About Me

I am a proud wife and mother, and a born again Christian. I work from home as a writer while taking care of Miss N, our six-year-old, Miss M, our four-year-old and Miss C, our newest bundle of joy. Life is crazy but so much fun!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sixth Grade - Awkward, but Stable

In sixth grade I had those glasses that turned dark outside. I remember getting teased mercilessly for them. I greatly regretted asking for them, but it was too late once we had them.

Sixth grade, the year I turned 11, was fairly stable. Sure, I had the normal pre-teen drama of “does she like me this week or not,” and being very non-athletic I struggled to fit into some groups at recess and the like, but for the most part we had found a stable point in our lives. We did actually find “home” in Missouri, and that is where I finished my growing up years, and my parents still live there today.
Me, my mom, and my grandmother (dad's mom) - Love the homemade dresses and hats!

At the beginning of sixth grade we were ushered into the music room and Miss T, our music teacher, told us we were going to learn about the instruments we could take in band. Mr. B helped her demonstrate the instruments. This was not long after we ahd had an evangelist come though our church who had a trombone-playing sidekick. Mr. B also played the trombone, and when he demonstrated it he made it look so fun. I decided then and there I wanted to play the trombone. My parents were quite skeptical – with that typically being a “boy” instrument, they didn’t think I would stick with it. So they bought me a dinged up instrument from the classifieds and I started learning to play trombone. The first few weeks I had the instrument I was asked to practice in our downstairs (basement) bathroom with the door shut – it was THAT bad. All in all I enjoyed the trombone and still play occasionally at church. I do remember asking Miss T if I could sit with the flute section though. All of those boys were a bit stinky.
Sixth grade graduation, and my first time in nylons. I felt so grown up and pretty!

Another memory from sixth grade sticks out to me. We were having a special sixth grade chapel session with Mr. C, the new junior high teacher and former baseball player who we all thought was just dreamy. I was sitting on the front row. He had very shiny shoes. Suddenly, I knew what was about to happen. I was going to throw up. I politely raised my hand to hope that the teacher would notice me. Mr. C ignored me. Miss S, my teacher, also ignored me. I kept staring at those shiny shoes, thinking, “I am going to throw up all over them!” Finally, even though I just knew I was going to get in trouble, I got up and went to Miss S, telling her I was going to throw up. She hurried me out the door, but it was too late. I hurled all over the hallway, in sight of my classmates, much to my embarrassment. That carpet was stained until it was replaced a few years later. It took a long time to live that one down, but at least I missed Mr. C’s shoes. J

Sixth grade was my first experience with a male teacher. I remember being a bit scared. To help us get used to the format of junior high and high school, our teachers team taught. Throughout the day they would switch classes between the two sixth grade rooms so we had two different teachers. Then, one other teacher, Mr. H (he was the principal of the elementary at one point, but I can’t remember if it was at this time or not) would teach us science. Halfway through the year he stopped teaching us science and a new teacher, Mr. G, took over. Even though having a male teacher was a little scary, I enjoyed these two men and their perspective of God’s creation. In fact, I still keep up with Mr. H through his wife’s facebook.

I made one very close friend in sixth grade, Debbra P, who I also recently found on facebook. We would have sleepovers all of the time. While we had our share of fights (I tended to be a bit controlling of my friends, perhaps because it felt so nice to actually have some roots and stability), I considered her my best friend. I was devastated when I learned she would not be going to junior high with me at the Christian school. Her parents had decided to homeschool her and eventually they moved away.
That summer family vacation was still California, but we managed a trip to Disneyland. My mom always made us matching outfits or shirts for family vacation. Notice the Fanny Packs. not very stylish, but secretly I wish they still were because they were very convenient! Aren't we lookin' fine? :)

After we bought a home, we put in a pool. I remember feeling kind of strange when people who normally didn’t have the time of day for me were suddenly my “best friends” in the summer when the pool was open. I’m sure it wasn’t as blatant as I felt at the time, but it was strange. We did enjoy many pool parties that summer, and it gave me, the awkward, younger-than-everyone-else sixth grader, a way to connect with people.

