Thursday, February 28, 2008

My List- Part One

Since we have yet to receive specific "marching orders" from God, I thought maybe I could give Him a little help (ha!) with this description of the "perfect" place to live. :) It is likely that it does not exist... but what's wrong with a little dreaming? :) Here's my list of key features. :)

1. Four Seasons: preferably each season of approximately the same length and intensity. Not a lot of frigid cold or scorching heat. Minimal humidity, but I am willing to put up with some as a trade-in for the excessive amounts of snow and ice we currently live with. I'd like there to be some snow; just not as much or for as long. I would also like there to be a good deal more sun than we currently see here in the Land of One Million Clouds.

2. Pretty: while I have found in my experience living in multiple different places that almost any place can be truly pretty, there are some things I find especially lovely and as I design our new home, I'd like to incorporate some of them.
-Trees: preferably aspen trees, my favorites. I also love the tall, stately, huge deciduous trees that change beautiful colors in the fall.
-Mountains: there is a great love for the majesty and beauty of the mountains, no doubt instilled by my parents and our frequent trips to the Rockies when I was a kid. I would absolutely love to live somewhere where we could just pick up and go take a hike as a family, or go camping, or just escape into a world where something bigger than us surrounds us. I'd be satisfied if mountains were driving distance away- they don't have to be in our back yard.
-Water: something about living in Michigan, especially West Michigan, has made me really come to appreciate the beauty of a large body of water- and also the fun to be had in various types of water sports. It'd be great fun to own a Jet Ski or something and be able to get out there and zoom around the water. If the water happened to be the ocean, so much the better! I have always held a great fascination for the motion and power of the waves and the seemingly endless possibilities of the seashore. I'd love to live somewhere where the music of the ocean could be part of our life.

3. Reasonably close to civilization: I like to get out and "do stuff" so I'd like to live relatively close to a larger city with interesting things to do- no further than we live from Chicago now- and I think ideally a little closer- maybe within 2 hours.

4. Reasonably far from city dwelling: While we liked the wide variety of things to do and places to eat in Phoenix, we did not like the traffic, the smog, the "packed-in" feeling of living so close to so many other people. I'd like to live somewhere where I feel like I'm still in a smaller community- someplace with nice parks and open spaces where I can see the lovely things God made instead of just the things built by human effort and design.

5. Good Restaurants: some places we'd love to live nearby would include PF Chang (or its little brother Pei Wei), Cosi, Roy's, and Chick Fil A. One of our very favorite things about Phoenix was the wide variety of restaurants to choose from. We really enjoy getting out and trying new places and also going back to old favorites. :)

6. Shopping: some sort of outlet mall would be nice. I love getting a good deal- and I'm afraid I might be one of those really dreadful people with a twisted connection between the Visa card and the pleasure centers of the brain. I am sure I get a little jolt of dopamine whenever I swipe my card for something I really wanted, and an extra dose if I've gotten a good deal! Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for when I'm paying bills. :(

Well, it's time to get our day started so I'd better wrap up for now. But this will be a regularly appearing post, because I have lots more ideas! Stay tuned!

Other contributors and commentators: What would be on your list?! What are some things I should add to mine? It's kind of fun to dream! :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


That is my mother's Blogger name. If you read the comments to my last post, you will learn that she is "Transplant" for a very good reason- she has been uprooted and transplanted more times than are easily countable- as a kid and then also as part of our moving menagerie during my growing up years. And now she has lived for more than 10 years in the unlikeliest place imaginable when she considered her future years ago: the frozen cold North of Michigan (the rest of the family has never quite gotten over our move away from Texas)! So she is truly Transplanted.

And since this blog is likely to become a long-winded conversation between my mother and me (since no one else could possibly be truly interested enough to read about the minutia of my thought processes and will only be interested in large announcements which will certainly be made on our regular blog), I have decided to invite my mother to become a contributor on this blog.

I also figured I should invite my husband to contribute... as it is his future, too. :)

Looking forward to interesting conversations in the months to come. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Start Where You Are

Sometimes when you are trying to make a decision, it is best to just start with where you are. So here we are, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. What are some pros to staying here?

