New Job, New Home and a New Normal

New Job, New Home & a New Normal - Mud Hut Mama

It feels like ages since I sat down to write and so much has happened in that time. My husband got his dream job in a part of Zambia that we absolutely love. It is not too far from where we met and we have been trying to get back to this part of the world ever since. We came very close a couple of times but it looks like third time’s a charm. It has all been a bit of a whirlwind and a complete lifestyle change for us.

We are currently living in a small town in rural Zambia and that has been more of an adjustment for me than I imagined it would be. There are an awful lot of positives. We are living in company housing but the housing they plan to put us in won’t be ready for another few months so we are temporarily in a fully furnished (and pretty posh) home. It is by far the most opulent place we have lived in since we met and it has appliances – a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher and a microwave! Oh my I am enjoying these conveniences. A friend in Lusaka joked that we would have to get out all the user guides because it’s been so long since we’ve used appliances. Well, we did in fact have to get out a couple of those user guides! There are other conveniences like a small store right in town where you can get the basics and order fresh produce on a weekly basis. The closest biggish supermarket is a two hour drive away but if we plan well we won’t have to make that trip too often. We are definitely not roughing it in the way we are used to so I feel like a bit of a fraud with the name Mud Hut Mama. Luckily there is beautiful Miombo forest all around so it’s just a short walk to be in the bush and our home backs up to a woodland so we are still surrounded by nature. Here are a couple of photos of our yard. We’ve had the grass slashed inside our fence so that we can see any snakes that might be around but just outside the fence is pretty bush.

Miombo Woodland - Mud Hut Mama

We also have our very own termite mound right inside the yard!

Termite Mound - Mud Hut Mama

Of course there are also challenges. I feel a bit like a fish out of water as I try to navigate town etiquette. I’ve suddenly found myself in a place where I have to remember to close the curtains before changing, where there are regular play dates, busier days and a lot less privacy than I am used to. It will all feel normal soon enough I’m sure but there are definitely moments where I find myself overwhelmed by all the newness. Dorian no longer comes home for lunch so we are seeing a lot less of him than we are used to. There is also a really good school within walking distance of where we live so I will have to make a decision about whether or not to continue homeschooling. It was much too big a decision to make right away so I have postponed it and will reevaluate if we are still in town when the next school year starts. My husband’s work is still in wildlife conservation so we are hoping that will take us back to the bush but we are not sure exactly when that will happen.

I set up our school room last week and, even though we’ve been spending most of our school time on the porch, I’m so happy to have a dedicated space for all our supplies. Since this is only a temporary home for us, we are not allowed to hang anything on the walls which is fair enough but I needed to find a way to hang up our world map! Luckily my husband was able to get a hold of a ceiling board and so far it is working out beautifully for our needs. I somehow managed to lose a box of children’s books in the move and that is really stressing me out as books are not easy to come by here and this box had some of our favorites. I’m still holding out hope that they turn up.

School Room - Mud Hut Mama

The girls love it here! They have each made a friend their own age on our street and they watch for them to come home from school so they can play. They each have their own closet and love having their own space. Boo especially, she changed about five times the first day we were here and reordered her belongings about a zillion times just for an excuse to check out that space again and again. They have also cottoned on pretty quick to the fact that if we have a visitor I tend to bring out any special treats we might have so they have taken to watching for anyone to pass the house and waving and shouting “we have cookies, come visit!”

We are in the middle of the rainy season and this area gets a whole lot of rain so we’ve been spending quite a bit of time jumping in puddles and staining our clothes with the red earth that to me just screams Zambia.

Rainy Season Puddles - Mud Hut Mama

I have really missed being present here and now that we are unpacked my goal is to get the girls (and myself) into a bit of a routine that includes carving out some time to write and to catch up with the many blogs I adore. I’ve really missed this online community.

What is feeling new to you at the moment?

