Monday, June 2, 2014

Making Connections in a New Town

Moving to a new place can seem overwhelming - you are essentially starting life over, needing to figure out where to shop, eat, buy gas, go for entertainment, and meet people!  We moved from a city of about 250,000 people to a town with around 6,000 people.  We have been here a little more than 6 months and we are still finding our way around in some aspects, but all in all we are feeling quite at home which is a great feeling!  We had a few things in our favor -- we moved to a place where we have some family connections.  My mom's family is from New Hampshire, and I have an aunt and uncle about 90 minutes north of us, another aunt about 60 minutes to the east, a cousin and his family about 90 minutes south, and another cousin about 40 minutes away.  Already, we have seen all of them more this year than we have in the past few years combined -- this has been a real blessing for us!

The other thing that we have in our favor, is that we have two school-aged children -- when you have children in school, you have so many opportunities to make connections and meet new people.  Over the winter when I was in hibernation mode, one of the only times I braved the cold each week was to take my daughters to Sunday school and to church (another great place to connect with people!).  Through my daughters' Sunday school I was asked to help out with this coming year's youth ministry (much to my eldest daughter's chagrin...) which will help me get more involved in our new community and meet some people.

Our eldest daughter, Olivia, has made some wonderful friends through school and I have had some very nice conversations with a couple of her friends' parents either while exchanging our kids for sleepovers or while attending school functions.  One of the moms and I have a lot in common from working in the same field and we are looking forward to planning a girls night out for dinner! 

While Olivia has made a number of great friends and absolutely loves school, it's harder to tell if our youngest, Mackenzie, is making connections.  She keeps things more closely to the vest than her older sister, who will have filled you in on her whole life each day by bedtime (not complaining -- LOVE that about her and pray that she always feels that comfortable talking to us!).  The little one tells us things more on a need to know basis, so I've been worrying about how to get her connected and making friends.  My eldest plays an instrument and was able to join the school band right away -- that was a wonderful way for her to connect right away with kids who shared a common interest.  Most of her very close friends are in band with her and that has also given the rest of us a connection to the town because we go to the school concerts and also enjoyed seeing her march with her marching band in our town's Memorial Day parade. 

Our little one does not play an instrument -- she's in 2nd grade and the school does not offer music until 5th (not to mention she is adamant about NOT wanting to play an instrument!  We'll see...).  As I've mentioned before, I was a Girl Scout leader back in NY and I was looking forward to getting my little girlie involved in Girl Scouts -- another great instant way to connect!  When we first arrived, she was finding it to be enough of a change to go to a new school -- was not interested in getting back into Girl Scouts right away.  That was ok with me at that point because we were living in a sea of boxes and just getting acclimated to a new house, town, etc.  One day at Sunday school, I overheard a mom talking about her daughter being in Girl Scouts -- another tip for making connections in a new town, keep your ears open and don't be afraid to join in (politely, of course!) on other people's conversations!  ;)  I asked about her daughter's troop but found out that it is in another town (our church encompasses 3 towns) so I decided to keep looking for something more close to home.  At some point after that, I sent an e-mail through the Girl Scout website, expressing interest.  They responded about a week later and someone was supposed to call me, but I never heard from anyone.  At that point we had missed the cookie sale and I decided to wait and get her enrolled for next year.  Enter last week's science fair at my eldest daughter's school!  While talking to one of her friend's mothers (who I had met at Medieval Night at her school a few months ago), she was asking about how my girls were transitioning and somehow I mentioned Mackenzie and wanting to get her into Girl Scouts.  This mom has an older daughter who is not in Girl Scouts and two young sons (also, obviously, not in Girl Scouts...), and yet she happens to be friends with the leader of a troop of 2nd graders who happen to meet at my youngest's school!  (I know, note to self, next time just call the school and ask directly!)  We exchanged e-mail addresses and she e-mailed me her friend's contact info. 

Coincidentally, the same day that I received the contact info for the troop leader, my husband and I took Mackenzie to the town playground (her sister was recovering from a sleepover) and she ran into a little girl that recognized her from school.  They had a wonderful time playing together - for 2 hours! - and I ended up talking to the girl's mother and it turns out her daughter is in the same Girl Scout troop!  Now Mackenzie, who had been hesitant to go back to Girl Scouts, is super excited about it!  While the other mom and I were chatting, she also filled me in on things like where to go for 4th of July fireworks, a referral for a good pediatrician, ideas for birthday party entertainment, and we exchanged contact info so that our girls can get together for a play date.  I e-mailed the troop leader and while the troop is wrapping up for the year (not a surprise, I just wanted to get her in for next year), she invited my daughter and I to join them for their last meeting which is this Weds.  I also volunteered to help out with the troop, which will give me something fun to do with my daughter and also help me to connect with some other parents. 

We've really been enjoying making connections here and establishing roots in our new town, and I'm so excited that my little Mackenzie has the opportunity to make some connections and meet new friends like her sister Olivia has!  And the fact that my husband and I are meeting people through our girls -- all the better!  It's great to be friendly with the parents of your children's friends -- not only does it give you peace of mind when your child is hanging out at their home, but it gives you something in common to talk about when you see them! 

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