Turning 30-Ah-Who-Cares-What

My new shiny red slice of freedom, old school style. (With my three-year-old’s slice of freedom in the background.)

I’m turning 30-ah-who-cares-what tomorrow.  Honestly, who really cares what the number is.  Well, I guess the DMV cares about my age, but that’s only because I just had to identify myself for my new MN license.

I’ve decided that my new age is “Adult.”  Really, that’s about good enough.  Nobody asks for ID if I buy alcohol, nobody looks at me strangely for being a parent, but nobody’s looking to put me in a nursing home.  Let’s see… I believe that makes me…adult.  Once you turn 21, the importance of the number dissolves.  The only time adults really make any to-do about a birthday is when it ends in a something-0.

This isn’t a big something-0 year.  No black t-shirts tell me that I’m over the hill.  There’s no milestone where I’m suddenly supposed to feel sad and old.  For the record, I don’t plan on a crisis at 40, either.  Life’s too interesting for that.

Even though this isn’t a milestone birthday, I felt inspired to do something to commemorate my birthday this year.  Last fall, while brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I made a solemn vow to myself: I will go kayaking for my birthday.  Knowing we were moving near Lanesboro, MN, I envisioned a solo kayaking adventure: an afternoon with no kids.  Just me, water, a paddle, just enough excitement, and some time for my thoughts. That was my plan months ago.

The clock just flipped over to 12:01, so it is officially now my birthday for the next 23 hours and 59 minutes.

So, here are my plans for the day, that is, after I go to bed and get up in the morning: do the dishes I should’ve done last night, but instead watched the Olympics.  Wash the laundry I didn’t get to last week because there were too many other fun things to do (like going out for lunch while my mother-in-law from Montana spent a week visiting us). Clean the bathroom that was on my list for yesterday, and clear off the two pesky counters that I’ve meant to clear off since we moved in. Oversee the kids getting their chores done.  And of course, feed kids nutritious, delicious meals that fully utilize the boatloads of produce in our fridge.

Anyway, not on the list is kayaking.  It’s probably not happening this weekend, either. My Saturday plan includes a list of food and prep for our Baptism Birthday Bash extravaganza on Sunday.  And I’m ok with that.  The work is for a good cause.  It’s our baby girl’s baptism, and Sunday also happens to be my husband’s birthday.  He conveniently has his birthday just three days after mine, so the birthday party is part mine, too.

Kayaking?  Penciled in the agenda for next weekend.

That’s really how it is, though, on your “Adult” birthday.  Being “adult-years-old” means that there is a good chance that your plans and desires are inextricably entagled with the plans and desires of family and coworkers (which, for me, are one and the same). This is the age of compromise.  I’d love to go snorkel Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but that really just isn’t feasible right now.  I can, however, take the kids’ new snorkel sets to the St. Charles pool.

So, yes, my birthday plans got bumped.  And nobody (including me) really cares what my official age is, but that isn’t to say that I’ve thrown in the towel.  Reaching the age of Adult does not mean “curl up and die.”  I’m really quite happy to be alive.

I think one of the most fruitless, ridiculous things people can say is, “I’m old,” especially when they’re not.  It’s a waste of time.  I’m never going to be younger than I am right now.  Why would I want to waste that wishing it was 10 or 20 years ago?  When I hear someone long before retirement talking about how OLD they are, I just can’t help but wonder if they’ll be wishing back their 40s and 50s when they’re in their 80s.

So today, it’s my birthday, and I’m not old.  I know it.  The gray hairs that I douse with hair color every so often beg to differ, but who cares.  My legs still run.  My pants still fit.  I’m thankful for my health.  I have a cousin my age with cystic fibrosis.  Her life is a constant battle for health.  She spends weeks, even months, in the hospital at a time.  I’m in awe of her perseverance, optimism, and emotional strength.  She fights endlessly to just have a normal life.  How can I be anything but grateful for my own healthy life?

