Friday, May 29, 2015

The Series of Misadventures and Failures that was Living in Colorado

 I think I have been asked hundreds of times why we left Colorado, so it's about time that I just blogged about it. It makes it easier for everyone.
Last August we moved to the Denver area so I could attend graduate school at the University of Colorado. (Which was an adventure in and of itself.) When we arrived we discovered that our apartment was 650 square feet smaller than our contract stated. In fact apartments as big as our contract stated did not exist. They gave us one that was 50 sq ft bigger than the first and a free garage and storage unit to put our stuff in. As there was a housing shortage and we were there with our moving truck, we didn't have a whole lot of options. The apartment was brand new and the location seemed great so we took it.
 I checked out the elementary school for our kids before we selected our place. It seemed very close in scores to the one my kids attended previously. But my kids were bullied, so I started volunteering in their classes so I could be more aware of what was going on. I felt like their teachers were great, I LOVED their teachers. However, there were other factors that made it hard, like a very large number of kids in their classrooms who didn't speak any English, and an unusually high percentage of kids with special needs. As great as these ladies are, they can only do so much.
 In November I was notified that I was a possible match to donate blood stem cells to someone with leukemia through the Be the Match program. That was super exciting.
 In December my son's 1st grade teacher quit. It was hard and she decided it wasn't what she wanted to do.
 In January I started a temporary nursing position that I was super excited about. It didn't work out very well. After a month I requested that I be oriented as much as they had promised, and they fired me. It would have been nice if they fired me the week before we bought a second car instead of the week after. :/
 A week before my winter semester started I began having intense abdominal pain. After a couple days of that, I went into the emergency room. They found a hemorrhaging mass (cyst) the size of an
orange on my ovary. They told me it might be cancer and if I needed more pain meds before I could see  a specialist I should just come back to the ER. I know that sounds completely ridiculous, but I am not making this up.
 A few weeks later, the OB/GYN said that the cyst appeared to be gone, but they would do more follow-up in 6 weeks. The upshot was that after a couple months they said I don't have ovarian cancer, (yay!) and the problem with my ovaries isn't worth treating unless I am winding up in the ER on a regular basis. (So far, so good.)
On the day that I went to the ER we also discovered that my son was failing every subject except math. Between having a string of substitute and potential replacements, he and most of his class were failing. The longer we stayed the more miserable my daughter was. There was one week where she cried everyday on the way to school, she hated it so much. We had tried to get our kids into the gifted school, but we were told that you have to live in the district for a year and then there was a long application process. So we were waiting to hear if our kids would be accepted to the gifted school for the next year.
 In February I was notified that I was indeed the best possible match for the person with leukemia. They drew a 19 large tubes of blood for diagnostic tests. I walked out of the office pale and with blue lips. I went home, fainted and hit my head in my kitchen. Be The Match decided that it was probably best to go with the second closest match. Between my hemorrhaging mass and all the blood draws I was pretty anemic, meaning finding the energy to do my homework and keep my kids alive took all my will-power. I was grateful that they had a back-up match.
  The day I was scheduled for my ultrasound I also took a practical exam that I failed. 85% was required to pass. I was nervous and I missed just a few too many points. So even though I still had an A in that class I failed the whole course by default, and I'll have to retake it later.
 Meanwhile no one wanted to buy my big beautiful house in Utah. We put a ton of money into upgrades. No offers. We dropped the price by enough that we would lose at least $20K. No offers. Nor could we
rent it for enough to cover our costs. And Colorado kept getting more and more expensive. During 2014 Denver tied with San Francisco for the highest inflation rate.  Lots of people wanted to move there (for marijuana and various other reasons) and the housing supply did not match the demand. We were paying almost twice as much for our tiny apartment as for our large house that had nearly four times the space. And in the 8 months that we were there the market value of our apartment went up 30%. We heard all kinds of crazy stories about people struggling to buy houses and the longer we stayed, the more we realized that the prospects of us getting into a place that was both big enough for our family and near a good school for our kids were not very good. The final straw was when our daughter was accepted into the gifted school and our son was put on a waiting list. Not good enough. Even though our place was convenient for me, staying right there was not a good option. We couldn't ignore the fact that his academic needs were being ignored. I may be a lot of things. I'm a nurse. I'm a student. I'm a runner, I'm a coach, but first and foremost I am a mom and I can't go after my dreams at the expense of my kids.
 So we moved back to our big beautiful house in Utah. My daughter was immediately accepted into the local gifted school and my son will be there when he is old enough (Here the gifted programs don't start until 3rd grade).  The longer we are here, the more it is evident that this was the best move our for our kids. Our kids are more free to run around and make noise. We have enough living space (and then some) with reasonable lighting. They have more friends. Within 3 weeks my son was reading at grade level. All of our expenses are less, which takes off some stress. We LOVE it here, even more so than when we lived here before.  My husband and I have great friends here.  We have easy access to lots of hiking and outdoor play. I can do most of my classes online, and the rest gets complicated, but I will make it work.
 Colorado is beautiful and there were lots of fun things to do there. We made some really fantastic friends there who we miss, but unfortunately Colorado was not a good option for our family.
 In some ways the experience felt like a big expensive and painful failure. (We had several other smaller failures mixed in that adventure, but those were the highlights.) But we learned things. Do we know where we are going to be when I am done with school? No, not really. Would I do it that way again? Probably not. But I am stronger than ever and I learned lessons that I'm not sure you can put a price tag on.
 Moral of the story, sometimes things don't work out as planned, but we keep going, we learn and we find things to be grateful for along the way.

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