Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The state of things

Earlier today...
-Caroline and I went out for lunch to Pei Wei, which is my favorite. AND I found a gift card in my sock drawer this morning that covered it. Bonus. AND we went with one of my dear friends + her little guy.
-We went one last time to our favorite park.
-We had one (of many) miscellaneous house projects completed. This time, it was fixing the garage door that hasn't opened for six months. Always ironic to fix things on the way out, isn't it?
-Some very thoughtful friends brought over a pizza for dinner, complete with all necessary paper products AND a cheesecake. Perfection.

To do
Right now...
-I should be packing/organizing/calling some company about cancelling some service.
-The house is still as full as it once was, and is somewhat organized into the camps of "going," "staying," and "luggage."
-I don't know how I feel about the move. Sad. Apprehensive. Excited. Nervous. Happy. But mostly a bit numb. There are a lot of details rolling through my head so I haven't given much space to feelings. They'll come.

-Movers arrive.
-A sweet friend is going to take Caroline for the morning.
-We have a "going away happy hour" to attend with Josh's work buddies.
 Living room

-Movers finish up.
-A different sweet friend is going to take Caroline for the morning.
-We'll sleep in our own house for the last time in a LONG time.
-It'll sure look different around here, with most of the junk gone.

-We'll leave our Ohio house.
-We'll drive to Grand Rapids.
-We'll watch Michigan beat Alabama (hopefully) with some old Michigan friends.

-My parents are throwing us a English Tea-themed Bon Voyage party. Complete with homemade clotted cream, three different types of scones, and Union Jack cookies.
-Josh and I will fly to England via Chicago.
-I'll get to meet my new nephew before we leave!

Monday - Friday of next week...
-We'll run around town getting our apartment in order as much as possible. First stop: Ikea.

Next week Saturday...
-My mom and Caroline will arrive in the UK and we'll have fun showing both of them around town. My mom will stay with us for a week, which will be great (not to mention helpful!) I'm thinking a show (Jersey Boys, perhaps?) is in order.

And of course, all of these plans are contingent on them being a part of God's will.  And our visas coming through.

Monday, August 27, 2012

21 Months

Favorite age to date.  Period.

If you follow me on Instagram (which is SUPER Caroline heavy, I realize) you won't find many new pics here.  That's because we're gearing up for a major international move and the thought of breaking out my big camera + cords + memory cards is totally overwhelming.


Also, I'm totally aware that in addition to my Instagram feed, my facebook and blog life seems to revolve around the kid as well.  I swore I wouldn't become one of "those people" but here I am.

But I love this phase of life.  And there are worse problems to have.

BARN!  She was so excited by the old-school farm we visited yesterday.
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Who knew that 21 months could be so fun?  I'm really hopeful that child rearing is always this enjoyable and rewarding.  Don't worry, I know it won't always be smooth sailing.  But man I do enjoy that child right now.

New words seem to tumble out of her mouth every day.

We have conversations.  They usually involve Elmo or going bye-bye, which are popular topics.  On her part, they're two or three words long.  And man are they redundant.  We talked about how she went bye-bye with Da-da to the store for a solid 20 minutes today.

C: Bye-bye Da-da store. 
Me: You went to the store with Da-da today?
C: Ya. 
C: (30 seconds later) Store Da-da bye-bye car.  Bye-bye store.  Da-da.

But you know what?  I've spent 21 months with this child not being able to speak more than a word to me (and those took even a year to pop up).  That's a long time of me doing all the talking.

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Back to that Elmo thing. She's obsessed.

Last week I spent an old gift card on red Toms shoes for her.  She pitched a fit about them and screamed every time we put them on her feet.  And then we put Elmo stickers on them.  Problem solved.

And then we were in Tennessee a couple of weeks ago for a family reunion.  My cousins had brought along a walker (the kind you use for 10-month-olds) for their daughter.  But who hogged it?  Yes, it was my daughter.  The one who can walk perfectly well on her own.  And why?  I think it had something to do with the fact that Elmo was featured on the front.


I had no idea how much Elmo merchandise exists in the world until I had a child who pointed out every. single. one. in every store she visited. We're actively trying not to feed the monster (pun intended), but we caved today at Old Navy with a coloring book set on Clearance. If there's ever been a time we needed her to be occupied, it's this week.  She's been carrying around the box like a briefcase ever since.  I don't think she knows or cares that there's anything in the box.

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When she wants to read and we're not paying attention, she'll hit us over the head with her books.  We're still trying to work on NOT throwing food. But she's getting good at using a spoon and a fork, which is helpful.  She enjoys a good park, a spout-like side pigtail, and yogurt.  She can almost put on (easy-style) shoes consistently.

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Last week she climbed out of her crib during nap time.  BOOM.  THUNK.  CRYING.  Gratefully she wasn't hurt.

Although we were planning on making the transition to a "big girl" bed in England, that change came a little sooner.  We switched up her current crib to a toddler bed that same evening.  We put her to bed as usual.  Then we held our breaths.

We have a video monitor, and thus could watch her react.  She played in her bed.  She talked to her lovies.  She squirmed.  For over an hour.  And then she fell asleep, and stayed there all night.  We're still in shock.  It was a transition we were dreading, and it went seamlessly.  We can take ZERO credit for the miracle.  Remember how we can't even get her to stop throwing food at meal times?  I'm just compelled to say several prayers of thanks on a daily basis. 

Here's hoping the transition to England is as smooth.  I have my doubts.  But we'll work through the challenges, whatever they may be.  It'll be a major change for all of us, and I'm excited we get to do this together.

