that fuzzy space

With one week until departure, I’m beginning to enter that fuzzy space otherwise known as Transition. I feel off-kilter, ditzy, and at odd ends. My mind is cluttered. I pace and make lists and then, when I should be working, I crash on the sofa with Netflix and end up going to bed way too late. There is much to do, and yet, weirdly, I’m bored. I can’t settle into anything. It’s like being revved up on caffeine while in a coma.

I was like this before we went to Guatemala, though that upheaval was much worse than this one. This time around the kids are bigger and we’re only packing for one climate (hot). Also, it simplifies things that Puerto Rico is just another part of the US: we can still get Amazon, there are Costcos(!), and I just learned that we can forward our mail to our new address. Maybe we’ll never come back?

Speaking of that new address: A lovely rental house is awaiting us!

Judging from the video that our supervisor so thoughtfully sent us, it looks like the place — plenty of extra space for hosting guests and holding meetings with the weekly volunteers — will meet our needs perfectly. I am so ready to move in, set up shop, and start living.


One of my goals for when the little cousins came was to eat up all the bits and bobs of food floating around the house. I shopped my shelves and made menus and then conscientiously worked my way through each day.

Some bread crusts and a couple cups of leftover quiche filling?
An egg bake for lunch.

A bag of dry white beans and a quart of frozen, ancient turkey?
White chicken chili.

A frozen container of red beans and overripe corn?
Again, chili.

Chickpea and barley flours?
Buttermilk pancakes.

Two half-boxes of macaroni?
Mac and cheese, duh.

Unfortunately, I neglected to take into account how little small children will actually eat, so I didn’t plow through as much food as I’d hoped. But still, their presence did force me to be intentional, and I hardly spent any money, so there’s that.


We’re gradually farming out the animals.

in the back of the truck, heading out 

The goats are gone, on loan to a neighbor. The chickens are being banded and dispersed to different homes (to be collected upon our return). The dogs will go to my parents. Two of the three cats we’re giving away; Obie will continue to haunt the barn — my parents will set out food for him.

My daughter is giving Velvet away to her farrier who has three young, very excited children. It’s a smart move on her part — Velvet is getting old, and my daughter wants to save for a warmblood — but still, it’s a little sad, saying goodbye to her first horse, so the other evening when she asked me to go up to the farm to take some last photos of her and Velvet under the budding fruit trees, of course I said yes.


Our work phones and hotspot arrived from MDS headquarters.

The children are green with jealousy.


What will we read while we’re in Puerto Rico? There are libraries, but best I can tell they’re mostly academic. Probably in Spanish, too. 

When we went to Guatemala, I took a whole stack of pre-screened books for our family read-aloud, but we don’t need read alouds now (that’s more a winter-time thing, plus, our evenings will be considerably busier this time around). Still, I’d love to have several good books on hand for each person to read and then share amongst ourselves.

my collection thus far 

But along with gerneralized fun reading (my aunt has loaned me her copy of Educated which I know it’s going to be fabulous), I’m also looking for a variety of other in the following areas:

*Several, high-quality young adult books that most of the kids would enjoy
*Material about Puerto Rico. I just purchased this book, and we already have the travel guide.
*Books (both fiction and nonfiction) set in Puerto Rico. Blogs, too.
*Books on cross-cultural awareness, disaster management, etc.

So tell me: what should I (we) be reading? If nothing else, just share what books you’re into these days. That’ll be enough to get my wheels turning, I’m sure.


  • Anonymous

    I'd recommend World War Z. Not exactly about disaster management, but might have some interesting overlap. And I'm pretty sure is age appropriate for all your kiddos. (If you don't know it, it's nothing like the movie — it is the book version of a mockumentary. Why, then, the movie version was not a mockumentary is a continual source of frustration.)

  • Lana

    Last fall when our daughter's family went through getting rid of 95% of their belongings and going to Germany as full time missionaries she went through the same thing you are experiencing. Unfortunately I do it every Christmas.

    I love my Kindle for reading material away from home. It is comforting to me to have 150 books along to choose from in that little space. I really did not think I wanted one but I am hooked.

  • JJ

    I (an adult) really like the Wildwood series of YA books by Colin Meloy. You could also think about getting a kindle or 2; can get fairly inexpensive base models now and download library books from your home library, free books on amazon, or join 'kindle unlimited' for the time you're gone. Might save in the schleppin.

    • Jennifer Jo

      We have two kindles (maybe more?)—my husband uses one and my daughters do, too—but for myself I still prefer actual books. There's something inviting about stacks of books cluttering up the end tables, just waiting to be picked up and thumbed through….

  • mommychef

    I am really enjoying Mohsin Hamid's books right now (for adults, not kids). Exit West is a really interesting telling of a refugee experience. My 9 yr old and I just finished Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit (really good) and are 1/2 through Masterpiece by Elise Broach – also recommend.

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