Monday, August 09, 2010

i'm desperately in need of a dull moment

We're currently with my mother in South Carolina.

This past week, I came extremely close to having a total and thorough nervous breakdown and had to flee. So Charlie drove his truck (which had been shipped from California) and I drove our van (which we drove from California) and the two of us, and our four children, high-tailed it out of Virginia as fast as we could.

Things are looking a little brighter now. Especially since my sweet Carolyn is doing better. She was extremely sick over the weekend and spent her parent's 16-year wedding anniversary in the hospital with coughing fits so bad she actually turned blue and couldn't breathe.

It seems that residing in a hotel for four weeks straight nearly did everyone in. The kids were crying every single day that they wanted to go home (and back to their world) and Charlie and I could not find any suitable homes within a reasonable distance from my office that we thought would be good for our family and yet, not put us in dire financial straights.

For a host of reasons, we both decided that we did not want to rent, so that wasn't even an option. The one house that we did find, and really liked - and had an offer accepted on - we discovered needed a whole new septic system and a long list of other critical things that we'd need to pay for ... and oh my gosh, where is that money going to come from?!

In the midst of figuring out how much we'd lose by liquidating our 401Ks, we realized the error of our ways and we withdrew our offer. Meanwhile, our home sale in California was messed up more than you could ever believe. Our relocation consultant's "approved" realtor steered us astray and told us to sign the sale contract; which we had specifically asked ARE YOU SURE this doesn't need to go through our relocation consultant? And they said YES, this is what starts the appraisal process. Except, that wasn't what was supposed to happen.


And because of that error, all of our relocation benefits were promptly lost and we're now trying to recover them. What that means, in layman's terms, is that although we weren't supposed to pay for any of the closing costs and realtor fees ... we're now hit with the tab. To add insult to injury, we also lost a home sale incentive (3% of the sale price) and a whole lot of other critical stuff. But they're working on getting it back. Slooowly.

All of this "hit the fan" on Monday, just before my new boss showed me my new "office" which is a very un-feng shui cubicle. And you know what I learned about myself? I'm all about energy flow and sitting with my face against a wall makes it feel like my soul is being sucked out of my ears and stomped beneath dirty boots.

My boss then asked me the status of my passport because I'm scheduled to travel four times internationally by the end of the year. When I accepted the job (the title hadn't yet been defined), I was told there would be no travel. So, that tidbit about me going to Europe (twice) and Australia and Canada came as a bit of a shock. Kind of like having a pacemaker ripped straight of your fragile chest.

If I was at a different place in my life, I'd love to travel around the world. But with four small children and loose teeth that will fall out at any moment? That doesn't sound so good to me because if Mommy is away, the Tooth Fairy might forget to come by.

After talking with my former boss, Human Resources, and my new boss, it was confirmed that THIS job is my only current option with the company. So for much of last week, I was trying to figure out how to leave and repay everything while also whipping Charlie's resume in to shape so he can land a job in the time it takes us to get us back to California - hire a real estate attorney - and get our house back.

Paralleling only that time when we had three premature newborn babies in the NICU, this has been the most stressful experience of our entire lives. The mind-blowing panic attacks have been coming on at five minute intervals and I've had no more than three hours of consecutive sleep in the past eight days.

After talking to a psychiatrist (!!!!) today, we've again (and finally, FINALLY) decided that we CAN and MUST do this whole Virginia thing for at least one year. Especially since the appraisal came back in California to match our asking price and that's a done deal unless we want to lose everything we've saved in legal battles and hope at least one of us can find a new job with benefits.

Now, we just have to find a home in Virginia within the next three weeks because our furniture is due to arrive ... not sure where? ... and we need to get our children registered for school that is scheduled to start next month. But first, before we figure out WHERE we're going to live, we need to get over the virus that is ravaging us.

