Thursday, September 3, 2015

In the blank pages

Blank.  I keep opening up new posts in Blogger, and then closing them, all because of the pressure of that blank space.  It's a metaphor for my life right now, that empty white text box with the blinking cursor, just waiting to be filled up with this, that, and the other.  But I don't know what should go there.

My last day of work was yesterday.  It was so, so, so hard.  I've never worked at any one place that long before, nearly 5 years, and it's hard to believe that I stuck with one job that long.  Well... technically 2 companies, 3 job titles, and 8 different offices, but... you get the point, right?  It all ran together, and when your company gets bought by a different company, it shouldn't (and doesn't seem to) count as an entirely new job, despite what your resume might indicate.

My co-workers gave me the sweetest send-off imaginable.  There were cards, lunch dates, and even an ice-cream sundae bar.  It's very hard to leave a place when you have wonderful co-workers.  Those co-workers were so sweet, and are so excited for us.  They talk about all of the big things that I am going to do next.  They see all of the potential.

I see blankness.  An empty slate of a life that is about to be re-imagined yet again.  I look at this beautiful life Ammon and I have built together in Fort Collins, and I try to remember that at one time, this was a blank page with a blinking cursor bar too.  That if you don't have a little blankness now and again, things can do one of two things:  1) they can stagnate and become boring 2) they become so complicated and chaotic that it's painful to live that life everyday.  The blankness is just another opportunity to create a new and lovely picture.  To invite new and wonderful people into our lives, yet still bring some past characters into the new scene with us. 

And I look at this page, and after a few minutes of bravery, of putting myself out there, and the blankness has been replaced with life again.  Because life happens, it happens all of the time, whether we're sure about it or not.  But it's only when we choose to engage life can we actually build a life that begs to be truly LIVED.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Those big steps

This is my minute by minute mantra these days.  Big steps are hard, but sometimes, they are necessary.  My co-workers got me an awesome deck of inspirational quotes for my birthday last year, and as I was flipping through it a couple of weeks ago, I happened on this one, and it struck me in that profound way that quotes often do.  We are taking big steps these days.  We re-rented our house, we are moving to California, and we are starting new careers.  Ammon's is defined, and mine is TBD.  To some people, all of this may be no big deal.  But to us, this is massive change, especially since it came about when we least expected change to come into our lives.  But I'm going to step with it, and hope for the best, because we will never be able to get there if we don't try.  At least if we step, there is the chance that we will land safely on the other side.

Friday, August 21, 2015

I will always choose him

I was thinking today about how much I love my husband.  How knowing that I get to see him at the end of the workday, and that I get to wake up next to him each morning fills me with so much joy.  How even though he's a picky eater, he tries really hard to ensure that I get to eat food that I really like.  How he gets so excited about things that he has to explain to you every single last detail of whatever it is he's so stoked about.  How he lets me give him the stupidest nicknames in the world.  Presently, it's Moopus.  Don't ask me why, but that's what it's been for a while now, and it works.

That's a headband that he made all by himself, because he's so crafty and into up-cycling.  If you can't tell, it's the bottom of a pant leg from a pair of sweatpants.

If we're telling the truth, I don't think I come anywhere near deserving this man of mine.  But I try every day.  He's the one I chose over another boy when we first started dating.  I chose to let him move in with me.  I chose to marry him.

Oh heyyyyy wedding photo.  I know you all are shocked that there are yet wedding photos you haven't seen.  Don't worry, lots more where this one is coming from (my computer).

And now I'm choosing, willingly I might add, to move across the country with him, and build a new life together.  New friends, different family close by, new experiences, same us.  Because I can't imagine that there will ever come a day when I won't choose him.  Even when choosing him feels so hard, the thought of not choosing him never crosses my mind.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Yesterday, I came to a realization that really startled me.  I realized that I am starting to have a degree of acceptance regarding our big move.

**Gasp**  Could it really be?  Can I be starting to come to terms with everything, and be able to see some of the good in this change?  It's probably too soon to tell with any surety, but so far, survey says yes.  For the last two days, I have felt little flutters in m stomach when I think about our move.  I'm not so bold as to call them excited flutters, that would be too much.  But the lead weight that had taken up residence in my belly has been replaced by something much lighter, and much more active.  It kind of feels good.

What made everything change?  I started looking at jobs.  Not seriously, and not with the level of intensity I think a proper job hunt deserves.  But I put my toes in the water, and applied for a couple of jobs.  And people, there has already been responses!  I sent out 2 resumes on Tuesday, and yesterday I got a call on one of them.  The HR rep seemed to like me, so we'll see about that.  And then this morning, I saw that the management company we will be renting through had a job opening.  It was written specifically for me.  They might as well have written "We need you, Kristen.  Come be with us" in the job description, it's just that darn perfect.  And that's what I told our property manager, who encouraged me to apply, and promised to put in a good word for me.

Did I mention that I am set on making this property manager my new friend?  Because from the moment I met her, I decided she's my newest best friend.  I told her that today, and she laughed.  I'm not sure if she laughed because she wants to be friends too, or if she thought I was joking, or both.  Clearly, my social awkwardness knows no bounds.  But for the record, I was not joking.

