Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas: December 25, 2013

This was the Christmas that was going to pass us by if we weren't careful.  It's been a surprisingly fun and relaxing holiday, given our mid-move-and-homeless status.  We got to visit the Opryland Hotel to see the lights.
It was the girlies' first taste of mid-thirties weather and their first time wearing their new coats from Auntie Naomi.  Devon could not be convinced to keep his hands in his pockets.

Devon: I need some gloves, Mommy!  Go get me some gloves!  Go to the store right now!  I'll wait right here until I get some!
Mommy: I can't just leave you here by the side of the road.  If you got lost I would look and look and I might not find you!

The cold is making us trot out some new rules.  to reinforce them, we say horrible things to our children.

Mommy: Keep your socks on or your feet will turn black and fall off!
Carrie: No! I do NOT want my feet to turn black and FALL OFF!
Devon's early morning activity has been tending the kitty in the laundry room while the rest of the house is still asleep.  He and Mommy feed her, brush her, and say soft things to her so she won't get too sad this week.
Usually he and Ally kitty don't mix much, so he's really happy for this opportunity.
Really, really happy.
 All of the kids are enjoying time with their cousins this week. 
 Devon got to see his first theater movie, Frozen, with his cousins.

Stella (sitting on the couch with Carrie and Devon) is working on a loose tooth this week.  It's hanging by a thread and bleeding like crazy.  Devon's never seen a loose tooth before and he's reacting to it.

Devon: Mommy, brush my teeth!
Mommy: It's three in the afternoon, Devon!  Why do you need your teeth brushed?
Devon: We don't want my teeth to rot out of my head, do we?

Several times a day we brush his teeth at his request.  Finally, we figured out that he thinks Stella's teeth are rotting out of her head because she doesn't brush them.  Where did he get the idea that his teeth would rot out of his head if he doesn't take care of them?  From Mommy and Daddy, who were tired of holding him down nightly to brush his teeth.  Why do we say such horrible things to our children?  Because, if he's inherited Mommy's dental genes, they are true.
Our Christmas Eve tradition is to have Cioppino, a San Francisco inspired tomato and seafood soup. 
Small children don't know that this Christmas was hastily thrown together, thank goodness.  They still nestled in their (temporary) beds and visions of sugarplums still danced like they were supposed to.
They still enjoyed waking Daddy up to open presents on Christmas morning.
Devon had already test-ripped most of his presents, but still acted very surprised on Christmas morning.
Carrie was all round eyes and surprise.
The surprise hit was several little containers of playdoh.  Thankfully, they just wanted to stack them and didn't seem to excited to open them.
Melina kept batting her "pretty" out of her hair.  Mommy replaced it over and over, and finally opted for a rubber band.
Several gifts were very pointedly "car friendly", looking ahead to the drive to Maryland.
We're still trying to get the kids to sing Away in a Manger instead of Jingle Bells forty times a day, and we had to read the Christmas story to all three strapped in their car seats on the way to the park, but we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and tried to remember the reason we celebrate.
We'll have many more reasons to celebrate soon.  We've decided to have a special Christmas celebration in our new home on Epiphany, which is on January 6th.  It is traditionally observed as the day the wise men came to see Baby Jesus, as well as the Twelfth Day of Christmas from the song.
That will give us time to fill our stockings, wear our Christmas outfits again, and hopefully get some more pictures!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Moving Day: December 19-20, 2013

 Thursday at 8 the packers showed up.  They set to work dismantling things in a cheerful and efficient manner.  Or maybe 'cheerful' was just Mommy's mood.  She had been waiting for them like the Magi had been waiting for Baby Jesus to be born.  Words can't express the gratitude of a tired mom watching all her wordly goods being cleaned, organized, and packed into neat little boxes.  This was a greatly anticipated day, and it did not disappoint.
Even more exciting to Mommy was the fact that the kids would not be on the scene to witness the process.  Several kind people had warned me that the kids might be traumatized by watching all their belongings get taken apart and whisked out of sight.  We decided they were better off away for the day.  Our good friends Ben and Marieliza stepped in and volunteered to take all three kids all day AND feed us all dinner when they were done.  Wow!  As you can see, the girls passed the day by eating... all day long... and they even texted pictures to reassure us that everything was going well.
 By noon the house looked like this...
 ... and by three they were pulling out.  Amazing!  Craig and I stood for a moment in our empty house, collapsed in the recliner, and slept until dinnertime.  It was so great!

We were a little concerned about what the kids would think of the new home d├ęcor when we brought them home and got them to bed.  It ended up being a huge hit!

