Category Archives: Family

And where is our intrepid hero now?

Stress.  So much stress.

Not like a season of 24 stress (which I have been watching for the first time lately) but a constant, low-level, thrumming drone of stress.

This has been quite the year (and a half). At the same time that The Rocket Scientist was starting to interview for a complete career change, we were welcoming our little Cuddlebug into the world.  That welcoming had its own stress, besides being a c-section which I was not looking forward to, I was not going to be convinced that she would really be okay until she was in my arms.  As it turned out, even that didn’t do much to alleviate my fears.  It’s very frustrating to be constantly afraid while your brain chews you out for such irrational fears.  And with all my energy going into a new baby and any excess energy being taken up with unwarranted fears and with more energy that I didn’t have being taken up with worrying about an impending career change and what it would mean for our family (and what it would mean for us if it did not happen), I did not have a lot left over to be supportive of The Rocket Scientist while he went through much the same thing (only without quite the same fears over our Cuddlebug). Let’s just say, we were not getting on well.

And then what we were expecting to take 3 to 6 months turned into 7.  Then 8.  Then 9.  At which point we no longer had a place to live.  The weekend before my birthday (on my Dove’s first birthday), we moved all of our belongings into a storage locker.  We couldn’t sign a contract for another house because if we didn’t have a job in another 2 months we would have had to go back to Canada, and even if we did find a job we had no idea where it would be. Sheffield? London? Oxford? New York?  So we lived out of suitcases on the kindness of friends and acquaintances.

Then it was 10. Then 11. 3 Weeks from his job ending at the University we were faced with a choice of two jobs.  Neither one was ideal except that they were a job.  One of our big concerns with the new job is that it had to pay enough for us to be able to afford Indefinite Leave to Remain in 3 months (an astronomical cost for all of us) and the pay being offered wasn’t going to cut it.  Until one of them offered to cover the cost.  Completely.  For the whole family.

What a relief.

It was over.

Within a month, The Rocket Scientist finished off his job in Oxford and started his new one in London, we got to spend a couple of weeks at a corporate apartment in London (where our Cuddlebug caught her little toe in a door and partially amputated it so instead of wandering around our favourite city we spent most of the two weeks in one hospital or another), we found our new home in Leighton Buzzard, and finally got all our stuff out of the storage locker. It was like Christmas.

Then came the settling in to a new city, not having any friends around to relax with, not having a church to fellowship with, adjusting to The Rocket Scientist having significantly longer hours than he did as an academic.  And our first Christmas without Grammie (she had come in September to help out for a few weeks and couldn’t afford to visit again so soon).

Well, we’ve been in Leighton Buzzard for 7 months now, all three of the kids have had a birthday in this house and we have found a church to call home.  Friends are coming a bit slower but I remind myself not to feel rushed.  The Rocket Scientist and I are, for the first time since we met, not waiting to move on, not thinking about having to leave our friends and make new ones.

We are settled.

Whew!

Did I mention that we are also homeschooling (and have been for the last year)? I certainly wouldn’t have it any other way and I don’t really find it stressful, but not having much in the way of time to myself is hard.  More on those adventures later.

So what, then, is the source of that undercurrent of stress?  I am waiting.  Holding my breath.  For once I am not pregnant although we are anticipating a new arrival to our household.  As soon as someone up there in the Great White North buys my mum’s house, she’s buying a one-way ticket and coming to live with us.  I’m sure it will be an adjustment for everyone involved but the pros far outweigh the cons.  It is killing me that there is no date on the calendar, nothing to count down to, just the waiting.

for someday

soon

hopefully

pleeeeeease!!

 

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New Beginnings

This week my second son would have turned a year old.

Instead, I have a beautiful baby girl who’s just 11 weeks.

A handful of pictures and the feel of his tiny body fitting in the palm of my hand.

The mind doesn’t want to fit itself around the idea that if he had lived, the girl sleeping beside me would never have existed.

But they both exist. God knows the hairs on their heads and the number of their days. There is no alternate reality where we are blowing up balloons and wrapping presents and rejoicing in first steps. Jonah’s days only ever numbered in the dozens. And knowing that, God blessed me with him anyway.

I truly do mean blessed. I am not bitter, I am not angry, and while at times I wonder why, I know that there is never a good answer. It just is. He was perfect, he was growing, he was moving, he was ours. And then he was gone.

When last I was here, I didn’t even know I was pregnant. But I was. I would find out a week later while Jeff was away. The rest of my pregnancy will be another post. When I’m ready. I’m a little surprised to find that I’m not yet.

