Moving Day

Two years ago, I overheard my husband James & 2.5 year old son talking:

James: Tomorrow we are going to move house. Will you help me?
Evan: Yes, daddy. I will push really hard!

Today I will be unlocking the door to our new house- our seventh home in eight years.  I imagined myself as an old lady with grandchildren in the last two houses we bought. I remember why now.  After you move, you swear you will never do it again.

I also said that about pregnancy and childbirth.

Oops.

Love People, Use Stuff.

It is overwhelming (in a good way) to see the material things I released come back to me once again.  It’s that puddle and splash park thing. I have been reminded over and over through this process that it is the immaterial that has value- and that reward is wrapped in risk, and fulfilment cloaked in faith.  I’ve also learned that you do, on a very practical level, need stuff.

My friend Dani has a note posted in her kitchen that comes to mind as my head is full of housewares and furniture shopping. It reads-

Don’t love stuff or use people.

Love people and use stuff.

Relationships trump possessions. It isn’t the stuff I left in England that I miss. It’s the people. The houses might be gone, but the friendships I found in those neighbourhoods have come with me. That being said, you need stuff to take care of the people you love.

Stuff Blessings

After a rough week with her, I prayed and asked God for extra grace to give my seven year old daughter.  The move has been draining on her. When we got rid of all of her toys apart from a few stuffed animals, she compiled a list of the things she wanted most after we repatriated.

One hour after my prayer, I had a van full of her toy requests: model ponies and animals, Barbie accessories and a house, and build-a-bear clothes I picked up at a garage sale. Everything EXACTLY as she had requested- and for less than $50. Driving home that day with tears in my eyes, God gave me the tools to bless her. If you want to show love to a mother, love her kids.  That day, God loved me by loving my daughter well. He heard my prayer- and before he gave me the stuff, he extended grace and compassion to me so I could pass it to her.  That redemptive side of faith often gets missed when churchy people talk about God. He sends little (and big) messages that whisper “PS. I love you-” now love the person next to you.

My first friend in our new neighbourhood is actually selling her house right now. She called today and said she has a van load of things for Meredith and the new baby. She named items I need that I hadn’t thought of yet- and many things, I don’t need, but are really nice to have like bath toys. The timing is so perfect for both of us.

I showed up for the walk-through of the new house today expecting to be there for ten minutes. Two hours later, the real estate agent and I had sorted through endless amounts of dishes and housewares and furniture that the previous owner can’t move with her. When I sold my wedding china, I didn’t picture getting to replace different pieces with a pensioner’s tableware for free.  I still haven’t picked out a toilet brush cleaner and I don’t own a trash can, but I am the proud owner of a crystal toothpick holder- lol! The coolest part was there wasn’t a single item this lady had in her donate pile that I had already bought.

When we paired down our stuff to 7 suitcases, there were a few odd items that really bothered me to part with. It’s a weird list- the safe, the filing cabinet, flower vases, a grocery bag holder, assorted wrapping paper and gift wrap materials- I know it’s a weird list, but who wants to buy that stuff again? Today, they were left at my new house for me from the previous owner. And her safe is much better than my old one. She can’t move it because it is bolted to the floor. That makes me chuckle. I guess someone could have just carried off my old safe. I hadn’t thought of that.

Now, if the baby bump would stop giving me gas pain and heartburn, I could get some shut eye. I actually have things to unpack. Wahoo!

Kids say . . .

At the paediatrician this week, my four year old Evan was anxious about getting his ears checked.  Trying to escape the otoscope, he put his head on my chest, and grabbed my shirt, pulling it down.

His eyes widened. He gasped and pointed, “Mom, why do you have a butt on your front?!” 

Thanks to baby #4, I actually have cleavage. I’m giggling to myself, and I’m also embarrassed. The nurse practitioner watches my reaction. She’s smirking.

“Evan, please don’t pull my shirt down,” I advise. “It’s private.”

He scrunches his nose, “Is that because it is your butt?”

He’s genuinely inquiring.

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On the way home, he tells me about his Walmart trip. He’s laughing, “Mom there was a totally naked lady at Walmart last night. It was so weird.” He continues, “Dad thought it was so funny.”

I mean it is Walmart. There is a whole website devoted to strange and unusual people who shop there. Turns out, according to dad, she was just barefoot.

He also scolded the waiter at lunch the other day when he replied to my question with the standard southern, “Yes Mam.”

Evan told him off. “She is a lady, not a boy.”

MAM, kiddo. Not man.

We also had an expat moment trying to get lunch. I ordered french fries, but Evan kept whining saying he wanted chips with his cheeseburger. I promised him they were on the way. The waiter kept repeating my order and implying they don’t have chips on the menu.  England and America: two countries divided by a common language. And then we confuse the matter by calling it French fries, lol.

So if you see my kid, and he tells you about naked people at the grocery store or my front bum cheeks, or anything else unusual– things are a bit in transit, but we aren’t quite as weird as Evan makes us out to be.

Surprisingly, his ears checked out fine.  Next stop? The eye doctor.

 

 

 

 

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.