Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Good News

I think all the biggest fans of this blog already got this news via personal e-mail but I want to make sure everyone hears.

Eric got a fantastic job offer last week (on his birthday, no less) to teach theology at a university. It's easy to be optimistic before anything has started but this job sounds like the best opportunity of anything Eric has applied for or considered doing in the last three years. The endless applications, trolling of job banks, networking and rejection letters have been a real trial. We've moved twice and relocated our family halfway across the country for a job that didn't survive the economic meltdown. And now it seems that an ideal situation has finally worked out for us and all the stress almost seems worth it.

We'll be moving early this summer to New Jersey. This is quite ironic, to my mind. Long time readers of this blog and, really, anyone who has talked to us for more than ten minutes will know that we love urban living and tried to move to Brooklyn two years ago. Eric has now landed a job pretty close to New York--but not close enough that we could actually live there. When we were discussing the New York idea together Eric suggested that we consider living in Newark, New Jersey. My response was something like, "No way! I am not moving to New Jersey and certainly not to Newark." Now Eric has a job in New Jersey and our top-choice neighborhood is in Newark. But my opinion has changed somewhat.

We are quite excited to get back to an urban lifestyle and we think it will work well for us long term. Though we do live right in St. Paul now it is a pretty car-centric town where everyone has a yard. A yard is not in any way useful to Joseph. Joseph has three times dumped his wheelchair playing on grass. When we lived in DC we got outside almost every day and used sidewalks. Joseph can play best on paved surfaces. And I find it far less stressful to just walk out my door and go somewhere than to load kids into a car and drive. That's just me. We're excited to get back to being pedestrians more often and excited to be part of a vibrant city neighborhood.

The location, I know, is not what some in our family were hoping for. I know for sure that some were hoping we'd remain here in Minnesota while others hoped we would get into New England. Either of those things would have been nice. But our location in New Jersey will put us an easy distance from my sister and brother and make weekend trips to New England possible. We'll also be quite close to New York City and not too far from Washington--a city we really came to love and where we still have many friends. Eric will also be well-located for his academic interests.

And, best of all, we have no reason to think this isn't permanent. That is such a relief and it's even sort of hard for us to wrap our minds around at this point. We've been living for so long with "ifs" and "maybes" and contingency plans. We won't be buying a house right away but I will be able to buy houseplants for our next apartment because we'll be able to take them with us when we do move a house. We'll be able to buy a side of beef again without wondering if we have time to eat it all before we have to move across the country. We can really settle in to a parish and friendships and community organizations knowing that we are making a long term investment in the place where we hope to raise our children. It's pretty exciting.

We've told the kids, of course, and they are excited. Although I'm not sure they really have any idea what this means. They know we'll be taking a long trip and Margaret is excited that she'll be able to have goldfish crackers on the long trip. I don't think they realize that we'll be getting a new house and no longer visiting Grandma Marga twice a week. We'll all be pretty sad to leave Minnesota and we're all so grateful that this last year--a strange chapter in our life--was able to be spent here. The kids have been able to really get to know Eric's family and I've really been able to see where Eric is from. We'll certainly look forward to annual trips back to the Midwest.

And so as not to cheat you (because, after all, this is a blog about the kids) here is a cute one:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Joseph Catch-All Post

In an effort to catch up a bit and get some really cute pictures out there I thought I'd try to do a summary on Margaret and Joseph while we're waiting for William to do something really interesting like smile on cue.

The top picture here is very emblematic of Joseph's crazy imagination. I was working in the bedroom one afternoon while Eric played with the kids. When I finished what I was doing I found my two kids as you see them in that picture. Joseph had decided that they were going to be in a race together and needed racing outfits. They picked out their racing shirts, racing hats, racing gloves, and racing leg warmers all on their own. Joseph's costumes are not usually this elaborate. He'll often play for an hour with a piece of silk, a blanket, a scarf or a baby sling. He has "rest time" each day in our sun room. He almost never sleeps these days but makes up stories and games for himself. When I came to get him a few days ago he had wrapped a piece of silk around his head and gathered it in front into a long tail. "Mommy, I'm an elephant!"

Sometimes, Joseph does still conk out after a busy "rest time."

He'd probably looked at all the books strewn around him. Then he built himself a fishing pole out of Tinker Toys. Then he fell asleep.

We've gotten lots and lots of snow this year. I could write a whole post on winter in Minnesota but I've been fighting the temptation because I try not to be whiny on this blog. Eric has gotten plenty of opportunity to shovel and whenever he hasn't had to rush off to work he takes the kids out to "help" him. Joseph doesn't usually go out in his wheelchair, actually. Maybe this picture was taken before he got snow pants. The kids, inexplicably, like to lie on their stomachs and tunnel through the snow. Margaret cries and comes inside after a few minutes of this. Joseph would probably stay out as long as we let him.

Joseph adores his new baby brother and the feeling is mutual. Since Joseph actually understands how to hold a baby we can let William hang out with him for longer stretches. William loves Joseph. He almost never cries if Joseph is holding him and last week he fell asleep in Joseph's lap. It's really neat to see them together and I'm looking forward to watching them grow up together.

And, in the milestones department . . . That is Joseph's foot (next to Margaret's foot). We were at a playgroup last Friday and Joseph was playing hard with the other kids. He wasn't wearing shoes--just thick socks--and his big toe was hanging a bit over the edge of the footplate on his wheelchair. No one--including Joseph--is sure of what happened. But we assume he crashed hard into a wall or projectile of some sort. He smashed his toe really hard. Another mom saw blood everywhere and called me over. Joseph has no feeling in his legs or feet so he hadn't noticed. Eric came and brought him to the ER where, after a six-hour wait, Joseph got eight stitches in his toe and a nice bandage to go with them. Since he wasn't in pain he thought the whole thing was pretty fascinating. He'll be fine as long as we can keep him from banging his foot around too much. You'd be surprised how much foot banging a paralyzed four-year old can do!

So there's a bit on Joseph . . . Some photos of Margaret and some good news coming up soon.