Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Neighbor Needed

Yesterday upon returning home from errands. My husband noticed the House for Sale sign in our neighbors yard. Many thoughts went through my head. The first being, I guess my "Get to Know Your Neighbor Party" will also need to be a "Farewell for the Neighbors we just got to meet party.

I have no doubt the house for sale is very nice. It seems well kept. Fenced in yard, screen porch, nice landscaping, 4 bedrooms and 2 and 1/2 baths, and a bonus room. My main concern, naturally, is who moves in. Again my mind races to all kinds of ideas, a family with children (with of course girls the same age as mine), I could convince my old neighbors from Delaware to move here, OR I could convince many of my Delaware friends to pitch in and buy it. That way everyone could have a place to stay when they come visit with no crowding! It could be their own Tennessee Villa!

I know I have no control over who moves in to this house. I did give some thought to how realtor's describe and advertise their property. Keeping that in mind, here is my own Want Ad I want printed along side.


New neighbor family with children. All age children accepted. Girls ages 9 - 11 years preferred. New family should be fun loving, open minded, with a good sense of humor. NPR listeners and those who enjoy a good happy hour a plus.

Wish us luck!

Where are the People?

I mentioned to my husband the other day how empty parking lots seem here in Tennessee. It is odd to see cars but not have long lines at stores. I am told things will change around the holidays, especially at Turkey Creek. Turkey Creek is a strip of road brimming with stores and food. Jack says, "Think of it as Rt.202 developed today." Around here they call it the "Shopping District". I think of it as several Brandywine Town Centers in a row. I guess when the Holiday shopping comes it will be no different than Delaware. For the moment though, I am left wondering where are people?

The roads too, seem empty. While far from a ghost town, there is never horrific traffic. (Does anyone remember sitting through 2 or more cycles of lights to cross Rt.202?, how about taking an hour to drive from Wilmington to Newark?) I did experience some back up yesterday coming home from gymnastics and it was decided that to get home quicker I should hop on the highway. When is the last time someone suggested you get on Interstate 95 at rush hour to get home quicker? (Highway 40 runs parallel to my beloved Kingtson Highway) Kingston Highway is the Rt. 202 of Delaware. Long and more gritty. It has anything you want or need, just not in a convenient shopping mall. "Mom," my kids will ask, "where is my sock?" I will answer, "On Kingston Highway where everything else can be found." I will answer.

My husband has reminded me I am a native of the east coast. I grew up in NJ the land of the aggressive driver. He suggests I relax and enjoy it. For now I am adjusting. I will say the only parking lots I always see full are church lots on Sunday. There are plenty of churches and plenty of people who go to them. I just can't figure out where they live or where they shop!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Once Bitten Twice Shy?

Welcome to Tennessee, land of a thousand churches. It seems to me that one thing Knoxville is not lacking is churches and banks. The number and variety of both would astound you. I know people have told me, "Ingrid, you have moved to the Bible Belt after all." I have felt this religious presence in odd ways. One of the first questions many people ask you is, "So, have you found a new church home?" They automatically assume you attended church regularly AND that your top priority is getting a new one. The other was in the town 4th of July parade. There were so many floats from the churches it was startling to me. Celebrate our Declaration of Independence! and of course our Lord and Creator!

We have been in Tennessee for more than a month now. Why have we or even me not explored our religious options? I ponder this question often. I discuss it with my husband, and I make excuses, we are unpacking, we are traveling, we are doing things as a family, but why are we NOT seeking to visit churches.

One reason is, my options are limited. Despite the huge number of churches with LARGE congregations,(which are really tempting because you can go and not fear being on this committee or that deacon) my sense is their interpretation of the bible and mine would not match. I hesitate also because visiting churches is hard for me and my children. I don't want the girls attached to a place my husband I decide is not the right fit.

