There’s No Place Like Home.

It feels great to be home. We closed on the house and move-in went spectacularly. We are pretty well unpacked and set up with the essentials- meaning kitchen stuff, toilet paper and beds. Thankfully, the only boxes lying around are the ones repurposed by the kids as pretend cat crates and royal castles- covered in chalk, crayons, and stickers. I think I’m going to order large items online so the kids have a steady supply of fresh cardboard. It’s a hot commodity around here.

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A special shout out to our realtor Kathryn Taylor at Halliday Realtors. She is truly remarkable, classy, and professional. We had a blast working with her.

In other news . . .

We found a couch. Holy smokes Batman, I thought we would never find one. James & I previewed 200+ couches trying to decide on the perfect seat. Too firm, too soft, too deep, too modern, too grandma, too pricey, poor quality, wrong texture, bad colour, arms too square, arms too short- you name it, we had a reason to nix it.

James looked at me hopelessly, “We are never going to agree on a couch.”

We looked into custom order sofas. Ethan Allen tried to convince us that waiting 60-90 days for a couch was nothing compared to the years of enjoyment it would bring us. I showed the designer this picture of my living room:

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I’m really sure I don’t want to be nine months pregnant or nursing a newborn and still be sitting on the floor-  even for the perfectly upholstered piece. Right?

(65 days until baby #4 is due. I have a feeling time is going to go by really fast.)

We found the sofa at Ashley’s furniture store, but we initially walked into Ashley’s furniture for one reason only. I had been there the week before, but nothing sparked joy expect the complimentary cookies. Delicious. But our eyes immediately sparkled when we saw this couch.  James and I saw it, looked at each other, and knew. We found the one. But first, I informed him, “I want that cookie.” Excited to have this bad boy in our living room within a fortnight. And we ordered a bed that comes this week, too!

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One reason, we are a bit behind on the furniture shopping (other than free coffee and cookies) is the massage chairs we keep finding ourselves sitting in at the stores. Wow. Those puppies are incredible. The pictures are terrible because neither of us wanted to get out of the chair to take a decent shot.

Oh my soul, I love these things.

We found a desk, but of course, it wasn’t on the store floor, and James didn’t want to buy it sight unseen. So James’ home office is functional, but not pretty. The previous owner left us that chair. You see how it has some light wood showing? I wish we would have noticed it sooner.  About an hour later, it broke. The yelp James made as he crashed to the floor was loud and dramatic. So we are back to one camping chair and the folding chairs. But we are happy.

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We keep ourselves busy in the evenings constructing outlines of furniture. We do this for two reasons. #1 We don’t own a tape measure and keep forgetting to purchase one, and #2 I have absolutely no spatial skills- so we paperclip strips of paper together and move them around the room to figure out where stuff should go and how it will fit together.

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It’s very helpful, but you should hear me fuss at the kids, “DON’T STEP ON THE COUCH!” They just look at me like I’ve lost my mind. Partially, that’s true.

There is so much to figure out; so many decisions to make. To add to the list, we started seriously shopping for the second vehicle. But mostly, I’m glad to be here-

There’s no place like home.

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Under Contract

It’s busy work repatriating, but we are one major step closer! If the inspection goes to plan, the keys will be ours May 17th. We will be living in North Frisco, and couldn’t be more excited about the house, the schools and the neighbourhood. We have plenty of space for visitors (hint, hint)! It’s three times bigger than what we had in England, but £60k less expensive. Property in England is definitely a premium.

The hard part is figuring out where all of our stuff goes. Just kidding. I think everything we own fits in the Master bedroom closet.

I see Target in my future.

Scarlett is excited about the game room and insists we use “goose tape” to divide the space between all the kids. Duct tape, maybe?  She was nearly in tears because she found out her room has carpet flooring:

“We can’t live there! How will my ponies stand up on carpet!!?”  

So maybe the house won’t work out. Ponies standing up is very important.

Texas Traditions: Tex-Mex, BBQ & Blue Bell

In between driving by the DPS (line around the corner of the building- will delay that another day) and buying cars and sorting bank accounts, we grabbed Tex-Mex from my favourite fast food, Taco Bueno. My grandparents made sure we got some good BBQ too.

James and I had a conversation about how tricky it is to watch your weight in Texas, but at least I have a good excuse. He eased his guilt by starting Yoga this morning, so I joined him. He is sore; I feel refreshed. I’ve always loved the calm restorative breathing of yoga. If you do yoga with James, it is more like groan and huff, huff and grown, but I’m proud of him anyway.

Above: When you are craving Mexican food but don’t want to wake up the sleeping, jet-lagged baby, you bring her in- car seat and all!

