Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Life can be surprising

I seriously don't know where autumn has gone. I wrote "August" by accident last week instead of November. I chuckle to myself when I hear some women talk about how their pregnancies have dragged on forever (and I'm not doubting that it feels that way to them), but mine seriously seem to fly. Although if I ever learn what 42 weeks feels like (or heck even what 39 weeks feels like!), then maybe I will agree. But for now, time has seriously been flying.

Part of that has to do with some recent upheaval in my life.

If you had asked me prior to the first week of October, I would have told you that Jeff and I were going to live in or near the Cincinnati area for the rest of our lives. I love this city. I love being close to his family. I love our friends. I love our ward (church congregation). I love the seasons. I love being close enough to go on roadtrips to visit my friends and family. I love the Ohio River. I love that my great-grandparents lived and died here. I love that my grandpa proposed to my grandma here. I love the Zoo, the Reds, the Newport Aquarium, Kings Island, the Cyclones, EnterTRAINment Junction, Ault ParkB&B Riverboats, the LM&M Railroad, Krohn Conservatory, Skyline, and Graeter's. I'm sure there are other things I haven't though of to list, but I really like it here.

I have moved a lot in my life. In fact, I've lived in fourteen different homes in six different states, and even two countries. Granted, one of those homes I'm counting only lasted for one month, but it was the only home I had at the time, so I'm counting it.

I remember earlier in my marriage having a conversation with Jeff that went something like this:

Mimi: "Well, when we move—"
Jeff: "Why would we move?"
Mimi: "Well, um, I don't really know . . ."

I grew up moving around. I can't count all the homes my mom has lived in, but prior to marrying my dad and not counting her eighteen month long church mission, she lived in at least four different states and multiple homes in some of those states. My dad lived in four different states, with multiple homes, before going to college and serving his mission. My dad's parents both moved three times during their childhoods and then as a married couple lived in at least four different states and five different countries (counting the US). So, the point I'm trying to make is that moving is nothing new to my life experience, background, and expectations.

My husband, on the other hand, moved to the Cincinnati area when he was around five years old. His parents still live in that same house. So it was a rather foreign idea and unnecessary to him: "why would we move?"

And to a woman who never knew quite what to say when someone casually asked "where are you from?," the idea of having a permanent hometown was pretty appealing.

Well, we are now planning on moving.

At the beginning of October, Jeff received notification of a job opening with the Foreign Service (a part of the Department of State). We discussed it a lot, prayed about it, pondered it, talked to friends who are in the Foreign Service, and decided to apply for the position. (We won't find out for a while whether Jeff has made it through to the next round of interviews. I have no idea how intense the competition is either, so it's a complete unknown whether that will be in our future.)

In the process of completing the very long application for the position (lots of multiple choice questions, college transcripts, three essays, and one multiple page biographical narrative), Jeff communicated regularly with a State Department recruiter. This recruiter was apparently impressed by Jeff's phone and e-mail communications, because before Jeff even finished his Foreign Service application, the recruiter sent on to his boss the information Jeff had given him.

The next day Jeff had a job offer from a man he had never spoken to for a position he had not applied for.

Sounds crazy, right?

Well, it really threw us for a loop.

The Foreign Service takes a long time, so I was preparing myself for the possibility (merely the possibility) of leaving Cincinnati in 2014.

Now we were presented with the opportunity to leave Cincinnati very soon. They wrote that they wanted Jeff as soon as "tomorrow," but they obviously understood it takes longer than that to figure out what to do with your house, to receive top secret security clearance, and for the wife to have a baby.

Well, we stewed over that for about two weeks, and ultimately we said yes.

The few people that I've told always ask me how I feel about it.

That's a hard question to answer, because I am experiencing a lot of emotions. (Thank you for intensifying them, pregnancy hormones!)

The nomad in me loves the idea: starting fresh with people who haven't witnessed any of my flaws (yet), meeting new people, turning a new house into a home, exploring a new city. The wife in me is completely gratified that someone other than myself recognized how amazing my husband is. I'm really excited about this job opportunity for him. It is to be a Facility Management contractor for the Department of State's Overseas Building Operations, and it will involve foreign travel to embassies and consulates. And the crazy part of me just loves a challenge, and this will definitely be one.