Even if none of these job opportunities pans out, I think I just needed the reassurance that people out there see me as a contender for jobs.  I have worked really hard over the last several years to get to a good place professionally, and it's nice to see that recognized.

Just don't go around telling people I'm happy about this move yet... I'm getting there - slowly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How we are organizing our move

I was looking through some old blog posts a little bit ago, and stumbled upon this gem from last summer.  It's about moving, and what our experience was like.  And it's kind of funny, but I feel less stressed about this move, a much bigger, higher stakes move, than I did about that one.  Why?  Most likely it's because we are so much better prepared for this move.  We learned a lot about what does and doesn't work for us when it comes to moving last year, and we are banking on that experience to help ensure that this move goes far more smoothly.  Since I'm so nice and all (haha), I figured I would share with you how we are organizing this move.

1) It's not really organizing, but it needs to be said.  There is no shame in drinking wine, beer, or whatever alcohol floats your boat during this time.  Also, eat the carbs.  They are wonderful.  Moving sucks, and is stressful.  If your glassware is packed, solo cups are just fine.  No shame, people.  None whatsoever.

My wine glasses are still out, but not for long.  The solo cups are ready and waiting.

2)  Get on the same page with your roomie.  Hopefully, your roomie loves you, and you're married or in an equally committed relationship, because then they can't call Mulligan and ditch your sorry self once things get a little crazy.  Lucky for me, my mom made sure to tell Ammon that there were "no exchanges, no returns, no refunds..." on our wedding day, so he is a captive audience.

Oh heyyyy, wedding photo =).

3)  Honestly, those first two were ridiculous, and simply shouldn't count.  So first thing's third:  Make yourself a few spreadsheets in Excel.  You need one for your expenses, and one for your inventory of boxes.  You can put them in the same workbook, if you like having everything in one place.  If you're like me, you put your husband in charge of the spreadsheets, because nothing is as wonderful as delegation, am I right?  ...You're right, wine and cupcakes are up there too.

4) Now that you have your spreadsheets, print out a copy of your box inventory, so that you can write down the boxes as you go.  We have columns for the room/area, the box number, a basic description, and specific contents.  We hand-write things in as we pack the boxes, and then update the Excel document every 10-15 boxes.  It keeps the list tidy, and makes sure that we have back-up of all of our hard work.

Clipboards also make the process so much better.

5)  Go through EVERYTHING you own and be intentional about what you are keeping.  Why waste the energy moving something that is junk, or even worse, trash?  We have gotten rid of a prodigious amount of stuff in preparation for the move... maybe as much as a quarter of the stuff we owned?  I'm not sure, but it was enough that we have paid for extra trash pick-ups, and made special donation runs to multiple thrift stores.  While your husband you are making spreadsheets, consider making one to track what you donate to charity.  Tax benefits are real and important, peeps.  

6)  Speaking of tax benefits, if you are making a job-related move, you really need to track all of your moving-related expenses, because you might be eligible for a pretty sweet tax deduction come the spring.  You should check the criteria here to see if you qualify.  We do qualify, and so instead of worrying about saving receipts that we have to total up later, we are just entering them into our spreadsheet.  Boxes, tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, moving services, gas to your new location, hotels... it's all totally deductible.  Take full advantage.  And if you need some help figuring out if you can deduct moving expenses, or what qualifies as a moving expense, email me, and we can have a super geeky conversation about the nitty, gritty details.  The way I love taxes is disturbing.

7)  It goes with 6, but buy your supplies.  We buy them a little at a time, because we are a bad judge of what exactly we will need.  If you are hiring a moving service, they should be able to help you determine what supplies you need, as well as how much.  In addition to your standard moving supplies, you may want some little extra that helps you immediately see what room a box goes to, like printed duct tape, or several colors of Sharpies.  We have a 30-pack of Sharpies, and so we picked a different color for each area of our house. 

8)  Start boxing things up!  Start as early as you can, so that you aren't packing up until the last possible second.  You will probably still be packing up until the last possible second anyway, but hopefully it will be less frantic.  Our goal is to live like college students who have NOTHING for the last week before we move.  If you bought an extra item for coding your house, here is where they come into play.  We use the correct color of Sharpie to label each box with the following:  The inventory item number (which goes on the top, and 2 sides of the box), the description of the box, and the contents of the box.

See?  Box #33 is linen closet (description), and contains our blankets and beach towels.  It's all written in brown, which is our "miscellaneous area" color.  I was too lazy to give the linen closet, coat closet, and laundry areas their own separate areas, and lumped them all together instead.

9)  If you're moving your pantry goods, transfer the items that come in bags or flimsy boxes into more solid containers that won't easily leak.  We got a huge Tupperware kitchen organizer set from our wedding (my cousin can help you get the same set if you are super jealous and want to organize your foods too), and I'm utilizing it for a lot of those dry goods that we want to take with us.  I'm also using our everyday food storage containers and Mason jars for our pantry goods.

Not shown here is that I'm labeling the storage containers with Washi tape and (suprise!) a sharpie.  But really, I know what oats look like, so I don't waste my time labeling them.  A few days before we move, I will put all of these cute containers into bigger boxes and seal them up.  Easy peasy.

