The fifteenth of November has become a special day at our house. It’s a day we cook chili, gather around the table and remind ourselves how truly thankful and blessed we are. We reflect how far we’ve come in just the few years we’ve been here, and reminisce about the giddiness and excitement we felt on the day of November 15th, 2011 as we retell the story. The story never gets old, the excitement never dies and the chili always tastes extra good, just as it did on that night.
So, what exactly is so special about that day you ask? It’s the day we moved. But it wasn’t just any ordinary move; it was a very special move ….
For two years prior to that November, we had been trying to move back to this area. We had money saved and at one point, even had a pre-approval to purchase a house. We wanted a place in the country where we could have a few chickens, grow a large garden, and have enough room to park our truck. As we searched the properties in the country, we didn’t have much luck finding something that suited with in our budget. After several months of not finding what we wanted, we decided to consider houses in town. Living in town wasn’t our first choice, but there was a wider selection in our price range. We looked at over a dozen houses and found several we really liked. Each time we thought about putting an offer in on one, something just didn’t feel right. It’s something we couldn’t put our finger on… it just wasn’t right. We did find a couple places, both in the country, that we did put offers on but for various reasons neither worked out. Eventually we gave up looking.
The beginning of the September before we moved, the kids and I were visiting my mom. I was talking with my mom about wanting to move and how frustrated we felt. I remember telling her that even though I was really looking forward to getting a much needed bigger house, at that point, I’d be happy finding a place in the country to move our mobile home to. It was extremely frustrating to have spent all the time and money we did looking and still not have found the right place. Her face lit up and she said, “I have an idea, how about moving your house here?” It was the perfect idea! It would give us a place in the country and we could help mom with up keep of the place. We discussed some of the things we’d have to do like update the septic system, take out some trees, run water lines and etc. I told her I’d have to discuss the idea with the family, but was sure they’d all love it. I’d also have to do some research and get an estimate on costs.
Over a few weeks, we had many discussions about moving. We were all so excited over the possibility that we were going to be able to move, and live on a homestead that had been in my family for many years. I started contacting contractors to price septic systems and home movers to find out costs of moving our home. There was so much to think about and consider as we added up the cost. After finding that the total cost was with in our budget, it became clear that this move was the right choice for us. The middle September, we visited mom and told her the good news…. we were going to be neighbors.
We contacted the person in charge of getting permits for installing the septic system. Since the septic system was old and outdated we found out that grants were available to help with part of the costs of getting septic systems updated to code. We had to contact a contractor and get a plan drawn up and approved. They got all the paper work complete and Michael stopped into the office on his way home, from delivering a load, and signed the paper work. On the last day of September, he got a phone call that the paperwork went through and the grant was approved.
I remember standing in the kitchen on October 1st telling Michael that I wished we had thought of moving sooner because with everything we had to do, plus holidays and winter coming up, we’d probably not get to move until spring. While waiting until spring would have been fine, I was just hoping we’d be able to get it done sooner because I didn’t want to be in limbo for months, especially through the holidays. Michael told me we just needed to pick a date we wanted to be moved by, like November 15th, and just go for it. I told him there was no way we could move by then with all we had to do. There were trees to be taken out, a septic system to be installed, water lines and utilities to be put in, a storage shed full of stuff that had to be moved to get the house out of the spot it was in, packing to be done, a house to be moved, and weather that had to cooperate. Not only did all that stuff have to be done, but a lot of things depended on other things to be done first. I told him I wish we’d be able to move by the 15th… but there was really no way it could all be done. He told me to think positive and if we set our minds to it, it could be done. Still doubtful, I agreed, but felt it would be impossible.
