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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Our Next Move

No worries, nothing is imminent. (Anyone who has not yet booked a flight to visit felt their pulse quicken, though, right!?) But, what's next for us is in the back of my mind a bit. And we're probably not unlike most people in dreaming lots of going off the grid. Some days we use a shorthand of saying "when we start our sheep farm" and not because we know a single thing about farming. Or sheep. But because we often fantasize about a life more connected. Less driven by someone or something else. And maybe also where we give more than we take.

I am always taking notes of best practices of other families in this regard. When the boys were little and the Mister in graduate school, I had long weekends with the tiny guys solo. I would pull them in the wagon to our local farmers market where we'd linger over honey bees, big muffins, fruits, veggies and the most amazing flowers. A friend we got to know on those sunny, lazy mornings invited us to visit her flower farm. Where her children grew and played among rows and rows of gorgeous flowers and where her husband kept his art studio. Where the closest neighbor was miles away.

And so a seed was planted. Shortly thereafter, we fell in love with an American Four Square on more than a few acres. It wasn't to be, but it sure prepared us to become enchanted with the Four Square that was. I know that is how it will always go. Whether we have an inkling of something or get thrown for a loop, when the right thing at the right time is ready, we will be, too.

That doesn't keep me from clipping (and reading aloud!) every article I come across about people who have left their "regular" life behind and hand in hand, hopped off the grid. Stories about a family who began a surf school on a tropical island, a couple who started selling cheese at their own dairy in rural England, a whole ship full of people providing medical care to Africans, and all sorts of life changing family adventures ripe for beautiful children's books.

I don't think it is just my approaching 40th birthday or Biggest Brother soon turning 10 that makes me think our time as a young family is going too quickly. We don't have unlimited time to watch this plan unfold. Somehow I am already just months away from having 4 children in school.

Even though Baby Sister will only be at Our Sweet School in the mornings starting in the fall, that means I'm mere months away from having no honest reason not to whip up healthy, marginally interesting, and relatively edible dinners at least a few nights a week. Eegads. I did cook lots when the boys were little. Then I got out of the habit and now I'm a bit afraid of failure. Plenty worse problems to have, I know. But here's warning the neighbors that they'll soon and often hear our smoke detector. This coming from someone who once called her girlfriend for coaching when trying to cook bacon (not the pre cooked kind you can zap in the microwave) and even that wasn't enough to salvage it. I'd much prefer making 100 iced cookies or a wedding cake, but those don't nourish growing smalls.

I do long for a house that the kids grow up in. For a place we have a family touchstone. But this adventurous lifestyle we've lived of late suits me for now. It is challenging, exciting and perhaps a bit addictive, too. I think this semi-permanent wanderlust is somehow rooted in our backgrounds in political campaigning. You committed to something and lived it for long days, and in November, you pulled up stakes (literally. Those signs are everywhere). Every savvy campaign staffer, even when he should be manning the risograph (that's telling of the campaigns I toiled in or maybe more, the level of my responsibilities!), is thinking through what is next. Stirring the pot of tonight's soup while flipping through a cookbook for tomorrow's menu (as if!).

As an interim step to exploring a different life, we are contemplating a charitable vacation. I am a firm believer that our children aren't too young to witness how much we have and see how differently others live without. We all know those people are our neighbors. No matter where we live. Some of our most humbling and heartwarming days as a family were spent serving breakfasts to homeless people in the heart of one of the United States' wealthiest counties. Serving homemade meals on Sunday mornings to people dressed like us and who looked just like us. People we walked in the shelter with, thinking they were also bringing breakfast, and yet minutes later found them on the receiving side of the line.  Another lesson I learned on those Sundays was that we would always have enough to serve and that despite my lack of culinary skills, on those mornings my breakfasts were simple but turned out really, really good. Without fail. There is so much for our family to learn in giving to others together.

And I am in deeply in love with city life now but also dream of wandering the edge of the surf or discovering nature in country fields as a family. Where we go to the beach instead of a playground. A life where Baby Sister doesn't mistake grazing British sheep for "little cows."

Make no mistake. We adore London, love our life here, and are thrilled to be continuing to make it our home. I'm fairly sure there are boxes we've still not unpacked. Thinking of leaving causes me to well up with tears in a "They've just paid off the homeowners' mortgage on Extreme Makeover Home Improvement" kind of way. But to be able to live a different life is in my sights. Maybe it will be for a few weeks and maybe it will lead to a whole new chapter. When it is time, I'll be ready. I'm very open to that move, whether it is our next one, or one not yet even imagined. A life in the woods, in a field, on a ship, at the beach (fingers crossed!). Who knows. All the same, I do hope whatever our next move is, it doesn't involve a tremendous amount of my cooking.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. I found your blog and really enjoy reading about your life and your littles. I have a friend who lives near London who also writes a blog that you might enjoy. She and her family (hubby and 3 little girls) are actually getting ready to circumnavigate the globe. She is going to homeschool for the year while the family travels and explores the world. Her blog