Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Exotic ....... Idaho???!!?!

We may be moving to Idaho! (Yes - the home-state of Napoleon Dynamite)

Jason has been offered a job on the U of I campus -- which is a school that offers a certified Forestry program and is accepting post-baccalaureate students. Working on-campus would allow him to get some of his classes for free which would be a huge bonus (the out-of-state tuition is CRAZY!).

We're heading there there tomorrow to see if we can find a place to live and would appreciate your prayers with our search.

Idaho has some pretty spectacular mountains, lakes & rivers --

Images from here

Unfortunately, we won't be living in the midst of those :-)
Here's some pictures from our visit to UofI last week ... still pretty, just not quite so dramatic:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

And, life changes in a moment

The past few weeks have been filled with a lot of wonderful time with family & friends, but also with some great heartache and a lot of stress. I have been reminded again and again of how difficult life can be ... and how it can change in the blink of an eye.

- a long-long-time family friend never recovered from an emergency gall bladder surgery, leaving behind his wife of 66 years
- my cousin's sweet baby boy lost his battle against health issues he'd had since birth - he was only a few months older than Luke
- a friend who's younger than me shared her recent diagnosis of MS, noting that the damage is so extensive that her doctor estimates she's had the disease for 10+ years
- one of our favorite Vermonters breaks his hip and ends up in assisted living - his wife is left having to sell the house he built with his own hands just to cover the costs
- several friends have husbands struggling with serious depression, addictions and more

... and it feels like the list goes on. Life is just so hard sometimes. I am overwhelmed by it.

While our personal struggles have been nothing compared with the above, we have had a few things come up that have caught us off guard and left us feeling a bit like we're on some sort of scavenger hunt to figure out our future. Each clue being more confusing and seeming to send us off in a completely different direction.

When we returned from Guatemala, our ideal hope was to find a caretaking job on the West Coast, giving us a year to get state residency so that Jason could attend one of the university's offering the Forestry program the following year. After we were into somewhat serious talks with both the position in Sonoma County and also on Eliza Island, Jason found out that none of the West Coast schools accept students working toward a second bachelor's degree. Ugh :-(

In the meantime, the Sonoma position told us we were their first pick and Eliza island gave us a formal job offer (contingent on a two year commitment). We should have felt so happy about both of these offers, but knowing that Jason couldn't go to school in either state made us hesitate. We really, really wanted to make the Eliza island position work. It would have given us a bunch of new skills, housing and a salary. It really seemed like the right thing to do. But two years (and a variety of other issues) ... we just couldn't do it.

So ... we still do not know what we're doing and it's beginning to really wear us down. Jason's been researching schools in Idaho, Montana and Arizona (who DO accept post-baccalaureate students) and looking for jobs in/around those locations. We'll see what turns up.

We did have a bit of fun on Monday. Our friends Derek & Jenna invited out to the Coeur d'Alene lake and rented a couple of the stand-up paddle boards for the afternoon. It was a perfectly warm and beautiful day. And, Luke got to hang out with his {older & beautiful} girlfriend, Paige.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The NorthWest

We arrived at Jason's parents house on Monday after an eight day road trip. As always after that type of travel it was so good to feel like we could land for a while. We hit WAY more traffic than we have ever hit on one of our road trips. Not fun with a baby in the back seat.

One of our traffic stops (literally all traffic was stopped for close to two hours) in this beautiful spot with Mt. Shasta in the distance --

Saying goodbye to my sister, Bonnie, after a great few days together. Super hard to say goodbye when we have no idea when we'll get to see each other again.

Hanging out with more family - my aunt and cousin and kiddos in Oregon.

My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Penny moved from my hometown area up to Oregon this past year and I'd thought I might never see her again, but we found ourselves 10-15 miles from her new home and had to pop in!

Hanging out with the Stagers - friends of Jason's from Spokane - and meeting their sweet new baby, Kylie.

We'd planned to visit a fellow group member from our Peace Corps experience while in Seattle - Jamie surprised us with a visit from Amanda, another volunteer from our group and my roomie for our first couple weeks of homestay in Tonga.

Here are the three of us eight years ago at a Tongan beach with some of our host-sisters.

And now, with couple kiddos on our hips in Jamie's lovely backyard in Seattle.

Our Jeep looks right at home in the northwest!

Finally in Spokane and hanging out with Jason's nieces --

We've already spent a couple days with the family over in Idaho at lake Cour d Alene. All the smoke from Washington's wildfires made everything look a little eerie.

Luke, loving the swimming pool AND eating meat like a man!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A return to island life perhaps??

This is Eliza Island, Washington (pronounced El-ee-za)

image from here

We got to interview on Monday for a caretaking position on this private 140 acre island located near Washington's San Juan Islands. We have a second interview this evening and are looking forward to seeing if we're the right fit for the position :-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Leaving California

We are on the road again ... today we will cross into Oregon on our way to visit Jason's family in Spokane. Yet another departure is difficult, especially when we aren't sure when we will get to return. Saying goodbye does not get any easier and I'm finding that when we don't have anything close to a set return date, it makes it even harder. I'm working on reminding myself how fortunate we are to be basically on vacation right now (unemployed & homeless just doesn't have the ring to it) and how great it will be to see Jason's family. We are also incredibly blessed to have friends & family to stay with our entire trip north.

Reading grandpa's photo ad -- since I can remember, my Dad has picked up and poured over this free weekly magazine with cars for sale in the area. Luke is already on the right track!

My brother &  his wife, Ashley, joined us for a goodbye breakfast on our last morning at my parents.

Celebrating my nephew, Levi's 5th birthday with these sundae cupcakes - delicious!

Luke's big-boy cousins

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The pleasures of home

We've been hanging out at my parents house for two weeks now and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. This is the house I grew up in -- my parents have lived here for 40 years -- and it is always lovely to come for a visit. I love cuddling into their kitchen nook and sitting in all the beautiful spaces in their yard. It is peaceful, relaxing and homey.

The sun hits the grass in their pasture every evening in such a glorious way, changing it all to gold. I love it!

In spite of how much I love being here, two nights ago I finally said (& processed) the words  ... "we don't live in Guatemala anymore."  That opened the floodgates and I've been struggling to keep myself from crying over it since then. I am missing all that is Guatemala so much and most especially my friends there.  I am still struggling to adjust to being back. I made my first trip to Target last week and knew I'd be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of "stuff" available to buy, but I was completely blown away to see that there is now a refrigerated pet food section. After having been living in place with such poverty, it is hard for me to accept what this seems to imply about our priorities and makes me realize I still have a lot of re-adjusting to do.

Here's some of our re-adjustment activities :)

Enjoying the close proximity of the beach and these adorable otters!

A California volcano -- not quite like a Guatemalan one!

Camping at Shaver Lake --

 Spending LOTS and LOTS of time outside

Enjoying the fruits of the season -- apricots (my parent's trees were loaded!) -- and jam making

A delicious coffee date without Luke (thanks to my parents!)