Transitioning to Midwest life wasn’t too difficult. People in Missouri were far more friendly and open than people in New England. However, one distinct difference was the name they had for carbonated beverages. I grew up calling them “soda” or “Coke,” but in Missouri everyone called it “pop.” I swore I would never call it pop. That didn’t last long.

I am participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales. To find out how you can participate or read the stories of other great women, visit the link below.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Want to Do It Myself

At four, Miss N is learning new skills every day. As her mother, I love watching her explore her abilities and learn new ones. I love her new independence. But sometimes it's not convenient.

Yet, as parents sometimes it is easier to let them depend on us. Frankly, it's much quicker for me to buckle her into her carseat than to wait while she struggles with the latch. Sometimes I find myself losing patience with her while waiting in the hot sun for her to finish.

I have had to hold myself back this week and let her learn. It's not possible to learn without struggle. She is becoming quite masterful at buckling herself into the carseat. But in order for her to learn that, I had to step back and let her struggle.

Sometimes I find that she vehemently opposes my help. I am left to wonder if I hover too much, if she is just really independent right now, or if she is actually stalling because she knows we are late.

For now, I guess we will just plan some extra time, and also set some boundaries. When she is working on something, like buckling the carseat, that she wants to do herself, but may not be able to do, perhaps some boundaries will work. For instance, saying, "Jump in and get yourself buckled. If you are not done by the time I am done buckling Miss M, I will help you finish."

I also need to examine my own heart and make sure I am not being unfairly impatient with her. Stalling when we need to leave to be somewhere on time is not acceptable, but at the same time she is a child who is learning new things all of the time. She needs the chance to learn.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fifth Grade Brings a Two Huge Changes

Fifth grade was definately the beginning of my awkward stage, as this picture shows. My goal was to have hair all the way down to my rear end. It took me several years to figure out long hair and curly hair rarely go hand-in-hand.

This is the seventh post in a series called Mommy’s Piggy Tales that chronicles my youth. To read the rest, visit Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

For the second time in my young life, I packed up every earthly belonging, put my dog in a crate with a tranquilizer pill, and boarded an airplane with my family. My dad’s job required us to move once again. I cried this time, because moving is always hard. I knew nothing about the new place we would be moving to. I knew no one there. Yet, I was ready to leave all of the schools of Massachusetts behind. At the beginning of fifth grade I returned to the first public school I attended when we moved there, making six schools in three years.
(My mom made the BEST costumes - this was halloween just before our move and I was a horse)

This move proved to be a monumental time in my family’s life. We moved to the Kansas City, Missouri area knowing no one. This time we got an apartment first, giving us time to find a school and church before buying a house and settling down. My parents wanted more stability for us, and they wanted to know the lay of the land before purchasing a home.

I don’t remember much about our move to Missouri or the early parts of fifth grade. We must have moved in the early winter or fall, because I know I celebrated my fifth-grade birthday in that apartment.

We hadn’t been in Missouri long when my mom and dad decided it was time to get serious about finding a school for us to attend. We had already started attending a church, but it did not have a school. One day when my mom drove to the cable company store to pay a bill or set up our cable account at our apartment, she saw the sign for a Christian school. It was a large building that looked quite nice and wasn’t too far from our apartment. We scheduled a tour.

The school must have impressed us, because they enrolled me not long after that. The way I see God’s hand in this part of my story is in the fact that the school was part of a Baptist church. My parents had ideas in their heads about Baptists, and there was no way we would have attended a Baptist church at that time in our lives. But the school was right, and they put me in.

Soon, we found the church we were attending had some ideas that we did not agree with based on what we saw in the scripture. When they told us that we would be looking for a new church, I asked if we could try the church with my Christian school. After all, I had made some friends there that also attended the church.

We did. Not long after that, we became members. Of a Baptist church.