About Jody Tilbury

36 Responses to “New Job, New Home and a New Normal”

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  1. Shannon says:

    Congrats to your husband on the dream job. Living in town must be quite and adjustment. I totally get that. Going from Lilongwe and the slow pace of life to Muscat where I can walk to Starbucks and Papa John’s and it seems there is always some place I am supposed to be. I was pretty quick to fall back into lazy habits. Enjoy the relative luxury.

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Shannon – I’ve been surprised at how much of an adjustment it has been and I can only imagine what it was like to go from Lilongwe to Muscat!! That is a huge change!

  2. Oh wow! This is incredible! COngratulations to your husband and I am sure you will adjust to all things new soon 🙂 Zambia looks awesome and the girls sure look happy 🙂 I do pray those books turn up, I can totally understand how you feel.

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Veens! I am really missing those books and I feel like I notice one more that must have been in that box each day but I guess I just need to get over it already! Thanks for understanding.

  3. Jenn says:

    So many new things! Congratulations to your hubby and it certainly seems as though the girls are having fun!

  4. Frances says:

    First of all Mud Hut Mama is in no means whatsoever a fraud…. MHM started in the bush, and is evolving. Therefore, you’re not a fraud, and you still live out there not to far away from the bush. LOL

    Decisions, decisions… oh my, even if you decide to send the girls to a traditional school, you can continue to supplement their education in your home with homeschooling. I say take it one day at a time, and you will always and forever be MUD HUT MAMA.

    Hugs, and enjoy your “new normal.”

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thanks Frances – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kind words and your friendship.

  5. Kara Beverley says:

    Congrats to you guys! I love reading your posts. You have such a talent for writing. We have 6″ of snow here and are expecting up to an inch tomorrow. It’s a crazy winter. The kids will be going to school until the end of June. We lost power from an ice storm last week, but I can’t complain about not having power when I’m talking to you. 😉 Please give Dorian and the girls a big hug and kiss from their cousins in PA. So glad you are all in a place that makes you so happy. Love you all.

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Kara – I’ve seen some photos of the snow – looks like there’s been a lot more since you wrote this! The girls and I are planning a big trip to the States over the summer and we can’t wait to see you guys!

  6. sara says:

    oh wow! busy you have been! so nice to see an update. i love your little stories about the girls exploring their space. it must be such a nice change for them, and you too. can’t wait to see more!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Sara – I haven’t done very well with the “carving out some time to write” bit but I hope to get there soon.

  7. Heather says:

    So good to hear from you! I’ve missed you!
    Enjoy your new surroundings. (You don’t need to change the blog title, that’s how you started out, in the mud hut, and that is part of your love story 🙂
    I’m sure whatever you decide with regard to schooling will be what works for your family and if they do go to school you can back up what is being taught with your own efforts. Trust me, the stay at home moms really made a difference to my students, I could see it in their work.
    I have been researching schools a bit now in my neighbourhood and considering some options, one is a school that teaches Zulu and Chinese as well, the other one is Montessori (for pre-school level). Then close to my house is a Christian school that I go to church in too, and I know a lot of the moms, so that might be easy for me to do. Anyway, I have to figure it all out still…

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Heather! I need to get over to your blog and catch up with you! It’s so nice that you have so many schooling choices but also makes the deciding which one a little bit harder!

  8. Becky says:

    I am so happy for you and your family!:) This whole post made me smile, but my absolute favorite part was the girls waving down guests to cookies. I love it!!! How cool too, that they’ve each found a friend the same age- I love when things like that work themselves out. I can’t wait to hear more adventures of town-living, though my kids will certainly miss the animal encounters :).

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you so much Becky! Some of the things the girls have been doing have been cracking me up.

  9. Rebecca says:

    We miss you too!! So happy for you guys and looking forward to your future posts in your new home.

  10. Andrea Reid says:

    I am so happy to finally be reading about this. x

  11. Juanita says:

    Congratulations on your husbands new job! You guys deserve a break and a bit of “normal”. Enjoy all the wonderful new things and experiences. The termite mound is awesome!

