Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunny Days Again
We went to the beach yesterday evening. The kids had so much fun running up and down the beach and playing in the water. It was really heartwarming to see them smiling and laughing so much.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mama has a new favorite game!
It's called 36 Cube. It's sort of like sudoku but without numbers. You have to have one of each color in each column and row and each color has six pieces that are six different sizes. So when you put the pieces in, they all have to be the same height. It's really addicting!
I love it! It gives a scale on the back saying novice, varsity, contender, rock star, and genius. I have gotten 34 pieces right and then the last two are wrong three times now. That makes me a rock star. (True enough.) I get so pissed and then start all over. And if I don't pay attention, the kids come by and move all the pieces on me because they want to play. I think it's because it's so colorful. Go get it and try it! Tell me how far you can get. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I have a job!!!
I got a call from the principal at Windham High School this evening. I have officially been offered a position as a math teacher! The last piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. I have finally exhaled. I didn't realize I was holding my breathe this long but this evening I started breathing again. It feels good! (insert song) I'll give more details when I get them.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Where to begin…

Maybe at the beginning. Mark had been thinking about going back and getting his PhD for a while. He was nervous about getting in but we figured we would toss our hat in the ring and see what happens. That was last August. Then we went about our lives. I was starting my first year of teaching with all the work and preparation that takes. I also had the research aspect of my master’s degree to finish that was going to take the entire school year. We took in Franzi at the end of October. Awesome to add her to the family but still an additional kid tossed into the crazy. Then all the holidays hit. I made a trip to NYC with Franzi for a long weekend in early February. We started making plans for spring break to go visit Chuck and Virginia in DC. It would be fun to see them but we really wanted to get Franzi to DC. During this time, Mark had been emailing with different professors discussing prospects for grad school. Early March hit and we started hearing a lot more from one particular professor. Pretty quickly we realized this might actually become reality and holy shit. We started looking around the house at all the things that needed to be done to the house to get it ready to sell. We started to look at finances and see where we would be sitting and how much we needed to see the house for to be able to pull off the move. A couple weeks later we heard from the professor that the spot was officially Mark’s if he wanted it. Mark took Richard for a quick (very quick) trip to Connecticut to see the area and meet the professor. He came back in love.

By April, panic was starting to creep in with me. We spent every weekend doing projects to the house, starting with spring break. ( Poor Franzi, she eventually got to go to DC but without us and not until June. Chuck and Virginia were nice enough to take her in and show her around for a couple of days.) We stripped the wallpaper in the downstairs bedroom, painted it, and ripped out the ugly pink carpet. We painted the living room. We redid the upstairs bathroom with a new floor, sink, lighting and medicine cabinet. We got new carpet put in the upstairs hallway and stairs. We did touch-ups to the den. We stripped the wallpaper from the kitchen, painted, put in new countertops, and new lighting. We painted the nursery. I was really sad about that. Not only had it taken me forever to paint all the animals but all of my babies had played, slept, and grown in that room. I spent a lot of nights sitting up breastfeeding and rocking babies in there and was really sad to have to cover it and say goodbye. We painted over the kids’ names in the big bedroom. We painted spots on the outside of the house and the front steps. We even replaced the peal-n-stick floor in the laundry room. Then we did things like get rid of extra furniture, empty out the basement, have 2 garage sales, and donate a TON of stuff. (Really, I must have taken a dozen van loads of stuff to Good-Will.) We rearranged all the bedrooms. Mark and I moved to the downstairs one. Cecelia moved to the clubhouse. Isla moved in with Aidan and Franzi took the middle bedroom that used to be the nursery. Among all the other things going on, I managed to pack about 75% of our stuff into boxes and put them all down in the basement.

