Saturday, October 27, 2012

Homeless in Houston

Think of the worst thing that has ever happened to you. Then punch yourself in the face, light your hair on fire and put your hand in running blender. That's what apartment hunting in Houston is like. Minus all the blood and skin transplant surgeries it's pretty much identical.

After recently landing a long-term sub position at a neighboring Junior High we decided it was time to spread our wings in the big city and get our own digs. Unfortunately Houston is confused and it is ridiculously expensive to rent and super cheap to buy. Thus begins our story...

The first place we checked out seemed nice and it was only 750 a month. Did I lie to them about how many kids we had so we could get the 2 bedroom instead of the 3? YES! Did Mandy like that? NO! If anyone knows Mandy, you'll know that she has a thing about lying. Something about being immoral and blah blah blah. So that place was out.

The second place seemed great. As long as we liked drugs, gangs and possible sudden death. So that didn't work.

The third place was a go! But then one thing after another fell through until we realized you don't have to be catholic to believe in signs. So we waived goodbye to all the hispanic children and women with babies feeling discouraged and a bit confused at why we were here.

If you're waiting for this to end well, just stop. It doesn't end well. It might in the future but for now, no. No it does not.

On our way home we drove past some apartments that, well they were really something! We walked in feeling immediately underdressed and out of place. Imagine Julie Roberts in Pretty Woman trying to buy new clothes. That was us.

She sat us down and said, "What's y'alls price range?"

I replied in a low but confidant voice, "We were hoping to stay around 8 or 9 hundred!"

Mandy politely reminded me and alerted the kind lady that $900 was really our max. I just looked at the wall like there was something really interesting that needed my immediate attention.

The woman replied kindly, "I can get you into one of our 1 bedroom town homes easily." I feigned interest while Mandy reminded me and alerted the woman that we had 3 children.

After a moment I asked, "Well, how much are the 2 bedrooms?"

The woman replied, "It's out of your price range!"

The worst part of this story is that unlike Julia we didn't have a purse full of money to make her feel stupid with. Of all the times not to have a bag full of hundreds, this was not one of them. Lesson learned and please for anyone who reads this learn from our lesson.

Houston, Texas USA
Mobile Photography

(Part of what makes the pictures in
the Mobile Photography Portfolio
 so cool is the danger of taking
them while driving. I think it's really going
to catch on!)
In reality the woman was very kind and gave us a number to another woman who works on referrals helping people "like us" find a place to call home. To make a long story a bit shorter, this lady is great. She sent us a list of about 20 properties the next day. After weeding out the ones that are too far away or too expensive we were left with 7. After visiting some, being turned away from others for having too many children and really loving one that was way out of our price range, we are back at square one. Just as a reminder square one is homeless paying a University 2000 miles away money to work full time for free. It's actually quite glamorous in real life but comes out a little rough on paper.

So here we sit waiting for a second list. Assuming our agent hasn't given up on us this week will probably be filled with more searching that will hopefully result in a happier tale. Until then I encourage all of you to always carry a bag full of hundreds and never, I repeat never search for places to rent in Houston. Unless you like drugs, roaches and the possibility of death
in your sleep then hey have an adventure!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Taste for Adventure

For all of you who may not know, WE MOVED TO TEXAS.

Ready for Adventure!
A little more than two months ago we packed up our mini-van with the humans, our clothes, the espresso machine, the iMac and Chin (the tortoise). With a couple dollars in our pocket, a large bag full of impulse buys from Fred Meyer and an ample supply of Starbucks Cards we set out on an adventure we would not soon forget...

We set off at 9 o'clock at night with our sights set on Denver, Colorado. We had already decided to be "that family" who would take a family photo at each State Welcome Sign and luck would have Mandy find a mustache machine on our way out of town that only added to the unadulterated awesomeness that became our collection of photos.

If anyone has ever driven to Montana than you know the Welcome Sign is posted to a bridge that stretches across the freeway lending itself to anything but a quality photo op. Fortunately natured called and determination kept us from starting our list of state pictures with a gap.
#1 Montana Rest Stop
Montana, USA
Don't let the photo fool you. Contrary to what you think your seeing, we are going strong and Denver seems not only doable but merely an afternoon drive. After a brief, and by brief I mean less than an hour, sleep at a random rest stop in middle of nowhere, Montana and about 3 or 4 shift changes we made it to colorful Colorado.
#2 Colorado Road Side
Colorado, USA
That night we met a friend for dinner and slept peacefully in a 5 star hotel. Well, it was a La Quinta. But compared to twenty+ hours in the car it seemed extravagant and lavish. As seen in the picture above, the trip had made us weary and hard as the past with its amenities and comforts slowly faded to distant dream of dream. Being a family of 5 residing in an '02 Ford Windstar changes you...

The next morning we set out refreshed, renewed and ready for anything the long stretch of road could and would bring. We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more and then we almost ran out of gas...
Middle of Nowhere, Colorado
Fortunately being a stranded family of 5 residing in an '02 Ford Windstar on the side of the road in Colorado was not part of God's plan. So, we got gas and pressed merrily forward having learned not to laugh so much you forget to get gas. 

Before we new it the panhandle of Oklahoma was fast approaching and the camera was primed and ready to capture yet another memory.
#3 Oklahoma Road Side
Oklahoma, USA
Although our time in Oklahoma was short it left a lasting impression that will...keep us from ever returning. It furthered proved my theory that the only people who live in Oklahoma are the people that were born there. Oh, and their sign adequately displays the beauty that the state landscape exudes to every border (please sense the sarcasm)! Luckily that panhandle of Oklahoma is as large as, well something small, so in no time we were ready for this...
#4 Texas Road Side
Texas, USA
Amarillo, Texas wasn't too much further and there we found Domino's and clean, inviting sheets. The next day was filled with many more stories that will inevitably fall upon the ears of friends and family for many years to come. The important part is that we finally made it to Ben and Adika's house safe and mostly sound.

The children were changed in ways that only someone who has applied a mustache in the wee hours of night can understand. Luckily they were a little crazy before so no one has noticed the difference. We are adjusting reluctantly to Texas life. But we're showing Texas who is boss by sweating, catching every disease under the heavens and finding new and wondrous things to be allergic too! 

Seriously though, God continues to provide and we have continued to live day by day trusting Him to do so. While we have little idea of what the future holds, we continue to bask in the ambiguity of life and hold on tight to the ride God continues to guide. WOW, did you just hear that poetry. You can't plan this stuff!

That dad from Modern Family once said, "If life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Then life will be all like what?" With this insight we have decided to make lemons, until we get thirsty, then we'll drink some of the lemonade. But we will mostly make lemons and be quite happy with that. We pray that God will be as real and personal in your life as he is in ours. May you be blessed and continue to bless God and others in everything you do! We Love you all...

MobileHolmes out - (Was that too much there, with that last bit all like mobileholmes out? It seemed like too much. Oh well.)