It was at that church and school that I solidified many of my beliefs about the Bible and my personal relationship with my Savior. It was by no means perfect, but it was a good place for our family to heal and get grounded in our faith after the turmoil of our life in Massachusetts. I am so thankful that for whatever reason, my parents did not see the word “Baptist” on that church sign when they saw the school that first day. It was also at this Christian school and church that I met Adventure Mom Janna, but that’s another story I have already written.

Two memories outside of the move stick out to me from fifth grade. One is a silly one. My teacher, Miss “D” (I will start using abbreviations now since these are people who still know me), had a game that she let us do if we had good behavior. At the end of the day if the class had behaved, we got to pop a balloon that was hanging on the wall. The balloons had activities inside, such as “Mismatch day” or “extra recess.” One of the days was “Crazy Sock Day.” Most of my friends came to school with mismatched socks or wild socks. Not me. My mom always helped me go all out for these types of days. I had pinned socks all over my outfit, and even put my hair in pig tails with socks over them. I loved being involved in these types of things!

Another memory is a bit more poignant. IN the first church we attended I won some money to spend in the children’s church store. I purchased with that money a “Best Friend” necklace. I had always wanted to have a best friend I could give a Best Friend necklace to. (These were heart-shaped pendants with the words “Best Friends” on them that were cut into two pieces. You would give your best friend one half and you would wear the other, and then they would fit together to form the heart and words.) Obviously, I didn’t have a best friend since I had just moved there. So, I left the other half of the necklace on the patio outside of our apartment and prayed that God would take it because He was my best friend. Deep down I knew that it would still be there in the morning, but my child-like faith was hoping He would do a miracle and take it. I remember a feeling of sadness when I found it there in the morning. I wish I could remember what my parents did to help me understand that those are not the types of miracles God does today, but I can’t.

I am participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales. To learn more stories about other wonderful women, visit the link in the button.

Friday, July 16, 2010

On Keeping Little Girls Little

We live in the era of “tweens,” Hanna Montana, and kid-sitcoms that talk about very adult topics. I was reading an old college chum, Gretchen’s post for Mommy’s Piggy Tales, and she recounted getting her very first American Girl Doll when she was nine and they were brand new. Nine. Do today’s nine year olds still play with dolls?

I have two girls. I want to keep them young, to let them enjoy childhood. Adult life is hard, although rewarding, and you only get to be a child for a teeny tiny moment. I don’t want to rush them through this quickly at all.

I recently heard a missionary (or maybe my pastor after his missions trip?) recounting how girls in the culture of the country (sadly, I can’t remember which one) played with dolls until well into their teens. They got to be GIRLS.

As a child, I played with Barbies and Ponies into my junior high years. It was a secret my two friends and I kept from our classmates, but I really truly enjoyed the make-believe world we created.

I want that for my children. But is it even possible in this world? I’m not willing to completely and totally shelter them from society like some would advocate. I don’t feel that’s healthy.

Miss N’s imagination is starting to really blossom. Every day she is pretending something new, and her stories become more and more intricate. I don’t want her to lose that prematurely.

So where do you start in an attempt to keep your little girls little girls?

For me, it’s going to start with TV and reading material. We just got a book from the library that was about being fat and dieting. Really? While the end lesson was “be happy with yourself,” I felt it was inappropriate. It was a picture book intended for little girls. I don’t even want my four-year-old thinking about the concept of dieting, even if she were overweight. I am going to start being more vigilant to read through books before she does, even though it takes time, which I have little of.

For TV, we are lucky because we are still in the land of Barney, Clifford, and Mickey Mouse. But someday that will change. I feel we will need to invest in a DVD collection of appropriate viewing material that is age appropriate. Maybe I can turn my girls on to I Love Lucy or other classics like that and avoid the false world of tween pop stars.

I don’t know exactly how to go about battling the premature maturity of today’s young girls. But I sure am going to try!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Experience with a Real Live Gypsy

I'm participating in a project called Mommy's Piggy Tales to record my Youth. I don't have the time or energy to link to the other records on my blog, but each Thursday for the past six weeks I have done this project if you are curious. Here is part six, which is fourth grade.