At this time we have narrowed it down to 2 starter choices. We are lucky to have a United Church of Christ congregation close to us. They have the same open and affirming feel as our previous home. They are even the same size. They even use folding chairs and have a pastor who has been there for 17 years. Uh oh, that makes me tremble a little. You see our church as been going though challenges for some time now, starting when our minister of 17 years left. I am not sure I can handle the disruption of that again. My other concern is the sameness of this church to our past one.

I will tell you a story, I went to the local YMCA's here. I wanted to connect with that familiar feeling of comfort and support I had in Delaware. Guess what? I left them and called my old boss(and friend)from the Y crying. The YMCA's here did not offer comfort, they showed in brightness how things are different here and my transition will still take time and effort. I wanted sameness, and what I got was a big dose of different. What if I go to this UCC church and experience the same unhappiness? Will I leave each week upset because I am reminded of not seeing my friends?, my village?, my peers?

Our second option is the Unitarian Universalists. The UU's as jargon calls them. My dad who is a minister used to joke United Church of Christ (UCC) stands for Unitarians considering Christ. My sister has said, the UU's and UCC have a fence between them. It is a chain link fence which allows ideas to go through but the UU's have the final barrier of not making that full commitment to just believing in Jesus and nothing else.

Even so, this option has appeal because they are 5 minutes away. They are very open (last week the sermon was one accepting atheists) AND they marched in the Knoxville Gay Pride parade. I am not even sure the UCC did that. The girls religious education would involve the "Judeo - Christian" beliefs along with other religious studies.

What is my problem with it? While I enjoyed their website, it somehow lacked for me. While I love to learn about other religion and cultures. I cannot escape the fact that I am UCC. I took the leap to believe Jesus is the son of God. Will I be ok with that being one piece of my experience? Do I want that for my family?

All of it troubles me and muddles about in my mind. We have not been to church in what seems like forever to me. My husband pointed out that due to his schooling and being here on his own he has not been to church in months and years! I told him I fear we will never go back to church. He tells me, if I am thinking about it this much, there is now way we will not.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fear and Trepidation

We live in Tennessee now. I have the Tennessee licence plate to prove it! ( of course now I have trouble finding my car in parking lots) For months now I have been saying,"Jack has a new job. It is a great job. It will involve some travel. I am going to stay at home and make sure we all adjust and settle in." These words have been recited, stated, but never actually came true,.....until now.

So far this summer Jack has gone away for at most, 2 days. It has been blissful having him come home from work each night. We eat meals together, we do things on the weekends together, and he helps me in so many ways. When Jack and I discussed his new job and travel we tried to figure out HOW MUCH travel he would do. It became clearer that his travel would come in spurts. Maybe not much for awhile and then it would pick up and he would be gone more.

A spurt is starting, it will become a squirt, and right after school starts for the girls more of a stream. I am hoping we don't get to a raging river anytime soon. The problem is for me, I am now scared. Not quaking in my boots terrified. I know things will be fine, but up until now, I had Jack as a constant safety net in this new land. Together we were explorers and discoverers. When he is in another state, I am the Sole Survivor. I do not have the comfort of my network. I do in spirit but not physically. The fear of being completely on my own creeps up on me sometimes even though I know I can handle things.

I do have options, I am strong, fierce, and of course friendly. I am never shy about asking for help. If needed, I know I can pull out the "we just moved here and I need help and my husband is away card." (as I cry naturally) As stated in previous entries, crying works sometimes. Jack will also tell you that I can conquer anything life throws at me. He is often proud of how I tackle a problem on my own. The other side of that is, usually at a time of crisis I am calm and collected. Then I call Jack to fill him in, and fall to pieces.

So how do I face my fear? One way is to set up a new support system. This has some problems, it takes time and how do I want to do it? Where do I start? Is it church? the Y? volunteering somewhere? I have a blank slate. Which way to go first? Certainly not to many at a time or I will end up stressed and crazy as I was at times in Delaware. I am torn between having involvement so I won't be so alone and then being to involved. For the time being, I think I will continue to lay low, on the prowl, deciding which path to follow first.

