Saturday, May 28, 2011

Buried Alive

The mountains of to-do lists and forms to fill out started to overwhelm us. David had been traveling for weeks, and even the three hour time difference between Burbank and Hoboken, New Jersey was tough on us. How were we going to communicate and coordinate to get all this done once he was in the UK? We were soon to find out...

Brenda came to CA for Maxwell's birthday weekend, sans Dewey as he was still recovering from his recent surgery. I filled up the two days she stayed beyond the party to get as much done as possible. On Monday after his party, poor Maxwell had to go to the doctor for his three year check up. He didn't have to have any immunizations, but the doctor did ask for blood work, so we headed over to the lab. He was such a trooper! Earlier that day I had my annual well woman exam, and the next morning I had two cavities filled at the dentist. NOT FUN. At least I filled in the space between with a wonderful visit to the spa (Thank you Groupon!) for a facial and MUCH needed massage.

But while two days with Gaga's help was wonderful, it just wasn't enough to get everything done. David was in England, and I had to wrap up our life in Burbank. On a daily basis I was on the phone making calls, sending emails, researching online, cleaning/organizing/packing boxes, running errands...and, OH YEAH...entertaining two toddlers from sun up to sun down!!! April was the longest and most exhausting month of my life.

Which is why, one of my best friends, Jamie, gave me THIS!

SUPERMOM TO THE RESCUE! (That's me on the right)

Ever since Maxwell was little, Dave and I would joke around about me being SuperMom. I am sure that most parenting duos have the same conversation. But in April of 2011...I really felt like it! I was still organizer of our playgroup, so the kids and I were off most days doing funstuff with one or several of our friends. And our friends are amazing, too! Most of them offered to help in any way they could, and most of them were called to action! A huge InghamFamilyTails shoutout in particular to Jamie, Becki, Annie, Aine, Sarah and Susie for all the babysitting, as well as to Teresa, Karla, Marsha, Eileen and Liz for the playtime, fun and hand-me-down clothes for Darian! And I can't forget about Monica, Josh, Steve and Nicole for helping load the truck in Burbank. But wait! There's more! Steve and Nicole and Jill and Shelly for the help in Corona...this blog could go on and on!

I think I need to have a separate blog for my mom, Shelly, Jill, Steve, Nicole and Brenda for everything they have done to help us. There aren't enough words in my limited vocabulary to express just how awesome you guys all are! THANK YOU!!!!!!

But back to the (many) tasks at hand.

Back in late January, early February when the possibility of moving first started to look like a possibility, I started researching just what we would have to do in order to make this happen. I can't pinpoint what the hardest part was, because it seemed like each individual piece was in itself extremely challenging. Throughout the entire process, Dave was still obviously working full time, so he didn't really have the downtime to help me figure this stuff out. Especially after he spent a couple days in the middle of February in NJ in order to meet the client. After that visit, he was officially on the project. So not only did he have to do everything at work that already had him working 11-12 hour days, now he was full time project manager for the UK project, too!

But the paperwork certainly did seem to be burying us alive. We had to get passport photos and then passports for the kids in order to apply for our Visas. Then we filled out the forms to apply for the Visas and learned we had to go get facial scans and fingerprints done. Oh, and more passport photos for the Visas. I was in charge of reading all the information that Cognizant was sending us relating to the move, because David just didn't have time. It was overwhelming, to say the least. We requested all our medical records as well, so there were lots of back and forth visits to the doctors offices to get that all straightened out. There were many phone calls and emails exchanges in order to coordinate and figure out the specifics of moving our stuff over. And then the little issue of finding somewhere to live once we got there! Luckily, while I closed down shop in Burbank, Dave was working the phones and emails in Oxford and setting us up with a house, a bank account, etc.

But the condo in! I have moved before, but never with such a household worth of STUFF, and never with two toddlers demanding my attention all day long. Luckily after that crazy leak we had, the condo was temporarily off the market. Because for about three weeks there, I was all alone with both kids trying to organize and pack and yet still have the place looking perfect in case someone wanted to come for a walk through. Needless to say, while the MegaBitch had to appear in order to get everything fixed in the condo, that leak was probably the best thing that could have happened in order for me to keep my sanity!!

