Chasing Contentment

Friday, June 30

We're here!
We arrived here in Florida last Friday, and it's been a hectic week. But I've gotten most of the boxes unpacked, and we're settling in and getting used to this new place.

Griff has spent the week with his cousins, going to Bible School with Hayden, so he's had a great time. Eliza's quit asking to go home, so that's a relief. Those were hard days when we were here and she was asking to go home.

The DSL was hooked up today, so I'm finally back to email and blogging, and I'm hoping that being able to talk with friends through these venues will help ease the homesickness that I'm feeling for them.

We're going to go get Griff tomorrow and hopefully see the shuttle launch. I'm going to try to blog a few times a week beginning next week.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, June 30, 2006  ]

Thursday, June 22

Yay! The dealership received the part, and we should be on our way in a few hours. It feels like it's been forever in this limbo.

We're all really ready to get to our new home and be surrounded by our own things. I know there's a good case against materialism in our society, but I also see such value in having familiar things around us. It gives us comfort.

With any luck, we'll be in our new home tomorrow evening, and we'll spend the weekend unpacking. Mike's family will be with us, and we are so grateful to them for all of their support and assistance.

And we're humbled by Mandy and Josh's generosity. We've enjoyed our time with them these last few days, despite the difficulties surrounding this time. They are so precious to us.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, June 22, 2006  ]

I'm sitting here at Mandy's waiting for the dealership to call about the van. I've already vacuumed & I'm doing laundry, so while Mike watches soccer, I thought I'd update my 101 list.

Chel's 101 Things in 1001 Days
(Originally posted Jan. 3, 2006...I don't have nearly 101 things yet, but I'll keep adding to the list as I think of new goals to set. The ones I have are in completely random order.)
1. Learn yoga.
2. Read 100 books (I'm keeping a record of the books I read with LibraryThing.).
3. Learn to make an edible pot roast.
4. Read the Bible through in two different translations (I've begun reading through in "The Message" already.)
5. Memorize the books of the Bible.
6. Find a new job that will better utilize my God-given talents.
7. Take a long trip (four days would feel long to us) alone with Mike to somewhere neither of us have ever been.
8. Take a family vacation somewhere that would appeal to all four of us.
9. Be able to run two miles (at one time, not as a cumulative endeavor over the 1001 days).
10. Sell my handmade jewelry. (I sold a necklace off my neck at a birthday party last weekend... Jan. 28, 2006.)
11. Write at least one short story every six months ... my math is bad, but I think that would be about five stories in the 1001 days.
12. Pay off all credit card debt.
13. Accumulate savings equal to three months of our salaries.
14. Begin a college fund for Eliza.
15. Attend Mike's doctoral graduation ceremony. (May 19, 2006)
16. Grow herbs (mine tend to die before we can cut and eat them).
17. Create a photo wall in our house of favorite photos.
18. Frame a really great piece of art created by each of my children.
19. Hold a friend's baby.
20. Keep a list of answered prayers (My list is linked in the left column.).
21. Take weekend trips with girlfriends. (April '06 - Aleece in New Orleans, Memorial Day '06 - Mika & Tara, June '06 - LeeAnn)
22. Take weekend trips with my brother and his family.
23. Learn basic sign language.
24. Write greeting cards & convince Aleece to illustrate them.
25. Buy furniture Mike doesn't put together.
26. Volunteer.
27. Create a jewelry project folder. (working on it - June '06... whenever I find pictures of jewelry I like, I put it in the folder, saving them as inspiration)
28. Grow cucumbers.
29. Paint all the trim in the house. (April 1, 2006 - Mike actually did this so we could put the house on the market, but I'm going to count it anyway.)
30. Spend a weekend with Mike in New Orleans. We've always had amazing visits there & I hope for a post-Katrina New Orleans that is better than ever. Maybe that will happen in less than 1001 days. (We spent the night in New Orleans the night of Mike's doctoral graduation. May '06)
31. Have my cholesterol checked for the first time.
32. Give money to charities that mean something to me. (I've already contributed to St. Jude's Childrens Research Center and the Special Olympics of Louisiana. Jan. 2006)
33. Walk with my family in the next two March of Dimes Walk America events.
34. Take Griff to art exhibits and expose him to new forms of art.
35. Take Griff to the theatre.
36. Splurge on tickets to see a really good ballet.
37. Participate in at least one book club-type group.
38. Be able to walk two miles without any breathing problems (carrying my inhaler would be perfectly acceptable).
39. See an Astros Spring Training game with Mike.
40. Take Griff to see an Astros game with Mike. (April 8, 2006 - my 36th birthday ... with Mandy and Josh)
41. See a movie at The Moxie.
42. Ask a professional writer to review one or more of my short fiction pieces. (Ok, I asked earlier this month, but she declined...I'll keep trying. 4/06 I asked again & got turned down again. I'll keep trying.)
43. Attend Griff's baptism (Feb. 5, 2006).
44. Share Christ with an unbeliever.
45. Read Mike's dissertation.
46. Adopt a soldier.
47. Find a church that ministers to each of us, that will encourage each of us to grow in our faith.
48. Buy a house & create an environment in which my family can feel at home quickly.
49. Begin a travel fund to use to fly back to La. to see friends.
50. Plant sunflowers.
51. Buy Eliza a tricycle.(Her Grannie D and Pawpaw Jerry gave her one this spring. '06)
52. Find a new favorite pizza place.
53. Forgive myself.
54. Embrace my body for what it is and for the wonder that God gave it.
55. Buy a piece of art from my artist friend, Kate, to hang in our new house. (June 12... Kate sketched a very special piece for me, and I will treasure it forever.)
56. Potty train Eliza.
57. Buy Eliza a 'big girl bed' and redecorate her room.
58. Inquire about selling my jewelry in specialty shops.
59. Promote the website with my jewelry.
60. Read the 'Chronicles of Narnia' books to Griff.
61. Finish reading the first 'Harry Potter' book to Griff.
62. Take Eliza to see a live-action theatre production (Dora, Disney or the like).
63. Have Griff tested again for eggs. And again each year until he isn't allergic or they determine he always will be.
64. Get a sitter and go eat crawfish with Mike before we move. (Done!)
65. Make a special piece of jewelry for my mom.
66. Watch 'Band of Brothers' with Mike.
67. Take the kids to SeaWorld.
68. Get a library card.
69. Hang my Gran's stained glass pieces.
70. Celebrate little events.
71. Give Griff a great birthday party here before we leave. (June 9/10, 2006 - We took Griff and his friend, Will, out of town for an overnight trip as his party.)
72. Take a beading class.
73. Listen to friends.
74. Enroll Eliza in a dance class.
75. Encourage Griff to find something he enjoys doing - other than video games.
76. Put Mike's Astros baseball cards in a binder. Or several binders. (June '06 - He did this himself.)
77. Send Christmas cards.
78. Keep a gratitude record during my 36th year. (I need to buy a pretty binder this weekend & start doing this.)
79. Say Thank You often.
80. Read the last 'Harry Potter' book... I'm already anxious for it.
81. Add 20 new recipies to my rotation.
82. Practice the 3Rs (thanks to Jack Johnson)... reduce, reuse, recycle.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, June 22, 2006  ]

