Empty House/Full Life.

I saw the OBGYN today, and although I didn’t get to see baby’s face very clearly, I definitely saw something else . . .

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We are very excited. Scarlett is desperate to name the baby Lloyd and Evan is adamant that the baby should be called Beautiful.  I can’t really think about baby names because I have so much to do and only 12 weeks until he arrives.

Guns & Football

Things are going well.  I’m tired of spending 2-3 hours in the car everyday on the school run and errands, but so thankful Scarlett’s school is amazing. Meeting her teachers and seeing her classroom was awesome, but meeting the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and trying on the Police bullet proof vest made Open House very memorable.

That is Texas for you. Guns and football. I have no idea how the two are related to open house, but I enjoyed meeting the High School dance team members who helped out at the event.  I got every single one of their phone numbers for babysitting.

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Luckily, the commute is only for two more weeks.

*Panic! I have just over 2 weeks until we move into a very empty house.

So far, I have 3 mini cutting boards, plates, bowls, mugs, glasses, pots and pans, a king sized mattress, a kettle, a coffee pot, a crib, the kids bedding, one pillow, a can opener, a pizza wheel, tongs, a dish scrubber, and a whisk.

I’m stuck. I’m on decision making overload. If you know me, I like to shop for a deal and only have stuff in the house I love, but time is ticking.

15 days left.

If I could find bedding, I would know what towels and sheets, and artwork and bed frame and dresser, etc. But I can’t find that piece of inspiration, so I am just stuck waddling through stores with my huge baby bump and three kids in tow-  which might actually be why I can’t find stuff?

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Spare Socks.

I took the kids to the mall after school to do some shopping.  James did the school run while I was at the OBGYN. He met me at the mall and gave me the kids while he went back to work.  We hadn’t planned on this, and he didn’t realise Evan only had one sock on and no shoes. 

I found a random sock in my handbag (#thisismotherhood) and put him in the pram. He needed new shoes anyway, so we went and bought some. I couldn’t believe I showed up to the shoe stores with his mix-matched socks and no shoes.

At least I didn’t need to tell them what I came into the store for.

I just pointed.

Then at dinner, in keeping with the theme, Meredith poured chocolate milk all over her. Of course, I had no spare clothes with me. Apparently, I only keep spare socks. Scarlett desperately needs shoes, so little sister went shirtless into Nordstrom- looking very white trash.

At least Evan had shoes by this point.

I planned on buying Meredith an outfit, but ironically, I couldn’t decide on one. We celebrated when we found shoes that fit my wide-foot eldest daughter- which is almost impossible to find. In FOUR hours,  I bought 2 pairs of shoes and got cutting boards.

I didn’t get the cutlery, bed linens, towels, or storage dishes I had as my targets for the day. But, Overall? It was a success. We laughed so hard at Meredith’s chubby belly hanging out and Evan in one girl sock and Scarlett cramming her foot into tiny shoes like Cinderella’s stepsisters.

We will probably be borrowing some folding chairs until I can commit to something more permanent- and an air mattress- and spare sheets, towels, and a toilet brush cleaner.

I’m only partially kidding.

I spent about thirty minutes looking at toilet brushes. How many do I need? What material- stainless steel,  glass or plastic? Budget or high-end? One has a plunger attached. Do we need a plunger? Do I get one for every toilet or just one? Should they all be the same? Oh cute. A matching soap dispenser. What soap dispenser do I want?

You see? It’s nuts-

Empty House. Full Life.

A huge shoutout to our dear friends, Allison & Steven, who kept all 3 of our kids plus their 3 overnight so we could get some of this stuff done. A man commented that James and I looked so in love on our evening sans little people.

We are in love.  I can’t decide on a toilet brush holder, furniture, linens, or a name for the baby, but I have decided that I love the man I married and the kids we made together.

So who cares if our house is empty?

And as long as I don’t own a toilet brush, I can’t clean it.

#winning

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‘Mom of the Year’ Award

I promised the kids they were up-to-date on their vaccinations, when in fact, they actually needed 10 shots between them.

Oops.  My mistake.

We were just there for the shots, but during a once-over, the paediatrician diagnosed two cases of strep throat for the big kids, and a double ear infection for the little one. Evan had pink eye and a toe nail that needed wound care, and Scarlett needs to go back for additional hearing tests.  We got 5 prescriptions for antibiotics- oral, topical, and eye drops. After swabbing their throats, fixing toes, and poking tummies, the doctor asked if we should just postpone their vaccines. She thought they had enough for one day.

