Monday, June 29, 2009

Countdown to Reality

Today Luke and I went to the moving truck and put up the plywood retainer wall that will separate our stuff from some commercial load that is Virginia-bound. We are officially one week away from stepping onto an airplane headed back to reality. (In this case, reality is Charlottesville, VA).

After four months of life on a ship, and two months of living with Luke's mom in Salem, we're off to start our ordinary day to day life up again. I'm anxious and excited in equal measure. Floating out here in non-reality, where both of us stay at home all day with the kids, where we pay no bills, and where the kitchen really does seem to clean itself magically if you let stuff sit too long, I have been able to avoid the fact that we are about to be in a completely new place making a completely new life. I think we are headed for a big shock.

The craziest thing for me has been the reality that I have no idea what I might do in Charlottesville. Starting a career from scratch in a place I am so unfamiliar with sort of makes me feel like I am without bearing - it is really overwhelming. I have a feeling it may be awhile before I get settled into something, but I just keep telling myself that in five years I will look back and say, "now see, that all worked out for the best, didn't it?" So, score one more point for Melanie Jones and her magical thinking.

The most useful thing I've learned in the past six months is that there are scores of things that I don't really need and ultimately don't care about. All of the stuff that we are shipping to Virginia is just stuff. Being separated from it for six months has provided some necessary detachment. I'm sure this will come in handy during the unpacking phase, because we already heard lots of broken glass when moving all of our boxes from the storage unit onto the Virginia-bound truck.

The most exciting thing is that we (fingers-crossed) are buying our first house in Charlottesville. If all goes as planned, we will close on a home on July 8th. This will be the first time that we have had a place that didn't share walls with a neighbor, or that had a real yard with grass. It even has central heat and air. This new development has me completely over the moon, HGTV-obsessed (the cable is free in non-reality, should you ever have an excuse to visit), and watching Craigslist like a hawk for just the right couch to come available in Charlottesville. I don't think I did a very thorough job of nesting with Abi or Lily either one - they were both born at very transition-y times in our lives. Maybe that nesting instinct just goes dormant if you don't fully exercise it, and then explodes all over the first opportunity there is to express it. That's my explanation of what is going on in my mind right now... like we are going to walk into our house and I am just going to blow up and leave smears of fuschia paint all over the girls walls. (It's just a metaphor...don't worry.)

The house-buying process was pretty uneventful, but still one of the most nerve-racking processes we have ever been through together. We were working on a 30 day timeline, and everything needed to happen very fast. I never imagined I could get so emotional over a house, as logical Melanie knows that a house is just a place to sleep, eat, and wash up like a Motel 6 or something. Of course, I also never imagined I could get so emotional over a baby. So there you go. Houses and babies both make me cry and stay awake all night. I guess I am waaaay more normal than anyone ever imagined.

I think that is all for now.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cupcake Fun

Life being somewhat chaotic at the moment, we celebrated Abi's and Luke's birthdays on the same day - June 25th. Luke really likes Red Velvet Cake, so about two weeks ago I whipped up a batch of red velvet cupcakes and threw them in the fridge. On Thursday, I pulled them out and made up some cream cheese frosting while Abi was on a special breakfast date with grandma. Lily was something close to helpful in the taste testing trials - we decided to add a little more powdered sugar than the recipe suggested. She gave the final result a finger lick and an enthusiastic "Mmmm-mmmm!"

Abi helped with the cupcake frosting during Lily's morning nap. Abi wanted to know if we could lick the knife between cupcakes. A fine idea if you ask me, but we opted to wait when I noted that there would be frosting left over for us to dip Teddy Grahams in. Then I got a cute idea: what if we put Teddy Grahams on top of the cupcakes like happy little dancing bears? I floated this by Abi, but she thought it might be better to put jelly beans on top of each cupcake. So, she completed the final garnish. I think they turned out very nice!

The rest of the party food was a re-work of dinner two nights prior - leftover cuban black beans + cream cheese = black bean chip dip; leftover chicken filling + cream cheese + corn tortillas = taquitos. Ya-Ya added her famous guacamole which was a big hit!

I think we will name this dual birthday party the "Red Velvet Hello Kitty Fiesta". A name that is equally delightful for a four year old girl, and a thirty-three year old man.

Yesterday Abi and I bought a gift for Luke. A bicycle water bottle cage and some of his favorite candy to use as "filler", kind of like tissue paper in the bag. Luke's other gift is going to see the new transformer movie tonight, so I thought movie candy would be in order. We discussed keeping the gift a secret, and Abi has done a masterful job on that count. One fine detail we left out was keeping the hiding place a secret. Abi divulged that one with a simple question from her daddy.

Here are the rest of the pictures from the big event which included Ya-Ya, Lydia and Tyler, Sully and Natalie, and our family: