Making sure the chores are done

Hi Friends –

We realize the blog has been really heavy lately; with that in mind, I thought I’d share a story that Dad told Mom after she got home from St. Louis earlier this week.

You’ll need a little backstory to appreciate it, so let’s start there. I have an adopted sister, her name is Wednesday and she’s a Staffordshire terrier mix. [Dad hoped she’d be an anxiety Service Dog, but she quickly washed out after her limited sight and anxiety were discovered – not really part of the story, just sharing…]

Wednesday sleeps in the eldest human puppy’s room every night, they like to cuddle together in her bed and they help each other’s anxiety. This also helps make sure Wednesday doesn’t get involved in the cat’s shenanigans that tend to happen every night after bedtime. She’s learned what “bedtime” means and after the last potty-break of the evening she waits for Mom to walk her to the bedroom.

Apparently, the next step in the process is that both puppies get in bed and Mom tucks them in under their own separate blankets and gives kisses. Wednesday waggles the tail and waits for them both to sing her a song. After that, Mom says “Bye Felica!” [Yes, from the ‘Friday’ Ice Cube movie(s).] Lily answers back with “Bye!” and they go to sleep. Who knows how long this has been happening, but it’s quite a while! If it doesn’t happen Wednesday is a bit sad, or so I’m told.

Fast Forward to This past Sunday. Mom drove the youngest puppy up to boarding school in St. Louis and was coming back Tuesday evening. This, of course, left Dad and me to take care of the others. Mom told Dad that she missed Wednesday, and he had to take over the ritual. Of course, Dad said “No! I don’t. I’m not doing that!!” Mom got him to agree to give her kisses after she goes out and before they trek to the bedroom.

I knew something was missing after we went out the first night, so I followed Lily and Wednesday into the bedroom to make sure they were okay. Dad thought I was being silly and just wanted to play, so he called me out to sleep in his room as I do every night.

Monday comes and after breakfast, we both hang out with him in the office while he works. In the evening we relax in the family room before bedtime, when Dad says it’s time for bed, we both go out, while Lily gets ready for bed. Then, Wednesday goes to her room and I followed to tuck her in and waited for Lily to say “okay, goodnight” Once they were settled I came back out to dad to make sure his coffee is set for the morning and walk him to the bed where we settle in (separately). I figured if Dad wasn’t going to tuck them in I had to.

The next evening Mom was home, so she tucked them in and Dad and I resumed the normal routine of waiting for Dad and greeting the cats in their room. Mom wanted to be sure we shared this. She thought it was hilarious, I just thought I was helping to get the chores done.

A Moving Target

Hi Friends –

I finally herded Dad to the new office and asked him if we could write to you. We’ve been really busy but we needed to make a choice to take some time to share. He’s finally found or created some calm so we thought this would be a good time to write.

We’ve made big changes in our lives, we could sum it up in a few words and be done but that wouldn’t give you tell the whole story, and since the story relates to disability and perseverance we have to share.

I may pop in here if I feel like my perspective helps but as I write I’m getting more of a feel that Dad just needs to write most of this.

Let’s take a step back and give folks some perspective, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to read the entire blog and really know us.

We started out living in Connecticut where we all came together as a family. Lauri and the girls met through the internet, just like they found the Service Dog Project, and ultimately me!

Around the time Lauri and I decided to get married the girls lost their biological Dad to Cancer. It was really traumatic for everyone, and yes we’re leaving out a lot of details here (told you it’d be quick).

Lauri and I wanted to give the girls as much family as possible, and since I had become a little distant from my extended family and [redacting a lot] Lauri is from Oklahoma and all her family is there we decided to sell my place and go west (we like new adventures). We made the best decision we could with the information we had at the time. The town we chose was a bit rural since I don’t mix well in big cities and the schools are good, for the average kids. Quickly, after we learned we did not have average kids (of course not!).

The oldest has anxiety and depression, and fibromyalgia (and other diagnoses) at such a level that it is a recognized as a disability. Medication and therapy help, but accommodations such as an IEP are also in order. Lauri and I did their best to fight for her but the deck was stacked.

The youngest was fortunate to earn admission, along with a great financial aid package to a prep school outside St. Louis, Missouri. Having her at school would mean that if we stayed in Oklahoma she’d be over six hours away. We weren’t comfortable with that. Based on the changing needs of the family the decision was made to find a place that would offer a better environment for our oldest, and a shorter drive to our youngest.

