Monday, March 22, 2010

The Challenge

Here's the challenge, proposed to Leanne by Chris: Add to my blog every school day from now until the end of June. If I miss a day, I must write an extra entry the next day explaining why I missed that day. I'm sure he came up with this as a way to add some purpose to my days now that the kids are off to school and he's off to work and I am left here at the house, lonely and surrounded by boxes. He knows I can't survive if my only goal in life is to unpack more boxes! He also wants me to get into the habit of writing. Fifteen years ago, I couldn't get by a single day without writing something. And I'd like to get back there, too. So I think I'm up for the challenge. Here goes!

I'm certainly up for the challenge today. I've just dropped my kids off at their new school for the first time, and I'm full of nervous energy to expend. Janelle will be fine. She is excited about her new classroom, her new teacher and her new friends. It's all an adventure to her. "New" is exciting for her. Connor, on the other hand, is a sensitive soul. He worries. He tries to be brave, but I know he is thinking about how he'll manage in this new environment. How he'll adjust to his new surroundings. How he'll make it to the bathroom in time from a portable classroom. "New" is scary to him. He is so like me!!! So now here I am, counting down the minutes until 3:30 when I can go pick them up and hear the news of the day and find out that everything was fine for both of them. That is exactly 4 hours and 59 minutes away. And I don't think unpacking boxes is going to keep my mind occupied quite enough to make the time fly by any faster. So I write.

In my last post I listed, in great detail, all the pitfalls of our move to London. Now that our "Supersize March Break" (Week 1 NB March Break, Week 2 Moving Week, Week 3 Ontario March Break) is over, I'm thinking back on all the fun things we did. It seemed to fly by, but looking back, some of the things we did at the beginning seem so long ago now! Like our "Going Away Party" that our wonderful friends Merry-Lynne and Randy hosted for us. It was an "open house", so people could just drop by to offer best wishes at any time. It was a nice chance for us to spend some time with so many of our dear friends. I miss them so much already! I love that we got to spend the past several years raising our children with others going through many of the same things that we were experiencing, and that our children became fast friends, too. One of the things I am grappling with now is how long it takes to form those friendships, the ones that feel like family, that are so free and easy. I know it will take some time for London to feel like home in that sense. But I also know that when I go home this summer, those friends I left behind will still be there, and our friendships with them will be the same as ever.
The first week of March Break, we did spend some time in Rothesay/Quispamsis, with the Constantine clan. My kids love being there. They adore their grandparents and their cousins. One of my favourite things about this time of my life is how close Connor and Janelle are to their cousins. I pray that distance cannot change that! Connor doesn't have a brother, and Janelle doesn't have a sister, but they have cousins who are the next best thing. My sister and I drove each other crazy growing up, but I wouldn't trade her for the world now. I want Jillian and Janelle to be that for each other someday. They certainly fill their roles beautifully now!
The second week of March Break was "Moving Week". The drive was not nearly the challenge we expected it to be. We purchased dual screen DVD players for the van the day before we left. These were a godsend! The best thing about them was that the kids could each watch their own movie, at the same time. No fighting over what to watch! Hours flew by with the kids wearing headphones, happily engrossed in their movies, or playing their DS. Chris and I actually had time to talk to each other, and we made very few stops along the way. We spent the first night in Montreal and saw Aunt Kate and Uncle Pierre and Madeleine and Remi. Maddie just loved Janelle! It was so much fun to watch them play together. The second night we stopped in Burlington to spend the night with Aunt Lori and Uncle Ben. Connor vaguely remembered their house from his last visit, seven years ago, but it was Janelle's first time there (outside the womb, that is). They were both thrilled to be there. Then it was on to London. And the "totally cool" hotel. I have to admit, Chris did a great job choosing this hotel. The pool was perfect! Connor thoroughly enjoyed the lighthouse/waterslide, and Janelle got to spend hours doing one of her favourite things: SWIM! It certainly made the three days in London before we moved into our house a treat.

Moving day is always exciting, although thoroughly exhausting. The highlight for Chris and I was seeing how happy the kids were with their new house. They assured us that we chose the right one. Thankfully, the weather improved tremendously during Week Three of March Break, and they were able to get out on their bikes (after we finally found the helmets) and explore their new neighbourhood. We hardly saw them, except for the occasional meal. They made a few friends down the street, which I'm hoping will help them today as they adjust to their new school.

We did do a bit of exploring as a family, as well. Despite a million boxes to unpack, and Chris's relentlessly goal-oriented nature, I was able to convince him to get out of the house a couple of times and see what this new city has to offer. The first day we found a park along the Thames River (yes, a city called London with a river called Thames -- corny!) and hoisted the Spider-Man kite into the air. That was a big hit with the kids. And we big kids enjoyed it, too!

Another day we ventured out to the London Children's Museum. The kids loved it, but it was a ZOO! Not literally, of course, it is a perfectly nice museum, complete with dinosaur bones and moon rocks, but on March Break it was full of wild, rowdy, excited, enthusiastic kids who had been lacking structure for several days. My kids joined right in with them, and it didn't bother me much, but my poor husband was out of his element. He was trying to get Connor to focus his attention on the giant humpback whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling, and Connor was looking in every direction but where Chris was pointing. There was so much to look at and take in, that I think it will take a few more trips before the kids have really seen all the museum has to offer. We might not take Dad next time though! Janelle's favourite part of the museum was the Face Painting that was specially offered that day as a March Break treat. She LOVES having her face painted, and even though the line-up was nearly an hour long, she was determined. So we sent Dad and Connor into the "Space" exhibit, and we waited, and waited, and waited, and finally came out with exactly the cat face she wanted. It was all worth it to Janelle.
So as you can see, despite my previous ramblings, we did have a fun March Break. Exhausting, yes, but between stretches of endless unpacking, we created some memorable moments. Now it is time to settle into real life. Where kids go to school, and dad goes to work, and mom.... unpacks. And organizes. And cleans. And BLOGS!!! I've successfully distracted myself for nearly an hour today. Only four more to go. I guess I really should unpack a box or two. Maybe I'll find the printer cable. Or the magazine rack for the bathroom. Or that book I was planning to read...
See you tomorrow!

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