Monday, August 27, 2012

Our House

I'm posting way too many pictures, I'm sure.  But most of our family will never be able to visit us in our Amarillo home, so I took a lot of pictures from multiple perspectives to try to give a feel for the size/ shape of the rooms.

Okay, here is our house from across the street.  I was trying to show how naked our neighborhood is in terms of landscaping.  That's the worst part about living in a new neighborhood.  No trees.  You can't see a garage because the neighborhood is built with alleyways between two streets.  One accesses the driveway through the alley, so our backdoor neighbor's rear house faces our rear house with drive ways across the alley from each other.  Also in the alley are multiple dumpsters-- 1 dumpster per 2 houses.  It's a little bit creepy-ish, I think.  But it is a safe feeling neighborhood.  And I guess the alleyway thing is the norm for Amarillo because I see lots of neighborhoods built that way.

Closer up:

So the front door opens up into the living room.  It is a big open room.  And since we don't own much furniture, it is REALLY open which is perfect for our boys.  They have a lot of space to run and play.  Luke's stereo is usually on one of those little black square tables.  The boys put on music and run in circles or dance in the space.  It's pretty cute.

As you could see above, the living room goes right into the kitchen.  Our kitchen is a hallway kitchen that leads to the laundry room and garage.  That's our pretty new fridge.

Washer and dryer

Our house is 500 square feet bigger than our apartment, but it actually has less storage space, especially in the kitchen.  This is primarily due to the fact that there isn't a pantry.  So we put shelves in the laundry room to act as our pantry, and that fixed the problem.

Dining area and door to backyard

View from the kitchen

This hallway off the living room leads to the boys' room, Jared's office, and the 2nd bath.

The boys' room

I actually cleaned the entire house to get ready for these pictures.  While I was vacuuming the living room the boys trashed their room.  I didn't want to clean it again, so I just took the pictures as is.

The boys' bathroom

It did have a shower curtain, but it kept falling down.  These tiles won't support suction.  It is ANNOYING.  Especially because there is no built in soap dish/ shampoo shelving, so the shower caddy in our bathroom keeps sliding down and spilling the contents.  GRRR

This is the view from inside the boys' room.  The door on the right is the bathroom, and the door straight ahead is the office.

Jared's "Office"

This is the 2nd little hallway off the other wall in the living room.  The door facing the camera is a coat closet, and the door to Micah's back leads to our room.

Our room

That's an air mattress at the foot of our bed because Luke was waking up during the night and climbing in bed with us.  We understand if he gets scared, but we don't want to sleep with the crazy sleeper.  So that is Luke's scared bed.

The door ajar leads is the bathroom door.  It is always open because it just won't shut.  There is a list of things that the builder is supposed to be coming to fix.

Our bathroom

And our super big closet

This is hands down the best part about being in a house, and it is actually the reason why we chose a house over an apartment.  We spend 1+ hours in the yard everyday.  The boys jump themselves silly, and we also do sidewalk chalk, play bubbles, play soccer, hunt for bugs, etc.  And the best thing is that the boys can play out there while I'm finishing up the dishes or whatever.  I love that it is so easy to be outside. 

Last, our garage

And that is our house.  We love it!  It's perfect for us.  And we have compiled a list about why we love being in a house.

2.  We don't have to worry if our boys are loud
3.  I can do exercise videos after 6 pm because I don't have a neighbor coming home who will be driven crazy by the stomp, stomp, stomping.  That means that at least a few times a week I actually do exercise.
4.  Garage-- almost as great as a backyard, but not quite
5.  More space
6.  It just feels sooooo much more like a home
7.  We don't have drug dealers living across the street (so far as we can tell)
8.  No speed bumps (although in Luke's mind that is a bad thing)
9.  We feel more adult-like
10.  Just look at it.

The Trip to Amarillo

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.

Dear Family,

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.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Reception

After the drive home from Manti we had a few hours to rest before the reception.  It wasn't all that restful though.  Micah got the lid of a "childproof" bottle of Motrin and dumped it all over himself.  Luke got food all over his shirt.  (Hence the different outfits below), so there was a frantic bath time before leaving for the reception.  And well as a frantic carpet scrub.  And probably some more chaos that I don't remember.

And then on to the reception.

Amber and Trevor's reception was held in Trevor's mother's backyard.  It was beautiful!  The weather was perfect, and the decorations were very pretty.  It was very simple, but it came together to look amazing.  My pictures don't do it justice, but the photographs that the professional photographer took show just how unique and attractive it was.

You know the expression "It's a Small World."  Well, how true that is!  We found a funny connection over the course of the week.  Trevor's mom and Jared's Aunt Sally are best friends!  Sally and Steve live just a few houses away from Trevor's mom.  Sally and Ann (his mom) are walking buddies, and Aunt Sally spent every evening for a week or more before the reception helping to get the yard ready.  So I was very excited that I got to see Aunt Sally, Uncle Steve, and Grandma Mary at the reception and catch up for just a bit.

