Monday, July 28, 2014

A Departure Date, Finally

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We sent our cats off on their flights last Wednesday, thinking we wouldn't be too far behind them. We had Priority Service for our visas, after all. It was to take just five business days to process them! But that didn't happen, and Friday we noted the end of the British Consulate business day and double checked the tracking numbers for our package, then knew that we wouldn't know anything more over the weekend. We wouldn't be taking our flight this evening.

It was a tough weekend for me. Maybe for all of us, though I can only speak for myself and relay that Zinashi asked about our cats several times, her brow creased with concern. We did fun things and hung out with fun people that we will miss, but it didn't budge the cloud of anxiety from above my head. Two days isn't long, except if you're hoping for news of the life-changing variety.

We found out this morning that the visas were processed, and shortly afterwards we received the shipping confirmation. Last time I checked, our visas (along with most of our precious documents that we sent as supporting evidence) were in Memphis. They will be here in the morning, and we will fly Wednesday evening. Our cats will have been alone exactly one week*. I've already ordered a radiator bed and a package of those horrible fur mice to make it up to them.

I know the flight will be no picnic, or at least the part where we have to deal with luggage and exhausted children won't be, but I also cannot wait to get going, to get there, to begin to get settled, to build our life. I know that life holds no guarantees, no matter how pure one's intentions, but I think this is going to be good.



*Because of the way paperwork must be done for pets to be admitted to the UK, delaying the cats' departure for an unknown period of time would have presented all sorts of complications. We decided to go ahead and send them, and they were settled into our new home with the help of a transport service and a representative from the relocation company that helped us find our place. I am forever grateful for the kindness of everyone as we've navigated this unexpected delay.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Conquering Delay

Sometimes when things do not go as planned, I wonder what is happening behind the scenes. What little thing must be done that it is undone? Waiting is never for nothing. I have waited enough times now to know that.

On my desktop computer, I have posted favorite quotes on little bits of colored note paper. On the far left is the simplest. It reads: Cunctando regitur mundus. In the book in which I first saw this Latin quote, it says that this means, "Waiting, one conquers all." When I google the translation, however, it says, "The world is ruled by delay." This seems terribly appropriate to our current situation.

The process of moving our family to London is starting to feel a lot like Elvie's adoption process. So many fits and starts, while at the same time, things are happening so fast. I keep reminding myself that I am familiar with this feeling, that I know this particular drill. I have done it before. It all turns out okay in the end.

Better than okay, actually.

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This? Right here? Definitely better than okay.

But in the meantime, there was a flight that we were meant to take tonight that we are not on due to paperwork complications with our UK visas. There are numbers that we call and get nowhere. There is plenty of worry, which really doesn't help anything.

Also in the meantime, there is simply more time. This part is a gift. We have a few more days to sort through all our things, to say good-bye to this city and to our friends here. We can send our cats off on their flight ourselves* and finish up some small things that need to be attended to in our current apartment. Time spent waiting is often a gift, but I too often forget to see it that way. I'm trying not to forget right now.

We are hoping against all hope to leave on Monday. I don't know if this will happen or not, but I am hopeful.

I am doing my best, always, to be hopeful.


*The cats will be received by a representative from the relocation company we used. They will get to start living in our new house before we will, the lucky ducks. Er, cats.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Timing is Everything

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I won't deny that it was quite a feat to depart for a two week trip halfway across the country shortly after I'd returned from my housing search* in London. But it started out well enough, even though Jarod was on a different flight than the children and me**, even though the San Diego airport is arranged in such a way that I had to exit the gate area we arrived in and go through security to a second gate area to get to our second flight. (Can we just pause here and agree that were Dante writing his Inferno now, one of the circles of hell would involve taking children through security by yourself?) There were some hiccups, but nothing that is worthy of whining about publicly.

I am so glad that we had already planned this trip before we knew we would be moving, because it gave us a chance to say good-bye, and also to invite people to either move to London to be our neighbors or to at least come stay with us for a bit. We intend to be back to the Midwest annually, but still - London is a touch farther away than San Francisco. We also had some important family events to attend, and it was just good to already have the trip in place when we found out that we would be moving. I'm not sure we would have stayed as long had we planned it after we knew of the move, and it was good to have two weeks with family and friends.

