Sunday, December 18, 2011

london shumways



Way back when Jeff and I had just gotten married we dreamed up big plans to build a totally unconventional life.  We were going to raise a bunch of kids and travel the world while we did it.  We spent the first 6 months of our marriage living in the Philippines, doing volunteer work.  While we were there we met some really awesome families who had raised their kids all over the world.  They had such an open perspective, such close kids and so many adventures under their belts.  We decided we wanted to copy them.

And then, right out of graduate school Jeff got a pretty amazing job.  One that has enabled him to do a lot of good and make a decent living at the same time.  One that has allowed us to live in one of the coolest cities on earth.  But, there hasn’t been much traveling connected to it.  

Sometimes it seems like our biggest adventures over the past seven years (since Hazel was born) have been less than idyllic: potty training horrors, trips to Chuck E. Cheese and tantrums in Costco.  But in actuality, the past 7 years have been quite adventurous….just not exactly the adventures we had dreamed up.   We’ve built a family for crying out loud!  I’ve given birth 4 times (nothing in my mind will ever trump those birth adventures).  We’ve adjusted to stages and more kids and more stages and more kids.  Our life has stretched us as we’ve navigated all the adventures of parenting.  My “mom passport” is packed with stamps, in fact, it needs more pages.

But now everything is changing.  This chapter of our lives seems to be closing up and the stars are aligning to shoot us right into the kind of unconventional life we had imagined (at least for a solid six months!)

We just found out last week that Jeff is going to take a case that is based in London and we get to all go with him.  We leave in a few weeks and will be gone for 6 months. 

It’s so dreamy that I have to pinch myself a few times a day to make sure this is all really happening.   And then, after the pinch, when I realize that it’s really real I get a little freaked out and have to remind myself that this is my dream.  This is the life I’ve imagined.

Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you’ve imagined.”  

I wrote this quote up big and posted it in my house the other day because, as we sort through all the logistics of moving our family to another country I have to remind myself moment to moment to go forward confidently.  Dreams start to feel a little scary when they jump out of your head and into your life where suddenly they are alive and three dimensional and you see every facet of them.  

You see, as newlyweds when Jeff and I dreamed up this unconventional life we had no idea about the inescapable realities of four small children.  Those families in the Philippines made it all look so breezy!  Sure, we’ll be in a new place with more things to see than we can possibly ever digest.  We’ll certainly have adventures right and left.  But, it’s not all going to be smiles and sunshine.  There are going to be a lot of cross days with cheeky children.  And it’s going to rain a lot.  And maybe that’s what's going to really make it an adventure.

We went to apply for our passports on a rainy night last week.  I had to schlep all four kids out into the rain first to take passport photos and then to rush downtown to the central passport agency.  The kids were psyched since they have heard Jeff and I talk so much about traveling that they were thrilled at what their own passport meant.  I was getting all giddy inside too, I was starting to feel like the mom I always dreamed I’d be as we talked in the car about all the things we were going to learn and see and do and experience.  

And then we got out of the car downtown and I had to start negotiating all those little kids through dark rainy city streets.  It was stressful.  Charlie nearly ran out in front of a car.  Emmeline wasn’t too happy (understatement).  Peter needed to be fed.  And the reality of my dream hit me like a brick.  This is going to be hard and if I am serious about crafting it into the life I’ve imagined I need to buck up and start being the mom I imagined I’d be. 

And I’m excited for the challenge.  The life I’ve imagined would be flat without all the glitches that reality brings into the picture.  It’s going to be hard.  But it’s going to stretch us.  We’re going to grow.

So, here we go in the direction of our dreams.  Wish us luck!

Now, on to the grueling work of trying to figure out where in the heck to live.  Oh yeah, and Christmas too.  That’s coming up fast!


the boston london shumways!


  1. This is such exciting news, Saydi! If anyone can do it, you can! Congratulations--happy for you.

  2. What an amazing opportunity, Saydi! Can I come be Mary Poppins for you guys? :)

    And I have NO doubt that you will elegantly rise to this occasion and craft it into an incredible cache of memories and experiences for your kids. That seems to be your forte!

  3. So excited for you guys! My only advice is to take NOTHING except warm clothes, warm blankets, and your favorite cooking utensils.

    I'm seriously so excited for you I am about to burst!
    Hope we find a way to come visit...

  4. So exciting! Congratulations!

  5. That is so exciting! Amy must be thrilled. You have the perfect outlook - good luck getting ready.

  6. i am so excited for you saydi!! it really does sound dreamy. the best part is that once you have lived the adventure...looking back will be just as dreamy. really. good luck and merry christmas!

  7. Congratulations! Marvelous news. We will be there in May for Blake's graduation -- can't wait to visit!

  8. Holy cow! That is awesome! We are such Anglophiles and desperately hope to visit. If you need tips for travel within the UK, we have so many recommendations...

  9. So so so so happy for you guys! I think I might have yelled a little (with joy for you) when Jacob told me the news.

  10. Oh my goodness! This is such an amazing opportunity for you! So glad you're all going!!! We had similar dreams too when we started out. They've changed quite a bit but I still long for that multi-cultural experience, that exposure for my children to the world at large. Yeah for you!!! Thoreau's quote is the perfect motivation. You can totally do this!

  11. So SO true! The passport adventure is just the beginning, but when you are looking back at it from the other side, it all makes for great memories and stories. I have two quotes for you.
    The first is from my high school teacher;he told us this before he gave us the final: "Nothing is ever as bad as you think it will be, or as good as you remember". There are exceptions, but this one gets me through a lot.
    The second is from me. I made it up when I was going on my 4-day hike at girls' camp and didn't want to ruin the trip with my whining. "Live in anticipation of the memory." It means to act always the way that you want to remember yourself when you look back on this scene.
    Finally, just a thought. We were only in London 4 days in June, but even that captured the kids' imagination. Sebi was just telling me "I want to go back to London and get showered." I asked what kind of shower he meant. "Oh, like at the Tower Bridge!" which was when we were caught in a downpour with only 3 umbrellas for 6 people. No matter how wild it gets, the kids will still see it as a great adventure.
    Good luck! We're praying for the perfect house for the London Shumways!

  12. Holy Cow! I wish I were there for the big send-off party. Or at least I wish I were there to cook some meals while you tackled your to-do list during the days. Or clean your bathroom or read to your kids. I'm not sure who would do that here at my house while I was busy in yours, so I guess that plan won't work. But back to you--YAY!

  13. As you know, I am SO excited for you. You guys are going to have the adventure of a lifetime.

    And, I love Mary Ann. She is one wise woman.

  14. That is so amazing! I am excited for you!

  15. I'm so glad you get to do this! Glad for you, sad for us. Guess I'll be keeping up with the blog and hopefully your kids can teach mine some London manners when you return :).

  16. Saydi!!! How exciting! I wish I could pack our family in your suitcase and join you on this fun adventure. Yes, it will be crazy sometimes, but it will be crazy while being in LONDON and that will make the craziness okay. I can't wait to follow the London Shumways!

  17. Did you really post this on Dec. 18th? How did I miss it? Brilliant! Love it!

  18. This is so exciting- I'm really glad it all worked out this way! I hope it is a grand adventure. We're jealous- maybe we'll do something fun and crazy one of these days :)



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