Monday, August 29, 2016

Block Party

"Downtown" had a block party. It was rather obvious that we are now in a small little town. Several cover bands up and down the main street, kids could sit on fire trucks, restaurants had little bites of food for sale, and there was a kids bouncy section. 


This mural is humongous and shows the entire state, if I remember right. Aeryn wasn't really sure about posing for me but I sort of made her. She's at that age where anything I want her to do deserves a protest even if it is something that she enjoys. She obliged, and I felt momentarily triumphant in this game of parenting a teen. 


It was blazing hot (***correction: humid and medium hot), and I felt bad for Squishy stuck in her little chair the whole time. We covered the stroller with a light blanket at one point just to keep the sun out of her eyes. She was a trooper and I figure it was much more comfortable than either of us would have been if she'd have been in the carrier instead. 


Tate hesitated and then agreed to go on this bouncy slide. It ended up being a blast and he went on it nine times! 
He loved every second of it. 

We had pie and then headed back to our car. Something about this old RC cola sign just felt retro-fabulous and small town to me. There's really no point to taking a picture of it other than that. 


Two weekend days in a row we got out and did something! Jim and I talked about how we didn't do enough of this kind of thing in Eugene. Granted, life was stressed and crazy with his schooling and having little babies, but I think we feel like we missed out somewhat. We did the best we could, but we are trying to not let things fall by the wayside here. We are going to be active participants in our community. Besides, we hear they have a great blues festival in a couple months.

ISU Outdoor Center

Jim's department is in charge of running an outdoor center for the University. As part of a "Welcome to the school year" shindig, the new faculty, staff, and their families were invited to a barbecue at the center to see the facilities.

 Let's just say, it's beautiful.

 Like, completely beautiful.

 

Growing up, I swore I'd never be happy living somewhere I couldn't see mountains. My idea of mountains is pretty specific, thanks to the gorgeous Rockies that flanked my hometown, and I haven't lived around mountains like that for very much of my adult life.

You know what? It HASN'T killed me and I HAVE been perfectly happy. Huh. Who'd have thought?


I'm now super in love with green. 

Blame Oregon. {My heart still lingers in Oregon, FYI}


I really didn't know what to expect when we moved here. We flew out to look at houses and I noticed corn fields, a lot of corn fields. I also noticed that there are some large trees (win). Mostly, I noticed that my hubby felt at peace with his job and so it made everything else feel like a win, even if it is a small little town without a Target. 


Long story short, I'm really liking it. The people are so kind and there is definitely a different pace of life, but it's really charming in it's own little way. We've seen deer, and jackrabbits, and of course the beloved fireflies. 


The outdoor center is a great resource for faculty and is open to the community, plus employees can use it free on Sundays. There are some great little trails and pocket lakes so we may take advantage of this little escape now and again. One day we'll have to go back when it is fully staffed and we can use the zip line and ropes course. 


This seems like it will be a sweet place to raise a family.



Monday, August 15, 2016

New House!!!

There are no words. We are out of student housing and in an actual house! Seriously, it is amazing. I have so many plans it is ridiculous. The home is quirky in many ways, for example, I have never seen so much coaxial cable in by life. Seriously, do people even use it anymore? It is coming out of the walls all over the place. Three places in the family room, in the closets of at least two bedrooms, and literally every single room has at least one.

Without further ado - the poorly documented "before" as my real camera had been packed into the middle of the moving truck and I had only a few moments to snap phone pics before the unloading commenced.


Our front door is red, as is our garage, and they will both be changing. Of course, pretty much every color everywhere in this house will be changing at some point. We did not buy a house that matches our (ahem, my) taste very well.


We have a garage! Literally folks, this is luxury right here. No longer will we have to unload our groceries outside in the rain! Not that I really minded, I love the rain, it's just the principle of te thing.


Ellie is perhaps more excited than anyone to have her own room. She wants it pink and gold with a daybed, princess curtains, and a reading nook with a canopy in the corner. It is my goal to have her room done before she comes back at Thanksgiving.


