Sunday, June 26, 2011

House Crashers.

Well, our lender scheduled the closing on our house for this coming Wednesday. HOWEVER, repairs/construction MUST be done before we can close. It is Sunday night as I write this, and not only is construction not done, but it hasn't even begun! SO FRUSTRATING. Supposedly they will be starting very soon, but I'm beginning to think their idea of "soon" and our idea of "soon" are two very different things.

So, as we have to be out of the guest house we are renting on Wednesday, yet have no house to go to, we are on to Plan B. That means tomorrow evening, we'll finish every last bit of packing (we're almost done), Tuesday evening we will pack it all into a U-Haul and take it to our storage unit and unpack it (or, if we're really lucky, the bank that owns the house will give us permission to store our stuff in one room of the house, but so far we're not having much luck with that). I'm taking off work on Wednesday and will spend much of that day getting the guest house cleaned and in top-top shape for the walk-through with our landlord.

So, where are we going, you ask? All I have to say is thank goodness for all of the wonderful people in our life. When you live 750 miles away from your family, it is truly a blessing to have friends that step into that family role. Gearry and I just got back from touring the house of a St. Andrew's friend who I worked with this year in the after-school program. She is 73 years young and best described as a hilarious, sweet, southern belle. She is a true islander, having lived on Wilmington Island her entire life. She has very graciously offered her house here on the island to us for the next couple of weeks, while we wait out the repairs of our new house. She doesn't spend much time there so we won't be much of an inconvenience, she is welcoming the puppies with open arms, and her house is an adorable cottage right on the water on our favorite part of the island -- win, win, win. It was amazing walking out on her dock with her tonight and being able to look across the marsh and see Skidaway Island, Wassaw Island, Cabbage Island, Little Tybee Island, and Tybee Island. Although I desperately wish we were moving into our house on Wednesday, I am definitely excited and thankful that we get to stay in such a wonderful home in the meantime. It also works out perfectly that we are not homeless because my good friend Katie from grad school is coming into town from Chicago to visit with us on Thursday and staying through the 4th of July... I am so glad we don't have to host her in a random hotel room somewhere, which is where we would be without such wonderful friends!

The house we are staying in does not have internet, so I will be online much less than normal for the indefinite future, for those of you who I regularly communicate with via e-mail, Facebook, etc. So, if I don't respond to you after Wednesday, I'm not ignoring you.

Monday, June 20, 2011


The last post said two out of three, but unless something goes terribly wrong in the next few days, it could now say three out of three. We got the house! I hesitate in saying that because although we had our offer accepted, we survived both the inspection and the FHA assessment, and the sellers have already accepted a bid from a contractor to do the necessary repairs (supposedly they are starting in the next couple of days), we have not yet closed and until we sign on the dotted line, anything could happen. Like I said, something would have to go very terribly wrong to not close, but I always worry about jinxing myself.

Now it is just an issue of timing. It is the 20th. We have to be out of our rental house on the 29th. That means that within the next 9 days all of the repairs need to be made AND the FHA needs to re-inspect AND we need to set up and hold our closing meeting. Yeah, that seems far-fetched to me too. The more likely scenario is that repairs will still be underway, but the selling bank will either allow us to move in early (best option) or at least move our belongings in to a room or the garage, and we and the puppies will crash with friends (next best option). The worst-case scenario is that they won't allow us or our stuff to move in, and we'll have to move everything into a storage unit and crash with friends. That, of course, means moving our stuff twice, so that gets a huge thumbs down. But we'll do what we have to do.

All of this uncertainty, of course, is making it a little difficult to do simple things, like pack. Are we packing tightly to fit it all in a storage unit? Or just throwing things in boxes and loose in our vehicles since it's just a cross-town move, versus a cross-country one like this time last year? What day will we be moving? Therefore, what we should we leave out? How many dishes should we leave out for the time being? Should we pack a suitcase or two of clothes if we'll be staying with friends or just put them all in boxes? It's getting late enough in the game that we're probably just going to have to buckle down, stick everything except a few changes of clothes in boxes, and hope for the best.

