Welcome Back

“Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out
Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about”

To say we have been rather busy lately is quite an understatement.

You see, fifty-seven days ago, I was playing around on Realtor.com just as I have for the last several years, pondering the possibilities of the many listings that were up at the moment, when something caught my eye.

I mean something REEEE-ally caught my eye.

So, I did something that I had never done in all my years of looking; with Audley’s guidance I reached out to a VA lender for a preapproval.

“Well the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they’ve turned around”

Fifty-five days ago, we canceled our weekend plans and took a little road trip into Alabama. There, we looked at two houses. One was trashed and definitely showed what a little staging for the internet can do. The other was nearly perfect; close to everything we had in mind for a home.

“Who’d have thought they’d lead ya
Back here where we need ya”

Fifty- four days ago we made an offer on a house, wrote an earnest money check, and the very next day it was accepted.

We were under contract with “closing in thirty-five days.”

{GULP}

Thirty-one days ago, I accepted a position to teach pre-k in a newly established Christian Academy this coming autumn.

Twenty-four days ago, we met with our realtor in the small town of Scottsboro, Alabama to close, and at the same time became first time homeowners.

“Yeah we tease him a lot ’cause we got him on the spot, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back…”

Fourteen days ago, we moved to Stevenson, Alabama, just 3 miles from where Audley grew up and where we moved away from almost exactly ten years ago.

“…And I know what a scene you were learning in
Was there something that made you come back again”

There is a lot to the hows, whys, and whats of all this, but the Reader’s Digest version is Audley changed industries back in December and works from home, when he is not traveling. After nearly 27 years of moving with power company and paper mill construction, we have been given the opportunity to control our own path.

“And what could ever lead ya
Back here where we need ya”

Our “First” Home

We decided the time was right to purchase a home, but with the market what it is, this was not so easy. We looked near Atlanta (where we had been living). We looked in South Carolina (to be near our grandbaby). We looked in Tennessee. We looked in Alabama. But we weren’t serious until the right property became available. We really wanted out of the city, we wanted property, preferably not new construction, and a ranch style. We wanted character and potential. Something move-in ready that we could add our own spin on to turn into our home.

Who knew where it would lead us?!

The craziness, busyness, chaotic mess of the last fifty-seven days was an answered prayer in so many ways, especially with the ease of purchasing our first home. We stayed within our budget, worked with a great realtor and lender, and found what I hope is our forever home!

Back Porch Views

And the song lyrics scatter throughout my post? As we were driving on I-24 with a moving van, our pups and kitty I was listening to a 70’s station on Spotify. The theme song to “Welcome Back Kotter” by John Sebastion began playing on the radio. I laughed as I thought back to all the times we’ve left this area to chase our dreams, only to return.

“Yeah we tease him a lot ’cause we got him on the spot, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back”

God sure does have a sense of humor.

5 Tips To Help With Your Move

In the twenty-six years since we married, Audley and I have moved fifteen times. Job transfers, outgrowing arrangements, local and far away; we done it all. Most recently we moved last summer, during the height of the pandemic, 90 miles across the city as long hours plus the ridiculous drive was wearing Audley out.

I would like to think we’ll never move again, but with the industry Audley works in as well as our kiddos scattered in other states, it is very likely we’ll move again sometime in the future.

If you’ve ever moved you know exactly how stressful and exhausting the entire process is. We’ve made each move a little differently, but one thing for sure is I’m getting pretty good at making sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.

Moving is intimidating, but there are ways to minimize the stress with these few tips that have worked well for us over the years.

1. Organize. Get a 5×7 notebook with divider tabs and pockets; make it your guide for your move. In this notebook you want to have your first page saved for your dates of new job starting, when you need to list your house, and when you need to move, along with any other date that is involved with this move. Make notes regarding home tours, deposits, school info, phone numbers of realtors, disconnecting utilities, transferring cable and internet. Write down a plan for packing and mark off each task once completed. In the folder keep a copy of your kids transcripts for transferring schools. Make sure you have copies of their immunization records, and sports physicals if needed. If you are leaving the state this will make it easier for the doctor’s office to transfer to whatever form the new state requires. There is nothing worse than misplacing those items while moving. Having a set location in a book you should have at your fingertips at all times, works great!

2. Clear the clutter. DO NOT, and I emphasize again, DO NOT take clutter and chaos with you. As you walk your house and look at what needs to be packed, start a list of what needs to go. This is the perfect time to clean out closets, toyboxes, desks, filing cabinet, and the garage. If your hanging on to jeans hoping they’ll fit again, but you haven’t even started eating healthy or exercising, let the jeans go. If you’ve not worn a shirt or dress in over a year, let it go. If you have collected free shirts from every race, gym, or school event, weed them out and let some go. If you’re hanging onto warranty papers for products you don’t even own anymore or tax records from 2005 … let them go.

