Friday, August 18, 2017


Last Friday was our one-month anniversary here in Cleveland.  It's a little hard to believe, and I think I told the people at church on Sunday that we'd been here about six weeks, because it feels like we've done six weeks worth of things.  I'm down to three boxes on the main floor and two in the basement to unpack (plus all the stuff on the table), we've gotten two kids launched on a new school schedule, we've hosted two visitors, and it feels like we've visited a lot of churches.  We've enjoyed doing some sightseeing in Cleveland--the Zoo, a Russian cultural festival, and several visits to the nature centers and parks around our house.  We even managed to squeeze in a visit to downtown Cleveland so the kids could see David's office before school starts. 

Although it seems like longer, four weeks is not that long.  It's amazing how quickly things settle into a routine and become normal.  I've stopped reaching for the wrong drawer when I need a tool in the kitchen.  I know exactly when to change lanes to avoid the terrible potholes and then when to move back so I can turn.  I don't need to use Google maps nearly as often, and I think I have my running route figured out (just in time for it to start being a little dark in the mornings...).  I'm getting used to having a TINY freezer and a not so big fridge.  We've already tested out one CSA and are getting ready to try another one (this one with an Omnivore option!).  

There are definitely things, though, that I'm not getting used to.  The houses here are all so different looking and interesting that I find myself getting very distracted while driving.  At least I figured out what was strange about how they are arranged.*  The kids are LOVING school so far, but I miss seeing them!  I also wish I could get used to how much it still hurts to say "our church" and mean Hope, and then remember that isn't true any more.  At least we have made some progress in finding a church here!  You can pray for wisdom as we move towards making this decision, remembering that God did bring us to Cleveland for a reason, no matter how painful it feels right now. 

*Albuquerque houses tend to face inward (the back of the house is to the busy street) and most are walled around the back.  Here in Cleveland, the front lawns are just BOOM, right there.  Of course there are side streets, housing developments, etc., but it's very different from Albuquerque.  Plus...the lawns.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

First Days and Dreams

Yesterday was hard for me.  We had rehearsed what to do if you feel overwhelmed (take a deep breath and smile), introducing yourself to the kid sitting next to you, teachers' names, expectations (be kind!), and whatever else struck me in the last two weeks.

It was everyone's first "first day of school."  I was home schooled all the way through, and I've home schooled Katie so far.  I managed to keep it together, even when I saw Katie's eyes glisten just a little.  Luke looked a bit overwhelmed, although he fit right in with all the other kindergartners.  :)

All morning I hoped and prayed that things were going smoothly, that they didn't feel overwhelmed by the Mandarin, that the other kids were friendly.  As soon as I saw Luke, I hugged him tight and told him that he was welcome to stay home tomorrow!  No such luck...he loved it.  So did Katie, and she managed to navigate the "first day lunch box fiasco" pretty well.  

Still, it was hard to send them off again today, even knowing they were enjoying it so far.  I was really looking forward to homeschooling this year.  I loved watching Katie learn to read, and the future was just as fun to think about--(re)learning history, geography, writing, and other fun things with them, going on field trips, finding passionate people to mentor them in art, music, or whatever else they wanted to pursue.  It was painful to let that go. 

But this morning, my reading started with Ps. 145:13 and ended with Jer. 29:11--both such good reminders to trust God with his plans.  I spent this morning unpacking the games with Liz, per her request.  They were all mixed in with school supplies, and I found myself unpacking things we hadn't planned to--books, manipulatives, and other school supplies I've accumulated from my mom.  As I unpacked, I remembered something I tell everyone about homeschooling:  Every good parent home schools to a certain extent.  A good parent is involved with a child's learning, even if the bulk of it happens out of view.  I can still encourage them to pursue their interests, read books with them, and provide them with enriching activities at home.  I will probably always be a home school mom at heart.

Dreams should not be set in stone.  I learned that with David, and I've learned that with our previous moves, and I've learned that from adopting...this is no different.  This may be the plan that sets us up so well for a move to China, or we may end up going back to homeschooling.  Planning for the future is fun, but I need to hold those plans lightly and take one day at a time. 

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does."  
Ps. 145:13b


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stepping Back

The temptation to try and recreate my Albuquerque life here in Cleveland has been almost overwhelming at times.  Of course we'll have to find a doctor and dentist (if we ever get insurance cards...), and a church goes without saying, but I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out the right search terms to find a nice library stitching group, a great home school art class for Katie, and a church with an adoption ministry.  Although we definitely wanted to move closer to family and felt like it was the right time, I liked my life in Albuquerque.  

