We Sold Everything and Moved to Europe!
Moving Abroad...Our Exit Story
Well technically not everything. We kept the kids, and 6 suitcases, added a few carry ons, backpacks, one diaper bag, and a stroller. Six people with six bags. That was our motto, and that was our plan. We were moving abroad to The Czech Republic to adopt a new minimalist lifestyle and explore the world, with nothing more than our sense of adventure and the bags we could (optimistically) carry!
If you missed the backstory, you can read that here.
Soaking in our last California moments before moving abroad…
Pretty much once we pulled the trigger on the move a few months ago, things have progressed in what has felt like warped speed. Add summer to it, and poof! There goes time. We decided to commence our new traveling lifestyle by squeezing an impromptu and seriously epic 2,000 mile roadtrip through Baja, Mexico. I have an entire series coming up about it, the first of which you can read here. All I can say is - Epic! And heart eyes. #adventure #wildandfree #familybonding Ok, there is actually tons to say!
That trip was a really great primer for what we would experience in the coming weeks. It was a total lesson in adaptability, and although we are no strangers to enjoying life outside of our comfort zones, we chase it actually, this trip pushed us about as far past comfort as ever before! And we loved every bit of it! I mean, 15 days off the grid most of the way, with a total language barrier. We learned just how minimalist we can really be, how to be present, in the moment, and how to appreciate the simple things. It especially sharpened Scott's ability to navigate precarious situations while working remotely, since the main thing he needs to work is, a GRID! We overcame obstacles together; we wandered and toured all around Baja California, and we soaked it in.
The morning after we got back from Baja, Mexico I powered my way through some food poisoning, only because I gloatingly tooted my horn once we got back that my diligence in dishing out probiotics each day kept everyone spared from any travelers sickness while roadtripping all around Mexico for 15 days! Well, I fell casualty big time and my GAH it was the worst food poisoning (pretty certain it was food poisoning) I have ever experienced in my entire life. Luckily I fast tracked my way through it and was halfway lucid in time to grab the kids and pick my mom up at the airport that evening. I mean, what a blessing it was that I pushed my way through such a debilitating episode in a matter of hours, just in time to enjoy every minute with my mom. Earlier that morning I was hoping I would at least get a few enjoyable minutes with her before she left a week later, I was so down and out I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. So the fact that I was able to wipe the sweat off my brow, and even pull the house together a bit, was nothing short of a miracle!
When we picked up a slightly delirious, fresh from the toilet herself, green faced Grammie, I felt less bad about my still clammy face greeting her and assured her that the bathroom I had used at home had been repeated bleached and barricaded for added measure to protect the other inhabitants from possibly contracting whatever plague I had journey through earlier that day. (Either I am a master at quarantining or it was food poisoning).
After driving back to the house, we stayed up late watching some reality TV and nibbling on the most delectable toast ever together on two completely emptied out systems. Awww mom. Heart. She always is there to provide moral support. Who doesn’t just want their mommy when they’re sick, ya know?
We had just arrived back from Mexico, but this would be one of the last evenings we would get to enjoy our home all put together before things would start getting torn down and pulled apart and sold over the next week. One of the last evenings I would be able to ritualistically turn on my favorite lamps of ambiance, grab my favorite blanket, and sink into my favorite spot on the couch tuning into my favorite American broadcasted shows with the company of my favorite mom to boot! I acknowledged it, and I soaked it in.
Staycationing and more soaking…
The next day we journeyed 10 minutes up the coast to Newport beach where we stayed as we continued to procrastinate our impending responsibilities. Abroad to Europe was fast approaching, but we decided to staycation in our own back yard before we left, something we had yet to ever do in 11 years living in coastal California! We stayed at Newport Coast Villas where no luxury is spared.
We played all day in the good weather and enjoyed the ocean views, the warm sun and the cool breezes, the abundance of pools, the mini-golf, the scenically located grills, the early morning gym sessions a walk away, the salt water taffy buffet in the front office, and the meticulously manicured everything in the surrounding Newport Beach neighborhood. We relaxed, and played, ate snow cones, and hot dogs and visited. We vacationed. We soaked it in.
Last Ocean Swim for the Soul
We got back from Newport Beach and were visited by Scott's parents. We ate at one of our favorite legit Chinese restaurants in Irvine. A somewhat tradition when they come to town. And we dished our lots of hi and bye hugs.
Then we beach-hopped some more and kissed that Laguna Beach sand.
And then the sad day came to send Grammie on her way. Lydia was not a fan of this.
Preparing for take off…
The day after my mom left, we were washed with the reality of our extensive chore list leading up to our departure. We were leaving by way of air, so ready or not, our date of departure was fixed and imminent, and while that was kind of stressful, it was mostly freeing! We could only accomplish what time would allow, and once time was up September 13th, at 2pm, we would have to load up and drive out and outsource the remainder of our unfinished business.
As an established family of 11 years with 4 kids we had the opportunity to accumulate a sizeable amount of "crap", as Scott called it. But "crap" that had value. We contacted an Estate Sale company a few weeks earlier to sort and sell everything we own. After my mom left, they came straight away and started prepping for the sale.
