I really don't want to take the time to write about our trip to Amarillo from Virginia. But I DID right about it in my family email a few weeks back. So I am copying that letter here for anyone who wants to know how the trip went (with a few more details added in that I originally forgot to include.) Sorry, No pictures! The camera was buried in the trunk with a dead battery the entire trip. DearFamily,
I've missed a few weeks, so this letter will be long in the catch-up.
The boys and I got back from our trip to Utah on July 19th. Jared left on the 21st for Dallas and the bar. He went a few days early to get his bearings and to have some uninterrupted studying time. He says the bar was the worst experience of his life. It was pressure like he's never felt before. The Texas bar is 3 days long. Jared expected the last day to be the hardest but actually felt like he did the best that day. He is pretty sure he passed but won't be completely at ease until he gets the results back-- IN NOVEMBER. I think it is a unique kind of brutality to make the law students wait that long.
Mom came on the 24th (Tuesday), and I am so glad she could come early. We never could have done the move without her. I had packed all of about 3 boxes before Mom arrived. And the boxes I packed ended up being repacked by her anyway. We had a system worked out that was pretty unbalanced. I would clean out and organize and deal with therapy, errands, and the boys and Mom did most of the packing. It wasn't that I was unwilling or lazy. I kept busy as well with cleaning, etc. but Mom is the most efficient packer I have EVER seen. You wouldn't believe how much she could fit into a box. Not one inch was wasted. This was an amazing blessing because when Jared picked up the Penske truck the following Monday we were all sure that all of our stuff was not going to fit. In the end it did. Jared is a pretty good packer too, and he and Mom made a wonder-team.
We left on Tuesday, the 31st of July, right after Micah's post-op check with the ENT. We found out that his ears are healing just fine, but he is supposed to see an ENT every 3 months just to check on the position of the tubes and make sure that everything is still okay. Jared mapped out a course, so we drove about 7 hours a day. I was expecting it to be terrible, but it actually wasn't too bad. It wasn't a picnic, but there wasn't too much screaming either. Here's how we got through it. First of all, I bought Luke a new stereo-- battery operated. He spent the first 2 days switching out CDs and playing with his stereo. Micah likes stereos too (He calls them Ree-Rees.) So when he got upset, Luke let Micah have a turn with the stereo and that calmed him right down. We also used the DVD player A LOT. One of the best purchases of my life. It saved me on the airplane trips to and from Utah and saved us again on this trip. If not for Baby Einstein Micah would have had a much rougher time. Oh, and fruit snacks. Lots and LOTS of fruit snacks.
The first day we drove separately. We had a few stops for food and bathroom breaks and just giving the boys a chance to move. We made it to the hotel about 8:30 at night. From the second day on we caravanned. I lead the way, and Jared followed behind. We made it to Missouri the second day. We arrived early and planned to swim, etc. but it turned out the Days Inn we had booked was a total hole. The pool was broken, the room was dirty, and we wanted to spend as little time as possible there.
On Thursday we made it to Tulsa, OK. Jared's sister Katrina lives there with her family. Wednesday night we went to an awesome splash pad with Katrina and her boys. Other than the fact it was BAKING hot, the splash pad was a ton of fun. I don't know what is about kids-- they never seem to feel the heat, and Luke and Micah both ran screaming into the water splashing and copying Katrina's boys. I love seeing Luke play with his cousins. He comes alive in a way that he doesn't with anyone else. On Friday we stayed another day in Tulsa so that we could have more time with family. We played in the backyard, watched Olympics, ate pizza, and then went to the swimming pool in the evening. Friday, especially, we could see what a good influence Katrina's boys were on our boys. All the boys spent a lot of time in the backyard. Luke would run to the air conditioner, and Cooper and Hayde would check it out for a second and then say, "Luke, let's go to the swings!" or some other suggestion and Luke would run off. One time I heard Luke suggest something about the a/c and Cooper said, "That's not a game!" so Luke left the a/c and played whatever running game they were doing at the time. It was the least interest he had shown in an air conditioner that I've ever seen.
On Saturday we left early to make the drive into Amarillo. This was BY FAR the worst day of driving. We took a route out of Tulsa that had about a million toll booths. Each booth had a different random amount (like 35 cents) that had to be paid in exact change. Out of the 10 or so booths that we crossed only 2 were manned. None took debit cards. And none were marked very well. I ran one toll because I didn't realize that's what it was and just went through an EZ tag lane. We had to pay 25 cents to exit the road to get gas and cash and then 25 cents to get back on. At one toll (before we exited for cash) the charge was $3.75. We didn't have enough cash, and I didn't have a checkbook. Luckily Mom had one check so we held up the line frantically searching our car for money and then as Mom wrote the check. That was the last toll that was manned by a person. We had gotten change for tolls not realizing that the tolls could only be paid in COINS. Hello! This is 2012. NOBODY carries coins around! At one toll we had to pay $1.15, all in coins! There was a coin changer machine, but it was broken. So we just threw in what we had and set off the alarm. With our car and the Penske combined I think we ran 5 or 6 tolls that day. I'm not sure if we will be getting some tickets in the mail, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised. It was terrible!