That time is from before. Before I became a woman of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Before life became so blatantly precarious.

Or perhaps precious is the word.

Yes. Precious. Blatantly, Glaringly, Wildly precious.

So here I am. Beginning anew. Starting fresh. So many things are in the process of changing, I don’t want to miss it.

The Rocket Scientist is heading off in a whole new direction. (Don’t worry, we’re going with him.)

Doodle is starting to learn. (At least in a more organized way.)

ZuZu is starting to talk. (Yes, it is a little late.)

We are all one day closer to my little Dove.

The Munchkin is just starting out.

And I? I am facing life in a whole new light. I have spent the last 8 years either trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, or getting over being pregnant so that I could get pregnant again. And now I’m done.

Huh.

Well, then.

I’m kind of excited to see what’s next!

the month from crazy

Why, oh why, did he have to go away on such a crazy month? I would say it was a test, but of what and by whom? It’s not like this was a missions trip or some command of obedience from On High. So why do I feel like we’ve been through the fire?

First of all, the kids were sick.  Both of them.  Twice.  First we had a lovely stomach flu go through the ranks, and the last few days it’s been a bad cold.  Doodle hasn’t had a stomach bug since we’ve been to the UK and there’ve been enough going around.  We’ve had colds, but never with both kids down with high fevers at the same time.  Silver lining?  I miraculously haven’t gotten even the slightest wave of nausea or sneeze.

Then was my Phil & Ted’s buggy.  I kid you not when I say that in one moment I was telling a friend of the wonderful things I love about my buggy and even though another friend has had several flat tyres and I kept a pump and tire goop with me at all times but have never had to use it and in the next I was trying to figure out why we were listing to one side so suddenly.  It was like I’d been struck by lightning.  We were on our way to a playgroup so I just lugged it with ZuZu still strapped in and spent most of the playtime trying to fix the tyre.  It didn’t work.  So got to lug it all the way to the other side of Summertown to a bike shop to find out they couldn’t fix it until tomorrow.  Some minor wailing and gnashing of teeth later and they had pity on me and fixed it while we waited.  Silver lining?  A new friend who came with me and watched the kids while I dealt with the bike shop lads for close to an hour.

Then there was my filling.  I only have one.  I think I’m doing pretty good to be…my age and only have one cavity, but it’s a doozy.  It was almost a root canal but when he had cleaned it all out there was a thin layer of enamel left so he just filled.  That was back in Canada.  It chipped there once and I had it fixed, a second time and I didn’t bother, no problems in Chicago, but then has chipped and been fixed a couple of times here.  This last time, it didn’t chip so much as shift and send an incredible amount of pain shooting through my tooth and jaw, then seemed fine, then did it again a week later.  So I decided to get it looked at.  The dentist decided that it needed to come out and put in an inlay so this doesn’t keep happening.  Made an appointment for a week later but didn’t really ask the details of what was to occur.  Turns out the digging out of my filling was not much less painful than the digging out of my tooth.  One massive needle to the jaw and one numb face later I was home feeling the worse for wear with a temporary filling and an appointment in two weeks to go through it all again to get the inlay.  Silver lining? This happened before ZuZu was a year so I’m covered under the NHS and  dear friend had already made plans to take the kids to the park for a couple of hours that day so I took a much needed nap.

Nap.  Yes.  That brings me to the topping on the cake.  ZuZu came home a good sleeper.  We spoke of it in hushed tones so as not to jinx it.  Once teething started, things got a little more interesting, but on the whole we didn’t suffer nearly as much as we did with Doodle.  All that has gone out the window this month.  At first she was too hot and couldn’t sleep.  Then the temperature dropped but it took me a few days to clue in and put her back in her sleep sack and so she didn’t sleep then either.  I got three nights at the beginning where she slept well and then three nights just before this last cold.  That’s it.  The rest of the time I have not gotten more than two consecutive hours in any given night.  It’s been rough.  I have no silver lining for that one.

In there was dealing with ants, internet issues, the freezer door not closing, my hips giving me problems, and all the day to day stuff.  That I was expecting, maybe not the ants, but the other stuff, the garbage and tantrums and baths and bedtime.  I appreciate all the support and encouragements, but I really didn’t feel like I was doing some major feat.  Women do this all the time, single moms (by choice or not), army wives, oil rig wives, a host of others.  I didn’t feel like it was asking too much of me, and I wasn’t alone.  I have some really awesome and supportive friends here and I’ve even made a new one during this month.  From Canada no less, my neck of the woods even, with a physicist husband, from the Rocket Scientist’s neck of the woods.  No kidding.  It was actually kind of creepy but we’re adjusting.

