Fresh Starts

‘Beginnings could happen more than once or in different ways.’

– Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry


It’s been a bit quiet over here for a while. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say in this space, to be quite honest. Even now, I’m still wrestling with what my voice will sound like, look like – I’m finding I’m more comfortable with the thought of that, and accepting that it’s totally okay to not have all the answers for how the blog should look. I tend to not do something [okay, a lot of things] because of my ever present fear of failure, rejection and potential humiliation. I also absorb styles, voices, templates, and other blogs m.o.’s, to the point that I’m not sure what is my voice as opposed to a parroting of someone else. So these are baby steps, to restart something creative in my life and do it just because I want to, to see what’s really in my soul and thoughts.

I feel like one reason why the blog stumbled a bit last time was due super specific kiddo posts. That is, after all, where the idea for this space started, due to our major move. But one kiddo is old enough to be aware that social media exists, and rather consistently will only grant permission for a photo with the caveat of “But don’t post it! Wherever you post it to, don’t do it!” [Even that, she probably wouldn’t love that I just shared]. I do respect social media autonomy. And her autonomy, just in general.

Beyond that, my life is more than just the kids.

Ha! Ehh … sometimes, anyway. I like to try and convince myself of that.

As I continue, they’ll be around, too, but I am going to free up space for what’s going on with all four of us and not feel like I have to box myself in. Do I want to write about knitting? Cool – that’s what I’ll do. Do I want to talk about the thousands of books I read this year? Awesome – there will probably be some really bad Instagramed photos of their titles. Will I make you totally jealous of my new-ish location with beach photos? Definitely. Do I want to throw up a dozen photos of the kids, while I’m at it? Totally [with permission, of course].

Will I also talk about world topics, national & local drama, or whatever else I’ve been mulling over in my mind? Probably. Potentially yes, anyway. Will I talk about things that I’m interested in, but maybe don’t know a ton on? Yes – hopefully with humility, tons of questions, and a smidge of wisdom, with the hope that the wisdom will only grow.

Whatever this space ends up looking like, I’m hoping you enjoy the journey! Also, pictures of the kiddos. Because let’s be honest, they’re cute stuff that I can reel y’all back in with! [And yes, she approved of the photos this morning, knowing they’d be widely dispersed!]

Also, come on? How do you not share this one? A mischievous pair, these two.


the [emotional] move

I’ve had a lot running through my thoughts recently. I realized that I’ve lived here in Charleston for a full two months now.


two months without the norms of my existence. my family, my friends, my church. even in the midst of the craziness that is moving, I find myself thinking about Kansas City a lot. “what highways are under construction? what is going on downtown, at UMKC, at the Plaza, at the Kansas City Boiler Room? is it cool enough to head to the park? if it is, I’d love to go with M & N … oh, wait, I don’t live there anymore. dang it.” this is what I was the most sad about – the little things that make your knowledge of a person or a location – the small, everyday occurrences that you keep track of daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, that constitutes your understanding of where you are and the relationships you are in.

I see now why moving is on the top of the stress list. I see now that it, especially in our circumstances, it creates bone-tired parents who are trying to get a career up in the air and keeping the children alive. and the tiredness compounds on itself, especially without family members to jump in, create that much-needed break, and allow for some breathing room. I see that, also, my awesome family is incredible resilient. R has jumped head first into his work and social life. he has made some great friends through work, and is doing swimmingly there professionally. he loves the town, his office, the parks, the walking, the local coffeehouses. S is doing awesome [which you’ve already read on]. G, though I love him greatly, is still a baby. he has no clue as to what is going on. as long as he’s fed, allowed to get a couple decent naps a day, and snuggled with throughout, he’s fabulous.

