2016…transition year

front-of-house

Retirement plans and house hunting. So much happened in 2016. During the fall of 2015 my husband and I decided he should retire a few years early. We crunched the numbers and decided we could manage. Early in 2016 we started looking for houses. We finally found a house we loved as soon as we walked in. (It’s not perfect, of course, but I can see myself living here for years.) I moved into the house during the spring while my husband finished up at work and put our house in Maryland up for sale.

Flash ahead to first of July. My husband retired, we moved the rest of the household goods, thought we had the Maryland house sold and had a party for my husband here in Iowa. We had a wonderful summer just relaxing, unpacking and getting settled in. (The house sale fell through a couple more times. Finally, our Maryland house sold at the end of September. Yay!)

And now it was Autumn. We planned a road trip for much of 20160919_104029September and some of October while we meandered our way to a family wedding at the end of September. A few days before the wedding and a few miles from the U.S. border, but still in Canada we hit a deer with our car. The car was then towed almost 100 miles to Spokane, Washington for repairs. We rented a car and continued to the wedding. The wedding was wonderful and our niece beautiful. Our nephew-in-law and his family were wonderful, too. Lots of great memories.

Road trip finishes early. We continued in our rental into Oregon, visited some of my family and spent a few days at the Oregon Coast (one of my favorite places in the world). We were still hopeful our car would be repaired before we were ready to head home, but that didn’t happen. We flew home and waited for word the car was repaired. Over a month later we finally found out it was ready for the drive home and we booked tickets to Spokane. Our trip didn’t happen and we ended up shipping the car home. That was a good decision.

My husband in pain. Just a couple of days before the flight my husband had a terrible pain in his back which kept him from sleeping. After several trips to the emergency room, acute care and a hospital stay, lots of tests, pain medications, after two weeks we finally found out it was cancer. However, the oncologist is very encouraging. He started radiology and chemotherapy the first part of November. He’s doing well, is optimistic and his next chemo is scheduled around the first of February.

(You notice I didn’t include world events, politics, elections and other happenings in this post. I decided to keep this personal. I’m waiting to see what 2017 brings–and hoping for the best.)

So. . . it was a full and sometimes stressful year.

However, we have so much to be thankful for:

  1. For our children who have helped us out so much during the year
  2. For our extended family who have helped us move, cheered us on and sent good wishes
  3. For neither of us getting hurt when we hit the deer
  4. For the beautiful home we found in Iowa
  5. For the encouraging diagnosis my husband received
  6. And for so many, many other things in our lives

What about all of you? What happened in 2016 in your life? What are you thankful for?

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Home again

It’s so nice to be back home again. I loved the places we visited, but I began to long for a chance to sit with my cats and gaze into my backyard. (At the moment I have two cats on my lap as well as my laptop computer–it’s a bit of a tight squeeze!)

Early mornings are my favorite time of day–especially if I’m up before my husband! I like to sit with a cup of coffee, read a little, perhaps write a blog post, perhaps read other bloggers’ posts, watch the birds outside and just enjoy the quiet.

I was also ready to come back home because Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the cooler weather, the changing leaf colors, getting ready for new beginnings. Autumn always feels like the time to start new things. I think it’s because school starts then and I was always excited for my own classes to start when I was a child and young adult and for my kids to start their classes. I love the planning for classes, buying new supplies and clothes, starting new classes, meeting teachers.crabapples

So far our trees aren’t changing color very much though our two crabapple trees in the backyard are full of little crabapples. So many trees were changing color during our trip I thought the trees in our yard would show crabapple-closeup~more color by now, but during our road trip we were further north and often at higher elevations. Since we moved here only a few months ago I don’t know the rhythm of our yard yet. That’s always something I enjoy finding out about in a new home!

What about you? Do you look forward to coming home as much as you looked forward to your trip? Do you love Autumn–or not? Is it a time for new beginnings for you? And have your trees started changing color yet?

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Visiting the Botanical Gardens

(Yay! I can start blogging again and visit other blogs, too. My internet started working again! I didn’t do anything to make it start working–except I was about to call tech support again. I think it’s magic!)

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We have a wonderful botanical garden here in Des Moines. We became members when we moved here and it’s a great place to visit. I think it will be especially nice in the winter since there is a tropical portion under a dome.

I’m showing photos of our visit last week as well as photos from a visit in the spring.

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How an Oregon girl ended up in Iowa

I grew up in Oregon and though I haven’t lived there for thirtysome years I always thought when my husband and I retired we would live somewhere in Oregon or Washington. (Even though my husband did grow up in Iowa!)

My husband was in the military so we moved around quite a bit. We haven’t really had anyplace we called “home.” Even after he retired from the military we moved a few times for his second job.

The last few years we’ve talked about where we wanted to live when he retired. Even though I still love the West Coast it’s expensive.

We’ve spent quite a few years either living in the Midwest (Missouri and Ohio at various times) or visiting various family members here. And I’ve grown to love the Midwest.

Now we have a daughter in Illinois and a daughter in Iowa. (and a son in New York City, but we knew we couldn’t live there!) And lots more relatives in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Before I left Oregon I knew nothing about the Midwest–except, of course, there were tornadoes everywhere!

Des Moines, IA--state capitol
Des Moines, IA–state capitol

Now I live in Iowa–and hope to stay here the rest of my life!

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The hardest part of starting a new blog

You know the hardest part of starting a new blog? Picking a name! I had more trouble picking out a name for this blog than I had picking out names for our three children with my husband.

First I had trouble thinking of a “good” name and then if I came up with something. . . someone else thought of it first.

I tried to think about what I wanted to write about: family life, cooking, reading, photography, travel, card making, gardening, plants and on and on. Maybe I should have named the blog Etcetera or Miscellaneous–but someone has probably used that, too…lol.

Then I thought about a name that says something about me: my name is Jan so I thought of Jan’s Journeys (nice alliteration–and already taken).

Then I thought–I just moved to Iowa–so maybe I could use that: Confused in Iowa, What am I doing in Iowa?, Meandering through Iowa. No those didn’t “speak” to me.

Since my husband just retired: Retired Life orĀ  Life in the empty nest. But I’ve seen that one before.

DesMoinesRiver
The Des Moines River — “River of the Monks”

As you can see I tend to over think things!

Finally, in desperation I thought: I’m living in Des Moines, Iowa. Turns out Des Moines means “River of the Monks.” A name given by early French trappers probably. I like to find out about the places we live so I may write a little about the history and life here in Des Moines. As well as all those other things I enumerated above.

And I’m tired of thinking about it — so that’s how the blog got its name. I hope blogging gets easier after this!

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