We made a trip home at the end of March, which stretched into the beginning of May.  In six weeks we figured out what our life would look like six months down the road, and had a lot of fun in between the stress.

First stop, Washington D.C.  The opportunity to catch all of Tim’s family in one spot was too good to pass up, so we joined the reunion in Nanny’s neighborhood.  There are now 5 Stelzer cousins to get acquainted with, and we made the most of it.  The weather was crisp and freezing cold.  The kids ran through the halls of the Embassy Suites, explored the Space Museum, and met baby Natalie.  We had a big family party, and some smaller gatherings.  Tim and I snuck out for a 12-miler along the Potomac, swinging by the Lincoln Memorial and finishing with a much needed very hot drink (it was 25 degrees when we started off!)  Some pics of our good time:

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Frozen Solid! In makeshift Winter clothes.

Next stop: Colorado.  We had about a week between the reunion and Tim’s meeting in Austin (the actual purpose of the trip), so we headed to Boulder.  We had been talking more and more about moving here since our last trip, and wanted to spend some more time checking it out.  While there, Tim confirmed his opportunity and next work position – we were moving to Boulder!  We met with his childhood best friend, now a very successful real estate agent, so I could get a better idea of neighborhoods and he could get an idea of what we might like in terms of a home.  That would give us six months of a home search while we finished up in Malaysia, which would be necessary in the current market conditions (low inventory which gets snatched up very quickly).  We looked around with Jay for 3 days and he got a good picture of what we wanted.

In the meantime, the kids were having a blast with Grandma Linda, Grandpa Wally and Uncle G.  We had snow and even went to the annual Easter Egg Hunt that Tim had attended as a child.  Easter night, we followed the bluegrass tunes down the road and I got my “welcome to Boulder” party, a neighbor was holding a mini-Woodstock on his 2-acre lot for his 50th birthday.  There were tons of kids running around and food, beer and music.  Wally ran home for his vintage tie-dye and relic of a peace emblem, I don’t think I quite fit in with skinny jeans and cashmere sweater, but it was a great time!

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Tim’s meetings changed in Austin and so we extended 2 more days in Boulder.  We looked at one more house….and we loved it!  Within three hours, we had gotten pre-approved for a loan, pulled together an offer and sent it to the seller (who was mulling over 3 competing offers and would decide that night).  One sleepless night later, and we got the news we had won the contract for the house!  This was all in the course of 15 hours since we had stepped foot on the property, from people who were not intending to buy on this visit.  Yikes!  Even writing this I feel the adrenaline of that experience.  We had one more walk through of the house, then we boarded a plane to Austin.

Our two weeks in Austin were very full.  Tim was working his Penang job, going to meetings for that and the conference we were in town for, plus getting a handle on his new role and meeting lots of folks, plus doing night time calls to Penang, plus helping me.  I was trying to get all the house stuff together – mortgage, insurance, blah, blah – and spent hours on the phone and online.  Tim made a 24 hour trip to Boulder for our home inspection, and again it snowed and he said he had the scariest flight landing ever!

There was a silver lining in all this, we got to spend time with Angel who was on maternity leave with our new nephew/cousin Guy!  In the two weeks we had in Austin, we spent 5 days together and it was so good to connect with my sister, now a mother, and for the kids to meet baby Guy.  We hit Austin at the peak of Bluebonnet season and got some requisite pics, plus caught up with all our Austin friends, some of them with new littles too!  It was a very, very full two weeks, and it felt a bit strange to know this was our last time there with Austin as our home base, at least for a while.  We soaked up all the tacos, joined a homeschooling group and even went ice skating for the first time!

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At some point during our stay in Austin, Tim found out that he had another meeting to attend for his new position.  It was scheduled back in Boulder, and just happened to coincide with our closing date!  How fortuitous!  We extended our US stay, and were back on the plane to Denver (Tim’s third flight to Denver on this trip).  Our storage unit in Austin had been packed up and it followed us on the ground.  Another week in Boulder, this time it was home.

We spent our time trying to make up for the 6 months of homeownership we would miss.  Before we got the keys, we spent a 40-degree rainy day trimming trees and clearing the gutters, freezing ourselves to the bone.  Something about that wet, spring day with woodsmoke in the air reminded me so much of growing up in Michigan, I really felt home.  We fixed the fence and had a huge load of yard waste hauled away.  Grandpa Wally was a champ in all this, loaning us his entire garage of tools, his car and his help – even in the freezing rain!  Three weeks after we had won the contract on the house, we closed in record time and got the keys.  Homeowners!!  The work moved indoors, and we unpacked what we could, cleaned and fixed, called contractors and found a property manager for the time we would be away.  We had a mini-housewarming party with our local friends, and met some of our fantastic neighbors.  After years of being either rented or vacant, they were so excited to have a family with little kids moving in to this home.  I can’t believe all we did in this week, and double thanks to Grandma Linda, who took the kids the whole time and gave them a great holiday too.

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HOMEOWNERS!!

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Finally, we boarded our flight back toward Malaysia.  But not without a day layover in London to explore the South Bank with some friends from Penang who had recently moved home!

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OK, now, finally, the flight to Malaysia!  It felt strange and so, so good to be making this trip.  In the six weeks we had in the US, we had prepped our landing pad for six months down the road.  Miles had seen his new school, “Foxy School”, we’d spent one night in our new house, and we had a vision of what our life could look like, being near(er) family and forging our way in a new place together.  This flight felt different too – it was our last time going “home” overseas.  After 5 years of schlepping our kids back and forth across continents and oceans, this was the last time we would be East-bound 13 hours.  I thought I might feel sad, but we are ready for HOME.