Constant Change: On London, Preschool, and Me

When Renee invited me to pariticipate in a sewing series about Constant Change, I easily accepted.  I didn’t have to think very hard about what I would make, because I was already in the middle of sewing because of the biggest changes in my life. 
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 Also, I feel like “change” and I are pretty darn well acquainted with one another.
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Chris and I have been married for eleven years, and in that time period we have moved every three to four years.  Our moves are always big moves.  We move from one country to the other, we get rid of 90% of our things, and start bare bones in our new place.  Every time that we move we don’t know a soul on the other end.  But then we do it again a few years later. 
Hbath 66Our most recent move was from a very small city in Illinois to a very big city in England.  The first four months for me were 100% about getting my family and kids settled.  If it takes a village to raise a child then I needed to go out and make our village.  I wanted my four year old and one year old to have friends and a sense of community in our new place, so I went out and became “Mrs Joiner”.
Centrallondon 71Hannah and I went to playgroups at Jacye’s school, the local coffee shop, and the play centers.  We went to music and singing classes,  I joined a knitting group at the cafe, a women’s group at our church, and the FIT club at Jayce’s school.  We went to music class, singing at the library, and the “moms and babies” class at the gym.  
Menh 2That was two years ago and I have scaled back on all of that considerably.  Jayce went from having a rough start to thriving.  He is such a happy and easily adaptable little boy.  Hannah never knew the difference one way or the other and has always been a happy little camper.  
Birthday party 27As for me, the introvert that I had been supressing pushed herself back up to the surface and said, “Stop ignoring me!  And why are we doing all of this crap all of the time?!”  So in January, when we had been in London for just over four months, I decided to be purposeful about what this change would mean for me, and what exactly I wanted to do as a young mom of two in London.  I took a few hours one morning, went alone to a coffee shop with my laptop, made a list of things that I wanted to focus on, then chose twelve and assigned a month to each of them.  (The post listing my monthly goals is here if you’re curious.)
Blues+Branches giraffes 7I made a pretty good stab at it.  I did everything just as I had planned for about seven months.  Focusing on just one thing at a time really helped me to have some clarity about what I enjoyed and was best at, and as you might have guessed, the month of sewing was one of my favorites.  One of my goals for 2013 was “sew a garment from scratch,” but I was easily hooked after that first dress, and by the end of the year I had sewn a dozen or two.  An opportunity opened up for me to sell some gifts at a local shop in October, and then they wanted Christmas stock, and then I ended up opening my Etsy shop back up with a similar assortment of goods throughout the Christmas season. 
Blues and Branches Chalkboard 2Another huge (and fun) change in our lives last year was that Chelsea moved in with us that fall to start her Masters Degree at SMUC.  The biggest adjustment was on her obviously, but it took a little creativity (and all of us being good sports) to make a small London flat work with three adults and two small kids.  Even though I’m sure there were plenty of days that we were driving her crazy, we pulled it off and had a great year together.  
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When this school year rolled around, the biggest change around here was obvious: Hannah would be going to preschool.  My little London partner-in-crime would be away from me five mornings a week.  
Preschool 8When Hannah started school at the end of September, it marked the first time that I have not had a child home with me all day in six and a half years.  I originally had all sorts of ideas about how I would spend the mornings while she was away: Volunteering at the school, going for runs along the river after I dropped the kids off, going for coffee with friends, shopping by myself, perhaps a pedicure?  
But that hasn’t happened.  None of that has happened.
About Me 7It turns out that I like to work, or I’m one of those people who can’t just sit still and just relax, or some combination of both.
B+BI had always assumed that when Hannah started preschool that I would be pregnant or have a baby, but Chris and I have decided to wait on that, which means that I could think a bit more about what I would like to do with this time.  I know that I’m very lucky to not have to fill these few hours with a job, so yet again, I’m trying to be purposeful with the time that I have.  
Since Christmas is just around the corner I’ve spent most of my available time filling up my Etsy shop.  I have a big basket full of products that are ready to ship and I can’t tell you how freeing that is.  There are still plenty of items that I make when I receive orders, but it’s nice to take some of the pressure off of myself to start cutting and sewing as soon as orders roll in.  Particularly since Chris is out of the country for the next week, since it is cold season, since we’ll have our own shopping and Christmas prep and traditions to take on.  
Things 1I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that sewing, blogging, photography, and Etsy are all things that I had tried to cram into the little cracks of the day.  I sewed at nap time, edited photos after the kids were in bed, clipped and stuffed the plush items while I’m hung out in the evenings with Chris.  But the more commitments that I started taking on, the more those activities started seeping into my other time.  The time that I really needed to be cleaning up the house, or assembling food, or giving my kids my full attention, or having a full conversation with Chris, or getting a good night of sleep.
Now that I can set aside these few hours strictly to take care of this self-appointed work, it frees up my mind the rest of the day to concentrate on these more important things.  And though I originally wasn’t happy about Hannah being in school for five mornings a week, I’m so glad to see that she is thriving in it, and that I am thriving a little bit too.  
Change is good.
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 I’m so happy to be sharing a day on this tour with my sweet friend Heidi.  There are lots of changes happening for her right now, with her third baby on the way and house renovations going on among other things, so I can’t wait to see what she is writing about.  Click over and check out her post here.
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10 thoughts on “Constant Change: On London, Preschool, and Me

  1. What a beautiful read. So good to get to know you better. Puh, alone the thought of having to move every 3-4 years and having to start all over again. Yes, you are the queen of change! (btw: I'm off now to check out your Etsy store. Seems like there is some cute stuff…)

  2. Change is good indeed! Reading your story I remembered moving to Oz… with a suitcase, a backpack and my cornet. Doing the same with two young children would be… we… fun! Thank you for sharing more about yourself πŸ™‚ Your Etsy store looks great! All the best with this new adventure πŸ™‚

  3. Those little plushies are waaaay too cute! The trees and the elephants especially are perfect. I loved reading more about your ever changing life! Sounds like an incredibly fun adventure πŸ™‚ When you mentioned about it having been 6 years since you didn't have a child at home with you all the time it made me realize it's been 5 for me and no end in sight for at least the next 5! Whoa. I won't know what on earth to do with myself! I'm sure tears will be shed πŸ™‚

  4. I know how difficult it is to move away from family (I moved from a small country town in Wisconsin to the most isolated city in the World) but it sounds like you and your family have grown and are thriving from your overseas move! Thanks for sharing this post! And that is the sweetest liberty elephant πŸ™‚

  5. I always love reading what you have to say. I love that you pushed outside your comfort zone, in a new city, to create that village. I am also introverted (is it just me or is just about every sewing blogger an introvert?), so just reading that made me feel a bit anxious, ha, and it made me feel oddly proud of you for doing that! Is another big move in your future, or is London the home base for awhile?

  6. Well, looks like Monica took the thoughts right out of my head!! I didn't know you moved that often. I've lived in the same city my whole life and I wouldn't mind moving but the thought of going to play groups gives me anxiety. And those trees are just too cute! Glad you have a little more time on your hands.

  7. Love everything about you and your story! Miss you dear friend! Also super happy to know your etsy shop is all stocked up. Heading there now!!

  8. I love this post! When I first read it a couple days ago, I had all sorts of wonderful things to say… but then when I sat down at my computer I had forgotten most of them. Mostly, I love the part about how you "built your village". As an introvert myself (of course), this is something I am not at all good at doing, yet something I need to do very badly… even though we've been in Texas for more than four years, I hardly have any mom friends. And hooray to you for being able to carve out some more time for yourself. You are inspiring! πŸ™‚

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