Settling Into Life in Detroit

blue berkley bullock homeOur family has been in Michigan for a few weeks now, and I feel like we’re settling into normal life. Well, as much as possible.

November was a month of transition. Packing, driving cross country, starting a new job, finding my way around, and trying to catch my breath. We were fortunate to be able to stay with the Mero Family in Plymouth for a few weeks, who we knew from our time in Michigan back in 2008. We did the one-car double-commute thing for two weeks, where we’d leave Plymouth, drop Taylor off at the airport in Romulus, I’d drive to work in Troy, and then go back to Plymouth. It was 120 miles round trip, and very exhausting and time consuming. I flew back to Salt Lake two weekends in a row to pack, attend a going away party, and get some last visits in with friends and family. On the second trip back, Rosie returned to Detroit with me.

I began working as an SEO specialist at Moncur Associates, a digital branding agency. I will be focusing on SEO, but working with the social media team to integrate social and content strategies for our clients. It’s been an interesting transition to go back to SEO after doing full-time social media at my last job, but I know that my social media experience makes me a better SEO, and vice versa. When I began working, the office was in Troy. Three weeks later, the office had relocated to Southfield. It’s a convenient location to my house, and a pretty snazzy contemporary office.

wooden dining room setOn the last day of November, we got the keys to our new house in Berkley. Our house is a cozy blue 1920’s bungalow with a white porch, squeaky wood floors, and a good backyard. Berkley is a suburb 11 miles north of downtown Detroit. I know this because we live off 11 Mile Road. When we drove out from Utah, we packed as much as we could into the cars. Because we had to coordinate the moving truck with Taylor’s company, we knew it would be a while before our stuff was delivered. Right now, the estimated arrival date is December 30th.

Our Black Friday was spent furniture shopping. We got some fantastic deals, and purchased a dining room set, couch, and beds. Other than our new furniture and the miscellaneous STUFF we’ve purchased on our multiple Target/Meijer/Costco/Walmart runs, the house is otherwise empty. It will be nice to have all of our dishes, kitchenware, dressers, linens, decorations, and clothes, but for now…we have enough to get by.

7 foot artificial christmas treeWe debated over a real vs artificial Christmas tree this year. I was set on getting a real tree…until I went shopping for a real tree. I don’t consider myself OCD at all, but I started getting frustrated at the “fresh” trees I saw in tree lots. Most were severely asymmetrical and patchy, and really didn’t look very pretty. The ones that were full and looked nice had very sharp needles. Four lots later, I gave in to Taylor’s pleadings and got an artificial tree. As a consolation, we bought a lovely fresh fir wreath. With the tree set up, full of lights and ornaments, this alone has helped our house feel like a home.

Christmas will be simple this year. Taylor will be on a 4-day trip, so Rosie and I will be on our own. Luckily, many new friends and people in our ward have invited us to celebrate with them, so we’ll have ways to be merry in our new city.

Home Invasion

Rosie and I spent a few days away from home this weekend. When we arrived home and walked into the house last night, most of our electronics were out of place. Components were detached from cables, games and movies were mixed up and thrown into places we never put them, and an XBOX 360 was sitting in the middle of the room. Our sliding glass door was slightly open, and a very strange note was on the floor:

We called up the Spanish Fork Police Department, and an officer came over to survey the situation. The suspect entered through our front window, pulled out the screen and forced the front window open…bending the track of the window and breaking the lock. Once they had the loot, the unlocked the sliding door, which gave them access to come back and take more, or just “borrow” our stuff for a while. The officer told me that we are not the only ones in the neighborhood who’ve had this happen recently, and the written plan is consistent with the other thefts that have happened nearby. The note details the masterplan of the heist, and it was obvious that the theft was pulled off by kids.  Looking closely at the XBOX 360, we realized it wasn’t our console. It was an older XBOX version that had the “red ring of death,” and the input for the power cord was bent.

After working with SFPD, and putting a few facts together, I was pretty sure who did it. Rosie remembered that a neighbor boy who occasionally came to our house liked to play games with her, because his XBOX was broken. I’d had previous uneasy feelings about this boy, and he only came over to play video games. I knew his home situation was rough, with several older and younger siblings. His mom works at McDonalds, and would give her kids free food coupons to pass out at school. He has scars on his face from a brother splashing hot cooking oil on him, and he often wanders around the neighborhood alone without a winter coat.

I decided to take the broken XBOX over to the suspected boy’s home and confront his mother. She doesn’t speak English very well, and I could tell that her kids were twisting my words when they translated for her. After an hour of several kids denying facts, explaining how it couldn’t possibly be their 8-year old brother to write out the note, the truth came out when we plugged in the 2 XBOX consoles. The beat up one we brought over immediately glowed the “red ring of death,” which requires the console to be mailed to Microsoft for repair. The console the kids brought up from the basement had all gamer tag information recently swiped off of it, but it was undoubtedly ours.  The mother realized that her kids had our XBOX, but wanted to talk to her kids privately and get back to me.

About 30 minutes later, two of the teenage siblings showed up at our door (with no coats on.) The mother wanted me to come back over and talk with her. A large pile of our missing items sat upon their kitchen counter, including HD cables, games, wireless controllers, and our Game Cube. She made her kids apologize to me, and say that they’d never do it again. Most of our items were recovered at their house last night, but we are still missing about $100 of games, controllers, and movies. The mom was mortified that her kids pulled off the heist, and that so many of them were involved.

