Monday, February 27, 2012

In Transition

Last Monday, the kids and I, along with my most amazing Mother-in-law, loaded into the car, dropped the dog at the kennel, and drove to Portland. Our plan? Temporarily join Scott at the guest house he has been staying at until we could move into our new house over the weekend. It wasn't ideal - the house is located convenient to Scott's work, which means an hour of driving each way to get the kids to daycare and then me to work. But, it was only for 4 days and the kids would be in school for three of them, so we could just plan quick dinners, knowing they would be eating most meals at school. We were even able to leave most of the toys and entertainment behind, knowing that it would come in the moving truck on Saturday. We took a deep breath and sputtered into our first week in Portland.

Now, the following Monday... Well, I'm still sitting in the same guest house prepping for our second week of crazy living. Our plan has not turned out how we expected, but we're doing just fine and looking forward to getting settled THIS week. Yes, we can survive with a lot less stuff (though more than 4 pair of underwear would sure be nice!). Yes, our kids are doing great in a house not set up for kids. Yes, we have had some great luck to make this work another week... but honestly, I really want my own stuff in my own house. We're ready to get settled and start finding our groove.

This weekend (which for me is Fri-Mon), was an adventure. Remember, it's Portland in Winter and we have no toys or art supplies... We went to IKEA, Home Depot, and Sears trying to decide on new appliances. Josh only wanted to ride the escalators and disassemble display vacuums. Owen can spot a TV by feel from across the store. I imagine we are going to have quite a few date nights at home improvement stores, so we can actually both look at the same item at the same time.

The kids and I have had a "dry run" at exploring a new town. We've been to parks, the library, and several different grocery stores, though we will have to explore all over again when we get settled across town. I actually got teary at story time on Friday. I'm looking at all these kids with moms or nannies and missing my friends (of course), but it felt so pointless to even be there since I'm not likely to cross paths with that set of potential friends again. On the other hand, it gives me courage to strike up conversation with whoever us sitting next to me when we get to story time in OUR neighborhood.

Thank goodness i ranomly tossed a dozen kids books in my car for the drive. Glad to have more options than "If you give a pig a pancake" for day 8 of this adventure. Also, the library let us get a card without proof of address, so we are rolling in the books! The weather cooperated today and we enjoined 90 minutes at a playground. Downside, Owen decided he needed the bathroom (after me asking repeatedly at the grocery store right before). Park bathrooms are closed for winter, so I let him poop in a pile of leaves. Can't be worse then a dog owner, right? Also witnessed an awesome group of kids and teachers from a nearby preschool. Again confirming that there are lots of great preschools in Portland... Across town from where I need them.

 Today we tried to combine exploration and a healthy snack and set out for a juice bar I found online. I repeatedly ignored my GPS and (duh) found myself in a mess of one way streets and bike routes. Quick detour to a frozen yogurt place i can see in the rear view mirror. I insist the kids top their yogurt with fruit, which they do without objection. And then josh eats around every single raspberry to successfully eat only chocolate for snack. Parenting fail. Followed buy dinner fail because he's too full and amped up on sugar to sit and eat more than a handful of cheese.

Staying at "Jane's House" has been eye opening for both Scott and I. Jane has Scott exploring the benefits of a plant-based, whole foods diet. He's trying to eat as vegan as possible... At least during the day, 'cause our kids need the animal fats for developing brains. I'm attempting to be vegetarian for Lent (just because 40 days seems like a good amount of time to test)... But i'm also taking full advantage of the "feast day" on sundays. Bacon anyone?

Jane's house is newly renovated and fully Ikea. I'm enjoying all her touches and finding that my design preference is much more modern than I thought. Great for inspiration as we move into the new house.

