Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We're Officially Virginians!

Hello, dear readers!  I'm back--after being AWOL from this blog for over a month (the longest I've ever gone since I opened up shop at String of Pearls way back in March of 2011).  Here is a link to my last post, written on March 13 in preparation for the house closing that would take place less than a week later.  In it, I talked about leaving behind a letter for the new owners of what we thought was our "forever home" in NH, but was actually just the happy setting for a really long and fulfilling chapter in the life of the Pearl family.  (If you haven't read it, click on the link--and maybe have some tissues handy.)
Now a new chapter has begun, and as tough as it was to turn that page after more than a quarter of a century, to drive away from that beloved Colonial nestled in the woods and head south to VA, we are already starting to fall in love with our new home and our new town--not to mention our new life.  There were tears leading up to and immediately following the big move, don't get me wrong; but the rewards we have reaped already in the short time we've been down here are incalculable.  Life is always changing, evolving and going through new seasons; and although I've never been all that good at accepting change, I can already see that this is going to be a wonderful, blessed chapter in our family's story.

So...we're Virginians now.  And check out the sweet welcome basket our three VA boys and their wives had waiting to greet us when we got here.
I'm writing this post at my perfect little writing desk, situated between two windows in the office my husband and I set up in one of the four upstairs bedrooms in our new house.  An office with two work spaces, two brand new matching rolling desk chairs, two printers, two file cabinets--well, you get the picture.  It's an office for two (a "his 'n hers"!), and before this we really never even had a dedicated office space for one.  I mean, we did have an area of the basement that had a desk and a file cabinet, and that's where our desktop computer and our printer were always located.  But once my husband transformed our old garage into the "new room" (that is, a large man cave/sports room/family room) and the boys stopped using the basement as a hangout, the office down there started to feel a bit like a dungeon, and we started doing our work on our laptops, using random tables all over the first floor of the house.  It feels so luxurious to have a whole room that is an honest-to-goodness office.
By golly, with an office like this at my disposal, I may even start writing again.  (This blog post is baby step #1.  And forgive me if it is disjointed and all over the place--I just really don't even know where to begin, so much has happened since I last blogged!)

So on March 18 we closed on our old house, and that same day we left for VA.  We each drove a car over to Logan Airport in Boston and left one at my husband's employee parking lot, then got into the other one and drove down together to leave it at one of our son's houses.  We got about an hour or two of sleep there, then our boy gave us a ride to the airport in DC, we flew back to Boston to get the other car, and we immediately turned around and made the trip south again, this time staying with another son and his family.  Phew!  That was pretty tiring, doing back-to-back road trips down the East Coast.  At our age, no less.  But we survived all of that.  Then on March 21, we closed on our new house, and that same day, the moving truck arrived with all of our belongings.  To say that it was a whirlwind experience is putting it mildly.
It seems like yesterday that I was painting over the beloved pigs on the walls of my old kitchen

and sweeping up the last traces of Pearl family history littering the floor of the attic, leaving it as clean as a whistle for the new owners.
A quick aside before I go on: I love the random items that ended up in the dustpan that day, because they were such sweet reminders of the boys who'd lived in that house and the memories they'd created there over the years.  There was a dinosaur toy and a Pokémon card; a picture of an NFL player, and also one from a zoo trip years ago; there was Easter grass from their baskets, along with a red Christmas bow and some faux Christmas greenery.  I got teary-eyed when I looked at that pile, amazed that the very last sweep-through of that once-crowded attic would produce such a perfect collection of mementos.
Back to the move-in day now.  I am ashamed to admit that I spent most of it in tears.  Those poor movers--every time they asked me where they should put some piece of furniture, I could hardly answer them.  So many boxes ended up in the basement, because I had no idea where I wanted them to go.   It was all so overwhelming.  The house seemed much too small to hold all the stuff that they'd packed on the truck in NH, even though we'd filled two dumpsters and made countless trips to drop donations off at Goodwill in preparation for downsizing. I was missing my old house something fierce that day.  I was missing that enormous walk-up attic with all of its glorious storage space, for one thing!