1. The Spring just can't be beat- to see the world come all alive again after being dead and gone for so many months is truly inspiring.
2. Our House- has a huge jacuzzi bathtub that I love, a neighborhood we like a lot, and an unfinished basement that would be fun to see fixed up to add more space for our family to grow. Extra bonus: if we stay here, we could possibly ride out the housing market downturn and not lose money on our house. :)
3. My Job- I love working for Meijer. They have been good to me- have been super flexible with my hours, and I know and love what I do there. It would be a challenge to move to an entirely different community or state and potentially have to take another state's pharmacy law exam... ugh!
4. Fairly Low Cost of Living- it is much cheaper to live here than it is to live in Phoenix, or in many larger cities.
5. The Grass Probably Isn't Greener- it is usually true that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. Any community is going to have its downsides and troubles and probably they aren't any worse or better than what we have here.
6. Proximity to My Family- Brad's family is moving to South Carolina in '09, so they will not be close to us unless we move to SC (an unlikely scenario)... but my parents and both sisters live within just a few hours of here, so we see them frequently. It has been such a blessing in this time of life to be close to family. I would be very sad to live too far for quick day trip to see them.
7. Relationships and Roots- this is probably the number one reason I'd want to stay here. It took a good 2 years after moving here, but we finally have begun to develop deep and meaningful relationships with people that we would miss very much if we had to leave. I truly hate that "transplanted" feeling

On the flip side... what are some drawbacks to staying in Grand Rapids?

1. W-I-N-T-E-R! This winter has been the worst one I can remember! Especially now that Carolyn is here, I truly hate the cold, snowy, icy, gray, dreary, cloudy weather in the winter. Although there are some pretty moments when the snow is sparkling in a few feeble rays of sunshine and clinging to the trees like frosting in a land of gingerbread houses- it seems as though winter lasts FOREVER! I feel stuck in my house, unable to get out and go anywhere without being afraid of being smashed to bits on the roads- and if we do get out, we are severely limited on where we can go... most of the time we end up at the grocery store or the mall- and if I let Carolyn work out some of her wiggles in the play area at the mall, I am just asking for her to get sick! It seems like a never-ending cycle. I am sick of it. Right now I feel like Michigan is trying to boot us out!
2. Too Small-Town- While we like the feeling of a smaller town, it can be a little oppressive at times. There are a few good restaurants, but not really a whole lot of variety of places to eat and things to do. It would be fun to live somewhere with a little more going on.
3. Depressed Economy- Anyone who reads the news knows that Michigan isn't doing so hot with pretty much all its eggs in the downward spiraling auto industry. While the cost of living remains pretty low, it's a little bit of a bummer to live in a place where things just aren't up and moving. There's a real lack of positive "energy," for lack of a better word, here.
4. Crazy Governor with Nasty Mole- We aren't big fans of the folks up in Lansing making the tax laws that benefit the bureaucracy and those who live off it at the expense of people who dare to make a bit more than average (after much hard work and significant sacrifice). I just finished doing my taxes. I'm not a fan of Michigan tax law. And besides, Governor Granholm really should get that thing removed (but I guess I can admit that that's a side point :))
5. You Mean, We Might Stay Forever? This next move is our last forseeable relocation. God may lead us to go somewhere else later on down the line, but neither of us has that impression at this time. In all likelihood, the place we settle next will be where we stay to raise our kids and live out the majority of our lives... and when I think about that place being here, in Grand Rapids... some "free spirit" part of me feels trapped- like I'm locking myself in to never reaching beyond where we are now... my sense of adventure (which typically has to work pretty hard to get past my even deeper sense of "roots") just feels like it would be boring to stay here forever!
6. Obstetrical Saturation- this is probably the number one reason that staying here may not be a viable option for us. There are more than enough OB/GYNs in this area to meet the current demand and there really isn't a whole lot of room (that we know of) for Brad to set up the kind of practice he really wants.

So there you have it, the pros and cons list. Thanks for reading this far, Mom! :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

First Post

So we moved to Michigan 3 years ago, feeling like residency would last forever and it would be a long time before we had to make any more decisions. And now it is sneaking up upon us- We have less than a year and a half to go before we will need to begin a whole new phase of our life together. And where should we go? Should we stay here? Will we pick up and move on to a new adventure? When will we know? How will we decide?!

I guess I always figured that when the time came, we would get our "marching orders" from the Lord and I still believe we will. He has never failed to lead and guide us as we've listened with open hearts for what He has for us.

Up until fairly recently, I think I had my heart closed off in a sense. I hate moving with a passion- having done it 8 times in my life- and I'm not really anxious to do it again. The housing market where we live is one of the poorest in the country and we'd likely lose money if we tried to sell our house. It took awhile, but I feel comfortable and happy here now, with friends I would greatly miss if we had to leave.

But as we've begun earnestly seeking God's will on this, I have felt a really deep sense of peace about whatever may come... and on top if it all, the spark of adventure has been lit inside me! I'm excited to see where He brings, and to dream of new and exciting things until He makes it clear to us where He wants us to go.

So if you're as interested as my mom is in the inner workings of my mind... then by all means, follow along. I'm not sure how often I'll post, but as I have ideas and thoughts to share, I will document them here.