When we moved from South Carolina back to Georgia four years ago I found boxes that had not been unpacked the entire six years we were in Carolina. I opened them, surveyed the contents and most all of the boxes were things that could be donated or even trashed. I know we treasure our kids artwork, school papers and the like, but guess what? When they are adults they don’t want it. In fact they don’t care. How many times do you look at that first story that was written in 1st grade or that Christmas picture from 3rd grade? I’m as sentimental as you get, but there is a time that you’ve got to decide whether sentiment is worth the space, mess or boxes.

3. Purchase your boxes and packing supplies. I know it’s an unwanted expense, but with the way grocery stores open and break down boxes, getting quality ones is actually quite difficult. When you purchase your boxes you can find them in uniform sizes made specific for what you are packing; ie. book boxes, dish kits, hanging clothes, etc.. Bubble wrap and dish protectors are absolutely worth investing in. No one wants to open up the glasses that were wrapped in newspaper to find half of them are broken. Also, no one want to carry a box you’ve packed with 150 pounds of books.

4. Have a method for packing. Knock out the less used, decorative items and non-essential items first. This includes books, picture frames, ginger jars, toys, extra bedding and holiday dishes. Make sure other holiday decorations are well packed for traveling. How disappointing would it be to get out you decor and discover your blown glass ornaments are shattered. As you get closer to moving day, go ahead and empty the closets of shoes and clothes that you really do not need. You do not want to still be packing when a moving van arrives. The family can live minimally for a few weeks. This is also the time to not buy groceries and a great time to cook creatively using ingredients from the freezer and pantry that you’ve accumulated.

Label every box. Write what is in the box and what room it belongs in. This makes the unloading and sorting process so much easier.

Have a method for unpacking as well. Go backwards and unpack the necessities first and end with the decorative and fun stuff that helps make a house a home. If you open a box … empty and put away the entire box. You do not want half-emptied boxes all through your house.

Pro Tip: if you can budget it, hire packers. Many moving companies have this service and honestly I have never had a single regret when we’ve used packers. They are fast, efficient and professional. There is no running to the store for extra tape, boxes or materials. They are prepared and ready to work.

5. Hire a reputable moving company to do the heavy stuff. Let’s face it, moving is exhausting, and more so now than our first move back when we first married. I stay sore a whole lot longer. Moving is hard. Moving furniture is hard. Choose your hard. Me? I’ll let some young, strapping guys load and unload the heavy stuff any day of the week.

Moving Solutions, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee is great option when you are planning your next big move. They offer a variety of services to help you including relocating long distance in the Nashville and surrounding area, and offer both commercial along with local moving.

This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and tips are my own based on all the crazy experiences we have had over the years.

The 25th Year

Last week we officially closed the door on the last 3 years of our life in Loganville as we dug up the hydrangea & locked the door.

Now as full empty-nesters Audley & I are finally under one roof (he’s been living in an apartment for 2 years instead of driving 150 miles round trip everyday for work) living on the west-side of Atlanta. This was the 15th move we’ve made in our 25 years of marriage, which we also celebrated last week.

This move was probably the most difficult and for sure the most stressful in the fact he & I did 90% of it alone between Audley’s work schedule, wedding planning for our youngest daughter, lots of uncertainty and a of course this pandemic.

2020 has been an interesting year to say the least.

While 2020 has been memorable in its own way, the beauty and nuttiness of the last 25 years mixed with the excitement of the next 25, definitely overshadow any craziness that this one year has thrown our way.

Audley and I have four amazing kids, & now three sons-in-law (so much has happened in the last 10 years while writing this blog) who are contributing so many beautiful and positive things to this world of ours. Police officers, medical personnel, minister, exercise specialist, preschool teacher, Marines (we have 2 now!); we have much to be proud of when looking at our kids.

Having an empty nest at the quarter century milestone is a whole new world for Audley and me.

We have never been “just the two of us”. I became a full-time mom the day we said “I do”. Being parents together for the entirety of our marriage has been a large part of our identity.

Now, with Madeline saying her “I do” last month the full-time parenting chapter of our story has closed! Now we get to write the next chapter as we discover new adventures together. I have no clue as to what the next 25+ years will look like for Audley and I, but can guarantee it will be filled with love, growth, discovery, new adventures and as always God-centered.

So cheers to the next 25 years and whatever adventures come our way!