Finally, here's a video of us chatting over dinner last night.  Warning: if you are not Caroline's grandparent, you will find this dull.  However, it captures her budding vocabulary in a way that's so sweet I don't want to forget it.  And plopping it at the end of a post means it won't get lost in the shuffle.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The blessing of the unknown.

When are you moving?  Our kind, interested, excited-for-us friends, family, and co-workers ask. 

Our answer?  We don't know.

In reality, we should be moving to England in the next 2-3 weeks.  But a lot of the timing is visa-related, and thus out of our hands.  So at the end of the day, we don't know.

Let me just tell you - I don't like not knowing.

My friend Ali related this feeling of limbo to the end of a pregnancy.  And she hit the nail on the head.  When you're big as a house and nearing your due date and everyone is like, when is that baby coming?  And of course, you don't know.  Could be that day, could be two weeks away.  It's a waiting game.  When I was pregnant with Caroline, I didn't like this feeling either.

But there's purpose in the waiting.  It's really, really good for me to be reminded that I am not in charge of my own life.  I can't control our health of safety or family size or Josh's job security or the health of New Girl or anything else.  I'm reminded of this verse:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Emphasis mine)
I am so not in charge of this move.  I am so not able to foresee what our life in England will be like.  I can try to plan ahead as much as possible, but I know now that I'll miss more than a few details.  But what can I do?  Something that really makes a difference in my perspective and attitude?   And helps to put me in a place of trust in the One who walks besides me?

Give thanks.

How have I been forgetting that all important little detail?  I hesitate to even write this post because it seems so obvious.  How to de-stress?  Count blessings.

My method is a bit juvenile.  But it's so helpful for my wayward I'm-in-charge heart to start listing all the things I'm thankful for. 

Thank you God for...

Josh.  Doing the dishes.  Running errands to be helpful.  Thrilled to see our girl after work each day.
Caroline.  Big girl smiles going down the slide.  Transitioning to a toddler bed easily (so far).
New Girl.  A healthy pregnancy.  Feeling kicks.
Health for all of us.
The ability to pay bills.  And buy things that aren't even necessities.
A roof over our heads.  Indeed, a beautiful home.
Good food - as much as we want.
Friends who threw us a goodbye party.  Friends who watch Caroline so I can pack.  Friends I can still see in person who are such an encouragement to me.
Family who supports us and helps us and whom we so enjoy and cherish.
A relationship with Jesus made possible only by grace.

And what's more, the more time we spend here in the US is more time we get to see a lot of those friends.  And live in our house.  And enjoy the places around Columbus that we've come to enjoy these past year 3 years.

What's not to be thankful for?  I tell you, it seems so obvious.

But as simple and obvious as this process is, it's oh so good for my heart. I've been reading lately about how God's blessings actually chase us.  And how gratefulness can truly change things.  And I think it's true, at least for me.  I have my ugly impatient and i'm-in-charge moments, but they're getting further and farther between. 

Another thing to be thankful for.

The grace to sit still and count the blessings heaped upon me.  The reminder of things truly important, including the reality that He's in charge and not me.  And since He's the one heaping blessings on my life, I think I'm in good hands.

Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Friends with kids.

My husband is out of town tonight.  Can we come over and hang out?
Want to join us for dinner?
Can I watch Caroline for you when you pack?
Can you babysit James Wednesday afternoon?
Pool today?
Zoo tomorrow.  Be there or be square.
Anyone headed to the library today?
Splash pad on Thursday?
How do you treat hand-foot-and-mouth disease?
Meet at Chick-fil-A for lunch? 

These are snippets of recent texts, phone calls, and conversations between me and some of my sweet friends here in Columbus.  While they may seem trivial, and oh-so-SAHM-ish, these interactions represent a life line for me. 


(Halloween, 2011)
Sometimes it's a support group.

Or a free counseling session.

Maybe a most-needed distraction during the witching hours of 4-6pm. 

Sometimes it's free babysitting.

Or a morning activity.

Or else an advice line.

It's a group of young moms in the trenches.  We're all trying to discipline toddlers, stick to a grocery budget, love Jesus, and even make dinner from time to time.  I'm honored to call these girls my friends, and as we're wrapping up our last weeks in Columbus, it pains me to think of leaving them.

It's a community.

I crave community.  As a Jesus-follower, I believe Biblical community is essential to spiritual growth.  As a mother, I know the advice and support of other moms in similar situations is priceless.  And as an extrovert, I know that I need the regular company of others (older than two years, that is) to function properly.

I remember new mom-hood when Caroline was tee-tiny.  I loved being with her, but going from a full-time job (and interacting with other adults all day) to all day home alone with an infant was hard.  When Josh got home, I would talk his ear off and suggest all kinds of activities to do together.  As he's an introvert, he'd come home from work exhausted and craving some quiet time.  Needless to say we butted heads a few times.  And then he gave me some advice:

Get out more.  I don't care if the dishes get done. 

It's not as though he didn't enjoy talking with me after work.  He just knew that I would need to find some other at-home moms to chum with, especially during the day.  Or else I'd have a very hard time with motherhood.  He was right.

And God provided me with friends.  With kids.




I'm grateful for modern technology, which will keep me more connected to these dear ladies than if I'd have moved away 20 years ago.  There's email.  FaceTime.  This here blog (and those of you who don't blog back, PLEASE get on that!)  Instagram.  Facebook.

I don't know what our move to London will bring. I anticipate some lonely times. But I'm confident God will provide for me, as He always does.  Whether it's more intimacy with Himself or some new community or life lessons or something more than I could ask or imagine, He'll provide. While I'll always look back fondly on this season of life, and miss this community terribly when I move away, I'm grateful for the One who holds me by my right hand, wherever I am.