The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Downside to Paradise

Well, it was bound to happen... I was cruising along with my checklist in hand, ticking off the places I needed to visit, opening checking accounts, exploring the island, enjoying the scenery and the nice breezes..... here we should cue the sound of screeching brakes and breaking glass..... I stepped onto the school grounds today to register my kids and had a total and complete breakdown... in the office.... in front of the whole office staff... they had to go get me tissues... I couldn't speak.... I just stood there like a blubbering idiot.  And then the school counselor asked me to step into her office (it was too late to preserve my dignity so I presume she was trying to shield the others from the awkwardness of my emotional outburst.)  Mama, don't get all worried now, you know I am more like Daddy and I cry at the drop of a hat... not everyone can be a stone wall like you!

Anyway, it was not all in vain. I think the counselor got my point that my kids are special, damnit, and they need some special treatment.  So we have already scheduled our first IEP meeting in Hawaii to discuss Liam's placement in classroom, etc.  Having a kid with FAS is not for the faint of heart... the stuff this kid goes through on a daily basis would make your toes curl and how he manages to do it without being a behavior problem is a mystery to me.  But sitting in an office trying to tell someone who doesn't already love and know my kids about all the special needs that Liam has, and trying to encapsulate it into a 20 minute meeting and impress the importance of his environment, well, it's just more than a mother's heart could bare.  So I cried.  Sue me!

In the end, I went with the really awesome house that opens on both sides and the gated courtyard.  There is very little yard, which could be a problem, but the house is great and the landlord seems to really care that things are in good working order, etc.  It will be a nice break for us to not have lawn maintenance to tend to, it will allow Brian more time to spend with us on the weekends.  And in the end, the owner of the home chose us out of the crowd because she said she felt a connection to me.  Maybe she read me like a book because you should know by now that she had me at "connection" and I just felt like God was giving me a little nudge of the arm... you know, like the old Southern men do when they are making a point or a joke.  Anyway... I feel so much better now that I have the home selected, etc.  The school is the scary part.  Not because it's a bad school... on the contrary, best I can tell, it's one of the best in Hawaii.  But because our school we attend now is SO amazing.  When I say amazing, I don't mean it in the sense that everyone else thinks their school is amazing.  I mean in the sense that as I was describing the services and modifications that Liam receives the counselor said, "Is this a private/specialized school?"  No, I replied.  Then she said, "It must be very small."  I said, "Well, we have 400 students in K-4.  I'm not sure if that is small or not."  And her reply was, "Oh, no, not small.  Wow!  I'd love to get more information from his current teachers and special area teachers."  Ahhhh.... that's me, smiling because what I have always known (that we have truly got the best school for my kids) is now being validated halfway around the globe.  The legend of our school will live on in the minds of the islanders and it will become the new gold standard in education.... oh, sorry.... I was off in my thoughts there for a second.  Anyway... the point is this, I just have to accept the fact that nothing is going to compare to my experience at MES.  We can't be there forever, eventually someone has to leave the school and have some other experience in pastures not sheltered from the world, so here we go.

On the other hand, I visited the church that is only a few blocks from our house, there is a pre-school associated with the church and they THINK they might have a spot for Meg!  That's God winking at me now... He had this all planned out, you see.  And I stopped in the church to say a prayer on my way out and thank God for His continued comfort and provision.  Can I just say that the church does not have walls.  It's got "slats" for lack of a better visual, so that the wind blows through then entire time. How cool is that?  I think I can get used to the climate, even if I can't get used to being away from my friends and family.

