Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No Sleep

Today was the first day of second grade for Erin. I cannot believe she is so old, and also that I still have three kids at home. New state, new school, new teacher, all new friends--that's a lot of new. I always thought it was normal to feel a little apprehensive and jittery before a big day like this in an unknown environment, but this has not been the case with Erin at all. She could not have been more excited to start. I am so happy that she has always liked school and hope that it will be a good year for her.
Because of overcrowding, they divided the classes up into "early birds" and "later gators" and stagger their class times. I could not decide whether I wanted to have more time with her in the morning or more time after school, but in the end we went with the later 9:15-3:30 time. Is it weird that I want her home more? Maybe I'm selfish, but I'm sure this will be a good schedule. This morning she was up and ready long before 8:00 and could not understand why I would sign her up for the late class. Again, selfish reasons. I felt it would be easier for me to get all the kids up, dressed and fed by 9:15 rather than 8:00. And it certainly was. We had a leisurely morning with reading time, piano time, be like Christ time... and we were still almost 15 minutes early. Yep, I think this time will work out great.It is a little weird that Alex is not in school yet. Last year, the preschool he was going to go to discontinued their program, so that fell through, and this year we had him all signed up for 15 hours of preschool a week in Florida, and now he still has nothing. Compared with Erin's two years of preschool and her being the youngest in her class versus him being the oldest and getting no school. Totally different experiences. And he keeps asking when he's going to be starting school. I feel a little conflicted about preschool for him. It probably wouldn't matter either way, but I don't really think he will gain too much from it. We may sign him up after we move, but for now I think it is nice to do a little reading and writing with him and Marissa at home, and call it good. What can I say, I'm selfish and want to spend more time with them.

I could not sleep last night, even though I was tired. My brain would not turn off. Thoughts about selling our house in Florida, and being stuck with payments for several more months, and all the unknowns are indeed stressful. The good news yesterday was that the people who were going to buy our house still want it, and enough to come up with $3000 more themselves for closing costs. We will still be losing more than originally thought, but not as much. What a huge blessing! We should be closing on Monday, but the deal is not done yet. There is still a hurricane that could possibly hit before then. I will feel so relieved when we are finally homeless.

My poor brain kept jumping from Florida house worries to our new house here. As in I would go through the new house in my head arranging furniture, painting walls, building shelves, finishing the basement, and landscaping the yard. I'm very excited for the new house. Yesterday when we checked on our hole we didn't expect anything to be done, but to our surprise, all the footings were poured... and all in the right places too, which is a good sign.
(Yes, I realize I'm in a weird position. For some reason I was thinking I would barely be in the picture.)
Okay, this is probably really boring for normal people, but I find these construction pictures really exciting. Maybe it dates back to my first Materials and Methods class where I dragged Erin around in her baby car seat to countless construction sites taking pictures for my final project. Maybe it dates back to my history of walking through unfinished houses, which is still a favorite hobby. I just love this stuff! And it's even more exciting when it's our own home that we've studied and agonized over. See that footing in the middle on the right? That's the load bearing wall that we had moved to make two bedrooms instead of one. (Yeah, I'm a geek.)
I don't know if I mentioned this before, but we are extremely close to our neighbors (as you can see in the previous picture). One of our neighbors just put in a fence and our hole only left one foot or so between it and the fence. Crazy! Of course some of it will get filled in and we will have 5 feet on one side and 6 feet on the other, to the fences that is. Both of our neighbors oriented their houses as close as possible to our house, so it will be pretty tight. We would have had more room if it hadn't been for our third car garage. One of our neighbors came out to talk to us and we absolutely love them, so I suppose it's okay being close.

