A Thunderstorm, a Letter and One Thousand Gifts

We had our first real summer thunderstorm last night. Thunder shook the whole house, lightning lit up the entire sky and rain poured like a monsoon. It went on for a good four hours. I think my state of mind can best be summed up by what I said as I held on to her for dear life in bed. She said “Um Mommy why are you hugging me like a baby hugs her mommy when I’m the baby and you are the Mommy?” I couldn’t stop giggling. These kids have adjusted to life in the mid-west better than I seem to have.

A dear friend wrote me a letter. Remember those? It was so much fun to receive a letter and as I read it out loud it was as if she was right beside me talking. One of her questions to me was what do you like about your new city?  It made me think about all the good things that have happened to us since moving here. It helped me turn the corner so to speak and was exactly what I needed. So this post is all about the good stuff, the positives that have come out of moving out of Los Angeles and to a small town in St. Louis, Missouri.

No more 2-hour work commutes for T. We have IMG_0477him around a whole lot more in our lives. He rides his bike to and from work- a nice 10 minute ride. In LA, his work commute was 2 hours each way. He also comes home for lunch. It’s pretty awesome. Dinner is no longer at 7 pm or not at all. We eat between 5:30-6 pm. One of us says blessing over our food and we eat, laugh and talk over big family dinners at the dinner table on a regular basis, not just on Sundays.

IMG_0565Life no longer stops on Sunday night. Since T is around a whole lot more, we enjoy family time during weekday evenings. Family walks after dinner or a trip to the park so the boys can fly their remote controlled planes. Or bearing witness to a great father-son bonding moment. IMG_0557Here’s a great picture of T showing C how to mow the lawn. A time-honored tradition that has fallen to the wayside partially the result of so many affordable Mexican gardeners in California. Here, in Missouri, not too many mexicanos  if any at all and so we find ourselves responsible for lawn maintenance. And let me tell you, come the fall season with all the leaves coming down, the boys will be crying and whining up a storm. I thoroughly look forward to it. He he he.

I am an explorer in my own town– going out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. Let’s take grocery shopping for example. You shop at the same places you always have and buy the exact same food. I know because I had done this for the past 10 years in juliaLos Angeles. Have you read Julia Child’s My life in France novel? I absolutely adore this book. I read it in the weeks leading up to leaving Los Angeles and somehow it made me feel better about everything. For Julia- life was just one big adventure and she and Paul took huge chunks out of it. In the end you felt immensely satisfied because you just knew they had lived life to the absolute fullest in a way that most people do not. The book was written by her nephew through interviews with Julia during her final years. IMG_0569It details Julia’s journey to becoming the Julia Child we knew and loved- how she left Pasadena, met Paul Child, moved to France and found her cooking passion through the people she met and places she discovered. In a way, I feel like a modern-day Julia Child, exploring and feasting in culinary delights and trips throughout the city!  In the past two weeks I have visited Trader Joe’s (produce not so fresh and expensive), Schnuck’s (cheaper but not much selection), Dierberg’s (more selection, less quality, expensive) and Target (super expensive). This past weekend our neighbors shared with us that they don’t buy their produce from the supermarket. They buy it at a corner stand in nearby Webster Groves. T and I thought well let’s give it a try. We drove right over there, looked at each other and asked ourselves is this it? It’s on a street corner IMG_0567intersection with no identifying name. It looked ratty and questionable. As we walked closer my eyes opened in delight… Avocados for 79 cents! Dozens of mangos for the same price! Stone fruit with California prices – under $2.99 a pound. Produce was of superb quality. Tomatoes, beets, turnips, asparagus for great prices! We loaded up 3 white laundry baskets with produce for $24 dollars. So yes peeps it’s true. From now on, I’ll be heading over to the no-name produce stand in Webster Groves once or twice a week to load it all up in white laundry baskets. Julia would be so proud.

The public schools. They are amazing with a capital A.   We met I’s new kinder teacherIMG_0552 already. Each family gets a 20 minute appointment with their kinder teacher. You get to ask any questions, learn about their background and day’s schedule and procedures without the usual interruptions and chaos that exists on the first day.  We asked Mrs. R how many kids would be in the class IMG_0553and when she said 16, I almost choked on my saliva. She asked is that a good thing or bad thing and I replied oh most definitely a good thing! The school has an international feel- library has books in multiple languages with all the world flags and the gymnasium is brand-new. I’ve already spoken and met with the school counselors and shared with them past challenges and current strengths of each child. I think, hope and pray that this school transition will be as smooth as possible. I know there will be hiccups but I think we are in good hands surrounded by kind, loving, open people who will do right by us.

Learning to say NO! The middle school PTO has a few open positions that were seriously right up my alley. Like bridging the African American community IMG_0564with the rest of the school and organizing community building events for parents. I almost responded. But I didn’t and I’m so proud of myself for doing that. After everything we’ve been through, this family, especially me deserves to just be. After I drop off the kids on their first day of school on Wednesday, I’m going to run a few errands, get a little work in for a consulting gig I have and begin reading this book sent to me by another dear friend. Purchasing this book was on my never-ending to-do list. And just like that- this friend bought it and shipped it to me, without the two of us ever having spoken about it. She knows me so well and I love that about our friendship.

It will be a perfect day.


4 thoughts on “A Thunderstorm, a Letter and One Thousand Gifts

  1. Hello Jackson Family what an adventure. Liz I love reading this to my husband, he thinks you should be an Author. Your stories have made us laugh & cry. I miss you all, and I will miss you more next week when I go back to school. I hope Trevor is enjoying his new job, that will have to be one of your upcoming chapters. Love You Mrs. Patty & Mr. Joe

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Seems things are striking a right balance for you and your family out there. Perfect! I particularly like trading in a 2-hour one-way commute for a 10-minute bike ride. Good for exercise, good for the environment and best of all, good for the family!

    Liked by 1 person

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