As I walked into the classroom, I felt a sense of relief. There were not Bible verses on the walls, no Christian flag, nothing to indicate that it was a Christian school. Because it, in fact, wasn’t. But that relief wasn’t going to last long.

Why such relief? I was, after all, a Christian. Shouldn't I have felt at home at a Christian school?

Not after fourth grade.

After spending third grade in the excellent Christian school, my parents made the decision to switch me to a Christian school that was closer to our home to avoid the 45 minute “commute.” The new school had some beliefs not in line with what we believed. Mostly, they were “speaking in tongues” and “fainting in the spirit” almost daily in chapel. In fact, because I wasn’t speaking in tongues (at fourth grade) I was considered unspiritual and in need of prayer. My parents, who were by no means theologians, spent many meetings with the principal trying to show from the Bible why speaking in tongues is not something everyone should do. But, they continued to put pressure on me. After one day when claims came of seeing a “glory cloud” and a “demon” in the fifth grade classroom, my parents decided to send me somewhere else. What a relief to walk into that public school classroom.

I remember as we had our tour, I asked the principal what the dress code was. He stated that there was none, and I could wear whatever I wanted. I said, "Well, I couldn't come in a bikini, though, right?" and he said, "Well yes, you could." I never took him up on that offer.

The first thing I noticed was the alphabet on the top of the chalkboard. It was the fanciest cursive I had ever seen. I learned a new cursive technique in all of the schools I attended in Massachusetts, so I figured this would just be par for the course (and this is what I blamed my poor penmanship on later in life).

Then I met “her.” The teacher. Mizzzz Skapenski. She introduced herself to me as, “I am Mizzzz Skapenski. Not ‘Miss,’ not ‘Mrs’ but ‘Mizzzz.’” She was married, but went by the Ms. title, not anything else.

I swear she was a gypsy. We never saw her hair. It was always under a gypsy-style headwrap, and she wore HUGE hoop earrings and jewelry on almost every finger. Even her clothing was in line with what you would expect an old fashioned gypsy to wear.

The alphabet wasn’t an English alphabet. While in Mizzzzz Skapenski’s class, I learned Polish from her loud, full bearded, VERY scary husband, who came to the class a few days a week.

I don’t think Mizzzz Skapenski liked me very well. One time she asked a question in spelling class, and I gave an answer, and she laughed at me (the answer was not what she was looking for but it made sense to me.) Another time I had sliced my finger quite badly and my mom had bandaged it quite well with tape and gauze and sent me off to school. I was ridiculed for having a “boo boo.”

Yes, Mizzzz Skapenski and I were not good friends. Thankfully, I only had to endure her for a few months.

In Mizzzzz Skapenski's class I first learned about "The Birds and the Bees." A student was describing a movie in gory detail that he had seen at home. From the description it had to be x-rated. When I told my parents about it and they, in turn, went to the administration, they were told that nothing could be done about what kids talk about. Thankfully the description didn't really "click" in my mind in spite of how graphic it was.

That school was also my first experience with a bully. She was probably a foot and a half shorter than me, but she didn’t like me. She met me on the bus and decided that I was her enemy. She threatened to beat me up. She set a date. My dad went to the principal, who said, “There’s nothing we can do about it unless it happens inside the school.” My dad taught me the lesson of “turn the other cheek” and insisted that I not fight back, and that God would protect me. I was scared. I was petrified. The big day came, and she started shoving me around. She stood on my foot and shoved me. Then my dad walked up. He had stayed in his car to watch the entire time and make sure I was OK. He saved me. I don’t remember much of what happened after but she left me alone.

We rode the bus to school, but the bus driver got a little too friendly with me and the other girl who lived on my street. One day when he was quite late dropping us off my mom asked about it. I told her that he had taken us on an extra drive around town after dropping all of the other kids off. After that, Rachel (the other girl) and I carpooled to school. We never rode that bus again, though I didn’t understand why until I was grown.

So if you are keeping count in my story, we are now up to five schools (public, homeschool, Christian school 1, Christian school 2, new public school) since we moved to Massachusetts in mid-second grade.

