We set off on this journey knowing that we needed to go. We thought this job would be great for J (and it really is), that it would be hard to leave family and friends (and it was even harder than anticipated), and that this would be a nice place to live (it's even better than we expected). We honestly really like it here, largely because God has already crossed our paths with some very kind and welcoming people. People whose thoughtfulness and hospitality totally put me to shame. One of the most important things in our adjustment has definitely been finding a church we really like. Being a part of a community is such a huge thing for me, and the church we found is great. The other young (do I still count as a young??) moms I have met there are great and the services have resonated with us. I am looking forward to building deeper friendships.
We love the school and the fact that there aren't a lot of choices so everyone in our town really does go to school together. I got to volunteer in B's class, which was really fun, too. Her teacher is wonderful and B seems to be enjoying the new group of kids. T is loving his school, too, and is often disappointed when I get there "too early" to pick him up. Because its small we walk around town to both kids' schools, dance class, the park, the post office, and the farmer's market and actually see the same people. We drive into the adjacent two towns for things like church, the dry cleaner, the library, and Target, or over the hill to San Luis Obispo if we want to get crazy and go to Old Navy or Costco. I have to plan my errands a bit better, though I am spoiled with a Trader Joe's as the only grocery store in town.
We have only officially lived here for over a month. It feels way longer than that. Not in a "terrible, every day is a billion years" kind of way, but more in the "wow, a lot has been figured out and happened in the last thirty days." Lots of logistical things have been taken care of: we are settled into our house, I know where to grocery shop, family members have had hair cuts, we have been to the DMV (3 times), and to the doctor (5 times :/ ). I remember being in Kenya and feeling a sort of culture fatigue after we lived there for our first month. It's where you are just tired because basic tasks take more effort to accomplish and friendships require lots of intentional thought so you don't scare them off with your craziness. At first, there is just no auto-pilot playdates or errands. And sometimes it makes you tired. Kenya was obviously significantly more so, but this much smaller scale feeling is reminiscent of that. I do feel like in these wearying new and unfamiliar situations God comes near and causes me to grow. I am very grateful for that.
Because J hasn't had to travel yet, we have had lots of family time which has been SO great for all of us after what was a very travel-ful 2012. On the weekends we have been to the Santa Barbara Zoo, Shell Beach Park, Avila Beach, and Morro Bay. The beaches are still pretty windy and cold, and the kids inevitably get soaked and subsequently whiny, but we are enjoying the pretty views! We found a group of people with children adopted from Ethiopia who get together monthly, too, which was a great find in a "not-so-diverse" area.
There have been some things we have had to get used to or have discovered by living in a smaller area, too. Here are a few random observations...
1. If you need clothing and want to drive less than 30 minutes, Target, Kohl's, and a J.C. Penney's, that looks like it is on the verge of closing down, are your only major options.
2. People on the Central Coast love Tri-tip steak - the grills at the parks are large enough to put entire cows on.
3. SLO county is very "green." The city of SLO has no drive-throughs to prevent pollution from idle cars, and the entire county has outlawed plastic bags. I remember to bring in my reusable ones about 50 percent of the time (this is up from never in AZ). The remaining time I have to buy paper bags for 10 cents a piece...
4. The majority of people in the area went to one of two high schools and the remainder went to Cal Poly. They are also often married to someone's cousin or at least know 2/3 of the population.
5. Fruit is fresher and more delicious here. They enjoy native hybrid berries like the Lala berry? Sometimes in conversations about fruits or vegetables or vineyards I feel like a city slicker. I have never seen a Lala berry in Costco's produce section...
6. The majority of neighborhoods around here have neither sidewalks nor streetlights...that's very different for us!
All in all, a lengthy 30 days in, I feel like we have all adjusted pretty well so far. J's job is great - he is a really good fit for the direction the organization is headed. We are pretty excited about what the spring will be bringing for Lifewater and the people they serve! (One way you can get involved is with their Significant Sacrifice Project. I will post more about that soon.) And, being away seems to draw us closer as a family, since we really depend on each other. We have only had a couple of teary times missing our dear family and friends, and phone calls from AZ help a lot! The grandparents will both be out in the coming month so we are feeling really excited to see them! Who's coming out next?!