Sunday, September 9, 2012

How the West Was Won, episode 1

Last winter E and I decided it was time for him to look for another job. He had worked for the same firm since six months before he graduated and there were great things about his job: he was well-liked, he learned many many fascinating financial "things" (I cannot share the details here because my eyes glazed over and my brain shot off when he tried to share them all I'm sure there is a confidentiality issue in there somewhere, he worked with some great people, and my favorite of all; the Christmas party was always at a fantastic expensive restaurant. There were a few downsides to the job, but the biggest one was the brutal hours. Basically, we saw E on the weekends, where he was so exhausted from working a 60-70 hour work-week (these were the good weeks...) that all he wanted was to lay down and sleep. We didn't have family dinners and I developed a bitter envy of those families who had the dads playing ball outside with the kids at 6pm. We knew full well that in this economy (I loathe that phrase with a passion, by the way!) we were extremely blessed to have this job, but we also both pictured something different when we planned our family.

With all that E began job-hunting and quickly found that his extreme specialization limited us to a rather small area, mostly consisting of three large East-coast cities, neither of which we could afford to live in. Don't get me wrong, I would have been willing to sell all my shoes (well, most of them anyway) and downsize to a small apartment if the opportunity to live in NYC had come up, but alas it didn't. A few job openings popped up, but nothing panned out and we were bracing ourselves for a few more years of absentee fathering, when a headhunter called and asked if we would be willing to consider Arizona. A rare opportunity in E's field had come up. It was a tricky decision. We both loved our town and the people there. We lived near family and we had an amazing church family as well. The kids were in great schools and we finally (!) had our house in an updated, beetle-free condition; including a newly finished basement that my father-in-law had worked on for months. However, we were pretty stoked at the idea of  actually seeing E for dinners and week-night activities. And we both liked the idea of not having to shovel snow off driveways, cars and roofs. Ever. So with all that in the pro-column, we jumped, E interviewed, got the job, and accepted.

We put the house up for sale and thanks to the most amazing real estate agent, we were under contract in10 days! It was honestly a miracle. As it was E still left six weeks before the kids and I did because I had to wait to make sure closing would go through and being great at single mothering is not one of my talents, so if we had had to wait longer, I'm not sure my sanity would have lasted. Having an end in sight, the kids and I actually had a good time together, just us. Thankfully my amazing mom came to keep me company for a few days, so we had a blast with her and we even managed to pull off both a trip to Niagara Falls and two birthday parties for the boys.

And then suddenly it was April and our movers came and packed up. It was incredibly bitter sweet to leave. I had ended up loving our house - all those hours of work, sweat and tears bonded us, I guess. Leaving friends and family and our wonderful town was dreadful. At the same time, we were all so excited to set out on this new adventure just our little family so with a huge mixed bag of emotions, our family went west.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hello blog, it's nice to see you again...

She looked away for a moment and suddenly a time warp struck and it was eight months later...

I look back at the last eight months and I am completely overwhelmed at all the things that have happened since my last post. I have wanted to blog again for a few weeks but the massive amounts of information simply put me into a state of inertia instead of spurring me to get started so today I am finally taking the bull by its horns (or whatever) and just jumping back in. In a completely random fashion, I might add, because sorting through the last 3/4 of a year is still overwhelming me.

Until I manage to figure it all out, here's an activity the boys did this summer when they were bored and I pretended to be creative mom for a moment: I told them to pick their favorite story from the Book of Mormon and re-create it in Legos.

L chose the hand of God coming out of a cloud and touching the stones so they shone for the brother of Jared:

 S decided to do Teancum's stealthy attack on the evil Amalickiah:

Oh and P.S. We've moved to Arizona.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

There ought to be stupidity interventions...

