What a year 2013 was for us! And now that 2014 is here (after lots of changes in our lives in 2013) I decided I wanted to start blogging again.
At the end of 2012 we sat down and talked about our future. When I met Chris he talked about living somewhere north. And once we got married he was still saying “Someday I am going to live north…”
So we decided 2013 was going to be the year we made some changes. Most of you know that Chris is a computer genius. GENIUS. And being the CTO for Sandra Johnson Photography was great but Chris was doing much more in his free time. He was writing apps, writing websites, writing programs, writing ALL sorts of code. And all for fun. Chris said he really wanted to work for a company doing the code and programming that he loved so much so he started looking for jobs. His first big “I WANT this job” location? Seattle, Washington. Chris interviewed with two companies out there (the first interviews were over the phone and I eavesdropped from our living room. I was so enamored with him – he was rocking these interviews! Most of them were video chat interviews and many of them had Chris write code. Not only was Chris writing code, he was carrying on social conversations with the interviewers while he coded. It was incredible! He was laughing, they were laughing. 2013 was going to be a good year.
Chris and I flew out to Seattle and checked out the town. We rented a loft from VRBO and it was in Belltown on Western Avenue. We were so spoiled – we could walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. We then drove all over the Lake Union, Magnolia, Queen Anne and Washington Park Arboretum areas and we agreed that we loved Seattle and wanted to move there! We did some hiking on a beautiful sunny day (yes, Seattle has sunny days more often than people think) around Sand Point Park. They had an amazing dog park there that was more like a dog park and hiking area combined and everything was fenced but didn’t “feel” fenced in case your dog took off after a squirrel. They even had a really nice dog beach area on Lake Washington and several dogs were swimming and chasing after balls. We saw an area where people kept showing badges as they came and went but they also had dogs with them. We thought it was maybe a permit area or something but it turns out is the NOAA and people not only bring their dogs to work (awesome!!!) but they take them on a walk in Sand Point Park on their lunch break! We stopped and talked to the guard a little bit and he said if we showed our IDs we were welcome to come into the property and check out the Sound Garden. The Sound Garden features 12 steel tower structures, inside of which hang organ pipes of varying lengths that produce low tones when the wind blows around and through them. At the top of the towers, horizontal steel vanes catch the wind and rotate the pipes. It was really neat!
We also met up with some friends in Bellevue and went to dinner. The whole Bellevue area is like a whole other downtown city center like downtown Seattle. We loved it and could picture ourselves living there, too. Our favorite drive was around Redmond, WA. You really feel like you are in the mountains and the area has more of a small town feel. Yet you are still so close to big Seattle and all it has to offer, too!
But Chris had a third interview he was doing via video with a museum in Washington, DC. We had both been to Washington, DC together (on a road trip back when we were dating and more recently to shoot a wedding) so we knew we liked it. We had just never been with the idea of moving there. The more Chris talked to this museum the more he was SUPER excited about the team and the job. I could tell that the DC job was definitely his favorite. It was a roller coaster of weeks thinking “he definitely has this job” to “why haven’t we heard from them?” and it was over and over. It was a long process (at least it seemed like it at the time!) but in the end Chris was offered the job and of course he said YES!!!
I was at a yoga class the morning Chris got the job. We had talked about him dropping me off and picking me up so we could go to lunch after. When he picked me up he said “I have great news! We are moving to Washington, DC!” I was freaking out – of course in a good way. But I was now crying happy tears and freaking out about packing up 13 years of stuff, transitioning my business, selling the house – all of these things that I knew would have to happen but was trying not to freak out about before. I was crying so many happy tears I told Chris I wouldn’t be able to go to lunch! But we sat outside with the dogs at Lime and it was definitely a memorable lunch!
We decided that leaving for DC the next day was our best bet – we had to squeeze in moving plans with all of the weddings and portraits SJP still had on the books. We stayed in a hotel near DuPont Circle and just like Seattle (the other Washington we were considering before now!) we did a lot of walking, a lot of bike riding and a lot of driving. We decided to not check out the DC suburbs – we were going to start living in the District and then figure out if we want to move out to Maryland or Virginia once we were settled. The Capital Bikeshare program was really, really helpful for us during our new home search. We had no idea what neighborhood we wanted to live in so we rode the Bikeshare bikes all over DC. We agreed we both loved the DuPont Circle and Logan Circle area the best. We met so many great people and a lot of other dog owners while talking to strangers on the streets. We also liked Georgetown because of all the dogs and baby strollers you see. I also liked the SW Waterfront area and we rode our bikes around there a lot – the only problem with that area was it was a little TOO residential. There weren’t a lot of bars or restaurants and we knew we wanted that.
In our new home search we found that DC shuts down on the weekend. We spent our weekdays checking out neighborhoods and once we were ready to start looking at homes it was the weekend. We called, sent texts and emailed a LOT of people. And we only heard back from one person for a home near Logan Circle. We looked at that home (it would have worked but we didn’t love it) and decided it was time to head back to Florida where we could maybe get more done over the phone and internet. As we headed back to Florida around 10am my phone and email went nuts! Apparently people in DC don’t work on the weekends and Monday morning is when they are back into work mode!
We made a second trip up to DC and this time we had five homes lined up to view. Our plan upon arriving in DC was to drive to and walk around each home after dark. It was around 10pm on a weeknight so it was a perfect way to see how parking would be (if we didn’t have a parking spot) and if the neighborhood felt safe. Every home we looked at was perfect at night. So now we just had to make our decision once seeing each home in person. It was a pretty easy decision – the home in Georgetown was by far the best. And a big deciding factor was the neighbors – while waiting to view the Georgetown home one neighbor came out to walk her Chesapeake Lab and another neighbor’s Mastiff was looking out the window at us while we waited.
Then the fun started! We moved a lot of basics to DC right away and then as I went back and forth for weddings in Florida I brought up more and more. I was doing a lot of driving since I was taking James and Goblin with me (until we lost Goblin to cancer on July 31, 2013). Chris was doing a lot of flying – he would fly to Orlando after work on Friday and fly back home Sunday night or early Monday morning. It was getting to be a pretty normal routine for us and we spent a LOT of time on FaceTime while apart. But slowly my weddings were wrapping up in Florida and I knew by January I would be in DC full time. I still have weddings in 2014 in Florida and I will make those mini-vacations to Florida while there from now on and I am really looking forward to it! I started to realize that keeping a second home was too much work – whenever I arrived in Florida I was in “chore” mode: cleaning, pulling weeds, refilling the bird feeders, etc. It wasn’t too bad but I found I didn’t have any “down” time to really enjoy Florida.
My last 2013 wedding in Florida was on December 28th and we celebrated the New Year in Washington, DC! I am looking forward to 2014 – we have a few destination weddings on the books (Chris will help me with those) and I have a few weddings in Florida I will be covering with a new assistant. My website is being updated for Washington, DC so hopefully I will start booking some weddings up here, too!