Happy New Year from the Greens

wait, we moved?

From Calgary to Florida

For those of you that know my mom, she’s hyper diligent about spending weeks writing Christmas cards to friends and family across the globe. I don’t quite have the knack for that but I do have a website and an email account. 

I’m starting off 2023 by saving trees and postage. 

This past year was a pretty eventful one for the Green fam. For the Coles notes (i.e. social media attention span) version, skip to the video at the bottom of the page and scan the pictures and captions as you scroll your way down. 

If you prefer to read, grab a coffee while I take you through the last 7 months. 

Since July 2021, I’d been splitting my time between Florida and Calgary in preparation to relocate the whole family to Central Florida by August of 2022. Over the last several years, I felt a nudging to shorten the distance between myself and my parents. The pandemic gave many of us the ability to work from anywhere and being a dual citizen enabled me to transition quickly and easily from Canada to the US. 

After several months of praying, packing & selling, we loaded up a U-Haul (thanks Skinners!) and Jaden and I made the three day, 4,400 km (2,735 mile) trek from Alberta to Florida. The trip itself warrants its own post but after 50+ hours bouncing across the continent, we arrived safe and sound in Clermont. 

Jaden and I getting ready to hit the road on July 27th

Meeting the girls at the Tampa Airport on August 1st

Payton was already waiting for us since he’d just finished a basketball camp in Daytona Beach and was getting ready to start training with his new basketball team at Lake Minneola HS. Yes, in July. Sports are a different experience here, more on that later.

The boys unloaded the U-Haul and waited for the girls to arrive on August 1st. Donna, Livi and Taya had a much more comfortable but no less emotional flight down to meet us.

School Daze

Within a week or so of our arrival, Alivia and Payton started school at Lake Minneola High School. The first few weeks were rough. Apart from missing half of their summer vacation, they were now starting classes at 7:20 am. Back in Calgary, Payton typically didn’t roll out of bed until almost 8 am every morning and his school was a 4 minute drive from our house. Now we’re living about 25 minutes from school which means a wakeup of time of 6 am to get ready, eat breakfast and be out the door in time. Not gonna lie, the morning routine is still a work in progress.

New community, new culture, new classes, new teachers, new students … A lot of newness for kids born and raised in Alberta. We’ve got plenty of stories of the first semester in Lake County Schools. Happy to share them over many drinks.

The saving grace in those first few months were sports. It’s the great equalizer. If you can play, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. All of our kids have enjoyed competing since they could walk so they were well equipped to get into the groove of athletics here in Florida. 

Payton was motivated by the challenge of playing high school basketball for a good program in the US. Positioning himself to eventually play at the NCAA level. More than a few people questioned whether he could make the roster but he became a member of the LMHS Hawks team before we even arrived. The result of us sending video and connecting with a number of area coaches in the spring. Within a few weeks, he had worked his way into a starting spot. Before Christmas his team was ranked 2nd in the district.

Starting at guard for the LMHS Hawks, #3 Payton Green

Payts has had his ups and downs but generally, the experience has been right up his alley because he’s gets to play non-stop basketball. I mentioned that sports were a different experience here. Their school teams train, practice and play together almost year-round. With the ability to head to the school gym during the summer and early in the mornings throughout the school year to work on their game.

Alivia also made the varsity basketball team in November. This came as a big surprise to everyone since she’s only a freshman (9th grade). She plays a much smaller role than her older brother but she’s learning a lot and is being pushed every day. Unlike Payton, she wasn’t practicing with her basketball team since July because she also made the cross country team. Posting some impressive times for her first season as a high school runner. 

As the season began to wind down, the 2 hour daily practices and 5 am weekend races took a toll on her poor legs and lower back. She had to cut her season short to recover but is looking forward to preparing her body during the off season.

Our newest Cross Country runner

Shortly after her siblings started high school, Taya was off to Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fl. All of the kids have typically been great students but Taya is the resident brainiac. She was runner up for high school Valedictorian at All Saints and received a number of academic scholarships for university. Great news for us parents since post-secondary education in the US costs a small fortune!

Adjusting to college life is always challenging, especially when it means leaving friends and family of 18 years and moving to a new country. Fortunately we’re only 45 minutes away to help ease the transition for her. Taya found her groove within a few months, becoming active in her church, attending retreats and events, and making new friends. She continues her nerdy ways with a 92% average and an invitation to join the Honor Society at the end the first semester.

Taya on the right with her new college roommate, Tia.
Yep, Taya and Tia. 

aJaden’s had an interesting year. He was the first family member to officially move south in 2021, attending Valencia College with the plan to transfer to UCF in August 2022. Those plans were put on a brief pause to start the US Permanent Residency process in order to avoid paying another year of international student fees. He was informed by the school last July that after relocating and living in Florida for year, he’d be considered a resident the following year. That advisor turned out to be incorrect. So we applied for his green card and within a few months received his social security number and Employee Authorization card so he can start working while waiting to get back to school.

Fortunately for him, he was also able to save some money living at home. Spending some quality time helping his younger siblings adjust to life in the sunshine state. His motivation for being here – working for Disney Imagineering – took a step in the right direction as he was offered a job at Disney World after attending a job fair. Every Disney employee we’ve talked to has said that the first step to any career at the company is just getting your foot in the door. He’ll be dipping his toe in the water as a resort lifeguard in January.

Jaden renewing his strength and getting ready to soar like an eagle in downtown Clermont.

Family First

Although she misses teaching her adorable kindergarten classes, Donna has been more than busy keeping up with the schedule of two very active high school students. Between pick up and drop off, team practices, games, tournaments, choir performances, concession stand duty and more she’s probably put 10,000 miles on the car in the last six months.

Of course, all work and no play makes for a very dull life in Florida. One of the first things we did to help inject some fun into a major life change was get annual passes to our two favorite places, Universal Studios and Disney World. It’s a 12 minute drive from our house to the Disney park gates.

Park passes have definitely been the best investment we’ve made since moving here. For comparison, a Florida resident annual pass to the major theme parks costs less than 3 single day tickets! If you know someone who can forge a driver’s license, give them a call before you come visit, you can use our address 😉

Our backyard.

   Our family loves theme parks almost as much as the beach so we’ve spent dozens of hours laughing, talking (the lines can get kind of long) and building great memories. 

When Donna’s not driving the family to attractions or events, she’s working on writing her book and finding the next great business idea. The kids would tell you that her favorite phrase is “why didn’t I think of that!” Going back to teaching will happen at some point in the near future.

Make no mistake, this move has not been easy. Everyone has had their share of lousy days and shed many tears. But the best mom + wife on the planet has made sure we’ve all felt loved and cared for through it all.

With that caveat, here’s the carefully curated images of the Green Fam Happy Days, since no one wants to see pictures of us on the crapy ones.

P.S. I’ve got a new design company.

If you’ve made it this far, below is the video recap as promised. And some more exciting news, I’ve officially evolved my business into performance coaching!

Performance Design to be exact. Melding my coaching and design skills into this cool new thing: Helping people (mostly athletes and leaders) design a personal blueprint for performing their best when it matters most.

If you know someone who could use some coaching, I love referrals! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or simply send them here: joslingreen.com

You can also sign up below to stay in touch and receive regular, transformative coaching insights from yours truly. 

Have an amazing 2023!

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