When It Rains, It pours

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You may have seen in the news or on Facebook (always a reliable source of information) that the Houston area is dealing with record breaking flooding.  Although our home is safe and undamaged, many are not.  Roads are flooded everywhere around us.  This is day 2 of no school for my kids.  Yesterday, we treated it like a snow day up north minus the fun snowman building and hot chocolate.  I pretty much let the girls be lazy with a few extra chores thrown in for good measure.  This was much needed as neither my husband or I got much sleep the night before as we moved the girls downstairs into our room at midnight when the tornado warning was issued.  We hung out in the living room keeping an eye on the storm until the tornado warning had passed.  Things that I only pretend to know about were beeping on and off all over the house!

However today is Day 2 and this mom is faced with the challenge of keeping 2 of her kids busy but quiet while one of my daughters still has a home day of school (she attends an university model school so while her sisters are normally at school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, she does school at home with me).   So while she is taking a math test, I gave work assignments to the others.  They were thrilled.  Not really.  But let’s pretend.  So first thing I did was to text Kim for ideas.  Brilliant Kim said my oldest, who is a phenomenal writer, should write a blog post.  So that’s what I made her do.  And yeah, this does not fall into her most awesome work but hey, she did it!  Ladies and Gentleman….our first guest post….. my 13 year old daughter!

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Moving was never my thing.  I have always hated leaving my cozy home to go to a place where it seemed like aliens lived. It was always stressful, especially when I was younger. Here are some of the highs and lows of moving as a child, and how you can make it so much more fun for your kids.

Things Kids Love

  • The New House- As a kid, I often loved to play hide-and-seek and explore all the crevices of my house and back yard. When you move into the new house, there are so many things to explore.  If your kid is anything like me and loves to explore, you should let them roam for a little bit. It will help run off any steam and stress from the move and forget the the stressful situation moving can be.
  • New People– When my sister was younger, she could literally walk up to anyone and start a conversation about the color of their shoes.  Most kids are very outgoing when they are little, so when they’re surrounded by new people, they’re going to make new friends. It helps best if you go meet your new neighbors and say hi.  There could be some kids that your child hits it off with from the very beginning.

Things Kids Hate

  • Leaving Old Friends– When your kid loves new people, this often isn’t that big of a problem. When I moved, I hated leaving my friends. It’s always been hard for me to make friends, so this is one of the hardest aspects of moving. There is nothing a parent can do directly to help a kid make friends.  Instead, be encouraging to your kid and make them feel good about themselves.  Don’t try to change them so they’ll make friends easier, it’ll just blast right back in your face.
  • New Climate– One of the worst moves I had was when I moved from Indiana to Georgia.  It was a very long drive and I had no idea what to expect.  When I moved, it was steaming. I had never experienced such heat ever before in my life.  Again, parents can’t do anything but be prepared.  Try buying  clothes meant for the climate before you move so you’ll be prepared and won’t have to rush out to the store during a huge heat wave or blizzard.

 

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Church Shopping 101

Wow!  Have you ever felt like life keeps passing by faster and faster and you really feel like you can’t keep up?  That’s how Jan and Feb have been for me.  Days keep going by and my “to-do” list keeps growing and current projects keep getting put on the back burner (ummm can we say blog posts?).  How is that possible?!?!  And don’t get me started on my spring cleaning fever.  I’m ready to charge through my house with a trash bag and declutter for my ever-so-precious, trash hoarding, boys.  What is so special about that little piece of plastic they got as a birthday party favor?  I’ll never know.

Ok, on to what I wanted to share with you today.  I feel like one of the hardest things after a move is finding a church.  UGH!  The agony.  Why is it so hard?  I mean it’s one thing when it’s just you and the hubs but it’s a whole other “thing” when it involves children. It’s never the easiest or most fun task and it can down right make you even lonelier (if that’s even possible).   But give yourself some grace and know God will lead you where he wants you – even if that means suffering through some rough Sundays.
Church-ShoppingFirst, I want to emphasize why it is so important to church shop after a move.  As hard as it is, you need that community.  It’s so easy after a move to lay low and start a whole new routine for yourselves like leisure Sunday mornings with coffee and the paper (what’s that like??).  Though the feelings of community won’t be instant, you still need to seek it out and it will eventually come.

