Sunday, August 13, 2017

Starting a Life Anew and Coming Home to Make a Home

About six weeks ago,  we drove off from our dear friends' home, and headed home, to our new home town. I looked in my rear view mirror and I couldn't help but notice the imagery of leaving Virginia behind, so I also snapped a photo welcoming us to Tennessee.  Since we come here every summer and Christmas, I've made this drive several times, but this time it felt different. Saying goodbye to our life in Fredericksburg was hard for me, but toward the end, I said, "I'm ready to just rip the band aid off." Molly Mae, in her infinite wit said "Mommy we are ripping the band aid off. . . very slowly since this is a long drive."

 About two hours away from Centerville, I just got this uneasy feeling and then BJ called me (we drove separate cars) and told me about the conversation he and Anna Cate were having because we saw a sign you might see in the Bible belt. It made me realize the richness of diversity in places we least expect it. For the first several days, I needed a few days to just hole up with my family and it felt like summer vacation until our home was being finished, so we made the most of the quick summer vacation we had, knowing that this was our soon-to-be home life.

We spent time at creeks, enjoyed the town pool, a lot of play dates with our cousin Kitty and made some new friends at a Vacation Bible School.

Mom let the girls play in the mud puddles after a rain, and I was so annoyed until I saw this picture of pure glee! 

And in between the kids having fun, I got in some hot runs,

BJ staked out where he could go fish....

and we made decisions on our home we were remodeling. 

There are lots of shades of grey!

We went with lots of greys, with blues, greens some purple and one area with a pop of yellow!

Mom's dear friend Naida helped us with design and paint choices and we feel so thankful to have experienced her expertise.  I wanted to move here and have it all done yesterday, but she talked me back from the haste by saying, "If you try to rush everything, you will miss finding those treasures." So I did feel myself stepping back with some confidence that I knew it would work out. . . and it did!

The big project was we doubled the size of an upstairs loft for the girls to have a bedroom, closet, bathroom and play area.  When asking them if they would be ok with a room together, we said it would be like an apartment. . and it does feel that way.

We also added a half bath downstairs, taking out two small closets.

 And we painted all other rooms. This is the parlor/my room for reading, writing, visiting, and thinking about world travel.

There were two small bedrooms and a small bathroom BJ and I turned into "our area" and I love the barn door that hides it. We made one of the small rooms into a boudair/bohemian themed closet and the other small room for our bedrooom where we put some purple!
 And the tv/family room makes BJ happy that he can hang his deer.

So it did all work out, and we did get settled before the school year started for the girls and me, which is really what I wanted.

A couple vignettes about the first day.  Because I took a 1-year position for a teacher who was having a baby, I had a different start date than Anna Cate and Molly did. It was so nice to get be around them for the pomp and circumstance of excitement and pictures. It is extra special that this year, Molly gets to start 2nd grade with her cousin Kitty.  So exciting for Molly that she said, "I want Aunt Becki to take me to school the first day so she can do drop off the right way, and I'll tell you how it is done."  I'm thankful Molly has other adults in her life she trusts, and that Becki knows how to do things the right way! Thankfully, a couple days later I did get to do drop off. 

Molly has had a great start, and I'm particularly excited that she has my friend Shelda for her teacher. Shelda and I had many classes together in school, including 3rd grade in this very room she will teach Molly. Her daughter was a flower girl in our wedding. 
Dropping off Anna Cate was like nothing I've ever experienced with sending my child off somewhere. I've let her fly by herself (as an un-accompanied minor) and sent her Miss Diana's at 2, to Kindergarten on a school bus, but this was hard because I know first hand the rite of passage that is  Middle School.  We teachers at Middle School are a different brand of caretakers than Elementary school. I distinctly remember thinking how wonderful the atmosphere was at Courthouse Road Elementary the first year I visited Anna Cate, and thought, "wow, no wonder middle school is so hard on some kids."

Thankfully, Anna Cate has already made some friends and had her locker set up, so while she was nervous, there were some comforts. She had a great first day, and is going out for the Cross country team even though she is built like her mama and had such a rough year health-wise and is struggling to get back into shape. I'm so proud of her!  We are running together once a week, and it is interesting to listen to the mind of a new runner, and I'm reminded of one of the reasons I love running so much -- it gives you practice to silence that voice in your head saying you can't do it. 

After a few days of quiet time with BJ and some lunch dates, my school year began as well.  