If I had a soundtrack for my birthday, I’d play “Blessed” by Brett Dennen.  By name, the song sounds like it might be a pious church hymn, but it’s actually a little acoustic guitar ditty that instantly makes me want to groove in the kitchen, even before my cup of coffee.

I welcome the sun
the clouds and rain
the wind that sweeps the sky clean
and lets the sun shine again.
This is the most magnificent
life has ever been
here is heaven and earth
and the brilliant sky in between.
Blessed is this life
and I’m gonna celebrate being alive.

Welcoming clouds and rain is what really strikes me, contentment in the storm.  Any fool can be happy in the sunshine.  I am blessed.  I was blessed with three puddles of pee on the floor today.

Later in the day, I was blessed with an outdoor performance of the play “Cold Winter Mountains.”  That play on my porch, set in the arctic (then the desert, the rain forest, and the ocean) featured three of my favorite child actors.  They performed stirring roles as penguins, cheetahs, poison tree frogs, kangaroos, and killer whales and more.  The play dissolved in the 4th Act over a disagreement over the handling of stage props. “I need the basketball hoop DOWN! That’s my burrow.”  “Well, I don’t like it tipped over.  I need it UP!” Ah, actors and their drama.  I am blessed to have them in my life.

What more could I ask for on my 30-ah-who-cares-what birthday?

A Birthday Epilogue

Turns out, my birthday was far more grand than I ever asked for or expected.  The day after my birthday, my husband and I went out to celebrate our mutual birthdays.  It was our first date in 15 months: the last date we had was our anniversary last year when we took along our then three-week-old baby girl.  On our honest-to-goodness REAL date, I downed a great plate of spicy Mexican at Rubio’s in Winona, MN, we shared a bird bath-sized margarita, and took in the view from the lookout at Garvin Heights.  We rode home in the pickup with the windows down and the radio cranked up, side by side on the bench seat.

Happy birthdays to us…Mexican style.

When we approached my brother’s house where my niece was babysitting our kids, Jarred told me, “I got you a present.” I responded, “Yeah, going out was great.”  As we pulled into the driveway, he said, “No, I got you a present.”  And there, under the light of the garage, shining like a beacon in the night, was a SHINY RED BIKE, complete with a bow.  For me?  For me! It’s the quintessential red bike, looking like the kind that a kid would’ve found under the tree on Christmas morning in the 1950s.  A big thank you goes out to Rosie, who had the bike for sale, and to my husband, Jarred, for thinking of me and getting it as a surprise.

I of course had to immediately take it out for a victory lap spin around the block, out in the dark, under the street lights.

Jarred tucked the bike into the minivan before loading up the kids.  As I drove the kids home, I rested my hand on the cool metal of the gleaming red fender the whole way back, a ten-year-old girl with a new bike.  And after I tucked the kids in bed, I took it out for a cruise on the moonlit road in front of our house, because I’m gonna celebrate being alive.

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Marrying my Husband, Again

Special thanks to Bucket List Publications, an online magazine for also publishing this article.  Thank you so much!  Click here to see it.  

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I’ve always thought it’s a shame that most people only get married once. No, I’m not thinking about trading in my husband for a new model. I mean, really, neither one of us has time to date. We just moved cross country, and we’ve got four kids running around.

What I’m speaking of is weddings. What a shame that if done properly, getting all dolled up and spending a whole day celebrating your love only happens once in a lifetime. Only having one wedding dance to do a few polkas (as required by my Luxembourger/German birthright)? Only one fun party with your friends and family? I do believe that is criminal.

So, in celebration of our tenth anniversary a few weeks ago, Jarred and I got married again.

Ten years ago, on April 20, 2002, we walked down a long, long pier in Indianola, WA, and committed to forever with each other. Our first wedding was a pretty spontaneous affair. We originally planned to have a big, traditional church wedding in June of that year, but after seeing a few friends run off and do the simple, small wedding thing, we decided that sounded more like our style.

Our wedding in 2002 in Indianola, WA.