Wednesday, June 21

It's like we're living "Groundhog Day." We get up each morning thinking that this will be the day, but it isn't. The Nissan dealer still doesn't have our van ready, and Mike said this morning that they've finally broken our spirits. We're just worn out from all of it.

Mike's dad and his wife are currently driving up here to get the kids, so they can at least be in a kid house and play. We've been so blessed to have people taking care of us... Mandy and Josh, Jerry and Donna, Chuck and Stacy.

Maybe tomorrow will be the day.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, June 21, 2006  ]

Tuesday, June 20

The dealer ordered the wrong part, and we're still here at Mandy and Josh's. We're just remarkably blessed to have people who love us so much. We're stuck here but having a pretty good time. With any luck, though, we'll be on our way to Florida tomorrow.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, June 20, 2006  ]

Monday, June 19

I had a great day today. And that is a lovely gift.

My friend, LeeAnn, left a message on my cell today (I missed several calls... dead battery... packed charger) asking about us, seeing how far we got. Two doors down. We managed to get two doors down and we had a great time.

Mike, the kids and I laid around this morning and rested. Mandy took the afternoon off and spent it with us, and it was such fun. By the time Josh got home from work, we were all piled into their bedroom laughing and playing and watching tv. And it felt perfectly comfortable and normal for all of us to be together in that setting.

I'm still having trouble with my allergies (spending all weekend with the dust didn't help me any) but I'm more rested this evening than last. And leaving Mandy and Josh tomorrow feels better having had this delightful day today.

So, tomorow, we'll be starting ... again ... our trip toward our new lives.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, June 19, 2006  ]

For the first time, a baby slept in Mandy and Josh's new nursery last night. Unfortunately, she is two years old and was sleeping between Mike and me on an air mattress while her brother slept on the daybed in the spare room.

Our new life adventure has begun on an unfortunate note. In the dark last night, in the driving rain, I couldn't see very well and hit a median in the van. I broke the exhaust manifold and we're having to wait until tomorrow for the part to arrive. Thank heavens for Mandy and Josh and their hospitality.

