Traveling and waiting… this is our life right now. We are enjoying it but we’re also anxious for it to be over. Alas, there is still more traveling and waiting to do. Life has felt so temporary for the past year, living in multiple different houses with most of our things in storage, which is why it’s hard to continue waiting now when a glorious end is in sight.
Johnnie’s new assignment is taking us to Valdosta, Georgia. It’s a large town (population about 56,000) at the very bottom of the state. Wikipedia defines the deep south as “those states and areas where cultural elements most often thought of as “Southern” exist in their most concentrated form.” Valdosta is the deep south. It is southern through and through, and it has a small town mentality. It’s quite the experience for a yankee Pennsylvania girl like me and I think I’ll have some fun blogging about it.Valdosta is not new to us. We actually lived there for over three years before heading to South Korea where I started this blog. Johnnie’s squadron was moving there and I was in the process of moving myself so I decided to change my plans and also move to Valdosta to give our new relationship a chance. Things obviously worked out well between us! 😉
When we first heard we were returning to Valdosta, I wasn’t thrilled about it. Three years there was long enough and we were not sad to leave. It’s not that it’s a terrible place, it’s just that it’s very southern and there isn’t much there. It’s a town of dollar stores, Walmarts, banks, churches, and unhealthy (but delicious) food. It’s also the land of swamps, red ants, and alligators. Luckily, it’s less than a two-hour drive from Jacksonville (for great shopping) and it’s driving distance to many other great locations in the south (cities, beaches, mountains, Disney, etc).On the plus side, Valdosta is a family-friendly town, the houses are affordable, we know a lot of people there, we already know our way around, and we know what to expect. It’s going to be a much different experience for us this time around since we’re now older, we have a child, and we have four extra years of worldly life experience under our belts.
We left Hawaii in mid-January. We packed up our suitcases, piled up a ton of things for donation and trash, and had Royal Hawaiian Movers pack up everything else. Royal Hawaiian Movers were a great group of guys who did a fantastic job preparing our things for shipment across the ocean. Our things got back to the mainland quickly and are already in Valdosta waiting for us.We bid farewell to our Kailua house with no tears (glad to leave the house that I was allergic to), dropped Dulce off at a kennel, and went to the Aulani Disney Resort for a week. This resort is pretty amazing and was such a relief from our previous living conditions. It is an expensive resort but staying on weekdays and having a military or local discount both helped substantially with the cost. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable week. It helped us feel like we were leaving the island on a high note. We did have a few small sad pangs of “good-bye Hawaii” but after three years, we were more than ready to leave and left the island smiling. Hawaii is a much better place to visit than it is to live.
We flew on a Delta flight direct from Honolulu to Atlanta, which was almost a nine hour flight. CC did pretty well on the flight. We put her Diono Radian RXT car seat on her seat between ours and she sat in it for about seven of the nine hours, sleeping some and watching TV some.
We landed in Atlanta early in the morning so we started a brand new day thrown headfirst into a five-hour time change. It took us all, especially CC, an entire week to fully adjust. CC cried when we walked out of the airport into the cold air. She never felt such cold before and I hadn’t felt it myself for three years… I didn’t miss it. We enjoyed a stay with friends for a night in Atlanta to relax and recover from the long flight. The next day we drove to Valdosta (it’s almost a four hour drive) to start our house hunting adventure.
We actually already own a house in Valdosta from the last time we lived there but it’s small and it’s a great rental property so we don’t want to move back into it. We originally planned on renting a house this time around but after the bad rental conditions we put up with for the past few years, and with the great prices of the houses in Valdosta, we decided to purchase a home instead. Being familiar with area, we already knew the exact neighborhood where we wanted to live and what would be best for resale in the future.
We met up with our amazing property manager who showed us over a dozen houses and we also met with a contractor to discuss building a house. It was a lot of fun and made us feel like we were on an HGTV show! Due to time constraints, we ultimately decided against building. In the end, we narrowed it down to two houses: a brand-new construction home that was near perfect but not on a very nice lot, and a slightly older home on the perfect lot/location but that needed some updating. We would have a house either way so with nothing to lose, we went in with a low offer for the older home and after a little negotiating, we got the house for over 13K under the asking price! That gives us more money to put toward the updates we want done.
After the last house we lived in, you can be sure that we had a very thorough inspection done to check for mold, bugs, and any other issues – the house is perfect, thank goodness! We then brought in a contractor to discuss renovations. The major projects will include a complete remodel of the kitchen, painting all of the walls, replacing all of the flooring, and a complete remodel of the master bathroom. Stay tuned to this blog to see all the before and after photos!
With the remodeling and the amazing lot and location, this is sure to be our most favorite house that we’ve ever lived in! We are beyond excited for this, especially after four years of rentals. As a bonus, I found out that our new next door neighbor is a friend I used to work with, and that we have many friends who live nearby in the same neighborhood! Hawaii was actually quite a lonely assignment therefore living among so many people we know makes me incredibly happy. As I said, I wasn’t thrilled when I first heard we were heading back to Valdosta, but higher powers have been showing us that we are meant to be there and that this is going to be a very good assignment for us. 🙂
We were only in Georgia for a week to find our house and then our traveling and waiting journey continued. Johnnie left the country for some work-related training (that’s actually enjoyable and a nice break for him) so CC, Dulce, and I went to visit family and friends until he returns.
Our first stop was Indiana, where we are stayed with my best friend and her two young children. This was the first time CC saw snow and she preferred to look at it through a window rather than be out in it. She had no interest in going outside, especially since there were two other kids and lots of toys to play with inside. During our first week here, we all got really sick. We were so rarely sick in Hawaii that I forgot how miserable it feels. Once we started recovering, we started having fun. CC didn’t have a lot of interaction with other kids in Hawaii so being there was really good for her. She had a blast playing with her friends every day. She learned to play with others and to take turns with toys.
I had fun reconnecting with my best friend and shopping! I’m in the process of building an entirely new wardrobe. I wore the same shorts and tank tops for the past three years so most of them got tossed. All of the cold-weather clothing I had from before we moved to Hawaii was sizes too big since I’ve toned up and lost weight since I last wore them. The task of reinventing my personal style is fun but intimidating! It’s a slow process.
After three weeks in Indiana, we drove to Pennsylvania to visit with my family. We will be here for a couple of weeks before Johnnie returns and we all head down to Georgia. I love seeing my family but this weather is miserable. I think we’ll save all future visits for the warmer months from now on.
Once we return to Valdosta, we’ll have to stay in a temporary location for a while until our house renovations are complete – it’s no fun but it’s necessary. I know that all of this waiting is just going to make the end that much sweeter, but it’s still hard to wait.
We are very blessed to have this time to visit with friends and family, especially since it has been almost two years since we last saw most of them. Still, it’s not easy living out of a suitcase, being off of our normal schedule and routine, and being long-term guests in other people’s houses (and being in this winter climate). I’m anxious to get to Georgia so I can find a new doctor to work with on my health issues. I’m also eager to get there because our bodies are revolting against the cold and dry indoor air: CC’s eczema has flared up and my hands are continuously cracked, bleeding, and painful. I really hate snow and freezing weather – thank goodness we’re moving south!
Traveling, waiting, traveling, waiting… keeping the faith that everything will happen in due time.