What it’s Like a Year After Moving

One year after moving…

A year ago, we were the new kids in town. It’s an exciting place to be, but it’s not a secure feeling at all. Perhaps that why it’s so exciting. You’re all out there without roots, marching out into the unknown, hoping the people will be kind and the environment friendly.

Phew! It’s exhausting to be new: always putting your best foot forward…Actually, sometimes it’s an accomplishment just to remember to smile at everyone and keep your foot out of your mouth. Forget about your best foot. Which one is best anyway???

That’s why the one-year mark is a much happier place to be. No, we don’t have “roots” here yet, but at least we’ve met people, we’ve been watered in, so to speak, and the garden is feeling less scary and more familiar.

 

3 of my guys, passed out “watching” the NBA finals a few weeks ago…Is it called the finals? Or the championship?  They were rooting for the Golden State Warriors. We’ve held on to a few favorite sports teams from each move. We may always be #TeamWarriors and #TeamNats and of course, #rolltide!

 

 

This is at a park across town. Last year that park seemed like a million miles away, and I could not have made a single turn without the help of the GPS. This summer it seemed so much closer!

Last year I had a LIST of things I was NERVOUS about:

  1. School uniforms for the boys–Did we buy the right thing? Will they ever adjust to wearing collared shirts everyday?
  2. Switching back to regular school–Will we survive it???
  3. Meeting people– Will anyone like us? Will the boys make friends? What if there’s a bully? What if one of them gets in fights at school?
  4. My face is broken out like a teenager–WHYYYYYYY????
  5. Church people–We picked this church, but will it work out? What sort of people will they turn out to be? Do they pretend to be perfect and expect me to do the same? I’m not playing that game. I’m much too old for that.
  6. The village–Is this a good place for my children to be raised? Why is this crime report so horrible? Is this place less safe than D.C.? Because it sort of seems like it is!!!
  7. Dropping off J.D. ANYWHERE is impossible. He will NOT let me leave him. Will he ever stop crying???

The boys have taken turns killing spiders for me this summer. Perhaps I should call pest control…

This year I have about 1,000 LESS worries and anxieties!!!

All of the worries from last year are gone. We are happy with our school, our church, and JD usually lets me drop him off without too much of a struggle.

I can’t tell you much it warmed my heart to have ONE successful VBS year with my boys. First of all, VBS and our boys have not always been a great combination.

Most of my boys don’t enjoy crafts, singing, dancing, or listening. Sigh. That list pretty much sums up VBS, doesn’t it? Plus, they are a little shy, and they dislike large crowds, especially large crowds of kid where they don’t know anyone.

This week has been completely different for us! We have achieved VBS success. I can’t believe it!

First, of all, I taught Bible story time, so three of my four boys got to have me as their teacher for 20 minutes of the morning, which helped.

Secondly, they divided the 100 children into groups of 6 to 12 kids of like ages. I can’t tell you what a blast Joshua had getting to hang out all morning everyday with 5 other 11-year-old boys.

And Daniel made a new friend who likes baseball as much as he does!

Seeing them so happy made my day because most years they just feel like the outsiders at the family reunion. You know? Going to events in a new place where you don’t know anyone is like going to a high school reunion for a high school you didn’t attend.

It was also a relief to not be moving this year. Without all the unpacking boxes and living in hotels, we’ve had more time to do fun things this summer. We’ve gone to weddings, visited old friends, played with new ones, celebrated birthdays, and hung out together at home.

 

We have a lot of fun. Sometimes they make up their own costumes…

JD has developed a passion for puzzles, and he does these completely by himself.

swimming with friends: Here’s Daniel’s favorite girl squirting Caleb in the face with a water gun.

We actually had to say good-bye to Daniel’s favorite girl and her brother this summer, who is one of Caleb’s best buds, so we do know the sadness both in moving and in having friends move.

He wears a Batman t-shirt every single day.

We’ve visited both sets of our parents multiple times. My dad really loves having his picture taken, as you can see…

John David turned 4 and built up his Lego collection.

The boys had a ball getting to sleep in hotel beds.

I’ve almost recovered from sleeping in hotel beds….

 

 

visiting our old best buds on Caleb’s birthday

So this summer finds us in a much more secure place than last year.

We have friends. We know how to go most everywhere we need to go without looking at a map, and best of all, we have about a hundred acquaintances.

It warms my heart to see my boys relaxing more and being themselves.

I hear people knocking “acquaintances” sometimes, but those must be people that never move. When you move frequently, you learn to treasure even the acquaintances, because thanks to them, you can walk around town and be reminded to smile and nod because you spot a familiar face.

It’s reassuring to me to have tons of just acquaintances. Why? Because those are all potential people in your corner right there! Just seeing a familiar person, someone whose name you know, is enough to put you at ease when you sign up for something new and you walk into a room full of strangers.

Walking around in a sea of strangers feels a lot less welcoming to me than passing by people who smile and say hello because they know my name or they know my children.

So I would say that actually having a ton of surface level friends is not so bad.