This was the kids' favorite corner of the yard:

Luke and Micah re-connecting with Grandma Mary

Me and Grammy

Grammy is my dad's mother.  She lived in Provo until a year or two ago when she moved to Tempe, AZ to be with my Aunt Deb.  She still has her house in Provo and gets to come back to her mountains for a few weeks every year.  I have so many good memories of game nights at her house while I was at BYU.  I had a lot of cousins at BYU, and we all met up at Grammy's on Sunday evenings.  Even after I had graduated Jared and I would visit Grammy a few times a month for games and chats.  She shared a lot of wisdom with me, and I am glad that I got to know and love her better during my time in Utah.

Grammy and Aunt Deb

Luke pushing Blake on the swing

I didn't get too many pictures because I was kept super busy trying to keep my boys out of trouble.  I failed.  Multiple family members were also helping me, and still it was just crazy.  Luke kept trying to sneak into the house to see the fans or hunt for stereos.  Micah was trying to dig in the garden and rip up flowers.  Once we finally (mostly) convinced Luke that he had to stay outside he busied himself by trying to play the piano with the string quartet or by cutting in line to fill up cup after cup of green punch.  I couldn't keep both boys in the same location doing anything appropriate.  After chasing Luke away from the string quartet (again!) I turned around to find Micah stealing someone's cupcake.  Luckily it turned out to be my cousin Brittany's who just said he could have had it.  So I nabbed a few pictures.

But seriously my boys just couldn't handle it.  I ended up leaving in tears because I didn't get to talk to Amber and Trevor at all.  And because sometimes my job is so exhausting.  And because sometimes when I see other people's kids calmly sitting at a table and coloring while drinking their ONE cup of punch and eating their ONE cupcake, I just want to scream WHAT DID THEIR PARENTS DO SO RIGHT?!!!!

So, for me, it wasn't the perfect ending to an otherwise exciting day.  But I am so happy for Amber and Trevor and look forward to getting to know Trevor better when he lands a job in Dallas and moves right next door to us.  Right?  Right?  RIGHT?!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Amber's Wedding Part II

I don't have much more to add other than more pictures.  Amber's photographer was great.  She was very efficient in getting the group shots done quickly.  Then the happy couple went off to get more love shots, and the rest of us nabbed some shots of each other and the kids while we waited.  So here are a few more:

Megan's Family (minus Ethan)

Cousin pictures:

Blake, Luke, and Skyler are all really close in age, so it's super fun for them.  They had a lot of fun running around and playing together during our week in Utah.  I probably posted too many pictures of the little monkeys together, but I just thought every one was adorable!


And some of my munchkins:

I love how cute they are in their white shirts and ties!

So hard to get a shot where everyone is looking at the camera
(and looking good)

Blake and RJ

Another side story:  This trip was the first time I got to meet RJ.  I was super impressed by how kid-oriented he is.  He obviously cared a lot for his brothers and sisters.  But he also jumped right into his role as older cousin.  He lifted Luke up about a million times to look at the air vent in the RV.  He chased Micah around and made both the boys laugh.  I don't think many teenage boys would be happy about baby-sitting, but RJ didn't mind at all.  Plus he was polite and friendly.  What a great guy!

This is not at all a good shot (Luke took it), but I wanted to include it because it has some of my Mom's family and I didn't take any other pictures of my aunts and uncles.  The woman in the white shirt and pink skirt is my Aunt Annette.  Her husband (my Uncle Brett) is an attorney in Bountiful, UT.  Brett asked me where Jared was and when I replied that he was studying for the bar which he would take the next week, Brett said, "He is in the worst kind of hell right now!"  

The woman in the red cardigan is my Aunt Terri.  We had fun chatting for a minute, but I wish I'd had more time to talk to people.  I don't see my mom's family very often, but I love all of them.  I wish we got to see family more often!

Okay, actually there is something to add besides pictures.  A nice, embarrassing story.  Following pictures, there was a luncheon at the Manti house, right near the temple.  The luncheon was held in a beautiful pavilion outside.  It was nice because there was room for the kids to run around.  There were a couple air conditioning units outside, and like 9 ceiling fans in the pavilion, so my kids were happy.  I knew they would stay around the ceiling fans or air conditioners, so I wasn't paying too close of attention.  But then, right as we were beginning introductions, I turned around and Luke was standing in the middle of all the tables with his pants AND HIS UNDERWEAR down around his ankles.  I yelled something like, "Oh my word!" loud enough to make sure everyone attending turned to see what was going on and whisked him away amid the uproar of laughter (and someone yelling for the photographer to get a picture.)  When I pulled him around the side of the pavilion Luke asked as calm as can be, "Mom, can I poop in the bushes?"

Luckily, Amber and Trevor are not people who are easily phased or embarrassed.  We got quite a few jokes about it, but all in all, it makes a good story, right?  I mean, how many of you had a streaker at your wedding?