Friday, August 04, 2017

Slooooowly settling in

The kids are all registered for school and are, I think, starting to get a little anxious for the school year to start. This is our first time trying to fill an entire summer break because on the year-round schedule we only had five weeks. They're pretty good about playing with each other, but they're also pining for interaction with other children.

Moving into a Utah (county) ward is weird because, whereas practically anywhere else a Mormon moves in the world their ward basically throws a party to welcome them because they're just so excited to have another family (with kids—even better!) in their ward, no one really gets excited when another Mormon family moves in next door.

I'm sure everyone in the ward is very nice. We just don't know that for sure because pretty much 0% of the ward spoke to us on Sunday. I spoke to Zoë's nursery leader for, like, two seconds to tell him her name was Zoë (and I even stayed in there the second hour but I couldn't really seem to edge in to any conversations) and Benjamin's primary teachers introduced themselves after church. Other than that we got a lot of looks sizing us up, but that's all.

No dinner invitations. No offers for help. No play dates set up. Not even an "Are you new here or just visiting?"

I understand that I could be more outgoing but also I feel like the ball is sort of not in my court. Since I know nobody and feel a little lost here I feel like other people should be reaching out to us right now, not the other way round. But that's just the culture in Utah County and we'll find our place with time, I'm sure.

Fortunately, this time around, we really do fit the norm that everyone is expecting: we have preexisting connections—family and a network of friends—so we don't really need a ward "family" like we do "out in the mission field." We're living with Andrew's parents, mine live just a short drive away, we have friends from our time at BYU, we have friends from around the world who have relocated to Utah (it's a popular thing for Mormons to do), so we'll be fine.

But, at the same time, I need to step up my game and find some playmates for my children who are getting increasingly sick of seeing only each other day in and day out.

Rachel went to Activity Days yesterday and found out that one of the girls will be in her class at school, so I'm glad that I got them registered. It was quite the undertaking.

I'm finally starting to feel normal after whatever stomach bug that was, but Tuesday I was not feeling too hot at all. Still, I spent the morning filling out forms online to start the registration process—everything had to be completed in triplicate, of course, because we have three kids in school now. When I was finished filling out forms online I gathered up all the paperwork we had to bring to the school (proof of residency, birth certificates, immunization records, kindergarten medical evaluation) and eventually convinced the kids to get ready to walk to the school with me.

They were so busy collecting rollie-pollies/potato bugs/pill bugs/Armadillidiidae (at one point they had 235 in one little container) that the convincing did not come easily, but we finally made it out the door at 11:30. I was a little grumpy because I had wanted to go earlier, before it had gotten so hot, but the walk really wasn't so bad (because I made Rachel and Miriam pull the wagon; a new stroller is en route because our old one was so trashed (the wheels were practically rectangular and the handlebars were gimpy and the fabric had started to mould again)).

Once at the school I learned that it wouldn't be the quick show-the-forms-and-get-out-of-there visit I had imagined it would be (you know, having spent so long filling out forms online all morning). No, no. There was more paperwork that had to be filled out, once again in triplicate, several forms duplicates of what I had filled out online. It took me a good hour and a half (which I was entirely unprepared for, with no snacks or entertainment for the toddler (luckily it's an elementary school so they had books on hand for the kids to read through)).

And then I had, apparently, attempted to register all three children for kindergarten...except that I have proof (confirmation email) that shows I had indeed registered them for the correct grades. But I was made to feel a little silly about "my" mistake anyway. Fortunately, they were able to fix that in the office and the kids were all sorted into the correct grades. We just had to call the next day to find out which teacher they got, not that it means much to us since we aren't very familiar with the staff.

Benjamin, however, made his way into one of my friend's kindergarten classes (they only do half-day kindergarten here, so each kindergarten teacher has a morning class and an afternoon class). She was in our Stonewood ward when we first got married. So that's fun!

We also have connections with one of the grade five teachers, but Rachel wasn't put in her class. We didn't know any of Miriam's potential teachers. But I'm sure they both got wonderful ones.

This morning I got a somewhat frantic phone call from the school nurse asking about our time in Egypt, which she knew about only because, well, Miriam's birth certificate says we were there. She wanted to know which of our children had been there with us and for how long. And then she asked if I had proof of a TB test upon our return.