Yes, you need a few close friends too, but you can only pour into so many bosom buddies. It’s pretty awesome just to be somewhere long enough to know people’s names and have a few friends to say hello to. It reminds you to smile, and when we smile we start to feel good, as though we belong. And you know what? You do belong.

Happy summer, y’all! I hope you’re having a good one too.

 

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I Actually Do Need a Tribe

This is the lovely Amy and Tegann. They were our friends in California, we were beyond excited to visit with them recently!

Right when you move is always at the exact moment that you’ve finally made close friends. In California, we were lucky enough to have a whole group of them.

A Good Tribe Makes Life Happier

My California neighborhood crew

It took a year, though. That first year I knew very few other people. It’s hard when you’re new!

I saw an article headline written by a mom with no tribe. I didn’t read it, so I’m not sure how she felt about that, but I am always happier when I DO have a tribe of friends.

No, actually, I’d go so far as to say I NEED a tribe of friends. It brings me happiness and encouragement. People need people. We do. Yes, I spend almost all of my time with my family, but we aren’t meant to be isolated families of people. I always carve out time to go hang with other ladies too.

When I’m hanging out with a group of gals, I laugh so hard my sides split. And I am known for my loud cackle.

Alan’s mom and her sisters hold us all in awe. Three sisters. It’s like the ultimate tribe. They text, they call, they travel together, and they support and tease each other through life.

Just today, I was at my friend Brooke’s house, thinking how much more I smile when I’m visiting with her or any of my friends or my mom, just a friend who accepts you for who you are.

It takes me over a year to develop a tribe of friends with each place, and I don’t have one here yet. My friend Brooke and I were just talking today about how lonely that is.

I need to get pro-active about that and put together a supper club…any takers??

A Good Tribe Makes Life Happier

My friend Amy, from my Virginia tribe (how I miss them!), came and visited us in California.

 

If I hadn’t missed so many MOPS meetings, I would be calling that my tribe already. I love MOPS and the ladies there, but sometimes I don’t make it because of JD or because I have work to do.

At this stage of life, we don’t have ‘time’ to pour into friendships

and that’s why we have to be extra understanding and forgiving of our friends. Everybody’s busy.

However, I think the mommy years are years when we need friends just as much as ever. I would say more than ever, but I actually can’t think of a single stage of life when we don’t desperately need a support group.

Some people find that group at church or at the playground. I seem to usually find them in my neighborhood, thought that isn’t the case here.

I’ve been blessed to belong to several AMAZING tribes of friends over the years. I just had a different group for each place that I lived. Eventually, I will have one here too. These things take time.

A year from now, I won’t be tribe-less anymore. By then, I’ll just be heart-broken to leave. How do I know? Well, I always have before, so I can be optimistic, and I’m hoping for the best and trying to remember to be friendly and speak to people. Ha! It’s hard for an introvert sometimes, but we need people too.

 

What about you? Do you have a group of pals that make you laugh ’til you cry? It’s not a tribe unless it’s both fun and supportive.

 

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Moving Day, the Surprise Party, and the Power of Good Neighbors

Surprise Welcome Home Party at Kristy’s house. There were 23 neighbors in attendance.

On Friday night, I snuck into my home town. My parents were expecting me at 8:45pm, but truthfully I arrived at 7:30 or so, but I didn’t want them to know that. They were still staying at the rental house, but I did not go straight to the rental house. I went by my childhood friend, Kristy’s, house. We were on a mission, you see.

I grew up playing with Kristy and the other neighborhood kids. Kristy’s grandparents lived next door to us, and she spent a lot of time over there. As kids, we climbed trees, rode bikes, swung, swam in her granny’s pool, and played a good deal of make-believe and front yard baseball.

Then six or seven years ago, grown-up Kristy bought the house across the street from my parents! Pretty cool, huh? That tiny street is full of people who have been living there for most of my life.

They’ve been watching the destruction and re-building of my parents’ house up close and personal. They dealt with the smells, oh, you don’t want to know about the smells, the rubble looters on the day of the bulldozer, the construction crews, and the watching and waiting. They never complained.

Kristy said, “I’m telling you, they could’ve built it faster.”

Mrs. Sara (Kristy’s granny) lamented, “Well, the only problem is they built it closer to the road than it used to be, and the way it’s shaped I can’t see Terry on his front porch, and I can’t see Terry on his back porch. How am I supposed to know he’s okay???? How am I supposed to know it if he falls?”

She’s right, that’s a problem when you have good neighbors. Kirsty reassured her it’d be okay because she can still see him from her front porch.

Neighbors that look out for each other. Such a beautiful thing!

A month or so ago, Kristy hatched a plan for a surprise party. We had no idea what day they’d finally move in, so she planned it for December 10th, and lo and behold, what day do you think they finally moved in? Well, December 10th, of course, so it was pretty easy to get my parents over to the right place at the right time.

Chris, Kristy, and me

We decided the best story to tell to make sure my parents were at the new house unloading at party time was to say that pizza was arriving at the new house at 11am. This was pretty easy. I just used Alan’s obsession with pizza coupons as my cover story.