10)  Stack up all of your boxes in an area where they are out of the way.  For us, that's the garage.

Reorganize as often as needed.  Ammon just re-did ours, because we were having some cave-ins, and it was getting cluttered.  Isn't it pretty?

There's so many more things, but there just isn't enough time to get to everything.  But please, tell me:  What are your favorite moving tips and tricks?  What makes moving easier for you?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This little house

Part of our process of wrapping things up for our big move has been helping to get our house re-leased.  Unfortunately, back in April we signed a new lease that started August 1, and so we are in a situation of having to break our lease.  Our landlord has been pretty cool about the whole thing, and has even let us take the reins on advertising and showing the house.  But it's the showings themselves where I find myself having a hard time.  You see, even though we've only lived here a year, we REALLY LOVE this little crappy house.  It's very much been our home, and a place that we look forward to coming to at the end of each day.

So walking other people through my home and seeing them scrutinize every detail... it's tough.  From the outside, this little old house isn't much at all.  It desperately needs to be repainted, and the lawn needs to be ripped out and professionally re-done, much to the landlord's chagrin - he keeps telling me that if I'm adequately watering and fertilizing, there's no reason that the grass won't be lush and thick.  Yet we do these things, and it's still sparse and dead.  Boo.  And there are even little details on the inside that aren't the best.  There's a few problems with the flooring, and it needs to be repainted.  Despite all of its flaws, though, it's my beloved, charming little house.  I love our living room and its gobs of space.

Not shown:  A million cardboard boxes, storage totes, and our current donation pile.  Accounting may require full disclosure, but blogging does not.

I wouldn't ever say that I love our office, but I do sure love the view I have of our backyard from my computer.  Also, Ammon always has a million computer cords going every direction possible.  It's like a modern day medusa.  I'm also finding that now that we have packed up most of the stuff that was in this room and taken it out, there is so much room for activities.  We have become huge proponents of de-cluttering recently.

Our bedroom... This I might miss the most.  It's huge.  We can walk around the bed easily.  I have space on my side of the bed (the far side), which is a luxury I didn't have in our last home.  Our bed faces the window, which looks directly out onto our beloved apple tree.  Just thinking about walking away from the apple tree, it devastates me.  So does saying goodbye to my walk-in closet.

For the record, this closet isn't as great as the one that we had in our last apartment, but it's still pretty darn massive, especially since I'm now being downgraded to standard closets.  I think Ammon is doing a happy dance that I had to pare don my clothes so much, and is hoping that a smaller closet will mean that I buy less stuff.  Yeah, we'll see about that...

Then there's the dining/kitchen area.  Most of the time, the kitchen table is covered in crap and utterly useless.  It's been kind of fun having it look so cute and functional.  Also, who doesn't love it when your husband brings you home flowers on a random Monday?  I'm not normally a carnation girl, but these just really worked for me this week, and they really brightened up our space for showings.

Another thing I'll miss is this incredible stemware storage that Ammon installed over the sink.  The big gaping hole over the sink drove me nuts when we first moved in... it's sort of a sight line, but not at all?  Having the glasses there really makes it feel more intentional.

So that's it... a little house tour for you, a year later than expected, and just weeks before we move out.  We're only planning on being in our apartment 6 months, so we'll see if I get around to documenting that space before we've moved on...

Friday, August 14, 2015

The best part of this post is the babies

I ran out of things to say, which is why there hasn't been word from me in almost a week.  Oops.  But really, life has been a little wacky lately, what with wrapping up school for the summer, moving, and trying to get my job wrapped up.  I am taking quite a bit of PTO, which is super nice.  We only get paid out 240 hours of PTO when we leave my agency, and I have been at 300+ hours for quite a while now, so it's pretty much free time off to me right now, and I'm doing my best to take it without feeling guilty (It's a serious struggle for me, because I have to let other people cover my duties).

Wednesday of this week I took off, and it was made amazing by Alyx and her cute as heck kids.

I mean... could you have a bad day if these 3 came to visit you?  I say no way.  We had lunch together, and Elsie and I "raced" in the sculpture garden near the restaurant for a while until Alyx declared that they needed to hit the road again.

After that, I had beer with another girlfriend.  I should have been doing homework all day and packing, but I think I needed the girl time.  Also, Alyx helped talk though the moving and starting over in a new place feelings and thoughts I've been having, which was so helpful and important, so I am declaring the day a success all around.

Also, other people's babies are the best anti-depressants in the world, especially when they smile at you.  So, so good.

Other than that, we've been trying to get our house out here in Colorado re-rented, so that we can stop showing the darn place and tear it to shreds in a packing extravaganza.  Who needs running when you have packing and moving as your cardio?

True statement:  I haven't worked out in weeks, and I'm not even a little sad about it.  Except that I got trail shoes last weekend (I had a gift card for a local running shop that I needed to use before we moved), and I would love to give those a go.  But that's just a longing, not actual pain that I can't do it.  Soon enough, my friends.  I hope you're excited for those sweaty trail-running selfies...