I, ummm...don't.

I honestly don't think we ever got tested. I honestly had no idea that was a thing we were supposed to do. But evidently it's a requirement of the CDC (and our school district) that if you live in Africa (or anywhere TB is more prevalent) that you get a TB test upon returning to the States. The nurse asked if I could have the girls tested and bring that paperwork into the school (and maybe have Benjamin tested as well since he's been living with his untested sisters...eek). I told her that I would look into it, and did. But it seems like if it's been a good five years since your return and you haven't yet succumbed to the disease you aren't required to get tested.

Frankly, I think if the CDC really wants people to get tested they need to, I dunno, hand them a form upon their return to the country. It's one more thing for border control to do but—haven't you noticed?—we're really fond of securing our borders so it shouldn't be too much to ask. Because we honestly had no clue.

And it's not like we haven't taken our family to the doctor! We most definitely have!

Our children are all up to date with their immunizations and Andrew has been back to Africa (specifically, Ghana) twice since we've moved back to the States, and I have had two babies since then and am on my third and no doctor has ever asked us to be tested for TB (except, perhaps, for Andrew...I think he had to be tested for TB for Ghana? I can't remember; I know the last time I was tested for TB was before I went to Russia, I think). I don't know why that is...they all know our medical history—I had Egyptian immunization records for the girls and always have to put "Cairo, Egypt" as the location for my second birth on my information forms, so it's not like our doctors are unaware of our time there.

I read about how a TB test is done (which is why I know I did one for Russia) and I'm positive none of us did that after getting back from Egypt. So...oops. But taking the kids to be tested now seemed somewhat silly. We've been here since Miriam was 9 months old. She'll be eight in October! My kids have been in the public school system for five years already. No one ever said anything to us before (of course, I guess they technically didn't know Rachel had been out of the country for 2 years when we registered her from kindergarten because her birth certificate doesn't give that information away, unlike Miriam's).

Anyway, I looked up the school district policy regarding TB testing and from what I could find (I could only find anything for staff, not for students), a test is required if you've been in a TB-prevalent area for more than six months within the past five years. But if more than five years had elapsed since your return, no test was needed.

The school nurse called me back soon after I'd found that information (which was good because I was going to call her back anyway) and told me she'd checked with her supervisor and found out the same thing. The kids didn't need to be tested since more than five years had passed.

So that's one less thing to do.

I still haven't quite set up a doctor for my children to visit, though I should probably do that soon. Fortunately, our insurance covers pediatricians in our town. Our insurance does not cover OB/GYNs in our town (or any hospitals) so today I took a practice drive to my doctor's office, which is in the next town over. It's not a terrible drive, though I nearly had a panic attack trying to get out of our driveway. In fact, it's about as far as my OB was in Durham (and I selected that OB office because it was the closest to our house, which may or may not have been the reason I chose the one I chose here).

Our stuff is supposed to arrive tomorrow and Andrew should be turning his revised dissertation in soon, and then we can really get unpacked and settle in here. I'm sure with time we'll start feeling more comfortable and will make new friends. Until then we just have to be patient... (right, Rachel? (we talked about this this afternoon)).


  1. Interesting about Mormon culture where you are now. Maybe they are all introverts. :) I'm glad your children don't have to have TB tests before school starts. Do they start after Labor Day out there?

    I guess with K being half-day, Zoë will still have her favorite playmate for several hours each day. :)

    Glad you are settling in!

    1. I wish...but usually they have cliques or family circles and it is just harder to break into those when they aren't desperate to have new people for their kids to play with or to fill callings.

    2. I'm sorry! I hope you've had better luck in your new state! :)

    3. Yes, Utah is a very hard place to move to. Mind boggling, really.

  2. Moving is the worst and I hear you about Utah County wards. We were in our last one in Provo for 4 years and I still can't say I really "fit" in or felt close to anyone. We just moved up to Vineyard and we are trying to be much more out going so that we can meet people faster (our plan is to invite people over for just dessert; I'm not sure I can do dinner yet) :) Utah is great but also kind of hard to come back to (we were gone for 7 years). I hope you are settling in though! I felt like I had run a marathon after moving so you must feel much worse. Remember we are higher altitude too which really takes you down when you are pregnant.