October 19, 2016

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It used to sit a little heavier on my heart, and while this month will always hold a tender spot in my heart, the 15th especially, the emotions surrounding this month have just changed over the years just as my grief continues to evolve.

I want to always do something to acknowledge Cale and talk about him a little more on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day/Month, but this year was the first year that we really didn't do much. In the past we've participated in walks to remember, balloon releases, and candle lighting ceremonies. I've made candles for family and friends to light, and made a bigger deal in the past about inviting others to join us. But having just moved to a new country, move in to a new (empty) house, all we did this year was include specific thanks for Cale in our prayers and light his candle. It felt a little odd - like it wasn't really enough, but I'm also at a much more comfortable and aware point in my grief where I understand that the small gestures and the big ones can hold just as much meaning.

When we flew to England I carried Cale's urn in my bag that went on the airplane with me. Unfortunately at some point it got a chip in the bottom of it. It's a very soft stone (I don't entirely remember what we ordered - I think it's marble, but maybe not). His name has had some wear to it over the years as the engraving probably wasn't super easy on a gentle stone. And there is a little more wear on his name after our recent move. 

I was pretty upset about it, and had emailed with a few friends, but my friend Brooke made me feel better when she wrote, "I know that it's his so you want to keep it pristine and perfect and protected, but I kind of love that it's a bit damaged. Because it doesn't just sit in one place untouched--it's moved and carried and loved on and traveled with. Like how many people can say their urn is so well loved that it gets chipped?"

And that helped me look at it a little differently. Cale isn't with us how we ever imagined or wanted. But we can still do our best to ensure he is a remembered and loved part of our family. Even if that means just lighting a candle and sending him love.


October 7, 2016

Our First Few Weeks in England

We have now been in England for a little over three weeks, so I'm due for some updates and to share some pictures. We moved here because of a really great opportunity Miles was given through the military after he was awarded a scholarship last fall. The scholarship enables him to attend a grad school of his choosing so long as he studies something in the realm of counter terrorism (meaning, he can't just use it as a chance to get an MBA). He applied, and was accepted at, some good options stateside, but also wanted to apply to Oxford and fortunately for our family, he was accepted and the Army said, "sure, we will move you guys there! You just owe use a few years in return for paying for your school" and Miles said, "deal!"

We took an overnight flight leaving Savannah in the evening, connecting in New York, and then had a six hour flight to London. The kids did really well traveling and both slept a little on the flight, but it definitely took them a few days to adjust. We rented a car for a bit as we didn't want to have to schlep six suitcases, a stroller, and two carseats on public transport. Miles did a great job navigating the other side of the road and driving a standard transmission. We are only about an hour outside of London and we stayed in a two bedroom flat (an Air BnB) just north of the city center when we first arrived. We have since had to change to another flat, in a different part of town, but both places have been nice and made living out of suitcases very tolerable. 

This was our first flat. 

We knew we would only want one car while we were here so started looking right away at options. We went to several dealerships and looking online and at postings on Gumtree (Craigslist equivalent), but as we were driving home from a Ford dealership I saw a small used car dealership and we found a car that met our wants (automatic transmission! space for kids and bags for traveling) at a good price so ended up coming back to test drive and purchase the car. Miles also go a new set of wheels and picked up a hybrid bike. We have road bikes that are being shipped here, but it's much easier (and safer) to commute on the streets on a hybrid.

While we haven't done much exploring outside of Oxford, it's been really nice getting familiar with this lovely little city.

We've taken a bus tour, visited a museum, walked through the city center numerous times, and visited over a half dozen parks and playgrounds.

We started house hunting the day after we arrived and looked at lots of houses and found a good option in a good location, but it is not ready for us to move in until next week. Fortunately, the Army covers our lodging expense for 30 days and we will use all 30 of those days. I look forward to moving in to a space we can call our own, but we still are looking at at least a couple more weeks until our stuff arrives.

Miles has had some events to attend (registration, orientation, etc.), and tonight he and a dinner at his college, but his official first day of class isn't until Monday, so it's been nice to have a few weeks here to just ease in to life on the other side of the pond. His facial hair is officially the longest it's ever been and the civilian life seems to be suiting him, and us all, just fine.


September 26, 2016

Summer 2016: Texas

The last trip of our summer was out to Texas to visit our family who live near Austin. We squeezed this in right before moving (literally, nine days after we got back from Texas we moved!) and I'm so glad we were able to make this trip happen. Finn is such good buddies with his little cousins and I hope that through FaceTime and mail, they stay just as close these next couple of years.

While in Texas we rented a pontoon boat, took the kids to the movies, got to go on a kidless date night, Miles went on a ride-a-long with his brother, and Jenny and I snuck in some Target and Starbucks visits. It was the perfect trip to wrap up all our summer travels.

 The littlest of the cousins were always eating. 
Like, ALL the time.

 Love how my sister in law has my kids displayed.

 Goodbye group hug


September 18, 2016

Our Last Week in Savannah

I've got several blogs I need to get caught up on, but since tomorrow marks one week since we flew out of Georgia I figured I would start by sharing our last week in Savannah.

The movers spent three days packing up our house. Some of our things went in to storage for the next two years, some things got boxed to be sent over "early" and the rest was packed and crated and should arrive in England in about six weeks. We ended up moving in to a hotel for the last several days since we had no furniture and were living out of suitcases already. Despite the chaos that accompanies all moves, we were able to squeeze a lot in to our last week which felt like a nice way to wrap up our time in Savannah. I wish we got to live there longer as we had such a great time living in such a charming city. I'm so grateful for the friends made and the experiences and memories that we take with us.

One last date night:

My last class with Stroller Strong Moms:

 Lunch at one of my favorite places, Slys:

 Breakfast at the Funky Brunch:

Tunnel to Towers 5k:

 Beach trip to Tybee Island

Went to mass so Finn could practice his music note writing:

 Sold my car:

 Took a trip to the Savannah Candy Kitchen.
Mary was not happy she had to take a picture before she could tear into that bag:

Had a lovely girls' night with the most awesome cake:

House still for sale. Sigh.