A Moving Update on Life Lately, The Perfect Storm of Growth or Why I keep having to deal with the same BS…

See what I did there with the “moving update” (since we’re moving? Not?  Erhem ok.) So last night I wrote this super boring whiny post and then I wisely refrained from hitting publish.  I was really tired you see, and overwhelmed and just…tired and suddenly everything was So Irritating and Unfair and Maddening and a number of other whiny things..and ugh.

This morning when I got back from my early morning soccer practice pick ups (oh yes, you read that right…now soccer is getting me up early every single morning of summer), I decided to succumb to the fact that I felt physically ill with exhaustion and so, instead of tackling the chaos of my home for 12 solid hours which has been my routine of late, I lay down with this song going through my mind and I took a nap. And lo and behold, upon waking everything is suddenly ok.  Not awesome, still irritating and unfair and just as much out of my control as it ever was. But with the addition of a little bit of rest I have a bit more of a grasp on the fact that what you can’t control is not worth obsessing over.

I’m kind of in the Perfect Storm of Growth Opportunities right now. (If we’re going to be a Pollyanna about it) or what could otherwise be referred to as I Hate Everything.

In addition to the glorious fun of packing up a house and having a garage sale and arranging for an international move and trying to find a job and get my kids into schools and ship my dog (which will cost more than shipping my family and my goods) and get my house on the market, we’ve been dealing with a Large and Pervasive Issue that’s been a long and ongoing one. The problem is that pretty much everything else hinges on this Issue being resolved.  And just when we think it’s about to be resolved, it’s not, instead it’s just added to in a freshly outrageously annoying way. Over and over again this happens. Over and Over afreakinggain.  And that’s getting old.  Whatever, it got old about 8 months ago.  Now it’s just…All The Swear Words.

The better part of me understands that this is for our learning and growth and even has a bit of an inkling of what I am to learn from this but the immature, willful, indignantly pissed off part of me has dug in it’s two year old tantrum heels and has decided that I will.not.learn.from.this because it’s a stupid thing that shouldn’t be happening at all and it’s unfair not my fault, it’s the fault of other people, and I’ve done enough  just by letting everyone live.

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So I’ve spent a lot of time and energy assigning blame and being outraged and tallying up the total of the damages. And every day I get more tired and more bitter and more angry and yeah…it’s totally making a positive difference in my life and those around me. As one may imagine.
Do you notice patterns in your life? Or is it just me? That you keep having Issues in the same themes (or is that just me, the slow and stubborn learner?) And that your problems seem to occur in just the areas that are the hardest for you? Again, the better part of me recognizes the themes and says, “gee ya think you might want to work on that so we can move on to  new things?” and the 2 year old tantrum part does that whole noodle legged,  heavy body flopping around thing and screams, “what the freaking HELL??! Why do I KEEP HAVING TO DEAL WITH THIS BS??!!! Seriously? SERIOUSLY??” 

And thus, naturally, I keep having to deal with this BS.  Because God loves His kids. Even the really stupid, stubborn ones who go all floppy legged and flailing body whenever things don’t go their way. And unlike this imperfect parent, He will see it through with us until we figure it out. He doesn’t give in and say, “ok fine you little BRAT” and pick us up off the floor and carry us to where we need to be.  I imagine him gazing at me sorrowfully though and saying, “oh you poor thing, you must be getting so tired of all that tantruming! I so wish you could just calm down and do this my way so we could all move on to new things. It really would be so much simpler. Honestly it’s painful to watch you go through all this turmoil.”

See I know all this. But alas, more often than not my 2 year is in the driver’s seat. And then there are other times when I would dearly like to succumb and be zen and trusting and faithful but I almost feel like that would be cheating and irresponsible and that obsessing and getting mad is my way of contributing to a swift and successful resolution.  I know that doesn’t make sense and it’s not rational and that I’m just contributing to the general stress and unhappiness rather than the solution but it’s my way of Doing Something.  I have issues with Not Being Able To Do Anything.  (AKA I’m a Control Freak). Surprise!