Charles Spurgeon once gave a fantastic illustration to this point.  He spoke about two men sitting around a campfire.  They threw a couple of coals aways from the fire and they quickly went out.  Worship is a lot like that campfire.  When Christians are all together worshipping, they burn hot like that fire.  But when one leaves the fire and tries to “worship on their own”, that fire within them can quickly burn out.  Let’s face it, it’s easy to stay home and think you are doing good on your own with God, but in reality we need that community to keep our fire going and our faith strong.
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Finding a church isn’t easy.  But take heart, God will always lead you to the right place.  There may be strange ways in which he does, but He will.  Be patient.  Our first church in KY we found in the phone book (yes…back in the ancient days of phone books).  We picked it because it had a large ad and we noticed there was a campus near our apartment.  HA.  Ended up being a fantastic church where we grew in our early marriage and met wonderful couples to figure out this thing called marriage and family.  In Virginia, we tried several churches (and it wasn’t easy explaining to the kids why their world as they knew it was different every single week).  One was so bad that I seriously used the baby feeding excuse to leave.  HA!  Our most interesting church shopping was definitely in Vegas.  One church actually had smoke coming up from the stage during worship.  LOL.  The church we landed with was one we had heard about through some friends we had in our KY church.  They had served there two years prior to us moving there (God is so clever).  Anyway, I felt so out of my comfort zone when we visited.  We almost didn’t go back.  But my kids liked it there and we decided we weren’t getting much better.  Lol!  Ended up being one of THE BEST teaching churches I’ve been to and I learned so much about God’s word (ironic isn’t it….Vegas and best church experience?).  The music was so good you couldn’t leave without the JOY of the Lord.

There are a few pointers I can give you when church shopping.  One is to never, never compare the new church to what you are familiar with.  It will never live up to your expectations.  There is no such thing as a perfect church.

Another is to try to search near your home.  It’s easy to think you will drive 20 miles every week bc it’s no big deal.  But realistically you will burn out due to the sheer drive.

Lastly, and in my opinion most importantly, I have found that you must visit a church multiple times before deciding to mark it off your list.  With every new church we have been a part of, my first visit was “eh” ok.  There’s not one I fell in love with immediately.  However, after about a month of steady attendance, I could feel and visualize us being a part of that church.  It takes time.  Just like most things in your life, it’s not instant.  Maybe you were lucky enough to know the moment you laid eyes on your now husband that he was “the one”.  But for most of us, it took time.  Time getting to know the other person.  The church is a lot like that.

I’m not saying you have to start your search immediately upon arrival in your new territory.  We have always taken some time for ourselves to feel comfortable and familiarize ourselves with our new surroundings (and find our good clothes among all the boxes and maybe even to pep talk ourselves into the awkward task).  Give yourself a month at the most, but don’t dilly dally too long so that you burn out.  Keep that fire alive and get out there and shop!  Remember, you are on a mission in your new town.  God planted you there for a reason.  Now, seek out to surround yourselves with other believers so that maybe you can get a glimpse of God’s plans for you.
kim4

Change = Stress

Most of our moves have been a direct result of Steve’s job.  But not every job change came with a move.  Just recently, Steve started a new job that didn’t require a move.  Well, it was new and old at the same time.  He actually went back to work at a company and with people that he had previous work with for several years and ahem, caused a few of our moves too.  In fact, when I posted on Facebook that Steve went back to work for that company, friends from 3 of our previous locations all asked if that meant a move back.  And I’m going to be completely honest with you…I know this company and I know my husband and his career.  I will not be surprised in the least if he is asked to move in the future.  I know it won’t be for the next year or so.  But after this role and this specific project, I bet we have the “move” conversation.

