Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Changes, Changes

Changes, changes. Do they ever stop?

In December, the family that had been living next door to us for 3 years moved back to South Korea. I really liked having them as neighbors, and Brandon was good friends with their oldest boy, who was the same age. I'm pretty sure that they would have been best buds if he had not gone to another local school (our school is so small it doesn't offer an ESL program). It's probably good that they were at different schools, though, as Brandon doesn't expand his friends horizons when he doesn't have to. We knew that they were moving. Everything had been planned out for months. Still, it was a hard day when the moving truck showed up, and even harder when we said our last goodbyes a couple days later. Brandon cried and cried over the loss of his friend. I know that there is Skype and all that, but the loss of a good friend, one that you will probably never see again, is still hard.

Just two weeks after that, Big J, our neighbor of 3 1/2 years, also moved. Big J and Brandon hit it off right away. Their personalities were very different, so I'm convinced that proximity played a large part. There were no other kids anywhere near the ages of our kids in the neighborhood for the first year and half we lived here (at least not that we knew of), so the introduction of another kid to play with was huge! Brandon had made a friend in kindergarten, but the half-day of school combined with a rigorous schedule made socializing a difficult task. Big J and Brandon became friends right away, and I became friend with Big J's dad, who stayed at home (and then, eventually, his mom, who is the breadwinner). It was nice to have someone to talk to. The kids played and played. Big J was at our house All. The. Time.  There are things we do now, like how I dress in the mornings and when the kids do homework, that were all designed with him in mind, since there was minimal supervision and he was always coming up to play . In later years, as the boys got older, they didn't seem to have as much in common and didn't play as much. Still, I have to give credit to Big J for sticking with Brandon. Brandon would be so rude sometimes, and yet Big J kept coming around. We've advised Brandon that lots of other kids wouldn't/will not put up with that kind of treatment, and we work to turn it around. It was a pretty hard week when Big J left. The parents said they were leaving on Saturday or Sunday, and they couldn't get it together to leave for a whole week! Oh, the drama! Each day Brandon wanted to play, for the last time, with Big J. And each day was not the last day, until on Friday it was. Each night there was sadness and tears because Big J would be leaving the next day. And then he didn't. And then he did. Both boys had tears in their eyes when it was actually time for Big J to drive off (in the late afternoon, 4 days before Christmas, right before a snow storm, with their first hotel 8 hours away in Wichita). It would have been a pretty sad night for our family, had we not been leaving an hour later on holiday travels. Big J had been such a part of our life for the past 3 1/2 years that he was almost family. He knew where everything was, and even put his shoes in the kid's shoe basket when he came over! There was also some relief when they left, knowing that between the distraction of Christmas and the fact that their family actually left, the sadness would not continue to drag on day after day after day.

We've also, I think, switched churches. We weren't church shopping when we tried out the church in Boulder where the kids have a Base Camp, a Wednesday night program (I also did MOPS there for a couple of years), but yet we like it, and there we are. One thing we have not been able to find since moving to our part of Colorado is consistency in community. When the kids started Base Camp, they already knew several kids there from school. Caitlin's come home many afternoons and told me that she's seen one of her leaders was at her school doing volunteer work and said "hi" to her. When we decided to check it out after the new year we not only saw and talked with our neighbor, but several other people from around town, from the kids sports teams, and from the kids school. It was so nice! We looked at a general map of where people live (represented by pins), and discovered our town is not on the fringe, not out in the boonies of the church population. I've been looking for that since we moved here, and I've never been able to find it. I mean, isn't that suppose to be a benefit of small town living? There isn't much in our area, so we always have to drive. Oddly enough, these churches are all 10-12 miles from our house, but worlds apart. Our first church, CBC, drew from an area mostly east of Boulder, which made community hard (I just can't drive 15-25 miles one way to meet up with people on any sort of regular basis). FCC, where we've been for the last 2 years, is very centric to its neighborhood. I think that's wonderful, and I love what they do for their community but, even though we are only 10 miles away, we are so far out of their vicinity it's funny (there are huge differences inside and outside of Boulder county, and across city lines). I loved our FCC small group, but it disbanded at the end of last summer, leaving us with a dearth of community. I'm no longer sure how I think about myself in community after the last 5 1/2 years, but it's still nice to know that at FPC (the new place), I don't live in the fringes. Geography matters here, immensely. I want to live in community with others - not scattered.  That's a huge order to fill in a marginally rural place where there are little enclaves and small towns here and there. I'm going to have to get use a lot of things at FPC but the consistency in community is huge. Plus, the kids are really happy. They wanted to start going there right away.

Even though the last few months have been a flurry of changes, the kids have weathered them and are doing fine. We're all doing fine. They were pretty big at the time, though. In some ways the neighborhood changes have been a relief for me. Between the family dynamics, the family drama, the affair, the alcohol, and the lack of kid supervision, not having Big J around after school makes our afternoons a lot easier. The kids can relax more when they get home. Getting homework done is easier without constant distractions. Getting to after school activities is a lot easier when the kids aren't involved in playing games. Caitlin's friends down the street are rarely home before 6:00, so she doesn't see them much during the week, which is easier all around (if she knows they're home, it's torture for her not to be with her friends. Can you say "extrovert"?). The 9-year-old boy that moved in across the street late last summer goes to a private school, is always busy, and is gone on the weekend a lot, so we don't see him much, either. Sometimes I wish nothing more than to have my kids go outside and play with other kids in the neighborhood (and we have lots!), but sometimes I just want them to do what they need to do without constantly being interrupted by other kids who want to play. There's a balance in there somewhere, and we may have found it through all these changes.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How We Spent our Saturday

A couple of weeks ago Caitlin decided she wanted her ears pierced. I had wanted her to wait until she was 7, but I'd never mentioned that to her. She never mentioned it before, but then, right after turing 7 it was all of sudden on her mind! We waited until this weekend to get them done so daddy could be in town and go with us. She was brave in the face of pain. She forgot her stuffy, and was very grateful for the one at Claire's. I told her that after our 6 weeks we can go back and get her a pair of Hello Kitty earrings. Fun!

Happily getting her hair pulled back. 

Happy with her measured, marked ears.

Getting both ears pierced at once!

Caitlin doesn't like this picture. It makes her sad. I'm putting it up here to show how brave she was. Getting your ears pierced is painful, and this is as close as she got to actually crying.

The pretty pink daisy earrings she chose.

Pain distraction, courtesy of Red Mango frozen yogurt.

Cute, brave Caitlin - now, with earrings!