In other news, the last couple of weeks has been about paring down ie: getting rid of our mountains of crap. We had an epic garage sale a week ago and because we got rid of so much stuff I had grand visions of going back into my house on Saturday night and skipping around in the emptiness, hearing my happy songs echoing off of the bare walls.  Reality has been a bit different. I have spent the last week literally digging out of the utter chaos left of my home. It. Is. Such. A. Mess.  And every time I create order in one room, it destroys another room.  I feel exactly like this squirrel. All earnest, feverish, ultimately ineffective activity,  and then defeated. just vaguely walking away and mindlessly eating something .

All.Day.Long. It might be adding to the sense of Frustration and Impotence just slightly.
Why all the mess? Well we sold a lot of furniture which was storing our stuff which we didn’t sell either because either it wasn’t stuff we wanted to sell or because we had SO much other stuff to sell that there just wasn’t room.

So all week I’ve been sifting through the remains of Garage Sale Day and concurrently packing the stuff that we want to keep but don’t want out when we stage the house for sale.  This means that the attic which I got gloriously emptied out for the garage sale is now filled right back up with photos and framed pictures, special occasions plates and dishes etc etc.  Happily it’s all a lot more orderly up there now. Our precious crap is safely entombed in plastic tubs and totes. (I swear we’ve spent most of the proceeds of our garage sale on buying those damn tubs).

We are trying to get to the point that we have only the stuff in the main levels of the house that we really need to use every day until we move.  And it has struck me more than once that it’s a special kind of stupid that we have all the other stuff. Why do we have all the other stuff? Let’s get rid of all that stuff! I have been letting go a lot of that stuff actually. It has been very good for me in overcoming my sentimental hoarding tendencies.  We still have too much stuff, I have a long way to go but I am about 10,000% better than I was just a couple of weeks ago.  I mean really, I must give myself props for progress in at least this area of my life.  It all counts, right? Anyway every day since Sunday I wake up and think, “today is the day! Today is the day that we get our house back and everything is clean and serene and wonderful!
And every night after a day full of the squirrel Bernese Mountain Dog Routine on an endless loop, I go to bed feeling like this:
You have no idea how accurate that second montage is. The kids are loving me so much right now.
Finally, those of you who read/know me and my liberal leanings may be wondering where I stand on stuff in the news regarding my church lately. I have so many feelings. In fact this is a major component of my Perfect Storm lately but none that I feel right about attempting to articulate in too much detail at just this juncture. Please know this, though. I believe with my whole heart in a wise, infinitely kind and loving Godhead and I believe that we have each been given minds, intellects and the spirit of questioning and reasoning of our own for a reason and as part of a specific divine mission.

I believe that we each have a set of talent and skills and strengths for the purpose of helping and uplifting one another.  I for one am grateful beyond words to those who have the courage and kindness to speak out on issues that may be considered by some to be taboo but which affect so many of us.  They have strengthened and comforted me and helped me to understand the nature of God and His love for me in a way that I could not before. They have only strengthened my faith and helped me to reconcile with things where I otherwise might have continued to feel very misunderstood and alone.

I feel that honestly expressing deeply held feelings, sharing experiences and yes, publicly seeking answers to questions is a great service to others who have those same questions, feelings or experiences.  An inestimable gift to those who otherwise may be feeling isolated, alone and marginalized.  I believe that when we do this we are doing what we have been specifically commanded by Christ to do.  I honestly believe that we ease each other’s burdens when we share the  load. I believe that nobody asking questions with pure intent either privately or publicly should be punished or shunned or turned away. I believe that ultimately each person has the ability and responsibility to decide for themselves what is true and right for them.

Mostly I believe that each of us is on a unique and personal journey which is worthy and difficult and I believe that we are always better served when we ditch the judgment and bring the love. As for the rest, this guy says it best. I love him a lot.

