Dirt dwelling has been quite the adventure for us. We've had a lot of changes in a short period of time.
Where to begin?
Ah. Well first. I'll start way back with the story of Creeky. Boy, we loved that boat. We really did. We thought living aboard Creeky would solve most of our problems. More space! More time together! As soon as we moved aboard, we realized that yes, we had more space but we most certainly didn't have more time together. Justin's every waking moment at home was fixing up the boat. My waking moments were spent trying to wrangle Ivy away from him so that she wouldn't get hurt. Ivy's waking moments were of frustration, understandably. She didn't understand why Justin was so close but wouldn't hold him. She was frustrated being cooped up in the boat and unable to run and play. Taking her outside to the park was just not enough. She chased all the dogs at the dog park, no matter what size they were. She was just a little too small for the slides that she really wanted to go down at the park.
But the big problem in our lives that we had been trying to fix for years - family. Family was too damn far away. Ivy was getting bigger with each passing day, and the weekly "visits" on video chat were becoming more and more depressing instead of exciting. 95% of the time we couldn't even get a good enough internet signal to make it worth it. Visits home were never long enough. Our families live 7 hours apart from each other, so we had tried every way to visit both families - driving the distance in a quick day, taking a bus, flying from one airport to the other. All were painful because they took an entire day out of our vacation time (not to mention the two days on either end of our trip to fly from Boston to Michigan). A week's vacation suddenly turned into 4 days, and 4 days split between two families was depressing.
So. Just as we had done with moving to Boston, we took a huge crazy leap into the unknown and Justin quit his job, we left Creeky in her spot at Constitution, and we up and moved back to Michigan.
We had indexing to help us get through a few months, and we gave indexing a shot to be our one and only source of income. Justin's parents gave us a place to stay until we sorted out our lives, and mine had us for a few weeks as well.
Indexing took off quite well, but it was a lot of work, and not too different than work on Creeky. Ivy saw that we were always around but could never play with one or the other of us while we worked. Justin wasn't happy with working from home, which came as no surprise to us.
Job hunting began. In a matter of two or three weeks, Justin had applied to roughly 50-60 jobs in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Nearly all of the jobs would be no more than a 3 or 4 hour ride from both our families.
Within two weeks, Justin was interviewing at companies, and a week later he had a couple of job offers.
One of the jobs he applied to was something special - an apprentice boat building position at Van Dam Boats. The position was exactly halfway in between our families. The area of Michigan was perfect. The nearest town (Petoskey) was where we had really started dating, eight years ago.
The position itself was perfect, but we had found it just a day after the posting had expired. Justin called on it anyway, and the owner told him to go ahead and send in his resume anyway. Justin spent all day writing his cover letter. It was heartfelt and honest. It made me cry, hah.
The very next day, he received an e-mail. Would he come interview?
When he got there, he found out that hundreds had applied. They interviewed five. The position would be a four year apprenticeship with the hopes that he'd stay on board for many years to come. Perfect. Justin came home with tales of the beautiful rolling hills, the mounds and mounds of snow, the friendly atmosphere. We held our breaths in anticipation.
Initially we thought he didn't get the job. I cried again. I'd gotten so excited about Petoskey, about the romanticism of Justin working on boats. And, I was pregnant, so that wasn't helping my emotions. Hah.
He'd been offered two more jobs too, so we packed up a few weeks worth of our things to go look for apartments and visit my family while we were up there. As we got into the car to drive north, Justin got the e-mail from Van Dam. They wanted to hire him on. Holy shit.
To make a long story short, Justin accepted the position and has been working there for the last two months. He loves it. The work is hard and laborious. He comes home with raw, cracked fingers. His hair is never the same shade anymore. He's had blue ears a few times now. But he loves it. It's a job he's proud of and a great company to work for.
The job required a 30 day probationary period, so we lived in a motel for a month. It was really nice, honestly. It was nice to get some time as just a family again. After a few months of living with our families, we needed time to reconnect. The space wasn't an issue - the room was larger than any boat we'd ever lived on together.
Three weeks ago, we finally found our house. It's freaking enormous. We honestly were just looking for something with 2-3 bedrooms, but the house came up on Craigslist and the price was right and it came with 10 acres of land. The house itself was totally scuzzy and coincidentally, the guy was moving out of his house to go live on a boat, so he was leaving us all of his things. Couches, computers, chairs, dishes, you name it. We suddenly had doubles and triples of things that we only needed one of.
After a lot of help from our parents, the house is looking great.
|After six years, these are very, very exciting to us.|
We're really happy with the house, and the more we explore the land around our ten acres, the more in love we are with it. There's potentially an option to buy and we're hoping that it all works out for us to do so.
|And still, we look at boats.|
|Because we still like to be as self-sufficient as possible.|
|Pickerel Lake. Literally minutes away from our house.|
|Petoskey State Park. The beach where Justin and I fell in love.|
|Behind our house.|
So, it's been a wonderful move for us. We've seen family a lot since moving to the house. It's a 3 1/2 hour trip for both sides of the family, but only 1 1/2 hour for my brother and his family! 3 1/2 is still a tad far, but Justin has 3 day weekends so that helps immensely.
|Ivy and cousin Eli in the back yard.|