I’m always inspired by the promise of a new year. I am that person, the one that jumps out of her Christmas sweater and into something sparkly, who forces a “celebration” on tired family members because darn it, I will feeI deprived if there isn’t some kind of corny, ode-to-the-past champagne toast and faux enthusiastic “whoo-hoo” shout at midnight. I would blame this need to celebrate EVERYTHING on Instagram or Pinterest, but the truth is, I was this way before the perfect lives of beautiful bloggers graced my screens.
This New Year was a little different. I did manage a sweater with some sparkle, but I spent the evening eating way too many oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, trying to keep my 5 month-old asleep (how many fireworks do we really need, my friends?) and packing up yet again. This time, I don’t have to narrow down my belongings to bare necessities, consider what will fit in overhead trailer cabinets or make the tearful decision to keep snow boots out and ship beautiful suede boots to storage.
I won’t have to worry about cramming baby gear behind the recliners or stuffing an overflowing dirty laundry bag in the shower so I can use the toilet. I won’t wake up for middle of the night feedings to discover we’re just about out of propane, the windows are layered in ice or there’s a mouse in the heating vent. I won’t have to fit a week’s worth of groceries into a tiny fridge (I am a freaking master at this, you have no idea! ) or struggle with constantly having to hand-wash dishes (this is not a huge deal unless you have a newborn and finding time to eat is a victory). I won’t feel the wind rocking my bed all night or wake to find my pillow frozen to the wall.We are bidding adieu to our little nest because,
WE HAVE A HOUSE.
Almost a year ago we started looking to move out of the trailer. To be honest, we really did love the trailer, despite the challenges and inconveniences that come with trailer life. But we knew caring for a baby in the trailer would be difficult. The issues of space and access to reliable running water and laundry facilities were just too big to ignore. Plus, the idea of being stuck with a baby in a 35-foot shoe box all winter was unbearable. It had worked fine for just us; we both worked 12 hour days or longer, and we went out to movies or dinner on time off, so trailer confinement was not really a problem. But a baby would mean doing hard trailer time, and I knew I’d go insane. (You’ll remember from previous posts that there aren’t many safe options out here for getting out if the harsh cold doesn’t keep you home-bound.)
Housing is incredibly expensive out here. Renting an apartment would run us about $1,900 a month for a one bedroom. I’m being modest with that number. A two bedroom condo would cost upwards of $3,000 a month. It’s cheaper to have a mortgage. So we found the most affordable option for what we needed and started the process of having a modular home built.
As we signed away our savings on a down payment, the company said, “She’ll be ready the beginning of June! ”
I’ll spare you the agonizing, endless excuses that rolled on from there, but I’ll tell you that June came around and there wasn’t a foundation. July, Harrison was born and we were told in two weeks our house would be just about ready. Every week, as we struggled living in a lot we’d moved into thinking we’d be out in two weeks (our water pump stopped working, we only had running water if I hooked the house to the community water pump at the end of the lot, I had to fill the toilet and wash my hands with water bottles, there were flies everywhere and the mosquitoes were vicious) they told us two more weeks! During this time, Sam’s mom and four younger siblings moved to ND to join his father. I don’t think I could have made it without them. They lived over an hour away, so on the weekends we’d pack up the baby and all our dirty laundry and go spend the weekend with them. They were waiting on a house too, so all 10 of us (one of Sam’s adult brothers was living out here as well) and two dogs and two cats would stay in a two bedroom condo. It was insane. It was also wonderful. I got to take real showers, see some cable TV, cook on a real stove and best of all, my mother-in-law was a wonderful help with the baby. We lived like this from July till September. And then, outside our trailer, giant wasps moved in. I couldn’t take it. The housing company told us, “Two more weeks!” Sam sent me and Harrison home on the train.
What was supposed to be a two week visit turned into a month-long stay. At the end of the second week I was home, preparing to make the trip back, the housing company assured us that our house was almost done and that an inspector would be there the following week. The trailer lot we were in needed our spot so we decided to save on paying rent, give up the spot and park the trailer for what couldn’t be more than two weeks of inspections and loan paperwork. Sam would stay with his parents and I’d come back when we were all set to move in. The week of the supposed inspection, Sam heard nothing from the company and drove out to check on this himself (which he did constantly, since we were almost never updated by the salesman). He found that not only was the house far from being finished, the sewer and power lines hadn’t even been hooked up. From there, it was a ridiculous few weeks of us trying to figure out what to do next. Sam couldn’t find a trailer park that had an open spot. We were stuck.
I savored my time home. My parents are amazing and were happy to let me completely take over their room with baby stuff and sewing projects. I ran “errands” to Target almost every day, took my sweet baby boy to the beach, soaked in the views of the mountain and the water, strolled our glorious mall, enjoyed a Starbucks whenever I pleased, and best of all, had the chance to visit with family and friends I love and miss so much. They got to meet Harrison for the first time, which was so special. Being home made the housing situation just a mental stress for me; Sam was the one who had to pack the trailer up and try to squat in a state park for a couple weeks. When he got kicked out of there he had to resort to sleeping on his parent’s couch. The poor guy was trying to work, find a place for us to live, keep our trailer from getting towed away and keep tabs on the status of our house. He was such a trooper.
The first week of November, Sam got us a spot in one of his company’s condo rentals. Harrison and I made the train trip back, leaving the Fall in Western Washington for the snow of the Bakken. It was snowing and windy when our train pulled in. It was so strange to be back. Stranger still was returning to live in a town even smaller than Williston! The company condos were waaaaaay out in a little town that didn’t even have a grocery store till this past summer. This town is worth a whole blog post itself. But the transition was not traumatic- Sam’s amazing family had moved everything from the trailer into the condo and set it up. I felt like a storybook character with a fairy godmother! There were even candles and a plate of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. 🙂
We went back to Washington a couple of weeks later for Thanksgiving, since Christmas would be spent here. Since we’ve been back, I’ve spent the past month organizing and repacking things from storage, and setting up the condo as if it were our permanent residence. We put up a Christmas tree (our first fake one ever! But it is ridiculous trying to find a Christmas tree out here and I thought maybe we’d save a tree- North Dakota needs all ten that it has). Until a couple of days ago, we weren’t sure we’d ever be moving into our modular home. So now, I’m surrounded by boxes and the chaos that is packing up your life. It’s midnight here. An “arctic airmass” has moved in, and my WeatherBug app is predicting the wind chill will bring us to 25-40 below zero from now till Wednesday. The bedroom window is rattling aggressively and the snow is pelting it so hard it sounds like someone is throwing stuff at our window. I have no idea how we are going to move in to our new home in this kind of weather. I’ll let you know how it goes. But, I have to say, I am so excited to start the new year in our new house, I’m barely freaking out about mother nature’s fury. I’m literally starting new in 2015 and that makes up for the no-party, packing-and-watching-Alaskan-Bush-People-on-Discovery-Channel New Year’s Eve. No joke.
(Next time on BonBon: A shorter post, and a name change…the time has come…)