Sending much love to anyone out there who is feeling frightened, misunderstood and alone for any reason. You aren’t you know. xoxox

The Circle of Life and All The Feelings

So it’s the first of June and what better time for a recap on Life Lately while I’m feeling like the month is all fresh and new and untouched and lovely. I’m such a sucker for Fresh New Start.
Speaking of fresh new start…plans for Into Africa (wait..is the reference to Out of Africa here obvious enough because without that it’s a pretty bizarre way of referring to this whole thing so I just wanted to make sure?…)
Ok where was I, yes, plans are progressing ie: no that wasn’t just my hormones/general disgust at the weather/general instability talking…we’re still very much planning on this Doing This Thing.
I have this notebook. It’s very nice. I bought it the day I wrote this post. I thought the sentiment on the outside was appropriate and when I found the elephants inside it was a no brainer.  Anyway that day I got all organized and divided that notebook up into different parts so that I could keep notes on everything revolving around this adventure in one place.  Yes, I know that’s what an iPhone is for but I’m a pen and paper kind of girl and I love the feeling of checking things off..in ink.
So I reviewed it today and out of approximately 750 major things that need to be done to make this move happen…I was able to check off 3. So I’d say we are coming along really nicely considering the fact that we are planning to leave in approximately 62 days.  That’s  12 major things to accomplish a day…right on track.
Here are some things I am learning about preparing one’s house to sell.
1. It is super expensive.  Everything that you didn’t notice or lived with for the last decade is suddenly a glaring liability and hideous flaw in the matter of Getting The House Sold Quickly And  For  A Decent Price.  And fixing all those things costs money. So much more than you would imagine. (Which is why you have lived with those things for the last decade).
2. It is one big gamble. If you invest in anything you have no idea whether or not you will make that money back with interest,  or if you just fixed up the stuff that has bugged you for 10 years and then paid someone to take what is now your dream home off of your hands…Oh that I had a crystal ball and could figure out which things will pay off (if any).
3. Hiring people to do work on a house is almost as hard as persuading people to do it for free. Actually it might be harder.   It is the weirdest thing!  If you can get the person to a) call you back b)show up to do a quote c)actually give you the quote. You then have to d) inveigle them to give you a general ballpark time in which they might deign to do the work for you. Then they may or may not show up to do that work (we have only reached step d with  couple of the several contractors we have contacted so I’m going on the sad experience of others who say that when they actually do show up they only show up for a day or two at a time and then they just leave and come back whenever they feel like to finish things off.) CONTRACT PEOPLE!! What the actual HELL is that all about??!  I do not understand this! If there is anything that people want done well and quickly the first time (apart from dental work) I would have to say it would be you know..getting a roof put over one’s head or a functional kitchen/bathroom … I can’t imagine how people stay in business with this weirdo work ethic.  It’s bonkers.   I am hoping that this will not be the case for us and that I will have only glowing reports of work done in a timely and efficient manner but….we will shall see. Given the struggle it has been to get to d) I do not hold my breath.
4. It’s a ton of work. And we’ve not even halfway BEGUN the process.  I’m pretty much constantly engaged in some sort of  “getting the house ready to sell” endeavour and once again I don’t feel like we’ve even scratched the surface of the project.  I’m not just saying this to sell it but it really is going to be seriously the CUTEST HOUSE EVER when we are done with it and I’m already jealous of theoretical new owners and a tad bitter that we didn’t have the means to do all this when we could have stuck around to enjoy it. Oh well! Bygones.  (There’s always the possibility that the house will not sell and my husband will not find a job in SA and we will be back?)
5. All first world grousing aside, it’s going to be hard to leave this little house much as it had its little quirks like pink counter tops and the much hated little bathroom…and much as it gave me fits trying to stuff 5 growing kids and all their crap into it, this house sang to my soul the first moment I stepped over the threshold. I always say it gave me a hug and I was helpless to resist it after that. I knew we had to have it.  I could feel the good spirit in its lovely old bones. It is a happy house, filled with over 100 years of memories of families being raised here.  It is the first house we have ever owned. It’s where we raised our kids.
And now for some of the many many Feelings I’ve encountered over the last month or so regarding Moving In General
1.Excitement-there are so many things I am thrilled for. I can’t wait to see my family again, I can’t wait to show my children so many things, I think of at least 100 things a day I just can’t wait to experience or for my kids to experience.

