As we usher out the old year and ring in the new, we thought it a perfect time to update our readers on our life in Florida. It seems unbelievable that last year at this time we had no idea that we would be spending our next Christmas as Floridians. It’s funny how a dream seems to kick into gear just when you least expect it to.
Is Florida life everything we expected it to be? Yes and no. The weather is as incredible as we imagined and knew it to be, and really, the weather in late July and August is not unbearable. There’s something very satisfying knowing that the temperatures will not drop into the 60’s in August. Wisconsin summers can be very fickle, with 90’s one day and 60’s the next. We have definitely been enjoying the ability to walk outside and not worry about grabbing a coat.
We approach visiting Walt Disney World differently as locals, rather than tourists. There is no need to visit every day, nor attack the parks commando-style. When we go, it is at a leisurely pace and we simply do what we want to that day. We’ve learned that it is not necessary to go when it is raining, or when it is crowded, because the parks will always be there for us to enjoy. This week in central Florida all the theme parks are extremely busy, and have even closed due to capacity issues. We originally were thinking of attending this weekend, but have since reconsidered. Why put yourself in the middle of the insanity if you don’t have to?
So what’s there not to like about Florida? We have been struggling with the school system with both our children, but most specifically our youngest son. We’ve discovered that there is very little tolerance here for children with special needs. One of their beliefs is that the student needs to adapt to the classroom environment, and there is no consideration for accommodations being made for the student by having the classroom environment adapted for the student. Any kind of physical contact is prohibited and results in instant suspension. High-fiving another student will result in a week long lunch detention. Hugging another student is considered sexual harrassment. And in Ben’s case, if you involuntary swing your legs in the classroom and unintentionally kick another student, it is considered careless and malicious intent. We have discovered that even with an IEP, parents have very little leverage in the process, and we feel right now it’s best to remove Ben from public school and homeschool him the rest of the year. This was not a decision we took lightly, but at this point in time we feel the public school is doing Ben more harm than good and he definitely needs to be removed from that environment. We’re not sure what the next school year holds, if we will try public school again, but we have time to make that decision.
We were blessed that our oldest son Nick was able to fly down and visit with us for a few days over Christmas. It was very hard to say goodbye, however. The past couple of days we have been questioning our dream, if it was worth it, with the issues with the school (none of which would have happened in Wisconsin), and the heartache of having Nick leaving and not knowing when we’d see him again. There have been other smaller concerns not discussed in our blog (mainly because they were to some point expected and not a major concern for us, such as the lack of dairy items in the stores and the higher cost of living) and it all kind of struck us at once.
We have come to realize that our dream did not end once we arrived in Florida. Our dream was not to move to Florida and enjoy Disney. Our dream is to move to Florida, enjoy Florida and live our lives out here. It would be easy to give up now, justifying moving back to Wisconsin citing various reasons. However, God did not move us to Florida for a few months to enjoy Disney. His plans are purposeful, and as much as we love Disney, we’re fairly certain that’s not the reason we’re here 🙂 A dream is not always a bed of roses, even when you live 22 miles away from the magic of Walt Disney World. Life still happens, and not how you planned it. You can either embrace it, or you can run away to where you feel safe. We are still in the adjustment period, and it may very well take another year before everything seems normal. Our mantra is to embrace what we have, enjoy life to the fullest and erase the doubts. We will always look back to Wisconsin, because we have friends and family there, but Florida is home now.
We will be shutting down our Facebook presence on December 31. We will be keeping our blog open here and posting occasionally. A huge thank you to all our readers who have followed our journey and supported us through the planning of the move and the relocation itself. We have been blessed to meet a few of you and make new friendships; it’s nice to know we’re not alone. (Sometimes it sure feels like it!) May God bless your families and give you a prosperous and healthy New Year! Y’all are in our hearts.