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Here is what I've been up to the last few months.

Anne and I had our third child, Patrick Declan, born the day after Valentine's Day. A few weeks later, we packed everyone up and drove to Washington, D.C., leaving our new house and most of our belongings behind. In the two months between then and now, I've had to learn how to be a stay-at-home Dad to two kids and a new baby, while living in a brand new city, and preparing for the move abroad.

. . .yeah. Pretty fucking stressful. I've spent most of the last few months telling myself that this is the price of admission, and that living this life is a bona fide adventure. Not a weekend in Cancun, soaking up sun sort of bullshit adventure, but a leaping off the cliff, actual risks and rewards, face-to-face with real life sort of adventure. And for the most part, it helped.

Oh, but I haven't mentioned all the other stressful bits, have I?

For the first five weeks, we didn't even know where we were going to move to, or even when. Kind of hard to settle into a new place with that hanging over your head.

Patrick, due to a collection of issues, was having failure to thrive. In English, "failure to thrive" actually means "your baby is slowly starving to death". It's also not what you want to hear if, for example, you're attending mandatory orientation for your dream job.

Moving to D.C. meant I had to withdraw from my graduate program at Augsburg College, which was akin to opening Pandora's Box of Bureaucratic Stupidity.

Pandora's Box of Bureaucratic Stupidity complicated things with my last course. Once they were sorted, I had a week to finish a term's worth of work.

While Elliot (mostly) dealt with the move, poor Rhys didn't. He still isn't potty trained at four-and-a-half, and getting him there is like pulling out your teeth with a pair of pliers.

And speaking of Elliot, all our work at putting together a good home-school practice went to hell in the move. That was expected; however, I have yet to get it together again in the face of everything else going on.

Now on to the good news. Through various interventions, Patrick has been gaining half a pound a week for nearly four weeks. His weight is stabilized and he's a much happier little baby.

I managed to sort out the issues with Augsburg, and got all my work done more-or-less in time. I completed the class with an A, making my overall GPA for the year 4.0 And due to their weird budgeting and trimester program, I may be due a tuition refund!

Elliot's homeschooling is slowly getting back on track. He's a quick study at math, and his reading is improving daily. We're leveraging the incredible resources available in our area to teach him about American history and government, which he's eating up with a spoon.

Rhys and potty training remains very difficult. By pulling out all the stops on his bribes (yay Skylanders!) I've mostly overcome his fear of using the bathroom, and even had some successes. More importantly, today he was able to talk about how his body feels when he tries to go. This is huge--I was starting to fear that he was physically incapable of feeling when he had to go.

As I mentioned before, telling myself that we're all on this new adventure has been my balm these last few months. What I have to admit, though, is that I'm still under a lot of stress. And I'm tired. Really damned tired. I have a hard time stepping back and looking at everything that's happened, everything that still has to happen, and I'm surprised at it all. I mean, no wonder I'm stressed out and starting to crack, right? It's past time I learned how to take care of myself, too.

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I am super proud of you two and really GOING FOR IT when everyone else would have said "fuck it, too hard, staying here in our safe little haven and watching from the sidelines". Way, crazy super proud to say I know you both. <3

Also, missing your family like whoa right now. Was thinking the other night that it'd be nice to drop in, hang out and watch some Who or meet up with your wife for a writing date. Hugs to you all.

SO excited and relieved to hear that Patrick is gaining.

And dude. You have NOTHING but sympathy from me on the potty training front. We continue to have regular accidents with Eowyn. I wish someone had thought to tell me, back when she was 4 or so, that maybe she genuinely CAN NOT FEEL IT and does not KNOW so we could have dealt with it then. Finding out now that that's legitimately the case with her makes me feel like the world's worst mother for thinking she was just being stubborn or lazy. *sigh* Anyway, potty training is pretty much one of my hugest triggers as a parent and nothing but sympathy and support to you two as you navigate that minefield with Rhys. Big brother starting school, a new baby and two huge moves would be enough to make it difficult for ANY kid. He'll work through it. He's got two of the most awesome parents I've ever met guiding him.

It's nice to know that someone out there is flat-out excited for and proud of us. We receive so many mixed signals from our families that it's hard to accept it when they say they're happy for us.

I'm going to call the doctor on Rhys's behalf tomorrow (should have done it earlier, I've been putting it off). After many tears and cajoling and tough love he has finally talked about how it feels to use the potty, and he tells us "the pee is stuck". So yes, a whole of changes, but I'm starting to believe that there is something else at work (or not working) with Rhys as well.

I think this is really good reflection. It's important that you figure out ways of taking care of yourself. This is something we call self care in pastoral care classes.

Also really happy to hear that the kids are doing well. And I echo everything that the person above said about being proud of you guys in taking on this adventure. So excited and proud to know you guys.

Lydia says that she misses you guys too. Lydia also thinks its cool that you guys are moving to India!

We miss you and Lydia as well! Washington, D.C. is so much further away than anyplace else we've lived, and I feel so much more removed from my places and my people. I'm not sure whether being in India will make that feeling stronger or weaker; I suppose there's only one way to find out!

I've either been very busy or feeling completely overwhelmed for months now, that a little self-care has sort of kicked in like a survival instinct. My hope is I'll take the hint and not let myself go so long without a deep breath next time.

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