Live free or die?!

Late winter in North Carolina was marked by lots of snow, ice, and extremely cold temperatures. This gave us a good taste of what life would be like in New Hampshire — not for a vacation, but for a relocation. And boy do I love the snow! 

“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.” ― William Sharp

It’s not that anything’s going badly here. In fact, life is pretty darn good in NC. We absolutely love our neighbors, our church, our CC and Awana communities, the low-key vibe of our city, and being within a short drive of family, the beach, and the mountains.

Houston & Zeke have a blast sledding with neighbors on one of the warmer snowy days this winter.

But a few things have lit a fire under both Stephen and me to get us thinking seriously about a possible long-distance move:

1. As the boys get bigger seemingly by the second, we are outgrowing this 1,400-square-foot house. I wouldn’t want a huge house by any means, but we could definitely use a bit more living space (especially a couple of bedrooms for the kids, as opposed to the one small room shared by them all), as well as additional storage.

2. I’m burned out from being in the van so much getting to and from our many activities. It’s basically a 1/2-hour trek anywhere we go, so an hour round trip almost daily. We make the most of our commutes, doing lots of “car school,” listening to audio books and good music, and usually having deep conversations.

But I was seriously pricing foreclosures closer to town for a while, until Stephen said (and rightly so), if we’re going to go through the trouble of moving, we should really move.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'” ― Lewis Carroll

Gabriel & Zeke shoot me snaggle-tooth grins before heading out into our backyard winter wonderland for snowy shenanigans.

3. We don’t have any really great friends here. We have many acquaintances, and people we care for and who care for us, but we just don’t hang out with these folks often enough to even make it an issue.

The kids are the same: they have lots of buds, but not any friends they see constantly, without whom their worlds would shatter. And the boys are so extroverted and outgoing, that I know they’d simply revel in a move. In fact, they dudes have said they’re ready for such an adventure!

4. For a few years now, we had been mulling over the possibility of relocating abroad, specifically to Chile, but that just seems so doggone permanent. A trek to the Northeast, however, could be undone without not near as much hassle and expense.

5. Our visit to New Orleans inspired us to seek a change of scenery and to want to mix things up. We’ve been in the Greensboro area since 2001 and in our current house since 2003, so why not try something different?!

6. The company for which Stephen works has offices in NH, so he wouldn’t have to change jobs. He would merely have to set up a transfer, so income could be immediate, and Stephen wouldn’t have to subject himself to the torture of a job search … unless, of course, he felt the urge to try something new.

Zeke nails Houston with a giant snowball during a friendly battle. Great aim, dude!

7. Most importantly, though, is that NH is and has been an island of liberty-mindedness in a sea of American socialism for a long time. In fact, there are literally 101 Reasons to Move to New Hampshire. (This video can shed some light on many of the political and financial reasons we’re considering a move.)

“What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” ― John Steinbeck

Some of my personal favorites about New Hampshire:

  • it has a limited income tax, taxing only dividend and interest income at 5%, and has no capital gains tax;
  • it’s homeschool-friendly and doesn’t require parents to submit annual evaluations to the state;
  • it values all school choice, giving low- and middle-income parents more options by offering tax credits to corporations that make donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations;
  • citizens vote on their budgets line-by-line during town meeting;
  • it has small voting districts (only about 3,300 people per state House of Representative);
  • officials in both the legislative and executive branches are elected every two years, giving voters the opportunity to clean house more often than in other states;
  • legislators are paid a salary of $100 per year, helping ensure the existence of a citizen legislature committed to public service;
  • it’s the only state to pass a law with language supporting citizens’ rights to jury nullification;
  • it expressly protects the citizens’ rights to revolution and secession through the state constitution;
  • it has an abundance of pro-liberty media;
  • it rejected the REAL ID (national identification card) program;
  • its state law prohibits the use of eminent domain for private use or private development;
  • it’s the least expensive state in which to own a vehicle;
  • it’s the only state that does not have a mandatory seat belt law for adults;
  • it’s pro-gun and is the only state with no laws restricting knife ownership (except for convicted felons).

Gabriel takes it upon himself to clear the sidewalk of super-slippery ice. Now there’s a can-do attitude that’ll come in handy in New Hampshire!

The “Live Free or Die” belief of local control, minimizing the bureaucratic growth of government, and empowering the individual has a long tradition in the Granite State. This is precisely why it was chosen as the home for the Free State Project. So, liberty is not only alive in well in New Hampshire, it is on the rise!

As with everything, there are inevitably a few cons:

1. NH is in New freakin’ England. Gasp! Being a Southern gal, I fared well in Wisconsin and Colorado, but the West and Midwest are much less abrasive than the blue-blood lineage and our-poop-don’t-stink attitude of Northeasterners. Bless their hearts!

I mean, c’mon, Massachusetts would be directly south and New York just a stone’s throw away. Eek! Yet, we do have Mass neighbors, whom we adore, so perhaps I’m just painting with way too broad a brush.

I’m certain there are salt-of-the-earth people there, just like everywhere. Plus, folks come from all over the country to take part in the growing liberty movement in NH.

The 3 Amigos get silly w/ Maddie & Dixie during a sledding snow day!

There are too many things I’d miss about the South to list here. But suffice it to say, I’d be approaching this move as if I were relocating to another country. Different culture. Different language. Different kinda people. So, open-mindedness would be an imperative!

2. It’s far from family. There’s no getting around this. It would suck, but we would definitely travel back South and hopefully folks would come visit us in beautiful NH. There are the Green Mountains for snow sports during the winter, and the Atlantic coast and Lake Winnipesaukee for beach fun during the temperate summers.

3. Libertarianism is just brimming with atheists. As an ardent supporter of religious pluralism, this is not a problem for me at all. However, just as in greater American society, there is often hostility toward Christianity, and castigation and pigeon-holing of the Christian as being backwoods anti-intellectuals.

But no one ever said following Christ was going to be easy. In fact, the Bible explicitly states the opposite. So, we would have to be both bold in faith and nonconformist in deed.

Houston & Stanley are what I call “partners in crime.” Simply put, they have a reached a point in their relationship of mutual admiration & love. It’s so endearing to see these two “cool cats” hanging together.

Still, my hope is that liberty lovers will practice what they preach and be open to heterogeneous peoples. I want to be judged by the content of my character, as an individual, and a person willing to engage all different stripes, even if I march to the beat of a different drummer.

My hope is for honest discussion and mature debate with folks with whom I disagree. Perhaps the process of hashing out philosophies, world views, and guiding principles will help us to grow in our understanding of truth … or at the very least, be good drinking buddies!

Diversity of thought is a good and necessary thing that is way too often ignored in our coarse culture. But I’m hopeful that freedom of opinion and belief systems will be of the highest regard with Free Staters and in NH at large. Civility is really all that is necessary.

Moreover, some of libertarianism’s deepest thinkers and vocal activists also happen to be Christians. This cool list includes Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Norman Horn, Laurence Vance, Ron Paul, and Jeffrey Tucker. So, we’re among good company.

We’ll seek out like-minded folks in both faith and liberty, and sometimes those two will cross paths. But we’ll just have to remain cognizant of the pitfalls and trickery of this world, and be sure to keep our armor of God on snug and tight.

All the dudes are creative, but I find it particularly cool how Gabriel really goes out of his way to turn pieces of trash into art … like this homemade “flaming car jump,” which he crafted out of pieces of cardboard and paper leftover from another project.

Staying strong with and through the Lord will allow us to keep focus on the narrow path: following Jesus, sharing the good news, and doing our small part to try to bring about the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Just like good theology, a political philosophy always has room to grow and mature, so we look forward to living, learning, and loving! 

“Our footprints always follow us on days when it’s been snowing. They always show us where we’ve been, but never where we’re going.” ― Winnie the Pooh

I know the grass is always greener, but Stephen and I aren’t going into this possible relocation haphazardly. In fact, we don’t plan on doing much of anything (besides keeping our debt low and tending to some home repairs) until after we take the family to PorcFest 2016.

Misc. 3-Amigo updates

Gabriel finally lost both his front teeth. He’s looking so darn cute that it’s difficult to discipline him. Zeke has lost only one front tooth. But that stubborn tooth was loose since before Christmas and didn’t come out until … March 8!

Here are the dudes numbers from their annual wellness appointments: Houston weighs 63 3/4 pounds and is 53 1/4″ tall; Gabriel 54 pounds, 46 3/4″ tall; and Zeke 53 1/2 pounds, 46 3/4″ tall. Growing like weeds!

And the boys main obsession these days (besides Minecraft, of course) is “Where’s Waldo?” Thanks for all the hand-me-down books, Cousin Rick and Aunt Lisa!