Friday, September 13, 2019

September Snapshots

It's looking like a nap is out of the question for both Joey and me, since we are having a new dishwasher installed, so I thought I'd jump on here for a bit.
A touch of fall for my mantel. I aim for cozy minimalism.

It's official -- Tim is retiring.
I think it will be good for all of us eventually, but right now it feels very strange and unsettling. We look at real estate listings every day in Tim's parents' town, and we spend about 90 percent of the time sighing about how slim the pickings are; and the other 10 percent obsessing about the perfect house that pops up on the market when it's still too early to put in an offer. We see it come, we click through the slideshow again and again, have his parents walk through it, talk about it some more, watch it get snapped up by someone else, and there it goes... It can be a little maddening. Just for fun, last night Tim showed me this gem that was built in 1972 and remains completely unchanged since that year. Why do the crappy little houses have the best backyards? Because they got there first, and they staked out the best spots. Now people are crowding big, new houses in wherever they will fit. That's my theory. In a few months we will get a realtor, and they are going to love us and our wishlist.
In the meantime, I am just savoring these last months of normalcy before life turns upside down again. It's a recurring theme in my life, I know, but there's something different about this time. I'm really struggling with it, to be honest. I have made myself too much at home here. I love my surroundings and I love the familiarity of it all. I know that ultimately, staying here is not what's best for our family; we'll all be happier closer to extended family. I also know that change would be on the horizon, even if Tim weren't retiring. We'd be getting orders this summer, so staying put would not be an option. It just feels like there's a stubborn little kid who lives inside me who can't accept this. So I try not to think about it, and then Tim gets annoyed at me for not wanting to talk about it because it's all he can think about. Can't I live in denial for a little while longer? Can I just read a book and ignore reality? 😂 Keep me in your prayers.

The kids are settled into school, with only the minor disruption of Hurricane Dorian. Delaney's in 7th grade, Annie's in 5th and Timmy's in 3rd. Joey's doing Tuesday and Thursday morning preschool again. 
Joey has a lot to say when we pick him up from school. Tim picked him up the first day. He's had some leave to burn this month, so he gets to do nice things like that. He told me that Joey told him that Charlotte was the snack helper. Tim then asked him if she was his friend and he said, "No, I don't like girls." Tim reminded him that his sisters are girls, to which he replied, "But she was hugging me and I didn't want her to!"

That's all I have to say for now. I think of stuff to blog about all the time, but when I sit down to do it, the words won't come. The dishwasher installer left a little bit ago, so I'll see what I can get done around the house before the kids come home. I'll leave you with some random snapshots of every day life. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Summer Massachusetts Trip

Early this month, we made our annual trek to New England to see Tim's side of the family. The next time we make that trip, it will be to live there. Oh, did I forget to mention, we pulled another 180 and Tim's retiring from the Marine Corps next summer? We are crazy, I know. He's submitted his paperwork, so it's official, and we are not changing our minds again. Maybe I'll have Tim write another post about that.:)

The girls had already been there for about a couple weeks, being spoiled rotten, so maybe they were a little bit happy to see us when we arrived.
Here is where I reveal myself to be the overgrown 10-year-old I really am. Due to conflicting commitments, Tim and I missed most of the day at the water slide park, and it made me sad because I had really been looking forward to riding down the slides with Joey on my lap and spending the day at the lake with everybody. We had a really nice time at a get-together with good friends on a special day for them, but at the same time I was living vicariously through the kids when my sisters-in-law texted photos. We live such a slow and uneventful life here in North Carolina, and I am not used to having to choose between activities. I want to do it all! I can not believe Joey even got up the nerve to go on the "baby slide" in the video. I couldn't get him to jump into four feet of water at the Y pool.

Delaney and Annie spent the night at Kathy and Brett's camper on another lake, and Kathy sent me a great picture. I think lakes, for the most part, will end up being our new beach once we move there. But when we're in the mood for it, the ocean is just a couple hours away.
On Tuesday, the whole family went out to celebrate Tim and Carolyn's 50th anniversary. We went to Indian Ranch in Webster, and Tim's sisters had a friend snap some family photos before dinner.
Alexa (15), Sam, and Juliana (16)
Sofia (15), Natalie (10), Kathy and Brett
You know who we are. The captions are for my folks who don't necessarily remember who's who.:)
Karen and Matt
Joey smiled!!
At dinner, we reminisced and shared a lot of (loud) laughs. In the video below, Tim Sr. shared the secret for staying married 50 years. It's amazing to think that the two of them started out in 1969, at the ages of 20 and 24 (is that even considered adulthood to most people anymore?), with almost nothing. They got through some tough times -- money was tight, babies were sick. The first decade of marriage alone must have seemed like a huge feat. They could have congratulated themselves on a job well done many years ago, but the two of them are NEVER done being there for their children and grandchildren.
We stayed busy the rest of the week. When there was downtime, Tim and I drove up and down the streets of Grafton, discussing the possibilities for where we will put down roots. We went to a Red Sox game courtesy of the USO, and it was a lot of fun even for someone like me who's not into baseball or, really, into any sports. There's just something about being there in person. There was a kids vs. adults softball game in the backyard one day. Tim took Delaney one morning to have breakfast with her Parris Island bestie, Norah, and her dad. We swam and had dinner at Kathy and Brett's one night, and then the last night we were there, we had dinner and roasted s'mores at Karen and Matt's new house (which I love!).
All in all, a wonderful trip -- many great memories. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Summer Cincinnati trip