This meant we had to find a way for all of us to be happy. Lauri and I really had a focus on the greater Kansas City area. We found out the hard way that not every area of the country has a real estate market that moves at the same rate. KC is moving quite fast right now, while OK is quite a bit slower. This means that we had our work cut out for us. We went back and forth between buying/selling property and renting. On both sides. We took as many days as we could to travel and search for the new home. Kansas City has a lot to offer in services, but for us, the housing was just not ideal. Having Casper and me in a raised ranch style home is possible but really uncomfortable. We even had a home under contract until the inspection process raised many concerns.

I had a tough time dealing with the process; turns out, I have a deep need to provide for the family that really borders on the unhealthy. [This came from a professional, folks] This is where we can get more personal because now we’re talking about me and I share [almost] everything we thought it might be helpful to some of you, and this is the main reason the blog has been silent for quite a while.

As we mentioned above, the family needed to make a change, but I honestly was not on board. From a financial perspective, this is stretching us to the limit, to put it simply. I’ve made my share of bad financial decisions, but I really feel like I’ve learned, and changed along the way. We own [read: we have a mortgage] our Oklahoma home and a couple years ago we made the decision that we were not going to try and sell again in such a soft market. Circumstances being what they are… having a child in danger of making catastrophic irrevocable decisions, and another that has an opportunity to attend a boarding school that, upon successful completion would all but guaranty a full scholarship to a university of her choice, likely followed by a career of choice, well that’s some extreme stuff from both perspectives. On top of that Lauri is getting her business off the ground, so I’m essentially responsible for financially supporting the family at this point. To add another level to the project we had to have the move from Oklahoma to Missouri completed, wherever we ended up, by the time school started in that town, and definitely by the time boarding school started.

Lauri did quite a bit of groundwork, and research to come up with the list of best school systems for our needs. As I mentioned we settled our focus on Kansas City, MO. and its suburbs, great! The problem is that ideally, we need to unload one mortgage before we get another. The next problem was the properties we found were all raised ranches and they are very difficult to navigate when mobility is an issue as it is for me. In the name of speed, we looked to rent the new home while we cleared out and listed in Oklahoma. We didn’t find anything that met our needs. I work from home and spend several weeks a year with a 24/7 on-call job. Lauri records in an isolation booth that requires a 7-foot ceiling and temperature control; finding that in a rental property was in fact impossible. During one of our trips, we looked at each other and asked, what now? I said “we go back toward the hotel and we talk to a Realtor”, that’s what we did. We found someone who was kind enough to deal with us, mostly me, and we started a new search. The early houses we saw had no possible way of working for us, as the requirements were refined we found many that look good on the internet but were not gems in person. Add to this that we lived three hours from KC and their market was moving so fast that houses were selling well over the asking price on the day they hit the market; it’s a good time to be selling there! Long story shorter, we had a house under contract before we could see it in person. We drove to see it on the day the inspections happened and found a laundry list of things that we’d prefer not to deal with, but not deal breakers, until we learned of a shifting foundation and a couple other big-ticket fixes. The Realtor then tells me, “Well, around here that’s common, you either have a bad foundation, or you will in the future.” Wow! I backed out of that contract and we started over. We looked at rents again while I fought the feelings that this was totally wrong for us. I ended up having a panic attack so severe that it bordered on a nervous breakdown, and Lauri thought I was going to have a heart attack. To make that better, it happened in the passenger seat of my own car! Needless to say, we all then understood the seriousness of our decisions, and I ended up needing to meet with my physiologist to talk it out.  I could not move us to Kansas City!

Next, we decided to take a couple of days and check out Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I’ve never been there and thought we’d have some fun in a touristy area as well as look at the possibility that we could live there. [There will be a post just on this trip a bit later.] It ended up not being viable as its ALL HILLS! Casper and I had to work really hard there! The local realtor we met there was great, but we had to call and cancel our viewings with him. Back on the ole inter-webs Lauri found a home that was new construction in Republic Missouri with a perfect price. We made a slight change to our route home to see the house. It ended up being perfect, and it’s where I’m writing this from. We’re still unboxing, still getting settled, but it’s where we’ll be for the extended future. It puts us hours from our youngest, who is on her way to school as I write this. Our oldest is enrolled in school again and so far, is having a great experience. Lauri and I have a spare bedroom that we’re sharing as an office/recording space. We have fiber internet access (a big deal to me), and a community pool with a shockingly low HOA. I am working on releasing my “money issues” and have full confidence that we are where we need to be. I can’t wait to explore my new home state.

This will be so good that I know I’ll find Casper’s voice in our new adventures to come. That’s really where he shines anyway when we make new discoveries and share new adventures. His voice will return! That is when you’ll know that I’ve firmly dealt with my issues when the voice of a goofy puppy returns to his people!