Thanks be to God for my Mother and my Aunt Grace who rescued us from the turmoil and also, for my company, because although this HAS been very difficult, they have exercised incredible patience with me during this entire time. Best of all, they've endorsed me taking off the time I need to get my mental game on and my immune system back in shape. Considering I've never taken sick time in the almost 10 years I've been with the company, I figure now's as good of a time as any. These past four months have nearly done me in.

I've clearly underestimated that impact that this relocation would have on my family, although everyone that's been through a relocation just nods in understanding. You really have no idea how difficult it is to move, until you are going through it. And with the additional complications that we've endured just getting to this point, I feel like we deserve a star on a sidewalk somewhere.

Charlie and I celebrated our 16-year wedding anniversary this past Friday. Although there wasn't much celebrating and whenever we were together we just stared at each other and moaned, "Ohhhh my GOD, what did we do?!" I gave him a card that read, "Once upon a time..."

And on the inside it read, "To make a long story short ... they all lived happily ever after."

As of right now: I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for our family. We've never taken anything one day at a time, as much as we're taking this whole experience. While it has been very frightening and unsettling and anxiety-ridden, we're holding on to each other as tightly as we can and we believe that things will be better, very soon.

I don't know why, or how.

But we have to have faith.


  1. Just thought now would be a good time to let you know that you guys are in my prayers. I can't imagine being in your shoes, but I pray you will have peace soon!

  2. I'm so glad that Carolyn is feeling better. Just hang in there. I suspect that things are going to get better soon.

  3. I totally feel your pain. So sorry to hear about all the realty turmoil. But CONGRATULATIONS on your 16th anniversary! Hope you have 16 more wonderful years together with Charlie!

  4. {{ Hugs}} ♫ ♪ The sun will come out tomorrow♫ Betcha bottom dollars that tomorrow ♪ ♫ there will be SUN!
    Thinking of you and praying for you. Thanks for the update.

  5. Yikes! All I can say is I'm glad you have such strong faith in yourselves and I will keep you in my prayers for health and a place to hang your hat very soon.

  6. ((hugs!!)) Praying for you all!

  7. Heavens. I am so sorry. I don't know you, but I certainly will be praying for you tonight.

  8. Oh I wish you had let me know you were in SC! Are you still here? Are you in Greenville? I am taking vacation Wednesday thru the next Tuesday. We are going to Charleston Thursday thru Sunday. Kyle starts 1st grade Monday but I will be off during the day Monday and Tuesday. If you are close by and need a sounding board, maybe we can get together. Email me or call me. Life is so strange and difficult sometimes. I have found myself struggling to breathe and make it thru the next moment. You always do what's best for your family but you don't like change and neither do I. OF course you are more adventurous than I am! Sit down, take a deep breath and look into Charlie's and your children's eyes though there is confusion and pain know deep down what is right for your family. You are a free spirit and all will work out in your universe as it should. Love ya!

  9. Sending you hugs, Jen. I am sorry you are under so much stress. This is terrible.

  10. Oh dear God need more than TJ's peanut butter cups. Thank goodness for your Mom and Aunt Grace (remember the benefit of family near by).

    Did Carolyn get diagnosed with whooping cough?

  11. If you check your site stats, you'll see I've checked no less than three times a day, hoping to hear an update. Amazing how I've come so "addicted" to your blog. I don't watch TV, I read you every day. :+) After I saw the Twitter picture, I was concerned. Now I am relieved that you ran off to your mom's to regroup and recoup.

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will find it sooner or later. This I am sure of. Hang in there.

  12. Ohhh, myyyy.... I don't know you personally, yet after reading that I would love to send you some chocolate and wine- lots of it! Problem is I'm not even sure you know where you are living right now. So, all I can do (at least at this point), is send lots and lots of cyber (((((hugs)))). Hope things start looking up!

