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Relocation Updates- September 2011

Hello everyone! I am relaxing in my wonderful home on our first Labor Day here in Florida, and I thought it was time for another update. I don’t like to smother our readers with updates, as they can get repetitive and boring, so I try to keep these to an occasional once and awhile. If I don’t touch on a subject you have been wondering, please feel free to send me an email and I will do my best to address it.

Home

I love our home here and everything about it.  I wake up to a view of palm trees and our swimming pool, and enjoy the spacious bedroom we have. I have never had a bedroom this big, so it’s pretty cool to walk in it and still think “WOW.”  We use our great room as just a very large living room, and not as a living room/dining room.  We now have 2 couches and a futon we use every day in the living room, and hope to add a recliner soon.  Sitting in the living room and enjoying the space comes with a view of our patio area and the pool with a huge Oak tree behind it.  Our last place never had enough light in the living room, so it’s great to have the house so lit up all the time.

The kids enjoy having their own rooms, and they have really taken to decorating them in their specific personalities.  The kids shared a room in WI, so it’s been a big change in their lives to have their own space to do what they choose. I also love that the kids have their own wing of our house and so do we. It is odd to not really have hallways, but I do love the open concept feel more.

We learned that with living in FL you have to get used to certain things at home, especially outdoors. It’s always sunny in the morning, but it seems to rain usually every afternoon. So with that in mind, any yard work needs to be done early or sometime after dinner- this is also key because of the heat. We have mowed the yard at 2 in the afternoon and it can be deadly, so we try to do it right in the morning or after dinner which can be tough when we have things going on most of the time at those moments. We have made it work by planning on our “Yard Work Day” where we weed, mow, and pretty up the outside.  Here is where we also run into all of our bug friends, and it can get creepy what we come across.  We had hired ORKIN, but we still keep finding Wolf spiders and large beetles around our property, so we are addressing them this week on the continued bug issue.

We have gotten the pool upkeep down pretty well- we are used to skimming and vacuuming the pool before we swim, and Craig is like a mad scientist with all the pool chemicals needed. It is really a science on how to keep a pool clean and beautiful, and we have done it just fine for the past 3 months. You will learn as you go if you wind up owning a pool with your home, but it’s nothing to stress about because you find out what works best pretty soon on.

Emily has become our own little guppy! She was pretty scared of swimming back in WI, and more so going under water. With the blessing of our own pool, she has felt comfortable enough to learn at her own pace and has just started to swim to the deep end all on her own. She is diving under the water now, and I have been showing her all types of strokes to learn. We are so impressed by her new found ability!

School

Ah, school. Well, this update is a tough one to share because what you think it will be, what you hope it will be, and what it truly is are completely different things.  I thought my kids could handle anything, I hoped it would work out, but reality was a different story.

Kyra is doing well, and is thriving so far in the 2 weeks that Celebration High School has been in session. I won’t say I’m impressed with the school yet, as they seemed incredibly disorganized.  Open House there was just picking up her schedule and a school map and that was it. No one told us or Kyra how to obtain a locker, how to change her schedule, and basically any type of information at all.  For a school and state that has MANY transplants, you would think they would have it to a science of explaining how things work every school year to these new kids. As a parent you want your child safe and comfortable while at school, and I was quite nervous for Kyra- even though I know she could handle herself.  Her schedule was messed up from the get go, as Kyra came from a Charter school in WI where Celebration wasn’t recognizing classes she had already taken. The headache came in where she couldn’t just talk to someone, it had to be get to school early or take up your lunch hour and “hope” you could get into the office to speak to someone. Kyra missed lunch twice trying to fix her schedule, and after several tries, she finally got an Art class that she really wanted and was able to opt for Health class online instead.  Being a Senior, I want her to enjoy this last year for everything it has to offer, but the start has been rough.  Meeting a friend in her art class has made quite the difference in Kyra’s attitude towards school, and I thank Shelby for doing that.

