Happy New Year: Pressing stop and restarting the year.

I don’t normally write the title first, but as I was reaching for my IPad to write this post, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the year ahead.  It indeed feels like a new year.

The past 18mths has been the hardest yet of my expat adventures.  I thought leaving behind Jerusalem was a brilliant idea.  It was.  Living in Jordan has been like a vacation in terms of the change of countries.  We definitely left behind intensity, insecurity and uncertainty in our day to day living, for a place of peace and hospitality.  But I also left behind some very dear friends who I miss so much.  I didn’t really take into account having to make new friendships and a new life.  Not sure why I didn’t, but I didn’t.  With a hardworking husband travelling most of this year for work, it has left me utterly burnt out.  Trying to homeschool an extremely defiant, aggressive kid whilst taming my awesome toddler and other two lads, whilst pregnant, had drained my inner being.  What’s worst? I haven’t made a close nit group of friends.  To be honest, trying to homeschool and just survive, I haven’t had a huge opportunity to get out there and make friends.  This made me feel pretty lonely and down at some points and resentful of husband at times, even if he was going out for work dinners.  I wanted in too!

It’s nice being able to type this in reflective mode, knowing that a massive change is coming through, hence the beginning of a new year, or new season.  I feel light, enthusiastic and happy.  My homeschooler has gotten a place in our top school of choice.  He is sooo happy there, in fact, thriving.  Homeschooling him was an important time.  It was a time of growth for him, particularly in his love for learning, and confidence as a learner.  It’s nice to be able to send him back off into the world knowing that he is thriving.   Considering school used to be a high stress point for him. This homeschooling time wasn’t light and fluffy though, oh no, no, it wasn’t.  Trying to teach a defiant child was sometimes like hell.  I had many inward and outward tantrums, many of which I’m not proud of.  But, some of the battles he put up were beyond ridiculous!  Homeschooling really did put a strain on our relationship.  We needed the space from each other, it was way too intense. School is the perfect breath of fresh air that we needed.

Anyway, we have a newborn in the house again.  Three kids have started back at school and a toddler at home. The world is my oyster, so they say.  I’ve started arranging play dates, Bible Study, and in a few months will begin playing sport again.  I’m thrilled to have a piece of me back that was missing for so long.  Not to mention, my hardworking husband has got a new position which has barely any travel too.  See why I call this a new year?  It sure feels like it. It’s time to thrive rather than barely survive.  It’s time to laugh and smile again, rather than frown and cry.  It’s time to press ‘go’, moving forward to a place of joy and contentment with where we are and where we are going in God’s grand plan.

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Juggling

My navigation of life continues to be a juggle in the Hasmite Kingdom.  A juggle of spending quality time with all kids, homeschooling my intense and sometimes aggressive little man, attending play dates where I barely understand what is being said, enduring constant illnesses as our little one gets used to the new bugs, raising our kids alone most days while Joel also juggles his hectic work life.  Why am I here again? Yep, the honeymoon period of the expat has come to an end.  It’s never nice when it does.  Thought it would also be fun to throw in some low iron, low vitamin D and lazy thyroid, why not?  I must admit though, life is tough enough without that level of exhaustion, but throw in those extra things and I was EXHAUSTED!  It’s nice now that the fog has lifted and I have some bounce in my stride.

Another thing that eats away at me, or keeps me humble really, is the fact of having a kid with extra needs thrown into the mix.  Even though my head knows these kids need different approaches when it comes to teaching, guiding and disciplining them, I still can’t help but feel like a failure.  It’s an unhealthy way to be, I know, but a perfectionist can’t help it.  When you have a kid with oppositional defiance tendencies, you can’t help but think maybe this is happening because Im not being strict or consistent enough.  These thoughts smash me everyday.  Thank goodness for God’s grace and strategies.  After a LONG time, I’ve come back to His feet, smashed and humble, but ready to be carried.  Nothing like the ouchiness of humility, but the freedom and strength in God is so refreshing.  As I type this, I can say all my kids have taught me SO much about love, grace, patience and humility.  I’ve also learnt so far, so much about parenting a child with extra needs, so I know one day I will be able to hopefully help others that have children with special needs on a more personal level.  Hmmm, I guess this is the thing I lack too.  We have a diagnosis and some medication waved in our face, but then left to our own devices.  I’m madly reading most days trying to work out how to teach our kid the executive function skills he is missing, not really having a clue of what I’m doing.  Anyway, I’m sure God will use all of this that I’m learning now for my own family but others too.  

Jordan can be a challenging place to break into and make friends with the locals.  The locals have big families which consume most of their social life.  One of the ways for my kids to feel at home is of course by making friends.  So, I decided to invite the mothers and kids from my son’s class (in a local Arabic school) over to play.  Play dates are not something they do a lot of here, so the mothers were super excited by the idea.  We had about 8 come and all up about 20 kids.  It was awesome.  A challenge for me with my little bit of Arabic that I have, and hosting in a respectful way (they have lots of customs I had to remember),  but it was fun.  The mothers liked it so much that we’ve started a Whatsapp play date group for my son’s class. This is great.  We meet often to play.  Tick!

