I can’t believe that we’ve been settled into our new little house, or Cottage (as Hazel calls it) for two full weeks and I haven’t put anything up on the blog yet. Oh, wait, I can believe that. Things have been nutty busy trying to get everyone all settled into a new life here. We’ve had to unpack, get the rest of our luggage from Amy’s shed where it’s been stored, unpack that, figure out where to put things, how to organize things, what to sleep on, where to sleep, how to get a car, how to drive that car, how to fix that car (yeah, it already broke down), how to get to the store, how to educate our kids blah blah blah. You get the picture, it’s been busy and there have been days where the novelty of this grand adventure has worn thin and life just feels like life, only all disheveled.
But, it’s been awesome too. Even with all the chaos and upheaval, I keep finding myself grinning. I’m loving this adventure. They say that a change is as good as a rest and I believe it’s certainly true in this case. Life was getting way too crowded in Boston, I was tired and strung out and ready for a break. This is certainly not a break. Life is still busy here, my kids are still disobedient tattle tellers who are way too silly at all the wrong times, toilets still get dirty, Peter still wakes up in the night, Emmeline still has tantrums (and a few more than usual with all this change) there is still way too much to fit into 24 hours and there is still always a mound of clean laundry on my bed at night. But, despite the fact that there is no rest, something about that change has me all energized. I’m really liking my life right now.
We live in this little house. In my opinion, it is perfectly British. It looks much more charming in all it’s mossy-ness without the snow (this was a huge storm for London) but this is the only picture I have. It’s old and nice and cozy. It’s quirky and small (but I’m told everything is here) the rooms are all small and closed off (common for England I’ve heard), the leaded windows are drafty but there’s a back garden that looks out over a cricket pitch and the bathroom has a bidet (or a little kid sink as Emmeline likes to call it). It’s further out form London than we’d like to be, but all told, it’s perfect for us. We’ve rented it furnished and while the stuff that’s here isn’t at all what we’d choose, it’s all pretty old durable stuff so we’re not really too worried about ruining anything. There is something so liberating right now to me about not having any say in how my house is decorated. It makes it easy to just live. I’m sure if we were here forever there are things that would start eating at me, but right now I love the weird quirkiness of it all.
Here the kids are out on the Cricket Pitch (you can see our house from the back in the background). The big snow (a whopping 4 inches…big for London) was thrilling for the kids since we didn’t see any snow in Boston before we left. It happened on a Saturday night so getting to church on Sunday on the bus was quite an adventure. It sort of turned into the Mormon bus since we picked up a few other Mormon families on the way in and since we were the only ones crazy enough to be out braving the storm we had the bus to ourselves. We all sat on the top deck and the kids sang “Praise to the Man” as we drove through the snow. I love snow days, they always burn in the kind of memories you won’t forget.
We’ve been spending a lot of our time just getting our bearings straight. Figuring out how to get food and other little things that we didn’t bring with us. It seems that all grocery stores in London deliver which has been a life saver since we haven’t had a car.
Probably my happiest thing so far about where we live is that we’ve already made some awesome friends. It feels so good to be in a new place and still have a house full of friends quite often. There’s a great family who we met through church just a few miles away who have totally taken care of us. Allison (the mom) has taken me to Costco and Ikea (both really close, yeah!), brought over toys and books for the kids and cleaning supplies for me. She’s taken my kids in the afternoon so I can get things done and brought her kids over while she walks me through all the little details of life here that I need to know. Her husband has taken Jeff to look for a used car, shoveled our snow and spent hours building a snow fort with Charlie. And, as luck (or providence) would have it there is also another really awesome family (also in our church congregation) just 4 doors down from us. There are very few members of our church in our little town, so this is pretty amazing. Tis dear family has really taken us under their wing, they’ve stopped in repeatedly to make sure we’re ok, lent us things that we need, watched our kids and (best of all) they have a 17 year old daughter who is an awesome babysitter.
We’ve haven’t had any luck getting our kids into a public school here. They’re all completely full right now. So, we’re on the waiting list but, in the the mean time we’re going to homeschool. I’m secretly pretty stoked that I get to educate my kids while we’re here. I feel like there is so much for us all to learn and experience together and we have so little time. While I’d LOVE them to have the opportunity to go to school in another country (and to pick up an accent and wear those cute school uniforms) I’m not sure if any of that would make up for how amazing it is to have all the freedom to really go and see and learn and take in everything around us. Already I feel like all of us have learned so much as we’ve journeyed through this together. I’ve been really reading a lot and doing a lot of research on how I want to approach homeschooling and I’m so excited about giving it a try. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long long time and now here I am, really loving it so far.
But, I have to also say, it’s pretty exhausting. I love having my kids around me all the time, but that’s also the problem, they are around me ALL THE TIME! It’s taking some getting used to (for all of us), but I think once we all settle into a rhythm we are all going to love it. The kids really miss their classrooms at home, and it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to make sure they’re getting their social needs met, but for now they’re loving the few friends that they do have and they' are closer to each other than they’ve ever been. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say about homeschool as we move through this, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it. My brain is feeling really engaged as I try to figure it all out and that feels really good.
While we can’t get the big kids into school, we have found a school for Emmeline (there is publicly funded pre-school here!) She goes to a cute little school 3 mornings a week and one full day. That is what is going to make this whole homeschooling thing doable. It’s so nice to have a few mornings with just the big kids to focus on and one full day to go into the city with out her and her poor little legs tagging along. She seems to be loving the school where they mostly play and do crafts. She’s even picking up a little bit of an accent.
We are loving being close enough to London to still hop in there a few times a week. When we have a spare afternoon we go into a museum for a few hours. It’s awesome (until the last 20 min when everyone always melts down).
Jeff is enjoying his case here, but he’s working hard and a lot and we’re missing having him around, but we’re also so thankful for his hard work. It’s tricky to balance moving your family and working on a big project all in a new country. My heart just opens wide to him as he walks out the door in the mornings, in the cold to go all the way into the city to work hard, all so that we can live this big adventure. I feel more grateful to him for what he’s doing and what he’s enabling our family to do than ever before. Jeff is awesome.
The other thing that has taken up a huge chunk of our time and energy is finding a used car to buy and use and then sell when it’s time to go home. It seems the whole housing search didn’t teach me many lessons about decision making because I agonized too much over this dumb decision. Then, we ended up getting a car that seemed fine for a few days (oh was it thrilling to have the freedom of a car after not having one for a month) and then just as we were all psyched up and loaded into the car yesterday for our first venture out as a family to go and explore the countryside the car didn’t start. Instead of driving through the countryside we spent the day getting it started and down to a mechanic so that they can change out the alternator. Thankfully our new friends and Amy and her family came over and spent the day at our house since we were stuck here. We ordered Turkish bbq take out and played games. I am so thankful that we have friends here, new and old. It just feels so good. It was just what I needed to distract me from worrying about the darn car.
Hopefully it will be fixed tomorrow and we can get on with this new life.
So, while the laundry is piling up and life is settling into a new normal day I’m exhausted, but happily exhausted. I feel engaged in all the things I want to be engaged in and I keep catching myself smiling through it all.