We gave our family an open invitation but just two weeks notice, and planned an outdoor wedding in April in Western Washington with no backup plan for rain. Our family on both sides amazed us when so many of them rearranged their lives on a moment’s notice and traveled from MT and MN for our wedding. I’m still touched when I think about how much of our family showed up for our wedding and the salmon barbecue and bonfire that followed.

This time around, we got married in our new house, with our kids in the bridal party.

In some ways I feel utterly humbled and unworthy to make any sort of to-do about a 10th anniversary. I see 25th, 50th, even 60th anniversaries in the paper all the time, and I humbly bow down to those couples’ marriage duration. With no question they have far more to say about love and commitment than I do. However, in our defense, we simply haven’t had that much time together yet. The beauty of ten years, though, is that we have had enough time and experience together that we can look back and reflect upon how our life is unfolding together, and of course, celebrate.

I do believe that we need to celebrate the fact that together we lived through six weeks of no running water in a trailer house in Broadview, Montana during the peak of the drought years, and still managed to like each other. We survived an unplanned stay in what turned out to be a pay-by-the-hour hotel in Mexico, four surgeries for our kids, and the challenges and joys of being self-employed.

Together, Jarred and I got through the pain of the first two pregnancies being miscarriages. And knowing what it is like to not simply have a baby because you want one, the birth of each of our four children has been all the more joyful. We fully realize the miracle that each child is, and when they are not beating on each other (and sometimes even when they are), we often take note that we are pretty darn blessed to get these kids that rule our lives. They are definitely reason to celebrate.

And appropriately for our life today, our second wedding was really just an event that we managed to squeeze in between the rest of our busy life. In our original fairy tale plans for this party, we thought we’d be living in our new house for several months already, nicely settled, and it’d be a fun way to have a house warming. As real life turned out, I moved in with our kids just three weeks before this planned event, and Jarred was still in Montana working up until a week before this shindig.

We whirled the moving mess upstairs to make the downstairs presentable, had some help from family with decorations, mowing, and food, and we had ourselves a party. My six-year-old daughter picked out a very fancy flower girl dress for herself and her sister (getting to fulfill every girl’s dream), our two boys were ring bearers, and the three oldest kids worked on helping their baby sister learn to walk in the weeks beforehand so she could walk down the aisle for the wedding.

It was a family affair, where moments before we were supposed to be ready, two of my sisters came to my rescue helping get kids dressed and looking presentable. One of my very favorite moments was getting surprised by Jarred’s parents, who showed up just as we cued the music to walk down the “aisle” of our wraparound porch. They made the long drive all the way from Montana without telling us they were coming, and surprised me enough that I screamed when I saw them, and then started to cry. Fortunately, we were running late as usual, and they made it just in time to see our short little ceremony.

My kids and I walked down the aisle, my niece was the maid of honor/junior bridesmaid, a friend’s daughter was an impromptu flower girl, and our dog, Spot, took the liberty to join in on the occasion, too. My brother acted as the minister, Jarred and his dad sang and played “The Wedding Song” from memory on their guitars, and we renewed our vows with a copy of our original ceremony, standing under the columns between our living room and dining room while our kids fidgeted around us.

After ten years of marriage, a little something usually gets in the way of “you may kiss the bride.” photo by Fresh Click Photography

Afterward, everyone headed to the kitchen to fill up their plates, I had the chance to catch up with some long-time friends, and later we rolled up the rug in our living room so our kids could dance. Seeing our six-year-old girl and five-year-old boy dressed in their fancy clothes and dancing together in the living room of our new home, surrounded by their family, is the best gift I could receive ten years after getting married to their dad.

Some days I get overwhelmed by the long, slow grind of unpacking our new home combined with the full-time job of caring for our kids. When I look around, though, and see I’m living in the farmhouse in the country that I always wanted, see four happy kids outside exploring their new yard, and have a husband who is just as excited about our kids and our new place and our life as me, and I know I’m blessed. Ten years ago, we never could have predicted the path of how we got to where we are today, but we’re awfully happy to be here.

© 2012

Our second wedding in 2012 with our very own flower girls and ring bearers. photo by Fresh Click Photography

Uff Da! Becoming Minnesotan, Again

Written April 30, 2012.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve called myself a Minnesotan.  The last Minnesota driver’s license I had was ten years, two other state driver’s licenses, four kids, and one name change ago.

But now, here we are, back in the “Old Country,” as my Montana father-in-law calls this far off land of my origin.  We are in the midst of burning up the moving boxes and maybe staying put until we can retire on a tropical island.  So until that far off day when I can pass my time sipping mai tais in my muumuu, Minnesotans we will be.

When I lived out of state, in Montana as well as Washington and Pennsylvania, I always felt happy to say I grew up in Minnesota.  It’s just good to be from here.  People generally have a positive or at least neutral attitude about the land of 10,000 lakes.  If they falsely assume something about people in this state as a whole, it’s often assuming everyone is that homey, quirky, lovable, good-natured Lake Woebegon-like personification of “Minnesota Nice”.  And really, there are certainly worse stereotypes to overcome.

Even though I spent the first 20 years of my life here and came back on regular visits a few times a year, there is something different about once again calling Minnesota home.  And so for the last month, I’ve been once again taking in what it means to call myself a Minnesotan.

I don’t hug trees, but after living in dryland MT where trees are a precious commodity, I am quite in love with this big old oak tree that shades our sandbox and makes great tree swings.

MN Drive-Bys

Luckily, becoming a Minnesotan doesn’t require any sort of ritual gang initiation.  Wearing the wrong colors around here probably just means someone made the unfortunate mistake of being a green and gold Packer fan in Viking country, where everyone bleeds purple.

A “drive-by” in these parts just means the neighbors are driving by, and spontaneously pull into the yard to introduce themselves.  We’ve had several drive-bys.  One neighbor left us with tickets to the local church meatball dinner, which we happily accepted, and another drive-by incident led to a neighbor helping my husband unload some heavy shop equipment.  We like MN drive-bys.

Oooh that Accent

Growing up in MN, I really thought the whole Minnesoootan accent was a farse, or at least something that only existed in far northern Minnesota and in Hollywood movies.  When the movie Fargo came out, I remember feeling insulted seeing Minnesotans portrayed as simple-minded and hokey, speaking with way “oooo”verdone accents.  I mean, really, ooh geez, we dooon’t talk like that.

Or do we?  Living in other states for over a decade suddenly made the Minnesotan accent ring clearly in my ears when we moved back here.  For the first few weeks, especially in talking to people on the phone, that accent that sounded way overdone in the Fargo movie now seemed pretty accurate.  I’d get off the phone with the power company, repeat a few lines to my husband, and we’d both giggle at living in the land of 10,000 “ooos” and “yahs.”  The funny thing is, now a month later, I don’t really notice it as much.  Maybe it’s because I’m already reverting to my Minnesotan speech patterns, dooon’t cha knoow.

Uff Da!  Ya!

And speaking of Minnesotan words, uff da!  On a particularly windy day, the 6:00 news anchor commented, “Boy, it sure was windy.” An emphatic “Uff da!  Ya!” was the immediate response by the other news anchor.  I happened to hear it as I doled out supper, and burst out laughing.  I don’t believe I have heard an “Uff da! Ya!” as official news commentary in quite a while, maybe ever, but I do believe that I’m in my home state again.

I can’t drive 55.

When it comes to driving in MN, I’m not sure why, but my van just won’t drive only 55.  Maybe it started when I was always running late and speeding to high school back in the day.  Luckily, when I lived in Montana, where 70 mph is in fact the speed limit on rural two-lanes, I had a perfect fit for my natural lead foot inclinations.

But back in Minnesota now, heading down Hwy 14, my natural speed is still about 70.  Oops.  If you are highway patrol, please forgive the mini van with Montana plates.  I’m really pretty nice.  Can’t I still drive 70 if that is the legal speed where my vehicle is currently licensed?

