When we moved here (kicking and screaming on my part - no offense to NZ, but I just didn't want to leave the comforts of our house and Lilly's hometown for the unknown - but anyways...), I was under the mistaken notion that in moving to a place where we had no ties, no friends, and no obligations, we would have plenty of freetime. There would be no last-minute lunches with friends, no Little Gym or Kindermusik or signing classes or swimming lessons. No Down syndrome groups to organize (or new parent packets to put together), no brunches with Lilly's boyfriends and their parents. No shopping at Ann Taylor (and Loft), Gymboree, and (sob!) Target. :( There would be no weekend trips all over the US, no flying to Atlanta or NY to visit family. Here, we don't even have American TV shows that we like to watch (or even Tivo - can you imagine?), so the free hours in my day seemed like they would be endless.
Our only obligations would be our jobs and Lilly's preschool, but in the late afternoons, I imagined us taking long walks together, going to the beach or the playground (and how fortunate are we that the closest playground is on the beach!), and catching up on things we never have time to do in the "real world." I pictured myself cooking dinner every night, exercising daily, teaching Lilly numerous skills and concepts. I could start playing tennis again, get massages and my nails done regularly again. I would wake up at 6 am every morning, and go to bed early ever night. I'd do my hair every day, and put on makeup and wear coordinated outfits. I'd no longer need a cleaning lady every other week, I'd do it all myself. This could be the year I might finally start that book I've always thought about writing (or at least a good quality blog - unlike the mess I'm currently producing). I even thought that I might be bored here with so much time to spare.
Our days are so hectic, so filled, that I am always exhausted. I never have time to respond to emails, and sometimes forget to return phone calls. I sometimes make dinner, but more often it's something simple (buying premade pizza crust and adding sauce and cheese really is "making dinner" right?) or we've figured out some restaurants that are Lilly-friendly or we get take-out. Regarding cleaning my own house - I went backwards with that decision, and we now have a great guy that comes even more often, every week. But even that makes me busier, because every Tuesday night Jon & I clean for hours, putting away all Lilly's toys, the laundry, all the random papers, etc - in preparation for the cleaning guy to come do the "real" cleaning.
A typical day in Lilly's World (and her parents)?
Jon wakes up at 6 am, leaves the house at 6:55 for work. (I don't know why 6:55 instead of 7, it's just what he does.) We don't usually see him again until 6:30, although occasionally he's home at 5:30 and sometimes (like tonite) it's 9:30 and he's still not here.
I wake up at 6:55 when Jon gives me a goodbye kiss and tells me he's just made my coffee. Which is a wonderful way to wake up. (The coffee, not the kiss.) Then he stomps out of the house in really loud shoes on hardwood floors, and Lilly of course starts stirring. I get my coffee, wait until I hear "dada? oohhh!" or similar from her room, and get her. Sometimes I call work to check in before she wakes up, or start checking emails. Lately, I can buy some time by giving her a book while she's still groggy, and she'll read in her crib for 20 minutes or so.
Around 7:30 or 8, it's mommy and Lilly time. We eat breakfast (oatmeal, or toast and a banana, or sometimes she's picky and it's crackers, rock melon, and a cookie). While she eats, she watches Elmo (at the dining room table) and I'm able to run in my room and get dressed quickly. Then she sits on the potty like a big girl, and we sing and dance. Most of the time she requires that my eyes are closed while she's on the potty, or else she won't go. Then it's her turn to get dressed, and that usually happens while she's in motion - crawling out of the bathroom, into her bedroom, out of her bedroom, bear-walking through the dining room, a quick pass through the kitchen, into the living room, SHE turns on High School Musical, and by that time we usually have everything on except her shoes and socks. We watch a song or two (just to accomplish the putting-on of the shoes and socks) and if there aren't any problems, we are out the door by 8:30.