It has also been over four years since I had my favourite Texas-made ice cream. It was a glorious reunion. We are going to need to do a lot of yoga- huh?

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Call Me . . . Maybe?

I still don’t have an USA phone number yet- so FaceTime, Facebook or WhatsApp me. Hoping to get that sorted soon. Scarlett has already enjoyed a playdate with some of her English besties, her grandparents and cousins over FaceTime.

Isn’t technology incredible?

We miss everyone and send our hugs and love! xxx

 

M2M: A New Tagline

We moved on Wednesday, 12 April from England to Texas with 7 suitcases, a guitar case, 5 carry-ons and 4 carseats. The flights went incredibly smooth. Other than waking up at 3:30 am, we are settling in . . .

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The McCarthy party of five (and one on the way). Such an empty flight!

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Everything we own.

So M2M needed a new tagline:

Navigating Motherhood from Texas to England (and Back).

Here are some thoughts about the back part:

Holy smokes, cowboy. Hold the phone. I always said that everything was bigger in Texas, but I just ate a blueberry larger the size of a daddy grape. The streets, the cars, the people, the portion sizes, the rubbish bins- I just forgot how big bigger was.

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I never knew how American peanut butter was until I moved to the UK. Here is a week supply for our family. Ok, ok, maybe two weeks.

Walmart

We have been on a Walmart run, which I totally dreaded. We didn’t even go to the one in the nicer neighbourhood. I almost couldn’t bring myself to walk into that place. It was wonderful being away from it for 2.5 years, but when those sliding glass doors parted, everyone, kids included, drew in a deep breath.

Wow.

Living in England has made the ghetto Walmart seem magical. One thing I love/hate about America is our advertising culture. It makes us very materialistic, consumeristic, and a bit too plastic. James always uses the word “contrived.” But ladies and gentleman, today, I loved every bit of it. The isles were clean and lighting was perfect, packages are more colourful and the checkout lady packed my bags while she told me about her journey from China to Texas. She was delightful, and we received the world’s supply of plastic bags without paying five pence for each one. This is so different from the pack your own bag while the supermarket checkout lady sits on her chair and people stare at the back of your head sighing under their breath waiting for you to pack. Am I right? My least favourite part was estimating how many bags to purchase before I started packing the groceries and always needing a pound coin to grab a shopping cart. Ugh.

Our total for two trolleys of groceries came to $220.00. We are so used to incredibly secure UK bank accounts. You almost need a DNA sample to spend your own money.  We were shocked when James just stuck his card in the card reader and the receipt popped out. No signature, no pin number, no ID- just Viola!

WHAT!?! That’s crazy.

Money, Materialism, #Merica

America makes it easy to spend money. No minimum spends or penalties for using a credit card, no “cash only” places. Literally, 24-7 you can buy, buy, buy. James says it’s because there is nothing to do in Dallas besides earn and spend money- and he isn’t that wrong. We are considering an appointment at 9:00 pm this evening to look at a mini-van. We expect that if we like it, we’ll drive it home tonight.

In 2015, when we looked for houses in England, we were offered appointments two weeks in the future by Estate Agents. When we called the realtor yesterday at 8:00 am with houses we loved, we were standing in the first one at 10:00 am. And yesterday, she organised seven house showings for us for today.

Welcome home to the land of instantaneous gratification, spend, spend, spend.

Work, work, work.

 

 

James and I found this to be a bit hysterical and horrifying in equal parts. After a bunch of these, we gave up with the photos. I mean seriously?

Hello, America. The environment is calling.

It wants its ozone layer back.

But if the president says global warming doesn’t exist, then it surely doesn’t.

We Found a Home.

The home search today was interesting. I found myself jumping at each house and just really wanting to find a space to call our own. Finally, in the car, I realised what I was doing-

“James, I’m 6 months pregnant and I have three kids. I feel this massive vulnerability not having a place to settle in and nest, so with each house, I just really want to like it. I really want to have a known place to be.” I teared up. “I need a home for my babies.”

Fortunately and unfortuantely, James was not in this same headspace. He would walk in, spin around, and say, “Nah” and start to leave. I could feel myself starting to sweat.

“What is it that you don’t like about the home? It’s perfect.”  I was arranging furniture in my head already.

“It just doesn’t have the right vibe,” he would casually remark.

I took a deep breath and accepted that his feelings are equally as valid as my own, even if they are not specific. I’m actually proud of myself for moving on and also for his clarity about what he wants. I think two years ago, I would have pressed the issue more, and he would have been less opinionated. I like these new people that we are. We respect each other’s selfhood much more these days. We trust each other.

