Once we landed in Connecticut Andrew immediately got to work finishing his dissertation. He had a few days before it had to be submitted to his committee so they would have two weeks to look at it before his scheduled defense.
The kids and I started unpacking and realized we needed more places to put things. I found plans to make a lot of shelves for less than $100 using some IKEA units, wood from home depot, and two cans of black spray paint. That first week we navigated to the different stores and loaded up the Honda Civic to it’s maximum carrying capacity. It took a lot of time and prayers to get the wood in the car and we were all pinned into our seats – super scary. I drove home praying all the way. We drove right through an accident involving four or five cars about 100 yards from our home right after it happened, before any emergency responders arrived. A huge miracle.
We assembled shelves, cut wood, road bikes, and unpacked. We met with a few people in our new ward a few times. Laura quickly figured out how to ride the car bike and now zooms around (in one direction, she needs help turning around) with the big kids.
One of the greatest surprises on our first Sunday at church was discovering the third violinist that Phoebe and I had fiddled with at BYU in our 6 week Irish folk group was in our ward here. She and I didn’t really know each other at all, but we pulled out some music and performed two weeks later at the ward Christmas talent show. I am so grateful for God’s gift of giving me someone to jump right in and play music with.
Andrew made it back just in time to see us perform (literally a few acts before ours), after traveling to and from Indiana to defend his dissertation. The kids and I watched him via FaceTime on Friday night as he presented his work and answered his committee’s questions. He had practiced with me before he left so I had a pretty good idea of what was going on while I was doing typical mom things, but when the questions started rolling in it felt pretty intense with the amount of possible changes. He did great and passed, making the revisions in time to make the graduation deadline.
Once he finished completely with his dissertation and deposited, he came home and finished hand planing all the wood for our shelves since I bought the cheapest, and therefore most rugged, option. I was then able to do a whole lot more unpacking before we left for Indiana for graduation.
The kids jumped right in with great imaginative play in a new space. Usually they are Andrew and Jessica and I’m Grandma Moose. Laura takes on a variety of roles, but is commonly Aunt Christine or the baby and my granddaughter. They use the wood boxes and curvy boards to build all sorts of things from schools to church to planes to trains to hospital beds to tractors – you get the idea. I’m feeling like a champ because we have a space in our living room and in their bedroom to stack their boxes each night, depending on where they were building during the day.
They also did waste any time in embarking on creative pursuits. I found them painting with water and chalk in the living room our first week here. We engaged in some “just-in-time-teaching” about wood floors and water and relocated the project.
Laura discovered she likes to snuggle with Emily and Nathan. At times she has clear preferences of who she wants to be with (in this moment Nathan) but then they quickly made a joyful three-some.
The kids choose these ice-cream cones to celebrate Andrew submitting his dissertation for review before his defense.
It gets COLD in our house. When the kids woke up in the morning we had to suit everyone up in winter gear before attempting to eat breakfast, otherwise they were “freezing” and couldn’t focus on eating.
Laura figure out how to climb stairs right before we moved and improved rapidly in her climbing abilities once we arrived. She absolutely took advantage of all the boxes and I spent a lot of time trying to make things less climb-able.
It had been such a long time since I did any creative sort of project (thank you moving) that I decided to spend some time carving while the kids biked outside. I roughed out this scoop that Laura took to immediately.
We had a day of snow. The kids rushed out to eat it – their favorite winter activity right now.
The first few weeks were so busy that we didn’t really have time to process the fact we’ve left our friends. It feels like a trip, especially because we are heading back soon for graduation. Our apartment feels huge after spending our time in roughly 500 sq ft in Indiana – particularly when I’m running to try and catch Laura from falling off of the couch.