People probably think we are crazy for wanting something this tight; this was one of the issues we considered when looking for a house. But here's our logic (besides liking the location and the plan): 1. We had a fairly big yard in Florida and never did anything with it--meaning we do not actually like a lot of yard work, so a smaller yard is a plus, 2. We could have bought a bigger yard with a smaller house that we didn't like as much, or a bigger house with a plan we love on a smaller lot (obviously, I like houses more), and 3. This neighborhood is a close knit community, due in part to their proximity to each other, and we love the idea of being part of this kind of community. These people have ice cream socials and BBQ's that the entire neighborhood goes to. This only happened once in Florida and that was after hurricane Wilma. So in a sense, assuming we like most of our neighbors, we are looking forward to being close to people and having less yard work. Lest you think we only have a patch of grass to call our own, we will still have a backyard with a patio, room for a garden, some grass and a future play set that will no doubt be amazing--it is in my head anyway. Designing the play set, another reason why I couldn't sleep!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Life of Crime and A Hole

This is not meant to be my complaining blog, but... THOSE STINKIN' LOUSY NO GOOD LEHI COPS!!! And by "those" I mean the one that pulled me over and gave me a ticket for going the same 40 MPH as the 4 cars in front of me on a main road marked at 30 MPH, previously unknown to me. I'm new here, remember? I guess you have a better chance of not getting pulled over as a modestly-dressed-white-mom-driving-a-mini-van-full-of-kids in South Florida than you do in Lehi, Utah, where, let's face it, you are one in a thousand (or so). The drawbacks of living in a low crime area, you're the one they are after. The only time Jared or I have ever gotten pulled over was in Utah. Go figure, and welcome to Utah.

Just having a bad week, I guess. I wallowed about the ticket for more than an hour, but I'm over it. (That last paragraph helped quite a bit, actually). I wallowed mostly at the library where they denied me a card due to my not bringing mail from our current address. What a waste of a trip, and what a sour, cranky mom I was (am). Connor kept handing me a board book called "I Am Happy," in which he was no doubt trying to tell me, without words, to buck up. Or that he himself is a truly happy child despite his mother's issues.

The external stresses have caused me to feel pretty cranky and on edge lately, and the poor kiddos are the victims of my rage. The whining of a certain child has been particularly nerve-grating lately. Her whining makes my mood worse, and I'm sure my mood has allowed her whining to escalate. I need a drink... Just joking. It just felt like the right thing to say.

But since this is not a complaining blog, not exclusively anyway... good news, we have a hole! Our house, that is. We've been driving by for weeks now hoping for some action, but up till now our lot has only been a good place to store a pile of our neighbor's dirt. Yesterday we saw that they had actually begun our house. It seems as though 5:00 came and they just went home, 3/4 of the way through. Today it looks like they finished the digging (but no camera today). Pretty exciting. Now when we drive by at 3 MPH multiple times a day, sure, we are still stalkers, but at least our neighbors have a hole to put to our faces. We haven't been to the ward yet, but it is evident that there is no shortage of families exactly like us. "Yeah, there's 20 kids in that circle alone ages 3-7," someone informed us today. Talk about completely different from Florida. I hope that's a good thing. Our kids will never get any homework done with so many kids around.

We were so excited to see our hole that we all jumped out of the car and began walking around it and snapping pictures, and then I realized that we had left Connor in the car (no worries, the doors were still open). He was just happy as can be sucking his bottle.Here are some pictures of what happens here every day:

Marissa and her twin cousin, Kayla, dress like princesses on a regular basis. Sometimes on the swings, sometimes holding dolls, sometimes holding swords, usually sticky with whatever they've eaten and almost always together. So cute!
Alex and his buddy, Jacob, are always busy with something: catching bugs, sword fighting, jumping out windows, eating popsicles out of both of their freezers, and this day, making a birthday cake out of Trios. There is never a dull moment with them, or any of them come to think of it.Erin and her slightly older girl cousin, Rebekah playing out of the same piano book together. These two seem to always have a plan: cutting up jeans and sewing miniature quilts, designing elaborate bug homes, acting out David and Goliath for FHE and thinking up fun games on the trampoline.I can't forget that Erin reads to the kids every day, all on her own. No doubt they've all come to the realization that their mom has gotten too lazy for that.And then there is Connor, constantly moving and getting into everything, as any 14 month old should, adding to the lovely chaos around him. It's just a matter of time before the cousin half a year younger than him will be gallivanting around with him too. This one shows him preparing to beat someone with the broom while coloring parts of his body green with this open marker. He's pretty talented. Question: When did this kid get to be so big?
One can't forget Jared's presence in the house. There seems to be quite a fly problem here due to a mink farm in the proximity (not to mention the smell). It was becoming more than Jared could handle, as in he used to catch them in his bare hands and slam them hard to their death. So he purchased an electrified fly swatter that he uses inside daily, usually around dinner time, and sometimes outside when he runs out of them in here. He seems to have a little too much fun electrocuting flies, especially when it makes a big popping sound.None of me because, 1- I already posted the no bangs picture last time and 2- do you really want to see what I looked like after my run-in with the law and the library nazi today? Yeah, me neither.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Showed Charity