So here we are, the last full day without the Rocket Scientist.  The kids are still sick so we’ll be spending another day in (insert silent scream here), but we made it.  We survived.  No one died, or was maimed, or has any scars to show for it.  Was it good times?  Certainly not ideal, we missed our Rocket Scientist a lot, and there were some tense moments, some moments where I screamed to the universe that I could not in fact do this, but we also had good times, with friends, on our own, and I hope we are stronger for it.  I’m certainly not looking forward to the idea of him going back in two weeks, in large part because I don’t want to see Doodle’s face when we tell him.  In many ways, I’m dreading the longer stints in September less, Doodle will be in nursery in the afternoons giving everyone a much needed break routine, and we’ll likely have trips to Chicago to look forward to.  And by looking forward to, I don’t necessarily mean the international flight with two children but it will certainly be an adventure.  And honestly? I do like to know that I can do these things by myself.  I don’t want to do them by myself, just know that I can.  I mean it’s certainly no feat to watch Doctor Who by myself, but I just don’t enjoy it as much without him.

Letters to the Rocket Scientist

I think I’ve mentioned that the Rocket Scientist isn’t really a rocket scientist, it’s just an inside joke.  There was supposed to be a link there to the post where I talk about that, but I can’t really remember where it is and I’m too tired lazy busy to go look for it.  Anyway, he’s really not.  He works on one of the experiments that runs out of Fermi National Lab outside of Chicago.  It turns out they think of him rather highly over there and want him to be an onsite supervisor for the next year.  Slight hitch. With our visa restrictions we can’t be out of the country for more than 90 days at a time and we must maintain a permanent residence here.  Translation? He’s going, we’re staying. 90 days gone, 2 weeks back.  At least that’s the idea.  currently, we’re on a trial month to see if the back and forth is doable.  Jury is still out, but it will likely go ahead.  We’ll talk more later on how I feel about that, it may surprise you.  Or it may not, whatever, we’re taking bets.

During my Mumsy’s surprise visit, she gave me a beautiful embossed leather journal and I thought it would be the perfect way to keep track of all the little daily foibles that I want to share with the Rocket Scientist.  Trouble is, I keep forgetting what I’ve told him and what I’ve written.  It’s all very confusing.  So every now and then you will get inundated with posts as I transfer some of them to my blog.  If you see one that’s private, that’s because it’s private.

And of course if you don’t particularly care about all the boring bits, feel free to skip them, they’ll be labelled Letters. Then again, it’s not like I’m writing anything else these days.

Six Word Saturday

God gave us a car! WooHoo!

No, seriously.  He totally did. And it’s really only 5 words but in keeping with the theme, I thought I’d add a woohoo for good measure.

Let me begin…well, a little earlier.  We got this car:

about 3 months after we moved to the UK for the whopping price of £150.  It was a total blessing from some new friends and has served us well for almost two years.  We had to do a couple of repairs when it came time for the MOT (yearly safety inspections in the UK) and we’ve replaced the tyres (with used ones, but still), we got seat covers as the interior wasn’t fantastic, and it didn’t like starting sometimes when it was too wet, but all in all it was a good little car that never left us stranded. That is, until it didn’t matter anymore.

This year, we were quite worried about the MOT as last year it seemed a mere fraction away from failing structurally. We prayed, asked others to pray, and miracle of miracle’s it passed!  And passed well.  One small replacement part worth £5 plus labour and a couple tyres (I kind of dinged one avoiding a bus a couple of months back), again used.  Woot!

Then I got a phone call from someone telling me that God had told them to buy us a car, and would the Rocket Scientist be free to get off work a bit early that afternoon to go pick it up.

Ummmmmm Wha?!?!

After I stopped crying and picked myself up off the floor, I remembered that unfortunately he had a class to teach so, no.  They ended up going out to see if they could pick it up anyway and came back to say that it wasn’t exactly as advertised and they wouldn’t be buying that car after all.  But soon, they’d find a car soon, hopefully we weren’t too disappointed.  Of course we weren’t.  How could we be?  We were getting a new car!  It had looked like a nice car, it had 5 doors (5!) and it wasn’t red (I have never not owned a red car), but I knew whatever car God had in store would be just perfect.  Secretly I feared that it would, however end up being red.

So, the next day, having put the idea of a new car aside for a couple of weeks (thinking it would likely take at least that long to find something suitable) I was driving a friend of Doodle’s home after they’re sleepover and as I was about to turn a corner…we stopped.  Dead. Right there, with my turning signal on and three kids loudly enjoying each other’s company, my little red colt gave up.  Right.