Minnesotan Paradise

Speed limit aside, I’m in love with this place in a way that I don’t think I ever would be if I had never left.  When I was twenty, I was itching to get away from the familiarity of my hometown and MN life where I knew all the back roads and most of the people that lived on them.

I headed off to Montana for college because I needed to see what I was made of, and see if I could make a life for myself in an area where every sight, store, and citizen was an unknown.  I loved venturing off out west into the unknown, because I had the stability of a deeply-rooted MN upbringing as my foundation.

And now, after creating a life of my own in Montana and a few other states for the last 13 years, I’m happily back here again, with not just me, but my own family of six.  After checking out the grass in other places, the grass indeed is NOT greener on the side of the hill.

We loved the dry, rugged beauty of the Montana plains, but coming from Jarred’s hometown where we got on average just 13 inches of annual rain, we are both amazed to now be living in this green, bountiful paradise called Minnesota.

Some day, this will all feel commonplace to us, just like it did to me growing up here as a kid.  But right now, it still feels amazing to walk across our grass that is plush and soft and grows with no irrigation or fertilizing, sit under the shade of our massive oak tree that is just one of several hardwood shade trees in our yard, and gaze out at the rich, black soil that the farmers around here are busy planting.  Everything here in MN is so full of life.

Sitting next to our kids in the sandbox, even our sand here is amazing.  Sand that is easily found alongside the road is the softest, finest, prettiest white sand that any kid digging in a sandbox could ever ask for.

So while we’re still living in the chaos of unpacked boxes and we’ve already had a few opportunities to get acquainted with some all-too-friendly wood ticks, Uff Da! we are so happy to be in the process of becoming Minnesotans.

 © 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes

Written April 2, 2012.

One of the best side benefits of children is the way they mark time.  After I passed my highly anticipated 21st birthday, the weeks, months, and years began to fly by.  One holiday blurs into the one from before, and another birthday passing doesn’t feel much different than any other.  Christmas rolling around sometimes feels like a burden when it seems like just yesterday I was shopping for last year’s gifts.
With kids, though, time matters in a big way.  The passage of a week is monumental when it marks the first tooth finally coming in, each changing season is magic to a preschooler, holidays take forever to arrive, and birthdays are important enough that our son tells his age in half-years, “I’m four AND A HALF,” because that extra half means a lot when you’ve only had four full years out in the world.
The significance of time is on my mind because this week, on April 2nd to be exact, our sweet little baby girl turns one year old.  Like any parent, I look at my baby, and just yesterday I saw her for the first time, a brand new pink, wriggling bundle of dainty arms and legs.  Then somehow, I blinked, and a whole year went by.  And like a typical mom, a part of me feels a little sad, because even though she still wakes up to nurse at night, I can foresee a not-too-distant day when she’ll be pulling out of the yard to head off to college.

One year ago, our baby boy held his new baby sister for the first time when she was just a few hours old.

Maybe her first year feels like a blur to me because it truly was.  Her first year of life marked all of the typical baby milestones, and it marked a series of monumental changes for us as a family.  Tallied up, in her first year, she lived in three different houses, logged 5,000 highway miles crisscrossing between MT and MN, and learned to feed herself and crawl in the midst hundreds of discussions about long-term family plans.

Last year in March, just weeks before she was due, we sold our little log house in Broadview, Montana.  “Nesting” for our fourth baby involved not decorating, but packing up the nursery.  We listed our log house for sale in anticipation of a move to Osseo, WI, where we had a signed purchase agreement on a business property.  At the time it seemed like an almost done deal, but we faced roadblocks at every turn, and the deal in Wisconsin ultimately dissolved.  So when we finally sold our house in MT, we no longer had a specific final destination, although we knew we wanted to find something near my family in MN.

Just two weeks after our daughter was born, we packed up and moved out of our log house.  It was an easy move, distance-wise, just across town to rent the church parsonage in Broadview, MT.  The hard part was the long-term uncertainty.

