Memorial Day

I hope that as we all enjoy this beautiful long weekend and the unofficial start to summer, we also take a moment to remember what Memorial Day is and say a silent thank you to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Inspirational Words

Or, if you prefer, the same sentiment in a slightly different way:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  –Winston Churchill

Both good reminders as I pack away a life of familiarity and safety box by box, and I tell my kids there’s nothing to worry about.  We’ll embark on our grand adventure after enduring a little bit of chaos, but hopefully that will just make the good times to come even sweeter. 

Class of 2028

class of 2028This guy graduates from preschool tomorrow, along with the rest of the class of 2028.

It’s nearly impossible for me to believe on multiple levels.

First, how can this baby be graduating from preschool already?  (And when, I wonder, will I stop thinking of him as a baby and see him as the big kid he is? My money is on NEVER.)

Q 1st day of preschool

On his first day of preschool in September 2013.

Second, how are people already members of the Class of 2028?  That is basically equivalent to the time frame in which Star Trek took place.  I mean, does that not sound like it’s at least 80 years in the future?  But it’s not.  It’s 13 years away.  It’s as close in time to now as 2002.  (Which just makes me feel old.)

And finally, we’ll be leaving our beloved preschool behind after tomorrow.  It’s basically the coolest preschool on earth, set right in the middle of a giant working farm.  The kids hatch chicks in the classrooms in Spring, and when the mama sheep had babies on a school day last year, Farmer Paul called the schoolhouse to let them know, and all the children walked to the barn and saw the tiny, sweet, one-hour-old lambs. It’s sunshine and grass and mud and smelly pigs and funny baby goats head-butting each other in their pens. 

We’ve had at least one kid there for the past eight years.  When B started there, I was pregnant with O.  When G started there, I was pregnant with Q.  All my babies have done at least two years of preschool there and the teachers are some of the most wonderful, caring, thoughtful, and nurturing  people I’ve had the good fortune to know.  They’ve seen our family expand, they’ve seen us grow up, and they know my children in ways that even I do not.

We will miss our beloved farm school.  But they’ve more than prepared this little member of the Class of 2028 for the rest of his school career, and for that we will always be grateful.

Backyard Retreat

pergolaWe used to have a play house in the back corner of our yard.  But sadly the kids outgrew it, and we gave it to our neighbors and it’s currently the world’s cutest chicken coop. 

The platform the playhouse stood on was still in the corner of the yard though, occupying pretty much the only shady square footage on that side of the house.  So Matt and I decided that rather than take it apart, we’d use it to create a shady little relaxing area.

IMG_4123I knew I wanted a pergola.  I knew I wanted lawn chairs and a place to hang the hammock B got for her birthday last summer that we had nowhere to put.  But I didn’t know exactly how to do it.

Matt is really, really good at figuring out building plans and determining what materials we need.  I am good at deciding what it should look like, but have no ability whatsoever to figure out how to make it so.  Good thing we have each other.

It only took us one day to build it (since the platform was already there), plus a trip to Lowes for lumber, screws, and new lawn chairs.

lowes visitIMG_4190One of the best parts of this project was that all the kids helped.  Matt drew up a plan and measured and cut the lumber. 

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While Matt was cutting, B and I screwed in the plates to hold the posts in place.  She learned to use the drill, which is a handy skill to have.  We all worked together to get the posts standing.

IMG_4158The boys carried lumber, helped measure, and held up posts while B screwed them into place.  It was a full family effort.

IMG_4176 IMG_4185

And at the end, we all enjoyed it together, too. 

pergola 2We need more mulch to fill in around the platform, but we’ll get to that (before we leave!). 

We have a few Adirondack chairs, a garden stool, and we finally hung B’s hammock!  We’ve all spent time out there, enjoying the only corner on that side of the house that gets any shade.

It’s now my favorite spot in the yard, and it was well worth the day of work. 

Have you done any outdoor projects lately?  I’d love to see them!

Intentionally Calm

B and Me

ice cream almost always helps relieve stress

While I’m certainly not the first person who has had to do it, packing up your whole house and moving to a different country in six weeks is a daunting task.

It’s more complicated than just moving, which we’ve done a few times.  We have more layers of planning this time — instead of just packing everything and putting it on a truck, we have to first determine what we’re even taking with us and what we’re storing.  But since we’re still using all our stuff — even the stuff we’re not going to take with us — we can’t just start sticking things in a storage unit. 

I’m more than a little overwhelmed when I think of the whole task.  I’m trying to manage my anxiety and take this project one day, one room, one closet-full-of-crap at a time.  I thought I was hiding my stress reasonably well.

I’ve been going through each room one at a time, starting with the kids’ rooms last week, just purging and sorting.  As I sat on the floor in B’s room one night, sorting through a pile of books and deciding what to take and what to store, she suddenly she burst out with “We can’t do it.  We’ll never get it all done!”

She went on, pointing to a small jar of paper clips, all the pictures on the walls, a bag of paperwork we still had to sort out.  She had realized, suddenly, the magnitude of the task in front of us: we would have to touch every, single, solitary item in this house — every scrap of paper, every thumb tack and random screw in the junk drawer, every toy in the play room — and decide what to do with each and every one.  We’d have to pack things, throw things out, store things, ship things, give things away.  And she freaked out — crying and really panicking.

I don’t know if she fed off my stress and that made her stressed.  I don’t know if she’s just mature enough and smart enough to comprehend the extent of what needs to get done.  I don’t know what made her suddenly see the whole task in front of us.  But I do know that the point of taking on this adventure — the core of what I want this experience of moving abroad to be for her — is NOT based on anxiety or fear.

I’m also pretty sure she’s the only other person in this family who actually understands the enormity of what we have to do (ahem).  But I don’t want a ten year old carrying that stress or allowing it to bother her. 

Not her burden to bear.

I agreed that it was a huge task; there’s no point in down playing it — we’ve got a crap ton of work to do in the next few weeks.  But I pointed out that her room was almost done.  And the boys’ room was done already.  And I’d finished several closets and cabinets and taken things to good will and storage…little by little, we were making progress.

We talked about breaking the giant task into smaller tasks.  We talked about not freaking out because it doesn’t help us get things done.  We talked about maybe not accumulating quite so much crap going on from here. 

She calmed down.  She agreed that she could already see we’d gotten a lot done. We moved on and packed up some books and got rid of some clothes she’d outgrown.

It’s my job to set the tone for this move.  And I have to be positive about it — because this is the beginning of our grand adventure.  The packing and storing and cleaning out this house is the first step. 

No matter how I feel inside (There’s SO, SO MUCH left to do.  Oh my God, so much.) I have to intentionally remain calm. 

And maybe I’ll be so outwardly calm, my insides will be forced to match.  (Probably not.  But at least I can fake it for the sake of the children.)

Inspirational Words

Just when I’d given up hope, the universe came through for me.  And now we’re heading on our great adventure.

FINALLY!

UK FlagI got my birthday wish.

We got the word last week that we are finally, FINALLY moving.  And it’s happening soon.  Six months of waiting, and we have six weeks to get everything done and get to England.

Even if I don’t sleep for the next six weeks, I’ll get it done.  I’m just so happy to be going!

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