer!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Old Friends and Good Times

This weekend was one of those weekends that you plan and look forward to for months. We (my girls and I) had some awesome plans for Saturday and Sunday and we anxiously waited for the weekend to come all week.
Saturday morning we got up, got ready and headed out of town. We were going to spend the weekend in Long Beach with my old friends. Some of these friends were from elementary school others were from middle school and a couple from high school. But lets be honest, I am not a spring chicken so even with the friends from high school I am still talking a 25 year history. That? is a very long time. I am somebody who has always cherished those friendships. I know some people who once they leave high school they never looked back and they really don't have a connection with anyone they grew up with. That is so not me. My connection with these people runs deep. My need to stay connected is important. I mean come on these people saw me through my awkward stages, (some of them saw more awkward stages than I care to remember!) and they have stayed loyal. If you read my blog then you know how important loyalty is to me. Last night I felt so much love in this room at the Yard House. So many memories. So much time has passed and yet it is like we never left each other.
These people all came together to say goodbye to me. They trekked in from all over Orange County and the Inland Empire so that we could all spend some time together before I left for Virginia. How awesome is that.
I am not one to like a lot of attention, I hate surprise parties, I didn't want to walk down the aisle at my wedding, I am not a fan of the "all eyes on me" events. But last night was special. Last night I will not forget. I love these girls (and few guys too!) that came to see me off. They are so supportive and so good to me I can't even explain it.

Of course with all things that involve the Britton family the evening did not end without a little bit of drama. At about 10:15 Allison called me from the hotel where she, her girlfriend and Gianna were all watching movies and hanging out in the room and said that our neighbor that was coming over to our house to let the dogs into the casita for the night had just left our house and our dogs were both gone. I full on freaked out. Yes I am a dog lover. I love my dogs like one of those crazy people who talks to them (and maybe sings them songs sometimes, whatever, don't judge) so as soon as she called I didn't hesitate for one second and said "well then we are going home right now" I cried, I called Chris, in spite of the fact that it was 1:30 in the morning his time. He was bummed, he was worried about the dogs but also bummed that my weekend that I had planning for so long was being cut short. He knows how crazy things have been and didn't want me to miss out on any fun. I wasn't even thinking of anything else, all I could think about was my little dog's faces, how dark it is out here in the desert and how they were probably lost and afraid... or worse. One of my very closest friends that I have ever had, (she is really more like a sister to me) took me back to the hotel where my girls were waiting in the lobby, bags in hand, wearing their pajamas and the saddest little faces I had ever seen. They were so bummed too. They love their dogs too and they were so worried. We hopped in my car and headed home. My in-laws, our neighbor and my girlfriend were all over in my neighborhood driving around looking for the dogs. It gave me such a peace of mind knowing that even though it was going to be 2 hours before I got home that somebody was looking for them.
About an hour into the trip my friend Lori offered to go into my house and listen to the answering machine to see if anybody had called to say they had found them. She got the key from our neighbor, went upstairs with Allison talking her through the whole process and while I was driving I am listening to their conversation and Allison is telling Lori how to play back the messages and all of a sudden Allison started flapping her arms and saying "someone has them, someone has them!!!" Oh my gosh the relief. The sheer relief was crazy. At about the same time the people actually came to the door with the dogs. They were safe and home. Thank God.

So our weekend got cut a little short. It's OK. Our dogs are that important to us. We love them and I know I wouldn't have been any fun to be around if we would have stayed and not known where they were. We are going to continue with the rest of our plans today in spite of being all the way home. We are driving back out of town this afternoon to go spend some time with my brother Danny and his family for the last time before we leave. I am looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time. I know there will be tears. (mine of course, Danny doesn't cry) and I know it's going to be one of the hardest goodbye's I have to say. But we will have fun, we will laugh and make fun of each other. It's just how we roll.

Well this has been a super long post and now I am going to go pack. Thank you so much to all of you who were there last night and that follow this blog. You are amazingly supportive and such good friends and I will cherish you always, even from 3,000 miles away! xoxo

Thursday, November 4, 2010

packing and pity.

There hasn't been much for me to say lately. I have been busy packing, working and getting ready for the move. We leave in 12 days, well really more like 11 since today is really over.
I am so excited. I have to be honest though, I am a little nervous too. As much as I want to move, as badly as we need this fresh start I am nervous. California is all I have ever known. It is my comfort zone. It is where my life used to be "normal". I can't wait to get to know Virginia and the east coast. To be able to go to new places and experience a different life. I think it will be great but deep down inside I know it's going to have it's difficult moments. I know that it will take a while to make it feel like home.
My kids are excited. They are looking forward to seeing their dad. My husband has been gone for a little over a month now and we sure miss him. Video chat is great but it's still not the same thing. I am very lucky that I have a great husband and such amazing kids. I don't know what I would do without them.

So I have had something on my mind for several days now. A couple of weeks ago I had some controversy, and a falling out with a family member. During the back and forth he made a comment to me that has stuck with me and resonated over and over again. It's something that I want to clear up for everyone and make sure that anybody ever reading my blog knows. I never, ever want anyone to "feel sorry" for me. I hate pity. I despise that feeling of being pitied. I do not tell my story because I want people to feel sorry for me. I tell my story because it gives me comfort, because I am an open book and I love to share and because I want my kids to be able to read it later on. He made that comment after reading my blog. I instantly thought 'I hope to God that is not what people think'. If anything I hope that somebody reading my blog would take away from it that I am lucky. That I am strong. That I see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that together my family is going to make it through to the other side.
I have said so many times that dealing with all of the death and loss that I have had is difficult, but at the same time I am so grateful for all of the wonderful relationships I have had in the first place. I am so glad that I had such a great family. So many people have been through so much worse than me and didn't have a loving, supportive family to start with.
Do I miss my family and wish they were here? Absolutely. Do I get sad sometimes and throw my own pity parties for myself? For sure. But never, ever would I want anybody to pity me or feel sorry for me. That is not how I roll.
I have never for a second doubted who I am or what I stand for, I have made that clear many times on my blog. But if any reader ever got the wrong impression I just wanted to clear it up for them.
After my conversation with him was over I thought about all the amazing support that I have had about my blog. I thought about how many people have written me emails and sent me messages on facebook telling me that I have helped them or that they can so relate to what I write about. That is what is important to me. That is why I write and why I will continue to share my story. Hopefully in the future there won't be anymore sad stories to tell anyway so the idea of me wanting people to feel sorry for me will just be silly.
Thank you to all of you who read, who support and who comment. It is like free therapy to me and you have gotten me through some really tough times. xoxoxo