For any of you late to the party, Ryan and I recently made a drastic but highly necessary decision to uproot our lives from rural Tennessee and move towards Nashville. That’s just how we roll. When something doesn’t work anymore, we fix it, and we fix it quickly. People have naturally been curious about the transition, how we’re all adjusting to a more populated environment and asking:
- Have the kids adjusted?
- What about Luke? Have you found more resources?
- What have been the biggest changes/adjustments?
- Are you and Ryan doing better now that you have more resources?
#1. Our kids are so resilient. This crew didn’t miss a beat, and I attribute their attitude to the lives they’ve lived so far. Life changes, and you either learn to find joy or you wallow in the unfairness. They have figured this concept out at a young age, and it will hopefully serve them well as they progress through life. We had a few hiccups initially with cultural differences (this is much more of a melting pot than they were used to) and population differences – these schools are much bigger! but they have all made great new friends, Caleb found a job he loves at Pizza Hut, Mya is getting involved with Volleyball, Spanish lessons are occurring on Saturdays, music with Annabelle at the library on Tuesdays, and they are enjoying church activities on a regular basis because church is now only a five minute drive.
#2 Luke. We thought he would be the wild card, and he is but not like we anticipated! The school transition was easy, the house transition was easy and so much more convenient with a mother in law suite which we currently use for him and potentially an aid down the road. Those are all the pros about Luke; however – something about this move awakened a monster of curiosity in his restless soul, and he is no longer content at home, which in Luke language involves lots of screaming. We try to get him out as often as possible, but he’s still not happy when he returns. He does qualify for an aid but unfortunately he’s been on the waiting list with 5 companies since November. Yes, you read that correctly, five companies can’t find anyone to help with him so we’ve taken matters into our own hands and are currently looking for part time help. As for resources, YES! Huge improvement. In 3 months we’ve already been approved for respite money which will help fund some of the outside help we’re seeking, our church has a special needs ministry, and there are numerous parks (and slides!) nearby that Luke would love to take up residence at full time if we allowed him to.
#3. Biggest changes/adjustments off the top of my head – abstaining from the convenience and options that restaurants offer. My wallet and body do not appreciate the over abundance. I think we got the excitement out of our systems, and now I’m ready to start cooking again (for the most part). Also, city water, yuck! As soon as we can afford it we’re going to buy a water filtration system because we all miss our spring fed well water. I love the simplicity of everything being within ten minutes and especially loving Instacart. Oh my, what a game changer. I used to spend HOURS a week on groceries; getting them, packing them into the car, unpacking (with a three year old in tow), you get the point. When we moved we decided to swap school lunches for sack lunches to save money. I can only maintain this decision because of the convenience of grocery delivery. Worth every penny.
I also love the simplicity of our house being 2000 square feet smaller than our previous home, and the simplicity of the yard being only 2 acres instead of 30. It feels manageable and cozy and invokes a spirit of hygge (previous post). I do miss the beauty of our other house; the river in the back yard, the pond and the barns, but the beauty quickly lost its appeal with the isolation and overwhelm that it took to maintain it all and raise 8 kids.
#4. Last question, yes, our mental health has improved quite a bit. We were previously panicky and anxiety filled often as we felt trapped and isolated with 8 kids and nowhere to go. Here, if we’re having a difficult time or the chaos in the house is beginning to feel overwhelming, we can simply go for a hike at the local state park or a swim at the community center, or enjoy the peace and quiet that the library offers just down the road. There are options – close options. I joke that I’ve made friends, but they’re all special needs moms so we never see each other; which is kind of true and sad. As a special needs parent it is much more challenging to get together.
What’s next for us? I’m in a limbo period. I don’t have a clear idea of what I should be focusing on and that’s really unnerving. I don’t rest well and perhaps this is simply a period in life where I need to learn to lean into peace. I’ve been more consistent with blogging, my agent is still attempting to find a home for a second book I’ve (mostly) written, and I’m hesitantly gearing up to begin another chapter of The Lucas Project. And… we’ve been recently chatting with some bigger city folk about a potential family project that could be a’lot of fun. Time will tell. I’ve also been focused on building my social media platforms so that I can be more appealing to the larger publishing houses. By the way, if you don’t follow me on Facebook/jessplusthemess and/or Instagram/jessplusthemess, now would be a great time to start!
Ryan’s busy working on a flip house nearby and detailing the progress in short video posts on his Facebook page. Together we’re about to till a garden, raise some chicks (along with all the kids), and start a renovation project which will involve transitioning our main floor full bathroom into a laundry room/half bath which will eventually open up our kitchen and dining room to provide a big enough table to seat us all. Stay tuned.
And as always, “just keep livin!”