On the last day in Topsail, I thought it was goodbye to my parents and siblings for six months; but a couple weeks later Tim and I talked about it, and made a spur-of-the-moment (for us, anyway!) decision to book a trip for the boys and me to Cincinnati in July. The girls were already headed to Massachusetts for the rest of July and first part of August. I looked forward to seeing everybody this time, including Anna and Sophie and their newest babies.
Screened-in porch goals
Boy cousin heaven!
The timing of our arrival was perfect, as it was the tail end of that dreadful heat wave that had a huge swath of the country sweltering. For the rest of our week there, we enjoyed pleasant summer temps, and Mom and Dad even turned the air-conditioning off a couple times. We went to the zoo on Tuesday morning, along with apparently everyone else in a 15-mile radius, but that was OK. The kids were well-behaved and we didn't lose anyone.
We all wanted more time to stop and smell the flowers, but the crowds pushed us on.
Grace's Elise just turned four.
L-R: Taj, Grace with Elise, me, Joe, Timmy, Rosie in the stroller with Evie, John-Paul, Miles, Anna and Lizzie
This is David, Sophie's littlest. He's 5 months. He was OK with being on my lap as long as he didn't have to look at me.
On Thursday, we spent the morning at the Cincinnati Nature Center with Anna and her kids.
Anna with her youngest, Evangeline or "Evie" with a short 'e'
He's 8!!
Georgie was very tolerant of Timmy and Joe.
We all went over to Scotty's house Friday afternoon. He's very busy with work, so it was the only time we could see him. 
Anna lives right around the corner from Mom and Dad. Her (older) kids are always running back and forth, and so was Timmy all week long. There are some boys who live on the same block, and one of them was connecting a wagon to a riding lawn mower, and giving rides. Mom said, "Only in Newtown." On Timmy's birthday, I drove the quarter mile to United Dairy Farmers (UDF) for a couple gallons of ice cream, and as I was driving in, a little boy was riding his bike out of the parking lot. With no helmet.* It made me super nervous, actually, and then I chuckled at myself for being such a ninny. I felt like I'd jumped in a time machine back to 1985 the whole time I was there. Either that or a Norman Rockwell painting. Contrast that with this little snapshot of life in our little golf course community, shared a few months ago in the neighborhood email: 

To the female neighbor in the black Escalade who stopped to ask my children if they knew my husband and I. Thank you. 

Our kids (8 and 10) wanted to walk home from dinner at the club. We allowed them to, but drove slowly to make sure they made it. We were in the other black Escalade. You stopped and asked our kids if they knew us. They confirmed they did. 

We tried to speed up and let you know that we are their parents. My husband is a deputy and he was driving my car. 

We appreciate your concern and are glad we have neighbors like you. 

That sums it up. Beautiful houses, extra-wide sidewalks and well-manicured lawns with nary a child to be seen, except under close guard. We encourage our big kids to ride bikes to the Dunkin Donuts at the entrance to the neighborhood, and then I hold my breath the whole time they're gone -- not because I'm worried about them being run over or kidnapped -- but because someone will be "concerned" and feel the need to do something about it. We usually see our neighbors only as their car disappears into the garage. Timmy long ago gave up knocking on doors looking for another boy who wants to play with him. It is a lovely place to live, but in some ways I am happy we'll only be calling it home for another 11 months.
The highlight of Joe's whole week might have been riding to Mass in Papaw's Mustang. Joe is crazy about Mustangs.
Then it was goodbye again until Christmas. That feels like a long way away, but with the way time's been flying (hurtling, more like), I know it will be here before we know it.

Another thing I wanted to mention was that flying was way easier this time, because I didn't bring a car seat for the plane, along with that silly caddy I used last time to pull it along. Instead I dug up our old Maclaren umbrella stroller, which Tim scoffed at. He couldn't believe I wanted to bring that old thing, but it kind of saved my life. During our layover in Charlotte, it allowed me to cover a lot of ground quickly. I was able to get us from the "E" terminal to the USO lounge (a considerable distance), and back again, without having to worry about the time. Gate checking it and retrieving it after the flight was no problem. It always feels like we walk a mile at the Cincinnati airport, but it was no sweat with Joe in the stroller. The stroller also proved its usefulness at the zoo, where Joe would hop in while we walked the hilly terrain from one exhibit to another, then get out to look at the animals. 

*For the record, I think that kid should have had a helmet on, especially during rush hour!