  13. Oh Dear....It sounds awful.
    I am so glad your Mum has come to the rescue to at least give you some Mind time!
    I will keep you in my prayers,Often when we get to the end of our tether it is then we discover God lives there:)

  14. is sending you some pretty hefty punches at the moment, but you know?You WILL get throught this. As someone who has uprooted their life twice in the past two years to two completely different countries, I think you're doing a pretty great job! Our big move this year is off to Bahrain....very scary. But at least our company organises our accomodation, which I know adds 500% of stress onto your lives if you have to look for yourself. I think you taking a break from it all is just what you need. You are doing everything right, and things WILL change for the better.
    So glad Carolyn is out of hospital. THAT, you didn't need ontop of everything else.
    You are an amazing person. You sure as hell deserve an easier time, but for now, take comfort in the fact that this too shall pass.....and it wil! Thinking of you, Kathryn x

  15. I am so sorry to hear how horrible things have been here for your family on the east coast. Sometimes in finding a home, word of mouth or knowing someone who is ready to put a home on the market and hasn't yet can find you the home before anyone has the chance. I have a good friend who lived in Fairfax and Clifton for years and knows a lot of people. Is that in your commute area? Let me know and I will put the word out. A price range is helpful if you feel you can share. Hang in there! It has got to get better soon!!


  16. Hi Jen,

    I have been worried about you. I am sure it will all work out for the best. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Enjoy your time in SC.


  17. I read somewhere that it takes the average person 16 months to adjust to a relocation, so the feelings you are having now seem perfectly normal. And you could expect it to take some time to have where you are feel "normal". We've had a couple of international relocations and the ensuing headaches. Sorry about the real estate snafus, I am sure you did not need that added stress.

    Sending thoughts of peace and strength.

  18. sending prayers your way, I can't even imagine what you are going
    through. It is so hard not to have a home! Jackie

  19. I would reconsider the renting, especially if you think you may be leaving in a year. It would at least open up more houses to look at, and sometimes they are more affordable than buying (especially in the short term and if you are unlikely to get another relocation assistance package).

    Good luck. I moved 10 years ago with an infant and a 3 yo and we lived over an hour away from DH's job for about 6 weeks while we tried to find a suitable house. It was stressful to say the least!

  20. Whoah! Thinking of you Jen --- so sorry to hear Carolyn was so sick, how terribly scary.

    Take care!

  21. Oh my goodness....I know you are posting comments right now but I hope you are reading them. I have been waiting and waiting for an update from you and assuming if there wasn't one, it wasn't good. I am so sorry that you are so stressed and your children are so stressed. We moved twice in 3 months last year. I have 3 kids and at the time my daughter was turning 3 and my twins were not even 1. We moved from Chicago to Atlanta to Columbus, OH. I didn't know how I was going to survive the stress. Selling our house in Chicago was completely awful. We took a major hit and had the closing from hell. We had the buyers from hell who were determined to bleed us for as much as they could. There were many tears, many panic attacks, and much guilt from my husband whose job was the reason we were moving. I'm not sure why you don't want to rent a house right now but I have to tell's a really nice option. Especially if you aren't sure you are going to be around for a while. Because of the state of the economy and lagging home sales, there are a lot of really nice homes out there to rent. It's just something to think about. That you might want to put back on the table with all that's happening. I feel awful about your latest update and the surprise about the traveling. That's just awful. I hope things start to turn around soon. I KNOW they are going to. You just need a nice, stable roof over your head and a place you all can call home. Then you will be happy and together and the rest will come together.


  22. Please...RENT! I'm not sure why you are against it, but I'd advise it. I switched jobs at the beginning of 2009. I went from working full time from home to working in an office (cubicle) setting. I negotiated 2-3 days a week from home, once I was trained. But management changed during my training period and then the company did not hold up their end of that work at home deal.

    I don't even know why I changed jobs now. I think I was bored, wanted more career challenge, ... not really sure. What I do know is that the transition is awful and working in a cubicle is no fun. I know a lot of people have to do it, there's no choice. But when you are used to working from home, making/eating dinner at a reasonable hour, not missing out on things your kids are doing, etc. the move to the office is very rough!

