2020 had not been as bad a year for us as it had for many people. My wife and I both had jobs that could be performed remotely, our kids had hybrid / remote options at their new school for the fall (spring 2020 semester effectively ended when the pandemic started in terms of learning).
I had lost my job mid-year, but thankfully one of my previous employers was more than amenable to bringing me back on. We had still managed to take trips (mostly camping) and even managed to get back to our regular beach destination (Chincoteague) for a reunion with friends.
Most of the stress and chaos for us was based on being around our kids all day since forever and moving across the country and far away from family and friends for the first time in our lives.
We looked forward to 2021 as a return to normal in terms of the pandemic, a chance to settle into our new surroundings and build new friendships. Some of that happened, some of it regressed.
We enjoyed our first holiday season during the pandemic as best we could. It was certainly weird not getting in the car to drive over to my dad’s house and spending the day with my brother, sister, nieces and nephews. Zooms and FaceTimes certainly are a crappy alternative to seeing people in person. But as most people were going through the same if not worse, it wasn’t the end of the world for us.
We still found opportunities for hikes, sledding days, playground time and mountain views.
A Quicker, Easier Move
As chaotic as our move across the country was, it did have a bright spot. By renting for a few months with the idea that we would find a house relatively soon and be moving again, there were close to 60 boxes that we never unpacked. This just meant that short of the kitchen stuff we weren’t spending an epic amount of time repacking all of our belongings to pull off a cross town move two weeks after the holidays.
We packed up our first load of the moving truck, went to the closing, and started what was the shortest distance move in our lives – a mere 4.1 miles. A few more loads and two days later, we had most of our stuff out of the rental house and at least into the garage of our new house.
Having our moving expenses pretty much only include renting a moving truck for 3 days was much less expensive than the $9k we spent getting out here.
We spent the next two weeks before our lease was up running over, grabbing the last few boxes / belongings and cleaning (it’s insane what four kids can do to a house in three months!).
In our new house we learned two things very quickly –
#1 Our rental had a humidifier on the furnace, our new house did not. This needed to be fixed very quickly. We were getting tension headaches, bloody noses and cracked hands. I watched many videos on DIY whole house humidifier install and then I took a look at our mechanicals. Though I fancy myself pretty darn handy, our furnace was crammed into a space with two water heaters and made the margin for error pretty low. In my DIY endeavors, room for sloppiness / first time mistakes is a given, especially with a task I haven’t done before, so we hired a professional to put one in and I am glad that we did.
#2 The toilets in the house seemed to be original to the house, so that was less than great for 6 people. Two out of three of them got clogged very easily on our first night in the house. So we replaced two of them in the next few weeks. It’s a really easy process (when there aren’t problems with the flange, which we had none of thankfully) and I encourage anyone to DIY this.
Between those repairs and the radon mitigation system we were already into the house for more than we had planned, but we had closing money left over from selling our house back in Pittsburgh so I didn’t worry too much.
One of the downsides in coming from a smaller house is that we had a few missing pieces. We spent time finding new-to-us furniture / fixing up old furniture to fill in our MUCH larger house – we had been living in 1300 sq ft for the last couple of years – and 2500’ felt palatial.
One Saturday in February 2021 I had planned on watching a hockey game at home, maybe taking the smaller kiddos to the nearby playground, and then a futon popped up on Craigslist for really cheap. It fit perfectly into what we needed in the house and I didn’t want to miss out on getting something, so I drove up to Fort Collins to pick it up.
After grabbing it, I decided to “reward” myself by stopping into a local brewery that was having a beer release that day. I wore a mask to my table, and didn’t stay longer than 15 minutes, but I remember thinking as I sat down, “Wow there are a lot of people here, inside, drinking, talking and laughing; if anyone here had Covid, we would likely all be screwed.”
Two days later I had a scratchy throat, one day after that I tested positive for Covid…