Sunday, June 27, 2010

Moving Day is Tomorrow

Well, tomorrow is the BIG day. It is starting to really hit me and I am feeling a bit sad. I hate that we are basically walking away from our house. It was supposed to be an investment, now it is listed for nearly $100,000 less than we owe on it as a short sale. This is where we brought home our sweet babies and made so many memories. This is the first place we have really been able to get settled in, living here for 5 years. We always said it would be a five year house but after the economy crashed we resigned to staying here for a long time, never thinking we would have to leave like this.

It is on to a new adventure and a completely different life. I'm not sure I am ready for this. I think Jon said it best, Bjorklunds just don't make big moves like this. He lived in the same town until he went to college (2 hours away), in the same house for 17 of those years before moving a couple miles to a different house in the same town. His brother lives one city away from where they grew up. We were the crazy ones who moved 30 minutes away. And now we are moving 2,000 miles away. It's an even scarier move than when my dad got transfer from New Jersey to Michigan when I was 11, at least that is just a "short" one day drive. We are taking 4 days to get to Arizona.

So we load the truck tomorrow. Then we head to St Louis for the night. Then from there Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, then on to Phoenix. See you on July 1st!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Never smooth sailing

So apparently things can never go perfectly. We are still going, we are both employed (well I will be officially after I sign my contract tomorrow) but I have no idea what I will be teaching. Our principal called today after I accepted the position to teach Kindergarten and said he was told enrollment isn't high enough for a 4th section of Kindy yet but it should get there and I will be teaching Kindy as planned. But in the even that it doesn't happen they have another position, a new program they are offering at the school that has been successful in other schools in the district. Basically it is for students who are being labeled as having emotional issues but not officially EI. It would be a 3 to 1 student to teacher ratio. While I am not certified special ed (and that doesn't seem to be a problem for this job) one of my field experiences in college was at a school specifically for EI students so I do have limited experience in that area. Contract will be faxed tomorrow so I can sign it.

3 rooms packed!

So obviously if we are still packing we are going! We have packed up just about everything in both kids' rooms (minus the beds which they still need to sleep in) and the bathroom (minus the things we need to still use). We made great progress on the playroom last night and also emptied the hall closet. We CAN do this!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Emotional Roller Coaster Ride

Ever since Thursday when Jon found out he was called back we've been in a complete whirlwind. We decided to stay put in Michigan. More money, benefits, family, no big expensive move, it all just seemed so right to stay. Yesterday, Father's Day, we told everyone we were staying. I canceled the moving truck, contacted our AZ realtor and our MI realtor and told them both the move was off, and started planning things we could do all summer now that we were staying.

And then (remember this is a roller coaster) Jon's principal in Arizona called back after Jon left a message last week. Jon told him he had been called back here and was turning down the job in Arizona only to have the principal say he had a job for me as well. Jon hung up and told me and all I could do was cry. Had we made the wrong decision by staying? All I could think about was how we would now have job stability and the financial security if we moved to Arizona.

I had Jon call back principal and at least find out more about the position they had for me. I quickly dried my eyes and was handed the phone. They had a teacher resign due to finding a job in Hawaii (where we we for that job posting, lol) and they now had a Kindergarten job available. We talked for a few minutes, I asked a few questions and then asked for 24 hours to make a decision.

So that is where we are at at the moment. By tomorrow we have to call principal and give a solid yes or no answer. We have pretty much decided we will be going to Arizona, just want a night to sleep on it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Still no decision

We still have not made a decision, though we are leaning towards ending our AZ adventure before it really even begins. Even being part-time, Jon will be making at least $15,000 more here in Michigan than he would in Arizona. It comes down to would we rather have financial security or job security? A third option would be to turn down the part-time position here and stay on lay-off, go to AZ and wait for a full-time position to become available then come back, but moving across country is expensive and I can't see us being able to afford making the move twice in just a couple of years (being perfectly honest we can't afford to move now as it is, the entire move is going on a credit card). We are waiting to hear 2 pieces of important information to make our final decision. We need to cancel the moving truck by Wednesday at the latest so that is basically our deadline.

