Pause.

Three weeks from tomorrow, very very early in the morning, we will be heading to the airport and beginning this amazing adventure. Three weeks!

There is so much to be done before then. Not the least of which is finishing our move, which has been in progress for a few weeks already. It has been easy to get overwhelmed. The stress is mounting, the hours of sleep decreasing. We’ve been getting increasingly tired and impatient with each other, the kids have been clingy and cranky. And I started thinking, We are crazy. Not fun-crazy or adventurous-crazy. Stupid-crazy. Crazy-crazy. What are we doing?

Yesterday we woke up knowing it was Staffan’s last day off before the final trailer-load of our stuff is moved. His last day off that won’t be spent driving to and from the new apartment. One last chance to get caught up on all those things we’ve been needing to do. And we couldn’t get out of bed. As we lay there trying to keep the kids from killing themselves or each other without actually getting up ourselves, Staffan looked at me and said, “So, same plan as yesterday?” with about as little enthusiasm as I’ve ever heard him say anything. I was equally excited. “Yeah, I guess,” I said. “Looks like it’s a nice day at least.”

But slowly a new plan developed. First the suggestion to take the morning off while the sun was shining and go for a little hike nearby. Then we realized that all of our various baby-carrying equipment had already been moved. It’s not really the kind of trail where you can take an umbrella stroller. Then the suggestion of a day trip instead. A day trip like the zoo? Is that crazy? It’s a little over an hour to get there. We haven’t planned or prepared. We have so much to do. Let’s do it anyway!

It was the best decision we’ve made in a long time. We needed that day to de-stress, to reconnect, and to remember that we really do like each other. We needed to be outside, eat ice cream in the sun, pet goats, and hear the sounds of pure joy that can only be made by a 3 year old who has just realized that the surprise car trip was to the zoo. Batteries recharged!

Today I have attacked the to-do list with gusto and made some real progress. I have more energy and motivation, and the kids are more relaxed and less clingy, which has allowed me to get things done. Checking some things off the list makes me feel better and the whole thing becomes a positive spiral instead of a negative one.

And I no longer think we’re crazy to be taking a trip like this. Yesterday was definitely an excitement builder for the things to come. Realistically, in 90 days we’re sure to have at least a few bad ones. We know that. But we really do have a good time together and, as a whole, this experience is going to be amazing!

Peter watching them feed Bosse the seal

Emelie quacking at some geese.

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Stuff and Creativity

As our move is in progress and our trip gets closer, it seems there’s more worth sharing and fewer opportunities to sit and write any of it down. We also don’t have internet yet at our new apartment, so forgive me if this blog isn’t so well maintained for a little while.

We’re in a bit of a warm-up to the coming nomadic season of life. We’re living in two places at once, with basic necessities unpacked in both places and most other possessions packed in boxes. Actually, “most” is wishful thinking since there is still a lot to be packed. But there is definitely an “in transit” feeling to life right now that is both exciting and exhausting. I imagine the next 5 months will have a similar feeling.

The kids are coping really well so far, which is really encouraging since there’s a lot more of this to come. Peter is too little to notice or understand much, and Emelie seems to enjoy exploring the house every morning to discover what looks different than when she went to bed. She stops and looks and says, “What happened here?!” She is not resisting the change or mourning the “loss” of things, and for that we are very happy.

But we’ve had to get a little creative sometimes, when a desired toy is at the other house, or it’s all just a little overwhelming and nothing is quite what she wants. I’ve started saying random crazy things when she gets stuck in the “No Zone” (when the answer to every question, idea or suggestion is a pouty-faced no). It gets her attention and breaks the cycle by making her laugh at “silly mamma” instead. Yesterday, for example, I suggested she could have a diaper for lunch. She came to the kitchen just to see if I had, in fact, served a (clean) diaper – which I had. She pretended to eat the diaper a little, then decided while she was there that she was hungry after all.

Since it worked yesterday, I thought I’d try it again this morning when we found ourselves again in the No Zone. When no toy or activity seemed to satisfy, I suggested she could read a shoe. She looked skeptical, but then grabbed my flip flop. I was expecting her to sound out the T-E-V-A on the tag, but instead she held it up and “read” a title to a story. Her own made up story. Then she pretended to turn pages and on every “page” she told a bit more of her story. She and I “read” my flip flop for about 15 minutes and I got to hear the most wonderful story fresh from the imagination of my almost-3-year-old.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and in our case, not having access to a lot of our stuff is driving an outburst of creative expression and play. It’s driving other kinds of outbursts, too – I don’t want to over-romanticize it. But there’s something about reducing the “stuff” that is really freeing.

This is an overwhelming season of life, no doubt about it. And there are a lot of times when I pop in a DVD so I can get some packing done. But there is also a lot of laughing. A lot of silliness. A lot of creative solutions. Less convenience, perhaps, but more awareness somehow. And I wonder if, after a few months without most of our stuff, I might just be a little sad to get it all back.