December in New Brunswick, as much as I love it I still can't believe I am here. We have been incredibly fortunate with weather this year. The summer was amazing, warm, sunny, the humidity bearable and not too buggy! Fortunately the bugs seemed to prefer Len and leave us girls alone. Len's thoughts are that he is more pure and has less preservatives in his system, I think we just smell nicer and don't attract mosquitoes as much! Our new home has been fabulously cool in the day and pretty warm and comfortable at night. Even now as fall has progressed and we slowly watched the landscape change, the trees shed their leaves and the wildlife prepare for winter, the weather has been almost 'west coasterly' and we have felt pretty much at home.
The first snow was light and I will admit I was not completely ready for it, so I was grateful when it didn't stick around. Since then I have filled one freezer, obtained a second freezer, filled my cupboards, woodshed is full, plenty of candles on hand, alcohol in the cupboard and have drinking water on hand in case of power outages. The first big snow fall hit fast, hard and called for a snow day! The kids loved it. We spent the day baking gingerbread houses, decorating, hanging with friends and sledding at down the hill. Picture perfect!
Not a week later we had rain! Not light rain, not heavy rain, not even west coast rain. We had torrential monsoons that washed out roads, knocked down trees, flooded homes and you guessed it, closed school! We assumed that school would be in the following day, however being as rural as we are, the buses were called off until the road ways were determined safe. The kids were thrilled, another day at home! Then it snowed a half foot to cancel any chance of them being driven to school... And here I had told the girls "They don't have snow days in New Brunswick." They are ecstatic to learn I am VERY wrong!
Overall school has been a successful change for my kids. Of course being 16 and coming from the smallest high school in town that has only 800 students to move to the only school in the community that has barely 200 students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, it has been an extreme change for Rachel. Jessica has found this to be a wonderful change. She does find Grade 4 hard but we explain that would be the case anywhere. I am very impressed with her educational growth. I find it amusing, amazing and a tad annoying when she corrects my grammar and punctuation over my shoulder though.
I know that it is hard to adjust to the changes. Life, home, school and bus. I have been there. I do believe that I have raised my girls to be fair, stand up for themselves, ask for help and discuss their problems. Maybe I get over involved when an issue comes up but I try to remain unbiased and factual. I think this helps them adjust.
The summer before I started Grade 8 we moved out of town, a good half hour down country roads, although my mind still thinks it was at least 45 minutes. We knew a few people from our church in the neighbourhood but did not mix with their kids much and were isolated. My parents had purchased a great old farm house, barn, out buildings and a 5 acre hobby farm with a creek running right through it. I loved it! It was also the beginning of my feeling incredible loneliness, depression, anxiety and despair. Amazing how this all mixed together. There were so many things I loved about being there but so much that I hated, so I completely understand the dilemma for my children.
My parents jumped right into farming! We raised chickens, gathered eggs and slaughtered the chickens. We had pigs rooting around, a cow for fresh milk, rabbits and kittens. My mom and dad put in a huge garden and I realize now it was pesticide free or very close to it. The food was lush, beautiful, plenty and I hated it. I would watch and help my mom preserve food. I watched her find 50 ways to cook a zucchini (to this day we still discuss the Chocolate Skinny Cake aka Chocolate Zucchini cake). The milk was fresh to the point of steaming and had little bits of hay and straw swimming on the top. ICK! Hated it!
I hadn't been pampered to the same extent as my kids although I had always been a very finicky eater. As hard as it is to believe I was built very much like Jessica, slight, thin, bony and pale. I tease my mom and tell her I became fat because I had my teeth fixed and was able to chew properly. The real reason I started to gain weight was much deeper than that. The loneliness and depression were incredible and I worry about this with my oldest daughter. I watch her closely and we talk a lot, although I really do NOT always like what I hear!
What IS different for my children here? Although they have a long bus ride they have a great bus driver. She does not allow bullying to occur on the bus, she stops it as soon as she sees or hears anything remotely like abuse. She has the children sit age appropriately on the bus from Kindergarten at the front to Grade 12 at the back and there is no running around on the bus. The kids all feel comfortable talking to her and she is open to discussion and finding resolutions. So much different than my experiences.
If anyone ever took the Beaver Creek bus from 1979 to 1981 they know what I mean! If you were not born there, had at least two generations of history you did NOT belong! They were not open to new comers at all. From the elementary school that my little brother attended to riding as far along as to the high school that my older brother and I attended the message was clear, GO AWAY we don't want you!
Obviously this brought up huge concerns for me with my girls on the bus and I have done as much as I could to prepare them, keep up to date with what is going on and stay in touch with the community to ensure their comfort and safety. As far as the bus goes, it seems to be working. The school is a bit more closed to my oldest but she is strong and working her way through the kids, the "you are new, we have been here forever" attitudes. She is dealing with it all much better than her mother did and for that I am extremely proud. My girls are very emotionally sensitive but they are courageous and face confrontation. (I plan to take a little credit for that!)
It is 10am, -8 c and snowing. The fire is lit, the Christmas tree is trimmed, presents are beginning to arrive from afar to be be placed under the tree and it is a Friday. One week to Christmas Eve. A different Christmas surely than in the past but I hope that the love we have and the spirit of the season will over ride the feelings of what we do not have this year. We do have a spirit of change and a beautiful warm home for which I am very grateful. I do have a wonderful little family at my side and if I manage to keep them warm and drowsy with turkey, side dishes, lots of baking and goodies, maybe they will forget missing you all, at least for a moment!
From Fosterville, NB, I wish you all a
Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!