But some of my emotional fragility was caused by the stress of moving (it's a thing, I hear) and sheer exhaustion, I'm sure.  Because it didn't take long for my nesting instincts to kick in, and within a couple of days, I was sort of falling in love with our new house.  I was enjoying the challenges of figuring out how to fill in all the new spaces and make it really feel like "ours."

When I packed our two cars to the gills with all of the too-precious-to-go-on-the-moving-truck items (like family photographs, letters that my husband wrote to me when he was in college at Notre Dame and I was at Holy Cross, and hand-drawn cards that our boys made for us in grade school), I included some decorative things that I knew I wanted to hang up almost immediately, so that the new place would feel like home as soon as possible.  I knew that if I let the movers pack them, it might take weeks to find them amidst the piles of boxes.  Among those things we brought in the cars with us were canvases I'd had made from photos of my precious pigs, and the metal star that used to hang on our front door in NH.

While the movers were busy bringing our stuff into the house, my husband heard me hammering nails into the walls.  He said that for a second he was surprised, and he wanted to say, "Really?  You're hanging pictures NOW?"  But then he realized that this is the way I operate, this is what makes me happy.  And after all the tears he'd seen me cry in the previous weeks as we prepared to move out of our old house, he just wanted me to be happy.  (He's the best, you know.  Absolutely the best.  Just sayin'.)

So within hours of taking ownership of our new home, we already had a few gallery walls completed.

This one in the kitchen--with my pigs taking center stage.
And this one in the family room--it's my little homage to our life in NH.
That's all the home décor I'm going to subject you to right now.  Let me know if you'd be interested in a more in-depth house tour in the future (it has been suggested to me by some people who have seen the pictures I've posted recently on Instagram).

So we're settling in and starting to get familiar with our surroundings.  We like the small, charming Southern town and our friendly new parish.  But what we like best is being less than 40 minutes from two of our boys and their families, and about an hour and a half (soon to be more like 50 minutes) from another.  We have seen them all so much already--and now we can do this without getting on an airplane!  We had all of them over for an Easter brunch, along with a college friend of two of our daughters-in-law, one of my husband's brothers, his wife, and their daughter and son-in-law, and one of my husband's sisters, her daughter, and two of her grandchildren.  It is so wonderful to be able to host a big family holiday celebration that doesn't involve people having to travel long distances!
All three of our daughters-in-law that live down here are currently expecting.  And here is the drawing my very talented fourth son created to announce the impending birth of his first child(ren):
Yes, there are three eggs in that nest.  They are expecting triplets!!  I'd say that we got down here just in time, wouldn't you?  And we didn't even know this was happening when we made the sudden decision to move to VA about a year or so ahead of when we originally thought we might do such a thing.  God was certainly giving us a not-so-gentle nudge in this direction, and now we can see why He thought it would be better if we moved sooner rather than later.  There will be five new grandchildren born here in VA in 2017 (bringing our total to a dozen!), and we think we'll be able to give our kids a lot more help and support with their growing families now that we're all practically neighbors.

I have to think of a way to finish off this post, which could go on forever and ever, I fear, now that I've finally ended my month-long Internet silence!  It's coming to a close soon, I promise...

One of the hardest things about leaving our old house was that our youngest son, who has never lived in any other home and has always been quite attached to that one (as you know already, if you've clicked on that link at the beginning of this post and read what he wrote about it!), is currently stationed in Germany and won't be coming back to the States for good for about a year-and-a-half.  Selling his childhood home when he is living so far away, and isn't married yet with a house of his own, seemed like a rather heartless thing to do.

Not long after we moved in, I was coming back from a shopping trip, and as I drove into our new neighborhood I was struck by how pretty it was, with the outline of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.  I pulled over and snapped this picture and texted it to him, saying that although I knew it wasn't the same as our old neighborhood, it wasn't too shabby.
He sent a humorous text saying that he didn't like it.  I texted back, "I will always miss our old house.  Always.  And I will miss living in a town and an area I knew really well, and running into people who knew you guys when you were small.  It's hard."  But the flip side, I told him, was that we had seen two of his brothers and their wives that day, we were babysitting two of the grandchildren the next day, and the day after that, his other brother was coming over to visit our new house with his little son.  "Those are the things that make this move all worth it.  But I still get a little weepy sometimes.  Maybe I always will.  Even though I really, really like our new town and the new house, and I think you will, too."  Etc.