This family room is four steps down from the main level. At first I expected it to be a secondary area we didn't use much but it is turning out to be the main room for us. The fireplace already looks different. I love a good whitewash, but this is neither whitewash nor good... so it is no longer. Stay tuned for updates :) Can we talk about that wall color? Oy. It looks exactly like creamy peanut butter. So, yes, I've already bought the paint to cover that.


This is the other side of the family room where it meets the kitchen. That door goes out to our deck (We have a deck!!!!).


Standing in the dining area looking toward the front door.


The main floor living room, which I had expected to make the TV room so I could close the doors, but instead is not turning out to be as conducive to hanging out as I anticipated.


One side of the kitchen... the other side was loaded up with bags and things that were immediately brought in from the cars. That fridge is being replaced today because it leaks, we can't find where, and it is ruining our floor. Ah, home ownership.


The backyard is the reason we almost didn't buy this house, and now it's one of our favorite things. There is no fenced area for kids to play, and this slopes downward into what we call our "ravine" with a little creek at the bottom. Seriously, we have a creek! It may actually just be a drainage thing but don't tell me... I'm going with creek. Looking out the front, it feels like we are in a neighborhood, Looking out the back, we are isolated and surrounded by trees. Seriously, I don't think it gets better than this.


T & C are sharing a room, for a few years at least, and theirs is the one I like best in it's current state. It will not be staying this way though it is pleasing enough that I don't feel as much urgency to change this one.

This isn't a complete overview, of course, as we do have bathrooms and a couple other bedrooms, but it's a glimpse. The carpet isn't as pink as it looks in the pictures and the paint is in many places worse than it appears. The home is older than I am so clearly there are some updates needed and that is OK. After all, we plan on being here a while.

We MOVED!

So, it happened. We packed up our student apartment, loaded a truck, and spent five days driving across the country to our new home. That was quite an experience. My pictures are quite lacking, as Aeryn was in Texas and Ellie was in the car with Jim most of the time, so only a few of us appear to have gone through this. Here is the cliff-notes version of that week, in no particular order and only maybe will the pictures relate.

Here it goes.


  • With the help of friends we somehow packed and cleaned our apartment.
  • My parents came out to ride with us so I wouldn't have to be alone with the kids in the car. 



  • My kids were superstars in the car. 
  • We stayed in too many hotels and shared beds to all fit into a room.


  • Aeryn was lucky and didn't have to sit in the car for days on end. 
  • Ellie rode in the moving truck most of the way with her dad. 

  • Tate was mostly content watching out the window and holding his blanket. 
  • Charlie slept almost the whole time.

  • We only watched 3 movies the whole trip.
  • Play-places are life savers. 

  • Spontaneous stop in Denver let my kiddos sit on the porch swing at my Grandparents house. 
  • I-70 East isn't quite as straight and boring as I recalled. 

  • I have a slight obsession with wind farms. 
  • Tate got to ride in the truck the last day and thought it was the greatest. 

  • Ellie ate at McDonald's multiple days in a row without complaining (this screams for documentation!)
  • Closing was delayed a day (ugh) so we looked for ways to kill time in a new town. 

  • The humidity was stifling.
  • We found an amazing park. 

  • The asphalt at the amazing park was crumbling and our van got stuck over the edge. 
  • Thank heavens for AAA. 

  • We got ice cream. 
  • The end - for now. 

Sometime in July...

Every summer our ward (or rather, our last ward now...) holds a picnic/bbq for the 24th of July. It is always at the same park in Springfield, which happens to be right next door to the school I taught at for the last two years (It's beautiful, and was designed by our former Bishop).


The Primary always does a sort of goofy Olympics as part of the festivities. Youth are selected to organize teams to compete against one another. This year Aeryn was able to be a team captain, which meant that naturally Ellie and Ellie's bff were part of her team. I'd advised her to make sure to include kids of a wide range of ages, but her team ended up fairly young.


The challenges include potato sack races, three-legged races, crab walks, and a few other things. Ellie took a quick moment to ham it up for me between playing with her friend.


This year was bittersweet, as it was our last chance to hang out with many of our Oregon friends before we moved. Many people were out of town too, so in a way it made it easier to move. Being face to face with a hundred people you've come to love dearly makes farewell's more emotional and overwhelming.


