Hello from Wisconsin! We are here, we're settled into our house comfortably enough for now (although we still need a couch), and the weather has been glorious for this Arizona family (although perhaps a bit cool for locals).
May was full to the brim, so much so that I wrote no blog posts although I had many on my mind. Things that happened in May included:
+ Putting new flooring throughout our entire house in Gilbert. This entailed Chris removing all the baseboards and carpet and then hiring someone to level the floors and install the flooring and baseboards. This meant our house was fairly chaotic for nearly a whole month. Furniture had to be moved around (our bed was in the kitchen for a while), we had concrete floors in many rooms for two weeks, and it was hard to find anything or tidy up. While the floors were being installed and on the days Maeve was home I took her to nap at my parents' house which was great to be able to do but added additional logistics to my days.
+ Reveling in our new floors once they were done! They are gorgeous and having seamless flooring throughout the house has elevated the overall look and feel of our whole house to me. If you're interested we installed Mannington brand luxury vinyl plank in Swiss Oak - Almond.
+ Putting the house back in order after the floors were finished plus cleaning up all the construction dirt and dust.
+ Signing a tenant to rent our Eau Claire house for a year only to have the tenant back out of the lease and re-start the search all over. Uggghhh this has been the most stressful part of the Eau Claire house so far.
+ Taking care of all the tasks needed to set up our Eau Claire house for us to live here for a month (utilities, internet, figuring out our bed situation, etc.)
+ Taking care of all the tasks needed to be away from our Gilbert house for a month (hiring someone to water the plants, putting our mail on hold, etc.)
+ Making lists and then packing all the things our family needs to be away for a month. We packed a lot in the minivan with Chris and the boys who drove up and then I also brought two suitcases, the stroller, and a car seat when I flew with Maeve.
+ Wrapping up my PTSO volunteer commitments and meeting with the women who will take over my responsibilities.
+ The end of the school year for the boys and teacher gifts.
+ My sister and nephew visiting for a long weekend. They stayed with my parents but we had lots of together time.
+ The mass shooting in Uvalde which left me grief-stricken, enraged, and in despair. To me that event tells me that our country is unwilling to take the simple actions needed to stop completely preventable mass killings of children. Because of the access to guns here, our lax gun laws, and how mental health is viewed and treated I feel that our children are not safe even in states and cities with more restrictive gun laws. Even though most Americans support such gun-sense measures. I told Chris that I feel emotionally ready to leave this country even with the full knowledge of what we would leave behind. If we can't count on our kids being safe at school, and given the reasons that they are unsafe there, then what else matters? Traveling to Wisconsin has been so mentally consuming I have not thought of Uvalde as much since arriving but until the day we left I cried most days thinking of it. But Uvalde and guns and America is still very much on my mind and on my heart.
It's hard to transition from children being murdered at school to the mundane aspects of my life. And it should be hard. I'm still carrying the grief, rage, and despair and yet social media is moving on. Even I'm sharing photos and glimpses of our time in Wisconsin. I guess I want to say that despite what I share on social media or on my blog I have not left what's happened in Uvalde in the past. As a parent who sends her kids to public school the majority of the year, as an American citizen, as a person in the world, the horror of school shootings will never leave me. I will continue to call my Senators. I will continue to donate to organizations like Everytown that are trying to make a difference. I will continue to vote for political candidates who support gun-sense laws. I'm trying to figure out how to channel my energies into the most effective avenues. I'm processing how (if?) we can continue to live in a country that lets this happen to its children. So that's what I want to say about that.
+ + +
So here we are in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I breathed a very big sigh of relief last Thursday night when all the kids were tucked into their beds and crib. As we've been planning this adventure for the past few months I was looking forward to that exact moment. It would mean that we'd all arrived safely in a new state and new house. It would mean we'd figured out enough of the basics from electricity and water to minimal furniture that we could sleep there. When I realized we'd reached that magical moment I told Chris, "We did it!"
For our month here we have plans do to lots of fun things in the city and surrounding region like going strawberry picking, eating local ice cream, visiting the weekly farmers market, taking lots of bike rides, visiting a cheese factory, and spending at least a day at a bluegrass musical festival, and more! We'll also be taking a trip to Madison for a few days where we'll meet up with Chris's sister and her family. We also have several house-related tasks to get done like replacing the hot water heater (which is literally from the month I was born so it's 38 years old – how is that possible?? Water heaters in Arizona last for 7–10 years. Do they really last for 30+ years here??), doing some minor electrical work, adding smoke detectors, getting the backyard tree trimmed back, and of course signing a tenant who will rent the house for the coming year starting in July.
Before our trip Chris and I talked about what our weekly routines would be and we sketched out a calendar for the month. There's more that we want to do than we'll have time for this month; we'll fit in as much as we can! It was important to us both to each get to exercise at least twice per week and we both need some work time. We're trying to do a family outing every day and take family walks. We knew that keeping the kids entertained, especially our not always enthusiastic boys, would test our patience at times – and it has already! – but that's part of the adventure too. But it feels like we're slowly finding a bit of rhythm and seeing where we need some more structure. We've been very liberal with screen time for the boys but I think it's time to reign it in a bit. We're also working to move bedtime a bit earlier as we adjust to the time change.
I'm going to wrap up there so I can get this out. No audio version on this post as I did not bring recording equipment with me. But I might try recording on my phone and seeing if the quality would meet my minimum standards.
Hope your June has started off well!