I haven't blogged for a while. I had a really bad day yesterday, but on the bright side, I just found some dental floss (almost completely pulled out of its container), but dental floss none the less after running out a few days ago. See? Life is good.

On another bright side... I have been trying to focus on different Christlike attribute lately, but you just never know if anything you do ever sinks in with the kids. One night at dinner I had given Marissa some corn and when I looked back and it was gone. "What happened to the corn on the cob that you had Marissa?" I asked. "I gave it to Alex because he wanted one just like mine. I showed charity." That made us laugh so hard. What 3 year old says that? I'm glad she caught on to something.

Moving to Utah has been good. It is a good place to live in so many ways, like seeing three temples at the same time. I have no doubt that we were inspired to come here. But, this move hasn't come without a couple of snags. Mostly just one... selling our house. What an annoying pain to sell a house from so far away. We got an offer about a month ago and we were all happy with the agreement, but the appraisal came back $6000 less than what they had offered. This means that they can only get financing for that amount and still need $5000 back, which we are pretty sure we don't want to do. What makes everyone mad is that the appraisal was very subjective, rating our house's condition much lower than it should have been valued. So you know, all the painting, new bathrooms, new roof, repairs, landscaping, etc. we did meant nothing to this one appraiser--he thinks our house is one level above complete and utter crap. Thanks. Both realtors tried to get the appraisal appealed and we just found out that it was denied. We are stuck with this appraisal for 6 months. So we either lose a lot more money with this deal or we put it back on the market and lose more money having to pay for the mortgage, power, water and lawn care for another month or two, or possibly more. There is no way to win, it seems. It is pretty likely that our house will now be back on the market. You are more than welcome to pray for a miracle that it will sell soon.

We have not been able to save any money since we got here, which we need to do for our down payment. Understandably so, considering we are still paying for a house there and paying for rent and living expenses here on a lower salary. We will be okay once we get rid of that house, I think. One good thing, I guess, is that they haven't even started digging for our new house yet-- meaning it we be longer before we are in it, but we will have more time to save money. I am trying to figure out what this all means, like what I'm supposed to learn from this. Maybe I need to be humbled. Maybe I am supposed to become more thrifty. You know, shop at DI and garage sales. Or eat Ramon noodles and use coupons. It's not really something I've ever worried about before, but I guess I could give it a go. I attended a Grocery Smarts class the other day and figure I could give that a try. And no new school clothes for Erin this year, or for anyone else for that matter. Don't worry, she never did care much about new clothes. Is it just my kids or do they just wear the old ones anyway leaving the new ones untouched? So frustrating.

Which leads me to my next point. None of my clothes have been fitting me lately, and for the record, I stopped eating ice cream every day. No, I am not pregnant (that I am aware of--always have to add that caveat). I just haven't found a very good way to exercise here yet. The biking is fun, but I don't feel like it's really exercise. There are no gyms close by that have child care. Let me rephrase that, there are none that have reasonably priced child care. And there are no gyms for miles with racquetball. Tennis club, yes. Racquetball, no where to be found. These people don't know what they are missing! Maybe they'll build one someday, but it's a bummer for both Jared and me, not that we could pay for a gym membership right now anyway. And I can't run because of my back/pelvis issue, which is the most depressing thing of all because I have always loved to run. My newest idea is those P90X DVD's, which I found for cheap on KSL. What do you think? Am I crazy? Is it really going to work for me? Will I be all gung ho for three days and then fizzle out? I figure that will be cheaper that buying all new clothes, and I will probably feel better. I have to do something with this aging body of mine.