We are finding creative ways to burn energy and give the kids a chance to use those big muscles. They have had a week of new school, new house, shifting sleeping arrangement, new rules, etc. add to that our constant requests to slow down, use a quiet voice, stop jumping, no running, etc (all in an attempt to respect the other folks at Jane's who did not sign up for "family" housing!) it's a wonder they aren't totally losing it. Today, we hopped like frogs (or lunatics to all the people watching) all the way down the street to our car, played line tag in front of the frozen yogurt place, and tried running backwards and in circles through a parking lot. Maybe I'm the one that's losing it!

Our top highlight from this week in transition was driving home from dinner last night. The kids were yelling randomly in the back seat, which normally drives us crazy, but this time Scott decided to join them. The four of us had a "who's the loudest?" yelling contest all the way back to Jane's. The kids needed the freedom to be LOUD after a week of restraint, and Scott and I discovered a fantastic way to release some stress. Yell louder!!!

Hopefully this time next week, I'll be posting from our house, but if you see a Honda pilot drive by with four people screaming at the top of their lungs... Just send chocolate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Here we go!

So, what does the Maxwell house look like in the midst of a move? Messy, Busy, Disorganized, and Chaotic? You betcha!  We are finally to the point of being "ready" to move.  Emotionally, I'm still very sad to be leaving, but after a month+ of having our family living in two places and over 4 months of knowing about this move, I'm just ready to get it over with.  Scott has been working in Portland since the start of January.  The kids and I have done remarkably well on our own - not to say that there haven't been some ugly moments when mom's stress level clashes with kids' behavior! - but it hasn't been the daily stress that I expected.  I think we've all found our groove, but we're ready to be back together next week.

This extra time has given us a good opportunity for quality, honest goodbyes with our friends.  We have been so eager to accept any dinner invitation and any group outing over the last few months and it has been great fun to really embrace the great friends we have here.  My girlfriends surprised me TWICE with amazing gifts.  I'm wearing a beautiful necklace and matching earrings that they pooled to buy me along with a framed picture of everyone from our Christmas Party.  And at our soup swap in Early January, I went home with a MASSIVE photo album with hearfelt notes, pictures of each family, and dozens of pages chronically all our adventures over the last 4 years. Such an amazing gift!  After weeks spent wracking my brain to find an appropriate gift in return, I finally decided that heartfelt cards were better than anything else.  It's hard to put into words what these ladies have meant to me (we have walked together through newborn struggles, toddler tantrums, playgroups, field trips, group adventures, ladies nights, bike rides, soup swaps, mom's weekends, family parties, and camping weekends), but I did my best in one very, very late night.

This is the picture from last year's Christmas Party (we've added two babies and two pregnant bellies since then!), but my pic from this year is framed and packed.

We had a wonderful "House Cooling Party" to celebrate our amazing community in Bend.  I had the camera out front and center, intending to take pictures, but when I just couldn't bring myself to use it.  Taking pictures would have felt too final, and everyone keeps reminding us that this is not goodbye, only "see you later." We have amazing friends. Just for my memory, I wanted to list everyone that stopped by.

Shannon, Kaden
Luke, Tara, Ian, Gabriel
Kate, Tyler, Evan
Kevin, Julie, Hazel
Jen, Sean, Max
Shannon, Ben
Rob, Sunny, Ryder
Dave, Michelle, Piper, Calvin, Jet
Dustin, Jen, Brynn, Gavin
Alisha, Neil, Lily, Miles
Jessica, Madeline
Phil, Max
Stephanie, David, Elijah, Caleb
Scott, Kari, CJ
Nick, Diana, Penelope, Winston

Rhonda, Peyton
Dan, Joseph, Luci

We have purged, purged, purged since October, and yet my car is again full with ONE MORE load to take to the thrift store.  The packing boxes are starting to stack up and I have a L-O-N-G list of everything that needs to be accomplished each day. This week, we are finishing packing, enjoying some last dinners with friends and getting ready to send out our "new address" cards (yes, email is probably more efficient, but I need the cards for closure).  Scott's mom is joining us on Thursday to manage the final packing and on Monday, we'll drive over the pass for the official start to our family life in Portland. Here we go!!!!