Wishes And Pixie Dust

Follow the journey of a Wisconsin family of 4 who relocated to the Walt Disney World area in July 2011


Happy First Floridaversary!

Today marks one year since we arrived in our new home here in Florida.  We’ve been putting together a few photos into a video retrospective for a few months and have it ready today for anyone to view and (hopefully) enjoy.

This move started out as a dream 6 years ago after our first family visit to WDW together, with a plan to move in the summer of 2014. As the dream grew, we started our blog 2 1/2 years ago as a way to look back on what we did and what we overcame in pursuit of the dream.  Along the way we’ve met many wonderful people, many of whom have also made their dream of living in Florida and near Disney come true.  We thank each and every one of you for your support, your advice and (most importantly to us) your friendship.  A year and a half ago after dinner with our friends Craig and Amy we had a long talk and decided that our plans should move up and we decided on making the jump in July, 2011.  Here it is a year later and our dream is a wonderful reality.

Now, please enjoy our little video.

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Happy Day!

Dear Wishes and Pixie Dust Readers:

It hardly seems possible that one year ago today we arrived in our new home state.   What began as nothing more than a dream culminated into major life changes and experiences.   While we absolutely love living in Florida, there is one thing we have observed, and that a friend mentioned as well:  there is no perfect place to live–there are trade offs in any location.   We’ll be talking about some of those trade offs in this post, and our overall feelings about our relocation.

Do we have any regrets, and would we do anything differently?  The one major concern we had was Ben’s schooling, and as it turned out, we had a right to be concerned.  We researched the schools, talked with the staff at the school prior to the move, and as much as we wanted to believe the schools would be comparable to Wisconsin’s, unfortunately they simply fell way short in terms of following the IEP and providing flexibility to his day.  We pulled him out of the public school after Christmas, and he is much happier with homeschooling.

Should we have waited to move until Ben finished middle school?  Maybe; but then we would have been pulling Catie out of high school mid-way through.  There really doesn’t seem to be a perfect time to uproot a child, and overall we think we made the right decision to move when we did.

One item that we didn’t move, that we now wish we would have, was our mattresses.  We went on the belief that we would be able to purchase mattresses at a fairly decent price:  Florida seems to be full of mattress places offering incredible deals.  However, we soon discovered that those “deals” were simply a means to get you to enter the store and purchase a more expensive mattress.    In this case we discovered you truly get what you paid for, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  We ended up spending more on mattresses than we anticipated and putting them on credit, but are happy to say our last payment is due the first week of August.

It was very overwhelming to walk into Target our first night here, knowing that we needed to buy EVERYTHING.  In retrospect, we should have kept a list of everything we discarded but needed to purchase again; it would have made shopping a lot easier.  We are still buying things for the house simply because they are items that aren’t used regularly so we don’t think of them when we go shopping.

One major regret we have is moving so far away from our son Nick.  We knew it would be hard, but that sure doesn’t make the reality of it any easier.  With the cost of airfare, and his limited availability due to work and school schedules, we only are able to see him two to three times a year.  If you have children, you realize how incredibly painful this is.  We were blessed with the opportunity to witness his marriage last month and attend the reception; but we weren’t as involved as we would have liked to be, given the distance between us.

So what’s good about Florida?  The sunshine, of course!  It is incredible to walk outside in February and have it not be blowing, snowing and bitterly cold.  This is our first full summer here, and it seems to flip flop from being incredibly rainy to incredibly steamy.  Summers are brutal, no doubt about it, but we’ve learned to adapt (massive amounts of air conditioning and drinking water) and just wait for the cooler months to come.    Honestly the only time it really affects us negatively is when we do Disney and/or spend any quantity of time outdoors, but we prepare for it, and really, it’s fine.

It’s incredible as well to be able to visit Walt Disney World on a weekly basis.  We know some people judge us on this, and think, wow, must be nice to always be on vacation.  Well, that would be nice, but it’s not our reality.  We tend to go on Wednesday late afternoon/early evening (due to Catie having early release at school) and on Friday night or Saturday.  We are not there every day, nor do we wish to be.  School and work priorities always come first.  We love being able to go for an evening, or an afternoon, take in a few attractions, and leave.

We absolutely love the city we live in, Clermont.  We researched the area, and knew that we wanted to be close to Disney, but not too close that we were experiencing the tourist mania that exists in Kissimmee and the surrounding areas.  Walt Disney World is approximately a 35-50 min drive, depending on traffic and which park we decide to go to on that particular day.

What do we miss about Wisconsin?  The food.  Florida seriously lacks a decent dairy department in the grocery stores, and we really miss the local restaurants that were a part of our lives for 13 years:  places that either have not made it to Florida, or only exist in our city of Fond du Lac.  We don’t believe, however, that food is a compelling reason to stay in Wisconsin, and it always gives us an excuse to return in the summer!  (Not that we needed one with Nick, but you get our drift!)

So overall, we feel we have adjusted fairly well to southern life, but it has taken most of the year to feel this way.  We renewed our lease for our apartment, so we are committed to stay until November 2013–look for a separate post on our lease renewal in the next couple of days.    Life in Florida has been an adjustment, but we are all happy  and feel that there are a lot more opportunities here given our children’s interests, and their abilities to pursue those interests.

