Seattle

If you’re not in the mood for the long version, here’s the short one:  We are moving to Seattle in June.  Tyler took an exciting new job that he starts today and after this school year is over Tyler, Harvey and I are bound for the west side of Washington and we are very excited!

This is not news to all of you, but I would guess that most of you did not know this was on our radar, or that the decision has been made for a while now.  Here’s the long version:

Tyler has a good friend who used to work with him here in Tri-Cities at Robinson Tech.  This friend started working for TrustCC –  a security consulting agency based out of Seattle, WA.  Since this friend started working for TrustCC he has been telling Tyler how fantastic the job is and how great Tyler would be at this work.  In fact, when we moved to Kennewick last summer, we partially did so because the job required Washington residency.  At the time, we thought he could work from home in Kennewick and I could continue to do the job I loved in Umatilla, OR (we found out three days after we moved that this was not the case – the job could only be done from Puget Sound).  But we loved our year in Kennewick.  We got to spend time with my family, particularly special because it was my sister’s senior year in high school and possibly the last time we would live in the same area ever again.  I got to work another year in Umatilla (which has been phenomenal) and Tyler got to work another 9 months for Robinson Tech.  We are both glad that we got to work quite a bit longer in our jobs to really feel like we completed the work we had started out to do and make sure that our workplaces had good replacements for us (still on the search for an awesome teacher to take over this awesome program here in Eastern Oregon!)

TrustCC Tyler

Tyler actually starts training at his new job today and will be in full swing of that work shortly.  He may have to spend a few days at a time up in Seattle in the next couple of months, but we know that this is just part of the transition and helpful for us to get used to.  As part of this new job, Tyler will be spending some time on the road to different parts of the country (about a week out of every month) and I think this is a good time for Harvey and I to get used to living just the two of us on occasion.  I think it will make all three of us even more grateful for the time we do get to spend together.

As far as work for me on the West Side is concerned, there are several leads I am pursuing.  I went to the Tacoma Teacher Job Fair over spring break, handed out 30 resumes, interviewed with a few districts and found out about a few potential jobs.  Most of them are not official or posted online yet (much like the position I am vacating), but I will continue to keep a look out and keep my name on the minds of districts on the other side of the mountains.  The beautiful thing about being an educator is – worst case scenario – we can always make rent with me subbing.  I hope we don’t have to resort to that, but it’s there – just in case.

 I told all of the teachers and students today about our transition.  It was a difficult day.  Some were sad, some disappointed, some very angry.  I just had to remind them (and myself) that teaching is entirely temporary.  If I stayed until all of them graduated, then I would still be “abandoning” the students who are younger than them.  Teachers will come and go through their lives, students will come and go through mine.  I can tell myself that until I’m blue in the face and it is still unbearable to think of leaving these students who I have come to know and love so dearly.  But I know that there are many more fantastic, hard-working students on the West Side that I have yet to meet and grow to love, too.  And I can’t wait to meet them.

As Labor Day draws to a lazy close, I find it’s an appropriate time to re-cap on this weekend as well as having finished my first week of teaching.  We’ll start with teaching.

The short version:  It was a good week.  There were ups and downs, fun moments and stressful ones, but as far as first weeks of one’s career go, it was a pretty great week.  Getting used to the rhythm of teaching three classes, switching buildings, then teaching four more, working until sundown and then going home took some time.  I find myself bringing work home nearly every day, and Tyler helps me work through some of it and talk through things as I prepare for the next day.  I am tired every day when I get home, and sleep for what feels like both far too much time and not nearly enough.  It seems like there is literally not enough hours in the day to keep up with the house, prepare for each of my seven classes, and be a good wife to my husband.  Teaching in two buildings with four content areas has certainly been stressful for me, because I didn’t want to plan any concert music until I knew what the students were capable of.  Now that I’m getting a feel for that, it’s time for me to start choosing music – which is a large task (and one that nearly every first-year teacher does poorly).  Once I have some pieces decided, I think things will ease up, I will have a direction, a goal, and specific teaching points to work towards, instead of thumbing through my song books and picking something that will open up students’ voices and that they will (hopefully) enjoy.

