Reflections Upon the Memories We’ve Made in Our Home

As much as I love adventure and trying new things, I have to agree with Jaime, “Moving stinks, y’all.” It is time consuming and chaotic – full of small trials and frustrations.

We found out we were moving in June. After numerous trips “back home” namely to secure housing, we packed a few things and moved in with my in-laws the first week of August. To make a long story short, we had made an offer on a short-sale home in June and yet didn’t close and receive the keys to our new home until the first week of October.

We were obligated to pay rent for the full month of October as outlined in the rental agreement we signed. We thereby decided to use the time to paint the interior and repair a few things before we made the physical move.

Our moving process has therefore been drawn out and prolonged longer than I had anticipated upon submitting our offer. As we continue to wait as patiently as possible for everything to fall into place, I have been reminiscing about the houses we have called home over the past 20 years.

Patrick and I were married in June of 1995 – just after I graduated from university. In the years since, my husband and I have moved 6 times (3 different cities, 2 different states).

Reflections Upon the Memories We’ve Made in Our Home

Over the years, there have been three locations that have only been temporary and there have been three we have truly called home. It is these final three I would like to reflect upon now.

Making Memories in Our Home @EvaVarga.netOregon Coast

The first home Patrick and I purchased together. I worked in the public schools – first as an elementary science specialist and later as a fifth grade classroom teacher. Patrick was the pharmacy director at the local hospital.

I traveled to Ecuador to study rainforest caterpillars.

We undertook two remodeling projects: creating a rear deck that wrapped around the eastern and southern sides of the house, and extensive landscape improvements to the front yard.

We welcomed our first child, born in September. Every year my father reminds us that it rained on the day she was born, helping to quench the flames of the Biscuit Fire that had been raging in the southern part of the state for weeks.  I thus became a full-time mommy.

Making Memories in Our Home @EvaVarga.netCentral Oregon

In 2003, Patrick accepted a position at a hospital in Central Oregon where he had an opportunity for growth. We moved to Central Oregon in the fall, just shortly after we celebrated our daughter’s first birthday. A year and a half later, we welcomed our second child.

Patrick was gradually promoted and was eventually the CEO of one of the hospitals in the Cascade Healthcare Community system.

Making Memories in Our Home @EvaVarga.netI rediscovered my love for running. I trained for and completed 4 marathons. [ Note to self – I sure miss it and vow to rediscover this joy once again. ]

It was here that we began our homeschool journey. Take a peak at why we initially made the decision and how we began.

We volunteered as living history interpreters, Homeschooling in 1880. We made service learning a priority and volunteered regularly.

Making Memories in Our Home @EvaVarga.netWe undertook several remodeling projects: installing a door off the master bedroom for access to a hot tub (future plan), moderate landscape improvements to the front yard, and extensive changes to the fixtures, floor tile, shower, bathtub tile, and counter of the master and hall bathrooms.

We traveled abroad for the first time as a family, visiting my ancestral home in Norway. Read more about our travels in Discovering Scandinavia.

I absolutely LOVED this home. Sadly, we only lived here a couple more months before we uprooted the family and moved to California. The biggest challenge we had encountered as a family.

Making Memories in Our Home @EvaVarga.netNorthern California

Unsure of the future, we made the decision to rent when we first arrived in California. As the years passed, renting provided more flexibility than we had previously experienced and thus we elected to continue.

Renting enabled us to travel aboard more extensively than I ever imagined: China, Ecuador, Perú, and most recently Italy and Greece.

We spent many summer days at Whiskeytown Lake.

We found letterboxes all over the state. We even spent an entire day letterboxing at Hog Plateau and thereafter enjoyed the annular eclipse.

We started STEM Club and enjoyed learning about a variety of science, technology, engineering, and math activities with other homeschool families.

Fish Camp 2013Geneva discovered her love of fly fishing and attended Fish Camp on a merit scholarship.

We immersed ourselves in our Scandinavian heritage and devoted ourselves to promoting Sons of Norway. The kids attended heritage camp twice (they are already looking forward to 2016 and plan to return to the same camp).

We built a family around a shared love for swimming. I haven’t blogged much about our swimming experiences, but like most athletes, we’ve had our ups and downs. You might like my post, I Am NOT a Soccer Mom (or How to Avoid Child Burnout).

We have cultivated a love of music and musicianship in each of our children, Growing a Musician in 3 Easy Steps.

Our son expressed his interest in earning his pilot’s license – a goal we will begin in earnest when he turns 11 and is a little taller.

 

I believe Jamie says it best and thus I close with a quote from my blogging friend at See Jamie Blog,

Part of me will be sad to say goodbye — but a house is just a shell where the memories happen, and I’m ready to start making memories in a new home. 

We now return to the Oregon Coast. I look forward to making memories in our new home.

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness

Years ago, we sat down together as a family and composed our family mission statement:

We are committed to being happy and enjoying a more simplified life; and agree to hold ourselves and each other accountable to attitudes and behaviors that support those outcomes.

We revisit our mission statement periodically during our family meetings and are continually striving to live a more balanced, joyful lifestyle. One of the topics that has come up often is our desire as a family to return home to Oregon.

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness @EvaVarga.netOur parents are aging and are in need of our help. We want to be there for them. Though we make trips home regularly – it just isn’t enough. The kids long to have a stronger bond with their grandparents. My husband had thereby been actively seeking work in Oregon over the past year. As a hospital administrator, the opportunities were rare.