We were happy to leave that road and happy to finally see our new home in Amarillo. Our landlords are super nice. Dani met us at our home and walked us through. It is a beautiful little house. I will post pictures on the blog soon. But here is a brief description. You enter into the living room. The kitchen is directly in front of that. The master bedroom and bathroom are off to the right of the living room and a little hallway that leads to 2 other bedrooms and a bath are off to the left. There is a door to the backyard in the kitchen. The yard is small, but it is fenced and is the perfect size for our first yard. We have a brand new, wonderful trampoline out there, and the boys bounce themselves silly every day.
We had to get a fridge, washer, and dryer for the house. We ordered appliances last Monday (25% off at Lowes!); we got a great deal on everything. The washer and dryer came on Tuesday, but the fridge didn't get here until today. The hardest adjustment so far was making do with a dorm fridge that our landlords leant us. There wasn't a lot of space for fruits or veggies. The whole thing was filled with Soy milk. We were sick to death of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We were so happy to get our fridge today. We made tacos for dinner, and nothing has ever been more delicious!
So our house is great. We live in a little neighborhood of small houses about our size. You can tell that there are only a few floorplans, but the builder did a good job in making the houses look varied. There are different shutters or front doors or colors of brick, etc. so it doesn't look exactly the same. I like that. It is a very quiet neighborhood. We haven't seen any kids playing outside or anything. We never hear anyone. So we haven't met many people yet.
Our ward is very small compared to Williamsburg. There are probably 100-150 people in sacrament meeting. We meet in the stake center; it is exactly like the Katy stake center. And we don't fill it at all! There are only 3 primary classes, so they don't divide into junior and senior primary. Luke likes his teacher. I called the primary president before we moved in and found out the name of his teacher and the names of the kids in his class, so I think he was well prepared. Micah, on the other hand, hates nursery and won't go. I was the nursery teacher in Williamsburg, so he's never done it without me. He is struggling. But this past Sunday I met two very nice girls. One of them has 2 boys bordering Luke's age; one is 5 and one is 3. I hope we get to be friends. I got her number and planned to call for a play date, but Micah started running a fever again tonight, so I'm not sure how long we'll be out of commission.
I registered Luke for school. I think he will do well here. We chose his school and then found our house. We wanted him at Tradewind because it has an integrated setting, and we wanted Luke to be with neurotypical peers. Seeing him with Cooper really reaffirmed to us that we made the right decision. He needs play models and friends. I was told that there will probably be about 16 kids in his class, which is bigger than his class last year, but there are 2 teachers and 2 aides in the classroom. I think it will be a good place to prepare him for Kindergarten. His new school has uniforms. Luke has to wear a white, red, or black polo everyday and khaki shorts or pants. Even their jackets have to be red, white or black, and they can't have any logos showing. I found that Wal-mart and Old Navy carry the uniform clothing but not in toddler sizes. Luke's clothes will be a little big on him, but I don't have another option.
I met with Early Intervention on the 14th for an initial screening for Micah. He will do his testing with a speech therapist and occupational therapist the 1st week of September, and we will hopefully start services shortly thereafter. Starting services has taken longer than I expected.
Overall, we like Amarillo. The weather here is nice. There is a constant breeze, and it is not humid, so even when it is 100 it doesn't feel back outside. Also, like Utah, it is cool in the morning and evenings. We did yard work on Saturday, and it only felt about 80 degrees. I was in jeans and a t-shirt pulling weeds like a crazy person, and I wasn't sweating at all. You can get anywhere in the city in 30 minutes or less, and the roads aren't very scary. We found the library, a health food store that carries Luke's chicken nuggets, and a park with a splash pad. The elementary is walking distance form our house so we go there often to play on the swing set. Luke likes having a sidewalk to ride his bike. And so life is pretty good.
I haven't been lonely at all even though we don't know really know anybody yet. It's been so nice to be TOGETHER. We've been shopping together. We went to Palo Duro canyon on Saturday. We've hung up pictures, jumped on the tramp, sat on the porch, layed on the trampline, and just soaked each other in. Once Jared starts work I'll have to be more proactive in making friends, but for now I'm thankful to have time with him.