Who needs stuff? Me! Our move so far…

Right now I am sitting here in a house with no furniture watching the sunrise and thinking about my family.  Yep, we’re in the middle of PCS-ing (military jargon for moving).  While it hasn’t been as rough as the last move, it hasn’t been easy.  But, then again, moving to another state rarely is.

We’ve been living out of suitcases for 3 weeks now and still have over a week before our household goods arrive so now we are “urban camping”—a catchy name for sleeping on air mattresses in your own home.  We’ve done it on both sides of the move now so I’m a little over it to be honest.  I’ve got one pot to cook in and we sit on the floor in the entryway because I don’t want the kids to sit on the carpet to eat and the kitchen isn’t big enough for all of us.   I’m tired of no comfy chairs to sit in and everything being in piles on the floor.  I’m tired of not having my own washer and dryer, especially when a child has an accident in the middle of the night.  You would think living without most of our belongings would make me a minimalist and my take-away would be that we don’t really need all that stuff.  But no.  I miss my stuff.  And you can call me materialistic but you are probably doing that from the comfort of your home filled with your stuff.

But most of all I am wishing I had my stuff because it gives us something to do.  It creates a flurry of activity as we unpack and get settled and I am anxious to do that.  Right now it is like the waiting place in Dr. Seuss’ Oh!  The Places You’ll Go!

…a most useless place.
The Waiting Place……for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go,
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go,
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No,
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.Waiting for the fish to bite,
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night,
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break,
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

We are stuck in this limbo where we can’t quite start our new life but we’ve left our old life and we just wait for them to hopefully bring our home to us.  Personally I find it hard to be motivated when living out of suitcase.  And all that waiting and unsettledness gives time for all the different emotions that come with moving to bubble up to the surface.  Especially for the kiddos.  They swing wildly from being madly excited and enthusiastic to crying their eyes out at missing “the best people I’ve ever known.”   Yes, that is a direct quote from my seven year old daughter.  Adorable.  And heartbreaking.

Yes, we moved with an inflated balloon. Because a friend gave it to her and how do you tell this face no?

It is so hard to tear your kids away from the life they know and love.  And even harder to do it more than once and know that it will happen again in the future.

People not in the military are fascinated by this turn of events.  They can’t believe that the date for delivery was changed by over a week, that our stuff isn’t coming when it was supposed to, that we are left with no belongings and trying to make do.  They are outraged on our behalf—especially my parents which makes me feel warm and happy inside.  (The best was when my mom insisted that obviously a man came up with this system because a mom would never have it work this way.)  My military friends commiserate but know that this is par for the course.  This is just kind of how it works.  And so we are left waiting.

But at least we are here in the waiting place together, right?

Ed is on leave (silly us thought he would be helping me unpack right about now) so we are left with an overabundance of family time.  You would think that we would be off having great adventures–we’re trying, but, well, remember when I said it was hard to be motivated when living out of a suitcase? And so we just spend time together: reading, playing games, exploring locally, and laughing (yes, we laugh a lot, even when things aren’t going well, perhaps especially when things aren’t going right).  And while it would help my kids to settle in if they had their own beds filled with their stuffed animals and treasures, I think that at the end of the day they will settle in just fine just having us—seeing that we can do this as a family, that we enjoy our time together, that we make the best of a bad situation.

Eventually we will have a home filled with our belongings, ringing with noise, busy with our schedule; but for now, I will strive to enjoy the quiet and the waiting and the time we have together.  Even if it’s not what I planned.

 

A Lesson in Thanksgiving

Two years ago we were spending Thanksgiving in the pediatric intensive care unit.  Mia fell down and then suddenly had a huge hematoma.  Before her eyes we watched her body be covered in unexplained bruises and dark red spots.  At the hospital we found out that she had no platelets left.  Over the course of days they diagnosed her and worked on treating it.  This all happened the day after we arrived at our new duty station.  So we found ourselves with a sick child in a new city CAM00167with no friends or family celebrating Thanksgiving and just being grateful that our children were alive and we were together.

And so at this time of year when we are being grateful for our blessings, I think back to that scary time and to the lessons I was reminded of during it…

I am thankful for my faith.  Riding in the ambulance with lights flashing, Mia looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not scared.  I know that God is with me.”  And she was right.  As our minds started to fill with panic our hearts were filled with faith.  God doesn’t make us sick and He doesn’t necessarily heal our body, what God does is walk beside us, loving us, giving us strength and preparing us for the way ahead no matter what it might be.