Just to give you an idea of just how big of a pay cut Arizona would be, and since it's all a matter of public record anyway...he was offered $35,750 in Arizona. This school year he made just over $60,000 (not including his coaching and U of D job). Next year even being part time he'd make about $52,500. To make up the difference in pay one of us could easily pick up a crap job somewhere and we'd be no worse off financially. So that is the income aspect of it.

The next question is well, what about cost of living? From everything I have researched aside from housing (because in Michigan we are stuck with our mortgage and in Arizona we would rent at about half the cost of our mortgage payment each month) everything is more expensive in Arizona. Electric and water rates are higher, sales tax is higher, vehicle registration is higher, even getting the internet would be more expensive. Car gas and food are about equal in cost.

Our house, which has been on the market for a month and had the price reduced twice, has not even had anyone in see it. I feel like we are practically offering to give it away at the current price of $55,000 (assuming the bank accepts that price as a short sale...we bought it for $130,000) and yet no one wants to even see it. If we move we can't afford to continue payments so we'd foreclose, killing our credit which is actually really awesome right now since we are getting older and have had our accounts for various things established longer.

Everything I've said so far points to staying put. The only thing that prevents us from saying we've made our final decision is the lack of job security. In 6 years the music department went from 11 music teachers to only 5 and guess who #5 is. Of course after his first year at this job he was #12 so he's escaped really, truly being laid off now 7 times in theory. We've seen drastic cuts to the music program and 3 schools close, with 2 more scheduled to close next year. Really, he was hired 6 years ago for a job he was only qualified for on paper, he had the right certificate though zero experience teaching elementary general music. It was a 1 year position to fill in for someone on leave and now here we are 6 years later and he's still here. He's been bounced around more than any young teacher deserves, but he's always had a job. This fall he will start his 4th "job" at his 4th and 5th schools, and have his 6th and 7th principals (assuming we stay that is). Of course we really have no idea how secure the AZ job is, but without the strong teacher's union I doubt there as many politics involved. However without the strong teacher's union he can also be fired with little to no recourse.

So there you have or job security? That is the question.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It Happened

The one thing we have feared happening has happened...Jon has been recalled back to his current district. It's only part time but enough to make us need to really consider our options. What a nightmare! Oh and family member can't take our cats so we are looking for a home for them. We are now considering bringing Precious and Tigger with us and finding a home for Snickers but really haven't made a decision. Just when things were going super smoothly everything gets turned upsidedown again.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Truck is Booked...and other stuff

We did get the condo, though we are waiting for the lease to arrive. That means it was time to book the moving truck, so I took care of that this week. We found out we could only have 2 cats though only one is preferred. We have decided to bring Snickers with us and find a new home for Precious and Tigger. It was a very hard decision but I think it is the right one for them. Precious and Tigger have been together for 8 years and enjoy being together, so we can not separate them. They are also still very afraid of the kids, always running the opposite driection when the kids come near them. On the other hand, Snickers never really bonded with the other 2 cats. We've only had her about 6 years. She loves the kids and cuddles with them every chance she gets.

Precious was our first baby. She joined our little family when we lived in Kalamazoo 9 years ago. She was Jon's first ever cat. Due to family allergies he could never have a cat growing up, though he always wanted one. I can still remember the day I picked her up from her foster home. Back then her name was Light Bright. She was looked at by many people but they always chose one of her siblings. When I saw her I couldn't understand why no one wanted her, she was so cute and sweet. We put her in a box and I took her home with me that day. Of course a box wasn't good enough for her, she climbed out while I was driving home, on the freeway!
Precious was quite the character. She was my alarm clock that first year in college, never letting me oversleep. She once dragged an entire unopened back of cat food around the living room, tearing open the package and getting food everywhere. One day we came home from school and couldn't find her, she opened one of the kitchen cabinets and was laying in there for probably hours. She would suck her own nipple and would only stop when we gave her milk. She is my pretty kitty and I am going to miss her terribly.

We got Tigger about a year later. We had moved back to the Detroit area and thought that Precious needed a playmate. We went to the local Humane Society and started looking at cats. We saw several cats and kittens. One a beautiful but older siameese cat, the other a orange tiger strip kitten. We were trying to decide which one we wanted and went to see the orange cat again. We went to his cage but he was gone. The Humane Society was busy that day so we thought we were too late. That was when we noticed they had moved the kitten (named Larry) and his brothers (Curly and Mo of course) to another cage and when he saw us he started climbing up the cage to us. We knew then he was the cat for us. Being orange Tigger was a natural, if not orginal, name. Tigger is a BIG cat. He loves to cuddle on our laps which is very awkward because he is so large. Tigger will wake us up in the middle of hte night if he needs food. He loves to be brushed. Just recently, after almost 8 years, I discovered how to get him to give kisses. You have to scratch his back just in the right place. It is going to be hard to not have him climbing all over me when I am watching TV.