I also want to touch upon the drop-off and pick-up process for Kyra. The High School is located outside the main city, so it’s closer to Interstate 4 than actually town. Because of this, most kids take the bus, drive themselves, or get rides. Those parents, like myself, who have to pick-up every day have to get there at least 30 minutes, if not more, to grab a spot to pick-up their kids. If you arrive right at the bell, you will wind up in a line with the rest of everyone else who came then as well, which causes a problem. If you are the third car in the back of the parade of vehicles, and your child is out and you have picked them up, you can’t move until the 6 cars ahead of you do- it’s a headache. So I arrive very early every week day, read or play Angry Birds, and then at least I can drive away from my parking spot without the stress.

Emily was another story. First week, Emily woke up every morning in tears. Most kids are tired and don’t want to go to school, our youngest was crying because of the fear and stress of going back.  We encouraged her to try at least the week, which she did, and after the first week- I thought maybe it would all be ok.  I wasn’t happy that, again, the school didn’t go over anything with us on how things work.  We were handed her schedule at open house with a map and that was it- just very different from what we had experienced in the past.  Again, this is my personal experience and because of what I only know of the past school years in WI, THAT is what I have to compare too. You may come from incredible school districts or horrible ones, so what YOUR child experiences may be completely different.

Emily’s second week began, and on Monday they had a pep rally. Right before the pep rally, someone delivered a new schedule for Emily, no explanation on what and why hers was changed, and sent her off to the Rally. A rally where music was blaring, kids are everywhere, and Emily is trying to sit with her 7th hour class, as instructed too. Too bad kids were doing whatever they wanted, and when Emily asked a teacher where to sit, he barked at her that she should be where she was told to be.  Come on teachers, this is the SECOND WEEK of school- MOST of these kids are NEW- give them a break on where to go!

She found where to sit, and as the school bell rang she ran to me upset that her schedule had been changed. I was furious, not only that they had done this after we had gone over where to walk to each class over and over again,  but that they sent a generic form home stating that “Certain classes were overflowing and they had to move kids.”  What upset me more is first off, WHY do they accept other kids from other districts if you don’t have the room for them? I would have rather gotten a “No” when we submitted our request to go there rather than the frustration we had to go through.

So not only had they given Emily her schedule at the end of the day, so she had NO TIME to go and find where her new classrooms were located, but they just assumed these kids would just find them as they went the next day.  Emily was terrified on Tuesday, so I walked her in to school to help her find her new first hour. It was a pain they changed her first class because that is her home room as well- she loved her first home room and teacher, and I had spent time talking to the teacher about Emily’s background.  The feel of the day was that it was the first day of school all over again, and it wasn’t a good feeling.

We finally found building one, which was the office. I thought, “How odd that her Careers class is in the office.”  Her schedule stated first hour as “Exploratory Wheel” which is Careers- she had it the week before during 3rd hour. As I walked her into the Office, I see that she doesn’t have a class. The guidance counselor is standing there with 5 other girls- no class room. I ask her “What is this?” She says “Office Helpers.”  I looked at her, upset, and she says “You look apprehensive.” Um, yeah- I tell her this isn’t a class. Furthermore, why does her schedule says “Exploratory Wheel” if it isn’t? She says it’s a typo. Sorry, but that’s a lie. Here is what I saw, an overflow problem, so they made it look good for parents, but basically making 6th graders who don’t fit into the classes they ORIGINALLY had, make them work for their first hour instead.  I am NOT sending my daughter to school to WORK.  If they had asked for volunteers, then fine, but to make it a mandatory first hour class is ridiculous.

On top of the fact that they moved Emily from Advanced Math, which we were already a bit nervous about, but they put her in Honors Math- with Calculous. I mean, I graduated High School and I still didn’t have to take that class, and they want to make my 11 year old take it? Not to mention the $100 graphing calculator I was supposed to pay for! I am all about challenging your child, but you know and your child knows their limitations- and we all agreed Math is one of Emily’s weaknesses. Keeping her in that class would be setting her up to fail, and she was not at all comfortable with even attempting it yet.  When Emily told the teacher she shouldn’t be in such a high Math class, the teacher shrugged her off and said “Well you will learn more.”

