So much has happened over the past year. In February 2019, our family moved across the country from Phoenix, AZ to Southwest Virginia. It was a long process, but we are so happy we made this decision for our family. The easy part was selling our home in a sought after family-friendly neighborhood of Gilbert, AZ. Jacob did a wonderful job of making it our dream home over the nearly three years we lived there. If we could have somehow brought that house with us to our ideal climate and town, we would have. The hard part was leaving our family and friends and the community we had grown to love. We said goodbye to everyone and had our last double-birthday party in Arizona for Julia and Jacob the weekend before we left. Jacob and I took a little break from packing to say farewell to the desert and the mountains Jacob had lived near his entire life.
The long trip was made easier with three adults – my mom decided to come with us to Virginia and be a stay-at-home Grandma! We had lots of snacks, activities, a tablet, and this handy carseat cart to pull one of the girls through the airport while we pushed the other in the stroller. We brought both carseats on the plane with us and the baby napped a little on the flight. The flight in was my very first glimpse of our new home – Jacob was the only one who had gone over during his interviews with his new company. I relied on pictures, local Facebook mom groups, Google maps, and some new local friends to help us finalize our decision to move. There was so much that went into that – hours of research on schools, neighborhoods, daycare centers, events and local activities, short term rentals, and the housing market. Every new bit of information I found only made a better case for us moving to this area – it was the perfect size, population, and climate that we were looking for.
We started off in a short-term furnished rental home in a beautiful neighborhood, crammed in with our landlord’s furniture and our own, plus all of our unpacked boxes. Everyday was an adventure. Our 1-year old took her first steps surrounded by moving boxes. We saw our first Virginia snowfall and the girls played in snow for the very first time. We had lots of encounters with new wildlife (deer, groundhogs, cardinals, and blue jays). It was magical, but we knew we had a long road ahead of us. To make things more interesting, a couple months after the move I decided to leave my company and return to a former employer. This meant a busier schedule for me, but also the opportunity to meet with co-workers in the local office.
With my mom helping out watching the girls, Jacob and I started the process of house hunting during any free time we could find. This was much more challenging than we were anticipating. The houses we checked out were on lots with great views, but the lots themselves were often sloped with no usable backyard. The flat lots we found usually had older homes built on them. We found a slightly older house to purchase that needed (and still needs) some work. It is in the perfect location, on a great lot, and has plenty of room for our family. After getting the priority work done, we moved in and started our list of weekend projects. Just as we were starting to decorate the basement playroom, we had a heavy rainfall and the basement flooded. Jacob and I were bailing water for an entire day! Luckily, there wasn’t a ton of damage. We did, however, decide it was time this house had a sump pump and French drain installed. After the dust settled and summer was almost at an end, we finally had both projects completed. Jacob did almost all of the French drain work himself and redid the front entry landing. It looks great now, and I can’t wait for spring to come so we can plant all the pretty flowers!
While all of this was happening, we did get a few moments here and there to enjoy our new city. The area in the Blue Ridge Mountains is breathtaking. The spring has beautiful blooming trees in white, light pink, and dark pink and everything is so green! Summer is just as lovely and offers great opportunities to get out on the lakes and rivers. But the season I was looking forward to the most was autumn, and Virginia definitely did not disappoint! The colors were amazing – I had never seen anything like that before. Just driving to the grocery store was a magical experience with the reds, yellows, and oranges that filled the mountains all around us.
This past year was not all about picking paint colors and enjoying the mountain scenery of our new home, though. Our family experienced great loss and grief over the past several months that made me appreciate all I have and have gone through. I believe that the trials and pain we go through in life make us stronger and can teach us healing and coping mechanisms that will help when a great tragedy occurs. I am grateful for the strong support system and close family and friends I can depend on. We’ve found an amazing new church family, we’re meeting new friends in the community, and it looks like I’ve found my local #momtribe with some interesting and fun ladies.
All in all, it was a year of growth, life changing experiences, and many adventures. This year we plan to finally get out and explore. We’re hoping to use our time off to travel around Virginia, North Carolina, and maybe Tennessee. I am looking forward to the coming months and all 2020 has to bring!