Last week was our ninth anniversary and we didn't have money to do much. We left our kids up at Jared's parents' house while we went to dinner at Brick Oven in Provo (more on that later). Since we were already at BYU, we decided to walk around campus. Every time we saw something that made us remember something we had to share our memory. It was so much fun! What's with all the new buildings that weren't there 15 years ago anyway? We were both there at the same time but never knew each other until we were done, yet many of the places we lived were really close together. Neither of us were ready to get married earlier, so it was meant to be that we never met. We would not trade those amazing BYU memories being free and single for anything. Going away to school was one of the best times of my life. But I am so glad to be married to Jared now. He is patient, kind, athletic, easy going, hard working, smart, handy, computer savvy, a good listener and absolutely perfect for me, just to name a few of his good qualities.

The next morning we went to the temple to do sealings and had a great time remembering our own sealing ceremony. After that we went to Jada's funeral where we got to see so many people that we dearly love. It is still sad to think that such a bright and amazing girl is no longer here, but it was a beautiful tribute to her life and gave me the reassurance that the plan of salvation is real. We will see those we love again, as long as we also live the right way. It still amazes me how one 14 year old could draw such a huge crowd of people in Utah when she never even lived here. So many people that lived in Florida and have since moved drove in from all over the west for this event, and as many people as possibly could flew in as well. It was a comfort to see all the old Florida faces that I love. It truly felt like the comfortable home I've known for so long. Thank you Jada, for continuing to make a difference in so many lives.

Since so many people were coming in for the funeral, a bunch of us got together the night before for dinner--at Brick Oven, remember? It was great to talk with them again. It really felt like not much had changed and that we were just a bunch of Floridians going out to eat. I realized that I felt an extra connection to most of them because I read their blogs. It makes me feel a little ambivalent about my blog. On the one hand, I feel so inadequate when I compare my long, mostly insignificant blabberings with some of their interesting and eloquent writings. But by the same token, because of the connection I feel with others, it makes me want to continue to write without comparing with anyone else.

And last, I showed up to dinner with no bangs. You cannot imagine how exposed and self conscious I felt. I kept telling myself that it's not that bad and why should anyone else care anyway? But despite all my insecurities, I did it. The one last thing I feel most self conscious about. I'm grateful that nobody said anything. And I'm grateful that Jared is supportive of however I look. And Erin. She gives me courage to wear my hair like this. Alex thinks I only look good with no bangs when I smile, but otherwise it's a no go. When I saw the picture of it on my friend's blog, it was weird. I am still not used to it. But then I realized that men walk around almost completely bald and nobody thinks anything of it. Right? Here's the picture... cringe.
Look at all these great people though. And here's the link to Jada's older sister Bridian's incredible blog, where I got the picture, in case you want a good read.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blue Desk Has Lost the Blues

Sooo... ya know how I used to pick up old furniture off the side of the road in Florida? And you know how I was so sad about not having bulk pick up anymore to feed my habit? (side note: a few days before our moving truck came I saw an awesome dresser on the side of the road, but I resisted--mostly for Jared's sake. I could have so easily just loaded on with everything else.) Well... we were outside working on our car a couple of weeks ago and the neighbors two doors down were having a garage sale. We went over and that's when I saw my next project. They said that this one wasn't even for sale and that some other neighbors had brought it over in case anyone wanted to take it. This was a good find, yes indeed.

