Well, it feels good to get back to our own home. It took a few days to warm up to it, but it feels natural and familiar and our surroundings are fantastic. They say the three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location. We score big on all three of those things. Love it.
When we were getting ready to leave Australia, my friends were all asking, "are you excited to get back home?" My answer was, "eh...yes and no." Honestly I was looking forward to being in familiar territory and being in my own well-stocked home again. But I was also scared.
Life in America is busy! It's fast-paced! We left on sabbatical to get away from that. I wasn't sure I had the stamina to do it again. I hoped we could somehow minimize and simplify to avoid it getting out of control again. That remains to be seen.
The past ten days we have been working hard getting the house back in order, getting the kids ready for school, reconnecting with friends, getting back to work for Allen, getting back to "work"/classes for Shelly, sorting through mail, going to doctors and dental appointments after a year of neglect (no cavities! Australia has flouridated water. SCORE!), dealing with dormant accounts on utilities and cell phones, and doing lots of car shopping (still no car for Allen or Madeline). I haven't spent much time at home. It's go, go, go a lot.
We haven't even started on the guitar lessons, voice lessons, and gymnastics. And Henry starts preschool this Friday.
I finally unpacked my suitcases. All souvenirs and gifts have been stuck on a shelf to sort through later. I haven't opened any other boxes sitting in my room of previous clothing and shoes. Haven't thought about organizing anything in the living room shelves or family room or my office at all. Later. Right?
In spite of jumping right into the high-speed to-do list, I have learned a thing or two over the past year. In the past ten days, we've also gone to the pool three times, we've taken an evening walk as a family, we've chatted with lots of friends, and we've sat on the front porch talking with each other and enjoying popsicles and ice cream. Allen and I took an evening to go to dinner to celebrate his promotion as department chair (biggest department at the university, I might add). We haven't had fancy meals and we've had leftovers almost every other day. With all the things on the to do list, we've learned that those moments together building relationships and making memories are also time well spent. And you know what else? I've asked my kids to do a few chores to help out and they don't roll their eyes and act burdened. They do it. We are a team!
It's all worth it. This sabbatical was the hugest project. It still is. We started getting ready 19 months ago and it will be another few months before we are settled from it, but it is worth it. Our family has grown closer, we've all grown personally, our children have matured. Living in this odd Utah culture, I think it's so imperative to have some exposure to the "real world." So even with all the stress of decluttering, packing, applying for visas, passports, dealing with schools overseas, transferring money and possessions, buying everything new when we arrived and giving it all away when we left, it's all SO WORTH IT. Everyone should do it.
I'm already thinking about the next sabbatical.
Allen is not.
But that's why he has me.