October 2014: Exceeding Expectations

We pushed these sweet kids into a big transition this year: from private Christian education into large public schools in a more urban area of Omaha. And they’ve done great. The transition has not been without bumps, but it has been without catastrophe. For that we’re very thankful.

The kids have especially noticed little graces they had not expected: friends who talk about church, in-class stories that deal with issues of faith and its practice, a welcoming spirit, etc. All of them, whether in front of the whole school or in private notes home, have been recognized for their respectful, kind, and engaged behavior.

I’ve been grateful for teachers and administrators – across the board – who genuinely care for my kids’ well-being and emotional health. We’ve always had this going for us – as you would expect when you have your kids in school with your family and/or church friends – but in this new public setting we weren’t sure of how much personalized attention we would receive. Our public schools have exceeded our expectations, to say the least. (I’ll hopefully write more about this when time allows.)

I guess, in general, the transitional weather in our little world is much milder than I had expected. Happy Fall, friends!

The Eye of the Tiger

The school nurse called me the day before the all-school walk around the neighborhood (a fundraising event), “Do you think Claire will be up to it?” Claire is new at this school and with a diagnosis like cerebral palsy and the way her purple brace and slight limp sort of draw some attention to her physical limitations, I expect these kinds of questions. I’m thankful for the way she is being cared for and considered.

But this is the image of Claire as she was crossing the finish line and heard the lyrics of one of her favorite Katy Perry songs blasting from the music teacher’s sound system set up next to the piles of water bottles and fruits. Not even the last member of her class to come in.

So I’m glad I said, as I have so many times before, “Yes. Yes, I think she’s up to it.”

 

 

What I CAN Tell You

I Instagrammed this photo right after our move across town a couple of weeks ago. I’m so excited about the potential of our new place (crystal door knobs! wood floors!) but it is not in showing shape yet. I thought that photo would give my friends an idea of what the place looked like without revealing all the moving mess.

I’ll try to do the language version of that photo now for how we’re doing:

  • We love our Dundee neighborhood. I walk the girls to and from school everyday. Even though it has introduced me to a new standard for how sweaty is too sweaty, I’m loving every earthy minute. My wish list now includes cute wellies (it rained on us Friday – 15 minutes in a downpour will leave you VERY wet).
  • We’re meeting soon-to-be friends. The community here is well-established and it can be hard to break into that (especially if you’re a 5th or 6th grader), but we’ve got some promising leads. We’re lucky to have made some connections before we moved and we meet new people each day.
  • We finding/making new normals and traditions. Friday nights out. Where shoes go. Laundry days. Dog walks. It’s all exciting but can also be tiring.

We’re trying not to worry about having it all figured out at once. We’re trying to be patient, let the rhythms find us instead of forcing them. We’ve committed to simplicity and that means not buying something for our wall just because it matches (great blog post here on that concept) but waiting for something we love, something that tells the story of us. Not everything is perfect. It’s kind of messy really. But we’re trying to enjoy every step of the journey.

 

 

My Strengths Finder Nightmare

logoIt’s finally here: our Dream Year Pitch Night in Omaha is this Wednesday at 7 pm. Will I see you there? (We might have a few tickets left at the door. Email omahapitchnight at gmail dot com if you are interested.)

My top Strengths Finder theme is Connectedness (Gallup). I am never more myself than when I am introducing my friends to my other friends (this is a somewhat conditional statement depending on which friends, but it’s generally true and especially true in this instance). That’s my dream for this Dream Year event. I’ve known the author Ben Arment for over five years via his STORY conference in Chicago. I attended the inaugural event and have spent the subsequent years as a volunteer. (I’m a charter member of the award-winning Greeters team. We are legendary.) Seeing the backside of an event is a great way to get to know the people behind the stage personalities. I can promise you Ben is as genuinely warm and encouraging as he seems.

Not only am I excited for my guests to meet Ben, I’m excited for Ben to meet them. Our presenters offer a wide slice of the Omaha experience. Our venue is The 402 in Benson, home of Aroma’s Coffehouse, one of the hippest spots in town. (I have it on good authority that the Cupcake of the Month is Cherry Limeaide.) I’m proud of our little city of Omaha. I hope she shows off.

Luckily, I’ve already had the nightmare where I’ve booked a venue that seats 1,000 instead of 100 and no one shows up on time, including myself. All the attendees bring babies and toddlers who keep them from listening to the presentations, one of which is a tubby adolescent who takes off his shirt for the interpretive dance portion of his over-the-time-limit pitch. Oh, and everyone is so spread out in their cliques of 4 or 5, they have no interaction with other attendees, the speakers, or myself. Yes, I woke up in a panic. Yes, thankfully, it was just a dream.

Our actual experience should be different. We’ll be cozy at The 402. We’ll be treated to a couple of songs from a band made up of 402 instructors and students (including my husband and son). We’ll eat cupcakes and drink good coffee. We’ll hear Ben share his vision. We’ll hear four presenters share their dreams. We’ll have a Q&A with Ben to close the night and then be free to mingle and chat.

And that’s a good dream.

 

 

Are We There Yet?!

Dan and I moved our family to Omaha two years ago knowing we weren’t sure exactly where in the city we wanted to land. Happily, we were able to find a great rental near his parents. We could not have survived the difficult transitions of those two years without their help with childcare and general life support. It’s been a gift.

As Dan has settled into a job he loves (Yay, Flywheel!) and I’m wrapping up the last year of my MFA program, we felt ready to start putting down some roots of our own. It’s not that we haven’t already been doing that to some degree, but we’re ready to settle into a neighborhood that we can call home while the kids are growing up. Jesse will be ready for high school this time next year. We’ve been comfortable in Dan’s old neighborhood in the burbs, but we didn’t feel like it was exactly where we wanted to be for the long term. And the thing is, the longer you keep talking about someday, the longer the doing gets displaced by the talking. Meanwhile, everyone is growing and changing and BAM! we’re parenting a house full of teenagers. (Within three years that’s us: 3/4 of our offspring will be teenagers.)

Dan teaches rock band in hipster-cool Benson and works as a Happiness Engineer in Omaha’s Downtown. Between these areas is Midtown and we’ve kind of fallen in love with its bungalows, restaurants, and tree-lined streets. We like a neighborhood feel where the skyline (even our small one) is just over the treetops and a short drive away. One afternoon last fall Jesse played on the football field at Central High School and we just saw ourselves there, felt like it was our place. We’d been looking for that feeling.

So after the dust settled on his new job, we started looking for housing in the Dundee area and found a sweet little town home to rent. I should emphasize the small in that sentence because we’re definitely downsizing, but we’re excited about the idea of paring down to the things we love or need (Hello, minimalists, I see you!) and finding creative ways to make our space work for us.

All of that is coming. But today I’m still sitting in a half-furnished house in a neighborhood I’m leaving. And as we sort through the toys we love and the things we need and try to keep them separate from everything else, we’re losing track of which pile is which. We’re eating meals on the couch. We’re sleeping in rooms that feel more like garages. And it has just reminded me again how tough it is to actually transition. It’s that place between here and there. Both places are good. It’s just that things feel better when you’re in one place or the other. The only really fun part of a road trip is the snacks, and at some point even that isn’t enough.

But Twizzlers and Diet Coke do help. As well as pizza delivery and ready-to-pack boxes. There are ways to ease the transition and part of that is trying to make good preparations for the coming adventures. Keeping the goal in mind helps more than anything. Here’s to transition: the long flat land between where you are and where you’re going!