Katie Katie Parsons is the creator of Mumbling Mommy and is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. She works from her home office on the east coast of Florida. Most often she writes about life in a combined family of five children and what it's like being a full time work-from-home parent. Feel free to pitch guest post ideas or just drop her a line at katie@mumblingmommy.com.

When I first moved to Satellite Beach in the summer of 2011, it was a bit of a letdown. Just blocks from the ocean and with a warm climate all year, most people (including myself) would say, “What’s not to love??” Maybe it was because it was TOO warm, or maybe because it wasn’t my hometown.

I had the odds stacked against me when it came to my adjustment period though. I went from living on Printer’s Row near the Loop in Chicago, working full-time in an office, to working from home in a city where I knew no one. My parents and brothers were no longer an hour car ride away — it was closer to 20 hours. Even my in-laws lived two hours south, so finding a quick, reliable sitter (or even just adults to hang out with on the weekends) was a tough road at the beginning.

I didn’t know anyone. My husband didn’t know anyone. We were living in Satellite Beach, paying rent (and I use that term loosely) to my father-in-law until we could get on our feet, as they say. We had not picked this spot as much as our finances had demanded it.

When we would meet new people, I would find myself explaining that we were only temporary residents and that we were planning to move to Orlando as soon as possible. That is, after all, where my husband works and where my stepkids’ mom lives. It is where we have friends. Satellite Beach was just a quick stop on a longer path that took us inland.

Our New Hometown?

Well, as life would have it, we have never made that move to Orlando. We still live in the same “temporary” house we moved into when I first made the long drive down from the Midwest over two and a half years ago. Lately my husband and I have been talking about whether or not to make it our forever home.

We love the close walk to the beach. The school district is amazing. We really like our gym that is a five-minute drive, depending on the stoplights, and the kids love the play area there. The cashiers at our Publix ask where the kids are if we shop solo. We know the best streets to trick-or-treat, and the ones with the best Christmas lights, and the ones to take as shortcuts.

Just this weekend I was driving home from a family movie night sponsored by the local fire department and I realized something: this is my new hometown. We attended the event with three other families. One of the moms is a teacher at my kids’ elementary school. A firewoman who has seen our family on several (safe, happy) occasions commented that my youngest was getting so big, so fast. The newest pizza joint under construction that my husband and I have been stalking (when does it open? what will it be like in there?) had owners working the event, handing out complimentary slices of New York-style pizza along with menus.

Before the movie, our group met at the beach park down the street so our kids could run out some of their energy first. I had the only toddler in attendance and the other moms took turns catching my kid for me whenever she decided to take off down the sidewalk. I saw one mom give her a squeeze and a kiss on the head after capture.

Driving from the park to the movie, my Kindergartner pointed to our favorite, locally-owned ice cream shop and reminded me that we hadn’t been there in awhile. Our kids like to eat their ice cream out on the shaded picnic tables and to pal around with whatever school friends we inevitably run into. My husband and I like that it costs less than $8 to get ice cream for our entire family of six.  I often quip (like, every single time that we go there) that it reminds me of the small ice cream spot my dad used to take my brothers and I when we were kids in the city where I grew up (Frosty Boy, anyone?). The location is different, the ice cream is different and of course, the prices are different too.

It has that same hometown feeling though.

When I look back on the places I’ve lived in just the past five years, I know that nothing is ever definite. Still, I’ve stopped putting the Orlando disclaimer on my friendships. I still have a lifetime of love for the place where I grew up and it will always be my first hometown. I’ve come to appreciate this second hometown, though — the one where my own kids will grow up. Our family has planted roots here and I’m grateful for a place to flourish.

That ocean breeze doesn’t hurt, either.


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Category: Family Free Time

Tags: family