Thursday, August 12, 2010

the free lunch

If we had to do this all over again, I never would have moved out of our house in California without a new home to go to in Virginia. While staying in a hotel for a few weeks while we found a new place sounded like a good idea - the reality is that not having the stability of a home has been the hardest part about this whole transition.

Charlie and I are planning to drive back to Virginia this weekend. In large part because we have a (new) approved offer on a home and we need to meet with the inspector(s) on Monday morning. We'll be gone for a week and then I'll return to South Carolina the week of August 23rd when Charlie flies back to California to supervise the packing and shipment of our house to Virginia. The following week, we'll drive up to Virginia and directly in to our new home.

As it currently stands, we're scheduled to close escrow on our California house on Monday August 30; close escrow on our Virginia house Septemeber 1; our furniture is due to arrive on September 3 and the triplets begin Kindergarten September 7.

My mother has been urging for us to leave the triplets with her while we do all this back-and-forth, but she's been having such significant health issues over the past few months, I'm worried how she'd manage three five-year-olds.

But then. Yesterday.

When we were at the pool, one of my mother's neighbors ... a woman who was my highschool guidance counselor ... walked past. She stopped to talk with us for a while and as she heard about our situation, she suggested that if we do leave the children with my mother, we enroll them in Kindergarten (which begins next week), until we are settled.

My mother loved the idea of this. She could spend quality time with her grandchildren, but for a solid six hours a day, they'd be constructively entertained and educated by professionals. And since school in Virginia doesn't begin until after Labor Day, the children would have approximately three weeks of instruction in South Carolina before they start.

Relative to being dragged all around the mid-Atlantic, this does sound great.

The problem is, Charlie and I were so focused on getting out of California for Virginia that we left behind all of our administrative paperwork. And as it turns out, it's quite difficult to buy a house without tax returns and bank statements; and even more difficult to register a child for school without vaccination records and birth certificates.

(Thank you again, Debbie, for breaching security measures today to retrieve those documents and send them to us, overnight!!)

So today, as we were talking to school administrators, they told us that there is a loophole for parents that don't have access to immunization records and/or birth certificates. And that "loophole" is for those parents to characterize themselves as homeless.

In South Carolina, homeless is defined as any one who does not have a fixed residential address. For instance, those people who live in a car, recreational vehicle, abandoned building, hotel or motel, or with a family member, meet the classification. After talking a little more with school administrators, they have deemed that our family is genuinely "transitionally homeless" and as such, our children are eligible to attend school AND receive a free hot lunch.

(My mother nearly erupted with cheering.)

(She could spend quality time with the children AND she didn't have to pack them a lunch?!)

While I wouldn't feel comfortable accepting that, I do appreciate that such a program exists for people who really need it. This time has been so incredibly stressful - and yet, I know it will end soon. In the meantime, we realize that we are so blessed and lucky to have each other, our health (except today when Elizabeth had an actual seizure because her temperature spiked) and a place to go.

Earlier tonight, my mother was telling me about a man who is living in her church's "reprieve" house. He is the single father of four children. He recently lost his wife, his job, his home, his vehicle, and all his savings.

Suffice it to say, this experience has really given me a whole different perspective and appreciation for what we have. It also has us counting our blessings in a whole new way.


  1. you all are amazing. I wish I could drop out of my life for a couple of weeks and come stay with your mom to help. I know that sounds extremely silly given you don't know me from Adam/Eve but man you guys have had a time of it and I just want to help. The school idea is great, devine intervention is the miracle of life!!! Stay strong
    Denise xx

  2. Good news on several fronts, is Elizabeth okay? School can be such a blessing sometimes--appears to be one of those times for your family. Thinking of you and sending good energy across the Rockies, over the Mighty Mississp and across those Appalachians to you--from the Bay Area!

  3. You might be able to get a temporary exemption:

    "(D) A South Carolina Certificate of Special Exemption signed by the school principal, authorized representative, or day care director may be issued to transfer students while awaiting arrival of medical records from their former area of residence or to other students who have been unable to secure immunizations or documentation of immunizations already received. A South Carolina Certificate of Special Exemption may be issued only once and is valid for only thirty calendar days from date of enrollment. At the expiration of this special exemption, the student must present a valid South Carolina Certificate of Immunization, a valid South Carolina Certificate of Medical Exemption, or a valid South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption."

    S.C. Code Ann. § 44-29-180 (2006)

  4. Oh that is a fantastic idea!! I am sure that they will be glad to have the distraction and structured play time! Woot!

  5. OMG. You are HOMELESS. I just spit on my screen.

    I am so, so, so, so sorry, Jen. But good Lord, you went from homeschooling to homeless abandonment. Good God, you are making my head spin right off. I am praying for you.


  6. All things work together for good........ i think this is in a book?) looking forward to hearing about the house~ hang in there -- it's getting better!