Spring 2011, then, was a blur of newborn baby care and moving boxes.  Moving chaos, a new baby, and living in limbo as a family of six sounds like a perfect recipe for post-partum depression, but that wasn’t the case.  We were thankful to find a home to rent in our tiny town, especially with month-to-month lease flexibility.  Grandparents just across the street and a neighborhood full of friends for our kids made the rental house a great short-term home.

Summer months sailed by with a baby on my hip and three kids to chase.  Our newest addition spent the summer nursing and growing a nice, round tummy and plenty of rolls on her thighs for the swimsuit season.  We played outside, visited Grandma and Grandpa, our kids shared backyards with neighborhood friends, I cooked constantly to keep everyone fed, and fought the sometimes losing battle of keeping the kids and house clean (barring chocolate syrup disasters).

As fall began, our baby began feeding herself solids, and we made a visit to MN that led to a signed a purchase agreement for what is now our home.  School days mixed with months of stress and more uncertainty.  We submitted literally hundreds of pages of financials to banks, made countless phone calls, and waited.  Babies don’t care about any of that, though, and she happily endeared herself to all of her family in Montana, willingly accepting hugs and kisses from her adoring  fans: grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

Just two days after our little girl’s first Christmas, we got the best gift of all, closing on our house in Minnesota.  We barely noticed that the winter snows never really showed up this year in the blur of making moving preparations.  As I packed boxes, she gleefully learned to unpack them, scattering the contents on the floor and then abandoning them in search of a new conquest.  Stealthily crawling into the bathroom and unrolling the toilet paper in the holder with smooth, efficient swats became one of her favorite skills as I tried to clean the house to move out.

And now spring is here again.  One year ago our family in Montana helped us moved across town to a short-term rental, and now, a year later our family here in Minnesota bowled us over with not just moving help, but painting, wiring, plumbing, repairs, cleaning, and filling our wood burner while we were gone, all totaling up to countless hours that we appreciate beyond words.

Last week, just shy of our baby’s first birthday, we finally moved into our house here in Minnesota.  Showing up unexpectedly last Sunday, we still had a yard full of cars with family eager to help us get settled in our house.  On two hours of sleep after driving through the night, I walked through the house in an exhausted astonishment at seeing much of our house already unpacked by family who had unloaded a trailer load of our things a month before.  Our kids played in their yard for the first time, chasing their cousins across the green grass in the warm afternoon sunshine, and our baby took her first nap in her new bedroom.

The little birthday girl, surrounded by her favorite entourage in their new house.

On our fourth child’s first birthday, we will create a sibling-decorated cake, and observe the sacred first birthday ritual of letting her smash and smear cake all over herself.  We will celebrate not only the joy of a beautiful, healthy, fun baby, but the excitement of beginning a new phase of our life in the home that we will “never move out of,” as our six-year-old proclaimed to her aunt in Montana.

 © 2012

A Journey of 1,000 Miles Begins with a Little Panic and Denial

Written January 16, 2012.

Six weeks from now our plan is to move from Montana to Minnesota. That’s six weeks to pack up a family of six, pack up a welding shop full of gigantic tools and equipment, and tie up an infinite number of loose ends. Quite frankly, I don’t know yet how it’s all going to happen by that time. But I do know a few things for certain: I am utterly overwhelmed, a touch panicked, and still in a mild state of shock and denial that this move is real.

Six weeks from a big move, this box and all the others sit woefully empty.

I know the gravity of the short time frame of our move is sinking in because I simply can’t concentrate on anything. Add that to my usual sleep deprivation from a teething baby with a stuffy nose and a two-year old night roamer, and while I look like my usual self on the outside, on the inside I’m just running around yelling, “AAAHHHH!!!” with a bit of hand flailing thrown in for good measure. This week, I created the beginnings of five different columns. At some point, each one of them will probably make an appearance for your reading enjoyment.