“You know how Alan is about his pizza coupons. Well, he’s already got the pizza scheduled to be delivered at 11am tomorrow at the new house. It’s a little early, but he wanted to make sure he had plenty of food, and that way when my brother gets off of work, they will be able to get straight to work with the heavy moving then.”

No one doubted that story for a second.

By 11am, every one of us was in place at my parents’ new house, but there was one part I hadn’t thought through. Now how do I get them over to Kristy’s house? Everyone was focused on the mission of moving… Hmmmm

“Hey, um, y’all, I talked to Kristy out in the yard, and she said when Dad gets here to have y’all stop by her house real quick. I think she has a Christmas gift for ya.”

And to my surprise, it was that simple!

They just said, “Oh. Okay,” and started off across the street.

“I think I’ll come too,” I said, motioning the boys to come on. John David was of course shoeless. Alan got his little shoes on JD as quickly as possible, and we all six followed Mom and Dad across the street.

Mom said she did think it was weird that we were ALL coming.

Kirsty opened the doors and motioned for us to all come in. I’m not sure how long it took Mom and Dad to figure out this was their surprise party or that we weren’t actually having pizza. Pretty funny! This was so fun to be a part of.

We all ate together. Mr. Byrd, a neighbor I remember as the one who would buy whatever I was selling from my school fund-raiser every year, said a beautiful blessing before the meal.

We laughed over the surprise, and caught up with everybody.

Then we walked everyone over and gave them a tour of the new house, for those who hadn’t seen inside of it yet.

I know. I know you’re dying to get a peek inside too, and I would show it to you, but Mom’s not as big on posting the minute details of her life on the internet as I am, so I’m going to literally just show you one peek. I’m going to give you Kristy’s porch view of the new place:

Mr. Byrd, Dad, and Chris and Kristy’s porch view of the new house.

It’s not a re-built house. It’s a completely new house. The old one had to be bulldozed and carried away, down to the last scrap of concrete. Nothing could be left. What wasn’t burned was all damaged by smoke, water, and asbestos.

Everything is gone. The trampoline burned too. When they were clearing the house away, there was a huge storm that came through, and lightning stuck the last of the tall pine trees that still stood from my childhood. And as they took away the dumpster last week, they killed the mailbox too.

It was as though God decided that he couldn’t just partially fix it. It had to be completely made new.

We may not understand the ways of God, but his ways are best, and I know that this house is going to be a great blessing to my parents.

Isn’t it funny how God even arranged it for Alan and me to move back down here for two years, so that we were here for all of this? I got to see construction of the new house in all of its phases. I got to pore over paint and tile samples with Mom on my coffee table.

And I got to be there for move-in day, even when we didn’t know until 3 days prior that it would be moving day!

God moves in mysterious ways.

I wish you could see what all Kristy has done with her house too! She bought it after the housing market crashed, and completely re-modeled the place, knocking down walls, moving the kitchen, painting, and putting in new floors. It’s inspirational to look at what she’s accomplished without even hiring a builder, a little at a time!

It makes me smile to see Alan getting to talk to these sweet neighbors, these pillars from my childhood. When I see Mrs. Sara I always smile and think of how she used to call out to us from her front door, “Y’all play purdy now!!” Maybe I should start calling that out my door to the boys and their friends.

Our neighbors didn’t just feed us and visit with us, even though that would have been more than enough. They also SHOWERED my parents with gifts, AGAIN. I say again because they’d already helped after the fire, but they just kept on giving!

opening gifts

Kristy, our lovely coordinator and hostess

They were given a big, beautiful set of Rachel Ray cookware, which I could tell Mom was excited about, as well as all sorts of other useful blessings!

Mom and I have always admired what Kristy can do with her vinyl cricket (cricuit?) machine!

The most emotional gift was this large framed floorboard from the original house, which Kristy wrote their name and anniversary date on. I cried when I saw it, even though I knew she was planning it. Mom cried. I don’t know if Dad cried.

The day of the bulldozing, Kristy had looked for some wood from the house, but there was none available that wasn’t too damaged, so she found a whole plank from the Pergo floors. This made it even more special because Mom and Dad had put those floors down themselves around 10 years ago, and we’d all just loved those floors.

Kirsty laughed about almost getting caught salvaging that board from the rubble. She said she left the kids with Gail and ran over to dig around for something she could save for Mom and Dad. She had just discovered a good board, and all of a sudden there was my dad! He was there to try to save some china, and she quickly dropped the board off to the side, and said, “Oh, here, let me help you with that!” She said she felt like she was almost busted. So funny, because Dad would have had no idea what she was doing anyway.

 

 

We laughed, we ate, we cried, and then we hugged people and got back to work!

This was such a blessing, what the neighbors did for my parents, and I just wanted to share it, the fact that things like this still happen. There are people who are still kind, giving, unselfish, who want to help other people, and we make each others’ lives better in the process.

Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into this, Kristy, and to all the neighbors for blessing us in such a big way. We are so thankful! Our cup runneth over.

 

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”  –Hebrews 13:16

May we all strive to be this kind of neighbor. Merry Christmas, y’all!

 


 

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