This last week has been sad for me, but it's also been a reminder of how lovely people can be. We've had friends come and help pack, help load the truck, treat us to dinners, mow our lawn for the new owner, and just generally be our support system.

Now, of course, we're trying to figure out what we're doing now. It's a costly setback, certainly, both in terms of time and money. But I am still sure that this move is the right thing for us. And I am grateful for the love and support of friends and family, on both sides of this trip.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, June 19, 2006  ]

Friday, June 16

Tomorrow, my Griffin will celebrate his eighth birthday. I usually love birthdays, but tomorrow is also packing/goodbye day for us, and it's going to be a hard day.

I had foolishly thought that I might arrive at some point of readiness... that when this time came, I would be ready to say goodbye. I was wrong.

I am ready to be in Florida. I am ready to begin a new life. I am not ready to say goodbye. I just break into sobs with little to no provocation. My heart is breaking despite the knowledge that this is exactly the right thing for us.

Griff came in tonight in tears... couldn't sleep because he realized he would only be here in this home for two days when he was eight. And he's scared and unsure and all of the things I am, too. I keep telling him that it's okay to be sad and that it's okay to be scared. I admit, though, that in the dark of the night when I can't sleep, I am scared he won't make friends or will be teased or whatnot. That is one of the prayers that I plead to God over and over again.

I trust He will work it out, though, for all of us. I also trust that He will ease us through the loading of the truck tomorrow and the farewell reception tomorrow night. And all of the many other things about to happen in our lives.

We leave here Sunday and will leave for Florida from Baton Rouge Monday morning. I'll be posting again in a few weeks when we're settled. Thank you to everyone who has already (and who will in the future) said prayers for us and this move.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, June 16, 2006  ]

Wednesday, June 14

We received, signed and mailed the mail-away closing papers today on our new Florida house. Griff had to say goodbye to his best friend this morning, and that was hard for all of us (including his friend's mama and me). There are goodbyes still ahead, and those are hard to imagine, though I know we're really close.

And that's pretty much our update. Boxes, more boxes. Goodbyes and more goodbyes. Once we're finally in our new home and have some of the boxes unpacked, I know things will feel better for all of us.

Until then, I take the sweet little 'happies' (as my friend, Stephanie, calls them) that come my way unexpectedly. I went with Mandy to her doctor's appointment yesterday, assuming it was a routine visit, and we got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time. It was amazing! I was thrilled... reduced to tears (though, admittedly, that's not unusual these days). It was the perfect little surprise for God to send to me.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, June 14, 2006  ]

Monday, June 12

I have shed more tears in the last month than in the last six. And I have shed the majority of those in the last two weeks, and I suspect this coming week will best those. I expected this to be hard, but I honestly hadn't anticipated it being this hard.

Mike took Eliza to daycare this morning for the last time, and I will pick her up this afternoon at that special place for the last time. I have loved that place and those people and leaving them breaks my heart. I don't have a place for Eliza yet in our new hometown, and while I know God will provide, I cannot imagine a place like this.

The same women who rocked my tiny Eliza rocked my chubby Griffin. The owners are people I know by their given names, and they are a couple who cared for Griff and Eliza both through their first allergic reactions. My children have been cared for, taught, and loved by these people in this place.

Griff and a precious little girl who has been in his classes through daycare and into the magnet elementary school were the first two children in the daycare. I know without a doubt that God provided these people to help us rear our children with love and grace. And I trust that He will provide a new place for both of them. I have to believe that or this becomes harder than it already is.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, June 12, 2006  ]

Saturday, June 10

We've got a week left here in this house, in our home. I'm ready, and I'm not. I'm tired and sad. Again, thank you to everyone who has left encouraging comments here. I am deeply appreciative.

The trip with Griff and his friend drove me a bit crazy, as expected, but the boys seemed to have fun, which was our goal. We're home now, and my goal for the evening is to wash all of the bedding (except one set of sheets for each bed) so I can pack and have everything ready when we arrive (we won't have a washer/dryer until we buy one once we're there).

After we got home this afternoon, the kids were playing on the water slide, and Griff was stung by a bee. Poor kid. Thankfully, he hasn't reacted to it. With all of his allergies, we're always cautious. While I know without a doubt that this move is God's will for us, I also sometimes wonder what else will happen to wear me out and make this harder.

At times like this, I am grateful for my faith. I just can't imagine how people can go through such difficulty without God.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, June 10, 2006  ]

Friday, June 9

Mama Mandy - June 6
Dear Mandy,
I know that your second Mama Mandy letter is late, but I knew you were in Eureka on the first, so I waited. And what with the horrid problems we've had lately with Mike's laptop and all of the boxes, well, I'm just late.

We are a mere 11 days from our Griff's eighth birthday and 12 days from our departure from this life and our arrival in another. And we're leaving this life we love just as you're beginning a brand new life, too. Know without a doubt that there may be distance between our houses but never between our hearts.

You're learning already that children change your lives. Already your days are beginning to be determined by that tiny being inside you. You're sick and tired and weary, and you are beginning to plan things around how you feel... around the baby. It's a lousy thing for right now, but it's good training for motherhood in which so little is about you and so much is about the baby.

The sickness will ease, and your energy will return in a few weeks. Let your body tell you what it needs. Listen to it. Sleep when you have the chance. Spend time with Josh.

While you'll find that much of your lives revolve around your children, it's always going to be important that you and Josh put time and energy into your marriage. It's good for kids to see their mama and daddy putting one another as a priority.

I know that this is a difficult time right now, and I wish I could make the sickness go away, but with any luck, by the time you get the next of these letters, you'll be feeling better.

This baby you carry is already so loved. Just like you. (And Josh.)

[  posted by Chel on Friday, June 09, 2006  ]

A big thank-you to all of you sweet folks who've commented or emailed to encourage me to keep blogging after the move. I appreciate the support. I know that I'm just really tired and sad right now with all of the move stuff, so I'm not making any choices about that sort of thing just yet.

I had a wonderful visit with my friend, LeeAnn, yesterday. It was good to just go shopping and have make-overs and get our nails done... girly things that let me not think about the leaving and the goodbyes. She and I have been friends since I was 14, so we've got lots of history together. But we haven't lived in the same town in years, so this move for me doesn't change things for us. And it's really nice to have something in my life that isn't changing.

Today, we're taking Griff and his best friend out of town for a birthday weekend. Their birthdays are 10 days apart, and we'll miss Will's. Mandy and Josh are keeping Eliza, so it'll just be the boys and us. Clearly, I'm outta the loop with the boys, as we're going to a water park (there just can't be enough chlorine to make me feel good about that) and a science museum. But the boys are thrilled, and I'm glad for that.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, June 09, 2006  ]

Tuesday, June 6

I've been considering not blogging any longer once we move, but I have also tried to remember that this probably isn't the best time for me to be making decisions like that. I'm plenty sad with the goodbyes I'm already saying, and I know I'm just responding to that. Today, I got a couple of sweet comments from readers, reminding me that people are connected to me through this blog.

We sat together tonight as I worked on the computer and Eliza looked through all of my jewelry and insisted that we all wear some, which was fun and funny. She'll always have plenty of pretties to wear.

Tomorrow, I'm going to meet my friend, LeeAnn, for an overnight visit before we head out to Florida. I'm looking forward to some girl time with her, to talking and just being. I'm hoping this time will give me that extra boost that I need to get through the next few days of packing and moving.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, June 06, 2006  ]

Monday, June 5

We leave here in 13 days, which seems impossible. True to our natures, I think we've still got tons of stuff to pack, and Mike's very impressed wtih how much we've already done. It seems to me that the next 13 days are full of nothing but packing and goodbyes.

I've been trying to find ideas online of ways to decorate Griff's new room. He wants a science/CSI room, which isn't as popular as one might think. I've found a few ideas, but I'm still searching. Eliza's Strawberry Shortcake room was much easier!

[  posted by Chel on Monday, June 05, 2006  ]

Friday, June 2

Quack, quack. Duck.

Those are our mantra phrases for the weekend. We have visitors who we very much want to have the opportunity to spend this time with us before we leave but who are also stressful visitors. And so, this weekend, my goal is to let everything that is said in an ugly way or that is inconsiderate just roll off me like water off a duck's back.

When something less than supportive was said at dinner, Mike looked over at me and mouthed, 'quack, quack,' and that made me smile.

Be a duck.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, June 02, 2006  ]

Thursday, June 1

I had been doing really well with my Bible study time but then with all of the craziness of the last few months, I'm not doing as well as before. This is going to be a chaotic month for us, full of trips and birthdays and the big move. And I know this is a time when I will be tempted to not give the time to God that I know I need.

And so, on this first day of Griff's birthday month (as he's reminded us several times), I am pledging to work my way through Proverbs (easier than sticking with where I am now) and to writing in my prayer journal. It will be good for me to take the time each day to spend with God and to record the thoughts that go with this life-changing month.

(oops... changed my mind. Instead of Proverbs, I'm reading devotionals from "Grace for the Race" by Dena Dyer. But one day in, and I'm up-to-date.)

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, June 01, 2006  ]