I'm nervous that dealing with a move close to my due date is what possibly triggered the pre-eclampsia I experienced with Jill. Can stress cause high blood pressure? I'm worried about having a brand new baby, packing up a house, driving across half of the country, and settling into a new place all within a month's time. I'm stressed out about losing money selling our house or deciding to rent it out and then dealing with problems with renters. I'm nervous about the cost of living where we're going, because I hear it's astronomically different than the Midwest (and the housing websites we've been looking at definitely support that).

As I mentioned before, I really love it here. I feel guilty about taking my children away from their home, their friends, and especially their grandparents. Jeff's mother is very involved in their lives, and I know they are going to miss her a lot, and she them. I have made a lot of wonderful friends here, and I am sad that we're going to fade into facebook-commenter-and-Christmas-card-receiver relationships. And this may sound silly, but I have planted so many beautiful flowers in my yard and I was really looking forward to seeing them bloom. Some of them were even transplanted from my parents' and grandparents' homes. And while Jeff did not have a lot of room to grow with his current company, he has been working with and for some amazing people, so we will be sad to leave them.

At any given moment of any given day, you will find me wallowing or exulting in any of those three emotions.

I guess I should say where we are going: We are going somewhere in the Washington DC/Maryland/Virginia area. It is looking like we will probably end up in Virginia. I am looking forward to living in the nation's capital, having so many historical monuments near by, visiting the Smithsonians, having a free zoo, riding the metro, living closer to an LDS temple, having a Distribution Center near by, and just finding out what the East Coast is like.

Oh, and Jeff will be starting work either the first or second week of March.

And yes, Alice's due date is February 24.

So for about three weeks recently, I've just been somewhat in a state of shock.

Here is a conversation from the other day.

Jeff: "Jill, will you move with us when we leave this house?"
Jill: "Yes, Daddy, I'll move with you. . . . but I won't go to work with you. I want to stay home with Mommy."

We've been talking to the kids about the move, but I don't know how much they're really grasping. So wish me luck as I . . .

  • prepare my kids for a new baby and a new house,
  • sort through my belongings,
  • stay relaxed and healthy,
  • pack up what we're keeping,
  • decide whether to sell or rent our house, 
  • endeavor to restore my house to pristine conditions for either renters or buyers, and
  • grieve for what we're leaving behind.

And if someone calls you asking questions about Jeff Collett, now you know why. I hear they are pretty thorough when processing someone for security clearance, and Jeff's job will require top security clearance.

Which makes me wonder . . . is someone from the clearance check reading my blog right now?

In that possible case, I'd better end this post with some cute pictures of our kids.

We've had a lovely autumn.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention my gratitude for all of the advice and help people who live in or have lived in or have relatives living in the DC/VA/MD area have been providing us. Thank you!! Your enthusiasm and love for that area of the country have definitely improved my attitude and decreased my fears.


  1. ha ha, is someone from the clearance check reading my blog? You never know! If they read your comments as well, I will say this to them:

    You are getting one fine family, you hear me?

  2. I know you mentioned this in the Facebook message thread we had going but... Wow. I didn't realize how crazy this change will be. A new adventure. I'll be praying for you and your gorgeous family, that this adventure starts off smooth and easy.

    And to the possible clearance check person, which makes me think of a sales clerk discounting items with one of those tape/tag gun thing-a-ma-bobbers, Amy is right. I don't think you could have selected a better family.

  3. Although I will miss seeing you and hearing your voice around Cincinnati, I'm excited for you and your family. What an opportunity! I hope you'll have time to keep your blog updated so we can follow you around the world.

  4. I am so excited for you guys! I am not the one moving with a newborn so I just get to be excited instead of nervous. Good luck! I hope you will love the area. I am pretty jealous that you get to live so close to my mom. :)

  5. ooooooooooo michelle. you cant leave us.....im so sad to see you go. seems like you just moved in. you will be dearly missed.

  6. Exciting! Let me know if we can do anything on this end as you prepare for and then move!

  7. So I can't figure out how I've missed the news of you being pregnant AND moving. How exciting for you guys. My dad is in northern Virginia and works in DC. and congratulations on the baby!

    I've moved all 3 times when I was pregnant. Twice at & months. Just do a little everyday to get ready for it and ASK FOR HELP! that is what saved me.

    Good luck with everything and I need to keep up on my blog reading!


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