Even without the moving, a new job brings change!  Guess what causes stress?  CHANGE (even good change) causes stress!  This new job is 100% answered prayer for us.  Steve couldn’t start soon enough!  He was going to be working with amazing people that he already knew and that in return, already knew his  work style, his strengths and even his family.  But even though all of this was great, it was still a change.  As a couple and as a family we had to navigate this new job.  It did not help that his first day back was also our baby’s first day of kindergarten, first day of our middle daughter’s new school and first day of our oldest daughter at the Junior High.  Yep, it was a banner year of new schools for all of girls and hubby’s new job too.

I’ve learned to roll with the punches around here.  Was I disappointed that Steve was flying out for his first day and wouldn’t be here for first day of school?  You bet!  But you know what is just as important to me?  My husband starting his new job with my full support.  Friends, I have seen too many wives withhold their support of their husbands in an effort to make a point or “punish” their husbands for making them move or just stressed.  Your marriage is worth so much more.  Most men are not as talkative as their wives.  They are less likely to share their feelings, their fears, and their worries.  But that doesn’t mean they are not thinking about it.  When our husbands make huge decisions like changing jobs and moving their families,  I’m sure it is not without giving thought to how it affects the family.  In our case, I know that Steve is always praying about it.

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What would happen if as wives we simply support our husbands?  What if we not remind them (as if they need it) what you and your kids are giving up to make this move or job change?  Could it be that our nagging and punishing don’t actually bring about anything good?  I’m not saying that the stress isn’t real.  Listen, Steve started a new job and spent 2 weeks in Europe on rather short notice.  I was inconvenienced.  We were still getting into the new school year routine on top of activities, sport practices, PTO meeting and just general life.  But at the same time,  I love this man.  Why wouldn’t I want him to enjoy some cool stuff while working to provide for us?  It won’t take long for the newness to wear off and it’s just a job again.  I want to do whatever I can to help him enjoy it while he can.

But let’s get practical.  How do I actually deal with new job stress?  Be honest with people.  I gave a heads up to the girls’ teachers that we were in some uncharted territory with new schools and Daddy away with a new job.  Also, give yourself some grace.  Your house will likely not be looking its best  especially if you are still unpacking (but with a pumpkin candle it can smell good).  When Steve is gone, I have a hard time getting to bed at a decent hour before I have to get up before the sun to start my day.  I have learned that some nights I need to just leave the sink full of dishes so that I can get some sleep.  The dishes are usually still there in the morning.  Ha!

And what if you just moved for a job?  Both you and your spouse will be busy navigating all things new.  It likely feel as if your spouse is busy and focused on the job while you are focused on everything else.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Don’t you want this new job to work?  Be cognizant that a new job often brings about a huge amount of work in the beginning.  And remember there is a season for all things.  Check out Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 if you more convincing.  And please give your self a break!  You probably have a to-do list as long as your arm, but you need to carve out some time that you can stop and breathe.  It may be just a five minutes of flipping through a magazine while you let your little one play at the park.  Or go ahead and get a starbucks to sip while you walk down every aisle of target (I have a good friend who buys icees and popcorn for her kids to enjoy in the cart at target while she shops).

And finally, if you are feeling overwhelmed or seriously depressed with the change, do talk to someone about it.  You can still be supportive of your spouse and need to talk to them about how you are feeling.  There came a point in my husband’s two weeks away that I was overwhelmed and exhausted.  I just didn’t know what to do next.  And instead of insisting that I was fine, I gave myself a “mommy time-out” and retreated to my room.  I sent an extremely honest text to a dear friend sharing how I was feeling.  She was able to validate my feelings reminding me that it was ok for me to feel exhausted and such because I was in fact exhausted! Sometimes we just need someone to listen and validate our feelings.  Did she do anything to elevate the stress?  No.  I was still dealing with three kids on my own.  But I knew it was ok and that Steve would be back in a matter of days.  Just try and talk to a friend that will be supportive and not one that will add to your misery.  You know the type…always one upping you on how terrible life really is or telling you how horrible your spouse is for traveling and leaving you to deal with the kids alone.  I can do a whole blog post (and probably will!) on avoiding the trap of Debbie Downer.