Instead, we are looking at a monumental life change, and I don't mean moving to Cleveland (that ship has sailed).  When I first knew we might move to Cleveland, I searched for a Mandarin immersion program.  I've always said I would home school unless the kids had the chance to do a language program, and lo and behold, Ohio's only Mandarin immersion school is in Cleveland...on the West Side...10 minutes from our house.  When I thought we were moving to the East Side, it was out, and when we moved here in July, I thought it was out because we'd missed the lottery.  I still clicked on the website one day, and I was quite surprised to discover it is not out of the question.  They are enrolling K-2nd grade in the Mandarin program, and it starts August 9.

I was home schooled all the way through, so I have absolutely ZERO experience with public school.  Katie is a bit outside the optimal window for an immersion program, so it would probably be a pretty challenging year for her.  With everyone in transition and no support group, part of me thinks I'm crazy for changing things up so much.  At the same time, MANDARIN IMMERSION!!  How can I pass this up for our family, with all the China connections, and our desire to live there some day!  And Luke/Liz/Titus would be in on the ground floor, learning Mandarin during the optimal time. 

I am trying to remember that although moving closer to family was the original impetus for moving, maybe God brought us to Cleveland for more than just a shorter drive and a closer relationship with them.  As the strangeness of it all presses in, I want the familiar around me--knitters and a home school group and my adoption people and everything else I had back home.  Instead, I get a totally new experience to help me remember to be open to God's plans...which right now, look like an immersion public school!

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Note to self--maybe don't think you'll start blogging regularly right before you begin the most monumental change in your life since having kids. 

It's been a pretty crazy three weeks for us, and I wish I could say things have settled down.  Ha!  Things have just changed in a dramatic, surreal, and very wet way.  It's rained since we got to Cleveland on Tuesday, and when I see people running at three in the afternoon, first I think, "they're crazy," then I remember it was raining all morning.  When the kids explored the backyard, they were all marveling over the 'green stuff' that was growing in the rocks and tree (moss, for you desert people). 

Here are a few highlights from our crazy road trip:

--The stops:  NM to KY, KY to OH, OH to KY, KY to VA, VA to IL, IL to NM (by plane!), NM to IL, IL to OH.  

--75 hours:  Although I didn't clock it precisely, we spent at least that much time driving.  I love driving.  I'll probably write a blog post about how I love driving.  When we got in the car for our last drive from NM to the Midwest (sans kids, no less), I was NOT very excited about driving any more. 

--A house:  I am amazed that we arrived in ABQ eight years ago, found a house in two days, and it all worked out.  This house hunt has been harrowing, although we did find a house to rent for the next year.  The market here moves really quickly, as we found out when most of the houses we wanted to look at were off the market when we arrived three days later.  I'm so grateful for my cousins who helped us figure out some new neighborhoods to investigate, and for the realtors/agents who were able to work with us at the last minute.  We naively drove back to KY with three great possibilities in hand, only to see two disappear in the next 48 hours.  Choice number three was secured, though, and we were set.

--Excitement:  We saw David's family, my family, and my dad's side of the family, and everyone was really excited about our move.  It's been hard to say goodbye to everyone in NM, so that was a nice counterpoint.  I hope that in addition to our immediate families, we'll be able to hang out more with my extended family.

--Goodbyes:  In addition to saying goodbye to NM, I also said farewell to my grandparents' home.  They lived in a basement apartment in my aunt and uncle's house for many years, but the house will soon be put on the market, hence the VA portion of our trip.  I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas celebrations there with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and of course my grandparents.  It was a little hard to add this on top of our big move, though.

If you've made it this far, I'll leave you with a few prayer requests.  We are currently camping in our house because (of course) there was a mix up at the moving company, which means our stuff will be delivered on the last day of the delivery window, if that.  Pray for patience and that all of our stuff arrives intact after being loaded and unloaded multiple times.  You can also pray for a smooth transition--we've had a few bumps already here, and there are still many, many things to get into place.  Pray for David as he begins his new job next week, and most of all, pray that we will find a church family quickly. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When Your Home Becomes a House

We had a power surge at the house on Saturday night, and it blew out our modem.  The timing definitely left something to be desired, but we finally got it all fixed last night, and the exile is over.  It was not much fun to try and find free internet, search for houses/apartments on the iPad, and try to wrangle four children around, but I think we are getting close to a list of places to look at next week.

Next week.  Yes, it's still a bit surreal.

We managed to get all the little odds and ends packed up or tucked away by Sunday evening, and our friend Jo came over and helped us rearrange the furniture and get it staged.  The cleaners came Monday morning, and the photos and video were finished by Monday evening.  A little over three weeks from start to finish, and here is the final product!