The funny thing is that we were talking to the home owners about that show Hoarders and how crazy all those people are for filling up their houses with junk. "Yeah, I totally agree. Crazy people. I'll take the desk." The junky, broken, warped outcast of a desk. It did take some convincing to get Jared to see my vision. "This will be perfect in Erin's room, don't you think?" was my reasoning. "But you have like three unfinished projects in the storage unit already, and where would be put this one?" was Jared's point of view. All valid arguments, I will agree. But in the end, he was the one helping me carry the thing home. Thanks again, honey. I don't think he regrets it now. I love how this one turned out.
I had to scrape off all the warped veneer and sand down the wood underneath. I still have to fix the inside of one of the drawers, but I couldn't wait to share this one. I already knew I wanted to do something this blue color and distress it to reveal its character and lines. The hardware was spray painted in ORB (oil rubbed bronze). The more I work on a piece, the more I love it. You don't notice all the fabulous details until you sit with it for a few hours. Why do I love that anyway? There is no way I could have built something this cool, especially in the amount of time I spent refinishing it. I mean, just look at those legs? And to think, somebody was going to throw it away.After I painted it blue, Erin loved it. But when I started distressing it she was visibly upset. I was ruining the perfectly good paint job. She wanted it to look new. And also, she wanted the hardware blue to boot. Good grief. Yes, it will be her desk, but in the end, I was going to do what I wanted. This may be my favorite project yet, even if Erin thinks it looks ratty.

One more because a pudding faced Marissa wanted to be in the picture

Another funny thing. I used the rub on polyurethane and didn't have any gloves. The stuff gets all over your hands and doesn't come off with soap for days, FYI. That's when I brilliantly decided to try peanut butter. It worked like a charm. Next time, I'll use gloves, but peanut butter is a good second best, in case you are wondering.

Right now it has a spot right by our front door and will be great for a mail drop and to keep pens and pencils, and it gives us a pop of color in here. Here's a shot of where we live with the desk in the corner.Now, if only I could find more pieces like this for free on the side of the road...

(furniture donations gladly accepted)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Good Clean Fun

I feel like I should capture some of the craziness (and fun) that has occurred this summer so that I don't forget it all.

On being an adult: I will just start by saying that sometimes I wish I didn't have to deal with all the responsibilities involved in moving to a new state. My kids don't know how good they have it, not being adults that is. I needed to get new car insurance, because it is way cheaper and because I live here. But to do this I had to register the cars here which involved two trips to get safety and emissions for both cars and a trip down to the DMV with all the kids. And I had to get a Utah driver's license, which involved going to a different license agency, where they sent me to another location to get my birth certificate because mine is in the storage unit (I have everyone else's by not mine) and yet another location to get my marriage license--with all four kids. I forgot the snacks I packed for them (translation: long day with cranky kids) and I still don't have my license! Oh, and you also need two forms of proof of address which was a little tricky since we have no utilities here and a bunch of other things were only in Jared's name. Good thing I have that secret credit card only in my name (just kidding-it's not secret, but it is in my name). Also on the agenda yesterday was going to the bank with my sister-in-law and all 10 kids to get something notarized saying that we live with them so that Erin can get signed up for school. The kids weren't that bad, all things considered, but I'm pretty sure the bank will need to order some more suckers after our visit. And there are things to deal with involving the inspection of our home in Florida (water leak, termite spot treatment, A/C, one nail exposed in the roof--what's with that one?). Totally not fun to deal with all this when we are not even there. See how annoying it is to be an adult sometimes? I'm done complaining. This will all be taken care of soon.

On living near family: It is great! It has definitely been a shock just how busy family things can be and will probably take some getting used to, but I love being more involved with family. We've had a birthday thing on Monday, another one for a 2 year old niece the day before, BBQ's with grandparents, FHE with my brother's family, an extended family reunion for Jared's mom's family, my uncle's 90th birthday celebration, splash park with the sisters-in-law and kids, dinner for a sister-in-law who was visiting, the aviary with all the cousins on the Evans side, party up the canyon with cousins and grandparents, another campfire up the canyon with the family we live with, visit to my aunt's house, sleepovers and grandparents' house, outings with my mom and sister... so yeah, it's pretty busy. And let's not forget that we see family every day. We love living here with the cousins. Just think, nobody has to ask to go play with friends because they are always around. Everyone has gotten along really well too, which has been so good to see.
CousinsMore cousins
Even more cousinsThe cousins we live with (most of them)Look, everyone has someone to play with. Lucky kids!