Rosie is not taking the whole situation well. She thought this kid was her friend, and feels so betrayed. I am angry that the kids did not come clean immediately, and that they didn’t return all of our missing items. I feel bad for the mother, as she realized that her kids worked together to break into a house, steal things, and repeatedly lied to her that they didn’t do it. I know their family is struggling financially, and the mother looked to be at the end of her rope when she opened the door (before having any idea about the theft). We had a hard time communicating due to the language barrier, and her kids changed my words when they translated our conversation. I think that between the police department and our renters policy, we’ll be able to recover our missing items. I just hate the negative and violated emotions that a situation like this evokes.

My least favorite chore

I snagged this graph off Callie’s blog. I can totally relate…for my whole house actually. I’m so glad I’ve got a husband that will spare my poor eczemic hands and do the dishes for me. Love you Taylor!

Settling In

We’ve had possession of our condo for a week now, and I thought I’d post a few pictures of our new home. Our moving truck still won’t be here for another week, so we have no beds, dishes, furniture, etc. We’ve been staying at Clint’s house in Stone Mountain, but last night we bought some air mattresses and hunkered down in our empty place. And now the virtual tour!

Rosie is leading us down the stairs to the back of the building where our unit is…

And Voila! Our new place. This is the sunroom that will function as our music/exercise room. I got a nice keyboard for Christmas to brush up on my my piano skills, and we got an elliptical machine on order to help fulfill our New Years Resolutions.

This is part of our living room and dining room. It’ll be fun to have a gas fireplace. Unfortunately, the layout of the room is a little wonky, and we don’t have anywhere to put our 15 year old partially-functioning tv (no room for an entertainment center) After much pleading, Taylor purchased a flat-screen tv that will be mounted on top of the mantle of the fireplace. Now we can watch our Yule Log DVD in style!
Here’s Rosie again in the sunroom. She’s excited about her gift from Santa this year. He delivered the bike to Georgia, so Rosie had to wait VERY patiently to get her gift.

Here’s the kitchen. It’s a bit on the small side, and there isn’t a lot of storage. Thankfully, the dining room is large enough to get some armoires and shelving to take care of what the cupboards don’t. Some trips to IKEA are in our future.

This is the Utility/Laundry room. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have my own washer and dryer again! No more laborious trips to the laundromat!

And this is the master bedroom. Rosie’s room is identical on the opposite side, except our room has a little walk-out porch. There’s adequate closet space, but I was disappointed that it didn’t have the huge walk-in closets that I mistakenly remembered from another place we viewed. We’ll make it work.

After a lot of hassle and paperwork, Rosie starts school today at her new school. So far I’m REALLY enjoying my job (Yes, it’s true…those of you coworkers who’ve found my blog) Everyone is so friendly, and I feel my skills will be much better utilized. My commute to Emory is about 20 minutes when traffic is bad. I’m currently working in a really nice office building off campus. Once we move back to campus in 6 months, I’ll be doing the park and ride. It picks up a few blocks away from home, and drops off two buildings away from the health sciences building.

Taylor flies off to Michigan for one last time this morning. He’ll be packing the rest of our belongings into boxes, cleaning, and disassembling furniture today. Tomorrow morning he’ll load up the moving truck, turn in the keys, and fly back to Georgia for good.

Two homes for sale

My parents have finished the packing, cleaning and repairs on their house in Murray, and it’s on the market now. It’s sad to think that this house may be in someone else’s name the next time I’m in Salt Lake. They have lived there for 15 years.
Also, my Grandma Watson has decided to sell her house in Tualatin, OR and to move to Salt Lake. She wants to spend the time at the Family History Library and live two blocks from Temple Square. If she sells her house quick enough, she might be living in the same apartment building as my parents. She’s lived there almost 20 years.

So many memories in both of these homes. It’s hard to believe that they’ll be out of the family soon.

Update on my Dad

Several of you have been asking for updates on my dad’s progress. He’s improving steadily, he’s on the final fittings for his C-leg (computerized prosthetic), and he’ll be done with his rehab at Aspen Ridge within the next few weeks. You can read up on him at his blog with lots more pictures.

The most shocking news in a while came this week, when Assist Utah came to do an assessment on my parents’ house. It’s 3 stories, with a steep driveway and curved staircases. To renovate the home, add chair lifts, and make it wheelchair accesible…the potential bid was $40-80 thousand! And this estimate would not include renovations to their steep driveway, which he can’t get up on his own in the wheelchair. The planning, contracting, bidding, and construction could take upwards of 4 months, and he’ll be ready to leave Aspen Ridge by the end of May. With this info, it appears that finding a new house is a better option long term.

It needs to meet quite a bit of criteria. The driveway must be flat or very slightly inclined. There must be an accessible door to build a wheelchair ramp. There must be doorframes at least 30″ wide, which is wider than the standard 28″. The toilet area and shower must be wide enough to allow wheelchair access. The list goes on and on.

We’ll have more info within the next week or two what will happen with their housing situation. It’ll be sad to have to give up the Green Oaks home. It’s been 15 years of traditions and memories for my family.


I just got a letter today from the La Verne Police Department. It was notifying us that a HIGH RISK SEX PREDATOR has moved into the house behind us, across the alley, one house over. He has served sentences for three felony sex crimes, two for children under 14, and was released from parole last month. This is making me sick to my stomach. I have seen this man before, and his car has driven by my house. He lives within 100 feet of us, and Rosie’s bedroom window faces the alley he drives on. I’ll definitely be keeping the blinds closed. Now, to get William to close that blasted gate….