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On October 2013, we arrived at our new home in Lulu, FL.  We were warmly welcomed by the resident mosquitoes, as you can see from poor Jack's dirty face and swollen eye.

 We were also warmly welcomed by our new church family...Lulu is a small town of 272 (before us) people, two churches, one building that used to be a general store, and is now empty, and a lot of pine trees.  It's described online as being a ghost town, but I don't even think enough ghosts live here to call it a ghost town.  I hear ghost town and think deserted houses and buildings, but the humidity and sheer determination of the greenery of Florida tear down anything not kept up with amazing speed.  In the year and a half that we have lived here, I've seen different buildings collapse and fall and become a wildness of growth.  It's impressive.
 I had some boxes to put away.  We moved to a house less than half the size of our old house- we were spoiled by space- and finding a place for everything has been a job and a half.  I purged my bookshelves- I got rid of 75 percent of my books, judging from the amount of boxes I gave away, but I still have boxes that we rifle through stacked in our closets and laundry room.  This is revealing, right?  I own TOO MUCH STUFF.
 There are two towns nearby- Lake City is a city, with lots of lakes, and Lake Butler is a town of 2,500 or so.  And a lake.  There are a lot of lakes in Florida, just so you know.  In October, we braved the waters of Lake Butler.  I was constantly on the look-out for alligators. I have been pretty worried about alligators, without reason.  They are fairly shy, and fairly rare in most populated places.  What I need to be worried about are snakes.  There are nine poisonous snakes common to our area, including cottonmouths and coral snakes.  And four kinds of rattlesnake.
 These early days felt strange.  We were so new to everything,  Do we swim in the lake?  (Sure.)  Can we walk barefoot? (Sometimes.)  What things do we need to watch out for? (See above paragraph.)
Northern Florida is beautiful.
 I didn't think about how difficult it was going to be to adjust to living in the South.  There are so many cultural differences that I did not imagine before we moved.  I have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out where people are coming from.  We don't share a common background.  We don't have a shared history.  I don't have any connection to this place.  It changes everything.
Miles is four here!  He hardly remembers Idyllwild.  Two years is a long time to be gone for a four- or five-year-old.
 I struggled with my mom jobs.  Where do I go to get pumpkins in the Fall?  I found some at the Presbyterian Church in Lake Butler.


 I made them take group pictures until they were mad.  My new iphone took such nice pictures, and I had been without a camera for so long.  The chickens suffered the consequences.

 Giant spiders?  No big deal.
 Cottonmouth snakes?  Big deal.  Unless they are dead in the road.  Please let them always be dead in the road.
 We had to make the difficult decision of what to do with our children.  I wanted to homeschool, but it had become very obvious that Bowden was chafing without social interactions- and that was in Idyllwild!  We had a great homeschooling community to meet with there, but before we decided to come to Lulu, I had decided that we needed to join a homeschool charter school to give Bowden the socializing he craved.  Once we moved to Lulu, though, I was at a loss.  

 We had a lot of wonderful days playing outside, but homeschooling was not coming together, because we had just moved, and Josh felt like we needed to really get going with it.  I had thought that we would wait until January to make the decision, but with a lack of children at our new church, and a total lack of neighbors, Josh thought that the chickens needed to be put in school after two weeks in Florida.

The three older kids went to the same elementary school, and Miles got to go to a different school for pre-kindergarten.  His was an all-day program, but I wasn't ready to part with everyone for so long, and he was only four(!) so I had him go for only three hours a day.  It was still a lot.
Of everything that I lost when we moved, this was one of the hardest.  I missed my kids desperately.  I love homeschooling.  I prayed and prayed about it, and eventually felt like I was submitting to something I did not want to do.  Bowden and Jack ended up having teachers that were just not very good.  Lucy and Miles' teachers were excellent.
I had to adjust to being part of a city- Idyllwild is a tight-knit community.  We now lived in a little, tiny town, but everything we did- school, library, shopping- was done in Lake City, ten miles away.  the community of Lulu is very loosely connected by history, and more closely connected by genetics, and we share neither. 
We came because we felt called to come.  We remain because we believe that this is the place that God wants us to be right now.  There isn't anything I want more than to be where He wants me.


Abigail said…
I read this bittersweet post so long ago, and was glad to hear news and see parts of your heart, even from two years ago. I'll keep checking occasionally for the next update. If you haven't posted it by 2017, I'll come knocking. :)
Abigail said…
p.s. You may not read this until your next post (in 2017), but yesterday while hlearning with my children, Susie burst out with a, "What OTHER Sarah-Paulson-Tate stories can you tell us?!"

I was reading science with them and had become completely sidetracked telling them about the black widow spider you took a picture of in Cali, and then your Florida encounters with cottonmouths! and alligators! and other dangerous beasties!

No one wanted to keep reading about ungulates after that. Boring.
sarah said…
Oh, my heart! I love that story! I have dreams of being an actual poster again soon- and you wouldn't believe the creatures we've seen now!
And we had our first hog butchered. Come and visit anytime, and we will feed you bacon wrapped pork chops!
Abigail said…
Oh, man. Bacon-wrapped pork chops. I just forgot the rest of your comment in a blaze of bacon longing.

(I didn't know you had hogs, either. In ways of the belly, Florida is good to you!)
Abigail said…
p.s. THAT'S my bedroom, right there. See? We must have recently moved in.

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