Sometimes I feel like I ought to hand over my decision making to someone else. I feel that by doing so, my life would surely run smoother and I would avoid foolish choices. An example - For years,  I have had a nagging feeling that I really ought to finish my Bachelor's degree. I was foiled by meeting E, moving to the US, having children, and moving again. I have tried to quell the feeling by doing all kinds of other things, including becoming an esthetician, but I haven't quite been able to shake the desire to graduate from college. Then earlier this year, I had the brilliant notion that I could finish my degree through BYU (my college) online. Now I am left with the lingering question of why there aren't interventions for stupid decisions such as going back to school while the kids are small and the husband is never home! I was reasonably busy and somewhat stressed before. Now I am a basket case. I am only taking one class at a time and it is still killing me. I am stressing out about the class, about getting homework done and most recently about missing quite a few questions on a test. (This is obviously stress in addition to all the usual stuff I can find to stress out about...) I kind of want to quit...but then I don't want to be a quitter - or teach my kids that it is okay to quit when things get hard. On the other hand I may be replacing my sanity with a degree...Provided I actually manage to finish.
It doesn't help that I am a bit of a crazy perfectionist and stress out to the nth degree if I don't do well on a test. I do realize that I am totally broken - I just don't know how to shut up the perfectionist in my head....I wonder if they have medications for trying to get all the answers right, all the time?

I am completely aware that people do time-consuming, stressful and difficult things all the time. I have just misplaced the ability to do them with grace. Which brings me back to this - why didn't anyone stop me? And would someone like to make my decisions for me from now on?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

October Snow Storm. Or: The Year They Cancelled Halloween

It may be that I needed a bit of distance from this experience in order to write about it. Or it may be that I have just been busy trying to catch up to my life since it happened, but in any case, I think it's about time that I document our freak October snow storm that turned our usual life upside down for a good week or so.

October 29th was a Saturday and the meteorologists were promising a snow storm. I have to admit, I took it with a (large) grain of salt. First of all, it was October -- how bad could it really get? Second, our area has been known to cry wolf and cancel all kinds of things at the threat of a snow storm and then end up with a flurry. It did start to snow around noon and I figured I better head out and do errands in case it did end up getting worse. After stopping at a few stores, I realized it was coming down kind of hard, but I couldn't imagine it would be any worse than a usual Nor'Easter (That's what they call the big snow storms out here..) so I finished up and started towards home.
It is usually a ten minute drive and about five minutes into it, I was seriously questioning my decision as the third alternative street I tried was closed because of fallen branches and downed power lines. I went beyond questioning to seriously fearing for my life when a branch broke ahead of me and what looked like a power line fell onto the road. I stepped on my brakes and could just close my eyes as my brakes locked and my car continued to glide forward in the snow... It turned out to be a line of snow off a power line - thus shaped to look just like it, though I'm pretty sure it aged me right there regardless. I have never been more grateful to make it home than I was that day. E was out shoveling and I went straight to the stove to make hot chocolate for everyone. (Although if I were a drinker, that is not where I would have gone first!)

About half an hour after I arrived home, we lost power, which wasn't really a surprise after seeing the devastation the snow was causing. What was a surprise was when the power didn't come back on after a few hours. Or a few days. The first couple of days we were dealing with it pretty well. We lost power for 48 hours with Hurricane Irene in August and figured we'd be back up again soon this time too. However, the destruction statewide was much greater with Winter Storm Alfred, as our storm was named. The snow was extremely wet and heavy and it landed on branches that still had most of their leaves on them. Snow that would normally have fallen through onto the ground, was being held up by the leaves instead and the combined weight of leaves and snow proved too much for many many trees.

When the 48 hours came and went and there was no end in sight, it got harder to cope. It was cold outside and our (otherwise) awesome plaster walls kept the cold inside the house as well. And it was so bloody dark! I'm not sure what got to me the most - the cold or the dark. At night we were okay. We bundled everyone up in warm clothes and under heavy Scandinavian down comforters, so we were warm enough when we were in bed. As soon as we left bed, we were miserable though. Little S would cry when she got up, she was that cold, and the rest of us just became sluggish. It is amazing how you can actually tell that your brain is slowing down when you are freezing. We made it through the next couple of days mostly by leaving the house as much as possible and visiting friends and family. Even if they didn't have power either, it was much less miserable when it wasn't just me and the kids all by our lonesome. E was at his nice (heated) office and worked till after 10pm...(I may have been suspicious of his motives for staying late but would probably have done the same if the alternative had been reading by candlelight under the covers while your nose was freezing...)
Tuesday night we returned home and as I tucked the kiddos into their cold beds (the boys together at this point) I noticed the thermostat downstairs:

