Jan 30, 2010

Six Precious Months

The Little Feller and his grandma enjoying some time together.

Far quicker than I think any of us could have predicted, our time here at the Leen’s home is coming to an end. While we are excited to finally be out on our own here in America, we are also quite sad to end this precious time with our family. Of course, Columbus is no Saipan. We won’t have to wait a whole year to see Mom and Dad Leen again. It might be a couple weeks at most, and many times it’ll just be five days till the next time we see them again. But it won’t be the same as sharing daily life with them, as we have for these past six precious months.

It all came together so quickly. Just over two weeks ago, my best friend J’s wife, Evelyn called up Barbara to let her know about an opening at the Stepping Stones pre-school. They needed someone right away and Evelyn had actually agreed to work a few hours each day until they found some one. Barbara called Stepping Stones the next day, Friday, and they asked her to come in Tuesday for an interview. The day after the MLK holiday, Barbara and I drove up to Columbus—me for another day a work, Barbara for her interview—while our son stayed back in Dayton with his grandparents. The interview went well, and two days later, they called her back for a second “working interview.” She went to the interview, they offered her the job, and she accepted. She’ll start on February 1st.

This past week has been unsurprisingly hectic. Babs came up to Columbus with me again on Monday to do more apartment hunting, and sure enough, by the end of the day we’d pretty much settled on a lovely two bedroom place in New Albany with an open floor plan and lots of light. The plan was to shift our base to Columbus the next day, staying with J and Evelyn until the Conference movers could get our stuff. But then on Monday night, within hours of each other, Barbara’s mom, Babs, and me were all struck down with the stomach flu. All plans ground to a halt as we spent the next 24 hours in bed or in the bathroom. The action picked up again on Wednesday as I went back to work and Babs stayed in Dayton working on other essential tasks for the move. Thursday, Babs, the Feller, and Mom Leen drove over to Columbus. Mom watched the Feller while Babs continued to hustle through still more moving and new-job tasks. Thursday night, Mom went back to Dayton and the three of us stayed at J’s. Yesterday, we came back here to the Leen’s for our final weekend here. We’ll pack up our things so they’ll be ready for the movers and head back to J and Evelyn’s to stay until our things are moved and we can shift over to our apartment.

Of course we’re very happy about this change. It’s what we’ve waited and prayed for. It’s come at the right time too—the Commute was finally beginning to take it’s toll on me, as was being away from Babs and Elijah so much. But we’ll miss the cozy little life we’ve had here in the Leen home for the past six months. As crazy as it sounds, in a way, I’ll miss being so far way from work. Living here, when I went home, I went home. There’s no way to get dragged back into my work life from this distance. Weekends here in Springboro feel like mini-vacations, literally miles away from the workaday week. We’ll miss our Saturday night dates to the movies. (While they probably have a dollar theater in Columbus, we won’t have the free baby sitting!). We’ll miss this lovely, quiet neighborhood of big yards and long driveways. The Feller and I will have to find a new route for our father-son walks.

But most of all, we’ll miss Barbara’s parents. It’s been surprisingly easy for us to live together these past months. More than that, it’s been a joy, simply to spend time together every day. This is why we left the tropical dreamlife in Saipan—for these precious ordinary moments—watching TV with Dad, shopping with mom, sitting down together for Sabbath lunch or taking a day trip to Cincinnati. We’ve loved seeing our son get to know and love his grandparents. And I know it’s meant the world for them to have him around every day. For that reason, their excitement over our move is perhaps more muted. A cleaner, quieter house will be nice for them but I’m sure they’d take the Feller with all his noise and clutter any day.

Today we’re grateful for God’s provision of a good part time job for Babs, but we’re also grateful for the special six months we’ve spent here in the Leen house.

Below, are a few pictures from last weekend, representing simple, yet priceless and precious moments together.

Watching TV together on a Saturday night. We didn't do this a lot, because usually Babs and I went on our weekly date to the Dollar Theater on Saturday night. But last weekend, our son had the stomach flu (the same bug the rest of us got a few days later, I believe) so we opted to stay home.

A common sight in the Leen household during our stay: Dad engaged in the Sysphian task of washing the dishes. With so many of us in the house the stack of dirty plates and multitude of used glasses never seems to disappear, but Dad never complains.

Story time with Grandma.

Talking things over with grandma. The Feller loves his grandparents. At this age, if he hadn't been around them every day, they'd probablly be strangers to him whenever they did see him. Now I feel that he won't forget them, especially since we'll see them on a fairly regular basis. . .

Knowing how important it is for our son to spend time with his grandparents so he'll know them, we're working to get my mom in on the action. We spent a few hours in his room on Skype talking to her and Dawn via webcam. We're hoping that regular appointments with the webcam will help our son get to know and love his Nona in the same way he has gotten to know Barbara's parents, living with them.

