We told the kids we're not going to get involved in sports or dance or music or anything extracurricular until the Spring, as we feel we just need time to learn how to do day-to-day life again here as peacefully as possible.
Dave and I both have felt like down time here together is pretty critical right now. The kids are doing GREAT in school, have made good friends, and really love life back in Portland...but they also have *just started* to express less anxiety any time Dave and I have needed to both leave (either for overlapping work schedules or a date), even if it's their aunt babysitting. This tells us they're still needing a little more stability to feel comfortable...their world looks VERY different than it did just six months ago...so we're trying to be extra patient and intentional.
I've meant to hop back on this blog long before now, but haven't made it happen.
I'd like to blame it on being busy, but the truth is I've read four books and watched countless hours of Netflix, so that just can not be true.
I think it's just felt like a whole thing to dig back into our travels and try and organize pictures and remember what to write about...but maybe I'm also a little sad to see it wind down to an end??
This little space of the internet has served as such a journal for me, and writing here has helped me process a lot of things. I think part of me has been delaying wrapping it up over here =).
Or perhaps I'm just lazy.
It really could go either way.
But I don't want so much time to pass that I've forgotten things I'd otherwise love to document, and so a few days ago I dove back in and have been organizing our Amsterdam days, and it's been really fun! I keep saying "Man we had such a great trip!" over and over as I write posts.
Before I wrap up our journey home, and our little "Oregon Tour", I want to write a bit about how the first five months back in America have been.
I don't really know where to begin, so I'm just gonna kinda dive right in...
I can not get enough of the Fall colors.
They are STUNNING to me...
I mean to tell you it has broken me.
We just never had to worry about that at all in Kuwait.
There was a school shooting a few hours away from us in September, and then our kids' school had a "lockdown drill" (where they practice for an active shooter) and one of our kid's LOST THEIR MIND with fear over the whole idea of it.
I watched as my baby sobbed and panicked and said things like "but Momma, if a bad guy comes into the school we're supposed to get down in the classroom and put our hands over our mouths to keep quiet, but Momma you know I can't cry quietly when I'm scared!! I'm afraid the bad guy is gonna find our class because I'm crying too loud but I won't be able to help it!!"
What does one say to their child in response to that?!?
One of my kids, carrying the weight of their classmates lives on their shoulders.
I can not accept this as a new normal.
We are a wealthy and intelligent First World country, and we can do better.
It's been really challenging to wrap my mind around.
Guns just were NOT an issue in Kuwait.
If I'm not careful, I can find myself easily overwhelmed with the things here that we have to "deal with" that we did not over in the Middle East, and forget that we've in fact lived here before.
But. Then...then I'll be volunteering in my kids' class and see how incredibly sweet their teacher is, and how the whole staff is just so supportive of kids feeling comfortable and safe there, and how much time they take caring for the students hearts...and I have to choke back tears because it's SO DIFFERENT from the school last year in Kuwait, where things like one of my coworkers parking all our preschoolers in front of the movie Jurassic Park and telling them if they didn't behave and watch quietly then the dinosaurs were going to come through the TV and attack them.
Yes, that really happened.
And I was powerless in moments like those...I mean, what could I do? I wasn't there to change things, and wouldn't have the chance to even if I'd felt capable.
So I shoved it down, comforted in the quiet, and told myself we were doing the best we could with what was in front of us.
But that kind of thing became harder and harder to witness and then shove down as the months wore on, and knowing we were heading home soon is the only thing that kept me from completely losing it over those situations.
It has just added up, man.
But, how could we have planned to needing to replace so much of our stuff??
Unpacking was a much longer process than I'd foreseen as well. Since our things had all been in storage, e.v.e.r..y.t.h.i.n.g. had to be washed and dried before it could be put away in it's new home.
Also, we had SO MUCH STUFF that we'd forgotten about!
When you've lived away from the majority of your things for two years, I guess it's easy to forget about some of it.
I felt SUPER overwhelmed right up until the unpacking was completed.
I kept lamenting "how do we have so much stuff? Our previous house was only 990 square feet! And people stole a ton of our stuff, too! HOW IS THERE STILL SO MUCH?!?"
We weren't even home two months before I had a speeding ticket.
I'm still in awe in the bigger grocery stores...LOOK AT ALL THE CRACKER OPTIONS! AND THE CEREALS!!! AND!! THE!! WINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Five months in, Dave and I still find places like the doctors office and the DMV delightfully orderly. We both remark, stunned, about road signs just *warning* us about possible traffic disruptions.
If the kids need construction paper, I can go to a myriad of stores within a two mile radius that will have it stocked. I don't have to ask on a expat Facebook page which stores other expats have found construction paper in recently.
I know I just lamented above about how I felt like we had too much STUFF when we unpacked, but I also love having all our things again!! And I LOVE having pictures up on the wall again!
I smile just about every time I come up or down the stairs and see these!
I've already started listening to Christmas music whenever I'm in the car.
I know Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet.
I don't care.
I can celebrate them both, while soaking it alllllll up.
And being back in the States and settled has meant some really fun things!
She's still a little kitty and does things like scratch at my brand new kitchen mat (stupid thieves stole all our mats and rugs) but I don't even care. She's just so sweet and fun, and brings so much happiness to all of us that she can scratch up all the mats she wants...
She's the sweetest.
He's so happy here.
To be clear, he was perfectly fine in Kuwait.
He would have remained perfectly fine had we chosen to renew and stay longer.
But he's just thriving here.
He loves to be outdoors, no matter the weather, and gets cranky with me when I tell him it's too cold or too wet to go outside (which is rare!)...
...he loves that his school does recess outdoors two times a day, rain or shine.
He's usually the first one up in our family, and I find him cuddled up on the couch with a blanket, watching cartoons when I make my way downstairs.
He loves going to school and is ready early every morning.
And Sister is just thrilled to finally have a kitty. As I wrote about above, that cat has been such a source of joy to us. Sister especially. She's waited so long to own a cat of her own, and is just head over heels in love with Astrid...