Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another House Bites The Dust

So there we were, August of 2009 moving into a great house in the tiny village of Stretham. Our kids were enrolled in the local primary school and we had bought their uniforms and they were all set for school to start.
Fast forward seven months to February 2010 and we still love the house but the kids weren't doing so well in school and their social lives had hit an incredible low. They were no longer thriving outgoing children but kids just surviving day to day.
At the end of February I was scheduled for a short break back to Kansas to visit a friend who just had her third baby. Through a few twists of fate and promptings from the Spirit I ended up canceling the trip. Kevin had the week off to watch the kids in my absence and opted to still stay home. We were able to assess our family situation together and decided we needed to make a few changes.
We started by checking out the DoD school that was offered at the base for service members children. We loved it and instantly felt like this was the place for our kids. We enrolled them to start the next week and let the primary school know that the kids would no longer be attending.
The only draw back of this decision was that the kids would have a very long bus ride to get to school. In England even though things may be 12 miles away as the crow flies it will still take you about 30-40 minutes to get there because of a general lack of straight and direct routes between two places. So it was a ten minute drive from our house to the bus stop in Ely and another 45 minutes by bus to the school. And they had to do it all again at the end of the day.
This is something we felt we were willing to do for at least the rest of the school year but we knew this summer there would have to be a change in our housing situation to get the kids closer to school.
With this in mind we put our names on the base housing list at the housing office indicating that we wanted a house on the base where the kids school was located. And decided that if we didn't get a house we would still be moving somewhere with a smaller commute time for the kids.
This would also change our ward boundaries so in an investigative step we attended what would be our potential new ward. They weren't too crazy so it seemed like all the pieces were falling into place.
It also turned out that there were two families in the ward that lived in some of the houses that we qualified for on the base. As luck would have it they were both moving out in the summer and the houses were coming available. One of the families let us invite ourselves over and we were able to take a peek inside their home.
We were feeling better and better about our decisions and were prepared to wait until summer for a house.
The kids immediately adjusted to their new school and teachers, made lots of friends and were soon back to the upbeat kids that we knew and loved.
A couple months later, around the middle of May, I was checking in the housing office to see where we were on the list and if anything was coming available. Little did they know that I knew that there was a house that was supposed to be coming available at the end of May. The big problem was that even we thought we qualified for the house we were mistaken. It was in the next category that we did not qualify for because of Kevin's rank.
So what we thought was two houses coming available in the summer turned out to be just one house. The downside of that was there were two people ahead of us on the housing list that wanted a house on the base as well. So our chances were looking pretty slim.
We didn't know what else to do so we prayed and fasted and hoped for the best. The best being that the two other people would have found a house that they loved and were happy and didn't want to move.
About a month later on the last day of school, I was headed to the base to pick the kids up from school and take Eli to the end of the year cub scout party. I thought I would have enough time to go grocery shopping beforehand but by the time I got out of the house and to the base I was running behind and didn't have enough time for shopping but I did have extra time and thought that maybe I should go over to the housing office and check on things.
It was a prompting that brought good and bad news.
The bad news was that someone else on the list ahead of us had changed their preference to the base we wanted. So now three people would have to say no to the one house that would be coming available.
After this discovery I checked the three bedroom housing list to see if there was anyone wanting a house on the same base as us. Miraculously there wasn't. By this point I had been stalking the street where the houses are at on the base and I knew that someone in the three bedrooms had just moved in or was moving out. So I asked the lady at the desk if she knew of anything coming available and whether she thought it was a good gamble to switch from the four bedroom to the three bedroom list. She went in the back to check another book and came back saying, "I can't give out any information as to whether something is coming available or not." But the way she said it was her way of telling me that something was.
So we had to decide if we wanted to waive a bedroom and switch lists. Kevin of course was flying and couldn't be reached and he had to sign the paper changing us to the other list. As soon as he got home I told him everything and he agreed that we should make the switch to the other list. We went in the next day and signed the paper and actually ended up meeting with the lady who is second in charge.
Personally I thought she was working in the wrong office. She was sweet and polite and sympathetic to our plight of limited housing options available to us,not exactly the temperament that any housing office is known for. We also went and knocked on the door of the house where I had seen the boxes at and sure enough they were headed out and of course let us look at the house. It is nice to know sometimes what you are getting yourself into.
So here is the rough timeline of how things happened. Thursday I went in and found out the bad/good news. Friday we went in and switched lists and finally felt like someone in housing office might actually want to give us a house. Monday and Tuesday I called and talked to the lady that was filling in for our lady who is always sick or on vacation which is okay because she should work for the housing office, it suits her{wink, wink}. I didn't get an answer either day because this person had to talk to that person and they didn't ever seem to be around at the right moments (haven't these people ever heard of cell phones). And on Wednesday they formally offered us the house and told us we could set up a time to go look at it (which I already had but went back so Kevin could see it). We saw the house on Thursday and accepted it, of course, the same day.
It then took a few weeks for them to schedule Kevin to get in and sign all the paperwork. We told our landlady about the house offer. And when I say we I mean I made Kevin do it. We scheduled movers and made ready for the big day.
We finally moved in on July 20th and things couldn't be better. All the boxes were unpacked by the weekend. Kevin installed some shelves on Saturday. I have been working on getting the house outfitted so it is functional and feels like home. I barely see the kids for most of the day because they are off on this adventure or that, playing with friends on the street. We are expecting two new neighbors at the end of the street sometime soon and hopefully they will have more kids to add to the mix.
We, and by we I mean I, closed up the last house, got it clean and ready for a final check by the letting agency and said goodbye to another chapter in our lives. Even though Kevin didn't change stations and it was a relatively local move it still drastically changed our circumstances and our surroundings. We love the house, me because of the garbage disposal and American size washer and dryer, the kids because of the location and all the new friends, and Kevin, I think, finally feels like this is our home and not just a house like the other one was.
We have been to our new ward a few times, my 25th ward in thirty years, ugh. And the kids are excited to start school in a few weeks...and I'm excited for them too.