This blog was something that Kim and I really wanted to start back in the Spring.  I had no idea at that point that Steve would have a new job and that I would have one of my kids basically home schooling two days a week.  So it hasn’t gone quite as we have planned.  But I do enjoy it and I know things will eventually settle down.  So hang in there as I adapt to the stress change going on here and I will do better about blogging!

angeline3

 

Load ’em Up and Move ’em Out

love packingPacking…..it’s exhausting just thinking about it.  No one likes it.  It’s as bad as when you were a kid and your mom told you to clean your room.  Packing can bring a lot of stress to your family and also a lot of emotions (particularly if you have only lived in one house).  And really, packing can make you go crazy – literally – especially with kids.  I have, however, found one positive to it – you rid yourself of lots of JUNK!  There.  You can’t be a pack rat and move a lot.

We have been blessed to have professional movers for all our moves.  Some of you out there are quitting now because you think nothing I can say will help you.  However, I do know some tips for both professional and DIY moves.
garagesaleFirst thing you can do with either scenario is start going through all your stuff and getting rid of the things you can live without.  It will be tough, but seriously do you really need to pack that sweater you haven’t worn since 1998?  Besides, you could make some extra fast cash having a garage sale with all that stuff.  Sifting through all the junk on this end is so much better than the other end of a move – you got a lot going on once you move in a new place.  Another quick tip is to get all your stuff decluttered and in it’s right place.  For example – put all those toys strewn all over your house into one cohesive place.  This will ensure they all get packed together.  This goes for all those other items that get taken to places they don’t belong all over the house (oh wait that might just be me living with all these boys!).

Alrighty, now that you have that initial junk cleaning done, let’s get down to packing business.  I’ll start with the professional moving tips (hang in there with me DIYers).  If you think there are no tips for having professionals move you – you are dead wrong.  There are still lots of things to do to prepare for the movers.
fragile1.  First off – DO NOT pack anything yourself!  I know you will be tempted to pack that beautiful heirloom crystal bowl from your great great grandmother yourself so you know it will be safe.  However, if you pack it yourself, movers take note of it and if it ends up breaking, guess what – they aren’t responsible because you packed it.  I’ve had something break almost every move but guess what – the moving company has paid for the amount of the item broken and life goes on.  Don’t sweat the small stuff in life.
file box2.  Put all your important paperwork in a little file box to take with you.  You will more than likely need this when you get to your new destination and it’s better that you know exactly where it is.  This includes birth certificates, marriage licenses (you will need this in order to get a drivers license just about any state ladies!), social security cards, etc.
donotmove3.  We always clean out one closet before the movers come.  In this closet we put anything we do not want the movers taking – in other words the stuff we plan to take in our car.  We have had to pack for temporary housing most moves so we have had lots of luggage and other stuff.  On the closet door we simply put a note “Do Not Pack This Closet”.  This clears up any communication between you and all the movers in your house.  And your luggage doesn’t accidentally get packed up in the truck way in the back before you notice.
movers food4.  It’s always nice to appreciate the packers and loaders of your moving crew.  We always treat them to lunch.  Just something simple like a subway sandwich or pizza.  They certainly don’t expect it BUT remember they are handling your stuff and doing all the work.  It’s just a nice gesture.  We also have a fridge or ice chest full of water for them to grab when they need it (especially those moves where it was 100 degrees!)  We’ve had many movers tell us how much they appreciate these little things and don’t get treated that nice most of the time.