However, we are very excited about the fact that it's very likely within the next two or three weeks we will be homeowners -- although I suppose we are still homeowners since we own the condo in Bloomington, but a condo seems so different from a house. I can't wait to have a fenced yard to let the puppies run around in. I can't wait to siesta in our new hammock, a glass of iced tea in hand. I can't wait to be able to pull my car into the garage when it's raining. I can't wait to host our first dinner party or backyard BBQ. I can't wait to light a fire in the fireplace on a cool winter day and watch the Colts play. I can't wait to organize all my clothes in the ginormous walk-in closet. 

I CAN wait to strip wallpaper, paint every wall and ceiling and piece of trim in the 1816 square foot house, put up wainscoting, replace the flooring in 2/3 of the house, buy and install kitchen appliances, rip out the guest bathroom counter and mirror and install new ones... Yes, all of these things must be done right off the bat. Not because they're in such bad condition -- the house is in pretty great condition -- but because these are our non-negotiables as far as our personal taste/aesthetic preferences are concerned. It will be so much easier to do things like paint and wainscoting and flooring before we move in and situate all of our belongings. And, of course, we have to have appliances if we want to be able to eat! I suppose we could order take-in every day, but...

Gearry has gone back to the house a few times since our offer was accepted, for the inspection and just to nose around and take measurements and such, but I haven't been since we toured it and put in the offer. I am thinking I definitely need to venture down there one evening this week and take another look around, to make it seem more real. It still really hasn't hit me that we will be handing over a check for a crazy amount of money and moving into our place within days to weeks.

Ahhhhhh! So excited. So anxious, but so excited.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Out of Three...

The big THREE have been haunting me for quite awhile now -- I think of them almost every moment I am awake, unless I am gloriously distracted by some other matter, and even many times when I am asleep, having vivid dreams and nights of tossing & turning. These three big matters are HOUSE, CONDO, and JOB. Incredibly, after months of horrible anxiety and stress over the big three, within the last week's time two of the three have been resolved and, fortunately, in quite the best way possible.

I listed "house" first, but I'll actually get to that last, since it is the one that is still unresolved.

Let's start with "condo." As you probably know, Gearry and I have been carrying both our condo in Indiana and our rental house here in Savannah for almost a year now. That's a year of essentially throwing away money on a residence where no one was living -- Between mortgage, utilities, & HOA fees, I'm not even going to get into how much money, but it's certainly enough to make you want to cry a little. After almost a year of unfruitful activity on the real estate market, we finally made the decision a couple of weeks ago to pull the condo off the market and list it with a property management company in hopes of renting it out. Well, two weeks later... the new resident of our condo is signing her lease today! She is a middle-aged medical professional and sounds like she is going to be a great tenant and because Gearry and I are paying the property management company to take care of everything, we get the financial benefit of being the owners but not the headaches of being the landlords. She moves in next week! Rent is enough to cover all of our expenses plus a little extra for us to keep each month, so this is an amazing relief. If it goes well, we may just continue to keep the condo as an income property.

Alright, now on to "job." What I thought was a wasted day back in April spent navigating Savannah's horrible traffic to drop off resumes and cover letters at a few private schools around the area actually turned out to be a career-and-life-changing move. My resume caught the eye of an athletic director who was looking for a coach for their high school rowing program. Realizing I needed to teach there in order to coach there, he helped set up a couple of informal interviews with the school heads. From there, it was up to me. The whole process was scary but went very well, and after a couple of tense weeks of not knowing, I got a call last week offering me a full-time pre-k teaching job -- a dream. I also get to coach again, of course, and all of this at decidedly one of the top private schools in the area. I couldn't have asked for a more ideal situation, except that it means leaving the school I am at now, which I love, love, love. But I am sure that I will love this new school, and I will certainly love having my own classroom (finally!) and really feeling like I am getting going in this career that I have worked so hard for. I got to go and observe at the school the week before last and I loved the atmosphere and all of the people. I am nervous (eek!) but confident that it is the right role for me and so so so grateful to God for helping guide me to be in the right place at the right time with the right credentials.

