It has been a bit since I’ve sat down to blog.  The list of excuses goes as follows: no time, nothing to say, too much to say, no one cares, people judge, too many kids, afraid to be too honest, afraid to not be honest enough…I could go on and on.

The truth is, life is hard.  We moved down to Florida exactly 2 years ago.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was my 39th birthday and as we caravanned down here, everything was new and scary.  I’ll be honest, 2 years in and I still feel the same way.  Life is SO different down here in both some good ways and some not so good ways.  Friends that have experienced a move across the country similar to ours told us it takes 2 years to feel settled.  I almost feel like I am living a double life.

Some days I find myself daydreaming of walking the streets of downtown Oconomowoc with Michelle and Kristen and meeting Nellie at Fiesta Cancun for late night chats after the kids are in bed.  My heart aches to work in kids ministry at our church’s new location they are building.  I miss our old farm house where I had the privilege of hosting crafting sessions on a weekly basis and meeting and making new friends.  I miss doing ministry with Tina and Nicole and Mary and Krysta and Janelle and Terry and Margie.  I long for double date nights at the Cheesecake Factory with Michelle and Tom while we overshare about things in life that only you can do with “your” people.  I deeply miss our school family at St. Paul’s…the friends, the parents, the basketball tournaments, the teachers.  I miss my kids getting asked to come over and play constantly at their friends houses to the point where I would start to question how many kids I actually even had.  I want to  record my first YouTube show with Michelle L. and give Tammy Horton the biggest hug ever because she loved me and my wild self for who I was without ever a hint of judgment.  I regret the lack of effort I made to see my family while we lived so close.  If I were still there I’d ask Angela to lunch and craft with me, I’d drive to Michigan over and over to swim in my brother’s pool, I’d drive all over WI to visit with my nieces and nephew whom I miss terribly.  There is definitely a hole in my heart that will never be filled.  The hole is shaped like WI and it is filled with all the friends, family and experiences that 39 years living there gave me.  If I could pack up and move back home tomorrow, would I?

Then I have the other half of my double life here in Florida.  I am currently sitting out by the pool blogging while I watch Gavin play so patiently with our little foster girl while she can’t make up her mind if she wants to be in the pool or out of the pool just acting like she wants to come back in the pool.  Here’s the proof!

Our life in Florida is filled with everything almost the opposite of what we had in WI.  We have no family down here so we spend most of our time together just being us with our kids and if we are lucky, our 8th child (aka as my nephew, Christian) will drive up from Tampa to visit us.  This can be lonely at times, but rewarding in many other ways.  While the phone doesn’t ring as much as it did in WI asking for our kids to play, it does ring on occasion.  This means I actually know how many kids I have currently…depending if we have a boyfriend our two “visiting” us.  While friendships are still forming and I am trying to juggle working full time, being a mom to 7+ depending on how many foster children we have, and figuring out how to raise 4 teenage girls at once, Dan and I do get to escape often for date nights because our circle is just much smaller down here.  Instead of shoveling snow, raking leaves, and tending to a 1901 farmhouse, we frequent the ocean and Disney quite often.  One of the things I love most about our house is our outdoor lanai and pool area.  You’ll find Dan and I out there many nights watching TV while listening to a variety of animals from owls to frogs perform their nightly “calls,” if you know what I mean!

Sadly, we still feel lost when it comes to settling in at a church which is probably the biggest reason I feel so unsettled here.  We went from living and breathing church work to waking up on a Sunday mornings feeling defeated because we just don’t have a church to call “home” yet.  The kids have mostly transitioned…I think.  Although, if you were to ask them, I bet 2-3 out of the 7 would move back to WI if given the chance.  So…that’s where we are at.

I guess I think I might be at the acceptance part of the grief process.  I am realizing that moving back to WI is just not going to happen and that Florida is home.

You all are probably sick of reading about the move that took place 2 years ago, but man, it has really been a hard and rewarding 2 years.  This has definitely been life-changing in every aspect of my life.  With that being said, I’ll stop blabbing on and on about how hard my life is because I know my challenges and pains seem like nothing in comparison to what other people are going through.

Now for an update on life outside of the move….here we go.

#1 Dan is still the coolest daddy around.  ^^^^ No one was harmed in the making of the Wilke sandwich.

