Saturday, January 17, 2015

How It Is, How It Goes

morning quiet

I have this theory that it takes six months of living in a place to really know what's working and what's not. At six months, some things you think must be changed have become all right, and some things you thought you could live with suddenly become the bane of your existence. We are coming up on six months here in London, and I am hunkering down most evenings with a can of paint or some eBay listings.

And in general we've been hunkering down, not going out much. It is dark fairly early still (though thank goodness those 4pm sunset days are behind us now), and it is cold, and I'd rather be here in my warm house, in my slippers. Zinashi approached me with a quizzical look the other day and said, "Mami? Why don't we ever go anywhere anymore?" I answered her honestly. It's pure selfishness on my part. Do you know how many extra things there are to lose when venturing out in the winter? We could easily drop £50 replacing hats and mittens by the time the season is over, if we were to go out as frequently as we do when we don't have to be bundled up.

Besides, we really need to stay home so that I can finish addressing the holiday cards. Yes, it's past the middle of January, and I have only about half addressed so far. I'd blame the children and be mostly justified, but I also have been taking a little break in the evenings, when I could be attending to such matters. We've had years of frenzied activity, since we first became parents, really, one thing after another to push through, to get done right. It's nice to have some evenings of normal, of a cup of tea and a little Netflix, of just sitting still.

Which is not to say that we're resting on our laurels entirely. Zinashi started a performing arts class on Saturdays (more on that when I do a little home education catch up post), and Elvie will be turning three (three! already!) next month, and we are hoping to get back to where we first came from, plus go to France*. Elvie has started asking me when we are going to "Ethiopia MY village - MY VILLAGE???" and I know I need to work that out, maybe take on a little freelance work on the side. But for now, it is quiet. And I'm going to keep it that way just a little longer, on purpose.



*Eurostar is going all the way to Marseille beginning in late spring, and it's not much farther to travel by local train along the coast to reach Nice. The fare sale occurred at just the right moment for our finances to bear the burden of a little trip, and our tickets are already booked, our favorite apartment reserved, our lists of ice cream flavor combinations begun.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 in Review

It's possible that if I say that 2014 was a full year for us, that would be an understatement. As I was looking through photos to do this year-end wrap-up, even I was stunned, and I lived through it. It was a hard year and a good year. It was an overflowing year. That's how I'll leave it. And now, here it is in photos, month by month.

January

We  began the year with Elvie still in her big brace. The people who made the brace for her called it a bobsled, but it wasn't nearly as fun as bobsledding, I'm pretty sure.

january 2014 1

And then she was free! And so were we. Those diaper changes were no joke. I'm just saying.

January 2014 2

Jarod and I also did a Whole30 during that month, because if your life is already really challenging, why not just add something else? He stopped snoring and I felt better than I'd felt since Elvie joined our family. I guess we did all right.

January 2014 3

February

In February, Elvie turned two. We gave her a bowl of nonpariels instead of a cake, and she was not disappointed.

February 2014 1

Shortly after that, we had a real party, with a farm animal theme and lots of friends and food and balloons.

February 2014 2

Once the celebration was over, it was time for another surgery, and Elvie did incredibly well. I think she might be an expert at having surgery. Should she get a special badge for that?

February 2014 3

Meanwhile, Zinashi was entering her bride phase. It was a lovely phase.

February 2014 4

March

In March, Zinashi was in her second ever ballet performance. She was radiant and confident.

March 2014 1

She also started guitar lessons in 2014 and wrote her very first song in March.

March 2014 2

Most importantly of all, we made our first batch of homemade injera. It wasn't much to look at, but it made us happy all the same. (Our skills have improved quite a lot since then.)

March 2014 3

Before the month was over, Elvie had healed enough from her latest surgery to begin taking ballet classes. There is nothing more adorable than toddler ballet. Nothing.

March 2014 4


April

In April, Zinashi turned seven, and I really couldn't believe it. Seven is just so old. We snuck into her room in the middle of the night to put a canopy over her bed, and she woke up happy. Whether you are turning seven or fifty-seven, I think waking up happy on your birthday is important.

April 2014 1

As soon as possible, we had a party. It was sea creature themed, with an Ethiopian feast on the side.

April 2014 2

And then it was time for Pascha, our favorite holiday of the year, when liturgy starts at 11pm. That's right, 11pm. And our kids stay awake for it. Mostly. This was the very first year that Zinashi was relaxed enough to fall asleep during the service, a veritable Paschal miracle.

April 2014 3

May

In May, I put in Zinashi's first ever set of yarn twists. It was thrilling for both of us.

May 2014 1

Both kids got ridiculous about having their photo taken, but I kept taking photos.

May 2014 2

And then something big and important happened: we ordered very large cat carriers for each cat. Wait, no, that wasn't the important thing. The important thing was that Jarod was offered a job in London, and he accepted the offer. That's when things really started to get crazy.

May 2014 3

June

In June we began the process of sorting out and packing up what we needed to ship to London. While we were busy, Elvie decided she would help out by dressing herself.

June 2014 1

I doubt she would've been so helpful if she'd known we were angling for one final surgery. Sorry, Elvie. It's the last one for years unless there's some sort of unforeseen emergency. We promise.

June 2014 2

The following Monday, we shipped off all the stuff we could live without, and that Wednesday, I flew to London to find a place for us to live.

June 2014 3

I found a house that would work for us, had some time to myself, and flew home just in time to unpack and repack for a trip back to Kansas City to see all who are near and dear to us there.

June 2014 4

The girls and I went on a road trip to Branson with my parents and a whole gaggle of kids, and Zinashi rode her first grown up roller coaster.

June 2014 5

July

Still in Missouri as the month flipped to July, we worked hard to catch up with as many people as possible and to have as much fun as possible.

July 2014 1

We had so much fun, in fact, that Elvie got her first chipped tooth on our trip. And I think we all know why I say first chipped tooth. The exuberance of Baby Godzilla is not slowed by one uncomfortable incident.

July 2014 2

We returned to San Francisco with just weeks between us and our departure date. We packed up everything that we were taking with us, and waited impatiently on our paperwork to be ready to leave. The cats' paperwork was ready before ours, so we sent them on ahead of us.

July 2014 3

While we waited for our visas to be ready, we visited all the things we would miss about San Francisco.

July 2014 4

And then, finally (yet so soon), it was time to get on the plane and fly off to our new life in London.

July 2014 5

We landed on the very last day of July, exhausted and disheveled (but excited on the inside).

July 2014 6

August

August found us making our way around London, figuring out what it looked like to be residents, not just visitors.

August 2014 1

We got really comfortable in IKEA.

August 2014 2

We fed a lot of squirrels.

August 2014 3

September

With a month under our belts in London and no sign of our things from San Francisco, we became accustomed to life with very little furniture.

August 2014 4

Zinashi played card games with royalty.

September 2014 1

The girls and I went to Paris for a day to see friends.

September 2014 2

And then, our stuff showed up!


September 2014 3

And it started to feel like a lot more like home.

September 2014 4

October

Finally settled, we started our school year in early October.

October 2014 1

Elvie and Brownie refused to be left out and insisted on their own class.

October 2014 2

I put in Zinashi's favorite set of yarn twists yet.

October 2014 3

And my children transformed into an elephant and a flying fox for Halloween.

October 2014 4

November

November ushered in cooler weather, shorter days, and a chance to get cozy.

November 2014 1

But before we got to used to it, we were off to Ethiopia.

November 2014 2

After a couple of days in Addis Ababa, we headed south to visit Zinashi's village. It was her first time back since she left, and the first time for the rest of us to see where she came from. It was a big, amazing, wonderful deal.

November 2014 3

Back in Addis a bit later, we took Elvie to see the people who knew her when she was the tiniest baby that was ever tiny. We were unable to see her family due to some scheduling conflicts and miscommunication, but we will be back. This time, it was good for her to see a little bit of the country she came from.

November 2014 4

We flew back into London on the last day of November, just in time to get really excited about Christmas.

November 2014 5

December

December was all about holiday magic. There was Christmas tree shopping and decorating.

December 2014 1

There were holiday lights everywhere.

December 2014 2

There were fancy Christmas dresses.

December 2014 3

There were reindeer antlers as we made our rounds for extra treats on Christmas Eve.

December 2014 4

And there were homemade treats in the evening, to leave out for Santa in a flurry of excitement and anticipation. Would he like the eggnog we made? We're pretty sure he did.

December 2014 5

And then it was Christmas, and there were presents, and all sorts of good foods, and candy anytime anybody wanted to have some, and even roller skating in the house. It was like magic!

December 2014 6

But the fun didn't stop there! Shortly after Christmas, we went to Canterbury to see where the Black Prince was laid to rest. (Homeschool nerd alert!) We went to evensong at the cathedral and had a hot drink to warm up from our wanderings.

December 2014 7

Before we knew it, it was New Year's Eve, and the sun had set on a most incredible year. We tucked our kids into bed, and they were fast asleep before fireworks outside our windows marked the start of the new year.

December 2014 8

2014 was incomparable. Thanks for being here to share it with us. Happy New Year!
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