10 months on an island

The Walkers at Germanfest in Lincoln Square

Where to begin?


It’s me.


In Chicago now.

That was fast, right?

Just a few weeks ago we were on the island. Now we’re here. In our new home. A three bedroom apartment in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. Almost completely unpacked. Almost.

Crazy, right? I think so.

How on earth did we get here?

Well…it’s been a wild ride.

Remember how…

Remember how I had this blog called Love in the Time of Foreclosure about how we were trying to be better people and turn a bad situation into an opportunity while facing foreclosure?

And remember how we narrowly avoided foreclosure and sold our house in a short sale along with 90% of our possessions?

Remember how we had nowhere to go so my family said we could live with them while we got back on our feet… so we packed our car with the possessions that remained and drove from L.A. to Chicago… and then how a reader of Love in the Time of Foreclosure offered us an amazing opportunity?

Two years on an island. Yes. This angel reader offered us a caretaking gig of a 1910 farmhouse in the San Juan Islands. And remember how we jumped at that opportunity?

Remember how we packed our car again and drove from Chicago to Friday Harbor, WA?

And remember how when we arrived at the farmhouse in Friday Harbor we thought the house was haunted, I was afraid of the silence and dark and we felt totally isolated?

And then how we got pregnant?

And then made friends and fell in love with the place and people and got used to the quiet and realized it wasn’t haunted?

And remember how I got a job that I loved working the front desk of a hotel in Friday Harbor?

Remember how Bob had to commute from Friday Harbor to San Francisco for the last four months of my pregnancy making us a “commuter couple”?

Remember how we had to take an hour long ferry ride to the mainland?

Remember how we had a baby boy named Malcolm James Walker?

And remember how we were supposed to be on this island for two years. But then Bob got this call to be in Chicago for work and how we didn’t want to be apart anymore so we jumped at this call to move back to Chicago. For job. For family. For Malcolm?

And then how we packed the car up and drove from Friday Harbor to Chicago. This time with a baby.


All of that. ALL OF THAT happened within the span of 14 months… if you count back from the first move. The move from L.A. to Chicago. That was only 14 months ago. 14 months!

We have dramatically altered our life’s course and moved THREE TIMES zigzagging across the country in the last 14 months.

And now we’re home.

It’s crazy.

It happened so fast.

It’s surreal.

Everything that Bob said in his last post… ditto.

And now we’re home. I already said that, didn’t I? Probably because it really does feel like home. Because it is. And with a new baby it feels good to be exactly there. Home.

When we accepted the caretaking gig, we set some goals for the two years.

GOAL #1: Have a baby

GOAL #2: Eliminate all debt

We fulfilled goal #1.

We’re still working on goal #2.

We were supposed to be there two years. It turned out to be ten months.

The people who are taking over the gig (taking care of the house) are fantastic. The ideal people. A family. I’m so glad for them. I feel so much better knowing that we left our post in good hands.

I feel like I should have more to say. Something that makes sense of our lives. But there isn’t anything. I can’t just “sum it all up.” There’s too much.

Did we plan this?


Do we plan anything?

Well… not really. I mean. We try. We do. It’s just that things don’t usually go the way we plan.

What about Malcolm?

Yes. We planned him. In fact, he’s the one example of perfect planning. We said we wanted to have a child while we were on the island. We arrived to the island at the end of October and by Thanksgiving we knew we had created a child.

Just like that.

It makes me think.

Were we on the island just to have Malcolm? I kind of think we were. Seems that way, doesn’t it? He is this amazing gift in our lives. And I wouldn’t change a single thing that has happened that led us to having him.

Do we miss the island?

Of course!

Are we glad to be here?

Of course!

Will I keep blogging?

Of course! Just… not here, I guess. I mean not on “Two Years on an Island” because… well, we’re not on an island anymore.

So could I just change the name of the blog?

Well, that wouldn’t be right.

So start a new one?

Maybe. I guess that makes the most sense.

But what will it be called? And what will I write about?

Good question.

How about starting a new one with a name that wouldn’t have to change no matter where we are living or what we are doing. Okay. Perhaps that would be wise. Less confusing to readers? Perhaps. I don’t know.