Other highlights of fourth grade include flying to California alone to visit family and friends. The stewardesses treated me like royalty and getting to drive around the airport on those people-movers was so fun. I still can’t believe my mom let me do that. I also remember my mom working hard to make the flower costume pictured below for the fourth grade musical, Alice in Wonderland. The music teacher almost didn’t let me wear it because the other kids didn’t have nice costumes. My mom had worked so hard and I remember feeling very proud to wear it when the teacher finally said ok.

To read the stories of other great ladies, visit Mommy's Piggy Tales in the link below.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Getting Closer

We love our church. Today, we had a lovely afternoon dinner at a local restaurant with church friends. Miss N and her little friend were treating us to a "ballroom style" dance party after the meal, while Miss M and I ran back and forth to the potty as she kept saying she wanted to go (she was not successful).

We got home late and were unsure about how long the children would sleep. I was really wanting to go back to church for the evening service because we had done junior church in the morning.

When the girls woke by five, I was thrilled. We shoveled some food at them and I was getting them dressed. Miss N was acting kind of strange, and she came up and said, "Mommy, can I tell you something?" My response, as usual, was "Of course, you can tell me anything."

She whispered in my ear, "Mommy, I want to be a Christian."

I asked her, "Why do you think you are not a Christian?" and she responded, "Because I do bad things."

I explained to her that those bad things are called sin, and that is why we cannot go to heaven, but that Jesus died to take away those sins. I explained that all she had to do was pray and tell God she knows she has sinned and wants him to save her from those sins. I asked her if she wanted to pray and she said, "Yes."

I was not, and still am not, convinced that she fully understands the gospel. She was not really answering my questions. I did not feel comfortable leading her in a prayer, but if she was able, willing, and interested, I wasn't going to stop her.

I hugged her close and told her she could pray, "But I don't know how, Mommy. I don't know what to say."

Why is it that so many people think there is a formula or a rule to follow to pray? I explained that all she had to do was tell God what was in her heart, and He would hear her. She said, "I want to ask Pastor about it." Then Miss M interrupted and the urgent need to finish getting ready for church took our attention.

So we did meet with our pastor. As I figured she would, when we actually sat down to talk to our pastor, she got shy and nervous. He explained a little more about the gospel and assured her that Mommy and Daddy knew a lot about the Bible and could answer her questions.

She is beginning to get to that point, and for some reason, I am a bit fearful. She's so young. Tim and I were discussing that we want this decision to be fully hers, not something we pushed or encouraged too strongly for her to do. She needs to know exactly what she is doing, so later in life when Satan places doubts in her heart, she will be able to answer those.

Will you pray with me? Will you pray that she will not forget these awakenings in her heart and that she will keep opening up to me? I was her age when I realized my need for a savior. She is young, but four is not too young.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life in a "Foreign" Land

I am working on a post to record my youth in 15 blog posts. To find the beginning of my story, click here. Then part 2, part 3, and part 4 are also available. To participate in Mommy's Piggie Tales, click the button at the bottom of this post. Last week I mentioned how I went to public school then homeschooled for the remainder of second grade when we first moved to Massachusetts. Pepper said she was curious if we continued to homeschool after that. It was an excellent question. Massachusetts was a time of schooling upheaval for me, and no, we did not continue to homeschool.

Third grade was the only year from second until fifth grade that I went to one school for the entire year. My parents found a Christian school called Christian Day School. It was a good school, but if I recall correctly was about 40 minutes from our house. We carpooled with another family. We would meet in a mall parking lot to swap kids – one week my parents would drive, and the next the other family would drive. I remember distinctly one time when my dad dropped me off at the mall, and our car started smoking. I found out when I got home that not long after my dad put me in the other car, it burst into flames. I am thankful that we were protected and in a safe environment, the parking lot, instead of the road. I always got a kick out of the story of the firefighters. When they came to put out the fire, apparently the tires exploded and scared them half to death.