Carrie: Boxes!
Melina: Boxes!  Boxes, Mommy!  Boxes, Mommy!
Carrie: I see boxes, Mommy!  I see boxes, Mommy! I see boxes, Mommy!  I see boxes, Mommy! I see boxes, Mommy!  I see boxes, Mommy! I see boxes, Mommy!  I see boxes, Mommy! I see boxes, Mommy!  I see boxes, Mommy!
Devon: Presents!  Our whole house is full of presents!  What are in these presents?
 The feeling of anticipation continued through the next early morning, as the kids awoke eager to tear into all the boxes.  Mommy got everyone dressed in our new warm clothes we purchased for our new life.
 Ally Kitty took her place in the kennel where she will spend the next few weeks.  She's not a fan of her kennel, but even less of strange houses and new places, so she'll be plenty happy there for long days and Mommy can take her out for kitty time at night.
 Loading day ended up being long and tedious.  First of all, with the kids around Mommy and Daddy had to be constantly vigilant.  I am well acquainted with Devon's ninja skills, but the movers are not.  I didn't want him suddenly materializing under a dolly full of furniture or a packer carrying a huge box.  Devon went everywhere with me, usually with me dragging him by the arm. 
At the lowest point, we read children's books on the garage floor for about a half hour.  We had nowhere to go and nothing else to do, and the movers had barely finished inventory and hadn't really even put anything on the truck yet. 
 Pointless errand time!  We loaded up to drive the spare key to the rental office across town.  In desperation, I opened the "car box" that Grammy had sent for the drive.  The kids made the trip in the middle row shaking the bells on their antlers and singing "Jingle Bells". 
Back home with Subway sandwiches for lunch, the house was still full of boxes and Craig had to drive out to meet the transport service and drop off our other car.  We ate a picnic lunch on the sidewalk across the street and waved to our neighbors who drove by and rolled down their windows to commiserate.
The afternoon wasn't quite as hard as the morning, though it was still pretty long.  We did have some cool things happen, though, dubbed The Four Coincidences of Moving Day:

1.  Craig was putting some grocery bags into the center console of our car to use for trash bags.  He felt something hard in one of them.  Drawing it out, he saw that it was a shiny 2013 Maryland quarter.

2.  Upon conversing with our mover, we discovered that we'll be neighbors.  We live less than two miles apart in Elkton.

3.  To amuse the kids, I took them to the mall to drop in on Savannah at Chick-fil-A.  We entered at the Sears entrance and Devon immediately leapt into one of the displays to play in the fake cotton snow.  Embarrassed, I hastened to get him under control. 

"No worries," said a passing clerk, "I'd be doing the same thing if I was his age."  I still made apologies, dragging him out as an elderly couple approached and exclaimed approvingly over him and the girls in their stroller. 

"Sorry.  This is a very unusual day for us.  We're moving!" I said brightly.

"Where to?" asked the clerk.


"I'm from Maryland," said both the clerk and the couple, almost in unison.  We had a spontaneous little reunion there among the Craftsman tools.  He was from the Elkton area, the couple from a little ways south.  We talked about the fishing, the recreation, the climate.  We left feeling excited about our new home. 
4.  On the way out of the mall, we stopped for one last ride on their favorite, the carousel.  After putting in my dollar, I opened my quarter pocket to see if I had four for one more ride.  I drew out four shiny Maryland quarters.
 Meanwhile, back at home, the movers had inexplicably finished and were wondering why we hadn't been cleaning behind them so they could take our brooms and vacuum and get going.  Grrr..

Somewhere in Maryland, our house deal closed at 4 p.m.  We're officially homeowners again.  Yay!!!
We were just finishing up at six instead of two or three as we hoped.  The kids had spent so much time buckled into car seats, strollers, and wagons that I'm sure they felt like the car ride had already begun hours ago.

When the chores were finally done and we'd mopped our way out of the house, I was DONE.  It had been a long three months and we were tired.  I didn't feel nostalgic about leaving Florida.  I didn't want to say nice prayers over our empty house, or drive around for one last look.  I was ready to get out of Dodge, the sooner the better.  This is my third cross-country move and I don't know why loading days are always like this, but they are.  We look forward to a new life, but it always seems to rise from the ashes of the old one.  Or, to mix Biblical metaphors with my pagan ones, I could smell the brimstone raining down behind me as we pulled out of Citrus Springs.  If I'd looked back, I would have turned into a pillar of salt.

Thankfully, as soon as we were in the car the kids settled down for their "naps" and Craig and I were suddenly in a festive mood.  We drank our coffees, ate our snacks, and enjoyed the sensation of sitting still after so many long days of running around.  We also hadn't booked a reservation, so we didn't have any goal of how far we had to make it that one evening.  We decided to stop at Valdosta at around 11:30 p.m.

Mommy: Hi, I'd like a room with a Jacuzzi tub, if they're still available.
Hotel Clerk: Yes, we have one King suite with a Jacuzzi tub.  For how many?
Mommy: Two adults and three children.
Hotel Clerk: And you're all gonna sleep in that big bed?
 The kids did really well on their first hotel stay in over a year.  Yes, they were in the Jacuzzi tub making wet handprints on the mirror at 1:30 in the morning, but that was fine with me.  They wore footie pajamas for the first time in a year, and nobody took them off and chucked them out of the pack-and-plays.
The second day of driving was a bit more tedious.  Grammy's Car Box was packed with many fun things to do.  The kids listened to a CD of Christmas music over and over, delighted when Daddy set it on repeat and they got to listen to Jingle Bells twenty-seven times. 
Carrie spilled a bottle of water spiked with a bit of 7up on herself in the car, so she was wet from her shoulders to her knees when we pulled into Chick-fil-A for our late afternoon stop.  I'm not sure how dinner and a run in the playplace took three hours, but it did.
Pulling into Mama and Papa's house in Springfield, TN really felt like crossing the finish line.  I took a deep breath for the first time in six weeks, then got eight hours of sleep for the first time in at least as long.  We're so thankful to have made it this far. 

We were a bit apprehensive about moving around Christmas, but so far it is going so very well.  The kids are living it up with Mama and Papa around, and we're so thankful to have a place to rest in the middle of our long journey. 

My iPhone says we're 778 miles from Elkton, Maryland, and our new house that Devon has dubbed The House With Stairs.  More on that later....