Also, here’s a few pictures of Tyler and I getting the middle school room ready – a fairly intense task.

Tyler moving the timpani by the struts, like a good husband

Washing old dirty chairs was not my favorite part of the day.  In fact, I had Tyler take a picture for this purpose, “One day, when I’ve been working here for years, and I never have to do this again, I will look back and be so grateful.”

Once the week was over, it was time for us to host a group of friends from all over the Pacific Northwest!  Fels from Clarkston, Charles from Seattle, Michaela from Tri-Cities, Andy from Portland and Sophie from Boise all convened at our house on Friday and stayed until Monday!  As much as Tyler and I love starting our married life in a new city full of potential, it also means that we have no friends our age in this area, so this weekend was a much needed hiatus from being boring grownups.  One of my favorite activities when I have girlfriends over – let them play dress-up with me and my current wardrobe and make-up.  Fresh eyes help pair together clothes and colors I never do on my own!  And these girls are all marvelously fashion-forward.

Parking on the lawn was the best way to accommodate all of the five extra vehicles that had come from five different cities.  It made me so happy to have all these cars and all these people at our house!

We hit up the Hermiston Farmer’s Market for the first time.  Fels was delighted.

So happy to facilitate these two lovebirds being in the same place.  They are so very perfect for each other.

We also went wine tasting in Benton City.  What a delight!

And everybody knows the best part of going wine tasting is meeting all of the winery dogs.  Tyler is good at making friends with them.  This dog lives at Terra Blanca.

It was emotional to see everybody go at the end of the weekend (especially the one that’s moving to England in two weeks, sniff).  But we were thrilled to have them for the time that we did, and we can’t wait until we get to see them again.  It’s going to be legend – wait for it –

So we’ve been in our new house for about a month now.  Since we last updated, Tyler and I have started our jobs – him at Staples in Kennewick and me preparing my classrooms for the first day of school (Monday – gulp).  Here’s a quick little list of our lives right now:

–  Being married is awesome.

–  Waking up early and being grownups has been harder than we thought it would be.  But when we actually are both awake in time to eat breakfast together, this is one of our favorites.  Two breakfast sandwiches (a Butler McMuffin) and we split a nectarine:

–  In-service is crazy overwhelming when you’re a first year teacher  (I may or may not have cried out of exhaustion and confusion at the end).

–  Just because I have an idea in my head of how I want the house to always look doesn’t mean it magically ends up that way.  But this is how our bedroom looks in its best state:

–  We are pretty lonely with just the two of us here in Hermiston (relax, there’s no puppies or babies coming soon – we just want friends here).

–  We like that our house is a central location for many of our friends to visit (like they’ll do over Labor Day weekend).

–  Tyler is really good at taking things apart and putting them back together and fixing electronics without knowing what he did.  Showing here – his monitor that was dimming daily and threatening to die.  It’s now fixed.  We don’t know why:

–  Teaching in Umatilla may not have been my dream job at first, but the more I’m here, the more I realize that it is my dream job.  Here’s what my high school room looks like at the moment:

The previous director started the “U” but I finished the “H” and “S,” and I love that there’s CD decorations like Mrs. Elliott had in my middle school band room.  Also, I found the Latin Grammy Awards posters in a cabinet at school, so I decided to laminate them and brighten up the room.  I’ll get more free posters at conference in January, but these will suffice in the mean time.  Also, piano at the ready for teaching 2 choirs.  The middle school room isn’t in as good of shape yet, but that’s my weekend project to dominate.  Also, here’s what the front of my high school room looks like:

And on the second set of doors (don’t ask my why I have two) there’s this:

Our mascot is the Vikings, just for the record.  I still have some more paperwork I want to get done before Monday, and I have an OMEA district meeting with other music teachers in the area tomorrow, but I think Monday is going to be a fantastic start to a fantastic first year of teaching.  It won’t be easy.  But it will be great.