While all of this was going on, Mark was researching Groton and everything remotely close to try and figure out options for moving, jobs, schools, life… I was working on my research project, writing the proposal, doing the research, writing the paper, and presentation. We still had four kids to feed, take to practices, parties, friends’ houses, etc. Cecelia had her 8th birthday and I knew it would be the last one in South Bend so I wanted to make sure it was a good one. I took her and four of her best friends horseback riding for a couple of hours and then they came back to our house for cake and to make jewelry and presents. We got Cecelia an American girl doll she had her eyes on and voila! The perfect birthday party was made. I talked to my job and explained what was happening, got references and started applying to jobs. I finally got my research done and walked for my masters’ degree. It took five years. Five years ago I quit my job and went back to school full time; four years of counting pennies, staying up late to study, figuring out how to afford babysitting long enough to go to class, juggling life and kids and homework and quizzes and tests and finals. The last year of finding a job and making it through all the reading and prep work and research and grant proposal (that’s right! Carrie and I got a grant to cover the cost of our research on top of everything else!) and working full time and not having the house burn down around us or kids starve. Everything was finally done and I walked. I got to put on the goofy robe, have a guy shout out my name and walk across the stage. I didn’t walk when I got my bachelor’s degree. I was nine months prego with Cecelia and it wasn’t worth it at the time. This time it was definitely worth it. Plus I managed to earn myself an ‘extra’ degree. I got a Master of Science degree in Secondary Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics all in the last five years. While the world was flying by me so insanely fast I could hardly keep my balance, on that night, I stopped and took a deep breath. I acknowledged everything I had done to get to that point in my life and smiled. It was a huge accomplishment and I was really proud to not only be on the other side of it but to still be standing.

That was my only still moment. We rushed to the finish line with everything in the house. We got it on the market. We finished out the school year. I had to say goodbye to my students. (It’s always a little harder with your first group of students.) And then we prayed. The house sold in 7 days. (holy shit!) We spent our little remaining time with Franzi and then had to send her back home to Germany. A couple days later we had a little barbeque to say goodbye to some friends. The next day, Mark left for Connecticut. He headed out about a month before we would join him to set up life out here. He was staying in a room of another grad student’s house. I stayed back in South Bend with the kids. I packed the remaining bits of the house. We had goodbye play-dates with life-long friends that were hard to say goodbye to knowing I wouldn’t be able to go have coffee or meet up for gymbucks or trade piles of books with anymore. I tried to stay upbeat with the kids who missed Daddy and Franzi and didn’t like having to say bye to friends and didn’t always understand why we were moving and what the distance meant.

Towards the end of July, the kids and I had quick weekend trip to Buffalo, NY for a family reunion. My parents traveled with us. We drove out on Friday and back on Monday. Saturday was awesome. We went to the park. I hung out with my cousins and aunts and uncles. I watched my kids get reacquainted with extended family and run around playing the same games I used to play with cousins. Chuck and Virginia made it for the reunion too and Isla and Olivia became great friends and partners in crime. Sunday morning I woke up to my cell phone ringing. The phone call was from Erin, the girl who was staying at the house with the dogs. Molly had just passed away. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I started shutting down and closing people out. I stopped answering my phone and only took the world in very small pieces a little at a time. Molly was my best friend. She had been with me in college, when I moved out of state to PA, when I got married, while I was pregnant. She would nap with me or walk with me or snack with me. She became my protector and then guarded my babies like they were her own. She would cuddle with me when I was sad and play when I was happy. She trained Sara. She helped raise the kids. She scared off creeps, freaked out repair guys, and made me feel safe. While everything was happening this the summer, Molly had taken to laying close to me on nights I really missed Mark. She seemed to know when I needed to have a warm body in the bed next to me. She would come sit by me during the day as if to check in with me and make sure I was okay. I had taken her to the vet because of a cough she had picked up. I had been told she had a heart problem but she would be okay and could live for years still. That was two weeks before the reunion. Molly had chosen her time to pass away that was most suited to the family. She went while the kids were out of the house, when I was almost done packing and would be back with Mark in two quick days, right before the move. I tried to pay attention to the silver linings. She got to go in her own house. It didn’t happen during the move or just when we got to a new town where we don’t know anyone or have a vet yet. She didn’t have to spend two days in the car. (She got car sick.) But I wasn’t there with her and I didn’t get to say goodbye. And I was really worried about the kids, especially Cecelia because she had already been exposed to and asked to deal with so much this summer. And I was worried about Sara. She was so dependent on Molly; she didn’t even know how to go to the bathroom without Molly outside with her. Sara didn’t eat very well for about a week and didn’t play or really want to be by anyone. She sort of hid out in corners curled up in a ball. I spent the week bursting into tears and avoiding the world. Aidan would hug me and tell me everything was going to be okay. Slowly, I started returning phone calls and talking to people again but to this day, if you bring up the topic of Molly I can barely hold my shit together. Sometimes I still feel like she’s going to come walking into the room to come sit with me and when I have dreams about the family, she’s still with us and then I wake up and have to remind myself that she’s gone.