Ok DIYers, I don’t have a lot of tips but here’s a couple that make sense to me.
1.  Look on Craigslist for anyone selling boxes.  We have sold our boxes online after we have unloaded.  Paying $50 for professional sturdy moving boxes is WAY better than looking for diaper boxes wherever you can find them.  Plus you can’t beat the garment boxes pros use to move clothing!
duct tape2.  Get some colored duct tape and coordinate each room with a particular color.  Put a small piece on the box that corresponds with the room.  That way when you unload the truck at your new place, it’s easy to glance at the box and know where it belongs.

Ok all you who have packed and moved, share your moving tips.  I know a lot of you out there have some great ideas.

Back to School…Looking for the Right One (part 2)

prov3Oh how I know the anxiety and stress a momma can have when searching for a new school for her little people in a completely new, strange city. It’s stressful knowing that your decisions on selecting a new house can affect your children and their education. I mean there’s enough pressure finding the right house but mix in the kids and it can be brain overload.  First and foremost, if you are a Christian, TRUST the Lord with ALL your heart.  Have faith that God will  lead you to the right school for you and your kiddos.  If you do, the stress will dramatically decrease and you will feel such a peace.  I’m not gonna say I’m perfect at this (I’m human) but I can tell you that looking back with each move, God’s hand has been all over each and every one.

As Angeline pointed out in Part 1 of our Back to School series, there are a lot of resources you can utilize to help search out schools in this unknown territory known as your future home.  My process is pretty similar to hers – one word – RESEARCH!
keep calmMy man and I make a great team!  We’ve got our system down.  He asks around with coworkers and does the logistics research (commute and such) while I focus on community and school life.  Oh and let’s not forget to mention reaching out to all the many friends I have made across the country to see if someone, anyone knows anybody familiar with my new town.  Desperate times call for desperate measures people – I am not shy to ask around!  When looking for a realtor, find one who has kids.  They will know about schools and family life without a doubt.  I would also highly suggest a house hunting trip if possible.  Just spend a few days driving around trying to find an area you like (you’ll get a good idea when you see it).  For example, when we moved to the DC area, my man and I took a week long house hunting trip and drove from one end of the area to the other.  An entire week of driving, need I say more??  My hubby kept saying that he wanted, and thought I would like, Loudon county in Northern VA so that’s where he took me first.  I kept saying no, because the only person I knew in the entire area lived in Fairfax county and I wanted to be near her. (HAHA – what a reason, right?)  I should know by now to listen to my husband -shhh don’t tell him that.  After that week of driving, where was it I liked best?  The very first place we visited.  The one my husband thought I would like most.  Of course.  Sometimes just driving by schools and communities can determine the location you like best and then you can do more in-depth school research.

Another reason I didn’t want to even look at Loudon county was because my research showed 1/2 day kindergarten for that county.  WHAT?!?!  That was NOT in my plan!  LOL.  Thank goodness life doesn’t go by our plans.  However, there is a point to all this…..there are still states who have 1/2 day kindergartens out there.  As a Southerner this was so foreign to me.  There are also schools who require tuition for full day kindergarten.  (I’ve had two boys go through both scenarios!)  Do your research.  I know this is all about kindergarten but it can go for any grade.  Go to the school websites.  District websites.  Read everything you can about every aspect of the school.  Know what the schools teach and make sure you agree with it. Look up busing information for the district (some require a certain amount of distance for transportation). If you have special needs (gifted, autism, speech,etc) – look up the information regarding those services for the district.   Greatschools.org is a great resource but don’t just go by the number rating scale.  Read the parent comments.  A school can rate low just because of test scores – and we all know how most people feel about test scores.  Anyway, parents will give the truer indication of the school and its environment.