That classroom was also where I got introduced to the magical world of C.S. Lewis and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe series. These are still some of my favorite books. I cannot WAIT to read them with my children. It was “The Horse and His Boy” that I read first, because I thought it was book primarily about a horse. It wasn’t. But I was hooked. I was horse crazy, and remained that way into my adult life. In third grade my parents started me on horseback riding lessons. Being in New England, I learned English style riding, which was interesting to try to find when we moved to the Midwest later in life. Horseback riding lessons were one of the best gifts my parents could have given me.

These days my mom always read to me, even though I was a competent reader. We always had a chapter book that we were reading together. When she put me to bed (they would take turns one night and then the next) we would read a chapter. Sometimes I would read, but usually she read. Some books I remember are “Black Beauty,” “The Secret Garden,” and “In Grandma’s Attic.” I’m sure there were more.

In third grade we also toured New York City, being that we lived so close to it. I remember being so upset that we couldn’t climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty. If it has an elevator, it was broken, and apparently my parents did not think that my two-year-old or so brother could climb all of those stairs. I thought they were sooooo unreasonable. I think we also toured Washington DC on that same trip, or we did shortly thereafter. I always thought that subway tokens were very cool. Using a coin to get on a special train was very, very cool.

Every year when we lived there our main vacation would be to go home to California. I always was thrilled to meet back up with Klaire from across the street. Since my grandparents lived on that same street still, I always got to see her. California always felt like home to us. Incidentally, I just found Klaire on Facebook this week. Going through my youth for this project made me think to look her up. What an interesting medium. But that’s a rabbit trail. Here we are playing in my grandparent's living room.

Life in Massachusetts was culture shock, for sure. Growing up on tex-mex cooking, it was a shock to find that there were NO tortillas in the grocery stores. Not one. I remember my mom crying in the isles of the store when she couldn’t find them to make tacos, one of our staple meals. We had my grandparents mail us some regularly or bring us some in their suitcases when they visited.
To read more about this project or read other life stories, visit the link below:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Potty Training - Update

So this sweet face:
I'm pretty sure I traumatized her with our little potty training attempt. All weekend any time we went into a bathroom for a diaper change, she started sobbing, pointing to the potty, and saying "no no no."

I have decided we will wait until September to try again. I bought the "Potty Training in Three Days" book and I like the positive approach it takes. I will attempt that in September when N is in school. She'll only be just past two, so I am hoping that it will still be early enough that she's not set in her ways of pottying in her diaper.

I really thought she was ready. I wonder, she can tell me when she goes, but she didn't seem to be able to hold it. Even when I would whisk her to the potty when she started to go, she would just let it all out on the way. Is it possible she can't yet utilize the "hold it" muscles?

Regardless, we have a busy, busy summer, and I think the fall will be perfect. I'm just sad because she's getting rashes in her diaper area from the heat.

Oh, and if another person tells me, "My kid potty trained him/herself," I might scream. Defiantly was not easy with N, and looks like it won't be easy with M. I had my hopes. . .

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Potty Training - FAIL

Well I did a three-day attempt at potty training Megan. By the end of the third day she was definitely frustrated. I said I would only continue if she wasn't so we are stopping. Taking a break. Picking back up in a while.

Really, this isn't a big deal. Plenty of parents start then stop. While I think she could be ready since she tells me whenever she goes in her diaper, it just wasn't working for the two of us. It was a relief to put that diaper back on after three days.

So, why do I fell like a complete and utter failure tonight? It might be because I have a friend in the process of training her under-two-year-old daughter and having plenty of success. We were encouraging each other via FaceBook, but I have failed.

Maybe it's because I'm a huge perfectionist. I honestly thought if I let her run around naked and notice when she went, she would gain a measure of control over the process. I was wrong, or I was not attentive enough, I can't tell which. I know what times I missed accidents (the key to successfully training in a short time appears to be whisking them to the potty the instant they start going so they can finish on the potty) and what I was doing, and sometimes they were not necessary things. Packing Miss N's lunch, necessary. Calling my mom, not so much.