On living in 900 sq ft: Not bad at all. We actually had less until yesterday because there was a water leak and some mold issues in one of the bedrooms. They came to install the carpet last week and found another puddle of water which came from our washer this time. We got that fixed and had to wait another week for the carpet. So 3 kids have been sharing a small room and Connor has been with us for a month. And the dressers have been in the living area. Now that we have that third bedroom, it feels so roomy. The bad thing about a small space is how messy it can get. Remember how messy four kids was in our house if Florida? Same mess, smaller space. But the good thing is that it is pretty easy to get it clean again. And only one bathroom to clean. It is kind of like living in a small apartment with 6 roommates in college. A little bigger than Heritage Halls and a little smaller than King Henry.

You may wonder if I like having all these kids around. The answer is yes. I have always liked to be around people, not that I've always been a kid person. But I like company, I guess, so it doesn't bother me at all that there are 6 or 7 kids running through the house all the time (for the most part anyway). Living here sometimes makes me feel a little bit like a polygamist. I mean besides having our own husbands and all, which admittedly is the most important part about polygamy. But there are always lots of kids around and they are not all mine, but we are somehow all related. And there's another wife upstairs.

On milestones: Connor started walking all the time about three weeks ago and running a couple weeks later. We were at the cell phone store and he ran out the door behind someone leaving with a charger in his hand. That was an interesting "where's my child?" moment. Glad I noticed before he wandered into the parking lot. He has also mastered stairs, up and down. A great point to get to. Marissa is about 85% potty trained. Yay! She is in underwear all the time but has had a few accidents, including poop. But it is definitely time and she is doing a lot better than before. Alex is learning how to ride a bike with no training wheels. I think if we spent more time practicing he would get it by the end of the summer. Erin is learning to roller skate. Jared is getting used to getting up way earlier than he used to, and doing a fabulous job of it. Me? Not so much. I usually drag myself out of bed long enough to pack a lunch for the man and kiss him goodbye. My milestone is starting to ride a road bike. I've gone out a couple of times with my friend on one of her bikes. It seems pretty fun and maybe like something I could get into.

Connor walking

On Kid Camp and No TV: Kid camp goes pretty well on the days we are here. They usually do about half the things on the list, but it's better than nothing. We were given a little TV before we moved here but haven't used it once. The kids are completely happy playing outside all day and reading books rather than TV. I love it! Jared and I have been indulging in our two newest addictions: watching episodes of Monk on Hulu and eating ice cream every night. Seriously one of the best shows there is. Funny, captivating, clean. What's not to love?

On other fun things we've done: Pioneer Day parade, fair and fireworks. Do you believe these people give you Pioneer Day off? Extra holiday, sweet!

The Third Annual Lehi Foam Day. The firemen spray foam all over a field and you just play in it. Then they wash you off with the water hoses. Marissa did not want to "go in the clouds" after I showed her a video of what it was--as in she wouldn't even get in the car with us. We left her at home with the upstairs neighbors to take a nap instead. It was really fun though, good clean fun.Oh, and how could I forget Dress Like a Cow day at Chic-fil-a? $32 worth of food for free just for putting on a few spots, ears, nose and a tail. I still can't believe certain people wouldn't do this (i.e. Jared). No pictures, but next year, our costumes will be even better. Thank goodness I have Cheryl to do dumb stuff like this with me.

Last, one of the top reasons for living in Utah, the Parade of Homes. I debated not going for about 5 minutes, due to the dragging kids along with me part, but decided in the end that I love it too much to not go. Turns out, my kids do love the Parade of Homes too. Poor Connor and Marissa by the end of each day... they are both so tired and I end up carrying them more than I want to. I figure I do enough things that are just for the kids, like parks and museums, that I can do something that I really love too. I don't think I will ever get tired of looking at homes, including my friends' homes. Yep, I'm the kind of annoying friend who will ask to see the rest of your house. Sorry, I like houses--a lot. One of the most awesome homes this year was a replica of the house from "Up". So fun. Loved it! They even had the old man outside and gave out balloons.
Good Clean Fun!