I took a job in a town 45 minutes away, and while I'm sure the drive will become a chore some days, I am so happy with the school and the admin team.   And I have a lot of time to listen to lectures from The Great Courses (If you commute, check these out; I'm open to podcast suggestions). This spring, BJ actually found the job posted, and I knew it was a 1 year position, but a later start was very attractive to me, as well as the fact that it is World History. I hope I'll remember these days with gratitude when I'm looking for a job next year!

So we are settled into our house and our school year, we have chickens in our back yard and BJ says we will have goats soon.  I have had the time to think about how we were in Paris last year. 
In fact, this Sunday of last year, I worshipped at Notre Dame.
I can't help but think about the beauty of our trip . . .

And the way our life fell apart after we returned.
We faced health and financial crises as a family, and all roads led here to Centerville.  BJ knew the day after his second surgery, when he said, "we are moving to Centerville."

 It has been a year of transition  of turmoil,  but in the midst of it all, I knew it the was the right thing to do, but I struggled with the in between steps. And, now in this space on the other side of the struggles, I feel like I'm having a glimpse of God's pure light on our journey. This is where we should be. The family is happy, and we have a beautiful, functional home and a job that fulfills me. I think about how beautiful Paris is and how my life will always now be a journey back to that beauty. 
BJ snapped this picture of me, and I distinctly remember looking in the lense, telling my future self, I could handle what came next. I thought BJs' surgery was the worst in front of me . . I had no idea what the next 12 months had in store. 

But I'm proud to be standing on this side of this year. I think I will spend the rest of my life trying to create and exist in the space I enjoyed while  in Paris.

But in the mean time, I'm happy to be home. Maybe I should be reminiscing on those memories from Paris. . and plan our next trip.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A perfect summer day. . .or two

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” - Winnie the Pooh
This is the summer that I'm really not going to get and as a teacher and a kid at heart, that makes me sad. Or at least that's what I've told myself, but yesterday could be categorized as a beautiful summer day.

I started my day with my friend Norah picking me up at 5:10am to go running.  I am lucky enough to have a group of friends who motivate me and keep my accountable with running. As I often say. . . .their jog is my sprint and we spend Tuesday mornings at the track. Well they spend Tuesdays at the track; I sometimes make it, but our camaraderie has kept me running. I sure am going to miss chasing them.

As a way to send me off, they had champagne mimosas. . at 6am.

 So thankful for girlfriends. I met Jodie the first summer I moved to this neighborhood  and her beauty was only surpassed by her kindness and fun spirit.

Then, I came home to send off Anna Cate to camp and Molly to swim practice.
 Molly was so excited she is swimming 5 events. In soaking up her success of swim team, she is not phased by leaving it. I have a lot to learn from this sentiment.

Both yesterday and today the girls have had play dates at the pool with friends and in the evening  we were treated to a lovely dinner from our dear friend Marian. Marian's mother and BJ's mother were friends so I think of it as a 4th generation friendship and the epitome of my Dad's words "friends don't have to be your own age."

These steps are famous because Abraham Lincoln spoke to the people of Fredericksburg during the Civil War. It was a special evening being with Marian. 

 We went to FOODE which is in a building that used to be a bank and on these steps, Abe Lincoln spoke to the people of  Fredericksburg during the Civil War.
 It was a nice place to be to celebrate Virginia with one her finest belles.
 Anna Cate couldn't join us since she is at camp.

Marian and Molly did 1st grade together this year.  After Molly went to Maine with her folks from church, Marian went to Molly's class to read to them about cranberry farming the week of Thanksgiving, but that special occasion became a monthly treat for the first graders in Mrs. Rivers' class. Marian taught many many years and retired many years ago, but she has not lost her touch.  

It was a beautiful summer evening in Fredericksburg. 
We dropped MumMum off and she and Molly did their trick for bread.

As we drove off, I noticed BJ was crying. . .his first expression of emotion about leaving. Clearly, Marian is a big deal -- she is almost like an institution and the epitome of grace, class, love and what we have loved about our life in Fredericksburg.  A perfect end to a perfect summer's day,
 Some of our friends have signed this quilt made for us. In its messages, I realize the truth of life I learned in a perfect summer day. I appreciate the messages, the sentiments, and the experiences worth writing about as we say goodbye, but as we live in the present -- it's all we ever really have anyway. 

Here are the girls Saturday night at a church picnic. 

 My goodness am I going to miss Erin and the influence she has in their life. . .and mine.

Tonight while Anna Cate is at  camp with Erin, Molly enjoyed a great swim meet. It is not lost on me that the last night in our home we were at a swim meet -- what I'll miss the most about living here in the summer. 

“Goodbyes make you think. They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost, and what you’ve taken for granted.” -Ritu Ghatourey