I will continue to keep my faith and my humor, perhaps I can laugh the fear away. If that doesn't work, I will call Jack on his cell phone when he is in other states and cry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Own Lake Naomi

My sisters came to visit this weekend. They were the first to see our new house and Farragut. It was easy to show them around. I can get to things without much trouble. On Saturday we explored using the method of my husband. Just drive around and follow your sense of direction. As you all know, I am unable to do this on my own.

The good news was that we found a new park and I do have a better sense of how certain roads are connected. "The Big Picture" as Jack puts it. As I mentioned previously, my sisters found Knoxville to be quite similar to Delaware. I would agree and say that the similarities have helped me adapt to my new life with less stress.

Some differences between Tennessee and Delaware came into focus from our travels on Saturday. You see, we ended up at a lake. There are several lakes minutes from our house. It is beautiful to look out on them. You can sit and watch boats and people. There are houses on the lake but not many. Boat ramps are easy to access so Jack will be able to sail and I hope to kayak with my daughters. I have not found it yet but there is beach access to swim in the lake. This particular park we found has a water park to splash in for the girls. (Think of the water park in Dutch Wonderland but smaller) It is open to the public and looked well kept.

As we sat and talked on a bench, a thought came into my head. We have moved ourselves to our own Lake Naomi. Lake Naomi is a spot in the Poconos where friends of mine have homes. You can swim (we belong to our own pool), go to a water park (we have that), kayak, canoe, or sail (we have that also!). All that from my own house!

It is great to consider I moved to a place with all this adventure and perks, it made me smile. The only problem is that I cannot share it with my friends with the same amount of ease that they did with me. The Poconos is only a couple hours away from Delaware. That thought deflates me a little, but does not me go completely flat. I look forward to greeting them here at some point in the future and showing them around.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

1 Month and Counting

As I go around Tennessee, I talk to people. I usually say something about how we just moved here a few weeks ago. The other day I realized, it was not just a few weeks ago, it was a month. It was a month on that very day.

It took me a back a little. I started to think about when my children were young. "How old is she?", people would ask. You answer,"1 month old" with pride. It goes on like that for some time. When you go to the doctor or talk to friends, you don't say, "My daughter is about a year old." or "My daughter is almost 2 years old." You say 13 months or 21 months old.

I wonder when my time to stop counting the months in Tennessee will be. When will I say I live in Tennessee. When will the countdown stop and I consider it the place that is home not this strange land I am learning about? I try to think back to when I lived in Delaware. I knew how to get to places from going to college there. When I first moved to Wilmington, I continued to do some errands in Newark. My husband pointed out that they do have "food stores and pet stores IN Wilmington, and perhaps I should USE them." Transition can be tough, and I liked my comfort zone in Newark.

Thankfully as my sister's put it. "Tennessee seems a lot like Delaware, with southern accents." So maybe that will be it, Tennessee will be home when I get that twang.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Proud Parenting Moment: #33

It had been a busy weekend in our household. We swam at the pool, swam in the hot tub, rode our bikes, went down a water slide at a friends house, and ran all kinds of errands. So it happened last night things got a little rough.

There is a saying in my daughter's Karate school - Quitters never win, winners never quit, I choose to be a winner! Last night as I stood in my girls bedroom and they cried and yelled at each other. I saw no way to win AND I quit.

The girls were upset over numbered moving stickers and money. My husband had encouraged the children to find the stickers and he would pay them. My understanding had been this was a team effort with money to split evenly between them. Somehow, competition had reared it's ugly head, well that and since there were fewer stickers he told them they got more money per sticker. There was crying, reminding each other of previous vows and rules, and yelling because of the 50 cents they could get for this ONE sticker.

I thought about my options and knew that no matter what decision was made there would be more tears and argument. (did I mention we were all tired?) I felt my frustration rising and knew if I yelled this would never get under control. So I did what any self respecting mother would do, I called my husband in to handle the situation. I mean the whole money for stickers was his idea right?

