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    Tuesday
    Aug182015

    My Bearded Baby Boy

    This is the oldest picture of Hayden on this blog:

    It’s from his very brief football career in 2008.

    This is the latest picture of Hayden, taken yesterday as he mowed the lawn for the last time.

    Comparing the two makes me cry, which is fine because I’m pretty much just a blubbering, bawling, baby today.  Tomorrow we get in the car and drive the nine hours back to Lincoln to put my bearded baby boy into a residence hall and then we will drive nine hours back to Minnesota … 

    without him.

    I’m trying to focus on the positive:  There won’t be knives with globs of peanut butter on them in the sink anymore.  Bathrooms will be easier to clean.  I’ll have less laundry.  One less person to nag … 

    It’s not working.  Still crying.  

    Of my three kids, Hayden has taken the most hands-on parenting.  When he was little, he was the most physical so he literally needed my hands all the time.  As he grew and struggled with the challenges that come with ADHD, he required a lot of figurative hand holding.  I kind of thought that when it finally came time for him to leave home, there would be a measure of relief but, no.

    In fact, the kid has done so much maturing over the last few months that he’s really become fun to have around and truly helpful.  One of the key things everyone should have when they’re packing up a house, moving to another state and then unpacking a house is a strong 18 year old boy.  Strong, 18 year old boys are darned handy to have around.  I don’t know what I would have done without him this summer.  He’s been good company and good help and… 

    Darn it.  I’m going to miss this kid.

    Of course the measure of successful parenting is that your kids grow up and leave home and goodness knows that I don’t actually want my adult children living with me forever.  But … I guess I just want them to not be adult children.  I want to freeze them in time for a while.  I want us to be a family of five living together for a while longer.  I want more snuggles and more dinners and more trips and more lazy Sundays.

    Why isn’t that a choice?  I want that to be a choice.

    Sending Reagan off wasn’t this hard.  She was three miles away for Pete’s sake and I could see her any old time I wanted to.  Besides, I still had two at home keeping me plenty busy.  Now I have two in another state and just poor Faith who gets to be the sole focus of my attention.

    Probably you should pray for that poor girl.

    So this week we send another child out into the world.  If he’s like his sister, this will be the last time he lives with us.  Or perhaps he’ll come home for summers.  I guess there’s always the possibility that he’ll stumble and need to come home to regroup.

    I’m kinda thinking he’ll probably make it out there though.  He’s smart and funny and growing more capable every day.  He’s going to make some mistakes, but that’s how we learn.  And I want so much for him so succeed that it would be selfish to hope that he doesn’t just so I could get him back for a while.

    So I’m just going to cry for what’s past and then move on to cheering for what is to come.

    Thursday
    Aug132015

    Updating

    When we last visited my brain, it was a sad place.  Sad and homesick.  That was a bad day but not everyday has been like that.  Most are pretty good.  The process is slow, but we are adjusting.  Things that have happened since then:

    Reagan was here!

    And, spectacular mother that I am, I did not take any pictures of any of us the whole week.  So you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that she’s beautiful and lovely and wonderful and it was great to have her here.  I’m sure it was terribly strange for her that her family lives in a strange house in a strange town but she rolled with it.  We showed her around the town, and made s’mores in the fire pit and borrowed a boat to show here the river.  I did get a picture of that!  Sort of.

    That’s Luna who thoroughly enjoys being in any moving vehicle.  We have to body block her if she’s outside when we get in the car or she jumps in.  Reagan liked her very much though Reagan likes all animals and all animals like her, so that’s not shocking.

    We finished Faith’s room

    Mostly.  It’s painted and the floor is in and her bed is set up.  We still need to find the perfect desk and a rug and a few more decorative touches, but it’s seriously so great.  Here are some pics she took.

    Rich installed that gray floor in the bedroom section and it looks fabulous.  It’s very fortunate that we have spent years honing DIY skills because finding people to do this kind of thing in a small town is difficult.  We did track down a plumber to do the pipes in the bathroom, but Rich is doing the electrical, drywall and tiling himself.

    Given that he has a full time job and occasionally like to actually enjoy life rather than renovate, the bathroom will be a few more weeks.

    I’m getting a job

    I’ve looked around a bit and considered the options.  I need something with flexibility and I need to be off work by 4:00 because I have to drive Faith to dance class an hour away several times a week.  I also want something not tedious or boring. With all of that, I have decided that my best option is to become …

    a substitute teacher.

    I’ll wait while you finish laughing.

    No but seriously, I think it will work.  I’ve worked seven years in public schools.  All those years of recess duty and dealing with parents and students and teachers should be good preparation.  I checked about finding an office job in a school but there aren’t any.  In Minnesota, if you have a bachelor’s degree you can sub as many days as you’d like to, as long as it isn’t a long term position.

    Faith has asked me to not sub at the high school, which is find.  I like middle schoolers.  They’re funny.

    If nothing else, subbing will give me good stories, and you all know how I love a good story.

    That’s all the major happenings right now.  In the upcoming weeks, we are taking Hayden to college and my parents are coming to visit,  Let’s hope I’m a bit better about taking pictures!

    Tuesday
    Jul282015

    Homesick

    Technically I am in my home.  The mortgage to this house has my name on it.  It’s filled with my stuff.  My husband, two of my kids and all of my pets live here with me.

    But it really, really doesn’t feel like home.

    I miss Lincoln.  I miss my friends and my house and the city itself.  Real restaurants and stores and just the familiarity of recognizing everything as I drive along.  I miss having memories attached to my surroundings.  This new town is nice and the people have been friendly but it’s all strange and uncomfortable.  

    I just want to go home.

    I want to go back to my house in the north end of town. It wasn’t a perfect house, but at least I knew it’s faults and peculiarities and how to deal with them. I want to walk the familiar route through my neighborhood where I know the people in the houses I pass and their stories.  

    I want to shop in the grocery store where I know where everything is.  I want to see the faces of friends and neighbors in the aisles and I want Jerry - who has bagged my groceries for over 10 years - to smile and tell my I’m looking good today.

    I want Reagan to be able to stop by and do a load of laundry and eat my food while we watch Say Yes To The Dress.

    I want Faith to be her happy, sociable self again.  Not this sad child who misses her friends and her school and her dance studio and clings to my side like she hasn’t since she was very small.

    When Hayden leaves for college in a few weeks, I want it to be a few miles down the road - not 9 hours away in a different state.

    It’s good to go through hard things - it’s where we learn and grow the most.  But it also kinda sucks and today I’d rather not.  Probably I shouldn’t even publish this particular post because it’s pretty pathetic, but this is where I’ve chosen to record our history and so I will so that when I look back at this time I’ll be able to (hopefully) see how far I’ve come.

     

    Saturday
    Jul112015

    The Second Week

    I should be working on something right now, but writing a blog post allows me to sit on the back patio, sip a beer and watch Faith play frisbee with Luna while technically being productive so I am writing.

    Probably my mother will appreciate it.

    Someday I am going to move into a “Turn-key” house.  I know they exist because they talk about them on HGTV all the time, but I have yet to live in one.  One of these days though, I am going to buy a house where you just turn the key, walk in and everything is beautiful and ready to live in.

    This house is not turn-key.  It was built in 1968 and the last owner was a bachelor.  He and I differ greatly in what we consider acceptable paint colors.  When you walk in the front door of the home, you can see five different paints: dark gray, aqua, lavender, barn red and tan.

    None of those are colors I would choose, much less all of them.  

    Since we are planning to tear down several walls and replace all of the flooring as soon as we can afford to pay someone to do it, it’s probably foolish to paint now, but I just can’t stand it.  It’s all very dark and cave-like.  We bought five gallons of the gray we put in the last house yesterday and I’ll start tomorrow painting all of the living spaces.

    This week we painted Faith’s room.  When you pack up a 14 year old and have her leave all she holds dear to move to a small town in another state, you have to offer some sort of consolation prize.  In this case, Faith is getting the entire upper floor to herself.  It used to be attic so it has slanted ceilings and plenty of character.  There’s enough room for a bedroom and a sitting room with a walk in closet and adjoining bathroom so she’s got a pretty good deal, once we’re done renovating it.  

    We were going to just paint the walls and ceiling, but before we got started, I noticed that the window was in bad shape so I had to strip it and prime it and paint it, which then led to painting all of the trim and skylights.  All in all, it took five gallons of paint and we haven’t done the bathroom yet.  It’s awesome though.  I’ll wait until the floors are done and everything is put together to post pictures but I’m really excited about it.  It’s going to be the nicest space in the house for a long time to come.  She chose a pale, ice blue for the walls and white for the ceiling and that combo totally opened everything up visually.  A vast improvement over the various shades of cooked squash that we painted over.

    Rich is replacing the blue carpeting with a new floor and then he will tackle the bathroom which he demolished down to the studs.  He needs a plumber to move a few things before he starts rebuilding though.

    Aside from home renovation, we are just trying to acclimate.  We bought a couple of kayaks and have been doing that nearly every day.  Our section of river is above the dam so the current is extremely mild which makes paddling upstream almost as easy as paddling downstream.  It’s my favorite form of exercise ever.

    We went boating one nght with a guy that Rich works with and his wife which was fun.  And I got all brave the other evening and went to a “Ladies Night” event with women from church.  I knew the names of two people going in, and left with at least six so that’s good, right?

    We’re getting there.  I still miss much about Lincoln - especially Reagan.  It feels weird to be putting together our family home without her.  I don’t expect that particular ache to go away any time soon.  But the longer we’re here and the more we do, the easier it’s getting.

    Wednesday
    Jul012015

    Moving In

    Whenever I’ve heard about living in Minnesota, I’ve been completely confused as to why anyone would choose to live in a place with such miserable winters.

    I’m beginning to get it.

    Turns out that miserable winters are the price to pay for summertime perfection.  This is the picture I took 5 minutes ago from the back patio where I’m sitting right now.

    It is never hot here.  Never.  Well, at least not hot to my standards.  I think it hit the high 80s one day, but generally it’s between 75 and 85.  The humidity is lower than what we are used to and anyone who complains about Minnesota mosquitoes has never lived in Nebraska.  I leave the windows open all day long and only run the AC at night to give my allergy prone kid a break.

    Now for the move in story:

    Living in a hotel was nice for about 10 days and then it got really, really old.  So I pretty much panicked last Thursday when, the night before we were supposed to close on our house, there was a paperwork glitch and we were told that we couldn’t close until Monday.  Thankfully, the seller said we could go ahead and move in so Friday morning I met a cleaning crew at the house and they cleaned and sanitized all of the carpets and flooring and scrubbed the bathrooms and kitchen.  While they worked, Faith mopped the walls and I washed windows.  Rich and Hayden were on the road making the two hour trek to the closest Home Depot to buy new toilets because I’m a freak and I have raised my children with my freakish ways and none of us were willing to use someone else’s toilets.

    Also?

    This house was built by and for short people and so the squatty potty with the squishy seat was unacceptable.

    Rich and Hayden were back by 6:00 and we started moving our possessions from the garage where the movers had left them a couple of weeks ago, to the correct rooms.  That first night we got the beds set up and a toilet working by 10:30 and then crashed.

    Saturday was full on hustle day.  Rich and the kids got the rest of the boxes in and I lined all the kitchen and bathroom shelves and drawers and began unpacking.  By Sunday night, the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas were done.  We still have boxes to unpack in the storage area and Rich will be assembling his office space for at least another week (being a technical perfectionist is rough).

    The house is not my favorite thing.  Honestly, the first day I cried because it smells weird and everywhere I look is another project and I just really wanted my Lincoln house.  Getting our stuff unpacked helped.  I will never again downplay the value of “stuff”.  I’ve always tried to say that it’s the people that are important, not the possessions, but there is so much comfort to be gained by being in one’s own bed surrounded by familiar objects. 

    Slowly the place is growing on me though.  The view helps immensely.  Every morning I sit out back with the dog to eat my cereal and drink my coffee and just drink in scenery.  We have chipmunks and geese and snails and eagles.  The first day, the kids found a turtle that Faith named Gary.  The second morning they found Gary’s freshly hatched eggs.

    I also got a picture of a pelican floating by.  I had no idea pelicans lived this far north.  Pretty cool.

    We finally did close on the house on Monday morning and celebrated by making s’mores in our fire pit.  It’s like we have all the great things about camping here and then we can go inside and take a shower and sleep in our own beds.

    I guess I can deal with the house.  There’s plenty of room and lots of potential.  It won’t smell like other people forever and the projects will get done.  

    Someday.

    For now, we are just going to get settled in and figure out small town life and actually meet people.  Apparently bringing baked goods to the new neighbors is not a thing here.  I’ve waited for cookies and brownies for days in vain.  Looks like I’ll have to get out and make an effort.

    Maybe tomorrow.