The house

At one point I told the realtor that when I saw the pictures, I'd probably wish that I lived in that house, but now that we're done putting everything away, I don't.  If we leave tomorrow, you'll know I gave up.  It's a lovely house (I think), but we've removed all the things that made it our home--the books, and books, and more books, the kids' artwork that got taped to the wall, the toys and stuffed animals, shoe bins and jackets, and all the balls from the backyard.  It's a blank slate for another family, but in the meantime, I miss the way it used to be.  Thankfully the kids have VBS all this week, so I'm not harping on them ALL day to stop touching the walls.  I go through the house before we leave and turn all the lights on, and do my final check--beds made, everything picked up, bathrooms cleared, counters spotless...I don't do spotless!  Even David is less than optimistic that some of the obsessive picking up and clearing will stick.  :)

I know God has a home picked out for us in Cleveland, and after watching a video my brother sent me, I'm getting more excited about being there.  It's a city that's going through a lot of change, and after seeing it, I started wondering how God will use us there to help bring His change.  In the meantime, though, I miss our home. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Tell the Stories Again

When I was a kid, I always wanted to hear stories about when my parents got in trouble.  Anyone else?  They are easy stories to tell--funny (with some distance), and so very relatable.  Now my kids know the story of when my siblings and I walked down the street to the university track without my little brother and without telling my mom, and how my little brother started down the street after us.  Oops.  There was also an incident with David, his brother, and a hammer, but that's not my story to tell.

There are much, much more important family stories to tell--stories that bind and build our family together.  The Israelites told these stories every year, to help those who did not witness them with their eyes to remember and trust:  the stories about God's mighty power, God's provision, God's incredible plan for them.

No parting the seas over here, but there is the story of how God brought David and me to our fourth (!) choice of duty station, then provided a (perfect) graduate school for me in chemistry, a wonderful church that became our family away from family...when we got to the base, we heard that base housing was a super long wait.  But after looking and looking in town, we decided to check with the housing office.  They just 'happened' to have a 3 bedroom house available that day, and our moving truck arrived an hour after we got into the house.  Good thing we never did another army move!  (which was important for finishing grad school anyway).  There are SO many stories in our family, and I want my kids to know them all.

Which brings me to our latest stories.  David looked and looked for a job closer to Illinois, but nothing was panning out.  He found the IBM job in Cleveland and applied, and they responded within a week.  He quickly went through the interview process and went out to visit at the end of February.  And then the wait began.  In the meantime, he applied to a job in St. Louis--so much closer to my family!!  And they responded!!  But they weren't sure they were going to hire for that position, so we waited on that too.  Maybe this was why IBM was taking so long--so we could take this one!

No, IBM came through, made the offer, and we had to decide whether to take it without knowing about the St. Louis job.  I kid you not, one hour after David and I talked on the phone and decided to take the job, David got an email from St. Louis saying they'd closed the position and weren't hiring anyone.

We got a lump sum for the move, but it meant we'd be packing ourselves up.  Two days after signing the offer, we were helping someone move and asked for the boxes.  One of the other couples there overheard and told us they'd saved every piece of packing paper, every moving box from their (professional) move and we were welcome to have it ALL.  So far, we've bought a few rolls of tape for the move.  That's it.

After telling people I'd never been to Cleveland, I remembered that I'd gone to my cousin's wedding there, and they now live about 45 minutes from downtown Cleveland.  Family will be closer than I thought.

There are so many unknowns still with this move (like where we will live!?), but when I feel trepidation about the future, I try to remember to just look back, and remember the stories. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Right Time

This move may be sudden and surprising news for some of you, but it's actually been almost a year in the making.  Technically, it's closer to four years...David grew up in the military, and after we'd lived in Albuquerque for four years, he definitely made a pitch for something new.  We had two babies, two adoptions ahead...I gamely tried to convince him that switching to a new church was 'like moving!' and he graciously tabled it. 

But with almost four years of driving back and forth from the Midwest under our belts, I guess last year was a tipping point for David.  We were done adopting, the kids were getting older, he was tired of driving and ready for a change.  He sat me down three days after we got back from our summer trip and very seriously suggested that we consider moving closer to family.  We calmly discussed it and decided it wasn't quite the right time. 

Maybe his timing could have been better and my response slightly less shrewish and ill-tempered.  

It wasn't the right time, though.  Last year was a really difficult year for me--when you can't decide if it was more like drowning or being buried alive, that's not a good sign.  Although I certainly struggled when Liz came home, those felt much more mental/internal to me, and they focused a lot more around learning to parent her (and manage my expectations).  And it lasted about three months before I came out of it. 

Last year had aspects of that mental/internal struggle, but there were multiple extended illnesses and surgeries added to that, and so many other external things that just felt out of control.  And I was learning how to do everything with four!  It took me the whole year to come out of it.  It's a post for another day, but I would remiss if I didn't acknowledge right now the people God used to pull my head above water when my sanity was at stake--my adoption group, my pastor, friends.  Thank you.

In November, we got hit with another illness, one that involved night after night of staying awake with an in-severe-pain, screaming between cat-naps all night child.  It was resolved, but I think that was the turning point for me, and I told David maybe he could start looking at jobs within three hours of family.  It took another five months, extending the radius to one day's drive, and the small taks of rewriting the narrative of my life, but I think God has shown me in many ways that it is the right time now.