Dobsons 411

Hanging on for the ultimate ride--God's great adventure.
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Location: Oregon

The author of fourteen contemporary and historical novels, Melanie Dobson lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her latest novels are Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor and Chateau of Secrets. More info at

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Welcome Home!

I love taking Sunday afternoon drives and dreaming about what it would be like to live in an oceanside manor or a log home in the mountains or a beautiful Victorian mansion downtown. But searching for a house where my family can actually live is another story.

When we found out we would be moving to Portland, we spent the first few weeks of December skimming through listings online, picking out our favorites, and then almost three weeks ago, we flew to Oregon and began visiting all the houses on our list. One by one we deleted our possibilities with swift, mental notes. Overpriced. Scary neighborhood. Too far from Jon’s work. Falling apart. Backs up to major intersection. Growing mold. Steep hill. Living room window overlooks neighbor (not that we don’t want to get to know our neighbors but the front row view into their house is too much for us).

And so we prayed yet again for help as I lost sleep over what we were going to do without a house. We had to move out of L.A. on the 27th, and if we didn’t have a place to live, we’d have to put everything back in storage and live out of our suitcases again…indefinitely. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the perks of living in a hotel, but after three years of constant traveling and moving, we were all ready to settle into something more permanent.

O ye of little faith…

A week ago on Saturday, we pulled up some new listings and began the search again. Our first stop was a house that was not only over our budget, but it needed major renovations and a truckload of bleach. Our shoulders slumped as we trekked out to our car yet again and drove to the next place.

Nothing could have prepared us for what we found.

When I walked into this house, Jon was up in the loft, grinning ear-to-ear as he gave me a giant two-thumbs-up. I breathed a deep sigh of relief before I even looked in the first room. It felt like home.

The house had a loft for the kids to play. A den that I could make my “library". Flat space out back for a trampoline. Multiple fireplaces. A giant kitchen (and bathtub). Gorgeous wrought-iron accents. And it was beside a wildlife refuge so the views out the side of the house were all treed. To top it off, the house was less expensive than almost every house we’d already looked at—right in our budget. Amazing. Thanks, God!!

We put in an offer. They accepted. And a week later (yesterday) we moved our furniture into our “dream home". The timing is incredible, and my shaky faith has been stretched yet again. I can almost hear God shouting from above (for all of you Extreme Home Makeover fans):

“Dobson Family…Welcome Home!”

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Snowed In

Snow is dumping outside our hotel window today. Portland is smothered with white, and the kids are hiding in the closet…now they’re running into walls…now they’re jumping on the bed. Fortunately, there’s a swimming pool downstairs, plenty of local food delivery, and Dora the Explorer waiting to entertain my troops from the TV. The girls are just thrilled that we don’t have to spend another day hunting for a house—the whole caged-up-in-a-car thing is getting old.

The past month we’ve been living out of our suitcases between Orlando, Los Angeles, and now Portland. We visited Disney World over Christmas, and Karly was mesmerized by all the princesses and their “beautiful dresses.” Kiki discovered Pluto...and hasn’t stopped talking about him since. They both got to race around the curves on their first “koller coaster” and fly away on the Dumbo ride. But as much fun as they had at Disney and “Apricot” (Epcot), they preferred spending their days jumping on the trampoline with their very cool cousins and playing in Uncle Gerry’s swimming pool.

Our warm, wonderful two weeks in Orlando sped by, and then we flew back to L.A. to replace our T-shirts and shorts with sweaters and jeans. We sped off to the airport again until our shuttle to L.A.X. broke down. Our airplane also had mechanical issues, circling L.A. for almost an hour before we flew north. We were just grateful the plane didn’t leave us stranded as well.

It’s been cold and sunny since we arrived in Oregon—my first time in Portland. I love all the trees and hills and older homes mixed in with the new. I can’t tell you how many houses we’ve toured, but we’ve narrowed our search down to two. After moving so often during the past three years, its strange—and a bit scary—to buy a house. But I’m sure living in a hotel for a few more weeks will alleviate all of my fears.

Our official move is in less than two weeks—house or no house. Here’s to hoping snowy Portland is finally home!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Grandma's Final Goodbye

My grandma died yesterday. She’s been sick for a while, longing for a place where she would be healthy and warm again. As hard as it is to say goodbye, it's time for her to go home.

Grandma lost her hearing from a stroke while I was in high school. She’s been communicating for two decades by scribbled notes and hand gestures though the past few years she hasn’t been able to read or write much. I can imagine her this morning singing with the angels. Basking in the beautiful music. Savoring the warmth of God’s light. And resting in Grandpa’s strong arms.

My grandmother was a confident, strong-willed woman. She raised four daughters, made the best strawberry jam I’ve ever tasted, and encouraged me to dream big as a writer. Every Easter, Christmas, and Fourth of July, she welcomed her nine grandchildren home with enthusiastic hugs and kisses, and then she’d faint from the excitement. Grandma fainted over and over again when the grandkids were there. And then she’d stand in her window when we left and blow kisses and wave and wave until we were out of sight.

Grandma’s home has been the one consistent place in my life. She’s lived in the same house since I was born, and I relish the memories—crowding into her dining room for brunch, scrambling across the grassy hill to find Easter eggs, laying under the Christmas tree to look up at the lights, climbing the giant tree in her backyard, playing Tiddlywinks with my cousins, and hiding away in the musty basement to read Goodnight Moon and Madeline.

The last time I visited Grandma, I sensed that it might be our final goodbye. Her great granddaughters may not remember her, but I’m grateful that they both got to meet her. And they both have a beautiful doll that she picked out especially for them to cherish.

I can still see Grandma’s face in the window, smiling and waving and blowing kisses. But now I’m the one blowing kisses as she leaves for home.

I’ll miss you, Grandma! Please give Grandpa a hug for me and tell Jesus that someday I want to join your side. We’ll sing together and tell stories without a pencil and paper and dance the Charleston down the golden streets like crazy kids.