OK, so that leaves "house." We've been renting a guest house on Talahi Island since Gearry moved here at the beginning of July, our original intentions of only staying for a few months until our condo sold gone with the wind. It didn't sell, of course, and we didn't leave the guest house, because it was a great deal and because we really wanted to have the condo taken care of before we purchased another home. Well, our lease runs out at the end of June on the guest house and when we found out pretty last minute that our two-month lease extension request was NOT being granted (long and bitterly-toned story), all of the sudden we were in super scramble mode. We HAD to start looking for a house, whether we were ready or not, whether the condo was sold or rented or not. Of all the thousands of houses for sale in Savannah, we found ONE -- yes, just one -- that was both in our price range and satisfied our many non-negotiable demands: by the water, two-car garage, mature trees, etc., etc. We offered on it on Thursday, received a counter back on Friday, countered later on Friday, and are currently waiting anxiously for a counter back today by 6:00 p.m. (It's 2:30 and still no word... I kind of feel like I want to throw up.) Both the house and the neighborhood are beautiful... One block from the marsh & river & marina, where we can launch our kayaks anytime we want. The house needs just some basic cosmetic work according to our tastes -- new paint colors mostly -- and is a perfect balance of being almost move-in ready yet having room for many little projects that we can do over the years. I really, really, really want this deal to go through and will be crushed if it doesn't, not to mention potentially homeless in about a month. I can't decide if because two out of three of the major things I have been most worried about have worked themselves out in the last week that this one will too, or if I've used up all of my good fortune.

We shall see...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Life -- from birth to death -- is a learning experience, as well as a growing experience. If we ever stop growing, stop trying to improve ourselves, at least in little ways, then what's the point?

One of biggest faults has always been my inability to say "no" -- to pretty much anything -- either due to obligation, guilt, or just plain feeling like a bad/disappointing/fill-in-your-own-negative-adjective person. It never hurts to think about others, but it does hurt to only think about others and forget that sometimes you really do have to put yourself first, for the betterment of everyone.

One way in which I've been trying to grow as a person, therefore, is to say "no" when I know that "no" is what needs to be said. I've been working on this for a long time, and I feel like I am finally making some progress. I say this because today I had a meeting with one of our school administrators and I said actually said "no" to something that I would have typically said "yes" to, not because it was the right decision for me but because I would usually feel bad about saying "no." And I did, of course, feel bad. But I did say "no" and that in itself is progress.

I was offered the position of director for our school's summer camp program. Director. As in, totally in charge. I was floored and honored to have been thought of for this position, especially since I have only been at the school for such a short amount of time, but after a week of rolling the idea around in my brain and my heart, I knew this was not the time in my life to accept it, for a variety of reasons. We compromised and I agreed to take on the role of lead teacher or an asst./co-directorship type position, which I am ecstatic about. I get to spend the entire summer with my 3, 4, and 5 year olds (whom you all know I love) teaching lessons, doing fun camp activities, taking field trips, playing outside, going swimming, etc., without the challenges brought on by being the Head Fred, the one in charge of all of the staff and responsible for payroll, scheduling, training, etc. Put me in front of any classroom and I am comfortable, ready to go, eager; put me in the principal's chair, and I start getting cold sweats. That's kind of the difference here. I know I can do a great job in this role and I am so happy to have the opportunity to spend the summer with my kiddos, before hopefully returning to the school again in the fall with a full-time position. Fingers crossed!

I like growing.

I also have a meeting later this afternoon with a teacher for whom I am doing a paternity leave for, starting either this week or next (depending on when the baby decides to come, of course!). The leave is only two weeks -- 5th and 6th grade -- and based on the plans he has created for me should hopefully go smoothly. Looking back to August, when I was trying to decide whether or not to take the after school program and substitute position, it's almost laughable that one of my concerns was that I wouldn't be able to say busy enough. Ha! They are keeping me very busy, and I love it.

Gearry returned from Atlanta yesterday, where he was attending the American Culinary Federation regional conference and student culinary competition. His kids (well, some of them are older than me, so I guess I can't call them kids... students) did a great job, coming in second place overall. Of course, this was a big bummer because that means that they cannot advance to the national competition in Dallas in July. Finishing second in the region (the entire southeastern United States) is nothing to cry about, but I can understand their disappointment. However, the knowledge bowl team did take the gold medal and will be advancing to nationals, so it will be nice to have some representation in Dallas, where they will hopefully walk away with another gold.