2. Paralyzing inertia from contemplating all that needed to be done. Like there were a couple of days when I just said, “screw it” and I literally threw up my hands in despair at it all…and did nothing and figured it would just have to magically happen or we weren’t going.  I think I just needed a break because the next day I woke up and suddenly everything was somewhat feasible again. Sometimes you just need a break.  Nuff said.
3. Guilt-my kids are mostly very happy here. They have lovely friends. One of them has really struggled with the idea of moving (although seems to be coming around). We have lovely friends. The idea of leaving our friends and causing them or their kids sadness makes me feel so bad. That sounds so arrogant I know as if we are so irreplaceable and I don’t feel that way, but I do feel as if  I’m blithely abandoning people here who have been so good to us and I hate that it might seem that way. I also hate the fact that my kids will be leaving friends who have become almost as close as siblings over the years. That is no small thing. On the other hand, all these years I have felt guilt for the fact that they have no extended family in their daily lives. Being a mom=Perpetual Guilt No Matter What.   C’est La Vie.
Took this pic of Finny and his friend Thompson on his birthday on May 5th. They have grown up together, they play together in the park between our two houses almost every day. Today Finny read me this epic essay he wrote at the beginning of the school year on why Thompson is such an awesome friend. This picture makes my heart explode with joy and sadness.
4. Sadness-*see Guilt above.
5. Joy-*see Excitement above
6. Worry –well duh.
7. Confidence strangely enough for someone who is prone to freaking out about pretty much everything, I do feel an increased sense of confidence as D day approaches. (*See Evening of Emotion described below)
8. Disconnection/loneliness. It’s a weird thing when you know you are leaving a place and others are making plans for the future here without you. It makes it hard to feel a sense of connection.  Everything suddenly looks and feels a little bit different. The familiar suddenly feels slightly foreign. It’s not quite yours anymore. You are an interloper…you don’t quite belong.  I almost have the sense that I don’t have the right to be taking up space here in a place where people are contributing to its future and I’m ditching. It’s weird and a little bit lonely.

So there you have it. May was a MONTH. There was the physical pain and misery of the tooth. (So much better now! Hooray!)  And then there was the emotional rollercoaster described in 1-8. It was May-hem at it’s finest.

One evening which encapsulated every emotion in the space of one hour happened when we attended the boy’s last orchestra concert a couple of weeks ago. The orchestra is far and away my favourite thing about the schools here.  Their teacher has created an amazing program and watching my children perform with an orchestra has been nothing short of magical for me. I was so anticipating and dreading this evening. I am a disaster just watching the last concert every May because it is the senior’s last performance. And they aren’t even my kids! But now they were! And I was ripping them from the bosom of this awesomeness.  I was afraid that it would be emotionally devastating to have to truly face the idea of THIS IS IT. We are leaving! I am taking them away from all this…they will never play with this lovely orchestra with their lovely friends again…..all these thoughts set to highly emotive  music, music performed by my very own beautiful tuxedo clad offspring (who were JUST BORN by the way). Too much, too much.  And I didn’t know the HALF of it.
benjorch gabeorch
The picture of Benj above was the crowning emotional moment at the end of the Evening of Emotion.  I told him I really wanted a picture of him in his tuxedo (they put it on at school before they come on stage and leave in regular clothing so other than on stage I never have a chance to see/photograph him in it.) Anyway, Benj declared that this would NEVER happen as he cannot fathom anything more mortifying than posing for a picture in public for his mother. I resigned myself to the fact that it would never happen. At the end of the concert. Benj (who usually stoically pretends that we do not exist in these situations) caught my teary eye on the way off of the stage. He broke away from his group, turned around, came down the stairs off of the stage and stood to allow me to take this picture. I was so stunned that I barely managed to grab it before he came to his senses and departed... (the first shot was actually blurry, this one was taken as he was leaving)

It turned out that Benj’s orchestra group and Gabe’s orchestra group combined for a few numbers. This alone was emotionally fraught. My two babies. Performing together on a stage.  Making gorgeous music. Ahhh all the FEELINGS! Also…one sits on one side of the stage and the other…all the way on the other. Where to point my phone for recording purposes?? Where!? (the recordings will make you seasick to watch).

