The past couple of weeks has me thinking a lot. Could it be that my heart is becoming content living in Florida? Could my kids be adjusting to their new life and new surroundings down here? Could this move have done more good than harm for our family? Could I actually be happy? I feel like some days the answer is yes and somedays the answer is no. What I have noticed recently is that we have more laughter than tears. More smiles than frowns. More hope than despair and more joy than sorrow. We have had to put ourselves out there and let down the walls. I would like to say that I think we have even made some friends. Is it the same as Wisconsin? No way. Will it ever be what we had there? Doubtful. However, what if what we are making in Florida turns out to be actually good? Could we find happiness in the midst of our loneliness?
This past weekend I captured this picture.
Our house was buzzing all weekend long. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday our house was filled with a rotating door of kids running in and out to play, friends coming over to hang out and a number of home improvement projects. I try to snap a few pics here and there of anything out of the normal that happens and as I was scrolling through the pictures this one caught my eye. 5 of my own, 1 daughter that is not my own, and 3 gentlemen that seem to come around quite often and have taken a liking to my 3 eldest daughters all sitting at our tiny table playing a game together while laughing and smiling. I don’t know that I can adequately express all the feels I get from this one moment in time. It’s like the past 8 months of crappiness was all worth it, sort of. I think I am having a hard time accepting that fact that things might just end up being okay and that it is okay for them to be okay. Does that make any sense? I am not saying life is amazing here. I am not saying we don’t miss our WI friends and family like crazy every single day. I guess what I am saying is that I need to be open to the idea that even though life looks different here, I need to be okay with different for now….and sometimes “different” isn’t all that bad.”
I feel like I need to actually listen to my own advice that I have given each of my kids as I have tried to help them through our move. I would say something like this…”Well, we don’t know why God moved us down here yet, but what if He has something really good in store for one of us, something life changing? Maybe one of you will meet your future spouse down here and you would have never met if we wouldn’t have moved. Sadie, what if Mr. Ayton (her genius of a science teacher) turns out to be the best science teacher you could have ever asked for and he helps you lay the foundation of becoming a doctor like you’ve dreamt of being one day? What is moving down here changed the outcome of our family? Could it be that maybe God has a plan way greater than we could ever imagine and that’s why we are here?” I could go on and on with little pieces of advice and encouragement I have thrown at my kids while I have watched them battle their emotions through this transition. It’s really easy to spit out advice, but it’s another thing to actually believe it and accept it to be true.
While we don’t have the large community of friends that we had in WI, God has given us some super awesome people that have opened their hearts to our wild family. When our family couldn’t be here to celebrate birthdays, we enlisted our new community of friends to come help us celebrate and sing. When our kids want to have playdates we have people who will invite our kids over or come hang out by us. We have friends that love our foster girls just as much as we do and would do anything for them to make sure they are ok. We have a little baby community of people and I am confident that God knew exactly who we needed to get us to this 8 month mark and plopped them right on our laps. Do we have a long way to go yet? For sure. Learning how to knock down the walls and open yourself up to new people is probably not my most favorite thing to do as I am the queen of low self-esteem, but good thing people can see past all my flaws and love me anyways!
Funny thing is, I always tell my kids to focus on the good. Try to be positive. Yet, another piece of my own advice I am trying to actually follow. So I thought I would share some of the good so I can go back and read my own advice when things are not so good and I’m feeling sad.
I love the Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom. It’s so old and lame, but it is SO funny and I giggle every time my kids let me go in and watch the show. Imagine my surprise when I actually got to get a picture with some of them! To quote a line from my favorite Country Bear Jamboree song, “Every guy that turns me on turns me down.” Youtube it…it will make you super confused as to why it’s still at Disney, but giggle at the same time! Trips to Disney + Country Bears = Good.
Working at the school where all 7 of my kids go to school allows me the opportunity to still be a mom and go on field trips. Lanie went in a hurricane zone and was all smiles and I was so glad I was able to be there to spend the day with her. Working with my kids+seeing them every single day at my job=Good.
We promised Gavin we would take him to a Buck’s game before we moved. With the new arena being built and how awesome the Bucks were doing, we couldn’t swing tickets. However, when the Bucks play the Orlando Magic one can get tickets at a pretty decent price. We got great seats and were accompanied by great friends and the Bucks won! To top it off, we left with a lot of boom whacker things and a night full of memories to celebrate Gavin’s 12th birthday. Bucks+Birthdays+seeing “Garbage the Mascot”+new friends=Good.
Not only did Gavin turn 12, but Sadie turned 16 this month. Normally for Sadie’s birthday we would have had all her friends over, gone to the Cheesecake Factory, probably stopped at target and done some sort of fun activity. I will say that was hard for me as I have spent years and years of birthday celebrations with Sadie and all of her amazing WI friends. From ice skating, to build a bear, to a 50’s themed party we had some fun celebrations for Sadie together. We wanted to do something special with just Sadie for her big day and she settled on the Magic Kingdom with us. We didn’t make her suffer all day with just us and let her friend who seems to have taken a liking to her come along with us for the day. Anyone that can make our daughter smile the way she has been smiling is a friend of ours! While our old traditions of celebrating with Sadie’s friends couldn’t happen this year, we are hoping to recreate a half birthday party with them while we are visiting WI this summer! Clear your calendars girls ( you know who you are…are you too old for build a bear and Cheesecake Factory?). Sweet 16 + Garrison+ Disney Fireworks=One GOOD birthday.
The beach. Need I say more? We are 1 1/2 hours away from the closest beach which is 1 1/2 hours too far away from the beach for me, but I will make every attempt to get there and I think the kids would agree. Every time J&J (our sweet foster girls) see water they ask if we are going to the beach. That makes 9 kids plus a mom and dad that love the sand and the sun. It’s hard to have a bad day at the beach for sure. Sun+waves crashing+a fresh tan=Good.
This past weekend Dan made me a crafting spot in our house. At our farmhouse I had a whole craft room. Up until this past weekend my craft stuff has been shoved in my closet and I also have tubs of crafting items in the garage. I was desperate for an area to get crafty and this is what we came up with. I don’t love that it is in one of our living spaces, but I can promise it will get used! Handy Hubby+creative juices=One happy mamma and wife!
I am going to frame this picture. Can you believe that as of 1 month ago I had never in my life seen a Star Wars movie? Well, since Dan is always watching the movies I want to watch, I decided to humor him and promised him that I’d watch all 9 Star Wars movies. We had a Star Wars marathon party at our house where we cranked out the first 3 movies in one day. I’ll be honest, I checked out somewhere in the middle of the 2nd movie, but by the end of the 3rd movie I was back in it as much as I could be. We haven’t watched the next episodes yet, but I feel like I do have a better appreciation for Chewie now because I actually have some context. Anyways, I love everything about this picture and it makes me smile. Star Wars+Family Bonding+ Character meet and greets+Griffin=Good.
Please don’t be fooled. Things aren’t all good. We still cry. We still fight. We still talk about moving back. However, for today we are here and we are open to all the experiences and relationships Florida has for us. Also, we have so many WI friends and family coming this way in the next month we are bursting out of our skin with excitement!!! We CANNOT wait to see everyone and please know our house is open to visitors. We can’t promise warm water, but we will have our pool clean waiting for all your brave cold blooded WI friends to jump in it!
These are my thoughts from our Wisconsin family living in a Florida world.