After Sabbath lunch, this past Sabbath. We sat around talking for a long time instead rushing off for naps. I don't think any of us are taking this time for granted!

Thanks Mom and Dad Leen for giving us a roof over our heads, wheels for the road, hours of free babysitting, and most of all your patience and love in sharing your home with us. I know, to you it might seem no sacrafice to spend everyday with your daughter and grandson, but nonetheless we want you to know how grateful we are. We love you!

Jan 9, 2010

Snow Day

The front yard the day after the snow day.

Yesterday was our first snow day of the winter, and it couldn't have come at a better time. I'd gone to bed late the night before, and I hadn't purchased all of the supplies for our scheduled 8th grade hot lunch. I was gearing up for an extremely stressful day--likely late for work, scrambling to get the lunch supplies, and cooking while my students were working. Instead I got to sleep in until 9:30 A.M., enjoyed a sumptious breakfast with J and Evelyn, and traded music with J for awhile before heading out for home around 1:30 in the afternoon. By that time, the roads were clear and dry and I was back in Dayton by 3:00 P.M. I was able to spend some extra time with Babs and the Feller.

The first hint of the snow day actually came Thursday. The weather forecast was ominous, with predictions of the 3 to 5 inches of snow starting late Thursday morning and lasting through Thursday night. All of us--students and teachers--were keyed up with anticipation, hoping for school to be let it out early. By eleven in the morning, we'd only received a little snow mist and I was ready to resign myself to another ordinary day. But by lunch, it was snowing hard. At the end of recess the first of my students' parents showed up to take them home early. From then on, the school closings, early departures of my students multiplied at the same frenetic pace as the snowflakes.

By the end of the school day, only three of my class of eleven were left, and the world was blanketed in swirling white. Thursday is normally one of the days I stay overnight in Columbus, and on this snowy day, I was glad not to have to make the trek back to Dayton. As it was, the roads were jammed with cars and mounds of dirty snow, and it took me an hour and a half to drive the twelve miles or so to my friend J's house.

By Friday morning, the three to five inches had arrived and school was cancelled for the day! While I'd take the tropical warmth of Saipan over Ohio's winter chill any day, when it comes to weather-related emergencies, a good snow day is much perferrable to a typhoon day. All you need is enough snow to stop the buses--no one's roof needs to get torn off, the power doesn't have to go out, and the clean-up is generally a lot easier. The winter is still young--perhaps we'll see some more snow days before it's over.

The photo above, and these below, were taken this morning, Sabbath, January 9, 2010, in the aftermath of Thursday and Friday's snowfall. It's beautiful!

The garden

A neighbor came and used his little snowplow to clear the drive.

A lovely winter's day.

Check out my latest entry in Faith Journeys, "Looking Like Jesus."

Jan 2, 2010

A Quiet Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Maycock Family! This photo was taken at the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, Ohio on Tuesday, December 22, 2009.

For many people, Christmas is a highly stressful time of year. There are parties to attend, shopping to do, money to spend (or not, but you spend it anyway), trips to take. But for us, the holiday season has always been a relatively quiet time. We've had a few Christmases fraught with stress, but they've been the exception rather than the rule.

Thankfully, this Christmas was yet another quiet one. I spent most of it at home, looking after our son, reading, and watching TV or movies on my laptop. We made three "trips" during the holiday, once down to Cincinnati a few days for Christmas, and twice up to Columbus-once the day after Christmas for the baby dedication of J and Evelyn's son and the other, last Wednesday for a dental appointment. I know Babs might have liked to go out more, but I was thankful for the break from the long-haul driving that is part of everyday life for me now.

One other thing about quiet Christmases. They go by much more slowly, which makes the vacation feel longer!

The Little Feller and I explore the conservatory.

Bab's sister, Jenny strikes a pose at the Krohn Conservatory. Jenny and her husband, Matt, spent Christmas week with us. Even though having seven adults, one baby, and two dogs made for a very full house, it was so nice to have them with us. We had a really great week!

Matt and Jenny

Babs is making more of an effort to be "earth-friendly" these days, and in keeping with that "green" emphasis, she decided to make her own wrapping paper. Using old brown paper bags and magazines, she created the beautifully wrapped gifts you see here. The only downside is that it took a long time to wrap gifts using this method. Around 1:00 A.M. Christmas morning, she finally ran out of steam and chucked the rest of the presents into gift bags (which can be reusued!)

Christmas morning! Our son still doesn't know what Christmas is, but he sure loved all the presents! More pictures and video of him on Christmas morning will be up on his blog.

Dad, Jenny, Shiloh and Matt.

Mom and the tree.

The Little Feller opens his gift from Nona. There is a precious video of this on his blog.