It was so great to have Gearry back. As he was only gone for 4 days and I missed him terribly, it made me wonder how I made it through the 30 days without him this summer! When your husband is also your best friend, it's like a double whammy. Yesterday was National Margarita Day (don't ask me why I know this), so we celebrated the occassion and his return with dinner and margaritas at Jalapenos.

In other blog-worthy news, Gearry and I registered last night for the Tybee Beach Run 5K, to be held on Saturday, March 26th. Mom has been doing a lot of running and has been hinting at wanting to do a 5K race for some time now. Because that was the weekend she and Dad will be in town visiting, we invited her to join us and she said yes!! So, Gearry, Mom, and I will all be running the 5K together, and words can't describe how awesome I feel about that. It's kind of a neat run because it's actually held on the beach, on the hard-packed sand at low-tide. I do a little barefoot running from time to time on the beach and I think I may give this race a go barefoot. I haven't done any 5K races in several years since I've been focusing on triathlons and half-marathons, so it will be kind of fun to do a race that is so short and can really just be hit hard start to finish.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Your Life is Like a Nicholas Sparks Novel"

The title of this post comes from a comment that was left on one of my Facebook status updates recently by a former teacher colleague of mine, who was joking about de-friending me because she is jealous when reading about all of the neat things that a life in this little part of the world affords. This comment was particularly striking to me for two reasons: 1) Because it often does feel like I am living in a Nicholas Sparks novel and 2) Because it just as often feels like exactly the opposite.

After growing up in landlocked (but truly wonderful in its own way) Indiana, venturing to the ocean maybe once or twice a year once I was old enough to realize how much I enjoyed it, living here has met all my wildest expectations. Waking up on a beautiful Saturday morning, packing a stack of library books and a small cooler and a beach chair, and driving over the marsh to Tybee for a day of reading and relaxing on the sand is as good as it sounds. Listening to the sounds of reggae pouring from a distant restaurant while walking along the shoreline under the light of a full moon, hand-in-hand with my husband, on a random Friday night after a really difficult week at work, is as good as it sounds. Biking to a park on the other side of the island for a tennis date, followed by a pit stop for frozen yogurt, is as good as it sounds.

However, that is not every day. That is not necessarily the norm. Life is still life, no matter where it is lived. Life is hard. It is good -- I am too optimistic to say that the core of it is not -- but it is undoubtedly hard, filled with mountains and valleys of elation and sadness and dullness. The beach, the marsh, the gorgeous streets of downtown Savannah; they're all amazing, perhaps healing even, but they do not take away the realities of life. Grocery shopping. Standing in line for hours at the BMV. Fighting traffic just to get somewhere you do not really want to go -- the doctor, the dentist, the funeral home. Carrying the living expenses of two resiences and spending every day with that haunting the back of your mind. Waking up to a blaring alarm clock way too early on a cold, rainy morning. The happiness that comes with the arrival of a paycheck, only to be followed by the let down when the vast majority of that check goes to bills, the rest into the bank for a rainy day. Not enough time; too much to do.

These are the angsty parts of any Nicholas Sparks novel, not the beach-walking, kissing-in-the-moonlight parts, and they are the norm.

But I am happy to live all of those moments -- the hard, the easy, the good, the bad, the mundane, the exciting -- here in this place, where the winter sunshine feels like this is how it should be; where breathing in warm, salty air can make a lot of problems disappear for the moment; where family and friends are missed terribly but a whole lot of "self" has been discovered in that process. Here, in my own Nicholas Sparks novel.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Wow... I knew it had been awhile since I posted (Hey, life gets crazy sometimes!) but I had no idea it had been since before Thanksgiving. Yikes! Let me present you with a super brief monthly regurgitation of life and my anticipations for the near future.


