In the summer we started looking ahead to Aaron’s graduation in May 2011 and the relocation that would entail. We decided to try to sell our house. In this market, we figured we’d need it to have some time on the market. As my sisters helped us pack up clutter and stage our house, things began to feel a smidge less settled. The slide, basketball hoop, play kitchen, and toy basket had to vanish from the family room. When the kids were looking for their toys, they started to ask accusingly, “Is it in storage or did you sell it?” A new baby was on her way, yet we were disassembling the crib and changing table and tucking the baby tub, pack ’n’ play, and all things baby into the crawl space. Getting unready for a new baby was a bit unsettling, going completely against any nesting instinct.
Well, the house didn’t sell, apparently because we have power lines behind it. (So sorry, we’ll have those moved for you.) Just before Halloween, some friends from our ward called to see if we’d be willing to rent the house instead. We said that we didn’t really want to be landlords. Then we prayed about it and felt like the opportunity was a blessing. So we called them back and said, “only kidding, we’d love to rent it to your friends who want to move in tomorrow! But can you give us a week?” So we madly got a storage unit and began shoving heaps of stuff into it in a rather hurried and harried way. We sold and gave away nearly all of our furniture. I needed it to go fast so I listed it for super cheap on Craigslist. Only minutes after I clicked “Post” I had a phone call, and less than an hour later, a lady had come and cleaned out our entire family room and living room. We had only made the decision to move out a day before and I was already standing in a completely empty room. That’s when it finally sunk in: we were actually moving. Leaving our friends and family behind. Leaving our house. It was our first house, and we (OK, mostly Aaron) had worked so hard to really make it ours! I realized how much I was going to miss it! What a great 4 years we’d enjoyed there. I stood in our barren front room and just started to cry.
Before I knew it, our week was over and we were moving in to Melayna’s unfinished basement. Living with Melayna was pretty much a nonstop party. The only disadvantage was sleep deprivation, really. It was great to spend the entire Christmas season with her and Katy. You might think that November 6 isn’t the Christmas season yet, but at Melayna’s house, it’s in full swing! We had the tree up and decorated before we’d even been there a week! We pretty much took over her house; she is so generous and made us feel as at home as we could possibly be. For the first couple weeks, we kept going to our old ward that I LOVE because I was the primary chorister and the Primary Program was November 21. Then we were in Texas for Church the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and at my parents’ ward the day after Christmas to hear Ashley play the cello, so we only popped in to Melayna’s ward for 3 Sundays. I felt like a visitor even though we really were official, records and all. All of this gave us a bit of a transient, unsettled feeling. Not to mention the living-with-your-storage feeling we had going on down in that basement! We officially have too much stuff!
Our time with Melayna flew by. Before we knew it, it was time to head north to Montana for Aaron’s 4-month rural rotation. Even as we drove out New Year’s Day, we still didn’t quite know where we were going to be living up here. The hospital had told us they had a free apartment available to us. Well free sounded pretty good, so we were planning on making it work, even though they warned us that it was small. An email a week before we were heading out provided some details that made me wonder if it was so doable. They had called it a "small apartment," but from the description, I could tell it was really just a hotel room. No bedroom, no kitchen. I began to wonder, “How can I live like that with 3 kids through a Montana winter? How will I feed my family on a daily basis? My only real hobby is cooking. What will I do all the time without a kitchen?” It sounded crazy and my family tried to convince me to just stay in Colorado and let Aaron have the Montana adventure by himself. But back in November, we had fasted and prayed about our Montana living situation, and as we continued to pray about it, I felt peace. I knew it would work out, even if I didn’t yet know how. I felt reassured that we wouldn’t all have to squish into “the room” for the entire 4 months. So off we went. We (OK, Aaron) stuffed everything we could fit into the back of the Excursion and drove north. It was 10:30 at night and we were still a couple hours from Sidney (Montana, not Australia), so we decided to stop at a lovely EconoLodge in Miles City. Just after we’d gotten the kids settled into their beds, Aaron got a text from his nephew (the one who lives in Sidney but spends his winters in California with his bees) saying that the random South African dude who was living in his house wasn’t coming back, so his house was available and we were welcome to use it for the winter. We felt so completely grateful that we couldn’t (and still can’t) quite express it. Isn’t having the support of a loving extended family the best? We love our family!
Sunday we went to Church in Miles City, Montana, where we were visitors once again. As were hanging up our coats, I heard someone call out exuberantly, “Aaron Dahle!” It was a guy Aaron had grown up with in the Sidney ward. He and his wife invited us over for dinner after Church and made us feel right at home. Aaron felt especially at home to be back in Montana where the men think like he does. Survival! I guess you can take a man out of Montana but you can’t take Montana out of a man.
After a lovely afternoon with them, we made the rest of the drive to Sidney. We decided to stay the night in “the room.” It was everything we were afraid it would be. One room with a full-sized bed, a recliner, a small microwave, a fridge the size of an average microwave, and a small bathroom with a standing shower. We used the little microwave to heat up some canned soup we'd gotten Saturday night in preparation for Sunday. We may or may not have forgotten spoons in that preparation.
I sat on the bed at 8:30 silently reading while the kids were supposed to be falling asleep. The bedside lamp seemed to be keeping the kids awake. So I tried reading with a flashlight. Then Hazel woke up just as the kids were finally drifting off. I tried to quiet her before the kids woke up, but it didn’t work. So I retucked them in bed before feeding Hazel in the dark, since my balancing-a-flashlight-to-allow-me-to-keep-reading-while-nursing skills are not quite up to par. As I sat in the dark room, I felt so relieved to know that I didn't have to try to cheerfully make this set up work for the five us us all winter!
We moved into Christopher’s house on Monday morning and have settled in quite nicely. When we walked in and saw the beautiful, spacious kitchen connected to a big open great room, I felt like it would be pretty easy to feel at home here! What could be better than baking the frigid winter away in a newly remodeled kitchen?
We are only going to be here for four months, and we have no idea where we’re going after May, but somehow, we’re feeling more settled than we have in a long time.