A week ago, I published the first installment of my family's first trip to Bucks County, Pennsylvania. While we stayed in the county for a week I only revealed the happenings of the first few days in the post and I couldn't leave you hanging, could I?
The second half of the week in PA felt more difficult than the first. When we didn't find a house in the first few days in the area, it was less of a struggle but as we approached the end of our trip, we began to struggle with the idea that we wouldn't find a house while we were there. I hated the thought and it was becoming more and more difficult to have faith that God had something for us as well as staying strong in my belief that He intended for us to move in the beginning of June. What if we couldn't sell our house? What if we didn't find a house? What if I was jobless? These were the questions that floated, unspoken, in the air.
Yet, we did have some enjoyable experiences.
Though Holly (and the rest of the family) seemed to know she would attend The Hill school after her visit to the campus, she constantly mentioned that she had "not technically decided" as she was waiting to see The Han School of Princeton before she made her final decision.
Monday was the day The Han School had set aside for incoming students. This day (as well as the one for The Hill) was called a "re-visit" day. It should be noted that we didn't know about the existence of re-visit days until Holly was accepted into the schools in mid-March. Thus, when we planned and booked the trip, it wasn't with these in mind. It seemed like coincidentally (or God-touched) good luck, then that we were arriving the day before The Hill's revisit day and would be in the area on The Han's revisit day as well.
Since I wasn't particularly excited about the idea of visiting the school (especially since I was reasonably sure Holly would not be attending The Han School), I stayed at the Airbnb while the rest of the family went to Princeton and explored both the college there and The Han School.
I spent most of my day reading Stalking Jack the Ripper though I also watched a few episodes of Designated Survivor. I also did some research on querying. Though I was reasonably sure that my book had been improved tenfold and matched the standards of well-published books, I had received three negative responses to queries by this time and nothing positive. While I still have seven other queries out there, I was getting nervous, fearing that this round of querying would turn out the same as the last. So I spent some time trying to work out whether or not there was something wrong with my query. Though I did find some viable options for query critiques and editors who would look at my first few pages, I ultimately decided to wait and see if other agents would reply.
The biggest excitement of the day was when Holly came home stating she would be attending The Hill. Though we all knew this by then, it was a nice moment for her to have something set in stone. I do feel that the rest of us struggled with a little bit of jealousy for her since we each had a plethora of unanswered questions and she was finally answering her biggest one. However, we were all excited that she was making the decision.
Tuesday was another big day for us all with a lot of excitement contained within it. We did manage to schedule another showing for a house that we were unsure of at first and we planned our day around the showing and a dinner that friends of Dad had invited us to.
When we reached the house, it was like a dream come true. There was an awesome front yard with trees lining the driveway and gardens all around. The back yard was beautiful with clusters of trees, a nice porch, and a stone area with a firepit. The rooms were stunning and one had a "interesting shapes," something high on my sister's list of priorities. The kitchen was gorgeous and there was more than enough living space for us. There was also an easy way to make an office for Dad and potentially allow room for guests somewhere. Most of all, I loved the basement with its windows, the beginning of a kitchen, a huge amount of space, and room for an office.
Unfortunately, when we got in the car, Dad surprised us. While we had all enjoyed the house (Mum, my two sisters, and I), Dad couldn't see himself there even if the minor problems with the house were resolved. This was a difficult moment for us all. We tried to understand why Dad didn't like it and he attempted to voice his reasons but ultimately, we were divided and depressed since the only house that seemed like a possibility was taken off the list. We had no other houses to look at (except one that seemed to have bigger issues than this house) and we were beginning to come to terms with the fact that we wouldn't find a house on this trip.
Still, we had other plans for the day. First on the list was an activity area. Dad talked it up, mentioning there was mini-golf, ice cream, and other activities. We arrived to find that, mostly, there was just mini-golf. The girls and Dad played a game while I sat in the car and finished Stalking Jack the Ripper (I am not a fan of mini-golf).
After the game, it was time to head to Lancaster where Dad would be meeting his friend and their employees and touring their office. We dropped him off at the office building and then continued on to a few places in Lancaster that we planned to visit. Starting with a mall.
The Lancaster mall was smaller than the King of Prussia one (which I noted was one of the biggest malls in America) but bigger than the Shasta Mall (which can be explored in just an hour or two depending on the stores one is interested in). Redding has very little variety of clothing. There are a few teen-clothing stores in the mall with skimpy tops and tight (usually ripped) jeans but for the most part, we have a (comparably) small Macy's, Old Navy, JCPenny's, and Khols. Honestly, it was nice to see that there were a number of different malls only an hour or so away from where we would live and plenty of other shopping opportunities if we wanted to stay closer to our new home.
While in the mall, we did find a few stores to enjoy. Mum and I checked out a cute pottery painting store. I was able. to visit BAM (books a million) for the first time (it is a bookstore chain similar to Barnes and Nobles but not quite as widespread). Plus Emily found one of her favorite stores (Lush) and we all enjoyed investigating the cutesy candy store.
We did end up moving on from the mall and attempting to visit a village shopping area. However, we either chose the wrong place, came at the wrong time, or were misled about the extensive-ness of the area. The only place open where we went was a little antique shop. The shop was fun to look around and we did get to experience seeing a little buggy and horse riding down the road on the way there.
We ended the day with dinner and dessert at the house belonging to Dad's friends. They were kind and enjoyable and seemed incredibly excited for our move to the area so it was a pleasant night. Before we left their home, the whole family prayed over our adventure (finding a home, selling our home, and all the other pieces to go with it).