Thanks for following along over the past year or so, and look for future posts on life in Florida!

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Arrival Day!

Facebook status one year ago :  “Today we get to Florida. I got to remember I’m not dreaming.”. –Ben just said this morning.  What a perfect way to start our post for our final day of travelling!

9:57 A.M.    Woo hop! @ Georgia/Florida State Line I-75

10:17 A.M.   I’m at Florida Welcome Center in Jennings, FL

12:34 P.M.  I’m at I75 & Turnpike Interchange in Oxford, FL

12:44 P.M.   Driving down the Florida Turnpike singing songs from The Princess & The Frog soundtrack-life doesn’t get any better than this!

12:47 PM     pure joy!

(This was in response from an earlier tweet we received:

9:59 A.M.     so, did it feel amazing driving across that state line!!??)

12:49 P.M.    I’m at Okahumpka Service Plaza in FL

12:51 P.M.    Ben: palm trees make me happy

12:53 P.M.   Just entered Lake County! Woo hoo!

1:03 P.M.     13 min !

1:06 P.M.     The excitement level in this car is AWESOME!!!!!!!

1:11 P.M.      We see Citrus Tower!

Waiting in the lobby as we take care of the paperwork for our apartment:

3:57 P.M.      I’m at Golden Corral in Clermont, FL

4:01 P.M.      Our apartment is absolutely amazing. Will put a blog up tonight with pictures. Eating a late lunch/early dinner and then off to shop.

4:38 P.M.      I’m at Target Supercenter in Clermont, FL

It was absolutely amazing to have gone through this journey from Wisconsin to Florida!  If you were to ask us:  was it worth it?  We would unequivocally answer YES!, if only for the experience.  We’ll elaborate further in a separate post, but we will say that if you have a dream, don’t be afraid to pursue it.   It is better to have attempted and succeeded/failed, then to be filled with a life of regrets and “what ifs”.

Happy Dreaming!

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Tennessee and Georgia

Here are the tweets from our third day of travelling.   They are essentially location-based tweets; we were very tired of riding in the car by the end of this day and really looking forward to arriving in Florida the following day.

10:11 A.M.     I’m at Kentucky/Tennessee State Line I-65 in Portland, TN

11:24 A.M.     I’m at Rite-Aid in Murfreesboro, TN  (Searching for postcards)

1:37 P.M.      I’m at Wendy’s in Chattanooga, TN

1:39 P.M.      Trying to find postcards in TN and not being very successful LOL

2:41 P.M.      I’m at Tennessee/Georgia State Line I-75 in East Ridge, TN

4:54 P.M.     I’m at Chevron in Smyrna, GA

6:02 P.M.     About half an hour to Macon GA. So tired of being in the car!

6:59 P.M.      I’m at Applebee’s in Macon, GA

9:59 P.M.      Will reach our hotel in 30 min. Been a long day of traveling.

10:50 P.M.    I’m at Days Inn in Lake Park, GA

10:58 P.M.    Finally made it to our hotel in GA. Only 2 hrs 48 min to go tomorrow morning.

Look for our arrival in Florida in tomorrow’s post, as well as two special posts from each of us celebrating our one year anniversary in the sunshine state!

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Moving: Day 2

Here are the tweets from Day 2:  we passed through Illinois and Indiana, and spent the night in Kentucky.

10:24 A.M.    Later start than planned but it’s all good. The challenge is getting everything back into the car & trunk. Illinois here we come.

Ben remembers crying as we crossed the Wisconsin state line.  As excited as he was, it was still so hard to leave the familiar behind.

11:13 A.M.    Picking up postcards as our next stop will be lunch in Indiana @ Lake Forest Oasis .

One of the fun things we did was to pick up postcards at every state we entered.  The idea was for the kids to document the travels through the state, and then they could be hole punched and kept together on a binder ring.  I believe they started the project, but as we arrived closer to Florida, it was put aside.

11:55 A.M.     Going into the express lanes on the Kennedy @ Chicago Traffic .

12:01 P.M.     Our view.

12:04 P.M.    Dan Ryan Expressway @ Very Busy Interstate

12:15 P.M.     $3.50 toll @ Chicago Skyway Toll Plazas

12:26 P.M.    I’m at Illinois/Indiana State Line I-90 in Hammond, IN

1:18 P.M.      Lunch time 🙂 @ Portillo’s

4:12 P.M.     Switching drivers & Mt Dew fill 🙂

4:34 P.M.      I’m at 65 & 70 interchange in Indianapolis, IN

5:06 P.M.     Indiana seems to go on forever.

6:28 P.M.     Yay! Kentucky! @ Indiana/Kentucky State Line I-65

6:39 P.M.     Omg we just saw the ghostbusters walking down the street in Louisville.

Note:  It was some sort of Horror Movie Convention.

6:57 P.M.     Free cookies! @ Subway

6:57 P.M.     I’m at McDonalds

6:59 P.M.     I’m at White Castle

8:11 P.M.     I’m at Kentucky Welcome Center in Lebanon Junction, KY

10:00 P.M.  I’m at Bowling Green, Ky in Bowling Green, KY

10:28 P.M.   I’m at Walmart in Bowling Green, KY