However.

(You saw that coming, right?)

I think we may have stayed a day too long.

photo-2
Notice anything different? Or...partially missing?

On Wednesday night, Elvie fell face first into the leg of a folding chair, cutting her lips and chipping a tooth.

On Thursday morning, just hours before we were due to depart, Zinashi woke up with her lip swollen enormously and the rest of her face joining in for the party. (You'll have to use your imagination, because I haven't asked Zinashi's permission to post a photo anywhere other than on Instagram.) It was misery.

But Elvie's tooth didn't have nerve exposed, so we could leave it until we could get to her home dentist. A little Benadryl reduced Zinashi's swelling enough that we felt comfortable taking her on the plane. So we got on our flights, and we made it home, and then we felt like this:

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Fierce! RAWR.

We got to the dentist to get Elvie's tooth smoothed and sealed on Friday, and Zinashi's swelling went down completely with some rest. Thank goodness, because we have a lot to do. I keep telling the children to be careful, because I don't have time for any more emergencies. No emergencies, do you hear me, children? NONE!

I may be absent from this space until after the move is complete, and even if I do show up, I might not make much sense. We have to get our visas expedited and get on a plane (hopefully) on July 23rd. It's going to take a lot of work to get everything done. We will do it, but I think we'll be getting on that plane by the skin of our (chipped) teeth.

Feel free to wish us luck. We will most certainly need it.



*Also known on Instagram as "my solo vacation." I really need to write more about how refreshing and rejuvenating this was, despite the fact that I had a lot to accomplish in my time there.

**Insert long explanation about credit on an airline that doesn't fly to the Midwest, but does fly to a family member's home city. Were we not spending all our money moving to London, we would have taken flights together, but London is more important than me not having to take the children through security by myself.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Two Years of Happy Luck

two years ago

Today, we celebrated two years of Elvie being part of our family. The celebration wasn't as big as we'd normally have - usually the honored child gets to choose what to do all day long - but we took a moment nevertheless to reflect on our good fortune in having Elvie as daughter and sister in our family. There was pie, and presents, and then a toddler that did not want to go to bed.

For these past two years, we have borne witness to the miracles that follow a girl who was born with a determined spirit and a joy unmatched by anyone else we know. To say that it is a privilege to be called her family is an understatement. These two years have been incredible. We are blessed and lucky, and our joy runs deep.

Thanks, Elvie, for being willing to be ours. We hope we make you as happy as you have made us.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Layers of Loss, Layers of Gain

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I have been in London now for four days, and in the morning, I'll head for the airport to come home, or to where home currently is, anyway. I have been here looking for our future home, and suddenly the magnitude of this move is real to me. I am seeing where we are coming. I am noting what we are gaining, but also what we are losing. I was feeling so strange today, not quite myself, and it hit me: what I am feeling is grief. As much as we have wanted this move - as much as we have worked for it and hoped for it and done everything we can to make it happen - it still brings with it a lot of change, and a lot of loss. So very much loss.

We are leaving behind friends. We are leaving behind a house we've loved. We are leaving behind being in the same country as family. We are leaving behind familiar currency, all our electrical appliances, even meanings of certain words. It is a big deal. A huge deal. It is not nothing, losing these things. It is everything, really. In many ways, we are starting over.

It is a big risk to take on. It's not like it's irreversible, but it's not so easily changed. We can't just go, "Meh, nevermind," if we don't end up liking it as well as we thought we would. We are laying a lot on the line for this move, and it's not just Jarod and me who are doing it. We are bringing our children along with us. The risk is theirs, too, and I feel this particularly keenly in Zinashi's case, knowing that this is one more move for her, one more unknown, one more gigantic uncertainty. I feel so sorry about this part of it, about the hard part that will come as we say goodbye and as we get settled in the beginning. I wish the loss weren't part of it. I wish we could just erase the loss, bring all those familiarities with us, have the best of both countries.

But we can't. We have to choose, to embrace this risk and open our arms wide to the possibility that maybe, hopefully, all this will be worth it.