Charlie-bug and I hung out on a blanket and watched the kids be crazy, which was just about perfect.


Jim was in charge of sand volleyball, but this year that just meant securing a ball to use since he's nursing a torn meniscus and shouldn't play. Of course he did anyway, though much more conservatively than he may have otherwise.

It was a really nice night and a great farewell to Oregon, though even typing that makes me a little teary. In a way Eugene will always be home.

Trek

This summer, Aeryn had the chance to go on trek with the youth in our stake. Her dad was good to let us plan her visit to see him after the trek was done so she could participate. Since trek wasn't a thing when I was a teenager, I really didn't know what to expect for her or how to help her prepare. We followed the checklist from the stake making sure she had her metal pie plate to eat out of, two outfits for the four days, and a smattering of other things that would all fit inside of a 5 gallon bucket.


When she first stepped off the bus, she ran over to me and gave me a big, smelly hug. She immediately started crying because all the feelings she had bottled up for the four days came pouring out at once. She was physically and emotionally spent, in every way.


She and her Oregon BFF were both exhausted and felt they couldn't walk another step. I suppose going 30 miles over hilly terrain while pushing/pulling 700lb. handcarts is tiring...


I'm so happy that Aeryn was able to have this lovely lady as her "Ma." We have gotten to know their family very well over the years and she has the sweetest, most kind personality ever. It was a good personality mix for Aeryn as they (she and her husband) both have a way of being encouraging and supportive while being gentle. She told me how Aeryn was happy the entire time and never quit working. That sure makes a parent proud!

When we chatted about the experience, "Ma" said that "This was hard! I run marathons and I know hard, this was HARD." Then they got off trek and found that their car had been burned to the ground and all she had to say was that after those days on trek, she was just glad she didn't have to sacrifice anything bigger and was all smiles. See? Exactly the kind of example you hope your kids are around.


The stake had root beer floats waiting for the kids when they returned to the church, and had plenty for families. Tate thought that was pretty awesome. Ellie was there too, and had her share of root beer floats, but she tends to not stay in one place long enough to land herself in many of my pictures.


He also loved her bonnet! He loved it so much the beloved orange NIKE hood was removed so he could wear it. That is saying something.


There was so much work to do to clean up and get things put away. I'm sure everyone there was anxious for a warm shower and clean set of clothes, but people pitched in and got the work done. Tents were cleaned, handcarts washed, trucks unpacked, and eventually we were able to head home.


I will never really understand what that was like for her, but I am so thankful for the chance she had to be with good people and prove to herself that she can do hard things. Now that the pain has subsided, she is left with good memories and talks about it happily.

Our little Pioneer

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

So, This Thing Happened...

The hubs and I had made a deal to not celebrate or talk about it, at least not until "it" was actually done. As it turns out, parents don't seem to prescribe to those sort of agreements, lest of all when they aren't told about them. Long story short, the cat is out of the bag, and we all know it's hard to get cats back in bags...


This dude graduated.

Technically, he walked at graduation but the degree has yet to post as he's still working on the dissertation. He is writing like a mad fool and should be set to defend it in a few weeks. TAT is when we will call the deed done and celebrate like a bunch of crazy people.

It's been a whirlwind five years working toward this goal, and it is hard to believe that it is almost done. I've learned more than I ever thought I would about a little tiny hole in the heart and I know absolutely nothing compared to this smarty-pants. Seriously, he's kind of amazing.

The next leg of our journey is still being decided. While many people get one or two interviews, Jim is at 100% for fly-outs (or job offers) following phone interviews, of which he has been lucky to have more than a few. I'm sure it helps that he has had research published in reputable journals, is researching something fascinating with medical implications, and is just a really charming and personable man {I'm not biased at all...}. We don't know where we will land next but that is part of the fun of this journey. Oregon has been so very good to us and such a grand adventure, that it is easy to expect good things from our next landing spot. In the meantime, we are virtually home shopping in every city we may land in. It's fun, filled with excitement, and brimming with possibilities.

Life is good.

I know it's early, but congratulations stud. I've loved being on this journey with you. Here's to whatever comes next.