Wednesday was our final day in the area (before our trip back on Thursday). We all were feeling a bit down about the trip since it hadn't had any success. Still, we were going to make the most of our day. We had already planned a few things for the day before we started out but did decide to add in a few things as we went.
First, there was one more house we wanted to see. The house had a stunning backyard in the photos with greenery all around the house and both gardens already planted with gorgeous plants and places Mum could put other gardens. That was where our love for the house ended. It just simply wasn't for us. The layout was strange. There were things wrong with every room. There was no basement to turn into an apartment. To say the cons outweighed the pros would be an understatement. While I made every effort to like it, afraid of being left without a house, I didn't enjoy it at all and neither did the rest of the family.
After the showing, we had the chance to visit the library in Doylestown. The library system in Bucks county is similar to that of Shasta County. There are many libraries located throughout the townships within the county and, from what I can tell, one's library card works for them all. I also believe that, like the Shasa County libraries, one could place a hold on a book and have it transported from one library to another. In the Shasta Public Libraries system, there are three libraries (Redding, Burney, and Anderson). I have a card for the system as a whole and use only the Redding library. On occasion, the book I want is unavailable via the Redding library but is located in Anderson. If I put a hold on it, the librarians ship the book to the Redding library where I can pick it up free of charge. The Bucks County system seems to be the same. One thing I really wanted to check out there was some of the books I had on my "to-read" list which weren't at the Shasta library. For example, Ten Thousand Doors of January has been on my list for a while but isn't at the Shasta library. I knew it was supposed to be in Bucks County so I checked it out and became excited to see that the book is there.
After our trip to the library, we (guided by Holly) came to the decision to go on a treasure hunt guided by God. We asked Holy Spirit for some items to put on our treasure hunt list (which included things like "a red barn with a white door" "elms" "the word HOPE" and "old lamps/lights"). Then we set off to explore. Though we still didn't find a house that we felt was ours, we did find many of the things on our list and enjoyed our time along the way. The hunt even seemed to bring a sense of hope that there was still something out there.
But it was Peddler's Villiage that I enjoyed the most on Wednesday. Peddler's Village is a cute area in Bucks County (around New Hope and Lahaska). According to google, the village has 65 shops and an inn. We only had the time to explore the tiniest portion of the shops but everything we saw, we loved. (pictures not mine).
The village has everything from books (The Lahaska Bookshop and Jazams) to clothes (Not Your Sister's Closet Boutique, Fox & Holly), toys and gifts (Jazams and The Mole Hole), food (The Lucky Cupcake), and specialty items like honey (Sticky Situations) and olive oil (Extra Virgin).
We didn't truly get to experience it but the village also has events. It seemed as though there were themes for each of the months of the year and events to go with them. While we were there, the theme was "peeps" and we saw a lot of peep-themed items and decor. We got to experience so little of the area that I desperately want to go back and spend a couple of days there just to visit all the stores (and participate in the activities) in Peddler's Village. It would be the perfect place for a vacation, date, or outing with friends.
We found a number of stores in Peddler's Village that we loved. In The Mole Hole, we found a cute gift for my brother which serves as a phone holder, screen cleaner, and stress ball all in one. We bought desserts from The Lucky Cupcake (mine was a blueberry cheesecake cake) which were all delicious. I loved Sticky Situations where there was amazing honey (some of which tasted like manuka honey you would find in NZ) and great-smelling tea. We bought a few honeys there and I got myself a jar of Rooibos Chai. Finally, we ran into (very out of the blue) a sign for a job opening in a book and toy store called Jazams. I was able to get an application (a paper bag I could decorate however I wanted) and apply. As soon as I arrived home, I began to decorate the paper bag and spent hours doing so with the following final project:
Thursday was another travel day. We were right on time for our flight from Newark to LA and though Mum and Holly (who had pre-check status) were able to buy us some sandwiches for lunch. there was no time for anything else.
I actually enjoyed the flight. I finished Sing 2 which I had started on the trip to PA. I also discovered (thanks to Mum who was also watching it) the show Making It. The show has hilarious hosts and is a competition between "makers" who craft all kinds of things. It's really enjoyable for "makers" like my mum and I.
Unfortunately, the trip was not without drama. When I went to get up from my seat at the end of the flight, I struggled with my sweater. I had to pull it hard to get it to come off the floor where the sleeve had landed... in someone's used chewing gum. The United cleaning crew hadn't cleaned the floor completely and instead left fresh (ish) chewing gum on the floor to get stuck to one of my favorite sweaters. I knew I would have to trash it and ask United for money for a new one (incredibly frustrating).
I also managed to lose my glasses somewhere between the first flight (after which I put them on) and the second (where I didn't have them on at all). United did an excellent job recovering these for me. I filled out a simple application with a description of my glasses and their last known whereabouts and they found them for me in only a couple of days. I have already had them back for a couple of days now (it is now the 13th and we arrived back on the 7th).
While the trip was exciting (in a bad way) our return home was enjoyable. I missed my t-shirt blankets, my own bedroom, and most of all, my dog (Asha). She greeted me happily when I arrived and seemed not to know what to do with herself. She wagged her whole body and pressed herself up against me. She couldn't work out if she wanted head pats or chin rubs or butt scratches. I was just happy to have her back.
Overall, the Pennsylvania trip was incredible. I loved Peddler's Village, enjoyed central Doylestown, and was thrilled with the number of bookstores in the area. But most of all, there was a feeling I had when I was there, of peace and hope and it left when I had to get on the plane to leave. I could tell it was the place for me at least in this coming season. I can't wait to get back there!