None of those that I started to write, though, held my attention. The whole time that I worked on any one of them, one part of me was busy sorting out details of my topic at hand, but that voice screaming in panic about an impending move kept yelling, “How can you write about feeding the baby?!! Don’t you know that you should have something packed up by now?!” And so, here I am. I am finally succumbing to the voice in my head. Perhaps if I get all my demons down on paper, they won’t bother me as much.

Maybe six weeks to moving sounds like a far-off date, perhaps too far away to have that nagging nervous feeling. I am overwhelmed, though, because I’m a procrastinator and not an organizer by nature. Our Christmas cards are still patiently waiting to be sent out. Oops, I mean “New Year’s” cards. Good thing the message printed next to the photo says “Happy Holidays.” This year, I’ll take “holidays” to include Groundhog’s Day, as well.

Delayed Christmas cards aside, though, it’s not that I want to just put things off until the last minute. Procrastination was my modus operandi throughout college, and I still graduated with highest honors. It really is motherhood that is forcing me for the first time to become better at planning out life and getting things done before a deadline. With this impending cross country move, I fully realize the enormity of the task before us. Because of that, my modest goal last week was to start the packing process by boxing up the summer clothes in our bedroom. I envisioned a happy stack of boxes in the corner of our bedroom, patiently waiting to be put on a truck and driven to their new wonderful home in Minnesota. And guess what. A week went by, and I can count the number of boxes I packed not on one hand, but no hands. Zero boxes packed. Gulp.

This is where the utterly overwhelmed feeling becomes a touch panicked. How in the world is this house going to be empty six weeks from now? With at least three kids at home at any given time, the day to day routines more than fill a day. In the past week we were fortunate to have no new incidents of ironed, melted carpet. But of course, there are always the bowls of spilled cereal, wet beds that kids don’t mention until the next time they want to sleep in them, and oh yes, the great benevolent milk provider in the house (me) had to ward off a case of mastitis last week. All of this makes me think wistfully of our newlywed days, when we made a 2,700 mile move from Poulsbo, WA to State College, PA by ditching our crappy second-hand furniture and moving ourselves in just our two cars. I don’t think today that we could even pack the kids’ toys in two cars.

These boxes might require a little reinforcement, but the essentials inside are ready to go.

While I swim in a sea of mild panic, organization and a plan of action also come hard because we are frankly in a state of shock about it all. It’s been nearly three years since we started looking at real estate in MN, and about five years since we started throwing around ideas about making a change from our lives here in Broadview, MT. Last year at this time, we thought Osseo, WI was our next home. We had a signed purchase agreement on a business property there, but then encountered road blocks at every step of the way, and what seemed like nearly a done deal eventually dissolved. But now, we officially own a home on acreage south of Utica, MN and I still can’t really believe it. After working so hard toward this move back to the midwest for so many years, we can’t quite wrap our heads around the fact that it really is happening. Finally! This is real.

Of course, as soon as I tell myself “this is real,” the other part of me says, “no, not really.” For eight years, Broadview, Montana has been home. Home. We can’t really be moving. Our kids were all born at home, right here in this little tiny town. Montana born and bred little tikes, they are. They regularly call up Grandma and Grandpa and invite them across the street to our house for supper or Saturday morning buttermilk pancakes. Our oldest daughter dearly loves her best friend, the only other girl in their kindergarten class of three. Our 4-year-old and our 2-year-old each have cousins here just their age. That means our kids could grow up, play with, and get in all sorts of trouble with cousins in their close knit classes at school.

But wait, that’s not going to happen. As completely overjoyed as I am about making this move back to Minnesota, I also completely dread saying goodbye. I hate long-term goodbyes enough that I often avoid them altogether. In six weeks, though, I am going to say goodbye for now to all of the family and friends that have made Broadview, Montana a great place to call home. We will head east 1,000 miles to Minnesota, back to where I grew up, where our family and friends there will help make our new house become the place we call…home.

© 2012