    Anyways, this week I am currently, literally between jobs. I was approached to return to my old company, full time from home, no travel, good pay, let's just say a gift from heaven dropped me a line. :) Anyways, I start back next week and I am so thankful for the opportunity.

    I'd give this some time, I'm not sure you are going to adjust well to the office environment and I only had to travel within the U.S. occasionally. The travel stinks. Rent and give it some time, it's my best advice.

  23. It all sounds SO INCREDIBLY stressful!!! In my opinion (which you didn't ask for), you should just rent for 6 months while you settle in to VA. The housing market is highly unlikely to all of a sudden zoom up, and with all of your uncertainty, I think it is your best option. The rental housing market in NoVa is actually pretty healthy, so I bet you'll find something! It also buys you time to figure out whether you actually want to stay in the area. And it buys you time to job hunt and everything else if decide NOT to. Anyway, it's just my opinion but I do think it's far too stressful to find a home to buy in a matter of weeks or worse- days. But maybe that is just how we are wired- we are slooooow to make big financial/life decisions and we could never be able to handle the pressure of HAVING TO find a place to live within a specific, short timeframe. Anyway, good luck and I'm so sorry it's all been so stressful! We are about to undertake a big move as well (though not anywhere near as yours- just moving from the Manhattan city life to the suburban life in the NYC suburbs, but it's with 2 year old twins in tow). Plus I'm about to quit my job to do the SAH thing, so big changes. Your blog has always been such a great read, but now that there are so many parallels in the life steps being taken, it's truly been fascinating. I wish you guys the best and I do KNOW, KNOW, KNOW that it'll all work out fine in the end!!! (Hopefully your infertility and then NICU experience has given you a lot of perspective. I know ours has. Not that stress and hard times cannot affect you since you've seen worse, but that you KNOW - have firsthand knowledge now- that there is another side and you will eventually make your way through it all...

  24. Wow. Wow. I do not know that I can say anything more than wow.
    what you have been thru is incredible.
    This will be the year you remember as the "year of hell".
    I just keep hoping for you that for every down there are numerous ups.
    You are definitely in my thoughts as you continue to go thru the relocation process.
    The only other advice I might offer, is maybe rent a house for 3 months or 6 months. Just unpack what you need, as you can take the time to find yourselves and an area you like, as well as a school. Even if the kids change schools, they will survive.
    It will give you some time to learn the area, and find the perfect home.
    Dont rush homebuying. It will be much easier to move from a rental if you hate the school or area, than it will be to leave a mortgaged home.
    Hang in there!

  25. BlackOrchid8/10/10, 9:01 AM

    I have no idea what your host of reasons are, but dammit Jen! RENT! Rent, if you're only committed to one year in NoVa.

    Find a place and RENT. Do you really think the RE market isn't going to tank in NoVA in the next year? I know you never listen to me, but listen to me now. IT IS GOING TO TANK IN THE NEXT YEAR. Even if it just holds steady, you would have to stay in the place for 5-7 years to break even on a house purchase (on average). That's normal market time, the bubble days are OVER.

    I'm sorry this all has happened. It sounds really tough and I feel for you and your family. I'm very upset.

    My options would be 1) rent a house, or 2) buy a brand-new home via the builder. In either case you don't need an agent. Your agent is not helping you. Those things with that other house - new septic? - she should have known about. Where was the disclosure? They were looking at you as "fresh California-grown equity meat", simply put.

  26. OMG... HUGE hugs and prayers, dear girl... I'm praying hard for you all <3
    Annie W

  27. We (your readers) have been so worried about you. THank you for updating us. I know moving can be extremely stressful . . . I am currently preparing for a move to Germany and it is no fun. I cannot imagine the stress of moving with more than 1 small child. You and the family remain in my prayers that God will grant you the strength necessary to get through this trial.