I was in survival mode when I arrived. my wonderful mother was here, and helped set the apartment to rights. thanks to her, I have a functioning kitchen and children who were eagerly taken cared of. and then she left. and unfortunately, left in the worst of circumstances that culminated in my grandma Dee passing away. we were in town not quite two weeks before we packed up, and saw family in Kentucky. and while it was [and is] heartbreaking the reason why, I was delighted to see everyone again so soon. well, I was a mess of emotions, but one of those emotions was elation that I was seeing my family.

and then I had to drive home. in tears, I pulled out of Grandpa’s driveway and started the long drive south. I feel like that was the true, real beginning of our living here in town. R began work in earnest, S was excited about school, and we were all prepping for the beginning of work/school/fall, & all that wonderfully brings. I, in the name of staying sane, turned to my beloved iCal. if you know nothing about me, you’ll soon learn that I love lists, I love to-dos, and I love creating them and deleting them once they’re accomplished.

on a side note, R thinks I’m crazy. what, you don’t have 9 separate sub-calanders with multiple instructions for how to get through your day? how do you survive, sir? I say again, how, sir?

so, I turned to organization and systems and to-dos and feeling satisfaction with crossing off those items once completed. not, and please note this, continuing to foster old relationships and attempting to create new ones. I have avoided church – not because I can’t make the time or the service. there’s definitely a 9 and an 11. it’s 10 minutes away from my place. they even had children’s church at the local children’s museum. it’s killer, and S certainly did not want to leave once we finally made it there.

But, in the first 8 weeks we’d been here, we didn’t go once. the church that, seemingly in His fantastic way, the Father had provided for us, in introducing us to a Charleston resident the last week we went to Boiler Room. [nudging much, Father?]  I hide behind excuses – R was out late, so he’s in no shape to go with me; oh, we’re running late now, so we won’t be on time – I don’t want to be late the first time I go; uhh, I don’t know where to park, so I’ll be late and bumble in, causing attention to be focused on me; um, we all have colds, so we don’t want to go and infect everyone; oh, G got me up again in the middle of the night, so I’m really tired.

but in the end, that’s all they are. excuses. there is absolutely NO reason for me to have not gone in the time that we’d been here. or, to many other things that we’ve/I’ve been invited to while in town. it all boils down to me and my fear of all things new. I am an intense creature of habit. I also hide behind the excuse of my children. ‘oh, R wants to go out more than I do, so I’ll stay home.’ ‘oh, I’m not ready to go out – we’ll just stay in, instead, and have a quiet night at home’

now, there are some legitimate excuses to not have gone out or go somewhere. we all WERE sick one weekend, with everyone but the baby curled up with kleenexes and DayQuil. and in terms of going out, things are a bit tight post-move, so cost is a consideration. the kids do have bedtimes, so staying out late requires a babysitter, which requires money.

so this is where I’m at – balancing and being fully honest with myself. am I staying in/not going somewhere because of my fear? because I think I’ll embarrass myself in some way? because I don’t think enough of myself to interact with these different individuals, some of whom I’m not meeting on my own terms?

of course, that opens up more questions, as these thoughts seem to do. why am I intimidated? why do I feel nervous to interact with these individuals? what about them do I think is so great, and about me, so little? it makes me question some of my life decisions, that have put me in the place I am now. I have two little kids, and daycare is abhorrently high. to have both of them in a center full-time would be more than what I could make anywhere, and that is not an exaggeration. but, at the same time, do I feel ashamed to say I’m a stay-at-home mom? I actually don’t think I am, inherently. I think I put upon myself what I perceive others to be thinking; I’m surrounded by women who 1.) have children AND Ph.Ds or 2.) have no children, work, and live footloose and fancy free. I don’t necessarily have someone that I can directly relate to, here in town anyway. but, I’m not giving others a chance to say one way or the other about what I do or how I live – I’ve already predetermined that they will think less of me for staying home. and that’s not fair, to me or to them.

in the end, this is what I have to remember:

1.) the Father clearly made a path for us in Charleston. this was R’s job offer, it’s an amazing city, and the perfect place for a family.

2.) I knew moving would be hard. difficult, even. I’m allowed a bit of time to adjust, as that’s my personality to process emotionally a little slower than I do on a logistic level. but, I cannot hide behind that forever. or, for even too much longer. we are made for relationships – not for eternally making to-do lists, or living in my private world of my li’l family [as adorable as they are].