Tomorrow is our one month anniversary, and what a month it has been!  It’s been about a week since we’ve moved into our house in Hermiston, and it has been such a joy making this house our first married home.  Tyler has naturally stepped into the role of handy man in our house.

Just this week he’s repaired a light fixture, a sink stopper, a rattling bathroom fan, the fridge door, and re-assembled much of our furniture that traveled in pieces.  While Tyler fixes all the things, I have pretty naturally settled into being the domestic in the house.  This is the first lemon meringue pie I made for my husband with my very own Kitchenaid Mixer, the same day:

My favorite part of this day of projects was that even though Tyler and I did our own things, we each helped each other with our projects.  I know that lemon meringue is Tyler’s favorite variety of pie, and when I mentioned the possibility of buying a pre-made graham cracker crust he said, “Oh, that’s easy.  I can help you with that.”  I offered Tyler the rolling pin, but he turned me down – grabbing a can of diced tomatoes instead.  “This is how I always made them with my mom:”

That pie was demolished within 24 hours, by the way.  After the pie was in the oven, Tyler needed a spare set of hands to upright the dining room table, which I of course was happy to lend a hand with.  Here’s how it looks set up in our entryway:

It was so wonderful having a week of Tyler at home to help out with the house, run to Home Depot with and just spend our time together.  He started work at the Staples in Kennewick this week, and now we begin to settle into what will become normalcy for us.  As we complete each room of the house, we will post pictures of the rooms in their semi-final states.

Also – we are having a housewarming party on Saturday August 20th starting at 4:00pm. It’ll be a drop-in event with coffee, tea, pies, wine, and paninis.  We look forward to seeing you there!

So, I intended for my first post-wedding post to be about the honeymoon, but then a series of things happened very quickly that took precedence, so I’ll get back to the honeymoon later (it was awesome, by the way).

One of the things that has been burdening Tyler and I about our move to Oregon was that we had no clue where we would live.  We weren’t prepared to purchase a house yet – we both felt strongly that we should rent for at least a year and feel out the new city and jobs before we made that kind of long-term commitment.  But we also wanted to look into renting a house instead of an apartment.  We now had the means, and we wanted a clear distinction that this isn’t just a re-creation of our college apartments, this is our married home. We also wanted to live in Hermiston (just 7 miles down the road from my high school job), because there is a much higher rental market there, and it is considerably larger than Umatilla (they at least have a Wal-Mart).

The problem with renting houses in the Hermiston/Umatilla area is that they are in incredibly high demand at the moment.  We tried to look at a few places about a month ago, but the realtors basically said “The turnover rate is so high with these properties that nothing you look at today will still be available at the end of the month.  If we post a house on Monday, it’s usually gone by Wednesday.”  So we waited.  I watched their website every day to watch the houses come and go, some in our price range and some not.  Around 11am this morning I called the realtor and asked about the three properties that were currently on the website and within our price range – a mobile home in Umatilla, a mobile home in Hermiston and a house in Hermiston.  She immediately said that the house was far and away the nicest of the three, with granite countertops and hardwood floors in the kitchen, a double car attached garage and twelve inch thick energy-efficient walls to lower electricity bills.  She really insisted that there is no comparison between this beauty and the other two slightly cheaper dwellings.  She also said that the house had one applicant on it, but that their application was incomplete – if we completed our application before they completed theirs, we would have priority on the house.