There is so much here that we will gain. I see so many more faces in varying shades of brown everywhere here. In the neighborhood where we hope to live, I saw more brown faces than peach ones, and I dared to hope that maybe we could finally do this part right, move into a neighborhood that would better reflect our family makeup. Out and about, I notice the women especially, dressed in clothing reflecting their culture, and to me, this is what London is about for us. Closer not just to Ethiopia, but closer every day to people who are from everywhere. We will be immigrants here, too. We will build our lives anew, too.

Tomorrow I am hoping to get a call telling me if any of the offers we made on rental houses were accepted. If one was, then we will pay a large sum, and we will sign papers that say that we intend to be here for the long term. It will be too late to turn back, at least without significant financial loss. That feels exciting, but it feels scary, too.

Until I came here, I didn't have much room for the grief part of this process. But I see now that in order for this new thing to truly be good, I have to recognize the good of what we're leaving behind, and give the grief of losing that its own space. We will gain a lot, but we will lose a lot.

And that? Well, it's hard, but I think it's okay, too.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Double Giveaway WINNER! Handmade Cards and Essential Oil

I think I may have said that I would draw the winner of the giveaway and announce it over the weekend. I may also have been deluded, thinking that I had forty-eight hours in each day instead of just twenty-four. Well, whatever. We have drawn a winner, hurriedly, so I can announce before I leave for London to conduct a home search*. Let's just get right down to business, shall we?

Lucky for me, Zinashi was wearing a hat already.

Mess in the background compliments of Baby Godzilla.

I made her take it off, of course, and filled it with little slips of paper, then told her to choose one.

One reason we did not draw the winner over the weekend is that we were
busy creating fabulous new yarn twists to last for the move.

And then, there was a winner! Hooray for winners!


Kellie Kutter, congratulations! Please use the email link in the right sidebar to send me your address so I can get the lavender oil out to you ASAP and pass your information on to Kristen for your cards.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and apologies that you can't all win. There will be one more giveaway in a couple of weeks, and it will be a double giveaway as well. You'll have another chance to be a winner! Hooray!



*I cannot believe that I am flying to London by myself tomorrow. I have never been away from Elvie for more than a day, and I've only been away from Zinashi those few days I came to San Francisco to find our place here. I'm going to do my best to silence my worries about how everyone is handling me being gone and truly enjoy my time away. Introverts gotta introvert, and also eat banoffee pie without explaining why they're not sharing.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Elvie's Surgery: Still the Best Patient Ever

I meant to update you via blog last night, and I didn't get to it. Apologies. I'll just get right to the good news: surgery went great, and recovery has been fast. Here are a few pictures, and I'll sum up along the way.

Here she is before surgery, when we were waiting to go upstairs to the OR. Despite being denied her usual "pancake chocolate" and water, she was in a shockingly good mood. I mean, we shouldn't be shocked at all anymore, but still. It is surprising to me, as a person who regularly experiences the sensation of being hangry, that my stubborn little girl can go without food and still be enjoying herself.

before surgery

When I walked her into the OR, I whispered in her ear about how well she was going to do, and how much chocolate she was going to get to eat once she was all done. I guess my pep talk worked, because three hours later, she looked pretty peaceful as she started to wake up. It was like her normal sleep, but with a little extra oxygen action.

right after surgery

She was groggy, but she never got upset and combative like she has in the past. She didn't even seem to notice the pulse ox on her thumb. I was all, "Wait, what? Did they bring the wrong toddler back out to me?" But no, she was just doing a really, really good job waking up and starting to recover. By nighttime, she was sitting up, eating sweet potato fries and cookies, and sometimes laughing at jokes. She only needed oral ibuprofen for pain relief, and she was on IV fluids for the shortest amount of time yet. Once she was drinking on her own, she didn't need the IV anymore for anything. Sweet freedom.

And then 24 hours after she emerged from surgery? She was waiting impatiently to pull her suitcase out of her room and out to the N. Elvie has no patience for liability issues. She can find her own way out of the hospital, thank you very much. It's not like she hasn't blown that popsicle stand about a thousand times before.

24 hours later

Now she's at home, and she hasn't been in much pain at all. We gave her some pain medication at bedtime, because that's when she seems to notice the pain the most, but I'm not sure it was entirely necessary. She rocked this one, even better than ever before.

Well done, Elvie.

Well done.
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