  7. I'm really hoping and praying for you that all of this is over really soon. The school idea is brilliant--hope it all works out because having three fewer kids would be much easier with all that running around that you have to do.

  8. As a mother of 3 little kids (who also just recently moved)I totally get where you are coming from! It is HARD, HARD, HARD. Also, as a mom of kids who have started Kindergarten...that is also HARD. For your sake, the kids staying with your mom sounds fabulous. For your kids' sake, having them start Kindergarten *twice* in two different states within 3 weeks time sounds beyond HARD. You know your kids better than anyone so, of course, do what you think is best for them. I just know (from a very neutral standpoint) that my kids would not have handled that well at all. I do NOT want to add more stress to you by posting this, I actually wanted to just give a different view point. I debated posting because I sincerely don't want to sound negative...just that it could end up causing your family more stress in the long run. You guys are in a stressful time but it *will* end and you will feel settled and more relaxed very soon! Hang in there and good luck.

  9. Jen, As always, you make me belly laugh and shed a few tears all in the same post. Props to you and yours for muddling through this whole thing - it'll be just a memory before you know it (albeit maybe a BAD memory). Whatever doesn't kill you most definitely will make you stronger!
    And this post made me think of the following quote: Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: "WOW! What a ride!!!"

  10. Things have to get better, soon. Keep your chin up!

  11. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You are so close.

  12. I am so happy to read that things are moving along and you seem to be finding your way.
    I think the kids with your mom and in a school will be great for all of them. They will enjoy their gramma and it will give you a break to focus your energies on house, job etc.
    Besides what kid wouldnt love to spend time with gramma!?
    It may be a time that they end up really cherishing.
    I hope all goes well and you find yourselves NOT homeless soon. (LOL that cracked me up about your "homelessness statue" and you know, take advantage of it. It can't hurt and it will probably benefit everyone! It will give your kids a chance to get away from the stress you all are facing and let them enjoy time with other kids.

  13. I hope you will tell us about the house you bought! I voted for the bigger one....however I didn't know you hadn't seen it yet!!! The driveway situation was, indeed, not doable!!

    I hope you love your new home and all goes well. I think I know something of what you are gong through---at least the security of losing the home you loved. My current is my favorite home of any I have ever owned. I dream sometimes that I sold and made a mistake in doing so. The gripping of my heart and the deepest s0rrow I can describe envelopes me all day, even tho I know that it was just a dream.

    When you are settled, peace will come. What a nice solution for the children and a great experience for them. I am assuming you have Henry with you! If Grandma has him, I say hats off to her!!

  14. Woman, you are making me laugh. Please keep the kids with your mother and let them start school there. Hit the local priceclub up for a bunch of school supplies, donate these to the school and then take them up on the offer for free lunch. That will be easier on your mum. Go take care of the paperwork for the new house and drink some wine. We're gonna be you in 11 months. I'm taking notes.

  15. oh my- I'm glad you guys found a "loophole", and hope you get settled soon!

  16. One of many cuzzins'8/14/10, 9:26 AM

    Hi Jen,

    Have been thinking of you alot. Hope you are doing a little better with all of the stress and the temporary disorganization of your life right now. Change is never easy and to deal with surprises during transitional times can easily send the strongest of souls over the edge.

    Know that EVERYTHING in life happens for a reason. Stay close to God and always keep a happy thought in your mind. You'll get through this time and believe it or not, you'll be better for it.

    Sending you warm thoughts and prayers and a big ol' hug.

  17. Jennifer - Two articles that I found in today's Washington Post Real Estate section.
    (To explain why some of those homes that you put in your db were so bad...)
    (To make you feel better about not having a stream in your backyard...)

    I am happy to hear that you've hit upon a winning solution for your kids to the hotel living (and for your mom too) and have an inspection lined up for another property.


  18. Brilliant idea about the Trips starting school. It will offer them some grounding and leaves you with just Henry to wrangle as you and Charlie hack your way through this jungle that's sprung up before you.

    Good Luck and good blessings.

  19. Rebecca in Rolling Hills Ranch8/16/10, 5:07 PM

    As a kindergarten teacher in your old neighborhood, I have to comment on this. Every year, because we start in July, we get 1-2 students per class start school and leave once their "real" (private school) year starts. There is only one way to describe this: free daycare.

    A teacher spends many hours at the beginning of the school year assessing skills, creating seating charts that will encourage best learning for all, labeling supplies, folders, and supplies for each student, and after assessing students, creating differentiated reading, writing, and math groups. After all this investment, we learn that we were a glorified daycare for a family that didn't want to pay to find quality care for their child before their real class starts. It's insulting to teachers and the teaching profession. Would you like a client of yours have you spend a month on a project and then quit, once their "real" project manager could start? I'm guessing you'd feel like your time was truly wasted.

    Please. Do not enroll your triplets in school simply because it seems like the easiest solution. I'm 100% sure their temporary teacher would rather have the time to invest in her "real" students.