Ok but wait…WAIIIIIIIIIT. Guess what they performed together? No GUESS. Ok I can’t stand the wait..I’m going to tell you. Music from the Lion King.  The LIOOOON KING.  Back-story: first date with Aaron was to see the Lion King. We were both desperately homesick for South Africa/Swaziland.  We actually decided to get married on that very same first date.  We had a whole “Lion King” theme at our wedding.  (I know…we were really young, ok).   This concert was held just a couple of days before our 19th wedding anniversary to make things extra sentimental. 
*Here we are on said 19th anniversary

So to recap the emotional trauma:  Our two oldest kids played “our” song, the song we had our first dance to just days before our wedding anniversary, at their final orchestra performance.
To be honest the the number that made me the most verklempt was The Circle of Life because really and truly…was there ever a more circle of life moment than this one? 19 years later, watching our kids playing the music that defined our courtship, preparing to take them back to the place that brought us together. Oh em gee. It was too much.

It was like this silly twitterpated little couple:
had become these ridiculously proud parents in this bewilderingly blindingly quick blink of an eye. 
We really did keep glancing at each other in just that way like..wow, can you believe this? We are all grown up! Those are our kids playing our song! I guess we are old now! And it’s strangely awesome!

But surprisingly enough even though this was to be the last time our kids would perform with this amazing orchestra surrounded by their childhood friends as we sat in the audience beside our friends who had been on this journey with us for the last decade… the overriding feeling was not sadness. Although it was certainly there. Sadness, nostalgia, general sentimentality. But also peace and joy and excitement to be moving forward with the circle. I do feel like we are on the right track and as truly difficult and heart wrenching it is to contemplate leaving behind people and attachments here, I do believe those relationships will continue from afar and be renewed at a future time and that this adventure is the next arc of our circle.

Here’s a video of the selections from the Lion King pieces (they played so much INCREDIBLE music that night wish I could share it all).  You can see glimpses of Gabe between the conductors feet from time to time-on violin in the red. Benj on the far right on cello. But I warned you about the sea-sickness. I was so taken with the moment that the videoing was a secondary concern (as it should be no?) So close your eyes, crank up the volume and enjoy.

a newsy sort of update..

Oh hey there, remember I used to write this blog? Oh and (affectionate chuckle), remember how I had lots of lovely plans and a schedule even for writing 3 times a week. That was cute. I believe that the schedule was the last thing I posted for about 6 weeks so now we know that a schedule is not the right way to go. Live and learn. You tuned in with the promise of news.
We’re moving back to South Africa.
It feels so weird to type and say those words. We’re moving to South Africa.
Although my desire to return to SA has never been a secret it’s now a solid plan and since as we are working toward that things are sort of leaking out in dribs and drabs I figured I may as well share the plan officially. 
Yeah so it feels weird to say..but I have to say it. Because this time is different and talking about things in a definite solid way makes them definite and solid.  But yeah…I’ve been putting off putting it out there in an official way…for a variety of reasons..
One major reason is because we have nothing solid whatsoever in place to facilitate this plan. As in, Aaron does not yet have a job, we have not sold our house (nor is it even on the market yet) we don’t even have our kids in schools over there yet and we have not yet booked our plane tickets. We do have a couple of things which make it real though: we have an exit date a real day in early August crossed off on the calendar, my parents have organized where everyone is going to sleep in their house, and we all have real hope that all is going to work out the way it is supposed to.

Look, I’ve lived long enough to never say never and because we have not been able to get to the Temple yet (where LDS people tend to go for spiritual clarity and enlightenment when they are making life changing decisions) to get a solid confirmation on our decision, I am going on record as leaving a loophole for God to say “no this is not the way it’s going to go at all really” but other than that,  I feel pretty solid about the idea that this is how it’s going to go and so far I feel that He is with me.
Here’s the plan as it stands right now. We are bidding adieu to Ohio in August. In a perfect world it will be all of us on that plane.  If A doesn’t have a job by the time it’s time to go and we haven’t sold our house by that time (both of these probabilities are highly likely) me and the kids will forge ahead and he will stay behind (sniff) until both of those things are accomplished.