I had some snap decisions to make.  Tyler was at work for the day, and on order for our application to be complete, I needed to have:

  • Two separate applications completely filled out (one for each of us)
  • Photo government ID for both of us
  • Proof of income for both of us
  • $70 Application fee
  • One of us had to see the house on the inside before applying

I decided to eat a hasty lunch, grab our passports (as photo ID), print out the applications and get in the car as fast as I could.  I dropped off Tyler’s application at Staples while he was working (which he filled out and faxed on his lunch break) and picked up one of his pay stubs from his car, and drove straight to the Umatilla School District to sign paperwork.  I got to the district office a half hour before the closed, and signed my teaching contract, an acceptance of position, my W-4 and I-9 forms and even a direct deposit – I am so officially contracted and hired!  While I was there, the business manager quickly typed up a statement of my annual gross income on district letterhead – a crucial part of the application process.  I then jetted over to the realtor’s office in Hermiston, and arrived at 4:15, (just 45 minutes before they closed) and was prepared to see the three properties.  They took me to the nicest house first, newly painted inside and out.

It was already striking.  Then I walked in and saw this:

This is a dimly lit photo, but the first impression was striking.  The big windows, the granite countertops, the nice lighting, it all took my breath away.  Here’s a view from the back door into the main entry way, looking at the front door:

You can see the countertop peeking around the corner.  The kitchen is probably my favorite part.

The house was built in 2006, so all of the appliances are really nice (I especially loved the glass-top stove).  Once I took a good look around, I said to the guy who was showing the house “I don’t need to see the other two units, I just would love to go back to the office and make sure I am the first person to complete an application for this house.”  We got back around 4:40, and I submitted our complete application at 4:58.  I asked them how long their processing time was, and when I would expect to hear whether or not we were approved.  They hemmed and hawed for a moment, and then decided it was easier for everyone if they just processed the application right now.  I walked out of their office at 5:20 with our holding deposit paid and a huge grin on my face – we got it.

We have a home.  And it’s beautiful.  We may only live here for a year, but this is a beautiful way to start our married life together.  The questions, the stress, the burden of not knowing where we will live is all lifted.  Our new address (for the next year at least) is:

The Butler Residence
746 E Catherine
Hermiston, OR 97838

And we couldn’t be happier.

Though I’ve only discussed the wedding in past posts, I’m going to choose this moment to branch into a blog that also covers our life after the wedding.  This post will tell you about the teaching job I accepted, as well as where Tyler and I will be moving after the wedding.

We anticipated staying in the Spokane area, and I primarily applied for positions in rural Spokane, though I wasn’t hearing back from any of them.  Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from the principal of Umatilla High School, who I had met at a teacher fair a little over a month prior.  Though I had not yet applied for their position, he remembered me and asked me to come down and interview for the position of middle school and high school band and choir director.   I was a little hesitant to think about moving close to Tri-Cities, but it was a promising job, and I agreed to interview just a few days later.

My mom came with for the trip (not to the interview) so we could both get a feel for the town and what kind of a situation I might be getting into.  The first thing we saw when we pulled into town was this darling purple house:

My mom felt like it was a sign that I was supposed to live in this town (but she was nice enough to wait to tell me until after the interview).  The high school is a beautiful building, just ten years old!

There were seven people on the interview committee, including a senior from the high school, and the superintendent and her daughter on speaker phone.  It was a little overwhelming, but the people on the committee were really kind.  The vice-principal of the high school took me on a tour of the buildings, including the music rooms.  The middle school and the high school are separate buildings on the same property, and it takes about 5 minutes to walk between the two music rooms.

Once we got done touring the premises, we checked back with the office, and sat down with both the middle school and high school principal, and they offered me the position!  And the best part was, they guaranteed Tyler an interview with the ESD’s Technical Support department!  Once Tyler and I took a few days to think about it and looked at some properties we might want to rent, we decided that it’s the right job for us!  He isn’t guaranteed a job there yet, but we are optimistic that he’ll find something that he’s qualified for in the area.  We’re pretty sure we’ll live in Hermiston, just 7 miles from Umatilla, and about equidistant from Pendleton and Tri-Cities.  We are so excited to start our new life in a new state with new jobs!  It is certainly an exciting time, and we will post more pictures as we find a place to live and find a job for Tyler.

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