Yes, that reads 48º Fahrenheit. Which is 8.9º Celsius. Inside the house. I had been trying to just stick it out, thinking that power had to return any minute, but seeing the temperature that low, combined with the power company's vague promise of power returning maybe within a week, was enough. Little S was crying, L was coughing and I threw in the towel. The next morning I packed up the kids and drove to VA to stay with E's sister. Even with an 11 hour car drive, it was so very much worth it.

We ended up having a wonderful visit in VA and enjoyed the 60º+ weather tremendously. For weeks afterwards I felt immense gratitude every time I flipped a switch and it worked. I get that we are blessed and our few powerless days are nothing compared to what others go through for years and years. I am so grateful for the blessings of power. And light. And warm feet! And most of all, that in all the devastation that hit our state that week, that we (and our home) were safe. I am so so grateful for that!

A few pictures, mostly from our neighborhood. I wish I had my camera with me as we saw some areas that were worse than this.

Snowfall after 3 hours (the driveway has already been shoveled):  
Our yard Sunday - thankfully we didn't have any downed power lines on our property!

Trying to stay warm (I spent one evening literally reading up against the grate and I was still cold...):
 Power lines down:
 Many, many trees looked like this:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Scarecrow Parade Revisited

A nearby town has an annual scarecrow parade - local shops and companies decorate scarecrows and line them up on Main Street each fall. I went once when S was about 18 months old and have had the intention to go back each year since. This year was the first time we actually made it back there. Twice! I went with little monkey S for playgroup and then I took all the kids this Saturday. It was not as impressive as I remembered but we had a wonderful time regardless. Here's an overload of pictures from our trip out there:

And just for fun...Who allowed S to grow up so quickly?!?



Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple of My Eye

One of my favorite fall activities in New England is apple picking. I haven't been able to find a day when we could all go together this year, but baby S and I went a few weeks ago for playgroup and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. S especially enjoyed sampling apples -- several of the ones that made it home had little tiny toothmarks in them, which I at least hope are hers...:)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

End of Summer/ First Day of School

There are some blogs who at this time of year emerge with glorious photos and almost minute-by-minute (perky) accounts of all the fun that was had every waking moment all summer long by the entire family. I suppose I fall just on the far side of cynical; far enough to doubt the statements of non-stop fun, at least a little bit. Because I have just emerged from a summer with three kids, no camps and for a good part of it an overseas dad. (Well, technically we were the ones overseas, but that's not the point.) Certainly, we've had some great times. In fact we have had many, many wonderful experiences this summer and I have enjoyed spending time with my monkeys. And then there were the times I thought this summer would never end, the times where I was beyond exhausted, the bickering was non-stop and somehow someone convinced my children that my sole purpose in life was being their entertainer/ servant.
September 1, I felt a twinge of sadness for another summer gone by -- no matter what I do, those boys just won't stop growing older so quickly -- and I felt relief that school was starting. I have to confess, as they happily strode off to school on their first day, I was happy too. Don't get me wrong here - I LOVE my children. They love me. And we all love each other more when we are not together every second of every day.
So here's to another school year begun! May it be glorious and fun-filled and great. May we all learn many good things, and meet many kind people. And mostly, may we enjoy and love each other much - even if we don't have minute-by-minute accounts of fun to show for it!

P.S. OK, so in spite of my actual happiness at being back in a routine, it is indeed with a tiny bit of trepidation that I send my boys out in the world. I always worry about the blows that can wound a little heart. I know they need to grow though, and that I can't protect them from the world, so I try not to let my fears rub off on them. L actually started Kindergarten this year, and it warms my heart to watch him happily dance off to learn, make new friends and be at the same school as his older brother. He is so eager to learn and I am so thrilled to see his joy. And S is suddenly so big - too cool to hug us goodbye outside of school ( - whatever!) and yet still my sweet baby. have a fantastic year monkeys! I love you!