Without foreclosure and without the island would people still want to read?

Good question. What would be the ‘hook’?


All good questions.

No answers in this post.

Just thoughts.




All right. Enough, already.

Time to wrap this up. Malcolm could wake up any second.

Speaking of Malcolm… he did so well on the road trip. As did Pablo.

Pablo enjoys a Wyoming sunset along I80

They are both so adaptable. Which is incredibly useful in this family. Adaptability. Given how much we tend to like change.

My mom said something like this: “The only constant with you guys is change.” Was that how you said it, Mom? Close, right? True.

So…. uh, well, if you have any ideas or suggestions for the blog I’d love to hear it. I’ll have a couple more posts here before making any decisions as to the future. If you’re someone who reads this blog to hear about life on San Juan Island, may I recommend another blog by a wonderful writer and lady, Jennifer Furber: Baby by the Sea

And if you’d like to see how big Malcolm has gotten (and watch him smile), here is a link to a video:

Steph reads Oh the Thinks You Can Think to Malcolm

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16 Responses

  1. How about a new blog called “No Plan”?

  2. What a wonderful post. It’s so good to hear about your lives once again. Malcolm is beautiful beyond belief!!! How about a blog titled, “Constant Change”. I think your mother was on to something! But, doesn’t it make life interesting. Change is good. Change causes you to get rid of baggage, stuff no longer needed. It’s a good house cleaning. It can also cleanse the soul, right? You two are sort of experts in that department. It has to be healthy since you both are examples of ‘constant change’ and are better because of it. A glow, yep, you are all glowing! Looking forward to your next post, wherever that may be.

    • Aw, so sweet Joy. Thank you so much. Constant change… good for the soul. I like it.

  3. Conrats on the move! I’ve been following your blogs since I heard you on “The Story.” Glad to have you back here in Chicago!

    • Thanks!

  4. I bet you enjoyed the beautiful day we had today!! I live just 20 minutes from Chicago and thought is was near perfect! Welcome home! If you ever need a play date -just drop me a line. I’ve got 4 yr old twin girls and a 10 month old boy.

    • I have been enjoying every day. The weather has been perfect! I totally agree.

  5. Hey! We are so happy you are settled and have a sweet apartment! Give yourself and your boys our love! Keep writing…I love reading your words…xoxoxoxo June, Sean, Tino, & Mossy….

    • Juni! We miss you guys. Please please please let’s always keep in touch. You know you have a place to stay if you ever visit Chicago. I hope you do.

  6. maybe “the thinks”? or “and baby makes 4″… i love your writing, and would be sad if you stopped blogging… so please continue. we’re glad you are home!

  7. Great post Steph!I loved the island and the people you met there, but have I mentioned that I am THRILLED to have you back home in Chicago? My goal for the next year is to be with you as much as possible, because you never know what might come next for you 4! So, I will enjoy each and every moment.You are in such a great neighborhood of Chicago…like an “island” in the city!You have much to write about..can’t wait to read all about it.

  8. Yes to a new blog. I’ve really enjoyed following you these past 14 months. Malcolm is so adorable when he smiles on the video. I think he likes the thinks he can think. By the way glad to see he/you enjoy his blanket. Hope to see you all in person soon.

  9. I’m so happy to hear about your new city start, metro mama. I kind of agree with your pediatrician, although I’m so glad you’re surrounded with the love of friends and family. Thanks for the blog love; it’s nice to have a friend/blogger I admire so whole heartedly.


  10. Just think this could have been you:

    Baby on board: Orcas Island woman gives birth in her car at the ferry landing



    • Amazing story, right! Actually, I know Linda. We were in birth class together. Thanks for sending the link to the story. I hadn’t seen that yet.

  11. Wow, I love your story. I found you just googling for “caretakers, beach, expats” to start looking for us a place to retire and work and came across your “Love in the Time of Foreclosure” blog. Great name by the way! I’m glad you had such a wonderful time in the San Juans. We’re in Seattle and would love to find a warm island retreat!!! You guys look great and congrats on the baby. I need to go back and read the name of that magazine you suggested. Keep writing!

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