I wasn’t happy that the teachers didn’t seem to want to listen to Emily’s own requests of concern for her classes, nor seemed to care that I was quite unhappy about first hour. I had even gotten her out of Gym, due to her eye, which is crazy to begin with when they have 6th, 7th, and 8th graders having gym together. When it is Soccer, and the kids are twice the size of your 11 year old, it is a bit terrifying.

The end result is that we had a window of opportunity to put her into Virtual School and we took it. We registered her last week, and had to pull her out of Celebration first. We met the Principal, she got to pick her classes, and we got to have a say on what level of classes she should be in.  I am excited for her to try this, as is she, because she can learn at home where it is a safe and loving environment. It isn’t worth pushing your child into something that not only you are uncomfortable with, but that they are as well.  I look forward to updating you on how we feel on Virtual School and what all it entails.

Free Time

We have been busy with our free time, trying to fit in everyone and everything we have time for. Our weekends are quite full, and we still love hitting the WDW Parks any time we can.  I have two weeks of Meets coming up that will keep me hopping, and I am SO EXCITED to meet those of you coming. So many wonderful new friendships I get to make and new things I get to try.  It’s truly become a part-time job for me, it just pays out in joy and fulfillment- not in dollars and cents.  I always make sure that the Disney Meets are scheduled around my family time, as they ALWAYS come first.  Planning them in advance gives me the insight, and my family, on what I can and cannot do.  I have a wonderful husband who works hard so that I can go and meet our friends and readers, and for that I am truly grateful to him.  That is why when he has free time, I try to make sure he gets to do what he wants to do since I get to that all week. The balance is slowly working out, but the key is that it IS working out.

Today marks exactly 3 months since we arrived in FL to start our dream of living here. We made it through our first summer here, and I am happy to say we survived it.  New places, new people, and new experiences have made our first three months here incredible.  I think we are finally getting settled, and it’s a great feeling to feel like home is actually feeling like home. Mom comes in 2 weeks, and I am SO EXCITED to see her! Many new and exciting adventures are coming on the horizon, so stayed tune. And as always, thanks for taking the time to read and being a part of our dream- love you all!

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Thank you for your support!

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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15 Comments »

  1. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun….and trying to deal with the grotty stuff! I dont have children but I can still appreciate your frustration with what you have experienced with Kyra and Emily’s schooling. I hope everything settles down as quickly as possible for you all xx

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  2. I am so thrilled for you all that you have chosen Virtual school for Emily! As I was reading the problems, I felt so so badly for you all, and I was so happy to read that you have chosen this path. My own daughter is 12, and I would do the same thing you are doing if faced with similar circumstances. I just hated that Emily was so frightened about school every day, and that the school was so wonky! I’m looking forward to reading how she likes virtual school!
    Also, I LOVE your updates, I look forward to your “how we are doing so far”…I try to imagine if that is how I’ll be feeling once we move there. Thanks so much for your blog!

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  3. I hope that Virtual school goes better for Emily and that she thrives. Glad to here that Kyra is adjusting well and has made some friends. I pray that all continues to go well for you and the family Amy. I am excited for you to have your mom visit soon. Have a great time!

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  4. I work with so many transfer students and know how critical it is to get them feeling good about school. I am hoping that it will get better soon! Thanks for sharing your journey–it is very important to our future planning!

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  5. I’ve never heard of virtual school before..I look forward to learning more about it…I’m glad Kyra is settling in and found a friend..friends always make things better..Your adventures are very eye-opening and are a huge help Amy!! Thank you for taking time to log all this information..Some day when things settle down you should consider writing a book..I think it would benefit many!