Since we had just returned from our staycation in Newport, I still had not packed our bags for Europe. As in, packed our bags for moving. Packed our bags for things we are keeping, and with which, making a new life, in new home, in another country, with a new climate, on another continent!! Ah! Mind you I also was trying to research and shop for winter gear for the kids, and school necessities, as they would be starting school right away, and have that shipped to us before our take off. Researching, packing, shopping, and sorting (and taking care of kids). I was doing all of this along side of the Estate Sale company, who was at the same time pulling, and piling, and relocating everything in sight. Piles of my sorted clothes would disappear and be disassembled and priced for sale into piles of theirs, so getting our bags packed and out of the house was top priority.
I was finally able to get everything packed into our strict allowance of six bags after pulling an all nighter, and by the time the estate company was back the next day, Scott and I were packing everything into the mini-van as requested in order to get out of dodge for a few days so they could conduct the sale without our constant interference.
Preparing for takeoff while doing more soaking…
We checked into our local Marriott since we were members of the club there and were able to get a handsome discount on a room. We were fully enjoying the necessity of delegation at this point. While the Estate Sale company sorted and sold our life of 11 years, we lounged by the pool and ordered up pizza. And by lounging, I mean Scott worked by the sweat of his brow in the hotel room to chase his crushing deadlines while I shlepped 4 kids and the entirety of our belongings around. It felt like we barely made a pit stop back home before being rushed into waving good bye to the looks of it forever.
Having one last staycation two blocks from home was the perfect goodbye touch. We were able to enjoy the kids club, the gym, the restaurant, and the pool per usual, but were also able to add in a nice clean, piles of laundry free room and the breakfast buffet each morning. We were even able to see and play with lots of friends as they came and went since we were taking up residence at the neighborhood hot spot. This is my holy grail. Gym, hotel breakfast, pool, friends, and kids club - it doesn't get much better! I am totally soaking it in.
Tying it up…
Once our estate sale was over, we came home and assessed the state of things. Both of our cars sold at the sale, along with most of our belongings. All of our beds were left, some blankets and one lamp, so I was able to make a little hotel room in our bedroom with all of the remaining items I could gather, and we decided it was livable enough for our last few remaining days.
We spent those last few days spending time with friends and soaking them in.
On our last night we had an impromptu gathering with some of our friends so we could collect as many hugs and laughs for our journey onward. It was perfection.
One minor (major) snag we had run into was... the baggage. I had successfully packed life for 6 people for 4 full seasons into 6 suitcases. Somehow I had achieved this beast of a task. I forfeited sleep and accomplished it. I celebrated. But to my horror, the bags wouldn’t fit in the car with the car seats AND all the kids! After realizing leaving a kid behind wasn't a viable option, I accepted that I now had the daunting task of editing down our meticulously packed luggage by one bag, with one day to go. I didn’t have the emotional or mental stamina left to do it. We had come so far, have battled our way through so many obstacles for years to make this move happen, and this was what might break me. I seriously considered just enny meeny miny moeing a suitcase out. I had entered a stage of decision fatigue and was brought to my knees every time Scott came to me regarding another hiccup in our departing plans as the hourglass poured. Decision fatigue. It is a thing! I eliminated all the non-essential decisions, and then somehow I powered my way through the rest of them.
On our last morning we called as many people as we could to come over and take whatever they wanted of our remaining stuff and whatever wasn't claimed would be donated. During this time I was still scrambling to finish packing our bags, fit dirty laundry somewhere. Scott was scrambling to pack the car, and friends are coming and going and furniture was being disassembled upstairs and neighbors were dropping by to say adieu and before we knew it, it was 2pm! As anticipated, we had to just drop everything, grab our bags, and head out for LAX. I barely had enough time to look around and soak in the fact that this would be the last time I would see our home as our home. The only home that our 4 children have known. The home that welcomed two babies new. The home that hosted 25 birthdays and 5 Easters and 4 Thanksgivings, and 2 Christmases. I have but a few seconds to process it and settle it.
So here it is. We the moment we literally walk away from everything with a few bags to jump feet first into a total unknown. We did as much as we could fit into our remaining time, hugged all the friends we could gather, sold and rehomed as much as our stuff as possible and now time is up!
This was a season of life we enjoyed to the fullest! I am at peace with our efforts to soak in all the beauty we were blessed with while we were in Orange County. Cultivating friendships with the people we were blessed to have in our lives. Allowing those people to leave forever impressions on us that will influence our path onward. Wherever we travel and whoever we meet, we have an added layer from our time here and these friendships to share with the world. Ready or not, as I am rushing out the door to meet the rest of the family waiting for me in the car, I grab my sunglasses and close the door on that season of life. I soaked it in, and now I can look forward with the cheerful faces I love, to the endless possibilities ahead of us! Just us and a (rented) car full of our essentials. We are lighter and freer and ready for whatever new life greets us!