Maybe it's because so many people said "don't go back" and we are. But in fairness to Megan, it was foolish of me to try to train right before a holiday. I mean, really? What was I expecting to happen in less than a week? Or maybe it's because I read a lot of "mommy blogs" about training in three days and was trying to be like them. Hey, if it would work for us, I would love to train in three days, but getting rid of all distractions is, well, practically impossible.
Tonight I'm bushed. This intense potty training is, well, intense. Maybe that's the problem.

But we had one success this weekend. We made rainbow cookies. I think they are so fun and colorful. It was adorable that Miss M wouldn't eat the dough because she thought it was playdough.

These were pretty simple. I just made a regular sugar cookie recipe (doubled), then made six balls of dough to dye the different colors (mixing as needed for colors I didn't have). Then we rolled each one out individually, stacked and smooshed them into the big log, and baked. Pretty fun for the kiddos!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yet Another Life Change

(Second grade school picture. Immediately after this picture I requested bangs. I was mortified by how big my forehead was. I had bangs from this point until I was in college. That's how traumatized I was!)

So far in this project I have had monumental events in every post. In the first one I was born, then I was born again, then my brother was born. Well, in second grade no one was born, but it was yet another life changing year for our family.

In the middle of second grade, we faced one of the biggest life changes in our family. We left California. Not only did we leave California, but we moved to the complete other end of the world. We moved to the town of New Bedford, Massachusetts. This was because of a job transfer for my dad. For us, this was huge, as all of our immediate family lived in CA. Also, we lived directly next door to my dad’s parents and within an hour or two of my mom’s parents and step parents.

I remember my going away party from Manteca Christian School. I felt like the star of the whole world. I got to sit up on a desk while all of my friends hugged me. It was great. I think I got a present from my teacher too. Some of those little kids I had as pen pals for quite a while after we moved. I had to buy my own stamps with my allowance, and they cost a just a quarter.

We moved to a two-story red cape cod style home. The upstairs was not finished, so for the first while that we lived there, my brother and I shared a room. He was not yet sleeping through the night, so this was interesting.

Second grade was my first experience going to a public school. I’m not sure how long it lasted, but when I came home telling my mom about the non-biblical things I was learning, she decided to pull me out. I homeschooled for the remainder of second grade. I’m not sure how well that went, but in some ways it was a good thing. I had a horrible time learning subtraction, and I think it was only because I had all of that one on one time with my mom that I finally caught on. Incidentally, I grew up to be a math teacher.

Homeschooling was great after moving to this very historic area as well, because we were able to explore Boston, Plymouth Plantation, the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, and all sorts of other natural and historic attractions in the area. This picture is from a family trip to Martha’s Vineyard. I was actually pouting because the trip was boring, but this ended up being one of the best pictures of me from my childhood. New Bedford was a fishing town occupied by a large number of Portuguese fishermen and their families. I had neighbor friends who were both from these types of families. They introduced me to new foods, including Portuguese bread, meringue and this beef and cabbage dish (ok, it was pretty nasty). We also enjoyed the sight of partially cleaned (aka quite bloody) fish hanging from our neighbor’s clothesline when we ate dinner at night after he returned from the sea. Now, when I say fish, these were not your average sized lake fish. They were huge, and it was a disturbing picture during meal time.

A few things stick out to me about life in New Bedford after growing up in California. The first is snow. This was not the first time I had seen snow, as my parents took me to Yosemite to see the snow when I was in preschool, but it was the first time I lived in it. I remember coming home from school on the bus one day when it had snowed during school. I was so new to the neighborhood I hardly knew where my home was, but with everything covered in white I couldn’t recognize anything. I wandered the neighborhood for what seemed like forever, and even sat down in the snow sobbing thinking I would be lost forever. I’m not sure how long it really was and I think I found my way home on my own, but it was scary.

The other memory was having our first Easter egg hunt in our new home. It was COLD! In CA it was warm at Easter, so we always had our hunts outside. We went outside with our winter coats on looking for eggs. After that first year, we had our egg hunts indoors.

This post is done as part of a 15 week blog project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales hosted by Adventure Mom Janna. For more information or to join the next set, visit the link in the button below.