Nope. Stick them today please. Then give me the ‘Mom of the Year’ award. 

I had no idea any of the kids were poorly, let alone all three of them.  I only took them to the paediatrician so Scarlett could get her jabs to start school. I thought they were just cranky, jet lagged kids who were off-schedule. Scarlett complained her throat hurt; we told her she swallowed a crisp* wrong. #parentfail

No wonder I had a hard time parenting last week, and of course they weren’t listening to me.  According to the doctor, they couldn’t even hear.

*US: chip

On a side note- Americans vaccinate for the chicken pox, but England doesn’t. I find that interesting. What is safer- vaccinations or the chicken pox? Is this primarily motivated by funding or science?

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Not even the mood lighting, the TVs, the tablets, the space rocket ship waiting room, or the popsicles made this hour and forty-five minute appointment fun. Look how miserable my baby looks.


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Toe vs. Door. He is going to lose the nail, but at least his toe isn’t broken.

This week is so much better than last week already. Scarlett started school this morning. Her commentary was, “The teachers don’t have as much control as in England. The class was a bit bonkers.”

I believe that. English children know discipline. I used to ask my British friends, “Where do they put the kids with ADHD?” All of the English students sit so perfectly still in perfect uniform after they parade into assemblies to music from the symphony.  I struggle as an adult to be that buttoned up. By contrast, everyday at her new school, they play pop music to signal class is starting.

Scarlett and I just looked at each other perplexed. We just sang along to “True Colours” as we walked the halls to her new classroom and chuckled to ourselves knowingly. “Have fun!” I said. And she did.

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Scarlett and her new teacher. She was in Year 2 in the UK, but will repeat grade 2 next year. Children with summer birthdays are almost always held back to make sure they are “academically and emotionally more mature.” But let’s be honest, it’s all about the boys being stronger for football. That’s Texas, y’all.

Also this week, my youngest brother came in town from New Mexico with his new wife I hadn’t met; I connected with extended family at my cousin’s wedding, and I went to my high school Alma Mater’s spring musical. It’s been fun. The important stuff for the house is mostly done- like mortgage paperwork and appraisals and the like.

I also bought tea cups and a kettle last night.

What else could we need?

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My younger brothers + hubby.


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Look at that Texas skyline. A perfect backdrop for the wedding!


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My dad’s parents who live locally + Scarlett @ Cinderella

Getting to a new normal, one day at time.be-love

A Truckload of Wisdom

Expat note: No matter the country, the DPS/DVLA are the same.

Things I’m thankful for today:

  1. Our home in England exchanged/closed today.  As a bonus, we love the couple who bought it. It feels good to hand keys to someone kind.
  2. We will be moving to Frisco, Texas on May 17th. Wahoo. Our option period ends tomorrow at 5:00 pm.
  3. We have toured Scarlett’s school and love it.  Instead of waiting until the next school year, she starts Monday. I’m relieved; we don’t have to homeschool.
  4. I found an OBGYN.  I’m delivering 15 minutes from the house at Baylor Frisco. The doctor comes with rave reviews. I look forward to meeting Dr. Holt on 1 May.
  5. I found a paediatrician and got all three kids scheduled for immunisations and well-check ups on the same day. The office is spaceship themed and has unlimited popsicles. #onlyinAmerica
  6. The kids have reconnected with a few old friends, and they played perfectly. We all soaked it up.
  7. The DPS office was crazy busy and it took over two hours to get my driver’s license renewed.

Wait. What?! #7 seems crazy. When I drove up, I had the same face everyone else did: one of sheer frustration. The line extended out the building and the online system to make appointments was down again. I was irritated. I had so much to do, but I need to fix my expired license- only to update it in 28 days anyway. Oh well. I grabbed this massive book called “Unlocking the Bible” and wondered what would happen first- Would I finish the 700+ pages or get my license renewed first?

UGH.

After I made it into the building, I got to sit down. No mobile phones are allowed, so I didn’t feel obligated to be signing documents or searching for more logistical answers to my life. I simply read and relaxed.

A few things popped up at me in my reading at the DPS office. Primarily, the book was talking about the failures of the Biblical heroes. They had some major moral flops, but what made them great wasn’t their perfection, it was their faith.  When other people were putting their faith in what they could touch, these characters were invested in the qualities you cannot touch: faith, hope and love. It’s the story of God’s grace over and over- that His love is something we don’t deserve and haven’t earned. It is a gift. Out of that gift, your life is transformed. How grateful are you when you get something you haven’t earned? That experience changes people. Last week, the lady at the airport waived over $700 worth of luggage fees just because. That was amazing and gave me such a great attitude and spirit. How much greater is it that God takes care of my yuck?