We learned before we even left that the eight hour time difference between California and England was going to be really hard on us once we moved. When Dave got back to the hotel the kids were napping, and when they woke up he was either in bed or about to go that way. When we got up in the morning he was at work. David and I had the chance to talk enough, but he didn't see the kids much during the week. We survived the month with lots of emails and skype time, mostly on weekends. My favorite day was one when we turned on Skype and all just went about our business. Me and the kids eating and playing and doing our thing, and David working from the hotel and enjoying listening to us and watching us play. It was great! Like he was right there with us!

Darian making silly faces at Dadda

Ring Around the Rosie

Pretty Girl

Hi Dadda!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Three Years.

That phrase has entered my daily speech a lot lately.

"David and I are moving to England for three years!"

But more importantly, "I can't believe it has already been three years. I feel like I was pregnant and sick with him yesterday!"

March 25, 2008. 9:16pm. Maxwell Stewart Ingham (finally!) broke free and entered our world.

Three years. THREE YEARS. Time really does fly, doesn't it? That thought both consoles and terrifies me. While I am excited about our move overseas, I rest assured that three years will go by in an instant and we'll be "home" again soon. Yet at the same time, the thought of the next three years of Maxwell and Darian's lives flashing by in a heartbeat makes me want to cry. My babies. They definitely aren't babies anymore. Maxwell is three. THREE. I can't even believe it. And just the other day at dinner, David said to Darian, "Sweetie, I don't like that you are growing up. You're eating real food all the time now, and that means less pizza for Dadda."

I made it my mission to make Maxwell's third birthday party not just a party, but a BASH. A rumpus, if you will. And a rumpus we had! We had too many people and too little space to try and do something at home, and while parks are great, they are not very intimate. We decided that since this was going to be the last party we hosted for a while, we'd go all out. We rented out the playplace at Amy's indoor playground, prepared a feast befitting all walks of dinosaur appetites, and we prepared to RUMPUS, dinosaur style!

Maxwell loves Amy's, as do all his little friends, so it was the perfect place for our big boy's birthday rumpus and our last big gathering in CA for a while. We hosted family at home beforehand so that they could see Maxwell open their gifts. (And secretly because I needed helpers to get ready!!) Maxwell ooh'd and aah'd over all his new dinosaur goodies and books and toys. Thank you ALL!

The party went by in a blur. I played hostess and made sure that people had a chance to make their dinosaur fossil necklace before they left.

We feasted on Carnivore Cravings, Herbivore hors d'oeuvres, the Omnivore Original and Toddlersaurus Treats (Apatosaurus shaped PBJs!).

The cake was so fun and super yummy, but even the birthday boy preferred a Pterandon Nest!

As the party started to wind down and our guests began to leave, I couldn't stop the tears from coming. These were goodbyes to friends and family that I would certainly see again before we left, but as I stood and watched Maxwell's face light up as all of these wonderful people smiled and laughed and sang Happy Birthday, I felt so fortunate to have developed such a strong support system of friends and loved ones. We are so lucky to have you all in our lives, and I am thankful for each and every one of you.

But the biggest goodbye was still looming overhead. With each hug and thank you, I knew I was one hug closer to the big one: saying goodbye to David for the next four weeks. And then...moving to England for THREE YEARS.

(A huge thank you to all our friends and family who came to the party. We had a blast!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The ceiling is falling

"911! Come home NOW!!!"

This was the text message that I read on my phone while I was sitting in a chair at the hair salon, with foil highlights all over my head.

Now, if you have kids you know this is not a message you want to see. I immediately imagined blood and guts and severed limbs. I called David to see what was going on, and he said that there was a leak in the bedroom and I needed to come home to help him.