The first week was spent making phone calls to all involved, like the house movers, the finance company of our house, electric company, and etc., to find out what they all needed and to get paperwork going. I started rounding up what they needed and got paperwork started. That weekend we traveled to Pratt and met with the person in charge of permits and the contractor that was installing the septic system. We measured out the spot where we wanted the house to sit and marked where water lines and sewer hookups needed to go. They told us they were booked for a while so it could be after Thanksgiving before they could get started. I was disappointed it couldn’t be done sooner, but wasn’t surprised because I knew they were busy. It was frustrating to have to wait but we had plenty of other things to work on in the meantime.
The next few weeks were spent making phone calls, faxing paper work and trying to figure out how to move our sheds, plus all the stuff inside them. We figured since we had our own truck it might be cheaper to find a couple trailers to rent instead of hire someone to move it all. We were hoping to find a dry van to rent, plus a flatbed to move the sheds. After calling several places that had dry vans available for rent, it became clear renting one of them wouldn’t work. We knew we’d probably need one a month at the very least, that way we’d have time to load our stuff, move, and then unload it all. Renting one for several weeks was too expensive, let alone trying to rent one a month or two. At that point, we were at a loss on what to do and turned our focus on other things, like packing things we weren’t using and getting rid of stuff we didn’t want to move. Never at any point during that time did we ever quit when we reached a dead end, instead we’d just find something else to focus on.
Towards the end of October, Mom called and told us that her septic system was starting to fail. We called the contractor to see if there was a possibility they could move us up on the list. They said they’d try, but it would still be a couple weeks before they could get to it. A few days after that, the system totally failed. We contacted the contractor again and they said they would bump us up to next on the list after the current project they were working on. Yay! Because it would probably still be a week or so before they could start, we had to call someone to have it pumped out otherwise Mom couldn’t use any water. While it was frustrating at the time to have the added costs, looking back, it was a small price to pay since it meant the septic would be installed sooner.
The last weekend of October, we made a trip to Mom’s to take out trees. Michael and Dylan cut down three large trees and as they cut and split the rest of us helped stack. By the end of the weekend, the wood was all stacked and the extra limbs were cleaned up.
Michael and Dylan headed back to Texas for work on Monday, while Brooke, Miley and I stayed for a few days. During that time I met up with an electric company employee to show them what all we needed for our utilities and sign paperwork so they could get started. I also met up with the guys in charge of putting in the septic system to go over everything again since the plan had changed a bit. They told me that they’d be out at the beginning of the next week to install the septic. Happy and excited, the kids and I traveled back to Texas.
The next day, November 3rd, which was a Thursday, Michael called me with some exciting news. He’d found someone who would loan us a dry van that we could use for a couple months. I couldn’t believe it… it was then that the reality set in that we could possibly move by 15th. There was still a ton to do… two sheds to be unloaded and moved, a whole house yet to be packed… and everything to be done in 12 days with only two weekends left. That’s when the serious packing began. Everything was such a whirlwind, I don’t even recall how we managed to pack up the house and still live in it but we did.
Bright and early Saturday morning, Michael went and picked up the trailer. One of the first things we did was take apart our decks. While it was a lot more work to do that, it made them a lot easier to move. By late afternoon we had the decks disassembled and loaded on the trailer and we started emptying the first shed. Sunday the weather turned cold and we had a mix of rain and snow all day. We didn’t allow it to stop us and the whole family continued to work through the day, only taking short breaks to warm up. I’m pretty sure we consumed gallons of hot chocolate and coffee those few days. Back then, Michael was always off the weekends plus Mondays, which made it nice to get extra work done. As we were working that Monday, I remember the house mover called and said they had received our payment and signed contract and wanted to set a date to move the house. They said they had the upcoming Wednesday, which was the 9th available. I told them we wouldn’t be ready by then, so the next available date they had was the 15th. I remember pausing for a minute and thinking whoa…that’s the date Michael said we’d move by. I told them they could put us down for that date but it would depend on if the septic system would be installed by then, whether or not we’d be ready to move. They said it was fine, but they were booked for a while after that so the next date they had available was sometime in December. I really hoped everything would come together by the 15th.