The end of November was marked most notedly by our trip to Indiana for Thanksgiving, Gearry's first time back in the Hoosier State since June and mine since the end of July. Although we debated over making the trip since we only had four days and couldn't fly because of the dogs, we decided we missed everyone too much and decided that it was worth 24 hours of driving to spend essentially three days with family and friends. I can't remember many of the details of the trip at this point, but I know there was lots of good food, lots of complaining about the cold weather, and lots of good quality time with family. Well, as much as you can fit into three days, anyway. The trip was pretty exhausting and the drive back monumentally long and traffic-jammed, but all-in-all it was worth it.


That time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break always seems incredibly short, especially for teachers and students since winter break tends to be pretty lengthy. The beginning of December flew by, me keeping very busy at St. Andrew's and Gearry keeping very busy at the Culinary Institute. Before long, it was time to once again jump in the car and head back to Indiana for winter break. This time, however, we were jumping into our new car, which made the trip slightly more exciting. Just a few days before we left we decided to finally chuck Gearry's Cobalt, which had seen its better days as a commuter car for his long commutes from Lake Monroe to French Lick every day. We purchased our first "grown up" car, a new Subaru Forester. We've both always loved Subarus and it was really easy for us to agree upon a car. I have to admit, the 750 mile or so trip back to Indiana was much more pleasurable in a vehicle with so much more room! It will be great to have this spring and beyond for all the outdoor activities we enjoy, like camping, kayaking, beach-bumming, etc.

I LOVE that Gearry and I are both now on academic schedules, so that we could have a nice, long, relaxing visit instead of the rushed experience at Thanksgiving. We were in Indiana from December 18th - December 29th. Even in this length of time it was surprisingly difficult to fit in all we wanted to do and all the people we wanted to see, but I think we found a nice balance of going & doing and staying & relaxing. We stayed with Gearry's parents for the first half of the trip and mine for the second half. We enjoyed seeing the Christmas snow, but had to keep ourselves from complaining about the cold too much this time around ;) A wonderful time was had with family and friends and our departure date came too soon.

We wanted to make it back to Georgia for New Year's Eve so that we could celebrate the New Year with fireworks on the beach at Tybee. Curled up in a blanket watching the fireworks explode off the pier, with the waves crashing between the fireworks' booms, was the perfect way to send out 2010 and welcome 2011, a year in which we are hoping for a lot beyond our control.


January was puncuated for me by lots of sickness. I don't have the world's best immunity system, but working with such young children every day this year has completely reaked havoc on my body. I love it, and I love them, but man I have endured cold after cold after cold!

The big thing in January was Gearry's trip to Charleston with his culinary team for their American Culinary Federation state competition. I was ecstatic when Gearry texted me to let me know that they won! Next weekend they will be heading to the U.S. regional competition in Atlanta where they will compete against teams from 6 states (including Gearry's alma mater, Sullivan University). They are, of course, hoping to avenge their title from last year and head to nationals, which will be held in Dallas.


Last weekend was the Tybee Half-Marathon, which I've been anticipating since the fall. I was so excited that Gearry could actually go with me, since there have been very few athletic events (rowing, running, triathlons, etc.) that he has gotten to go to and support me. I felt pretty strong at the outset and for the first few miles, but my nasty knee problems started kicking in around mile 6, and by miles 8-9 I was in excruciating pain. Luckily I pushed through the pain and the monsoon rain and even shaved 3 minutes off my last half-marathon finish time, but I can't even describe the knee pain. I felt pretty good endurance/fitness-wise, so that gives me hope that if I can eventually get my knee issues hammered out, I may eventually be able to do a full marathon. Right now, though, I'm feeling pretty satisfied with halfs! Next one will be the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in early November. I think I have even convinced Gearry to do this one with me!

In other life news, things are pretty good in general -- we really don't have anything to complain about in the whole scheme of things -- but we find ourselves increasingly frustrated by our housing situation and are continually hoping and praying that things change for the better soon. We still have not sold our condo and, therefore, are still in housing limbo and still paying for two different places to live, only one of which is actually being lived in. We're wasting a ton of money and we are missing out on tons of great deals here and we are starting to go crazy living in this one-bedroom guest house. It feels like we've taken a huge step backward in the housing sense, and we hate the uncertainty of having no idea what's going to happen and when. It doesn't feel like we can get truly settled here because we are in a temporary space. Our lease runs through June, so if the condo hasn't sold by then... I don't know.