Tag Archives: changes

The Last of Everything

We’re back to school here and settling in to the lovely routine of fall and sports and activities.  The lazy days of summer stretched out for what seemed like ages, and we soaked up the slow mornings and relaxed schedules and late bedtimes and weekend trips.  But by the end of August we were all ready for the hustle and bustle to return; even relaxation gets old if you do too much of it. 

But even in it’s welcome familiarity, this school year is different.  It’s our last here in England.  I feel it more deeply than the kids, I think, for whom the last two years seem to have been a lifetime.  I know how quickly the next months will go by.

I’ve already started my morbid tendency to memorialize the “last time” we’re about to do anything.  And this year makes it so easy.  This is my last September in England.  I’m strolling around my garden, saying goodbye to September roses and apples on trees and conkers – those most British of garden friends, little spiky balls that kids pelt one another with and which supposedly keep the spiders out of your house.  Every school event is our last: the last autumn cross-country season, the last back to school night with a wine and cheese bar, the last hurrah for all of it.  Events and traditions that were so foreign to us just two short years ago have so quickly become near and dear; my heart is already sad to let it all go.

We don’t have to leave, really.  Matt’s job will still be here, we could keep on with the grand adventure.  But all good things must come to an end, and we’re choosing a new adventure, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

There are things we miss about home that will make returning worth it.  But we’re new people now, we’ve changed in ways I never anticipated, and our lives are better for having lived somewhere new and different and foreign.  We won’t be satisfied going back to the same old thing we left behind.  And so the challenge will be to create a whole new life, with equal parts America and England, to find the balance between what we missed while we lived away and what we learned to love even more than anything we’d known before coming.

But first, this last year.  I’ll fight my natural inclination to live in the future and do my best to be present.  I don’t want to take away the joys of actually being here, not from me or Matt or the kids. 

And we’ve got big plans to finish — the ever-growing and changing list of places to see remains a work in progress, but with a much more limited time frame in which to accomplish it all.  Plans are constantly in the works, reservations being made, suggestions added and reality ignored for the most part.  There’s no way to do everything we want, to be honest.  And so, we say, we’ll have good reasons to come back and visit.

With the autumn well upon us here, and football for the boys and hockey for Bridget and turning leaves and holidays and half-term trips, this beginning of the end is upon us, and it’s just up to us to make the most of it.

Comfort Zone

latte artWhen you’re completely out of your element, you search for the familiar anywhere you can find it.  Even the smallest of daily tasks can be daunting — grocery shopping, putting gas in the car, driving.  I don’t know how it happened, but Starbucks became my comfort zone in the first few weeks here — at least I knew what I was ordering and how to ask for it there.  Starbucks, thank you for being the same in England and in America. 

Although it’s getting easier, just over a month in, food shopping is the most intimidating and mentally exhausting exercise in my week.  I don’t know where anything is, I don’t know what anything is, and sometimes I don’t know whether the things I’m looking for even exist in that store. 

Although there are more cream options in the dairy aisle at my grocery store than I’ve ever imagined, they apparently do not have half and half or sour cream in British grocery stores.  They DO, however, have single cream, double cream, and clotted cream.  When we arrived here, I did not know what any of those actually were.  (I’ve since learned, and clotted cream is an invention we really should bring to America.)

The first time I went to the grocery store without Matt (although I was accompanied by all four children, which does NOT make things easier), I came home with apples, salad, pasta, and bread.  It was all I could manage.  And we were in the store for over an hour.  At first, we couldn’t even figure out how to get a shopping cart (called a trolley here), because they were chained together.  A 1-pound coin finally solved that, but those few minutes of confusion were disconcerting.

It’s getting easier with time (doesn’t everything?), and we manage to get it all done.  I allow more time for everything — time to get lost at least once then figure out the right way, time to search every single solitary aisle in the grocery store because you can’t find sugar where you think it should be, time to stare at a row of chained-up grocery store carts until you see the tiny coin slot that will allow you to free one and enter the store. 

And time to stop at Starbucks so you can order a latte with confidence and have a moment of calm.

First and Last

The first day of school, 2014-15.

The first day of school, 2014-15.

We’ve successfully made it through another school year. B finished up 5th grade, G finished 2nd, O finished 1st grade, and Q completed his final year at our much-loved farm school.  It’s the end of an era.

Although this year was much the same as the one that preceded it — all the kids in the same schools they’d been in the year before, just a grade older — it truly is the last year of familiarity for us for a long while.

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Endings and Changes

 01-KGerhard-rushing1 When my friend Kelsey came over to my house a few months ago to take photos for what would eventually become our home tour on Design Mom, I had no idea how transformative the whole process would be.

Seeing my home through someone else’s eyes really let me appreciate it more.  Rather than looking at all the things I want to change, I saw colorful bedrooms, happy play areas and cozy reading nooks, bright sunny spaces, and the smiles on my children’s faces.  And I’m so glad we have these photos now to document how our home looked before we moved. 

Because when we come back, everything will be different.

When we moved in to this house, the basement was completely unfinished — concrete walls and floor, exposed ducts and pipes, and a bare light bulb with a pull chain hanging from the spooky, cobwebby ceiling.  It took us years and countless hours of hard work, but we finished it ourselves and have loved this great open play space for the kids.  We even made a little house under the stairs with windows and curtains and a kitchen set made from old cabinetry.

KelseyGerhard-15-1-rush-18Already, though, the kids are getting a little too big to play in there.  When we come home, they’ll definitely have aged out of the play house.  The whole basement will probably become more of a rec room, and my babies won’t make me plates of felt food in their play kitchen anymore.  But I’ll always have the pictures and the memories of my little munchkins in their house under the stairs.

08-KGerhard-rushing8B’s room has changed so many times over the years.  She’s a big fan of rearranging furniture and changing things up.  In fact, between the time when we got the house photos done and the time they were published, she rearranged her room again.  But as we packed up stuff to get ready for the move, as we decided which things to ship and what to store, we took the art down from her walls.  And the Sarah Jane prints that have hung in her room for 8+ years — they went into storage.  She loves them, she says, but she feels like they are for a little girl’s room and that’s not what she is anymore.  It’s the end of an era, and it broke my heart a little.

09-KGerhard-rushing9Then there’s this old girl.  Lael, our fat, snuggly kitty who predates both our children and our marriage, has gone to live with someone else.  We didn’t want to put her through the trauma of an international move.  So a friend of Matt’s has taken her in, for which I am infinitely grateful.  But I miss her.  She was my baby before I had babies.

KelseyGerhard-15-1-rush-9This guy is gone too — off to live with my parents while we’re gone.  Oliver the pup is now a Massachusetts resident, being spoiled by my Dad, who has started making handmade, organic, from-scratch dog food.  He’s snuggling my nephews and niece, hanging with my Mom on the couch, and we’re missing him terribly.  But he’s definitely in a loving place, and we know it’s better for him than if he moved with us and had to go into a kennel every time we traveled.

Change isn’t always easy, and it will take a while for us all to adapt.  In the end it will work out and we’ll move on.  And these pictures are a treasure now, there to remind me of the way things were.  

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