Shortly after I hung up with the movers, I got a call from mom… it was a very disappointing phone call. She said she had the same weather we did, but with more rain, so the installation of the septic system had to be postponed. We were all so frustrated and at a loss of what to do. Do we continue packing and hope it gets installed before the 15th? What happens if it doesn’t get installed by then and we have everything packed, but then can’t move until sometime in December? It was a tough call because I didn’t want to do a bunch of packing, only to unpack and then repack again. We decided to hold up on doing any more packing on the house and focus on getting the sheds emptied and the yard stuff packed up.
Over the next few days the kids and I slowly worked on packing more stuff from the sheds and going through stuff in the house and finding things to give away or throw away. At that point we were hoping for a miracle that the septic system could somehow be installed yet that week, but things just weren’t looking good. It was really hard to remain positive but we tried as best as we could.
On Wednesday I got a phone call from Michael. He had some good news… he found someone that would let us borrow a flatbed trailer to move the sheds! The trailer was available for only one day, that Saturday, so that meant we were going to have to load up the sheds, haul them to Kansas, unload them and return the trailer back to Texas all in one day. It was going to be challenging, but not impossible. Since we were only going to have one day to move them, we decided to move the smaller one and sell the bigger one. It was a lofted barn type shed which was heavier, taller and going to be trickier to load and unload. We figured we’d be better off to just sell it and buy a new one once we moved here. Our moods were brightened by the news of finding a trailer, but we were still finding it hard to have hope that the septic system would be installed that week.
On Thursday morning, November 10th, my phone rang with the best news ever! It was Mom and she told me the guys were there to install the septic system. The ground was still a little wet but they decided to go ahead and install it anyway. What a relief!! We were expecting it to take them a couple days to get it in but they arrived early in the day, with lots of extra help, and by evening everything was completely installed including the water lines. Our prayers were answered!
On Friday, with only four days until the big moving day, packing was going full force. Since we were going to be making a trip to Mom’s with the shed on Saturday, we decided that we’d also drop off Brooke and Miley along with all our critters. To add more complication to an already complicated move, we had a dog, four indoor cats, two cockatiels, 2 hamsters and an aquarium full of fish to figure out how to move. I put the kids in charge of figuring all that out, plus packing up what they needed for the next several days while they stayed at Mom’s. I continued to pack up the house.
Bright and early Saturday morning, Michael picked up the flatbed trailer. He and Dylan worked on loading up the shed while the girls and I worked on getting the pets all packed into the car. I have to say, trying to figure out how to load all the critters so they all co-existed peacefully, while having enough room for Brooke and Miley and everything else we packed along was probably one of the more challenging parts of this move. I also packed up all the food that was in the freezer so we could store it in Mom’s freezer until after we got settled. We loaded up Dylan’s pickup with some stuff and he towed his old project pickup with the car dolly. Once the shed was loaded and we were ready to go, an air line sprung a leak and brakes froze on the trailer. Michael and Dylan had to work on it for a while and at one point there was a question on whether we’d be able to go with it. While it caused us to be set back a couple hours, luckily they got it fixed and we headed out. We made it to Mom’s by early evening. While Michael and Dylan worked to unload the shed and stuff from the pickup, I helped the kids unload all the critters and everything else we brought. We went over and checked out the septic system, the contractors had done an awesome job. Mom took us in and showed us how well the toilet flushed… it hadn’t flushed that well in years! We all cheered and clapped… then burst out in hysterical laughter that we were cheering over a flushing toilet. I think it was the realization that the move was going to actually happen and things were finally starting to come together that made us all giddy and laugh hysterically…. it’s the small things. Since we had to get the trailer back that night, we headed out soon after that. We left the car since we still had another one in Texas to bring up, and I rode back with Dylan.