3.) I have a choice. I have a choice to be depressed, sad, lonely. or, a choice to embrace my new life, make the absolute best of it. as difficult as that can be, I’m trying. because it’s worth remembering – this is not a temporary move. this is for a significant amount of time, I may never move back to the Midwest, and once I make that psychological shift, I’ll be fine. better than that, I’ll be thriving.

there’s no crying … well, actually there is

R’s beloved aunt loves to quote “there’s no crying in baseball”. fortunately, I do not play baseball. I’m a horrible athlete. but when it comes to moving across the country, I’m a pro. and there is definitely crying involved there.

R left town Saturday morning – my dad & my brother-in-law joined him in the 1100 mile trek eastward. because of how our flights worked out, I knew I’d miss seeing the two of them at the airport. my mother-in-law came over for her official good-bye to R. needless to say, it was sad good-byes all around.

then, I crashed at my parents house, waiting around for my mom to get back into town and gratefully using her spare bedrooms, given that R took all of the mattresses with him. I won’t lie – I enjoyed the quiet. we’ve been on the go for about a month now, saying good-bye to everyone, and it was nice to just stay inside, ignore the heat, and mindlessly watch some tv with the kiddos. mom drove into town sunday night. she joined in the mindless tv watching [given her life right now, I know it was a welcome break]. we got Mexican food, we did a little laundry, and then we prepped for the harrowing journey of flying with two kids the following day. I say that slightly sarcastically, given our technological and modern comforts. but, still. it’s a full day of a total of three flights with two kids under four [enough numbers for you?!?]

at the airport Tuesday, I was an emotional wreck. I’ve obviously flown before, but not by myself in a while. I had to have everything organized for myself and the kids, and then try to balance myself emotionally. my sister, M, drove us to the airport. I sat in the backseat with S, willing myself not to cry that early into the morning. [I was almost successful]. we got through check-in substantially faster than I thought we would, so we had more time to stand around and try to deflect our emotions for a little bit longer. given that we were wrangling all three kids [my nephew joined in the early morning party], that was relatively easy.

and then, I couldn’t put it off any longer, and had to get in line at security. my mother-in-law came with a couple of her good friends, and we said good-bye. let me just give props where props are due – this women willingly allowed us to stay with her [rent free, I might add] for over seven months, helped me chase S around when I was still pregnant [and after!], and has been nothing but supportive for R’s career and us emotionally. it was a rough good-bye.

and then came the biggie. my sister & best friend. I had no words. I just let myself cry, and didn’t try to say anything. we’ve been good friends our whole lives, and best friends as we’ve gotten older. she helped me birth my two kids; she has willingly watched them over the past four years [as I have her son]. there have been countless dinners at each others houses, tons of nights where we’ve watched movies while the husbands played video games, and many a shopping date. we just click on so many levels, and it sucks that we’re not as geographically close as we want to be. it sucks bad.

the trip itself wasn’t so bad; S really took to it. she colored many a coloring book, and chewed gum all day to pop her ears. it was adorable. G ate & slept, and clearly wasn’t bothered by the air pressure. he bounced between my mom and I, and was awesomely chill the whole time. Mom and I got where we needed to go, and were [as one would expect] just tired when the day was through.

it was AWESOME to see R when we disembarked! we’d been separated for four days, and it was great to be back together. we grabbed our bags, and headed to our new home. almost nothing was officially unpacked; we ordered take-out, let Mom crash on our air mattress, and started to get to work. in the end, it took almost four days to unpack, clear out the trash, and get things settled & decorated. even with Mom’s awesome help, it was a long four days.

we are not moving again for a long time.

this will be in a different post, but we headed to the beach. Mom & I found a fantastic Mexican restaurant not far from our place. and, all too soon, I had another good-bye.

