In the weeks since we moved, and I’ve not had Internet access, I’ve tried to keep a mental log of things to blog about. However, it all got kind of jumbled up in my mind, so here are just a few snippets of our small-town life so far.
* We’re finally just about settled into our house. It’s been a little challenging trying to find places for all of our junk since our new house is smaller than our old one, but I think we’re getting there. Things I miss most about our Lafayette house: my dishwasher (although it didn’t work very well), our playroom (toys are kind of taking over our new house), and the carpet under my dining room table (yes, I know it was stained, but you try keeping crumbs under control when Elisabeth eats at your table three times a day.) Things I enjoy the most about our new house: the new stovetop and oven that actually work the way they’re supposed to, everything on one level, and the big living room that has room for the piano that’s been promised!
* Small town life has taken us by surprise a few times, but we’re quickly falling in love with it. Just about everyone in Salem already knew who we were, why we were here, and where we lived before we even got here. We didn’t have a mailbox at first, so we had our mail held until we could get one up. I went in to check one day for mail, and all I said was our name before I heard someone yell from the back, “No, they don’t have anything!” When we forgot to have it held before we went home for Christmas, Clay called the lady at home that works there and goes to our church and asked her to hold it. That’s all it took. Our church secretary writes Clay’s check and also works at the bank that has our account as well as the church’s, so she worked it out for us to have “automatic deposit” for our paycheck. And we’ve developed the habit of thinking really hard about what else we might need to do before heading to the grocery store, so that we only have to make the drive once, instead of just running out for a couple things like we used to do. The people here are wonderful, easy to like and fun to be around. We’re already on the way to developing what I hope will be several close friendships.
* It’s been a little different for Clay to figure out exactly what a full-time music and youth pastor does, but he is loving the challenge and starting to get settled into his new role. There is a great group of students here, and we’re enjoying getting to know them. I’m looking forward to starting the new Sunday night class with the girls in a few weeks. Our girls are starting to find their own groove here. We’ve developed an acronym of their names (ACES) to help people remember which is which; people keep getting Catherine and Elisabeth confused. They really love their Sunday School teachers, and the time we saw Ms. Janet while eating out in Marion was the highlight of Abigail’s week. Even Elisabeth hollered, “Bye, Ms. ‘Cayen'” when we saw Ms. Carolyn leaving the church.
* We finally started school back this week, and it’s been really nice to get back into that routine again. The math curriculum called for a test our second day back, which Abigail mastered beautifully. The long break doesn’t seem to have hurt her at all.
* Catherine is finally, finally out of pull-ups now (except at night), which has been very exciting for our family. Samuel has rolled over, and is getting ready to start eating cereal tomorrow; he has started waking up in the night hungry again, and I think he’s grown so much that he’s ready for a little something more than I can give him. He gets lots and lots of compliments on his “good”ness from the folks at church. Elisabeth’s vocabulary is exploding by the day. Her cutest new phrase is “How ’bout?” She’ll say things like, “How ’bout me play Abba’s room?” or “How ’bout me go Daddy Ella pee-pee?” (which translates to, “Can I go with Daddy to take Elliot out?”
* I’ve started going to our church’s Christian Life Center in the mornings to exercise and have my quiet time, and I picked up a walking buddy along the way. One of the moms from church meets me there and we walk for about an hour before I have my quiet time and head home for Clay to get to the office. I’m excited to have this much-desired routine time alone for my quiet time, and also to have time to exercise to fit into that bridesmaid dress in June!
* We go to playgroup on Tuesday mornings with a group of moms and kids from the community, which the girls love, and I enjoy too. We also just started gymnastics this week in a town about thirty minutes away, and I think we’re really going to enjoy that as well. It’s not the big program that we left in Lafayette, but it’s fine.
* And finally, perhaps the funniest thing that’s happened in the last few weeks: an Abigail story. Clay took the girls with him to the Lifeway store in Paducah one evening while I went to a Mom’s Night Out Christmas party. While there, Abigail looked at a picture book about a dog named Scooter who got hit by a car and killed. (Yes, I know–why on earth would Lifeway give our kids nightmares like this??) Clay went to check on her and found her sobbing right there in the floor of the store. She came out of her bed to tell me about it when I got home that night, and sobbed some more. For the next several days, she would just tear up and say, “I’m still thinking of Scooter, Mom.” Her prayers started consisting of things like, “God, thank you that Elliot didn’t get hit by a car. Please help him never run out in the street and if he does help the cars see him and help him never be like Scooter.” She started talking about “that Christian bookstore” in a tone of voice previously reserved for things like “eww, boy toys!” She made it clear that she never wanted to go there again. This all gradually died down over the holidays until we mentioned that we were going to Paducah while Aunt Gertie was there. She immediately started freaking out and yelling, “Not the Christian bookstore!” We promised we wouldn’t go there, and didn’t. But the next week, Clay had to go there to pick up some books for church. We didn’t say where we were going, and he backed into the parking space so she couldn’t see the sign. As we were waiting in the van for him, she suddenly realized where we were, and started freaking out again. “Mom, we’re at that Christian bookstore and if I go in there I’ll have to see that picture again and I don’t want to!” I assured her that she didn’t have to go in and even if she went in, she didn’t have to go anywhere near that book. She finally calmed down, but a few minutes later, she said quietly, “Mom, can I go in there and look at that picture again? I’ve forgotten what it looked like.” Only Abigail.
So that’s a rather long look at life so far. We absolutely love it and are thrilled to be here. It just put the icing on the cake when we passed a Terminix truck tonight at about five o’clock. Clay is off every Friday and Saturday (unless there’s a youth event), and we hope to never find ourselves taking that for granted. Thank You, God, for bringing us to this place.