Friday, September 2, 2016

One year later

We're going into Labor Day weekend, which may always remind me of that time we dragged 13 bags and 2 kids through airports in 3 countries over 6 time zones, crammed everything in my parents' car, and spent the next few days getting school physicals, buying a minivan, moving our stuff out of storage and hours away into a rental house in a new town, meeting Olivia's teacher while still a little jet-lagged, and beginning the next chapter of our lives.  I cried a lot.

A year ago the friends I was current with were from far-off places like Australia, South Africa, and England.
A year ago I had to use the GPS to find the grocery store, and I was still calling it the sat nav.
A year ago we were surrounded by boxes, only to unpack and then move again when we bought a house six months later.
A year ago we started visiting new churches, and nothing felt quite like home.

This year we are in a house we love, with wonderful neighbors.  We liked our neighbors in the rental house, too, and even our neighbor playing guitar in the apartment above us in Sweden, but ultimately we love being in a home of our own again.

This year the kids will go to the same schools they attended last year.  I haven't been able to say that for a while.  Today we went to the park with another family we met through Bowen's preschool, and tonight after Olivia met her teacher we met and hung out with other school families.  (She transferred to the new school in March when we moved, but we didn't meet anyone from there until this summer). School starts next week and the kids are excited.

This year we have found a wonderful church home and we're excited to be part of what is going on there.

This year we have met a bunch of people in our new community, and every single one of them is kind and friendly and normal.  I realize that everyone is normal until you get to know them, but the people around here are inclusive and genuinely nice.  In the expat community in Sweden we made fast friends with incredible people, but I knew that was unique and I had guarded expectations in our new town.  It takes a little longer here, but I think I'm finding my people.

This year the kids learned to swim.  Swim lessons are hard to come by in Sweden.  One of my only complaints about living abroad was that I felt like we were holding the kids back, delaying aspects of their childhood that people take for granted in the States.  But now they can ride bikes in our driveway, play soccer/t-ball/gymnastics with kids who speak English, and go to the pool.  Last year we took them to Spain, Amsterdam, Germany, France, Norway, and Sweden. This year we took them camping, kayaking, roller skating, and to a baseball game.  They got to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  They got to eat corn on the cob and pork chops fresh off the grill.

It has been a year since we left Sweden, and in some ways it feels like so long ago. We loved our time there, the people we were with, seeing so many new places and learning about other cultures. The original plan was to be in Sweden through the end of this year, and that just blows my mind right now.  Plans changed and we rolled with it, and now we're in a different great place.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Brought tears to my eyes reading this! We miss you so much but I'm so happy for you!