  28. I am so sorry that things are so hard right now. All I can do is send you a hug. I hope you and your family get better soon.

  29. Hang in there! It will get better, it will settle down, you know the old saying -- What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! -- Praying for your family!

  30. Having been through this nightmarish kind of scenario myself once or twice, I really, really (REALLY) feel for you. Thank God you have a safe haven to run to for some brief respite. Sending positive thoughts and crossing all fingers (and any other body parts that will cross) that things will FINALLY start to fall neatly and prettily into place and, before you know it, this can just be a "how the hell did we ever get through that??" memory.

  31. wishing your family a dull moment, lots of good health, and a path to a new home very soon.

  32. ((((Jen))))) Close your eyes, keep hanging on to each other. At some point the winds will quit whipping around and the ground will quit shaking and you'll feel the peace.

    In the meantime I'm praying for strength, peace, and supernaturally well-behaved children. :-)

  33. i hope things get back to "normal" soon for you and you family....i'm new to reading your blog and have loved it, you and your family have always seemed so happy and I'm sorry that things have been tough for you....

  34. Oh my goodness - I sure hope things look up from here. I understand your frustration with trying to find a suitable, yet affordable, home in Northern Virginia (especially when your heart is not in NOVA - although I'm not entirely sure that *anyone's* heart is in NOVA!) Since you've decided to commit to your job for a year, and you don't want to rent, perhaps you could also decide to commute (just for a year). We live in the Shenandoah Valley where homes are less than half of what they cost in NOVA (and property taxes are a fraction). The commute can be long, but if you take a vanpool or bus, leave early and come home early, you don't spend much more time commuting than those individuals who are only 20 or 30 miles from their jobs. Plus, people are actually *GASP* nice here.

  35. Sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. We live in Arlington, VA so I know how expensive housing costs can be as well as issues with commuting. It sounds like your job is in Fairfax? So you might not have looked at Arlington. We live in South Arlington where housing is much less expensive. The schools are good, but some are much better than others, so you should definitely check that out for each house. But the advantages are short commute, easy access to DC/Arlington activities, and in our neighborhood the huge Glencarlyn park in right in our backyard.

    Another area to look would be North Arlington away from the metro. Like in the Westover neighborhood. Excellent schools and not as expensive homes.

    I wasn't sure if you had considered these two areas.

    Best of luck!!

  36. I moved cross-country before having children. It sucked. It always sucks. My only advice is COMMIT! Commit to being there, to having friends, to having THIS job. Stop regretting or missing home. It's hard to do, but I was so much happier once I just got it in my head I was there and I couldn't go back. I just had to make THIS PLACE my home. After 1 year, I would have still gladly run back home, after 2 years I was getting very comfortable, after 3 years in our new place my husband lost his contract so we moved back "home". By then I was attached to our new area, and to this day I still really miss the people we left. You will get comfortable and settled. It sucks now but it will get better...

    Your cubicle job may improve once you've been there awhile and make a good friend or two. I know you've been working out of your home for awhile but once you make ONE really good work friend you will be much happier. The friend that will listen to you whine about missing your kids, help you decide if your shoes match your skirt today, go to lunch with you every once in a while. You might be surprised how much you enjoy work when you get comfortable. About the travel, could the kids stay with your mom during one of the trips so Charlie could travel with you? Or could he bring them and see you in the evenings for a mini vacation? Who knows, might still be ok!

    Can you tell I'm an optimistic person today? :):):):)

  37. Thanks for updating. I'm stress eating right now for you. I know you will make the right decisions. Hug those sweet kids tight and say some prayers.

  38. Thank goodness you've posted, and with good news. That image of Carolyn in a hospital bed---ack! I've been so worried. Don't do that again. Well, first tell her not to land in a hospital again. But don't post a photo like that without explanation again. Good grief, woman! You felt the need to spread your heart palpatations to others or something? Oy. My turn for a psychiatrist.

  39. All I can say is the old expression which is God will never give you more than you can handle...
    There are lessons to be learned and light at the end of the tunel. God has a wierd sense of humor at times but through all this you will prevail and see the rainbow all in his timing. In the mean time we will be praying that everything works out for you guys and that lots of red wine and chocolate finds you!
    By the way...who is using your garbadge cans???
    XOXOXOXO miss you all!!!

  40. It will get better. I'm sure of it. I had many of those "OMG! What have I done!" moments right after we moved here (where we only knew ONE person). Once you get settled in - things will get better.

  41. Sounds as if the whole thing sucks, especially springing international travel on you after assuring you there would be none.

    I know you have a long time with this company and great benefits just don't do what I did, keeping plugging along because of those incentives and wind up on disability with PTSD!

  42. Ohhhh, you POOR THING! Just stay in your jammies - stay in your bed - and just hold each other!! When everything else falls apart, you still have each other!

    I know, I know, I know you DON'T want the commute. I COMPLETELY understand, but the east coast is a whole different ballgame. Move a little farther outside the city and ride the metro. Community space is golden. A big yard is great, but so is a community yard that someone else mows. And a pool that someone else cleans. And a playground that only kids in your neighborhood can enjoy. You can do this! YOU CAN DO THIS, I believe in you.

  43. Oh I just want to give you a hug. Not like a hug would even help. I am so sorry.

    I just found your blog again after being away for awhile when we got a new computer and I lost my bookmarks and I haven't read far back, so maybe this has been covered. I don't know exactly where you're considering in the Va area or where you're working, but if you haven't, you could look into living near VRE (the train). We live in Bristow and really like it. Before that, we were in Lorton and liked that too. DH takes VRE to Union Station and it takes awhile, but it's faster and simpler than dealing with traffic and opened up a bunch of real estate options we wouldn't have had otherwise.

    Good luck to you.

  44. Just so you know - if you come to Australia, I'd be HAPPY to show you around :) I'm not an axe murderer, just an admiring reader.

    Either way, all the best with what you're going through. You CAN do it!

  45. I just posted about moving a little farther from the city. Here are some listings:

    Here's Asburn (my SIL & family live in Belmont Country Club. They love it - a little stuffy for our liking- but Ashburn as a whole is lovely):
    MLS #LO7357051
    MLS #LO7383227
    MLS #LO7408329
    MLS #LO7404143

    Here's Leesburg:
    MLS #LO7320709
    MLS #LO7122046 (on 8.5 acres)
    MLS #LO7275063 (on 5.27 acres)
    MLS #LO7176055 (on 2.27 acres)
    MLS #LO7320567 (on 3.32 acres)
    MLS #LO7303404 (on 4.96 acres)
    MLS #LO7369543 (on 3.05 acres)
    MLS #LO7301977 (3.62 acres, stream/wooded)

    My question.... why not rent? Get into a good school district, get Charlie's resume together. Take some time (as in months) to find a house you can love OR if you really do hate it there, pack up & move without worrying about selling a house!

    Prayers for your family!

  46. Oh my goodness. You are scaring the crap out of me. I've just started reading your blog but have "seen" you on MSTAR's blog for years. I have 4 year old triplets and will be relocating to the Charlotte area as soon as our house sells. We plan on living in South Carolina. My husband is already there, our house hasn't sold, and I am completely over this whole process.

    We are planning to build to get what we want. Builders are giving crazy good incentives since the housing market sucks right now. If you can't find anything to buy, may I suggest renting for a few months while you check out the local builders. You might be better off doing things that way.

    Good luck with all of this. I have decided that relocating stinks big time and we haven't even moved yet.

  47. I know just the place to get stuff to jazz up the cubicle. And just think what sort of first impression you could make in the new office! heheh.