In case you haven’t been following the blog… Er, wait…
So we moved to Colorado. We’ve been eyeing a move up for awhile. This was the year to do it when Ethan was transitioning to High School and before Quin got too entrenched in his activities and the area. So we set out to do something new, and Colorado won out.
The thing that allowed us to do all of this was a company that decided to hire me as, get this, the Executive Director of Technology. Cool title, eh? IQNavigator is the company, and by now I’ve been working there a little over 2 months.
The house thing was a very interesting ordeal. Once I had the job offer and we knew Colorado was going to be the landing place, we set out to identify the right school district, and from there we would work in concentric circles to find out where we would live. Different things led us to select Aurora as our ultimate landing place, and the Cherry Creek School District as where our children should go. OK, so shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Just pick houses in our price range and footprint requirements with Smoky Hill as the High School. Well, Denver was about to deal us a surprise. Apparently they are in the midst of a “housing crunch.” Allegedly there are typically 22000 houses in the “inventory” for people to purchase, but today they average only 4000. I guess people are moving to Denver.
So we took a different tactic. We retained a Realtor, and had her send us new listings that matched our criteria every day. We had a decent hit one day early, so we asked Maylee to go over and check it out. She said it was OK, so we thought we’d see what we could do. By the time we talked to our Realtor again, the house was gone… OK, so it was going to be something we had to act quickly on.
Fast forward 2 weeks, we still haven’t seen any houses that even match our criteria to look at. How were we going to get to LOOK at a house and select whether we would live there or not!??! Finally one day a house came on the market that matched our criteria. Maylee, our friend who lives in Denver, was able to come over on her lunch break and check it out, Skyping me all the while, and by that evening we had put an offer for asking price on a house. I like to say that we bought our house on the internet.
After a trip to visit the house for the first time (on Mother’s Day) at the inspection, I admit, I was doubtful. Denver had just experienced a rare May snowstorm, and the neighborhood was recovering from the aftermath of having heavy snow covering the trees. I was also a little skeptical of the house. It could have had something to do with the 9 beers I had the night before, but there were some things that were a little sketchy about it. More on that for another day…
June 13 rolled around - I was scheduled to start my job the following Monday. I drove the Malibu to Denver starting later in the afternoon, leaving my family for a planned two weeks before I flew back to drive them to their new home.
The home closing went OK, though it had to be delayed because I “didn’t have a job” for the duration of a weekend. Banks sort of suck. Luckily Maylee and Steve had a spare bedroom and a soft spot in their heart, so they let me stay with them and home base from their house for a couple of days while I waited for the bank to verify that I did, indeed, have a job. Once closed, I moved my blow-up air mattress into the empty, scary house, and started our new life as Coloradans.
The weeks without the family went excruciatingly slowly. I wish I had been blogging during that time as I’m sure it would have been very dark. I was sure I was going to be murdered in my home in this new “urban” setting. I figured unsavory gangs were wandering the streets at night just looking for open windows or unlocked doors so they could come in and wreak havoc on the occupants and the dwelling. Luckily, as per normal, reality turned out to be much more mundane. Our neighborhood is very nice with very friendly people. In fact, we live in the midst of many retired couples (not too unlike our neighborhood in Summit), which means that not much happens in the neighborhood that they don’t see. They’re home all day long, except when they are on one of their many, many vacations!
Jenny and the boys stayed home to pack the house, arrange to have all of the fixes made to it that the new owners demanded, and basically close up our lives in Wisconsin. One night Jenny was talking with Quin and they were feeling sorry for me spending time all by myself in a new city. Quin had some sage advice for me, however, that Jenny relayed to me. He said if I wanted to make friends in a new town, I should just go up to somebody that looked like I might want to be friends with and say, “Hi, my name is Brandon. Do you want to be friends? Would you like to have a beer sometime?” It’s weird how some people have things all figured out at such a young age. Maybe we all do and we forget it as we get older and over complicate things. I hope he can hold on to it…
Fast forward two weeks, our stuff arrived on Friday morning. That afternoon I flew back to Milwaukee, had a party, rented a UHaul, packed the WAY too much stuff we had left into it, hooked it up to the Flex, and headed west on Saturday around noon. The drive was pretty uneventful (thankfully). We stopped in Kearney, NE to stay the night, then descended on our new home in Aurora, CO early in the afternoon on Sunday.
It’s been about 2 months since then by now, and they’ve gone by in a blur. I’m only going to be able to hit the highlights and perceptions for the most part. Hopefully I can use this post as a platform for smaller updates with pictures in the future. Jenny keeps nagging me about it, so it might happen. In fact, one thing that I’ve been doing a LOT more of since I got here is writing, though it’s more of the journal variety.
So, the house is mainly unpacked. The kids took some time to adjust. The first two weeks consisted of a lot of “I miss home,” and “Colorado sucks more than Wisconsin” talk. Blaine came out to visit and deliver the dog that he’d been taking care of. One thing I’ve noticed in the first two months is that it has become much more special to see family and friends from home than it was when we were “nearby.” I suspect that will continue. My parents just left, in fact, after helping us out while Jenny traveled out east, and it was probably the most enjoyable visit I’ve had with them since they visited us in Seattle. Distance certainly puts perspective on things.
Jenny did a great job of getting the kids involved right away. Ethan started soccer workouts with the Smoky Hill High School team almost immediately, so he met some people that he can talk with. 2 months later and now he “has people to eat lunch with,” which is a big concern for high schoolers. He is doing very well in High School so far. He made the Junior Varsity team and has his first game tonight. I will likely blog more about that as the season progresses as I find myself being one of those annoying parents that tries to live out my high school dreams through my son - I shall try to avoid that. I think I can achieve the balance! Oh, and he also was able to test into two Honors classes and a Sophomore math class. He’s doing very well.
Quin got to attend some YMCA camps with lots of cool field trips. He met some kids and started doing Pokemon with them (I don’t think he plays correctly). He also developed a deep love for Jenga. He’s started school now, which is literally down the street from our house. We can see the school from our front door! He is doing very well in school. At this young age, the difference between having a full day of kindergarten plus a whole year of K4 seems to have made a big difference. He’s ahead of his class so we’re hoping we can continue to challenge him and keep him engaged.
Public school is a bit of an adjustment for us. For one, the sheer numbers of kids is overwhelming sometimes. Since school has only been in session for about two weeks, it’s difficult to say what the curriculum is going to be like. We read a lot of articles about how schools are being ruined by policy and what-not, but we’ve always been able to distance ourselves from that. Now we’ll have to jump into the party and hope for the best!
For their part, the kids seem to be doing just fine with school. Ethan did mention that one unexpected thing happened the first day of school. He said the only public displays of affection he witnessed were between couples of the same sex… Oh, and Quin has had a quick immersion into the public school lifestyle as he told me the other day that “two kids were talking about sex at recess today. Dad, what’s sex?” It’s like a setting for a Norman Rockwell painting.
We’re all adjusting to a world where all of our friends of 20 years are not around to talk with all the time. I miss having that more than I expected I would. As time moves on I’m sure we’ll make new friends, but we were very lucky with what we had in Wisconsin and that will likely not ever be replaced. In a way, though, we feel like the time invested in moving (which was considerable) has resulted in a time savings in a way as we had about 8 weeks of relative free time. I’m sure next summer will be a different story - this school year is already proving to be a scheduling challenge!
Well, I’m rambling. I didn’t even mention the two awesome mountain hikes and one mini-vacation that we’ve done, but I’ll try to cover some of that in subsequent posts. We’re also busying ourselves with immersion into home improvement projects again, so new windows and new kitchen cabinets… Again, more material for a future post.