Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Monday, August 31, 2009


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!



  1. You make it all sound like so much fun! What an adventure. Yes I think you can turn the heat on in September ;) Glad you are liking it!

  2. How very exciting for you and your family! It looks like such a beautiful place, I am already wondering how I can pay you a visit....

  3. Sounds like the neighbors are on track up there. It sure is different in other states. It is really almost like moving to another country sometimes, but it looks like everything is going to be great for you guys. I'm not surprised about your calling, it was the first thing I thought about when I found out where you were moving, but I half expected them to call you as the new Relief Society president again :-) How fun to hang stockings on a fireplace, sounds like it will be fun to decorate for Christmas!

  4. Ooh, those winters are COLD! COLD, I say!!! COLD!! I spent a winter in Wisconsin, and that wind off the lake is literally like knives. Dress in layers--many layers! I so enjoyed your blog post--it really brought back a lot of fun memories from my time in that neck of the woods! Good luck settling in!

  5. Oh, Lara,
    What am adventure ! I'm especially glad you are safe and settling's so hard to move after your kids are in school. We moved 13 times in 20 years when my Hubs was in the Military. Every place you move is truly unique !

    We lived in Great Lakes, Ill. for 3years and that kind of cold is something I never want to be in again. LOL

  6. Your new home sounds absolutely enchanting. And your branch sounds a lot like mine. I'm currently the young women's president too, and only have three girls that come regularly. It can definitely be a challenge, but there are rewards in serving in a small branch as well. Hope your transition continues to be a smooth one.

  7. Thanks for the update! It sounds beautiful. You'll have to take pictures of your house and the area and post them next :)

  8. Lots of changes, indeed. Sounds gorgeous!

    Cracks me up that you are the entire YW presidency.

  9. Reading your post makes me homesick for Chicago! I, too, loved the green there (although not the accompanying humidity - you do get used to that, though). And, what AWESOME neighbors! I have never lived in a place like that, either (big city Chicago certainly wasn't that way). And buy parkas for everyone - down ones and really warm mittens, hats and snow pants. Look at the thrift stores - I usually found great deals there, and in good shape. Good luck with the cold - I don't envy you THAT!

    The other amazing potential you may have, though, is great gardening! You can do potatoes, lettuces, peas, raspberries and blackberries... mmmm....

  10. Those changes are hard but exciting! I had a similar experience when I moved from Utah to North Carolina as a child and then back to Utah as an adult. I loved Utah, then loved North Carolina, and now I'm loving Idaho, but wishing there were more trees!!!

  11. I think this all sounds really fun. And I might be crazy, but as much as I do like the grid system, I miss streets that meander. I find them charming. Maybe it's because I grew up with them like that, but I really like it.

  12. Can I just say that I'm totally impressed with you? I love to move, and I LOVE your attitude. We are kindred spirits, and I can't wait hear about your adventures. We moved from Idaho to Washington DC once and we loved it. I think Michigan is beautiful!

  13. I think I would be constantly lost without the grid system. Sounds like you have some wonderful neighbors. And I can't wait to see all that you do with your house.

  14. I amn so excited to see pictures of your house!

    And I too get lost when there's no grid system. I don't understand why other people think it's confusing!

  15. I remember as a child how exciting a new house and a big move was. What an exciting new time for your family. And welcome to the arctic tundra, I mean northern midwest. You and that down comforter will become good friends indeed.

  16. This sounds so similar to what we went through moving to Alaska! Temperature adjustments, time zone adjustments, the abundance of trees, and the lack of the grid system. And yet it's home now.

    P.S. There's no shame in cranking up the heat in September. I'll be right there with ya.

  17. Google Maps is your friend in figuring out how to get places without the grid system!

    I know what you mean about all the lush greenery and lakes. We had that when we lived in Indiana, but I missed the mountains so much and felt somewhat claustrophobic not being able to see far through all the trees. I think if I ever went somewhere greener than here it would have to be Washington state so that I would still have the mountains too.

    I would love it if it was that cool and rainy here right now, then we wouldn't be dealing with the mill flat fire that is close to New Harmony.

  18. Moving to a new area is always interesting and stressful, for sure. I am glad you are getting such a fantastic welcome!

  19. i can't wait to see pics of your house! it sounds so charming.

    your neighbors sounds terrific. what a welcome.

    maybe you should pick up a gps system to help you find your way around town. ;)

  20. Your experience sounds really similar to ours a year ago—and it's starting to get cold here, too! I'm wearing sweaters around the house (built in 1922!) again.

    And the streets thing is similar here, too. We have somewhat of a grid (I'm an easterner, so I'm used to a lack of grid), but the geography (water, huge hills, etc.) prevents travel from point A to point B sometimes—so you have to go from A to D to F to J to C to B. Figuring out all the back roads and short cuts is still an ongoing process!

