Monday, September 26, 2016

On Changing Schools... again

Let's start with a quick recap...

4 years ago we bought our house on Liza's first day of Kindergarten.
We bought a house directly across the street from the school our kids would be going to.
3 years later the school was closed and we were redistricted and moved to a different school.
We spent last year at a new-to-us school.
At the end of last school year we were offered a scholarship to a private school.
We began this school year at the private school.



Change is hard.

We looooved our first school. We spent three years getting to know the staff and the families and we became a part of the school and the community. I remember thinking that I would be a super longtime volunteer, because I would certainly continue to help out even after my kids moved on to the Jr High and High school. The school was across the street and therefore it and everyone who came with it was my neighbor.

Losing that school hurt... because we don't just go to school... we build relationships and become a part of the school. Dreams had to end along with the closing of our favorite school.

Then came last year. We had to go to the school that we had chosen to move away from when we were looking for a house. It just wasn't where we wanted to be. But we no longer had that choice... unless we wanted to move again and that was not going to happen. So we did the only thing we could do... we made the best of it.

Liza and Jason made friends. I joined PTO. I got to know the staff.

We spent a year building relationships and becoming a part of a new community. We thought it was where we would be for the next several years.

Then came the scholarship offer. Private school. Different opportunities. Small school like our first one. As we looked into the school we realized it was an opportunity we could not pass up. So we accepted the scholarship and began the application process.

We are about four weeks in and things are going well. The kids are making friends. I'm getting all my questions answered. Liza is beginning violin. Jason is learning to play the recorder. They both joined choir. They are enjoying the projects they do in their classes. They like their teachers. And surprisingly, they even like having a uniform.

It's a big adjustment, and we are still adjusting, but things are going well.

I have had several people assume that something bad happened at the public schools to make us leave and go to private school. I've had several people assume that I decided I wanted to shelter and protect my kids more and therefore sent them to private. I've had several people assume that we decided to go private because Jesus gets taught there. None of those things are true. I can teach them about Jesus at home. The last thing I want to do is shelter my kids. And nothing bad happened in our schools to make us leave. 

Sure, the public school administration drives me nuts... but the teachers have always been outstanding, their hearts as big as they come. The families and kids we have met have added to our lives. We loved the people. We miss them. (Which would be why I found myself at last year's school this morning making copies for Jason's teacher again.)

The problem was that our hearts never fully settled. It was a hard year emotionally as we woke up each morning and saw our empty school across the street. But every day we took another step forward... because we had to.

I've come to think of the past like this...

The school across the street is our first love. It got taken from us far too soon and will always be number one in our hearts.

Last year's school was like a long layover. We were taken care of and treated well during our wait between destinations.

This year... We've landed again and our hearts are settling. Things feel right again.

We couldn't have done it without the kindness of strangers who became friends and favorites during our layover year.

I haven't found my place at the new school yet... but that will come with time... and I'm ok with that. This time around we can enjoy the journey of change and see where it takes us.

Change is hard... but when it's the right change it's a little bit easier.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Day At Presque Isle

We didn't get to take a vacation this summer.... because I had to use the money I had saved up to pay for school tuition instead. I was kind of bummed about that because I love vacations with my family and have really been in need of a vacation. But I couldn't justify spending our savings on a vacation. I need to keep that for when our furnace breaks... or the hot water tank... or the van. We'll be needing that savings soon.

But I really wanted a vacation!

So at the end of August, on the most gorgeous Saturday of all, we woke up early, loaded the van with all our beach stuff and hit the road.

Destination: Presque Isle State Park.

We got there around 10:00 and found a beach... beach 10... because there were teeny tiny waves and the kids wanted waves.

We set up our spot, put on our sunscreen and hit the water.

And then we swam... all. day. long.

We had packed enough food for lunch, dinner and snacks. We wanted to stay forever.

It turned out to be an incredibly enjoyable day. The sun was hot. The breeze kept us from melting. And as the day went on and the wind picked up, the waves grew bigger and bigger. And we continued to swim and enjoy it all.

Some time after dinner we finally put on dry clothes and packed up our beach stuff. We drove to another beach on Presque Isle where it was less windy and much more quiet. We sifted through rocks and sand and were surprised by how much sea glass we were finding. We continued sifting as the sun set and only quit when it became too dark to see.

After a long and fulfilling day, we grabbed some snacks at a gas station and began the two hour drive back home.

My heart was so full and I can't wait to take another trip to Erie. It ended up being the most perfect non-vacation vacation. An entire day with no worries and no complaints and no problems that needed solving. An entire day with the people I love the most. And the best part... it only cost us $30. (Half a tank of gas and a few snacks for the ride home!) Hard to beat!!

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Monday, September 12, 2016

The Sweetest Victory

A year ago my kids were playing soccer for the first time ever. Jason's age group was short on coaches so I volunteered. The league gave me a team of six boys (we played 4v4) and I did my best to teach them the skills and the game.

They were a fun bunch of boys, but we just could not win a game.

I take that back... one game was won. It just happened to be the one that Jason and I weren't there for.