When James walked into the final house we saw today, he didn’t even need to see the upstairs. This time, he opened his arms up wide as if to hug the air, and said, “I’m home.”

This is it. 

And so, the offer has been put in, and now we wait. I’ll post some photos when we know one way or the other. The beautiful thing is, I have peace regardless.

We will find a place. I do not need to panic or settle for less.

Nearly There

It is 4:00 am.

I’m not sure if it is the pregnancy or the floors and sofas I’ve been sleeping on for the last month, or the stress of the move, but sleep has pretty much escaped me lately.

I wake up frequently remembering something I need to do, needing to pee, hungry, nauseated, or to soothe a crying child. However, just now, I woke up because I was laughing out loud at my dream about my son. I’m so thankful for that – even though I will feel it tomorrow. But now that I’m awake, I’m hungry. Gotta love the second trimester munchies. In a few hours that will only be 10:00 pm- so I’m good right?

Oh the joys of jet lag, airplanes, and airports.

My husband & I have such emotional baggage about the airport- no pun intended. We dated transatlantic for almost five years. We put the long in long distance relationship. Airports are places of intense emotion- elation and sadness for us, and we kind of loathe them for it. I dread it tomorrow.

I’m so thankful because instead of saying rushed goodbyes to our family at the airport terminal, we decided to spend the day at this amazing family farm, climbing tree houses, going on tractor rides, watching lambs play, and bouncing on giant blobs with our family and said good-byes there.

Goodbyes are never fun, but this created a great last day memory in England and meant that I had to be organised enough on the last day to enjoy it- which I was. I’m glad the kids’ final memory of their grandparents from living here wasn’t an awkward backwards wave once we all walked nervously through security. And I’m glad I don’t have tears streaming down my face while I’m trying not to forget a passport, a bag, or a child.

We couldn’t have asked for a better final day or better weather. I am convinced that England on a sunny day is the best place in the world. Pictures to come!

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We hired a man with a van to cart all of our stuff to the airport.  (Not pictured- the kids’ carry-on bags, 4 carseats, a pushchair, 3 kids, a pregnant mum and her super hero husband).

I grabbed a handful of earplugs for the people around us on the plane- a small token that says “I’m trying.” The bigs will be ok, but the little, 21 months, makes me nervous. I’m bringing her little baby doll and a doll pushchair for her to stroll up and down the isle with. I hope this keeps her occupied. I’m feeling flustered just thinking about my pregnant self and a toddler on my lap in those cramped claustrophobic rows. Yuck.

The Kind of Friends You can Pack

If I told you that 1.25 of those suitcases is full of stuffed animals, it might make you laugh. I was trying to see if my seven year old would let me part with just a few, but I only managed to get rid of an almost decapitated half-cat, half-blanket looking thing.

Not ideal.

“Mom, these stuffed animals are my friends!” She said emphatically on the verge of tears at my request to bin or donate one or two.

I do not have a single kitchen utensil or pan, or extra shoes or some of my favourite mementos, but I have pink monkeys and blue rabbits and a whole family of tigers just to name a few. Who can leave their kids’ friends behind?

My daughter also grabbed an obsolete mobile phone that was lying around and chatted for nearly 30 minutes this afternoon. “Who was that?” I asked her. “Maraline.” she smiled.

My husband and I looked at each other. “She’s back.” When we moved to England, my daughter, almost 5, had such vivid imaginary friends that the host of characters, Maraline particularly, became a part of our whole family’s psyche.  These friends were so prevalent and so dear to her that I scoured the literature to find scholarly articles to see if I should be concerned.  I can see her processing everything that is happening and using as many tools as she can. Reuniting state side with Maraline is one way she is coping, and I think it is very cute and very adaptive.

When we moved to England six weeks before her fifth birthday, I told Scarlett that our goal was to makes some new friends to invite to her birthday party.

“That’s okay mom. My imaginary friends will be there.” she reassured me.

I turned the corner and burst into tears. And now I’m sitting here thinking, at least for the next 18 weeks before school starts, we have her stuffed animal friends to keep her company: I’m just glad her imaginary friends don’t take up any room in the suitcases. 

Meanwhile, we drove about five minutes from our house and Evan sees a housing development being built. “Is that America?” he asks.

“No buddy. We have to go far away on an airplane to get to our new house.” we explain.

“But it is a new house.” He points out the window and doesn’t see why these new houses aren’t America.

A whole new world awaits this kid. God love him.

It’s 5:00 am now and I really want some popcorn. So now I’m trying to decide whether to make some or try and sleep while I can. Big life decisions here.