Monday, January 16, 2012

Coming Up for Air

Or at least, we're trying to! I'd like to dedicate this post to being Dramatic and Whiny.

So we flew back to the states on January 4th by way of the Longest Flight of My Life. I think I can say that both literally and figuratively. It was 8.5 from Heathrow to O'hare, then customs and a layover and then a flight to Richmond.

Charlie wasn't bad or anything, it just takes superhuman effort to keep him entertained in a seated position for such a length of time. By the time it was over, it took superhuman patience to handle the O'Hare Temper Tantrums because someone was tired and would not nap on the plane. I have to say, I much prefer the red eye - it was an easier flight for us.

It was SO GOOD to get home. I don't think I've ever been so happy and relieved to walk around my own house and sleep in my own bed. To see my friends and watch Charlie see his. To drive my car to get somewhere. Especially after what was, probably, the Longest Two Months of My Life. I am more committed than ever to being a spoiled American.

I mean, don't get me wrong. It wasn't all bad. There were a lot of times it was neat to be in London, and we saw some amazing things and met some interesting people here and there. But the combo of Brad working ridiculous hours every day of the week, the cold dark climate, isolation during the holiday season, getting sick and Charlie abandoning sleep all together.... well, it sucked a bunch of the fun out of the experience.

I think the isolation was the hardest part. Back home in Richmond I have my support system, my dogs (never underestimate the power of a puppy snuggle), the comforts of home. Things get hard, I have a friend over and bake something. But having to deal with the challenges of a toddler and Brad being gone so much with no support system really sucked, for lack of a better description.

And Yet. We're going back. I probably should have dedicated this post to Being Insane.

Brad got offered a great opportunity to continue working on his project until August and we made the decision to do it before things got really hard there. While I'm not sure we would make the same decision today, he signed the contract and is now committed. He flies back this Saturday and Charlie and I will follow him a few weeks later.

The house sitter has agreed to stay on and take care of the dogs after we leave. But I can't really talk about them because I missed them a lot more than I thought I would. I wish we could bring them over, but I think it would be selfish. They love the house sitter, they will be in their own home, they will be fine. It's just my selfish missing them that makes me want to take them with me.

In the spirit of making the most of the situation we are in, we have been trying to figure out what we are going to do to make this round of things easier on all of us. For one thing, Brad is going to try and not work so many weekends and late nights. That would be huge for Spooner morale.

We have a new flat, one that will hopefully be more comfortable than the serviced apartment we were renting with the odd office managers who seemed to take pleasure in torturing us about the stupid white carpet we didn't want and weren't expecting to have (all the web site photos show hardwoods). $100 USD to remove any stain, no matter how faint. And walking right into our apartment whenever they felt like. That was always fun. I'm not even scratching the surface of the problems we had, but it's not the point of this post.

Buuuut, since it's my blog and I can write what I want, I'll go ahead and leave the name of the property (Europa House), as I wouldn't want anyone who reads this blog to stay there (at Europa House) whilst in London. I'm sure for a week or two it would be fine. For 3 months... not so much. Moral of the story: don't stay at Europa House. I will be ruining their Tripadvisor rating on Feb 1 (when our lease is up) if you'd like to watch the carnage.

Anyways, back to our plans.

A big one is getting Charlie in preschool - a routine that will both socialize him and tire him out. And provide me some kids to invite to his 3rd birthday party. He is all about birthdays lately and it kills me we won't be in Richmond for it so I have to make it fun for him, no matter what. Hopefully we can get some people to come.

Since preschools are very competitive in London and most children are on waiting lists since birth, finding a school is requiring quite a bit of effort. But I think I've found a couple, maybe 3 that are at least willing to talk to us and might have a spot for him. We will see. I'm in the process of sending back application forms and deposits and arranging tours for Brad to take when he gets back.

Brad and I have agreed that I am not bringing Charlie to London unless he has a preschool to attend. I am already in Mommy burnout mode from being with him 24/7 the last trip. Let's not stoke the fires.

Our new flat faces a garden and is very quiet. It's furnished and lovely. We have some funds to personalize it a bit and buy what we need, so I can actually cook.  That's huge for me, being able to cook. Makes me happy. I need a homey place to nest in.

Charlie will have a new child-proofed bedroom with sheets that have trucks on them and a baby gate at the door to keep his behind in there for naps and bed time. One of my insanity drivers has been his refusal to sleep since he's mastered the art of climbing out of the crib. I left for London with a beautiful sleeper and returned with a horrible one. I can't tell you how frustrating that is.

To get him to go to bed or take a nap, I have to sit in the room with him until he finishes fighting sleep. This takes upwards to an hour. On the nights it takes 2 hours I'm really boiling. I think he will go back to sleeping better when he knows there's no other option. At least I hope.

I know part of this is the effect of this chaos on his life. I know children are supposed to be adaptable, but he did not adapt well to being there. He missed his friends and talked about preschool and our neighbors almost every day. He missed the dogs and our house. And I was right there with him. Made me feel terrible to hear him talk like that, like he wasn't happy. I hope with more structure and some new friends for both of us, we will both adapt better.

So what will I be doing while Charlie is in preschool you ask? Trying to get my head straight again! Exercise (huge priority), errands (which are NO fun with Charlie), perhaps some sightseeing to places I can't take Charlie. In other words, some calm to follow the chaos and to balance out the challenges of being away. I hope.

If we crash and burn and everyone is as unhappy as we were last time, Charlie and I will return home and we will just have to figure something else out. I hate to even think of us all having to be apart for so long like that, so I'm just going to be hopeful that with some more planning and better weather, we will all be happier.

We'll come home one more time in the middle - April or May? And then my parents are coming to visit in June. After that, we'll be on the home stretch and Charlie and I can either come back early or stay until Brad is done in August. Preschool ends in July, so we'll see. :)

So that's a long overdue post about what's going on with us! Complete with dramatics, whining, insanity and Unnecessary Capital Letters! More cheerful things to come, I promise. Thanks for reading!


Lindsay said...

I would have died 1-on-1 with my LO, too. Even with both of them to entertain each other. Geez. I hope you can get some preschool!

Soña said...

Happy to hear an update - I was wondering what the plan was (your public misses you). It sounds like preschool will be awesome, for all of you. So I hope that does work out. I can't imagine being so far away from home for so long but then again home is where the family is and well, I have to agree with you, where you can cook a good meal! Selfishly, I guess it means no moving to Dallas until the Fall? or later?

Katie Eaton Photography said...

I hope you find a fabulous pre-school for Charlie and that you can have some very important alone time!! VERY important. :)

A girlfriend of mine just moved to London with her two kiddos and they will be there until July. A five year old girl and an almost two year old girl. Her hubby works with mine. Anyway ... maybe you guys could meet.