The week after Molly passed went like this: Monday we drove back from NY. That night, I pulled mattresses into the living room and the kids and I had one last slumber party in our house. It was the last night the kids spent in the house. Tuesday I spent the day moving everything I could into the front rooms and we slept at mom and dad’s the rest of the week. Wednesday I moved some more stuff and then picked Mark up from the airport. Thursday morning we went and got the truck. We spent the entire day packing the truck, the night too. We didn’t actually finish and pull away from the house for the last time until about 7:30am on Friday. That left us just enough time to head back to mom and dad’s and shower and drive over to the closing. We signed papers and deposited a check in the bank. We ran around doing a bunch of last minute errands in town and I bought new clothes for an interview on Monday for a job in Connecticut. Saturday morning we got up and headed out. We spent the night somewhere on the edge on PA and then Sunday arrived in Groton.

It has been amazing being here. I LOVE the neighborhood we are in. There’s really awesome stuff to do around town. Cecelia and Aidan have already made new friends and are loving their new bedrooms. Sara has returned to eating and also loves all the new kids to throw sticks and pet her. I haven’t heard anything from the interview but they told me they would be interviewing more people this past week so I probably won’t hear until next week. I also found another job to apply for here in Groton. I’m hoping they call me on Monday or Tuesday for an interview. I am slowly getting things unpack and put away. I’ve been working on the kids’ room first so that they feel at home and settled in. When I can’t stand it up there any more I come downstairs and work on the living room and kitchen. I’m starting to see progress. I’m nervous about a job but it’s the nature of the beast. I knew I wouldn’t get a job until right before the school year started. Out here, that’s not until the very end of August.

I’m really excited about moving and a new adventure. I’m excited about exploring new places and showing my kids real mountains. Today we took the kids to a submarine museum and then a huge art fair. They are laughing and playing in a yard where no one is screaming cuss words and I don’t worry about who’s going to go by. They can ride their bikes in the street. The ocean in ten minutes away and it’s only that far because the speed limit is 30 mph. People are nice and friendly. Cecelia and Aidan are set up at a good school with nice teachers. Mark goes to campus everyday really happy and has fun people to work with and amazing views. Everything is falling into place for us out here and it truly feels like this was meant to be and we’ve made a good step in the right direction. The last piece that needs to fall into place is a job for me. I do have high hopes. I had a really awesome job back in Elkhart. I loved my kids and the position I had. I loved my department and all the other goofy math geeks that worked with me. I miss that job and the safe feeling of knowing what is expected and how things are going to happen. I miss the security of a guaranteed pay check. But I’m choosing to believe this too will fall into place and someone will see me and want to hire me.

As for pictures to accompany all of this… I’ve put some up on facebook. I’ll be better at updating the blog. I’ll get back into the habit, if for no other reason that fear. I have gotten some serious reminders lately how long it has been and how no one can see the kids now so I BETTER put pictures on here.

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