We have a family member that may take them for us, which would be the most ideal scenerio. I've been trying to get in contact with her but haven't had any luck and I am running out of time. Ideally she would take them until we buy a house and could have them back (we'd pay to ship them out) but until I talk with her I have no idea. After a year away they may be attached to their new home and she may be attached to them. At least if they are with family we can get updates and pictures. If I can't get in contact with her or if she is no longer willing to take them I don't know what I am going to do.

In other news we had more good-byes today. Jon has a side job as the UDM pep-band director and so the bad members got together today to have a farewell dinner. This year our whole family has really gotten to know the kids. We went to just about every home basketball game where Nathan would play the base drum and Emily would e the cheerleader and we even traveled with the team for tournament play. Nathan even got to know some of the men's basketball players and they would always ive him high 5s and talk to him. I had visions of the kids growing up attending games and maybe one day even playing, but that no longer will be happening.
We have planned our route to Phoenix and have scheduled stops in St Louis, Oklahoma City, and Albuquerque. We have friends here in MI who are moving to Albuquerque just a few days before we move to Phoenix, so we will stay with them when we get to that area. I also know someone who has a son in Oklahoma City who has very generously offered to let us stay with them for that night, and they have contacts in St Louis and are seeing if anyone they know there can help us out for a night there. We are so blessed to have places to stay rather than having to get a hotel for 3 nights.

We leave in 12 days and still have so much to do. Our house price has been reduced again. And on top of it all there is a small chance Jon could be called back to his current district by the end of this week. While I would love to have him get called back so we can stay I really hope we don't even have to face making that decision since next year we'd be in the same position again and not have a job offer elsewhere.

I think that is all for now.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


And now we wait. We faxed the application and express mailed the funds for our rental and now we just have to wait to be approved. We should know by Tuesday, but the Realtor we are working with (a real estate office is managing the property) said he's been doing this for many years and doesn't see anything that would prevent us from being approved. I'm really excited about living in the condo we found. I just hope when we get there it is as nice as it seems, and well even if it's not, it's only a year.

Our next step will be setting up a moving company. We think we are going with Movex. It is a "you pack" service then they drive it for us and we unload. I've been holding off on booking because we wanted to be sure we had a place to go.

We still have tons to pack and tons to sell. Our first garage sale was last Saturday and we did great, but still have so much left. We are selling most of our furniture (minus the beds, Nathan's dresser, the computer desk, and the TV stand) so we don't need as much truck space. We also have to decide if we want to bring the piano (or moreso if it is practical to bring it).

We have 3 kitty cats that we go back and forth on. They were our first babies while we struggled with infertility and leaving them behind breaks my heart. We are waiting to hear how many pets we can have, if any. Hopefully we can just bring all 3 with us. Which of course means figuring out how to get them there but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

I can't believe in just over 3 weeks we are leaving Michigan.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We have applied for a place to live

Last night I was once again going over all the info from the various apartments we had found and still unable to decide. Then a friend suggested i check out where we found a beautiful condo to rent in an amazing area and right in our price range. I called the listing agent which kicked straight to voice mail so I tried a couple other numbers I found. The first one thought I must have been making the rent number up because, "I rent these condos out furnished for $700 a week and I'm booked through next March," so that told me I needed to really jump on this. I found the office number for the listing agent and spoke with another agent who has been super helpful and kind. I faxed the application and overnighted the fees. He said he will not process any other applications on the property, so as long as we are approved we have an amazing place to live for the year. Hopefully this will all be finalized by the middle of next week.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Made it Pretty

I have finally made the blog pretty. Hope you like it!

We have narrowed down our list of apartments to 4 places. I have my AZ friends finding out more about the specific areas for me. So far it doesn't sound like any of them are as great as they sound on paper and over the phone, but what can we expect with such a low budget.