Let me just say, that the knowledge of a new car just waiting around the corner gave me immeasurable peace through all of it.  Everyone else was completely stressed and feeling bad at how I was stranded with three kids and whatever would we do and oh no!  I on the other hand was fine.  We played ‘count the white cars’ and when no white cars drove by we switched it to ‘count the red cars’ (which I thought was terribly funny) while we waited for the breakdown truck.  Doodle’s friend’s mum didn’t live too far so she came to pick him up.  Meanwhile, Doodle fell asleep so ZuZu and I played pat-a-cake and wind the bobbin up.

We didn’t end up waiting too long fortunately, but it was not something that could be fixed on the roadside and the mechanic figured it would be at least £200 or £300.  Not really worth fixing with a new car coming in the next couple weeks so we just towed it home.

Ok. Side note? They should seriously put driving while being towed with a straight bar behind a breakdown van on the test.  That is seriously trippy.  You can’t see the road or other cars, just the back doors of this van. Moving on.

The Rocket Scientist was  a bit stressed at the thought of not having a car for an indefinite period of time.  How would I get to the gym? How would we get to the cousin’s birthday party coming up? How long would it take him to get to church to set up for his Scramblers class?  We could no longer give our car away because it was dead and wouldn’t make it to its MOT retesting.  All these things.  As for me?  This car was going to die whether certain ‘someones’ had been obedient or not.  But because they were, we didn’t have to worry about costly repairs or finding a new car.  Neither of which we could afford.

The next day I was taking a day in to do laundry and figure out what might need to be reorganized over the next week or so when I got a text.  ‘On the way over with your new car’.  !!!!!  Turns out that a better one had been found.  By far!!  And the timing had been perfect as the car had been advertised for several days and gotten several calls but when it was found just happened to be the only time the seller had to actually show it.  More calls came in while the deal was being made.  Our God is so good.

Because of the obedience of the children of God, our family is now driving this:

It has a spacious interior, leather upholstery, power windows, air conditioning, a CD player, low mileage.  I felt like I was on Oprah being ushered into the driver’s seat, all weepy as I was.  I totally cried again when the boot was opened and I saw all the space.  But the best two features of all?  Back doors.  No more climbing in and out to get car seats and buckles done up!!  And…wait for it…It’s not red!!!!!!

Thank you God and may blessings return to your children a hundred fold!!

PS. if anyone wants a little red Mitsubishi Colt, just needs a new distributor cap/coil/thingy, it’s free for the taking until Monday.  Then the scrappers get it.

I’m a Winner!!

Okay, so it was a while ago, but still.  I was really hoping I would win this one.  I don’t often respond even though I always check out the prompt.  And this one, I felt needed a shot of reality.  Or at least my reality.  Everyone else’s responses seemed so, cerebral.  I won on August 10th (only just noticed) for the prompt of Books (what would the books on your shelves say if they could talk).  And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go check out CBeth’s fun little daily creativity shot.  I won on this day.

And in other news.  Did I mention I need an iPad?  I think I did.  Did I mention why?  Of course I did.  And for further evidence I submit to you my absence of…12 whole days.  …   Is that all?  It feels like longer.  I was pretty sure I was going to go look and it would be like a month and a half.  It’s very strange, the passage of time.  It seems like it took only a few days for ZuZu to get to ‘almost 3 months’ but it’s taken forever to get from that point to ‘just over 3 months’.  It’s been a very exciting time, though.  Doodle is suddenly talking a blue streak (and to think, before ZuZu came along I was voicing my concerns over his lack of speech to our Health Visitor), I am able to pump and leave the house for short stretches of time, I had to pack away the first batch of ZuZu’s clothes (I will admit there were some tears shed but I won’t tell you whose they were) (okay, they were mine), The Rocket Scientist went off to Chi-town for a collaboration meeting, and Grammie came for a visit.  The Rocket Scientist is back and Grammie is still here (although she is making a short side trip this weekend to Paris to see an old friend).

I have thoroughly enjoyed having my Mum here and it made my dear husband’s absence a bit more bearable.  I love watching my kids enjoy their Grammie so much, I really hope they have as good a relationship with her as I had with mine.  It has been nice to have someone to share in all the screams for attention cries for help whining and fussing hugs and cuddles.

Oh! Other milestones: ZuZu is now rolling over and she graduated from her cocoon in our most awesome Phil & Ted’s pushchair to her own chair.

I’m still waiting for her to laugh.  I can’t wait to hear her sweet little voice laughing.

What’s that?  You can’t see her very well?  Here let me try to fix that for you: