I'm in a hotel room for the night on a trip to Raleigh for work, so I have a few quiet hours to myself. I spent the weekend with my family in Charlotte, have felt right at home being back in the office the past few days, and have enjoyed wonderful time with friends the past two evenings. Steve is having a good week at work, and Ella is having a blast on a little vacation with Grammy at Great Wolf Lodge. All is good, and I am feeling very thankful for our current stage in life.
It's hard to explain, but after feeling so unsettled and unsure about which direction we were heading for the last several years, it's almost like couldn't imagine what it would be like to be free from a a lot of it and not always have something big hanging over heads...I know this phase we're in is short-lived, and I want to take the time to get it down on 'paper' before life gets crazy again and I forget.
Here are some of the things that I am grateful for, that have resulted from our move, in no particular order:
1) We sold our house and haven't seriously begun looking for a new one, so we have a few months of time between big projects...which is a really great feeling. Our life became so crazy the last few months of 2011 and straight up through our move, that it seemed like I'd never get a chance to catch my breath. It took many weeks for things to start to feel settled in TX, but for the last several weeks I've just been feeling content and thankful the current phase that we're in. I'm so used to worrying that I am constantly trying to tell myself I can just relax and enjoy the moment.
2) My daily life is so much easier than it used to be and I get to enjoy more free time with Ella during the week. My evening routine used to be: race from work to pick up Ella, get home, make dinner, clean the kitchen, play/bath/bed for Ella. Then start all my prep for the next day - pack lunches for both of us, take care of the pets, clean up, talk to Steve on the phone, catch up on work that I didn't finish during the day, then go to bed. Working from home has made it so much easier - I work on east coast hours, so I am done around 4:30 and can be back home with Ella by 5. I usually start dinner before I get her, so when we get home we can go to the playground, take Cory for a walk, ride on her scooter, or play whatever she is in the mood for. Steve and I usually split up kitchen clean-up and bath/bed routine, and then the two of us have some time together every night.
In the mornings, I try to get up early and have some quiet time - sometimes I get up early to go to the gym, sometimes I read my bible and write in my journal, get in an early walk with Cory, or I might just drink coffee and get some work done before I need to wake Ella up. And on my really ambitious days I actually do my hair and makeup :). Time is just about the most precious resource there is, and I am really enjoying having more of it.
3) Being in an apartment has its benefits. Even though we have a storage unit stuffed to the gills with our stuff, with the exception of our beach chairs and beach umbrella, I haven't wished for a single thing in storage and we've been just fine with everything we kept out. Our place is small and so there's only so much cleaning to be done. We're a 2 minute walk from the gym and a 2 minute walk from the pool, and there are plenty of places to walk Cory around the complex. While I will absolutely enjoy being in our own home and permanently settling down in the area, there is something very nice in the interim about having so little house responsibility and more time to spend on other things.
4) Cory is a different dog since we've moved. Having me at home all day has given her a new lease on life. She seems content and relaxed most of the time and loves me working from home. Her separation anxiety and other fears and phobias have really lessened and I'm working on weaning her off some of her medicines.
5) We've had entire weekends without anything planned. In months and months leading up to our move I don't think we had a single weekend without multiple things planned, weeks in advance! Instead, we've spent fun afternoons at the pool, lots of time outside, going to try out new restaurants, exploring the area, and just enjoying time with just the three of us. Before our move we had so much scheduled all the time that it seemed like a special occasion to do anything with just the three of us, and now it's the norm.
6) We've met some really great people. Steve has two classmates that live in the area, both who are married with small children, and we hang out with them a lot; and I've met other moms that I'm enjoying getting to know. Ella has new friends at school and is comfortable with her church class. Because we're in an apartment complex, there are people around all the time to strike up a conversation with, and I've met all kinds of interesting characters.
7) Steve's job. He is working incredibly hard, is challenged every day, and is really excelling at it. Who would've thought that after doing nothing engineering-related in all this time after college, he'd end up as an engineer, uses his degree every day, and is really good at it! I am so proud of him. He has to work late a few nights a week and feels bad that he's not home with us - I tell him that he is doing the most important thing, working to secure our family's future.
8) That I still have a connection to NC through work, and get to come back with some regularity. This is my second trip back for work, and both times I've had a chance to bring Ella and see family, and it's given her some extra 'grandparent time' each trip while I've driven over for work. I was able to see friends last night and tonight, and to spend a few hours with them and feel like no time has passed was so awesome. Bittersweet for sure, because I know it'll be a few months before I see them again, but such a blessing to have the time together.
9) Perspective. Perhaps most of all, I am grateful for the perspective that I have now, that I feel so good about all of the above. There are plenty of things that I miss about NC, days when working from home isn't all that appealing, times when I wish Ella was as comfortable as she used to be at school and that she had her old friends again, I miss my friends and old routines, don't like being far from my family, etc. But instead I am trying, on a daily basis, to choose gratitude for where we are right now, and to fully embrace the present instead of worrying about tomorrow. And hopefully I'll come back to this list the next time I'm struggling with that!