When it's 4 am and you are trying to climb back into sleep, but your 10-day jet-lagged body tells you it's time for lunch, it's time to count.
When your lunch-time brain starts listing concerns and worries and guilts and what-ifs as a side-dish to vanilla yogurt, it's time to count.
When the novelty of setting up house begins to wane and the nitty-gritty of setting up life sets in, it's time to count.
When you realize you still need to buy tickets for your husband, and you feel guilty because you borrowed your friend's car and now it's not working right, and you can't imagine a job interview in the loop, and your resume is 15 years old and what are you even going to wear? It's time to count.
When the steady persistence of incoming planes faint overhead makes your own to-do list accelerate, it's time to count.
And when you realize your counting that you have been keeping for when you had a moment to write it here is inside your Spanish cell phone that is now "de baja" and will it still show them, it's time to count again, again.
How many things have I lost count of in the past month? Too many, but with grace to remember, I count again.
101. Dear friends who helped me clean our apartment in Madrid. Thank you, Adriana, Amy and Anne!
102. A safe trip to Chicago for Troy and dog.
103. Successful two-day process with the movers.
104. Feeling good about the way we turned over our Madrid apartment.
105. Arriving in Chicago with my two kids and our six bags after a very early start, easy check-in, a mad dash through Heathrow and an unexpected upgrade to business class, half an hour early, with only about five minutes spent on immigration.
106. Walking into my husband's arms the minute we left the arrival hall. Coming home, it's the sweetest there.
107. A wonderful last service and party in Madrid where we were showered with love from our Oasis Madrid friends and family.
108. The uncertainty of what is to come.
109. Friends who let us stay with them our last 2 nights in Madrid.
110. Friends who have let us borrow cars here in Chicago while we get our car-sharing membership set up.
111. A new kitchen that I love and hope to fill with lots of good food and good friends.
112. A walkable neighborhood.
113. The public library.
114. Courage to face the hard things.
115. Being able to pick up the phone and call people on a whim.
116. Aldi, a walk away, filled with good and cheap things, with cheery cashiers who move faster than light and welcome you to the neighborhood.
117. Subtotals that automatically display on the register.
118. Watching the futbol with friends and skyping with Spain in the middle.
119. Finally having internet and phone.
120. A husband who reads his Bible and sits beside me and prays with his eyes closed in front of the big living room windows but doesn't mind when I interject small comments about the life passing by outside.
121. A treasured scrapbook from Madrid, on the mantel.
122. A tree-lined street that promises lots of fall color.
123. Friends who take the train into the city from the burbs to hang out.
124. Toy-Story 3 with the kids and Monaca.
125. Borrowed chairs.
126. Free TVs
127. Talking to my nephew on the phone about Buzz Lightyear.
128. Having a husband who is a strong spiritual leader.
129. Yankee candles.
130. The stretching of transition.