Monday, March 13, 2017

Sewing up a Storm

I love to sew.  I love making clothes and quilting.  I love putting colors together in beautiful ways. We've been doing a lot of sewing over the couple of months.  Hyrum, Hannah, Jonathan, Charlotte and I have all picked up our needles and thread or used the machine to create some "masterpieces".

Hyrum worked on his yearly textile project.  We filled three quilt blocks this year.  That's a record so far-one I'm ok letting stand for a while.  We only have one more row before we'll finish this quilt off.  We thought this would last us twenty years, we're only in 11 1/2 so far.

This is a pretty typical January Saturday--chores and sewing.

My mom and I have made the girls some clothes.  My mom helped Hannah with this skirt and then made Charlotte one too with the extra material.  I made Charlotte this cute dress.  The girls love to sew especially when Grandma is involved.

Grandma also brought material and showed Charlotte how to hand sew little pillows.  All of the kids have been at it, including Jonathan  They love going through my scrap drawer looking for the "perfect" fabric.  It started with pillows but now they have visions of purses and blankets.  who knows what they will create!

Along with Charlotte's dress, I made myself a dress--one day I'll post about that.  It was an experience.  I've also been working on a sampler quilt and another one I've had in the works for a bit.  I love the colors and though its tedious, I enjoy the time to do something I love.  I put the quilts away for the kids to choose from when they get married.  I'm hoping to have two for each of them. 

Sewing is a way of life for me since my girls are too tall and thin for most off the rack dresses.  Unfortunately, Charlotte hates jeans so I need to make her a bunch of jumpers and little dresses as she's grown out of those she has.  I'm thankful for my mom and her patience in teaching me to sew.  I didn't sew a lot of clothing as a teenager but at least I knew the basics and due to necessity, over the years I've learned to really love it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Cub Scouts

Cake for our Blue and Gold Banquet.  Our theme was "Be A Super Cub".  We billed it as Superhero Training camp with activities geared around the elements of the scout law as the boys super powers.

Cub Scouts is fun, chaotic, creative, busy, and good.  I really am enjoying my time with the Cub Scouts.  Sometimes there is so much to do and not a lot of time to do it but I think the boys are learning and having fun.  We've had a service project, met the Mayor, had the Pinewood Derby, and Celebrated Cub Scouts with our Blue and Gold Banquet.  This month we're building candy dispensers.  The boys are super excited!

Jonathan loved Cub Scouts.  It has given him goals to work towards every week and things he can learn.  We are having a good time together. 

Jonathan's Pinewood Derby Car

Our Pack

Derby Night

Banquet Room with our photo stop in the background.

Blue and Gold Banquet setup.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

2 months Home and Lessons Learned

At some point we will stop talking about our trip but in a lot of ways it has been a game changer in our lives.  The other day, the kids were talking how long we've been home from Europe.  It's now been just over two months.  That trip feels like a dream.  I am so glad we went because of all the wonderful things we learned and experienced.  There were lots of times we were ready to bag it and come home but I'm glad we stuck it out.  Not, so many of those rough moments have faded and we're left with rich and rewarding memories.  Not a day goes by that someone doesn't mention something from our trip.  Hannah and Jonathan have had enriched experiences at school already because of their greater context of the world.  

While we loved the trip, we learned a few things about how we would change it for next time.  For our family, it was hard and lonely to be away from home for so long without really living in one place.  If we do this again we've decided to either take a month and be tourists and experience all we can in a month, hit it hard and fast or take the plunge and move.  Sell the house or at least really pack it up and move for at least one year though I think 3 would be a better for cultural immersion.  There are perks to all ways of doing it.  It really depends on what work at the given moment.

Since coming home, life has gotten so busy.  There are home improvement projects to work on, church callings to fulfill, school activities and so many other endeavors to pursue.  We're trying hard to preserve the family time we had in Europe but find that we quickly fall into the old traps.  The trip has certainly given us a lot to think about and a new rubric to evaluate our time by.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

And we're back . . .

First Day of School

We arrived home safe and sound.  Life has been busy while we unpacked suitcases, unpacked boxes, went grocery shopping, and picked up where we left off.  We've celebrated Christmas a few times since returning.  Hannah, Jonathan and Charlotte are back in school, Spencer and Ben have a pretty good eat, play, eat, rest, eat, play, sleep routine going on.  Heather has a new calling as Cubmaster, Hyrum finally made it to the office Tuesday afternoon after dealing with car trouble and dentist appointments and this weekend brought a much anticipated visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  

Hyrum and I spent 3 1/2 hours sorting books we've had boxed up for years.
We're getting rid of two boxes full of books.
Christmas #2--Presents for each other we didn't
want to ship to Germany and then back again.  

Afternoon reading time.

We've also had a lot of time to think about and process our experiences.  I feel sure that it was a good thing, maybe even the right thing, for our family to do these past few months.  We have learned so much about the world we live in, about people and most importantly about ourselves and what matters most.  We've learned practical lessons about our family and travel.  We also have a better idea of what it means to move a large American family to Europe.  We've learned a bit about how small our perspective is and just how much we don't/can't understand about the world at large because we haven't experienced it.  This trip was truly humbling in so many ways.  I hope to elaborate on that later.  

Cub Scout buddies.

When we don't read we play games.

We're grateful for our trip and we're so glad to be home.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The End

141 days ago, we boarded an airplane with a mountain of luggage, five children, and a bunch of anxiety about what was to come as we set our sights to Europe for several months of family adventure.  It was a step way outside our comfort zone, and while we had a general plan, there were many unknowns.  We wondered how we'd do it all, and several times seriously considered packing it in and going home.

Tomorrow, we will again board an airplane, this time headed back to the States after having lived a lot, cried a little, and really just experienced the world around us.  Our 142 days of adventure will come to an end with little fanfare, and hopefully peaceful children during our long flight back across the pond.  When we land, summer will have given way to fall, which will have faded to winter.  Our bright and worn traveling clothes will be buried under the hats, scarves and gloves which mark the season in Pittsburgh.

In a weeks' time, we'll be busy with school, work, Church and everything in between.  We'll be able to get babysitters and send the children outside to play.  I won't have to wear the same tie to Church every week, everyone will get a new set of toothbrushes, and we won't have to visit several markets to do our weekly shopping.  It will be an adjustment.

I expect friends to ask us how our trip was, and I've thought a lot about how to respond.  How does one sum up five months of experiencing the world in a sentence or two?  How do we share the joys and the sorrows, the fun and the hardships, the concerns and the triumphs of our travels in a casual conversation?  I struggle to capture the breadth of my feelings in any medium, because it feels as if doing so always leaves something unsaid.

The reasons for that are as varied as the emotions that flow as a I think about Connemara, London, Paris, Slovenia, Antrim, Munich, Wicklow, Zugspitze, N├╝rnberg and all the other places we've been and things we've done.  The places have been awesome indeed, but they aren't the sum of our adventure.  We haven't just been to those places, we've experienced them, and in doing so, they have changed who we are as individuals and as a family.  They are now an inseparable part of us, never to be taken.  I look forward to a cold winter night many decades hence remembering with Heather—Spencer's broken armCharlotte's cut, and everything in between.  We will always have these experiences: they have changed who we are, and will continue to do so long after we return home.

If I've learned something over the last few months, it's that we can do hard things, individually and as a family.  People are kind and generous, and we should return that kindness in turn.  Things will work out, even if not in the ways we expect.  We may not be able to do everything in the world, but we shouldn't be afraid of doing something.  And as a family, we should not shy from the unfamiliar, the difficult or the uncomfortable.

Maybe the adventure isn't over after all.