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Hitched: Lucking into the best neighbors is great until good-bye
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By Dorothy Schneider and Brian Wallheimer
Dorothy Schneider and Brian Wallheimer have their hands full with three young children: two daughters and a son. They tell stories about the kids, but also the challenges of building and maintaining their own relationship through all life’s ...
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Hitched
Dorothy Schneider and Brian Wallheimer have their hands full with three young children: two daughters and a son. They tell stories about the kids, but also the challenges of building and maintaining their own relationship through all life’s challenges.
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By Dorothy and Brian Wallheimer
Oct. 6, 2017 12:16 p.m.

Brian and I have had some pretty amazing luck when it comes to neighbors. We've tempted fate living in several states in the past dozen years, raising the likelihood of landing a dud somewhere.

Instead, during our years in Connecticut, Indiana and now Illinois, we've basically hit the jackpot having neighbors from each location who turned into lifelong friends.

In Connecticut, we quickly bonded with neighbors in the small subdivision where we bought our first condo. The couple, Scott and Liz, also lived hundreds of miles away from family, and the four of us ended up celebrating some of the holidays together when we couldn't get away from work for travel.

Plus, Scott had a kegerator in his basement and we had a spare key.  Obviously, we were fast friends. There were few days when we didn't all see each other out walking dogs or just to catch up, and they felt like surrogate family.

In Lafayette, Brian loves to tell the story of meeting our neighbors Ben and Janet. When we moved in on a snowy January day, Ben came out and offered to carry stuff in. When we told him there was no need, he said: 'Well, at least let me go get you guys some hot cocoa.' He then went back into his house and got distracted. Despite what could've been an auspicious beginning, we all joked about it later on many occasions while enjoying dinner together or just lending a much-needed extra hand as each of us entered the 'having kids' phase of our lives.

In the cases of our Connecticut and Indiana neighbor-friends, there came the day when moving plans were announced. In Connecticut, Brian and I were the ones to leave first. In Indiana, Ben and Janet moved shortly before we also left Lafayette. And it was really hard to say good-bye.    There were tearful partings each time.

In Rockford, we're most likely planning to stay for the long haul. Brian already talks about the high school graduation parties we'll have in our backyard for the kids " even though there's a ways to go for Ellie, 8; Katie, 5; and Charlie, 3. But just because WE are staying, doesn't mean everyone around us is.

We lucked out meeting neighbors Sara and Clint when we moved here a few years ago. They have Claire, just turning 5, and added Will (now 2) during our time living on the block. We quickly bonded during visits on driveways or through slow walks in the neighborhood as we all kept tabs on tricycles or strollers.  Our friendship grew into that comfortable stage of commiserating about parenthood trials, keeping up with work and house, and sharing daily joys and pitfalls.

One weekend when we went out of town, Sara and Clint remembered to feed our fish even when we hadn't asked. What a relief to not have to explain a 'sleeping fish' to the kids upon our return.

And over the years, each conversation or short visit with Sara or Clint always recharged me and reminded me there were a couple extra people in our corner. That was especially comforting in the years since Brian and I let the kids in our house outnumber us!

You may have guessed where this is going. We're gearing up for another parting of ways as Sara and Clint move to Minnesota for new jobs and to be closer to their own family members. This time we're the ones being left behind, and I expect some tears. I'm also grateful knowing that we once again lucked into lifelong friends, who we will hopefully get to visit and keep tabs on despite the distance.

We'll wait just a few weeks before telling the new family moving into their house just how high the bar has been set for them. And we'll make sure they know about our pet fish.

Dorothy Wallheimer; dorothy.wallheimer@gmail.com; @hitchedsays

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