We have now been settled (if you can actually call it that) in Michigan for a little over two weeks. All in all it has been quite the positive experience, but not without quite a few changes.
Simply put, things are just plain different here.
The house. Our home is old (built in 1920), and very different from what we're used to, but charming. It is a little bit creaky and a lot drafty, but I think it is perfect for us. I still have quite a bit of work to put into it to make it "just right" and I am sure I'll have lots to blog about in the home decor department. Of course, I'm still getting used to the layout. I find myself turning the wrong way in the kitchen to throw something away or to open the fridge and I spend a lot of time wandering around trying to determine where I might have decided to store something. But most importantly, the kids love it, and they are so excited to be here because of our house. Sophia will often walk by the fireplace or her bedroom and squeal "My new house!" Adorable.
The time. I'm embarrassed to admit that my entire family, with the exception of Joel, still seems to be running on Utah time. Since we are now in the Eastern Time Zone, this means that we get up around 10 in the morning and go to bed way too late. This week I intend to conquer the time change, especially since school is starting for the girls next week and they will have to be up super early.
The weather. The day the movers got here it was 95 degrees and very, very humid. We kind of thought we would die from the heat. Everyone told us it was a complete anomaly, and indeed, a few days later it cooled down and has rained every day since. I have been sorely tempted to turn on the heat in my house (in August!), but resisted the urge and have resorted to wearing sweaters and cuddling up in my down comforters. I can't wait for the long, cold winter. :) Do you think it's acceptable to turn up the thermostat in September? 'Cause that's tomorrow.
The scenery. Compared to the desert of Phoenix, where Joel did his doctoral work, Utah is a veritable oasis. But after being in Michigan a couple weeks, I think that Utah is pretty much a desert wasteland just about on par with Arizona. Hello greenery. Hello huge trees everywhere. Hello old architecture. Hello Lake Superior. We basically live in a quaint little village in the woods on a hill on the shore of a lake. Truly breathtaking.
The Church. Of course, my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is much less established here than it is in Utah and Arizona. I expected that. I even attended our new branch while I was house-hunting and was made very aware of just how small it is. It's still a huge adjustment, though. I got called as the Young Women President after being here only one week. I don't get any counselors or advisors, and I only have two really active girls, a couple that come occasionally, and a handful that don't come at all. Joel hasn't been given a calling yet, but I'm sure they'll put him to work very soon. I can see that the members are very close to each other, and I do look forward to being a part of that. It's very different from feeling lost in the shuffle of a very large ward.
The people. Within minutes of the moving truck driving up to our house, we had three neighbors visit us, and more and more have dropped by as we are here longer. And they are all amazing. One is another music professor who knew we would be living two doors down. His wife is a florist and they brought us a beautiful flower arrangement and a couple popsicles due to the extreme heat. Another neighbor brought us banana bread, and was especially excited to meet us because she grew up in Utah and actually attended Joel's high school with his older sisters. One neighbor even brought us two Yooper Scoopers (heavy duty snow shovels)--a small one for the kids and a big one for Joel and me. We've had a few other neighbors bring dinner and many others just give us a huge welcome to the community. Which is more than plenty. This has never, ever, EVER happened to us before when we've moved in. I definitely have a lot of cookies to bake and thank you notes to write.
The garbage. We were a bit stymied when we first moved in because we couldn't find the city-assigned garbage can for our house. As it turns out, you don't get one. Instead, you buy yellow and orange trash bags that say City of Houghton: A Nice Place to Live and you just throw them on the side of the road on trash day. I still didn't believe it until I saw people actually doing it on our first Tuesday here. I think we'll probably buy a big trash bin to keep them all in, but it is nice that I won't have to go putting stuff in all the neighbor's cans on trash pickup day when I have an unusually heavy trash week (like I've been having for the past couple months with all the moving organization!).
The schools. I guess there is some Michigan law that says the school districts may not begin class until after Labor Day. This is very different from Utah and Arizona schools, which generally start in early to mid-August. Michigan also pays for all of the school supplies, so my kids have no supply lists to gather. So, I have them home for another week and then they will get on a bus to go to their first day of school. Yet another big change for us who have lived a block away from the elementary school the past three years. The bus stop is about a block away from our house, and school starts almost an hour earlier anyway, so we have some very early mornings to look forward to!
The streets. Yes, I'm a westerner. I'm used to the grid system. Even in Phoenix they have it--just with street names on top of it. Here, there is no grid. The streets are like a willy-nilly maze and I have to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B in the mess of streets that stop without warning or change to another street name, causing extreme confusion. For instance, the girls' Elementary school is on Bridge Street (or so I thought), but I couldn't figure out how to get there from the south. I could get there from the north, but it seemed the longer route from my house. Finally, I figured out that if you are coming from the south it is no longer Bridge Street. It is Military Street. And the school is, in fact, on Military. Sigh. I'm getting it, slowly but surely. And I can always find my way back home, even if it is a bit convoluted sometimes. Besides, getting lost all the time helps me figure it out even better, right?
These are just a few of the changes we're learning to deal with. But like I said, the changes all seem to be positive at this point. At least, I'm choosing to look at them that way. Except maybe the cold. I'm really not so positive about that right now. It is still August after all!