We woke up early Sunday with a lot of things to still get done. There was a lot of packing in the house that had to wait until last minute. I worked on getting those things packed while Dylan and Michael took care of stuff outside. There were still a lot of things in the yard to be packed, like a swing set, sandbox and playhouse. Monday was spent doing much of the same. We laid furniture down, secured things with ratchet straps, zip tied drawers closed and etc. By Monday evening, everything was finally ready to go. We went out and had a relaxing steak supper. When we got back from supper, Michael grabbed his bags and headed for work. We kissed good-bye and I told him I’d see him Friday at home in Kansas. It felt so good to say that.
Tuesday, November 15th…it’s moving day! Dylan and I woke up early and went down town to have breakfast. We ran errands and took care of last minute things, like putting in a change of address at the post office and paying a few last bills around town. When we got back to the house we did one last walk through to make sure we didn’t miss anything. The movers were running late, so while we waited we decided we ought to catch our outside cats. Those cats were tame to a certain point, but we figured once the movers got there and all the commotion started, they would scatter and not let us catch them. We fed them and caught as many as we could and put them in the shed.
Finally the movers arrived and started prepping the house to be moved. Dylan and I hung out while they did that to answer any questions they had and to make sure things were running smoothly. It was a very long day. Since they started out late, it felt like it took forever before the house was ready to go. As the day went on, I was worried there wouldn’t be enough daylight for them to get very far down the road.
Once it looked like they were almost ready to go, Dylan and I went and got the cats out of the shed. We didn’t have enough carriers for them so we had to put them in boxes. We laughed because we walked over to the shed with flash lights, boxes and gorilla tape in hand… went in the shed (it had no windows so it was completely dark)… chased the cats around and around… there was lots of commotion… we were in there for a while… came out with boxes all taped up… carried them to the car and stabbed breathing holes in the boxes with short screwdrivers… I’m sure that didn’t seem suspicious to the movers at all. 😳
By late afternoon the movers finally had the house ready and out on the street. They went over the route they were taking with me one last time, and then headed out. Dylan loaded up our outdoor dog and dog house, plus checked to make sure things were secure on the trailer he was pulling. I got the boxes full of cats arranged so they would ride as peaceful as possible. I will say they were pretty angry about being in those boxes and angry cats like to express themselves pretty loudly, so it was one interesting trip. We headed out… finally making the last trip of our move.
When we got about three fourths of the way to Mom’s I got a call from the movers. They had made it a little under half way and were having to stop for the night because it got too dark. I was a little disappointed they couldn’t have made the whole trip that day, but the happiness and excitement that the move was actually happening made the disappointment short lived. They told me they would get started first thing as soon as the sun came up the next morning. We made it to Mom’s later that evening, unloaded the cats and dog and got them all situated. We walked to the door, it opened and Brooke, Miley and Mom came bursting out full of excitement. We stood there hugging and celebrating that we finally did it!
Mom asked if Dylan and I had eaten supper and we told her we hadn’t. She got out some chili and warmed it up for us. Cold and exhausted, the chili tasted so good. As Dylan and I ate our chili, we filled everyone in on all the details of the last few days. The highlight was the story of us catching the outside cats and putting them in boxes. We all laughed and laughed…it felt good to laugh and finally be able to relax.
The next morning about 9:30 I got a call from the movers that they would be in town around 10:00. We had made arrangements to meet them in town and led them out to our place to make it easier. The kids and I got around and found them waiting on the outside of town. We led them out and by noon our house was in place…
Finally… we were home!
A few months after we moved, we realized just how amazing it was how things came together for us. There were a lot of ups and downs and uncertainty at times, but no matter what, things always fell into place. At no other time in our life has anything ever felt so right… like it’s meant to be and it’s where we belong… as living here.
From our offers on other places not working out, to the septic tank failing… people coming forward at the last minute with trailers we could borrow, to the septic tank being installed in one day… the weather clearing up just long enough for our house to be moved, and all of our many safe travels back and forth…. there’s no doubt that we had a special angel watching over us… thank you, Dad.
As we finish up our bowls of chili and retelling the story, we talk about all that we have to be thankful for and feel blessed for this good life we have.