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Monday, December 26, 2016

Rochester's Thornfield

                                                    

I said in my last post that I would announce the name of the new home in the next post...so....without further ado......

Rochester's Thornfield

I fought a great struggle with my heart over this one.  In the midst of considering his name (yes, this one is a he!), my niece texted and asked if I could help name her old beauty.  I let her know that naming a home is a terribly personal thing and that I would have to ask her many questions.  Him? Her?  From classic literature? What did she love most about her home? Sweet Niecling said that she loved its tall ceilings and woodwork but mostly that it is a place where people can gather. ❤️ My response was that I immediately thought of the house in the country that Bingley takes in Pride & Prejudice, Netherfield.  I began playing with her last name, Merrillfield? She liked using their last name and wanted to make another play on it...how about Merrily?  PERFECT! I suggested Merrily Hill, since her home sits above her street, and so it is!  My dear girl's first home is Merrily Hill!

So back to my struggle.  It wasn't as easy to name our Pittsford home as it was to name my niece's home.  I had Cainberly for fifteen years- in which time she grew to be such an unequivocal piece of our story that bringing her along to New York almost seemed sacrilege. He is so very different from her...a different age, a different style, a different culture, region, state, history.  I kept getting the feeling that I needed to let her go.  Meanwhile, what of Rochester's house? I noticed that I kept calling him that...Rochester's house. (I should note that, technically, he is not in Rochester but a suburb, Pittsford) And then, of course!  Rochester's house was Thornfield Hall! Oh how I love Jane Eyre! 

 Now please understand, I am not comparing this home to the ill-fated home of Edward Rochester! On the contrary, I expect light and love and happiness in our new life and home!  We are already so blessed by Thornfield. He brings such peace with room to breath, more than one bathroom, and a whole wall to the natural world where we have sat and watched birds, squirrels, deer, and even a fox! If you follow me on Pinterest and you see my "Thornfield" board, now you know that it's ideas for my new home!  Thornfield's doors are always open, won't you drop by sometime?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thoughts on New York After 6 Weeks

Its been a while since a post.  I cringe when I look at the dates, but making a new life is tough work!  Here are some top, and transparent, thoughts after 6 weeks in:
1) No matter what we're led to believe in the South, New Yorkers are super nice people.
2) Making new friends is tough no matter if you're 12, 14, 42, or 48!
3) New York drivers are WAY better than Alabama drivers.....especially in snow.
4) Snow.  I could spend all day on this. It's cold, wet, and requires a lot of physical labor.  It's also serene, beautiful, and makes even an undecorated home cozy and inviting.
5) IT IS SO LOVELY HERE! So much natural beauty! Waterfalls, lakes, mountains- gorgeous!
6) They mean it when they say they want six points of identification AND your social security card to get a driver's license. This is non-negotiable.
7) Home is my new favorite place. Have I mentioned that I've named him? Next post!πŸ˜‰
8) Public school lunch is a huge rip-off and if I knew how to protest I would! 2 pieces of Dominoes pizza for $6???!!! No 12 year old boy gets enough from one slice! I digress.
9) I adore my husband. This move has reminded me of that a thousand different times.❤️
10) I had the most amazing church and church family EVER.  I will never be able, in word or deed, to express the amount of gratitude and love I have and will ALWAYS have for them.

I was going to limit myself to 10 thoughts, but I have this one last that I MUST share...

11) I would never have made it through the last 9 months alone. Texts, calls, drop ins, gift cards, meals, coffees......πŸ’•

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Homeschoolers No More: Part 2

After much thought and prayer, I was finally able to admit that my children needed more than I alone was able to give them at home.  The opportunity came for my children to attend a very rigorous classical co-op.  I felt very strongly that was the direction we needed to take for 5th and 8th grade- not so much because I agreed with the philosophy of teaching, but because my kids needed to be pushed hard so they could experience what they were truly capable of. Also, they needed to be accountable to someone else for their lessons. Abby and Ben had adopted the idea that I was "just Mom"- that I didn't need their very best and that grace would always abound.