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  6. I am very sorry to hear about Emily’s school. I think you have made a great choice by trying the Virtual school. I would have done the same, and it’s not that I am overprotective but school must be fun and if my child is unhappy and the teachers doesn’t seem to care then I need to take charge and help my kid.
    I sure hope Emily will love the Virtual school, please keep me posted on this.

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  7. Amy,

    I am so glad things are going well for Kyra since this is her Sr. yr. I cannot imagine how challenging it can be for a student to relocate and it being their Sr. but meeting Kyra the 1 time she is such a beautiful young lady and seeing her great personality I have no doubt she will be successful

    As for Emily, man that made me angry to read all that she has been through, I mean I thought teachers should be compassionate and understanding, so to hear how Em was treated makes me disappointed to hear how the school systems are there and having me reconsider moving there only because of my “R” and the struggles she has now in adjusting to a new school here in VA only becasue she just started middle school, but the school has been awesome on helping her adjust.
    I am so excited to hear your mom is coming to visit!
    As for the yard work that would creep my out all the bugs.

    I hope I get to see you again when we come back down. I still want to sit have that coffee and just chat!

    Also Thank you for your continue post.
    Shelley

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  8. I really do hate that the kids were having problems with their school. Just seems like none of the teachers care for their job, they just think of it as a job and not that they are helping the kids to learn. Hopefully as a few weeks of school pass, Kyra will be very comfortable and have lots of great friends. And hope that Emily will enjoy learning at home.

    I am so excited to meet you next week. Moving to FL has been a dream of mine and I love reading about how it is to live there. I love reading all your posts.
    Lynn

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  9. I’m excited to hear how the Virtual classroom works out for Emily. I’m sure she will do just fine. In the meantime, I will continue to pray for you, Emily and Kyra. Craig too. I know this has been a very trying time for you, but am sure everything will work out well. Thanks again for sharing your story.

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  10. Just found your blog. I’m enjoying reading about your move. Looking to do the same in April 2012.

    As far as the graphing calculator…if your child has to take any further upper math classes, they’ll be using that calculator all the way through college and beyond so consider it a good one time investment. I bought mine over 15 years ago, and still use it to this day.

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  11. I have been reading your blog now for a little while. I have enjoyed reading about your move, and look forward to updates. We have a house in the area and would love to move there full time. Right now the house is a short term rental and we go down every few months for a week or two. Some day we will be living our dream too!! But for now I am enjoying your updates and can’t wait for more!

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  12. How frustrating that school experience was! My sister moved over the summer causing my nephew to have to change schools. His new school had an orientation for freshmen, but not transfer students. When my sister met with the assistant principal, she suggested they include transfer students in the orientation. Apparently, it was something they never thought of!

    As someone who has homeschooled for…um…garsh, how long now – fourteen years – I hope this year goes well for both you and Emily. I’d encourage you to ask around at church about others who homeschool and any homeschool support groups in your area. Check them out. There are all kinds of things going on like 4-H, museum visits, classes, get togethers. Googling ‘orlando christian homeschool groups’ will turn up quite a bit.

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  13. Just reading this now– I’m so sorry Emily had to go through all of that, and Kyra’s lack of organization too. It’s so unfortunate that Emily had such a trying experience as her first middle school impressions. Kudos to you for recognizing that she deserved better and acting quickly to move her into a better situation. I look forward to hearing about both girls’ successes, which I’m sure they no doubt will have. You’ll all be in my thoughts! ♥

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  14. So proud of you guys for finding what will work the best for your family!! Kyra – you are so brave to move to a new school for your senior year! I know you will be an awesome influence to all of your new friends!! Em – I’m so sorry that you had such a rough time in your new school! I totally understand in “moving” to a virtual school instead of dreading every day with the other school. I know you will thrive in your new environment!! Hugs and prayers are being sent every day for all of you!! Please call any time you would like to chat or just vent!! I love you all!

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