Twelfth Week: Home in Hamilton

Back to regular cereal and coffee.

But am I ever glad to have coffee! One thing the UK and Ireland do not have is better coffee than here, but that’s just my opinion. I drank a lot of good tea over there, though!

The kids with their cousins Haviland and Victoria.

Well, we have been back in town for almost a week now, trying to recover from the jet lag. We woke up last week in Ireland, and got up extra early to return our rental car. Luckily, the B&B was very close to the airport. We were out the door at 6:00am (1:00am EST!) and caught our flight out of Shannon in no time. Luckily, our flight was a bit early, but that only meant our layover in London was going to be longer.

It was great to be back in London, even for a few hours. We had lunch (along with my last Guinness at 11:00am). Molly and I stared at the Underground station at Heathrow, remembering all of our travels and longing to jump on and head back over to Highbury Park again.

We got the kids some activity books to work on during the wait for our flight and spent our last few euros and pounds on candy. They were well stocked for the return trip.

Victoria had just woken up and I hadn’t slept in almost 24 hours!

The coolest thing about the flight back, which helped me forget about how sad I was to leave, was meeting our new niece Victoria for the first time. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that my sister Kelli and her husband Simon were adopting a beautiful 7-year-old girl from Poland. They’ve been over there for almost as long as we have been on our trip. Just by pure grace was Kelli able to get on the exact flight we were on heading back to Atlanta. It really was a gift, being able to share that time together catching up and seeing our kids interact with their new cousin. Victoria is hearing-impaired and Kelli is teaching her sign language, while also getting her the proper hearing testing to figure out how best to care for her. Victoria is simply wonderful, and like Kelli and Simon, we all fell in love with her immediately. She is full of energy and wonder, and it was neat to be with her on her first flight to America.

We landed around 8:30pm on Tuesday night, and were greeted by Atlanta’s most jovial (read: rudest and most unfriendly) airport staff. It was a true rude awakening that now were were back in the States, where people just aren’t friendly everywhere. But, immediately after navigating customs, we were greeted by many loving and friendly faces, including Simon and their three sons Jackson, Bennet, and Whitaker (they flew back from Poland a few days earlier), my Mom, my uncle Paul and cousin Matthew who, along with my aunt Denise were visiting Georgia from Florida, and Bill Caudill, who was driving us home. It was a great surprise to see Paul and Matthew, who happened to be at the airport that day watching planes and stayed to see us.

We were all so exhausted and got home around 10:30pm and immediately crashed. However, we were up again at 6:00am bright and early and have been every day since. I’m actually hoping we stay close to this schedule since school is around the corner.

I’ve been getting up early and walking in order to miss the hottest part of the day. I admit, I didn’t miss the heat nor the bugs. But getting up early and exercising has been a good start to the day.

Immediately, the kids have been more independent. Now that we’re back in their comfort zone, they have played well with each other. They go off to read or play a game by themselves. Even the fussing has decreased. I guess traveling to another country heightens the anxiety levels.

Visiting with my mom, my aunt, her godmother Liz, and my cousin Daniel.

Molly’s mom came and brought our van back on Wednesday and stayed a couple of nights. On Friday, we drove her back to Byron and picked up a box of Georgia peaches (you can’t get those over there!). Sunday, we arranged to meet my aunt and her family in between Hamilton and Cartersville, where they were staying, in Carrollton. My mom also had driven over to visit them, so we had a great lunch visiting with one another.

On the way, we visited St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Newnan, where my friend Allan Sandlin is the rector. It was a nice way to ease back into church, and while Allan said the attendance was down, it looked full compared to the English and Irish churches we visited.

When we got home, we found two boxes of My Favorite Muffins on our porch thanks to our friends Josh and Kara Cave. I regretfully ate about three of them in one sitting. Again, this is why I’m exercising so early in the morning. Josh also did us a huge favor and drove all the way back to our house from Columbus to close a door on the van which I stupidly left open. Thanks Josh!

Today, we finally went and saw Inside Out at the theaters. We’ve been waiting to see it, as Pixar movies are among our favorites. I have to say, this might be my favorite Pixar film yet. At one point in the movie, I was struggling so hard to hold back a full-on wailing and screaming bawl-fest. Those of you who know my Anne of Green Gables story…it was like that. I held back the howls, but couldn’t hold back the tears. It was just a wonderful movie and one that coincided with many of the things I’ve been meditating on during this whole sabbatical.

Most days, I’ve been spending up in my office writing songs, learning to play the mandolin and bowed psaltery, and reading. I’m so grateful for this time before I jump back into work. I still have one more week to go, as I’ll be back in the office on August 4 and my first Sunday back will be August 9, which is our annual parish picnic at Blue Springs. It will be a fun way to celebrate our homecoming with our parish family. Also, on August 8, I will be playing my guitar at Iron Bank Coffee in Columbus at 7:00pm. I’ll be playing mostly cover songs with a few originals thrown in. It would be great to see some friendly faces.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone soon and again, I’m so grateful for this opportunity to be off to spend time with Molly and the kids.

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