Finally, I will just say that I had dinner with my realtor last night.  He was super nice and bought my dinner, etc.  He was informative and taught me alot about the island and language in a two hour period.  However, I left there feeling like I might be the luckiest person in the world.  His family lives in TN and he has been in HI for 20 years.  I asked him how he could stand being so far from his family for so long and he said, "Well, you get used to it.  It's paradise here.  And I keep up with the homeruns and graduations via the power of internet and digital photos."  He said that at first, there were alot of trips back and forth, but that they became less and less frequent and everyone sort of went on with their lives.    And I realized how lucky and blessed we are that we come from a family where that just wouldn't be enough for any of us.  Internet is great and home is where my kids and Brian are, true, but I have a deeper connection than what electronics can convey.  I think my friends who live far from their families could attest to this.  I know Lindsay and Barb, for example, make a priority of seeing family. And I know they have been doing so for years.  So I guess what I am saying is that I would forego vacations and other trips to be sure that family was part of our kids lives, and it's just a reminder to me that I am blessed to feel that way about the ones I love.  I will miss living around the corner from my niece (Brian's sister and her family) and seeing my niece (my brother's daughter) grow in her first year of life.  I probably haven't even mentioned that my brother and his wife had their first baby last week.  I'm going to miss "doing life" with my sista, Sonja.  I'll miss Friday night Mexican with Mary and Leenda.  I'll miss Gwen's craziness and Kendra's extraordinary way of making time for her friends.  I will miss seeing Marianne and our group with Amie, but I will probably talk to Marianne all the time because, let's face it, I'll still need counseling in paradise! :)  I'll miss Niki and Shawn and foster-dogs.  I'll miss crisp fall weather and football season (even though I hate football.)   I will embrace this experience and try to milk every morsel of growth for myself and my kids from the time we have here.  I refuse to focus on how much we are missing and instead, embrace the things that will make this experience invaluable and educating.  However, I know when it's time to go home, I won't look back.  I'll happily get on that plane and return to my beloved friends and family and love the memories we made all the more because I can share them with people who truly love me!

Zephaniah 3:17
"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."


Kristine said...

Oh I would have cried too. We are so alike it scares me.

I cried reading this post and then thankyou for following up with a few laughs as well.

Excited for you. These adventures bring families closer than ever before. It is going to be wonderful and it definitely seems like God is guiding you! He is so good.


Kim Abraham said...

Oh my goodness, Ondrea, I have been wanting to post a comment since you first let the cat of the bag but my Google password would not work. Thankfully that is all fixed now and I can tell you how excited I am for your family!

I would have cried too, in fact, just reading about it made me cry. (I just recently cried like a baby in front of Lexi's entire Preschool staff.) I can't imagine the whirlwind of emotions you are experiencing between the excitement of paradise and the sadness of leaving friends, family and a great school. But you know that you and your kids will make amazing new friends where ever you are or go in life. That's just the way God made you! My boys are still benefiting from the great advice you gave me last year when they were having a difficult time transitioning into a new school. We already have a huge party with as many classmates who can come scheduled for September.

And your fabulous new home sounds perfect for a party ;)

Please know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!

lori said...

Ooohhhh, Ondrea! Those tears would've started flowing at that new school even if you didn't need to discuss IEP issues. Leaving home, even though you know God is opening the door for you, is a scary thing. And tears are all part of it. As you said later in your blog, you're going to miss some things and anyone reading this can tell that it pains you to miss anything with your family or friends. God's hand is all over this temporary move, but there's pain in growth. The only thing I can say is that you'll be able to look back and see that it was a good thing to get you or your kids prepared for something else that God has in store and that this is just training for something else. But, I've learned with our move that new friends, nicer house, better high school, bike paths -> all the stuff still leaves you yearning for home and friends & family. There will probably come a day during your temporary stay that you'll realize that all the beauty of Hawaii can't replace daily life in Franklin. I don't want to make you sad because you are on a great adventure and you all should be commended for following God's vision for you; it's not always easy. Enjoy the ride. Life is like a roller coaster. It's fun, fast, scary ->you could fall out, highs & lows, loop de loops galore and there's comfort knowing that someone else is driving! I love you and I dearly miss you. Take care while you're in Hawaii and do us proud! Go barefoot and make some cornlight bread at the next luau you attend!!

Nicole said...

Okay a good cry is just what you needed!!!!! It always makes me feel better!!!!
I love the house! That breeze is going to be fantastic!
Just trust that God has a plan for you. Change is so hard but he has it all mapped out you just have to follow!
Lots of hugs!!!!

Ron and Dinia said...

If I was househunting and searching for a school I would cry buckets also! I have to say that our time out of our comfort zone was a huge plus for our kids. I think that because they lived in Egypt and Scotland they have life experiences that shaped them into the young man and woman they are today. Neither one of our kids is big into name brands and they have a compassion for those less fortunate. They both have a sense of adventure that I doubt would have developed to the extent it is without our travels. This said they also had their challenges, but I am sure that would have been true if we never left Houston.

What a wonderful adventure is ahead of you and your family, and God is certainly paving the way. Just come home in time for the next Moscow Adoptive Family Reunion in June 2011:)

Becky and Keith said...

Your post was awesome... all of the emotions you'll go through will ebb and flow. You have such a big, big heart and I know you will make the best o fit! Hawaii's school system is VERY lucky to have you and the experiences you'll bring. I wish we could have seen each other before you head off, but Dinia is right - you're behind better be back here in June of next year for our reunion! :-)) Big hugs!