In the spring I had almost the same team, and again we lost and lost and lost. By a lot. Every game. It was a tough season but the boys had such a good attitude and remembered that the most important thing was that they had fun.

So one year in and all Jason knew was what it felt like to lose.

He moved up to an older age group this season, and he wants to play travel. There is a coach for that so I was off the hook. I know that Jason has a lot to learn about the game still, but he loves the game so much and has become a decent player in a year, so travel seemed like a good option. More practices. More games. More competitive. And what I really wanted was to have him on a team of players that had played longer and had a better understanding of the game. I believe they will pull Jason to a higher level of skill and understanding of how the game works.

However, after watching a few practices I realized he was on a young team and I was second guessing my decision to put him on it. I was afraid it was going to be another season of nothing but losing.

This past Saturday was the first game of the season. I went with low expectations, but it turns out the other team was very young as well. Jason played really well and I enjoyed just being on the spectator side instead of the coach side. I was taking it all in, cheering on my Jason, and shouting "That's my boy!" both times he scored.

The game ended and we loaded all our stuff back in the van and headed home.

And that's when Jason spoke up, and in the most satisfied voice ever he said, "I FINALLY won a game!"

Woo hoos and fist bumps all around... because after 15 losses... winning feels AMAZING!

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Friday, September 9, 2016

I'm Not the Same Person That I Was Five Years Ago

You know the fantastical fluffy saying, "Let your struggles make you better, not bitter"? Yeah... I failed that one.

I had too many hard struggles in too short a time.
It's left me changed.

I'm not the same person I was five years ago.

My faith is not as pure.
I have a harder time believing in silver linings.
I don't trust as easily.
I hesitate to get involved.
I keep my number of friends very limited.
I am guarded.
The walls that were torn down years ago went back up and have stayed.

This may disappoint some.
I don't care. (See... bitter... not better.)

Life has pummeled me and I decided to stay down for a while instead of getting back up. My heart has been ripped out more times than I thought possible in the past few years... it no longer works quite the same.

I've had purpose ripped away from me,
dreams stolen by a "friend",
passions squashed,
trust abused.

I no longer go to church. (I know. I know... church is the best place to be when you are hurting blah blah blah. Failed that one too.) I don't want to talk to God. I'm afraid that if I do he will ask something of me... and in the end my heart will get broken again... because there always seems to be a trick.  Things that look like blessings always seem to really be burdens.

And I'm exhausted.

In one way, this time of staying down and being less involved in life has become a time of rest. The less I am involved with... the less I have to care about.

I might just stay in this place for a while.
Healing will come some day... but it's going to take some time.
And when healing does come... I still won't be who I was five years ago.

Life has a way of changing us. And right now I feel like I'm going through marriage struggles with life and God.

Let me explain... when we first get married it's a whirlwind of happiness. Our love is pure. Life is good. A fairy tale. And then life happens and disrupts the happy marriage that we know. We may struggle and fight and many don't make it past this stage. But those who do find out that love grows during those times... but it's never the same as it was in the beginning. And while it's not the same, it's better. Deeper. More solid.

So as weird as it sounds... I've left the honeymoon stage with life and God. I'm in the struggle. The wanting to call it quits. (Not literally!) I'm sure someday I'll come back around... and then I'll find myself better instead of bitter. But never the same.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Learning to Swim

Getting Jason to be comfortable in the water has always been a struggle. Last summer we were just trying to get him to put his face in the water without needing to wipe it off. We bribed him with ice cream and eventually he would dip his head.

I was hoping that he would remember that it wasn't bad as we began swimming again this summer.

I was surprised when he started running in and going under.
And then again when he started staying under to see how long he could hold his breath.
And again when he started unplugging his nose while under the water.

He just kept pushing himself to do a little more.

Then we got boogie boards and he started feeling like he didn't need his bubble floaty because he could grab onto his board.

And he just kept learning.

One day I looked out to see him figuring out the freestyle stroke while on his boogie board.

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And he just got stronger and stronger... until he was doing it without his board. Not real great, and not real long... but he taught himself to swim this summer.

The biggest surprise was when he let Mike throw him. Last summer he would only allow a barely pick up and drop. This summer he asked for the big throw.

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We are currently visiting my mom and dad, and this afternoon mom took me and the kids to the swimming pool that I always swam in when I was a kid. We jumped in and swam a bit, but Jason was checking out the diving boards. I made him prove he could actually swim a little distance and he surprised me with his strength.

He went down the big slide a few times just to get used to plunging under the water and then I decided that even though I was not ready for it, he was. I had to let him jump off the diving board into 12 feet of water.

And he did it! Without any trouble at all!

He jumped in, popped back up, and swam to the side. And then he got back in line to do it again.

I decided to go grab my camera while my mom kept an eye on him. (Because those lifeguards didn't look too trustworthy!) As I was almost to our stuff the lifeguards blew the whistle to clear the pool. I thought it was for a pool break, but turned out they had to close the pool for the day... only 15 minutes after we had jumped in.

We were pretty bummed and I was sooo glad that I let Jason go to the dives so soon.

He constantly amazes me with his determination and courage! He's amazing!

I can't wait to see how he grows next summer!!!

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