Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer 2015 Update, Part I: Introduction & Texas Living

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently taking a break from Instagram.  I am using the time freed up to focus on our family and family-related needs.  But in the meantime, as I have come to rely on Instagram as one of my main ways to "journal" or track our lives, I have been falling behind in documenting this season in the lives of our family members.  I miss that part of it for sure.

I thought I would utilize my well-underused blog to write some update posts on various aspects of our lives at this time.  Instead of one big, long post, I'll divide it up into categories for easier reading.

So in this post, I'll focus on writing an update about our life in Texas since the move (and subsequent moves within the state).  If you recall, we arrived in Texas last June (2014) and stayed about a month in a hotel at the expense of C's new company.  We were in the process of buying a home in Seabrook, which is when we returned to New Mexico for a few weeks in order to finish packing up our stuff to bring it to our new house.

While we were in New Mexico, the deal on the Seabrook house fell through.  We were faced with two options as we saw it: 1) Stay in New Mexico until the house sold, living amongst towers of boxes and in a state of impending move, or 2) Go forth with the move to Texas in faith, trusting the Lord would provide us a place to move into quickly.

We chose option two.  We stayed in the hotel (on our own dime) for another couple weeks, in which time we found a house to rent in Pasadena, Texas, and moved in as soon as they'd allow it.

The house in Pasadena was not ideal.  It was half the size of our New Mexico house, so even though we'd paired down our belongings, we still could not fit in this house without leaving the majority of our stuff in boxes in the garage.  And piled all over the house.  This house also lacked adequate storage and closets, so there was nowhere to put stuff as we unpacked.

I was miserable there.  I think we all were, but I was particularly depressed and struggled greatly in my faith and my focus on family.  I said and did things I regret and months later, I'm still paying the consequences.  We also were not careful financially, as we continued to live as if our New Mexico house had already sold.  We did not make good decisions and increased our level of debt back to dangerous levels.  This is something we are finally working on now -- mostly because we have no other choice.  The house still has not sold after more than a year on the market, two different realtors and the lowest price in the area for a house that size and condition.  It's expensive supporting a big empty house in another state while we afford life in Texas.

On the bright side, S decided to come back to live with our family.  This was a very good thing even though it meant squishing one more person in a house that was already too small.

We had a one-year lease on the Pasadena house.  However, with still more than six months on the lease, our landlords decided they wanted to sell the house.  It was offered to us, but we did not want to buy the house.  So they offered us compensation to terminate our lease early.

Soon, we found a house in Seabrook, Texas, near where we originally planned to buy.  This house had more square-footage, but the floor plan is very unique -- err, unusual.  We are so used to more modern homes that this 1970s house with multiple add-ons is quite a kick.  Anyway, we moved into this Seabrook rental house in February 2015.  I was still struggling with depression and other significant health issues off and on, but this new house and proximity to lovely water helped me improve quite a bit.

Since then, we have unpacked at least 60-70% of our belongings.  There is still a mostly organized garage full and some random boxes here and there throughout the house.  Unpacking, hanging up some wall art, getting furniture in place ... all these things have helped us feel more settled.  We have decided that based on poor quality of some of the added on parts of the house, this is probably not a good long-term house for us, but it works well enough that we don't feel as anxious to leave as we did in the Pasadena house.  It was a blessing to us to have to terminate our lease early.

In this house, the master bedroom was too small for our bedroom furniture, so we set up our room in the dining room -- yes, a master bedroom without a door.  How's that for adventure?  The master then became the "media room," because there was no wall in the family room for the television.  Too many windows (not a bad thing).  But with the master being used as the media room, we lost our most likely homeschool space, so that is now being unpacked on one side of our kitchen.  The dining table is also in the kitchen because our master bedroom is in the dining room.  S has her own bedroom upstairs.  J and O are sharing a room (which can't go on forever ... they're ten already) and H has a room to himself off of Z's room.  He has to walk through Z's room to get to his.  This has caused some interesting issues, but we're doing the best we can.  There is no loft space and the only gathering places are the media room (which has a loveseat and a chair) and the family room off the kitchen (which has a couch and a chair).

If you ever saw or visited our New Mexico house, we had great spaces for large gatherings.  This is not the house for that.  No big parties happening here.  I guess it's good we don't really know anyone in Texas yet.  And if you come visit, we'll have to put you on the floor in our media room, I guess.  There isn't a great guest space here.

There is a huge backyard compared with what we lived with in New Mexico.  Because it rains here -- a lot -- we don't have to do anything to keep it green.  Everything pretty much grows like it would in a rainforest.