#2.  We literally have the sweetest foster baby ever.  She has been with us since December and we are all completely in love with her.  I cannot explain to you how much my heart loves this little girl.  If I had to give my life for her, I would.  I told Dan the other day that I don’t know how much longer I can do foster care because I feel like I care way too much.  My heart doesn’t know how to put boundaries on love and when I love, I love deeply.  One day I’ll be able to share just how much I love her with what will probably end of being one of the hardest and biggest sacrifices my heart will ever have to make.  One of the greatest rewards of foster care is watching our biological kids give and sacrifice as well.  I would not change our experience with foster care for a minute.  My kids are amazing when it comes to opening up their home to kids at any hour of the night.  They have had to sacrifice just as much as we have had to and they love and adore this sweet baby like she was their own sibling.  She is spoiled rotten and just has to let out a whimper and reach her hands up and one of the 7 will scoop her up, give her a kiss and play with her.  I know she has forever changed me and the small impact we have had on her life will be nothing in comparison to the impact she has had on ours.

 

#3.  Molly, our oldest, graduated from High School.  I just don’t even know where the time went, but here we are.  She is confident, beautiful on both the outside and inside, smart, and ready to take on the world.  One day she will be cleaning my teeth for me…for free.  Praise the Lord there will be a break in dental bills for me in the near future!

#4.  Speaking of dental bills…may I present to you my $6,000 smile.  First of all, dental insurance SUCKS.  Second of all, my oral surgeon and dentist ROCK.  With the help of byte.com to help straighten, Ocala Oral Surgery to remove a tooth then bone graft then drill in an implant, and finally Dr. Backes and his wonderful staff to finish off the smile with 2 missing teeth and a bit of whitening, I actually can SMILE!  This process was no joke physically, mentally or financially.  I am so glad the last 9 months of being toothless is a thing of the past.

#5.  On May 27th, Dan and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  He planned a day for us at Seaworld which we both had never been to.  I wouldn’t recommend riding the Mantra ride first thing if you get motion sickness.🤢   While we enjoyed our day, that is until Dan made me go on another ride and get soaked, we ended up landing a last minute reservation at Magic Kingdom which was the perfect ending to our day!  We are supposed to leave Thursday to fly out of the country to celebrate each other by going on a dream vacation…the only thing holding us back is waiting for our negative Covid test to come back.  We spend most of our time shuffling life with kids and we desperately need time away and with just each other.  I am praying Covid doesn’t ruin this for us too.

#6.  Kenadie “graduated” from 8th grade.  In FL they do things a little different than what we were used to in WI. Since the school our kids attend is a K-12th grade school, they don’t do an 8th grade graduation as most of them stay at the school for high school.   I won’t lie, I was sad that Kenadie wasn’t graduating with her St. Paul’s class in the blue robes with Mr. Mueller crying as he talked to the students.  We missed that part terribly for her.  However, Kenadie celebrated with her class at an 8th grade celebration and formal dinner.  She has made some great friends down here and are so proud of her and how she has handled the move and “goes with the flow.”

#7.  Lanie has somehow convinced us with her constant adorableness to do competitive gymnastics.  She loves it and we love watching her.  She is always upside down, twirling, flipping, or choreographing something.  Her dream is to compete in college.  We will see if we can stay injury free!!  Isn’t she just the cutest gymnast?

#8.  We have a 3rd teenage driver in the house now.  Lord help us all.  Abbie passed with flying colors and giggled her way into earning her license.  Naturally, as all great parents do, we let her drive 3 of her siblings home from her test while we went to get the baby from daycare.  Hello increased insurance payments and the joys of needing another car and sharing a car.

 

#9.  Prom actually happened this year.  Abbie went with her boyfriend, Luke.  Molly is jealous and secretly wants to date Luke…and Luke knows this and says, “Uh. No way, Molly.”    Sadie loves Luke like a brother.  Meanwhile, Daddy Dan and sidekick nephew Christian have become wanna-be DJ’s.  They have WAY too much fun playing music and dancing the night away.  Sometimes you’ll even find them on the dance floor slow dancing with the girls.  This is when I realize God has us right where He wants us.

#10. And I’ll end this way too long blog with June 4th…my 41st birthday and the 2 year anniversary of our move to Florida.  I didn’t have the best Mother’s Day (that day will be a chapter in the book I decided I am going to start writing….stay tuned) so I took matters into my own hands and reserved us a day at Disney.  Everyone took off of work and it was glorious.  Well, that was until a monsoon came half way through the day.  Our plans of park hopping to all 4 parks were quickly ruined by soaking shoes and wet clothes.  This birthday was way better than the big move birthday or the birthday of last year when Covid ruined the year.  The kids were good sports and made sure I had a great day!

There is so much more to say.  So much more to share.  Thank you to my readers, friends, and family for sharing in this journey with us.  I keep telling my kids that God has great plans for us and we just need to trust that His plan is way better than anything we could have imagined on our own.  It’s a hard concept to “get,” but my prayer is that one day each of our children will thank us for “making” them move.  And one day, I pray that my heart will feel settled, healed and whole as we live here while still trying to love and care for all the people and memories we have in WI.

With Love,

Susan