I slipped guiltily into our bedroom so HE could get the lowdown. After a few moments I knew he had delivered a verdict. There was fresh argument (not with each other, but with him) After all we all know he is sooooo unfair. I really love him for taking that bullet for me.

I listened and could not take the guilt anymore. I stepped back in and defended my husbands honor. I calmly explained that how they felt about fair did not upset me. I was upset because they were treating each other and their dad so poorly. I was upset because they were fighting over 50 cents! and I as their mother had bought them hundreds of dollars worth of gadgets just this weekend.(against their fathers judgement, I might add) They as children do not WANT for anything, and they are very lucky. I was so disappointed they were not giving up on this small thing. I wanted them to love each other and knock it off.

I said all of it, calmly and firmly. There was silence for a moment. THEN the girls started to cry and hug me. We are sooooo SORRRY mom!

I reassure them I love them. Jack and I calm them down. We return to our room, so we can all finally get ready for bed.

I guess, Quitters never win, winners never quit, and sometimes a little quilt is a good thing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Karate Studios and Prom Dates

We are searching for a new Karate home. It reminds me of looking for a new church. You want the right philosophy and atmosphere. My children and I have been to two places so far. We have spoken to and dropped by to ask questions of others. I have also made phone calls in order to save a trip.

I know what we are looking for, we are looking for what we had. Our former place of study was fun, supportive, disciplined, and motivating. It was a great home. We had been there 4 years after all. My daughter felt like family with some of those people.

My daughter is looking for all the traits she had in her previous studio. It is hard for me as we discuss and visit potential new places to visit. She is so full of hope and excitement. "Maybe the instructor will be funny like Master Barnes." or "Maybe we will play that game I liked before." "Will there be someone funny like Mr. Paige?" When her hopes come in contact with reality, it can be upsetting. You see, my daughter is not only seeking the new karate family, she is looking for the ultimate Prom date in the lead instructor. She was very attached to her previous Master. I have had more tears over missing him than anyone else. I know it is because he was good at encouragement and support. He was a rock. Now in this strange new land of discovery, she wants that feeling of stability back.

So far we have not found the perfect fit or prom date. I know he will have to be funny. I know the studio will have to be friendly and knowledgeable. I myself have felt most comfortable in one studio. This is the one my daughter leans toward also. We will visit another this week. She wants to see all her options. Unfortunately, I get the task of calling back the studios which do not get selected and tell them, sorry no prom date this year.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The New Normal

Last week I began to feel it. I had that hamster running in a wheel feeling. I am going and going but I am unable to get it done. I was having trouble keeping track of what I wanted to get done and then HOW to get it done. I am a woman of lists and preparation. I has so many pieces of paper on my pile, I was beginning to panic. I have had this feeling in Delaware. I was surprised to feel it Tennessee though, especially so soon.

Before we moved, I had an image in my mind of my time in Tennessee this summer. I would unpack, get orientated, lay by the pool, read some even, and spend time with the kids. Somehow I thought my time to relax would be lengthier, and well, more relaxing. I thought I would be lonely and could fill the void of missing friends by "getting things done". Somehow though, I am still somewhat lonely AND I can't get things done.

Perhaps it has to do with how things take extra time to figure out here. If I want to try to shop in a new store, find a Karate studio, or Gymnastics place. I have to look it up on the computer, GPS it, visit, evaluate and decide. It can be draining. I currently have many suggestions for doctors and vets. I have to call them and visit, ask questions, and see if they take our insurance. Most things take three steps to complete. After the past few months, I am NOT in the mood for extra steps.

All of my tasks are not insurmountable, but the hamster still has to run in the wheel. I am not able to ignore the cluttered and increasing dirtiness of my new home. I really like my new home and want it clean and organized. I am hoping that I will get into a groove and routine sometime soon, for the moment though I think I will get off the wheel and continue to seek out my New Normal.