Here is the text response my baby sent back.

He is the best.  Absolutely the best.  Just sayin'.  (It's a trait he inherited from his dad.  All my boys have it, this best-ness.)

So that's it from the great state of Virginia (which is for Lovers, you know).  For now, anyway.  And I promise--or perhaps I should say that I hope--it won't be another month before you hear from me again.


  1. So much to say about this post but let's sum it up with YAY! I am glad the move went well! I am glad you're settling in. (And yes, I'd love a house tour!) And YAY for 5 new Pearls!! Wow, what an immense blessing for your family.

    1. I think that house tour is coming. That would be fun to do.

      And thank you for sharing in the joy of our family's growth. We are feeling SO blessed!

  2. Awww, I love this! And YES, house tour please! I love your boy's response to you .... he is so sweet. Can't wait to see you guys again, but until then I look forward to reading your blog!!!

    1. He kills me, that one. <3

      We will be up there in early May. I miss you and can't wait to see you, too! (I'll try to keep up the streak of regular blogging in the meantime. ;))

  3. Yay! So glad you're back. I've been checking your blog every day now for weeks! :-)

    1. Awww, you guys are the best. You make me want to keep at it. (Hopefully now that things are settled, I can.)

  4. No 4 Son's picture threw me until it suddenly dawned on me what I was seeing. So excited!! Congratulations!!! You have indeed got there just in time!! And wow your other son had twins and now this one triplets, are multiples in earlier generations of your family?
    After looking closer on instagram at your Easter gathering I thought the gentleman next to your husband must be his brother :-) As always your youngest has a beautiful soul.
    Once again Congrats!!! So thrilled

    1. You have a good eye, Erin. The man next to my husband is one of his younger brothers (the brother who looks most like him). And the dark-haired woman up front is his older sister.

      Twins do run in my husband's family (his dad had some cousins who were twins, and then those cousins also had twins). Not on my side, though.

      My youngest melts me sometimes with the things he says. I'm really hoping that when he comes here to visit, it'll feel like home. Thanks for your enthusiasm--it really was the right thing to do, moving here. We knew that already...and then there was the news of the triplets, which put the icing on the cake.

    2. My husband's cousin and wife had natural triplets. His dad was a twin and her dad was a twin and voila. They're the same age as my oldest. I remember they had a roster of mother, mother-in-law and sisters come to help in the early days, each had a day, so she could breastfeed them all.
      Keeping Braveheart in my prayers

    3. Her parents moved down here last year, so both grandmothers will be close by to help. And my #3 son's wife and she are like best friends, and they live minutes apart. So she'll have lots of help.

  5. Oh my goodness, triplets?!? Way to one-up big brother 😜 Thank goodness you guys will be nearby to help out! We're members at a winery midway between our place and yours - we'll have to get together for a glass one of these days!

    1. Ha ha--in an all-boy house, there is always a healthy sense of competition! So yes, son #4 is now the winner of the multiples contest!! :)

      It would be wonderful to meet at the winery someday. (Maybe if we do, I'd love to get some eggs from Peregrine Hills Farm. I have a boy who would totally appreciate true farm-fresh eggs.)

  6. Laura, you are blessed.
    Very exciting news about grandchildren coming this year!
    I am sure you will have a room for your youngest that makes him feel at home until he has a home of his own.
    Best wishes to you!

    1. Thank you so much, Cathy. Yes, we are blessed. I felt bad about moving so far away from my mom; but we're still planning to spend most of our summers up north.

  7. I'm so glad your loving it!! This is so great for your family, Laura. :) And your son's text! How sweet!

    1. Thanks for your enthusiasm and support! :)