My move to Vegas was really interesting.  We had a house.  I had researched the school, it rated awesome and I was ready.  However, our move out there, the seller backed out of the sale and we had to house hunt all over again!  Talk about stress!
stressedHowever, we found a great house (with a better commute) but the school didn’t rate as well as the first school.  The school building didn’t even look as nice on the outside.  BUT…it wasn’t the worst school either.  Just the average norm.  Well, we were blessed by that school, and the teachers, and I got very involved and by the time we left I felt like that school was on the up and up and was taking off to be the best in the area.
IMG_2504 All that to say….God had a plan.  One I couldn’t see.  You see, because of that school, I became friends with a gal from Minnesota.  I was blessed (when God’s in control – it’s not luck folks) with a friend who just so happened to be from the Twin Cities area in MN and knew everything about it.  At the time did I know I would move to MN and need such a friend?  Lord no!  But God did and that friend really assisted and reached out to her MN friends in order to help me with my school search here.

TRUST in the Lord with ALL your HEART.  God has a plan.  We may not recognize it or see it but He does.  He cares about the big things and the little things in our lives and our moves.  TRUST He will help you find the right school for your kids.  It may or may not be the award winning school but if you let Him be in control, He will direct your path.  That’s when you know you found the right one!
kim4

Back to School…After a Move (part 1)

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One of the most stressful parts of a move with children is facing the challenge of a new school for your kiddos.  With three kids each, this topic is near and dear to both Kim and myself.  For that reason, this very important topic will be covered by both of us in multiple parts.

First thing you must understand that unless you homeschool, where you house hunt is going to have the biggest impact on where your kids go to school.  Even if your kids go to private school, location and commute are huge factors.  This is probably a good time to share with you that Kim and I for the most part, have had our kids in public schools but not exclusively.  Our kids have attended private preschools and I’ve had at least one child enrolled in private school (but then we moved and switched her to a public school).  For this next school year, I will have each of my girls in different schools with my middle child enrolled in a private university model school.  More on that later…

So doing your homework BEFORE you begin the house hunting process is huge.  You and your spouse need to come to an agreement as to how important schools are in your housing decision.  For example, there have been moves where I ruled out fabulous homes solely based on school feeder patterns (which middle and high school the elementary school would feed into years later).  Honestly, looking back, I may have been a bit over the top at the time.  However, in that phase of my life and that location, school feeder pattern was a huge deal breaker.  You need to know what matters to YOU at the time.  In this particular move, I was looking for the trifecta of good schools (elementary, middle and high schools) within a certain large school district and short commute for my husband.  This narrowed the possibilities way down and I ended up in a house that I did not love, lots of phone calls to Kim and daily tears for a while.  That lead me to ease up on the crazy school requirements in the next move.

If this is your first move with school age kids, you may be asking how do you do this elusive school/house hunting homework?  I’ll walk you through my process!

First, get a handle on where you and or your spouse will be working and how much of a commute you can tolerate.  Things to consider are proximity to airports if regular travel is involved, price of toll roads if needed, number of possible routes, public transportation etc.  And remember, alway add at least 15 minutes to whatever someone tells you, especially if they are trying to sell you on a place or location.  That is my experience.

If this is a job transfer, you may know someone who lives or works in the same area.  Ask them!  My husband knows that he should immediately start asking around to where potential co workers live and their thoughts on the cities/suburbs, neighborhoods and schools.  But also know that what works for one family, may or may not work for your family.  You are the expert on your own kids.  You know what they need over anyone else.  For example, during our last move, I was much more interested in the size of the school and certain school programs than I was about the reputation of the school.  We went with a smaller school district instead of buying a home in the neighboring school district with more students and unquestionable high reputation.

Become familiar with online school reporting sites.  My favorite is www.greatschools.org and is similar to www.schooldigger.com.  I also spend time exploring possible district and school websites.  Basically, as soon as a possible move/location is brought up, you can find me on my computer or iPad, looking at houses and schools!  As for houses, my favorite sites/app are Trulia and Realtor.com.  Usually by the time we are in contact with a realtor, I have a good idea of how much house we can afford in an area and what school districts we are willing to consider.

I have so much more to say on this topic!  However, I’ll give you a break for today and maybe let Kim get a chance to jump in on the conversation…maybe.

angeline3