Mom had rented a car to drive back to her parents place [that is a super long story – I may write that up later, but know that all is not well for my grandparents, physically and medically speaking, and my mom has been helping them survive for the past few months]. I dropped her off to get her car, and drove back to my apartment with tears streaming down my face. I have always lived within a 20 mile radius of my parents & family – 1100 miles is just crazy. I think reality hit me a bit, also, that we’re on our own for a bit. I have no doubt we’ll make friends and settle into an awesome church, or that R won’t hit it off with his fellow professors. but at this very moment, we don’t have that and it made me sad and scared and nervous and everything in between.

there are, of course, positive notes to talk about. Charleston, as we all know, is an amazing city. it is beautiful, quiet, and relatively compact – nothing is more than twenty minutes away, and when you’re coming from Kansas City, that’s amazing! we made time for the beach, and enjoyed the sea, sun, and seashells. there is amazing food here, specifically at Folly Beach Crab Shack [amazing crab cakes, fried pickles, & hushpuppies – yum!]. and let’s not forget the amazing Mexican restaurant – we’ll definitely be back! S is taking it all in stride; there haven’t been any huge emotional freak outs. she is, of course, tired from the travel day and not having a peaceful room to nap in, but that has mostly been taken care of after a couple good nights of sleep. G has been doing great – him in a room with four walls to take a nap in has been fabulous! R is excited; we’re mostly settled, and now he can get to work and enjoy this awesome city that his success has brought us to.

I’m excited, as well. we have our own place, which is 95% complete. we’re back in a rhythm and routine that is mostly familiar to us. we have the internet [i.e., we have FaceTime & Skype, which we will make the most of!] and like I told R before we moved, I’m grateful for his job, and just as grateful for airplanes.

on the road (eventually)

this isn’t a real post, so fair warning. we have been in the midst of the impending move, filling those final
boxes, scrambling to see friends for the last, official time while we live here, and trying to not cry, fall apart, or just cave to emotionalism as we do so. [some days are more successful than others].

R drives out Saturday; I fly out Tuesday with the kids.


tomorrow, we load the truck. I’m not kidding, I’m at the point of just trying to keep it together for S. I can’t cry for four days without her thinking something is wrong! right? right.

anyway, once we’re settled, I’ll update with photos [both old and new] and social info. in the meantime, I’m going to allow myself to pause in the midst of this craziness, allow the emotions to well over, and then buck up because this move is awesome! love all of you – be back soon!

at the end of this month, I will live in a new state …

and time keeps marching on! the milner fam has only two [count ’em, two] more weekends in town! holy moly, it’s going by fast.

too fast in many respects, especially concerning family and friends. and not fast enough, in terms of the actual move and packing. I will love, love, love having my own place again! R & I were daydreaming a couple of days ago about settling in – how we’d set the kitchen up, what little knick-knacks we needed for the bathroom. well, I was thinking of knick-knacks. he was thinking of movie posters for the living room.

my mother-in-law has been fabulous. for those who don’t know this back story, here’s the down and dirty real quick. we sold our house [finally!] back in December. that in and of itself is another story. anyway, it gets sold, but we have no where to go for the in-between time before R was going to get a job. it wasn’t quite long enough for lease anywhere else, but obviously it was still a substantial amount of time to live with anyone. she graciously offered her basement, and the now four of us have been crashing here every since. we have our own living space, and then share the kitchen and bathroom. it’s certainly not the worst place, and she has been gracious ever since we moved in. she and S have had an awesome chance to hang out, too – they have a lovely Saturday morning “Cartoon Day” tradition, complete with pancakes and Team Umi Zoomi.

it’s been almost seven months, and we’re eager to get into our own, unique Milner rhythm. R said it’d be like Christmas, opening boxes we haven’t seen in months! and our new place is awesome – I’m eager to get in there and get settled.

we’re having a, as R calls it, “Life Event” party next week. it’s many events rolled into one, including graduation, my birthday, G’s birth, getting a job, and saying good-bye. if you’re in town, you’re more than welcome to stop by! we’d love to see as many as people as possible before we load up the truck in two weeks.

p.s. we took family photos, both of the four of us, the in-laws, and ALL the great-grandchildren over the 4th – once our cousin gets them processed, we’ll post a few. there are some killer ones of S & G!