I’m hoping to get the kids settled into the final semesters of school over there so they can repeat a part of the year they will have just completed here. It’s my hope that this will get them acclimated and more ready to hit the ground running in January when the new school year starts in South Africa.  Decent schools there are tough to get into though particularly mid-year so that’s going to take some doing and obviously I don’t want my kids (or myself) on the opposite side of the world to their father just twiddling their thumbs so if we can’t nail down schooling over there our departure might be delayed.
I hope not though since this is a natural stopping point for Gabe who is graduating from middle school in June, and it will be hard for all of them to start school here with the knowledge that it’s just for a few months. I also feel like if I am over there it will be easier to lock down a job for Aaron and 6 more people aren’t in the house trashing it on the daily, it will probably be easier to sell..
If this all seems crazy and rushed and foolhardy well maybe it is in some ways but in other ways not at all.  The truth is that we’ve tried to wait for the perfect job to manifest itself in South Africa with everything all squared away and in place for like…19 years…but it just never happened. We’ve worked on it in this prudent fashion to no avail. It made me feel so sad and impotent and frustrated.
Then one day not long ago I woke up and had an epiphany.  I realized that we had been waiting for life to give us the go ahead to follow our dreams. Newsflash. Life almost never does that.  Suddenly I realized that if we wanted this to work out we had to go with another tactic.  Time with kids does not stand still and windows of opportunity are closing.  I’m not waiting for life anymore. It’s time for the take charge approach.
That day something shifted for me and I decided that I was going to go ahead with my dreams and life could follow, ready or not.  It’s not optimal and yes of course I wish things were nice and neat and squared away for us but wishing doesn’t get you where you want to be and so we are going to work with what we’ve got.

And now for the why’s although whenever people ask me that I am inclined to answer, “SERIOUSLY??”
Disclaimer: I have been in a ton of physical pain  (like worse than unmedicated childbirth) due to a badly botched dental situation pretty much constantly for the last two weeks (another dull story for another time) and so perhaps it’s the edginess from all that taking it’s toll, but I have to say I do get a slight surge of incredulous outrage when people who know that we have no family here and know that I am from South Africa casually ask in all good faith why we would want to go back to South Africa. 
So I’m going to lay it out here so I can refer people to these reasons without getting pissy and hostile and all, “SERIOUSLY???”

1. Almost all of my family remains in South Africa. I have one sister in Australia and I am doing everything in my power to have her and my brother in law come home too. My family is not without its tensions and conflicts but we are close. I miss my parents and siblings terribly.  I feel as though their influence will be invaluable to my children.
My greatest sadness is my children grew up without extended family in their lives and that my family have not got to watch my kids grow up. I have the opportunity to fix that now and I’m taking it before it is too late. My oldest son is 2 years from leaving home to go to college or on a mission. He was just BORN you guys! Time flies. Windows close.
It devastates me to think of him losing any more time without having extended family as an intrinsic part of his life. I am sad for myself that I did not have the support and joy and sharing raising kids with my family to participate. If you have family on the same continent as you or even if your family lives on another continent but they are allowed to visit you on your continent, (long not dull but very long story for another day)  I don’t think you can fathom how tough it is to raise kids with your family that far away.  Trust me, it sucks. A lot. Logistically, emotionally…it’s rough. I have ALWAYS wanted to have my family close by when I raised my kids. It was always very important to me and like I say, it’s a terrible sadness that it has not turned out that way so far.
2. South Africa is my soul’s home. It’s where I’m from. It’s where I belong and it’s where I feel the most alive and authentic. It’s in my blood and it always will be.  I never ever planned to leave South Africa permanently, I never had any desire to leave at all really. When I did leave for school I always intended to be right back. I often, often regret not having returned immediately.  I never became an American citizen because I could never imagine pledging an allegiance to a country that wasn’t South Africa (and frankly I think pledging allegiance at all is odd and nationalistic but that’s another rant for another time…what? Ok moving on.)
We have magnificent friends here. Truly the best friends anyone could ever hope to have, the closest thing to family anyone could hope to have and for that we are immeasurably grateful.  They have contributed to the success of our family in hugely significant ways and we will never be able to repay them or express to them how much they have done for us and how much a part of our hearts they are and always will be. But in the end…they have their own families.  When the summer comes they leave us and go and visit them. On holidays they go and visit them. And we stay here alone. We are not their family.
Finny tells me wistfully all the time that his friends have gone to visit their grandma AGAIN. He is openly jealous of the fact that they get to do that.  He has met his grandpa once. He doesn’t remember him. He has met his granny a handful of times. And much as we delight in the visits of my family members it’s not the same as growing up with them.  It’s different, the dynamic is not natural, we’re all in vacation, this is going to end, let’s squeeze it all in quick mode. I want my kids to be able to confide in my parents, in their uncles and aunts after a rough day of school, after a fun date, to go bike riding with them on the weekends. To watch them give talks at church. To attend their ballet recitals and concerts and soccer games. I want Sunday dinners and playing with cousins.  I want that very badly But mostly I feel an urgent need for their support and influence on our kids at this critical stage of their lives. They need that concentration and investment more than they ever have. And I just don't feel like we can lose any more time.  Time does not stand still. Time flies.