I drop Lilly off at her wonderful preschool, and she settles in after a couple minutes. Today, for example, we arrived right as they were doing "Ring around the Rosy" and she was thrilled. As I left, she blew me huge kisses and big waves, and no tears. That is the highlight of the year, the fact that Lilly loves where she goes every day. And they seem to love her too - when we walk into the class, multiple little voices shout "Hello Lilly" but in a NZ accent, its cute. I drive back home, start work, and work until 4 or 5. I drive back and get Lilly (who is, by this time, typically covered in paint, with clay in her mouth), and bribe her to sit in her carseat with a cookie or milk, or sometimes both. We either go straight home, or to the store to buy groceries for dinner. If Jon gets off early enough, we grab dinner out; but usually Lilly & I eat together, and then Jon comes home later and eats after she goes to bed. We watch High School Musical (of course, but just the singing parts), give Lilly a bath, play, read books (and Lilly can now sign "read book"), and she's ready for bed around 7:30. If Jon's home, he puts her to bed (she prefers him for bedtime). He lies on the bed next to her crib, and they hold hands through the bars, and usually he falls asleep first! Finally she falls asleep, and he wakes up about 2 hours later, disoriented. Meanwhile, I usually work another hour or two. Then Jon cleans the kitchen, and I take a shower (because usually my day is so busy it's the first chance I've gotten!) and we're asleep by 10 or 11.
Not that our day is very interesting, but it's pretty full. And usually, it's pretty much the same. Which makes the non-Lilly time very monotonous and boring. However, every day, it seems, there is some crazy catastrophe or drama - Jon would probably call it the daily "Cathleen is threatening to move back home" moment. Some examples:
- The spaceheater in Lilly's room catching fire while she was asleep in the middle of the night.
- Vines falling off the house, blocking my car in the garage. (I had my first "tarzan" moment, swinging from the vines trying to get them down so I could back out.)
- Lilly's two ear infections
- My headache that sent me in the ER twice and getting a catscan
- Flat tires (my car, and Jon's car)
- Paint on the front bumper of my car falling off - from me hitting a bush.?
- The garage ceiling falling down, and the deck on top potentially caving in as well.
- The sewage tank exploding in the yard.
- Bugs - baby roaches, ants, something bigger living in the attic.
- The bug guy asking me to leave for 3 hours while he treated the house. (Where am I supposed to go? I don't know anyone here!) But thank goodness for him - he found and killed the Mama Roach and no more baby roaches!
- Suspicious man stalking our house.
- Nonstop rain (and wind and hail).
- Constantly being cold.
- The central heat not working.
- The ceiling leak in the kitchen every time it rains.
- Outlets sparking every time we plug things in. Including the two fires shooting out from the nebulizer and from the back of my computer. (The nublizer was fried, but oddly enough my computer still works!)
- Jon's crazy work schedule.
- The Fedex moving boxes fiasco (having to repack everything and then re-unpack it all).
- Constant laundry - because the dryer takes 3 hours to dry a load.
For the most part, our days are in a lot of ways as busy as they were in Charlottesville; but it was a lot more enjoyable back home, having friends and family and lots of events that we looked forward to. Here, we have some family time on weekends, which is priceless, but overall, we're busier than expected. Jon's on call every other weekend, and on the weekends that he's off, we try to get some family time in (we have a great Sunday brunch spot that we hit each week after church) and have also been going on "dates" to the movie or to dinner. We have a great babysitter, one of Lilly's teachers from school. And we even have a cleaning guy who comes in each week, but in some ways it makes more work because every Tuesday night we're pre-cleaning the house. So, all the free time I anticipated for this year has not materialized yet.
Anyways, no one wants to read my blog for excuses on why I don't have new pictures of Lilly up (and especially no one even reads the text anyways; they just want the pictures); but I thought I'd let you all know that we're still here, we're still doing ok, and I haven't forgotten. And we miss you all and can't wait to get back to our normal crazy hectic schedule next year. :)