My heart continues to break for our neighbours across the bridge in Palestine (and the nice Israelis who want peace).  It’s sad to see this place in so much trouble but inevitable if you continue to try and solve problems by killing people or oppressing people even more, and not allowing some mothers access to attend their childrens funerals.  How inhumane can you be?!

Anyway, my life continues to be full, hectic, reflective and enjoyable in a funny kind of way.  

Shout it from the rooftops, the introvert is lonely!!!

Interestingly, I haven’t been too phased by the relocation.  I guess in many ways, it is fun.  Exploring a new place, trying new foods and setting up home are fun and stimulating to all the senses.  It’s the day to day stuff I’m finding very tough.  The everyday walk with four small kids, special needs thrown in there, homeschooling to help us through the summer, much single parenting, increase of food intolerances, fairly housebound working around baby naps to ensure we don’t have horrible nights,  and to be honest, bitter, bitter loneliness.  You know it’s a problem when the introvert screams out, I’M LONELY, I need people.  That’s a problem.  A problem that I know isn’t going to last long, it’s a season, I know.  But like being in the middle of a bitter cold winter, aknowledgement helps in knowing why you are cold, but it doesn’t make the cold go away, or make it bearable.  I’m trying to find a casual babysitter to help out and give me some respite, but I haven’t got one yet.  I do know I will sort out this problem soon and this will help somewhat, but having a break will mean me going off by myself in a different location.  Hmmm, not solving the loneliness problem here.

As I sat to write I had so many things to write, including a huge desire to share, but there’s  a massive brain fog in the way.  My food intolerances to Amines and Salicylates have been at their worse since Laila’s birth, getting lots of tummy upsets and other physiological things happening.  Laila is also very sensitive which has meant many a night has been spent having her wake 1-2hrly.  Trying to cope with this on top of the other stuff made life extra tricky and grumpy… Something had to change…

I read about the GAPS diet, particularly the GAPS intro diet as a way of healing the gut and helping it to be able to handle foods again.  Great idea right? In theory, yes. Being the impatient person I am, I jumped in and decided to give it a shot.  I should’ve read more before starting that’s for sure.  It’s basically only having easily digestible foods.  For the first few days, stocks and soup and if you are awesome at that, you can add an egg yolk. Yipppeeee, freakin yippee.  So, if you imagine, I’ve got all the stuff happening that I explained above, but put a mum and Bub in picture on a detox diet.  Lack of sleep and desperation makes us do interesting things.  The good news is, while on this diet, I’ve learnt I’m way more intolerant to Amines than I first originally thought and this is the cause of my chronic sinusitis.  I’ve been trying to be super careful seeing I’m breastfeeding, keeping up my nutrients, but it’s super hard when you can’t have a lot of foods allowed in this diet.  More healing has to take place first.  That’s all good and well, but I have a cranky baby covered in detox rash, and a mum trying not to, but losing weight too quickly (hello, premarriage weight, seriously!), and coping with a detox brain, fatigue and emotions.  It’s no wonder two weeks in, I cracked and had pizza with the kids last night.  I’ve realised, I was expecting too much from myself and now was not the right time to do this diet (it’s soo hard working out what Bub is reacting to when they are eating solids and breastfeeding, way too hard!).  I’m not enjoying the reversal stomach cramps and sinusitis that has come back 6hrs later and I’m not sure yet what’s in store for Laila, but it was all just too much!! 

This little burnt out and lonely introvert must soldier on, find some more time to pray (I’m very thankful we’ve found a great church and look forward to the interactions every week), and try to sleep (thank you sinuses for sleeplessness at 4am, I haven’t missed you!), knowing that next month we have a holiday coming up. I can’t wait and I wish it could come sooner.

Starting from scratch

Being a mother of four I’m unsure of how other mothers of four or more manage to blog regularly, when I don’t even manage to go to the toilet regularly (well, when I want!).  So here is my latest installment of musings from abroad.

We are still abroad, but have moved across the bridge to Jordan.  It was time for a less intense life for our little people (and us).  

I knew we were ready for a change, but it was certainly tough saying goodbye to our family in Jerusalem (I’ve learned while on post your friends very quickly become family), and even more difficult taking our children away from teachers and friends they love so dearly. We visited our friends and family in OZ on our way to Jordan. I love visiting family and friends, but it is soo bitter sweet.  In hindsight, doing two major farewells back to back was way too hard, won’t be doing that again.  It’s also tough having a daily reminder of the fun you are missing out of and the ease of lifestyle too.  Life is just so damn easy in OZ.  If things do go pear shaped there, problems are solved easily and quickly.  I’m told life is easy in Jordan too, I hope so, because life in Jerusalem was unnecessarily difficult.

We’ve began our journey in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  Feeling a little depressed from farewelling friends and family (oh, the guilt I feel from having to take our kids away from the grandparents yet again!).  It’s also a little tough coming from holiday…to home…..where is my home?  I know, it’s a first world problem, but I currently don’t have a home.  I’m itching to settle somewhere.  The kids are ready to settle.  They are being so intense and challenging.  They need their own space and lots of it, preferably in a different room to me.  It’s all about navigating life the best we can.  Off we go again, starting life from scratch but with good health (our little lady is very well).