My older kids did not have the benefit of growing up with cousins nearby but at least they had each other. Ella being so much younger stands to be an only child in a few years when her sibs have left for college and in South Africa there are cousins her age and soon there will be more!  The idea of her having family to pal around with makes my heart sing I have been so worried about her being lonely and bereft after being so intensely surrounded with people in her young childhood and now I won't have to. Ella truly is the luckiest girl ever.

So many people say, “but you have such a perfectly nice life here, it will be so much harder in South Africa!” and I do not disagree. It will be much harder in many ways I already know about and many I have yet to discover.
Frankly, we aren’t motivated to do this because we think it’s going to be easy. We are motivated to do it because we think it will be worth it and because we think it is the right thing to do.  We know that there are so many things that are more rewarding, more character building more enriching, more memory making than ease and complacency. Don’t get me wrong I am so grateful for the idyllic circumstances that we do enjoy here but it’s not all idyllic. And it won’t all be idyllic in South Africa.  I do not go into this wearing rose coloured glasses, or without major concerns and some trepidation. But I am not afraid. Because I feel like it’s the right thing to do.  Almost everyone I have spoken to about this has reminded me that South Africa has changed since I was a kid there. And I like to remind them that I have in fact visited South Africa several times in the last few years. I know that it has changed.  Here’s the thing, nowhere is the same as when we were kids. Twenty years changes things. 
There is a lot of bad scary stuff in South Africa. There is more wonderful, amazing fabulous stuff in South Africa. I’m going there for that.  This is my mantra lately:
choices hope
(It’s a good one I think.)
How do the kids feel about this? They are surprisingly keen. All but one and not the one you think. He is opposed but he will come around.
It will be an incredible adjustment for the kids and it will probably be rough at first in lots of ways.
When I was 15 we made a move which was similarly culture-shocking. It was hell, one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. The worst. For about a year. And then it was amazing.  Pretty much everything I most value in my life hinged on that move. It was pivotal for my entire future. I have a great testimony of the value of getting out of one’s comfort zone. The next few months…maybe year are not going to be comfortable for any of us I predict. Already things are uncomfortable, stressful, logistically nightmarish.  Almost every day I am tempted to toss this crazy idea and settle back down into what I know, the comfortable, pleasant and easy but then I think about this…
what might have been
So that’s the (not so) quick and dirty lowdown. I don’t feel the need to justify or defend this decision to anyone but I did want to explain some of our thinking because it is natural that people will be intrigued or curious. I know there will be people who will despair at what they perceive to be our stupidity and think we are making a terrible mistake and that is their prerogative. 
Maybe they are right, I don’t think so but I guess we will never know til we try…
greatest misstake
So that’s where we are right now.  In Mayhem. We are all crazed with all the insanity the month of May already brings, I have been mostly dysfunctional and crazed with pain (or drugged and asleep) for the better part of two weeks (with minor surgery on Friday to look forward to) and we’re also trying to find jobs, do the jobs we already have, get 5 kids into schools,  make travel/moving plans, apply for passports, fix up a house to get on the market….not much really.

It’s good to be back.  I’m not ready to give up on this blog. I still have so much to catch up on, so much more to talk about but this is probably a good enough start. I’m pretty impressed that I managed to get it out at all considering how sore/high I am. I think it might be funny to read tomorrow…
What do you think?