That was the most difficult year of our lives. We spent many nights schooling until 10 or 11 at night and we spent many days shedding tears with each other. Not only was school difficult, but Andy's job of 15 years took a turn towards an uncertain future. Come April, with a light shining at the end of the school year tunnel, Andy was laid off.  We finished the year strong.  I was so proud of those kids! They did things they just didn't believe they could do!  They were challenged and they met their challenges with strength and determination, never giving up.

We fixed up Cainberly and put her on the market, sure that God would bring a job and a buyer in record time. Six months later, no job.  The house had sold and, I'm not even kidding, the DAY before the movers came to empty her Andy got a job offer in Rochester, NY. (This was a huge answer to prayers of its own, but that's a post for another day!) We had already begun homeschooling for the year because we had no idea where or when we'd be moving so with so much transition it seemed the easiest thing to do.  Turns out, my friends, that the suburbs of Rochester host some of the top ranked school systems IN THE NATION! God blessed us with an amazing house in an amazing neighborhood in an amazing school district!

Last week my kids became homeschoolers no more.  Ben was dropped first, eager and excited.  Abby was dropped, nauseous and terrified.  After 3 days Ben hit his wall and Abby let me know that, perhaps, we hadn't made such a bad decision about schooling after all! Ben finished out his week strong, but I think PE may be his personal nemesis for a bit! Abby talks about lots of new friends and how much she loves her Military History class.

So why am I sharing all of this? I think I have learned a few lessons in my ten years of homeschooling and this may be the most important......life and people change.  Homeschooling my children was the perfect choice for them and for our family.  Choosing to discontinue homeschooling was, also, the very best choice for them and for our family.  At the onset of our homeschooling journey, I was convinced that everyone should homeschool and that once begun, you only ended with graduation-That there was shame in "quitting" and that it would signify some lack of love for Abby and Ben.  Since then, I have learned much more about grace- and about my kids in particular.  I've learned that God's plan for us may not look the same as everyone else's and that I should perhaps listen more to Him instead.  He holds my children's hearts, and their futures, and He loves them so much more than even I.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Homeschoolers No More: Part I

For ten years.  For ten years we have spent day in and day out together.  We have sipped hot tea and read amazing stories.  We've made salt dough maps and gone to the grocery store any time that we pleased.  We cried in frustration and we've cried in comical hysterics.  We have each grown and changed and learned.  Homeschooling is who we were.

If I were honest I'd say that we began homeschooling because we had no other choice.  We lived in an urban neighborhood with an inner city school system that did not inspire the confidence to convince us to send our children everyday.  Oh how thankful I am that we chose to homeschool.  If you've never done it, please let me share this with you.......teaching someone to read is simply the most fulfilling experience I have ever known.  Add to that the fact the students are your own children and, well, it's epic.

Our days and weeks and months and years were constantly evolving.  My goal was always to customize our curriculum and plans around the kids and their learning styles.  That worked perfectly for the elementary years.  Past that, I began to find planning difficult, and the children's love of learning began to ebb.  Suddenly my voracious readers became lazy learners, not finding the interest and passion in our time together as they once did.  Still living in the same place and situation, I felt trapped in homeschooling.  Not just in the act of homeschooling, but in the pride of homeschooling.

What do I mean "..in the pride of homeschooling"?  Homeschooling became my idol.  I was a martyr to the act of homeschooling.  I had sacrificed myself on the altar of my children's education.  What would people think of me if I quit?  What would people think of my children?  What would my identity be if not as a homeschooling mom?  Haven't I been told that my children would only suffer if they weren't home with me?

I began to comprehend that my children WERE suffering........with me! And I began to realize a change was in order........so I began to pray.

Stay tuned for Part 2......my prayers are answered!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Naming of a House

Exterior of Home

You can't very well name something that doesn't belong to you.  Patience is, to me, the hardest to learn of virtues and I find myself being a student of her always. Waiting. Just waiting. Less than a month.

