Saying Goodbye to the Magical Forest

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Every summer when I was a child my family would drive from our home in Philadelphia to my Great-grandparents’ house outside Boston. We’d spend a week there, visiting historic sites, going for long drives through the country and walking along the beaches. My sister and I slept on the enclosed porch each night, listening to the sounds of the surrounding woods. The house sat on nearly three acres of land with big tall trees and thick underbrush, and when my Great-grandparents were a little younger there were veggie gardens and lots of big blueberry bushes for picking. Victoria and I loved to explore the property for hours, walking back through the woods as far as we could go, sometimes all the way to the abandoned railroad tracks that provided the back boundary. From up on the tracks you could see the water of the Back River, with its Weymouth Landing boatyard full of fishing boats ready to head out to sea.

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Eventually my great-grandparents both passed away but my grandparents kept the house, and after retirement they would spend their entire summers there, escaping the Houston heat. The gardens and berry bushes were abandoned and the train tracks were brought back to life with a regular commuter rail. College and married life kept us away most of the time.

For the past several years I have been taking care of maintaining the empty house from here in Texas. When my grandmother passed away in March, it became part of her estate and my job as executor to manage. We knew it was just impractical for us to keep the much beloved house and land, since no one in our family lives anywhere near it. My sister and I paid one last visit to the house this past May and started the process of clearing it out and selling it. It’s a beautiful house, on beautiful land. Farren-8

Our real estate broker helped us put the house up for sale in September and we immediately had multiple buyers. As of now we are under contract and working towards closing with some little complications that should be worked out soon.

Today we finally agreed on a price for the magical woods, which will undoubtedly have a couple of lovely new homes built on them. The land is the last major piece of my grandparents’ estate to say goodbye to.

Yesterday would have been my Grandmother’s 96th birthday. She is missed.

 

Adjusting to Life as a Stay At Home Mom

A month ago, just before we left to fly to Haiti and bring home our new daughter, I left my job as the Director of Engineering for a wastewater treatment equipment company. It’s actually a temporary leave of absence since I plan to go back part time once Rose is in school, but that’s probably two years away.

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Even though I have worked from home for the past ten years, this is very different. I really had no maternity leave with either of my first two children. When you start-up a company and work from home you don’t get maternity leave. You never stop answering the phone or email. The most I did was miss our big annual conference twice. I hated missing that conference each of those years because it’s always so great to see my colleagues, my industry friends and present the great work my company does in front of a large audience.

This year things are so different because I’ve been waiting for this little girl to come home for two and a half years and now she’s here and I wouldn’t dream of having any other focus. I will miss some fun nights in New Orleans but I’ve had enough of those over the years to sustain me for quite some time. I do not yet miss work at all.

My job right now is therapeutic parenting of a little girl who doesn’t even know what a family means. Watching her thrive and blossom has been so joyful and fulfilling, and I can only say it’s a miracle from God that she is doing so well.

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I usually only have one or two big things to get done a day right now and I like it that way. Maybe a trip to the grocery store, maybe some laundry, maybe going to get my allergy shots. I am always happy to get out of the house and talk to some grown-ups, but I try to keep like simple and unhurried.

My little sidekick is very accommodating and I see her using her orphanage coping skills less and less often. Sometimes she thinks she’s the boss of me but I pick my battles and I’m bigger so I can win but I also know how to circumvent or repair any disconnections that happen. Life with Rose is a dance of connecting and disconnecting and reconnecting.  She chooses to shut down instead of throw a tantrum and I don’t like when it happens but I can fix it quickly. A quick game of Patty-cake is my go-to solution, she’s usually up for it and it brings back the smiles and eye contact immediately.

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The toughest time of day for me by far is after the boys get home from school and the couple hours up until dinner. She gets pretty wound up around them and they need to get homework done right away. The boys seem conflicted because they really want to play and engage with her after a long day away but they also know they need to work and sometimes need my help. One thing that has really helped us was creating a new rule to keep the screens off until after dinner. The boys can get sucked into playing Minecraft or watching Stampy videos quickly and that leaves Rose trying to get their attention and them getting annoyed. Since I started that rule they mostly choose to play with their sister, which leaves me peace to go fix dinner.

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So right now I’m pretty much taking one day at a time with her, passing up lots of fun opportunities like blogger conferences or races. I know it’s a season and before I know it she’ll be speaking English and staying with babysitters and life will probably be much like it used to be except with more singing and giggling and talking.

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