In early May, we talked about the possibility of looking at pharmacy positions and stepping away from hospital administration. This would be a huge change for him professionally and a decision he would have to make on his own. I assured him we would stand behind him no matter the path he chose to follow.

A few weeks later, he came home from work one evening and stated, “I’m ready to look at alternatives. I am open to the possibility of returning to pharmacy.” No sooner did he make this decision and he received a phone call from a former colleague who shared that he would be retiring. “Would you like your Pharmacy Director position again?

Coincidentally, we had plans to be in Oregon that weekend and thus he made arrangements to interview. They offered him the job that afternoon and our world was sent spinning.

We debated if this was the right decision for us as a family. My daughter spoke eloquently, “I want the dad I have when we are on vacation. I want you to be present. I think we should try this, Dad. If this doesn’t work, we can try something else.

Stepping down from a career path he had worked so hard for was the bravest thing he could have done. It wasn’t an easy decision yet we have been working towards a more joyful life for years.

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness

Based on our personal journey, our conversations, and our observations, here is a list of the 4 most important things we have done to simplify our life:

1. Eliminate Possessions

Keep Only What Brings You Joy – Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values.

My son seems to have learned this lesson early in life. His only “toys” are Lego and HO trains. Though they have taken over his room – two tables take up the entire floor space for his Lego city – there is little else other than a book shelf (one shelf is dedicated to Lego – books, catalogs, magazines, and instruction manuals) and his dresser.

Invest the time to remove non-essential possessions from your life. For inspiration, consider reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing On the same note, stop buying things that you don’t need.

Downsize – All the while we have lived in Redding, we have rented our home rather than buying. The repairs, lawn care, and maintenance are someone else’s problem, not ours. As a result, we have had more time to travel and enjoy quality time with one another.

While a rental is not as readily available where we are moving, as we have toured homes and considered purchasing a home again, we have considered only what we need. There are some magnificent homes on the market. As a family of four, we really don’t need a 4 or 5K square foot home.

We selected a home that reminds us a lot of the home we once owned in Bend. It has a slightly smaller footprint but it is enough. Presently it has a lawn, but we’ve decided to move forward with a xeriscaping plan to reduce the need for supplemental water from irrigation and maintenence.

2. Get Organized

A Place for Everything – Assigning a place for each object simplifies life dramatically. As described in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it is a key component in making a space less frustrating and more beautiful.

Streamline your Finances – If debt is holding you captive, reduce it. Do what you need to do to get out from under its weight.

We’ve had just one credit card these past 10 years. We use it for most all our expenses and thereby capitalize on the rewards structure. Most importantly, we pay it off each month.

Relatedly, our vehicles are paid for and we are not encumbered by monthly payments. Our only expenses are our monthly living expenses. We set aside a significant portion of our earnings to a college savings plan, our retirement fund, and of course our vacation savings.

We have only recently discovered Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” and I highly recommend his podcast. I look forward to using his Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money with the kids as we jump into the “Baby Steps” ourselves.

3. Simplify Relationships

Reduce Negative Thoughts – Resentment, bitterness, hate, and jealousy have never improved the quality of life for anyone. Forgive past hurts and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say and avoid gossip.

Without going into detail – there have been multiple occasions when others have said hurtful things to me or my husband. On occasion, when I catch myself thinking poorly of that person, I’ll stop and remind myself that it really doesn’t matter. What is important is how I feel about myself.

Strengthen Relationships or Let Them Go – Make the effort to spend time with people you like. Do not waste time keeping up with friends who bring you down or bore you. This applies to work as well. Don’t be afraid to seek out new career options if you are not happy or you don’t feel valued in your present job.

Surround yourself with people who bring you joy. Life is too short to get caught up in the drama.

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness @EvaVarga.net4. Slow Down

Screen Time – Television, movies, video games, and technology can rearrange your values. It can dominate your life and have a profound impact on your attitude. When we moved to Redding four years ago, we made the decision to eliminate television from our home. We thereby haven’t had cable for four years and haven’t missed it.

Technology is still a major component of our life, however. It is critical for the kids’ Mandarin lessons and for my work as a blogger.  We try to minimize our screen time and though we can still make improvements in this area, we are getting better at recognizing when it begins to affect our attitude.

Time Commitments – Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kid’s activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies… the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.

We have had to reevaluate this on a few occasions to avoid burnout (see my earlier post, I Am Not a Soccer Mom: How to Avoid Child Burnout). We try our best to create a balance between extracurricular activities and family life.

Sometimes it requires us to make tough decisions when conflicts arise – Do you want to go to the Junior Olympics (swim meet) or Sons of Norway heritage camp? We allow the kids to make this decision for themselves. We discuss our goals and values openly as a family.

I do my best to create a healthy balance; often setting aside personal goals (marathon training) and choosing to work on only one or two at a time. I want my children to be lifelong readers and to develop their music and language skills daily. I thereby try to model this as often as possible – setting aside 30 minutes each day to work on my own language skills, conversing with those who are fluent, and reading for leisurely and self-improvement regularly.

~ ~ ~

We are excited to return to Oregon, to return to the community in which my husband and I grew up and began our professional careers. We will be surrounded by family and childhood friends. Yet our move will be bittersweet.

It is always difficult to say good-bye. We will miss the friends we have made here in California. We will cherish the memories we have made.

Our move back to the Oregon coast will come with its own challenges. The population is significantly smaller, and likewise the homeschool community. It will take some getting used to – as with most things. Yet, we welcome the change.