It really and truly seems like a dream.  I pray every day that come November 3rd the papers are signed, the keys are handed to us, and just as a snap of the fingers, quick and sharp, our lives are changed forever. Do we really become owners of this beautiful home? Do we really get to live in New York? Do our children really get to partake of all these wonderful opportunities? DO WE REALLY HAVE ACCESS TO THREE TOILETS UNDER OUR ROOF????πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Š

I almost feel like naming her would be a jinx, but I know that our God does not work like that.  Still, you can't very well name something that doesn't belong to you.

Naming Cainberly was so easy.  One whimsical day I decided, undoubtably whilst reading Austen, that our home needed a name.  After all, I thought, she is full of care and personality and deserves to be called so much more than "home". Though that little four letter word be packed with so much more than location, it just didn't evoke the feeling in my heart at the thought of her.  What house was charm and grace and love and wisdom and beauty personified? Well, Pemberly of course! And one step away was Cainberly and, thus, naming perfection!

My family thinks it ridiculous.  They always thought it ridiculous.

As we prepared to move, friends began asking "What of Cainberly? Will you name the next house? Will it be Cainberly too?"  I really didn't realize it had become quite the"thing"! I answered vaguely, guaranteeing it would not be decided upon until we owned our next home.  Here we are on the cusp of owning the next home and I'm startled by how much I find myself thinking of this very thing! But I have questions......
Do you name each house individually?
Is it the idea of home that I've given a name to?
If the above is true, she goes with us everywhere we go together so why would I rename her?
Longbourne, Netherfield, Mistlethwaite Manor.....where do I begin for this house?

You can't very well name something that doesn't belong to you.  I will be patient.....and look to you for inspiration,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When nothing goes as planned.....

"Let's sell the house, move to the suburbs, and put the kids in public school!"
"That's a great idea!  Let's do it!"

This was us in January.  We had it all figured out, didn't we?  Lots of conversations about downtown life, motivation, and community led us here. We knew where we wanted to go (still in Birmingham), what schools we wanted to be our kids first after homeschooling for 9 years, and we were ready to put in the work to make it happen.  A few weekends of fixing upping and the house would be ready for a bidding war the likes of which Crestwood had never seen!

Then came March.

Nothing will put a screaching halt on life plans like getting laid off.......especially if only one of you is employed! NO PROB- Andy will get a job in no time!

We regrouped. We mourned the plans we made.  We got to work.  Andy and I put in some intense hours of labor (along with a few friends) and finally had the house ready to put on the market......July 26! Yes, we grossly underestimated the amount of work and time it would take to make Cainberly presentable on the real estate market while job hunting! Then we waited for the bidding war to commence the very day she went live online......then we waited the next day- on the edge of our seats......and the next, and the next, and the next.  Completely dumbfounded, we lowered the price and finally got our first offer with the most perfect family who LOVED the house AND the trains. We were thrilled!

Then it fell through- and I was officially done- done with owning a home, done with selling a home......DONE.  And a week later we had another offer- this was the one.....almost exactly one month after putting it on the market.  No bidding war- oh, and still no job and no hopes of staying in Birmingham. And suddenly the feeling of loneliness started setting in.

I'm sure you're asking yourself, "How could she possibly feel lonely? She has two kids AND her man at home every single day!" But it's true.  In March I just knew God had an awesome plan for us and He would reveal it and we would just cruise on. By the end of July, I was feeling like the seven year old version of myself that got separated from Momma in the Mercer Mall- I knew she was there and wouldn't leave me, but for the life of me I COULDNT FIND HER!!! Where was God? And why couldn't I find Him????

To make a long story short......I'm still looking for Him.  I've caught a few glimpses of Him- a job interview, a second job interview, a passed inspection, a chance meeting with the buyer of the house......He's there and hasn't left me!

We close September 15 and will quite literally be homeless.  Everybody chuckles when I say that, like it's cute or a joke.  It's not.  But rather than let our story be a drama, we're making it an adventure! We're hitting the road! The pooches are getting a vacation in Indiana (Thank you Joey and Carly!) and we're going, by way of Niagara Falls and Saratoga Springs, to visit Momma in Vermont! I have never seen Andy so excited about a trip! Fall in Vermont- it really just doesn't get any better than that!

Or does it? Maybe He has other plans.