  12. Julie says:

    We have just moved to Tanzania so I can appreciate the adjustment. I have had to adapt to watching women clean my clothes by hand which is a bit of a shock and the monkeys, and the power shortages and the crappy (or expensive internet) and my teeny tiny fridge. I have missed your posts and glad you are back. My friend Elaine has just moved to Lusaka and working with World vision, I am sure your paths will cross. Her husband is homeschooling their young kids too as they are wait listed for AISL or ISL not sure which…keep an eye out for them.
    Again appreciate the blog..keep us posted on your journey.

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Julie! I hope we both settle into our new normals soon. Moving is such a big adjustment and it always affects me more than I anticipate.

  13. Suja Balaji says:

    I’m almost always in awe with your posts! You are such a STRONG and intelligent woman who is giving your family such a wonderful foundation. All your post screams genuine, are you kidding?? you are in no way a fraud..Good luck with your new home and hope to see more of you. Note: Although I don’t comment often I ALWAYS READ ( I mean word for word) your post and I’m such a notorious skimmer..Hope to see more of you!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you so much for this lovely comment Suja – you are such a sweetheart and I really appreciate you kind words.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Very exciting! Your new space looks lovely, and the girls look so happy too!

  15. Thank you so much for checking in with all of us! So excited for your “new normal” and to hear how things evolve. I love that you get a break and get to spend time in a “posh” house with all the appliances! And I just adore the photos of the girls running through the mud puddles. It must be heaven for them! So many changes in such a short period of time! Even good changes can be stressful because they call for adjustments and major decisions. Hang in there! Looking forward to seeing how it all evolves 🙂

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you for your wise words Leanna – I feel like this move is so right for us that I should just be really happy all (or at least most) of the time and I’m struggling with the wide range of emotions I’ve been feeling. You are so right – even good changes can be stressful!

  16. Annabelle says:

    So lovely to have you back. We’ve missed you too.
    The girls look so happy running around in that puddle. It sums up childhood pretty well in my opinion.

  17. Kim Emery says:

    Hello Jody,

    So nice to read about your adventures! Your girls are beautiful, and I’m so happy for you and Dorian. Please congratulate him on his new job for us. We miss seeing all of you at the family gatherings! Take care and give our love to all.

  18. Cordelia says:

    So lovely to get a juicy update! Congratulations on the move and hubby’s new job.
    Love the termite mound and puddles. Sadly BKK rainy season puddles often cause rashes!?!?!
    Oh and seriously coveting the map!
    Cordelia xx

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Oh what a shame about the puddle rashes!!! How frustrating! Thanks so much for the congratulations!

  19. Paula says:

    Congratulations, Jody! What a gorgeous home and learning area. I love how apparent your girls’ joy and hospitality is. Truly beautiful. I’ve been missing your updates, so I’m glad to see you back!

  20. Hooray! I have really missed your blog! How exciting for Dorian to get this job! Your girls look very happy! I know what you mean about less privacy and a faster pace of life. We made that switch with our move also and I still struggle. I hope you can get a bit more settled soon and that this time can be a magical experience for your family.

  21. Nina says:

    Congratulations on your new move! I like your work area, complete with the world map 🙂 It’s funny because you say that you have a new normal which I’m sure you’ll agree is still so far removed from the typical blogger’s “normal” lol. Just goes to show how amazing of a life you are leading for your kids. Not too many get to say they’ve experienced and traveled the world.

  22. I can’t believe I missed your recent posts!! I am so glad to see you back again and excited to hear about all your new adventures and experiences as you wade through this new phase of your life. (Love the pictures of the girls playing in puddles, btw!)
    I laughed when I heard about your girl’s closets! Oh I empathize; I finally had to put a cap on the number of wardrobe changes my girls do every day! They were each turning into Cher. LOL!

  23. Your life sounds like quite the adventure! And, I just love that picture of your two girls running through the puddles. It just screams happy childhood.