Which reminds me... the bugs.  Everyone warned us that Houston-area traffic was terrible and the weather is hot and humid and YES, those things are very true.  But the worst part of living here (among many nice things about the area) are the insect problems we have encountered.  My computer is set up right by our back door, so one weekend I was working on a project on the computer while C and the kids were out doing fun things together and our air conditioner blew the breaker (it does this pretty regularly in this old house), so it was getting pretty hot inside and I just thought it was a hot spot in the house and I didn't get up to check the thermostat.  I had the back door open for Nova to come and go as she pleased.  Meanwhile, we suddenly had fleas coming in the house.

I didn't realize it at first.  In fact, I didn't realize about the fleas until the next night when I was in bed and started feeling super itchy.  All over my legs (mostly) and some other places on my back and stomach were flea bites (as confirmed by a Google search).  I thought maybe they were bedbugs, but C didn't have any bites and we washed all the bedding in hot and cleaned the room.  Then the next evening I went back to my computer and started feeling something biting me.  Sure enough, fleas.  They were on me.  We had an infestation right by the computer.  Nobody else uses my computer really and not even Nova had fleas.  Just me.  It was humiliating, but mostly, it was itchy.  To the point of insanity.

We called an exterminator who explained there was a flea outbreak in Gulf Coast Texas this year.  So we weren't alone.  I'm thankful no one else dealt with the bites.  Ack.  The exterminator took care of our flea problem.

However, this was at the beginning of the rainy season.  And what did the rain bring in but giant American roaches.  These are disgusting, friends.  They don't do anything but lumber around like little army tanks (they also fly) looking for sources of water.  But they are freakishly huge.  And they are everywhere.    The exterminator came back and then we started roach-aggedon.  They were on their backs everywhere.  Our vacuum tank was filling up with them.

Meanwhile, I decided to take a walk after the rain stopped one day and got eaten by a whole hill of Texas Fire Ants.  I posted a bit about that experience here.  But I had just seen the last of my flea bites heal up and now my feet were covered in ant bites.  Those are STILL healing up now as I write.  It has been weeks.

And now, we have German Cockroaches.  These guys are the little ones that come in on cardboard boxes and stuff and they multiply quickly.  They can live off the tiniest crumbs of food left out.  They are creepy, because they are living inside of the clock on our range and hide under anything on the counters waiting for an opportunity to feed.

Yesterday, I went to war on them.  I gave the kitchen the most thorough cleaning it's had in a while and removed all the hiding spots from the counter.  We have new rules that have probably needed to be set up years ago -- but I don't like housework, so I avoided challenging everyone to do things that I didn't even want to do.  We will keep the kitchen cleaner, dishes kept up and counters clearer.  And we'll have the exterminator back out.

I am not afraid of insects.  But I am so sick to death of them taking over our house!  In all the places we've lived, we have lived with similar levels of cleanliness and clutter and yet, not till Texas do we have the problem with roaches.  Gross.

But I do find I have tolerance for traffic (and learn new routes regularly) and even for the humidity.  I love our proximity to the water and I love how everything is green and lush -- even though it hasn't really rained in a couple weeks now and the drought warnings are going out, which is humorous after living in a desert.  The people here are friendly even though I have yet to make any friends with any gathering regularity.  I appreciate the culture here as well.  I fit in, I think.  Not in the country-western sense, but in the conservative values and independent lifestyle kinds of ways.

I like Texas more than I expected I would.  But I could do with fewer insects.


  1. Yikes.....the bugs have got to go have had bunches of lizards too!

    So glad to see you up and writing again....I've missed seeing you here.

    Love to your sweet family!

    1. Yes, I love the lizards. They are cute. We need some in the house, maybe ... or not.

      Thank you for reading. I love you and your family as well.

  2. The thing with the insects? I get it. Even though I've lived in the South all of my life, I still hate them. Swarms of love bugs and German cockroaches don't thrive here, thank goodness, but we've been battling red wasps and guinea wasps for 3 summers now. And the ants!! I do not envy you one bit with those buggars!

    1. Thank you for stopping by! I feel so blessed to have a couple comments on this post -- didn't know if anyone was paying this blog any attention anymore.

      We have those pesky red wasps, too. J has gotten so petrified about walking out onto our porch because they constantly dive bomb us in the front yard. She has to be escorted to and from our vehicles. It's awful.

      I'll have to look up guinea wasps ... never heard of those! Yikes.

  3. Glad to see this post. :)

    Sorry you're dealing with the bugs. I lived in Alabama most of my life and can relate. Not fun at all.