I’ve been a yuck mom the last few days. I’ve been shouting, frustrated, and exhausted- then even worse- I’ve felt bad about shouting, feeling frustrated and being exhausted so I’ve been operating out of guilt. That has led to horrible parenting like letting the baby eat ice cream for dinner.

When I drove home, I raised my right hand and confessed out loud. “I’ve been way too short tempered with the kids. That’s not right.” I then thanked God for grace to start over. I prayed for energy, for compassion, for wisdom and discernment, for a new attitude, for grace, and for a different perspective that lets me get all this craziness accomplished while having a peaceful home. We have made so many major decisions in seven days; my head is spinning. We have so many more to make and those choices are crowding my headspace. “God you promise to give wisdom to those who seek it, and I need a truckload.” I prayed.

I got home and just started slowing down. I whispered everything I said to the kids. I empathised with them instead of neglecting their ridiculous requests. For example- “It’s so nice of you to plant Uncle David an apple tree, but it won’t grow back here. How about the park later?” instead of “STOP DIGGING! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?!”

Slowly, I saw the kids relaxing, too. I finally bought kid hangers and had to hang every item of clothing the kids own. I got the baby to help me, and we enjoyed doing it together. It took three times as long, but we laughed together.  I could see my attitude and my heart changing because I allowed God to change my character.

James had a phone call with our mortgage guy to ask a few questions. He was ecstatic when he got off the phone. “He gave me answers to so many questions- way beyond the mortgage. I feel like I have a lot of clarity about our whole financial picture.” All of those nagging feelings about the mortgage and money and pressure I had been feeling, lifted.

Just like that- a truckload of wisdom, and a heap load of grace. I didn’t deserve it, but had faith to receive it. Thank you God.

Driving home from the park, the kids watched a veggieTale movie. The cucumber and tomato started singing about God’s grace, and I found myself saying AMEN.

Ain’t it good to know a God who gives a second chance?
Why, that’s enough to get a smile from Mr. Grumpy-Pants
So, if you say you’re sorry for all the stuff you do
We know that He’ll be ready with a second chance for you

-Veggie Tales- Second Chances

Before bed, all the kids climbed on my lap and cuddled. Evan gave me a kiss and told me I’m beautiful. It was so genuine. The other kids raced in for their turn.

Truckload of grace, right?

And on the subject of trucks, my husband is sitting across the room looking for his vehicle. He can’t decide. Pick-up truck or electric car?  I find this bizarre.

I’m Tired.

I will never forget the first time I ran a 5k charity race. My friend and I ran it together. As we approached the finish line in the distance, supporters waved flags, a band played, people cheered and snapped photos.  It set my feet on fire. My friend and I committed to giving it everything we had for that final stretch. I have never run with so much gusto in my life. I got the runner’s high, sweat poured, and my legs burned. I loved the energy from the crowd. I felt a huge sense of pride and accomplishment.

But when we got to the finish line we saw the sign. “CONGRATULATIONS!” it read in huge bold letters. Underneath, much smaller it read, “HALFWAY THERE!”

WHAT?!!?! That felt like a punch in the stomach. How could we keep going? I just gave it all I had. How did we not realise we weren’t done? Our sprint became a very laboured jog. Our enthusiasm waned.

Only Halfway There.

I thought about this today. I think I set my goal post at getting everything sold, donated, packed, and closed down in England, that I didn’t save any energy for the next leg of the journey. It felt like I was finished when I got on the plane with my one way ticket. But in fact, I only just started.

I have a few more hurdles I have to jump through and then I think I need to walk a bit. I feel alarmed because it seems like by the time all the logistics are sorted and we have a new normal, I am going to have a newborn baby that needs cuddling and feeding and nurturing—-for the next 18 years.

And so I feel a bit like I did when I read that sign that day: a bit gutted, exhausted, and tired.

On the day of the 5k, there was one silver lining. I had a friend beside me to finish the race with. Running or walking, it didn’t so much matter how fast we finished. It just mattered that we finished, and we did it together.

In the marathon I’m currently running, I have my amazing, endearing, capable and strong husband alongside me. Through prayers and the cheers of the crowds around us (our friends, family, colleagues and friendly strangers), we will finish strong . . . even if we walk a bit.

 

 

 

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