08/24/20

A change of scenery

So we’ve pushed through the frustration and worry, built a reasonably functional plan for the school year, and are doing everything possible to focus on enjoying the quality family time looming on the horizon. We decided that, if we’re all trapped in virtual lives, we can spend some of our together time somewhere else. So we’re in the early days of working remotely from Green Lake – a place we plan to be at frequently over the coming months.

Uprooting a household as large and unwieldy as ours is a challenge: so much packing, yelling, fighting, forgetting…but when we finally got everything sorted, drove through beautiful countryside we haven’t seen every week, and pulled up to the lake, we realized how right we were. The kids marveled at fish in the water, walking down the long dock with the dog, and swinging on the swings. As I watched them take turns, I realized they haven’t been on a swing since March. That may not sound like that big of a crisis, but they can swing for hours. The freedom to run, ride bikes in slightly bigger circles than they can at home, and play games in a new space meant the world to them. And therefore, to us.

It’s a clunky transition. I set out to make dinner and realized we had no can opener. Pivot. The baby is not digging the napping in a new environment. Patience. Our timing is goofy, so bedtimes have been laaaaaaaaate. We’ll figure it out. But when we sit down to a meal altogether, looking out at the boats and trees, it feels good. And frankly, anything that feels good and isn’t bad for us is the right choice these days.

So we continue to discuss the drawbacks to seaweed, as the weeds here don’t get cut this week. Minnows mean shrieks of discovery, and demands for adults to focus on the miracle of fish swimming in water. We’ve already had to go to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

It may not be perfect or even pretty, but it’s a new experience. This doesn’t take away from our existing sanity plans, but it certainly gives us a new outlet. So our zoom background will alternate as we move from place to place, and the likelihood of us forgetting homework somewhere is exponentially higher. So what? We’ll figure it out, somewhere in the cornfields between there and here.

08/5/20

Summer in full swing

This summer has been unpredictable, roller coaster-esque, and equal parts wondrous and tough. (Sounds like parenting, as I write this.) The joy of meeting Bianca, having a full house of incredible people at a time when so many are suffering from loneliness, and of working as a tribe to take care of each other, has been incredibly rewarding. We are so proud of the empathy and communication skills our kids have been refining and practicing on us and each other. Of course, two seconds later they say something heartbreaking about how lonely they feel without their friends.

We are busy with work, we’re setting up our childcare structure for the coming year, and for continuously adapting to new and changing information. That of course needs to be closely followed by translating it into child context, so the kids feel like they are in the loop. Every time we feel like we have found our rhythm, it changes. So we’ve had to adapt to change being the new rhythm. This week, that meant saying goodbye to Bianca after only 11 weeks. We knew she could only join us for a short time, so this wasn’t a surprise! But that didn’t make it any easier. The kids miss her, and so do we. At the same time, we are lucky enough to be preparing for our next Aupair buddy, Flora, to arrive at the end of next week! Switching to two au pairs sounds outrageous, but with five kids in four grades and potty training, that means no one falls behind. And yes, I recognize how immensely privileged we are that we can make that happen.

This transition signals the approaching school year, even though we are just at the end of July! A month of the kids living outdoors and the adults building towards the next round of changes at work flew by. Right after Flora arrives, Joy leaves. And that transition has been looming all year. The kids watch that day approach on the calendar, and are full of questions and sadness. We can’t change these circumstances and we can’t control how they’re going to happen. So we are choosing to emphasize how important growth and learning how to learn are to being a successful adult. And as these emotional and family changes happen on top of the already ever-changing landscape of a pandemic, we hope the kids pick up on our gratitude for all the time we’ve had together, for a living in the moment, for finding joy even if life doesn’t turn out the way you want it, and for how critical family is when life gets choppy.

Preparing for our week up north, and then recovering from that break from technology has taken up a lot of time. So we’re sorry for the gaps! The Groundhog Day affect means we are sometimes startled to have missed a week of blogging. We will get our act together again. 🙂 In the meantime, we are trying to be extra grateful for this breath before our newest household member arrives. More swimming, laundry, ice cream. Should be fun!