Our brave patient with her best buddy

Our brave patient with her best buddy

And I am thankful for the love with in our family.  Zoe would not leave Mia’s side.  When they wheeled Mia up to her room, Zoe rode next to her hugging her.  She laid in her bed, played with her, brought her food, and cried when Mia screamed in pain.  She was everything a sister could be.  I am proud of both of my daughters.  And I am proud of the family we have created and the love we all share for each other.

I am thankful for our friends and family, for all those who love me and love my children and love my husband.  People may be far away at times but our lives are filled with loved ones who will pray for us during our sorrows and celebrate with us during our times of joy.

And I am thankful for the generosity shown to us by both friends and strangers.  That Thanksgiving one of the doctor’s arrived with his family and a Thanksgiving dinner for us.  It was an act of such pure kindness I still tear up thinking of it.  But I am grateful not just for grand gestures like that, but for every time a stranger held the door open for us, gave my family a smile, picked up a dropped cup.  People are kind and we need to remember that.

I am thankful that my daughter is healthy again, yes.  But I am also thankful that our family survived the challenge and that we have learned and loved through it.  It has been a reminder to me of all that we should truly be thankful for–faith, love, friendship, and kindness.

Family Magnets–Stay Close When Far Away

Even though we have always lived away from our family, with our recent move the girls felt as though we are even farther away.  And of course they had to leave their friends behind.  family magnetsSo to make it easier and remind them of those they love who live far away, I made these magnets of their family and friends.

Using photoshop, I cropped recent photos and then resized them so that they would look similar when I printed the wallet sized photos.  I also added the names to each picture to make it a pre-reading activity as well.  We’ve also used the cards to make family trees and talk about relationships.

magnets closeThis is just a great way to keep family that lives far away close by.  I wish I had done it sooner when the girls were babies and recommend it to all my friends with little ones who are growing up far from loved ones.

 

 

Our Big Move

We recently moved a few states over due to military orders.  I would love to say that things went perfectly and I have a whole list of tips and tricks to share, but the truth is there is a lot that I would do better or completely differently next time.  Sometimes I felt like I was clutching my seat waiting until it was over.  But our most important goal–making the move a positive experience for our daughters and not scarring them for life–was one that we actually got right.  Well, I think so.  I hope so.

The trucks arriving with the crates filled with all of our belongings.

The trucks arriving with the crates filled with all of our belongings.

When one of our girls ended up in the hospital during the move, we were able to see just how well we had prepared them to deal with this difficult time.  For whatever it’s worth, here is what we tried to do and how it worked out.

Stay positive and get excited. 

I had lived in our last city for over 15 years so moving anywhere would have been hard for me.  But we tried to stay upbeat with our girls.  In fact, when our original orders to North Dakota were cancelled they started crying and wailing, “But I want to go to North Dakota!”
We also went online and looked at pictures and places around our new town to have something to look forward to.

Warn them about what is coming.

We looked at a calendar many times throughout the process and talked about each thing that would happen. After the packers had been to the house, my husband warned the girls that it would “look different and maybe scary but it was just our stuff in boxes.”

Surprising their Nanny by hiding in the packing materials.

Surprising their Nanny by hiding in the packing materials.

Keep them involved.

It’s easy to find jobs for even the littlest helper.  They can pack or unpack their stuffed animals or toys.  We had the girls go through their toys and choose items to donate ahead of time.  We also had them set things on the counter while we unpacked and collect the packing paper after we were done.

Focus on the family.

We tried very hard to make this a family adventure.  This was an exciting time for the four of us to stick together.  When things went awry, such as when we were forced to sleep in our car because bad weather had filled every single hotel in town, the girls just considered it one more adventure.  And they learned that we stick together no matter what.

Our brave patient with her best buddy

Our brave patient with her best buddy

This lesson paid off big time when our daughter ended up in the hospital from a blood disorder.  Riding in the ambulance was just another adventure in her mind (she asked if we could take a picture of her) and there was no question that all four of us would be staying at the hospital together.  It was a Thanksgiving we will never forget!

Have fun!

This is a stressful time for any family–well, it was for ours–but you can still have fun.  It’s part of your family history so make some memories.

A proud Zoe poses next to the R2D2 they created while her sister is inside the robot.

A proud Zoe poses next to the R2D2 they created while her sister is inside the robot.

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