Interesting. At this point, David had already been traveling to New Jersey for work for a couple weeks. He just happened to be home for the weekend, and I was taking (what was supposed to be) a little time to myself. I'd been on my own with the kids for a while already, and if that leak had happened either two days before or one day later, I would have been on my own. But I felt bad for my poor little hubby. He's not used to having to deal with the kids by himself when disaster strikes! I couldn't leave the salon yet, but I called in for reinforcements to help him out. I called Phil and Jamie to see if one of them could either go help him with the kids or the leak. Phil was on his way! When I told Dave, he said, but I need help with the kids! So I called Becki. She also dropped everything and rushed to our aid.

I ended up asking the stylist to put me under the dryer so it would go faster, and explained the situation. After she washed my hair, I left to go home and help. There wasn't much we could do. Luckily Phil brought Gwen to keep Maxwell busy, and Becki saved a sleeping, messy Darian from her highchair.

Having the leak ruining the paint in the room I had JUST had painted several weeks before was definitely not something I enjoyed seeing. But it answered my question. How was I going to do all this?

We ended up taking the condo off the market while we got the mess taken care of (which I will not bore my readers with the details! Let's just say it took a month and the MegaBitch to get it all done!).

In the meantime, Dave left that night to head back to New Jersey and I was left to continue my super to-do list...which included planning the most amazing, special, super fun-filled Dinosaur Rumpus in town! Maxwell's birthday was right around the corner, and we were kind of treating it like our own going away party. It was, after all, going to be our last big celebration before the move.

Can someone please add 5 more hours to each day? Thanks.

Five and a half months ago...

At his work Christmas party, David overheard his manager, Frank, mention to someone about needing to send a few people to the UK to do some business development in M&E (Media and Entertainment). He came home and told me/asked me if I would be interested, and I immediately shot him down.

"Are you kidding? We have two kids now and all of our friends and family are so close; how could we possibly move to another country right now???"

Scan forward less than six months, and I am typing this blog (which will be the first of many to come!) in a strange living room, in a strange house, on a strange street, IN OXFORD, ENGLAND!!!!

Who would've thought that we could make this decision and actually execute the move so quickly? Definitely not me! But here we are, eight hours and more than 5,500 miles away from home.

Most of you who will read this post know the details of the last six months, but I'll recap a bit. After I told Dave no, I couldn't stop thinking about possibly moving to England. Could I do it? The kids aren't in school yet, so why not? My change of heart originally came from a different point of mind than you would imagine: it wasn't that I really wanted to go, but I didn't want to regret passing up this opportunity in twenty years. Does that make sense? I could imagine Dave and I sitting on the couch after the kids are out of the house, waiting for retirement, talking about what could have been back in 2011 had we decided to go for it.

So we did. While we were in PA for Christmas, David updated his resume and sent it to Frank. Just a week or so later, Frank called and said he had two questions for David. "How serious are you about making this move? And how soon could you do it?"

It turns out that the business development project didn't really have a start date, it would just be sometime later this year or next. However, Frank said that there was a project in Oxford starting next month. WHAT? Next MONTH? No way. How could we possibly??? We talked it over and decided that if we really wanted to do this we would have to do whatever it takes, because signing up for the Oxford project would put us here for whenever the next project started. Dave feared if we turned that down, Frank may think he wasn't really as interested in relocating as he had said. So we said YES. SIGN US UP!!

We listed the condo, got a storage unit, and started making plans! Since the start date for David in the UK was still up in the air, I had to just make a decision: when would the kids and I be able to wrap up everything in CA and go to Oxford to join him? We decided we would stay until the end of April, because I couldn't imagine being apart from him any more than that!

Luckily, in the IT Consulting world, start dates don't always go as planned. There are contracts to write, teams to assemble and be approved, legal documents to review and we bought a little time. David traveled to New Jersey the week of February 14th to meet the client and team. The rest of the month he finished up all of his work at Warner Bros. and transitioned everything to someone else.

In March, David spent several weeks working M-F out of the New Jersey office, while the kids and I were in CA, sorting, packing, organizing, cleaning, etc. The condo was on the market, and it was really tough to keep everything clean and perfect for showings.

I started to in the world am I going to do this?