    Weird about the yellow bags...I've never heard of that before!

    Congratulations on your lovely neighbors and your new life! Can't wait to see pictures!!

  21. Well, it was just about a ba-jillion degrees here yesterday. It's supposed to cool off.
    I had to get used to streets changing names too.

  22. Wow!! So there really are places where people are just down right nice!! That is awesome.

    What a GREAT adventure!

    I hope that things continue to go well for you and I hope that your blood thickens quickly to keep ya warm. Streets... sigh. That is one thing that I really struggle with, learning the new neighborhood.

    Good luck.

  23. What a lot of exciting changes! I didn't know it was the eastern time zone. That WILL take some getting used to.

    If I moved there, I would be hopelessly lost forever. Good luck finding your way around.

  24. YW pres, huh? Nice. Can't wait to hear stories.

    Hope the school year starts happily! Glad to hear you're adjusting.

  25. You sound like me 4 years ago when we moved to Connecticut! I was overwhelmed at all the trees and all the green. I love it! I much prefer the green of the east to the desert of the west.

    I thought it was crazy that people here don't have sprinklers because it rains enough to keep everything from dying. And we have a well! I thought that was crazy too.

    I love the church so much more out here. Our ward is much more like a family than a group of people stuck together every Sunday. It's fabulous.

  26. I love seeing the U.P through your eyes. Love it.

    And. Even I hate the roads up there - I won't let my husband drive when we go. haha!

    Oh. And Bridge Street - used to go straight to the water - there didn't used to be a parking garage thing down at the bottomish. So my dad and his brothers would bring old tires to the top of the hill and, yeah, WHOOOSH, down they'd go, bouncing their way right into the canal. LOL

  27. I, too, believed Utah was a wasteland after visiting Seattle. Trees were everywhere. I kept thinking that there was a severe dearth of lumberjacks. *snicker*

    I'm glad the move is going positively (and your view is too!) What awesome neighbors, huh?

  28. Get A will never regret it. Also, don't feel bad about turning on the furnace in September. We always do too, because our house is old and drafty and you can only wear a sweater so long and put so many blankets on your bed before you are smothered to death!

  29. I could relate to a lot after our move here to Texas eg. the LACk of a grid system - totally confusing, very friendly neighbors, and green. People here don't think it's green, but i guess they have never been to Arizona.
    Welcome to your new home.

  30. YW pres with no counselors? Now that's quite a change. I'm sure you'll manage to get those other girls won over and coming though. Best of luck with everything.

  31. I am so impressed with your wonderfully positive attitude! Houghton Michigan sounds exciting--the scenery has me salivating. :) (Out here in the desert.)

    Good luck!!

  32. Loved the mountains out west, missed the green!

    Grid system = easy, but boring for an easterner like me. I loved being able to see a temple from many of the places though. What a landmark!

    Most important qualification for home: family

    I hope you love your new home!

  33. Oh Lara, it sounds so exciting actually. Makes me want to move too! A change is always good I think.

  34. It sounds like things are off to a good start. What an adventure! It is pretty fun getting to experiene new things. Enjoy! I can't wait to see some photos of your home and the area you live in. Sounds really beautiful! Glad you are back on blog world!

  35. I loved reading this.
    I feel like I'm right there with you.
    I must admit that I did like being in a smaller out of state ward in El Paso. Even though we had 3 callings. Wow. YW Prez already. Joel better get ready.
    Love you.

  36. Wow! LOTS of changes. I'm glad your new neighbors are so kind- that will go a long way towards making you all feel more at home.

    Good luck with the early morning thing- THAT will be a big challenge!

    And I had to laugh about the lack of a grid/planning. When we moved to Portland, Oregon it was a similar struggle- and they even have a bit of a grid system there.

    Did you know that the grid system layout SLC is based on (and most western cities that were founded AFTER SLC) was designed by Joseph Smith via revelation? The American Planning Association even gave him an award for innovative City planning- obviously posthumously (that is totally spelled wrong but you get the idea). Having lived somewhere without that system, I can cetainly understand why. Go get a 'Thomas Guide' for your area- we had one in both vehicles at all times in Portland. Or GPS which is probably better!

  37. Moving is tough. Michigan is beautiful in the summer though. Was just up there for a month in Charlevoix.

  38. Oh, I miss you. I know how can I say that when I didn't get to see you much when you were here but just knowing you are gone. It is crazy. I hope you are enjoying your adventure. YW President that is awesome. Angela sure misses your beautiful girls. Good luck with everything.

  39. You're making me miss "home," Lara. I am a stalker coming from Sharyn's blog, born and raised in the UP, a bit further north of the bridge. We got snow here in Minnesota yesterday and today. You'll be enjoying it soon!

    I took lessons and still play the violin, attended MTU, but never had voice lessons. I'll have to attend a KSO concert when I'm "home" next so I can let you know your husband is doing a great job!