Saturday, November 21, 2015

First Day

Life was so busy, I didn't give the first day of school the proper attention it deserved. It's a ritual, a life event worthy of pancakes dripping in buttermilk syrup and a house filled with the smell of bacon. We had Cinnamon Toast Crunch instead. And honestly, they were lucky I even had time to buy them new back packs and a closet rack of polo shirts and khaki shorts. Next year, next year... A new school was built while we were gone, which was good news for two different reasons. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put them back in the school we were at before. It was a great school, academically speaking, but after spending two years using the world as their classroom and learning through hands on experiences, I didn't think the endless worksheets and hours of homework would be a good fit. The new school was the perfect answer, it's a good mix between traditional academics with a little more opportunity for creative expression. But most importantly, they have a bus. The kids weren't too excited about this, but the idea of not spending a single moment sitting in another carpool line made me want to do back flips. If I knew how to do back flips. So, here's to 5th grade with Ms Burns and 1st grade with Ms Brown. May your pencils stay sharpened, your Converse stay tied, your fresh cuts stay combed, and my you know that your mother loves you. Not enough to want to sit in a carpool line, but she loves you just the same. 

And Kylie is happy to no longer be dressed like Dorothy or a Scottish bagpiper, as she heads into 8th grade. Her last year at Junior High, and I'm still in denial that she's going to be in high school next year. I took her the first couple of days before we realized she was eligible for the bus too (we're not zoned for this school, but they are busing the 8th graders there one last year). Happy dance for me, lots of eye rolls and teenage angst from her. She's going to rock jr high, judging solely on the fact that she is clearly like 1000 times cooler than I was in jr high.

And then last, but most definitely not least, Ryder started his last year of preschool. He was all smiles when we went, but he ripped my heart out when I left. He was clinging to me like he would die without me by his side. His teachers (bless their hearts) had to peel him off me as he was kicking, screaming and clawing my shirt off. I knew he would be fine, I knew the best thing to do was just rip the band aid off, it was quick and painful and I fell apart the minute I shut the car door, but within five minutes I got a text that he was perfectly fine and happy. And he has loved it every single minute since. You're killin' me, Smalls!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Normally the idea of hosting guests while we're still living out of boxes would stress me out. But not when it's my sister. I was so excited when she stopped by for a few days, it was a much needed distraction from all the move stuff. She is one of my favorite people to hang out with, and my kids feel the same about her kids. And about her. She is one of those fun aunts and I love that she loves my kids so much. She won Ryder over with her candy picnic bribe while I had to take Kylie to pick up her school schedule and meet her teachers. She's the best.

We took a tour of my brother's dental school. It's still crazy that my baby brothers are growing into mature professionals. I still think of him as the curly haired kid smuggling Dr Pepper under his mattress.

We decided to venture out into public, like the circus freak show that we are. We took them all to the dollar theater to see Home, but promised them they could pick out candy at Winco first. I'll be honest here. I get anxiety taking more than one of my own kids to the store at the same time. 11 kids gave me cold sweats. Janessa was born for this kind of stuff. She doesn't blink an eye as the kids are playing hide and go seek behind cases of soda or racing shopping carts. She is just so calm and collected, picking out granola for an upcoming scout camp out while simultaneously whisking a crying two year old into the bathroom before he had an accident.  I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position in a corner while the kids picked which flavor of gatorade they wanted, and then each changed their minds at least 5 times. I wish I were more like Aunt Nessa. She also splurges for the good popcorn.

Ryder was smitten with his cousin, Taylor. How cute is this?? We thoroughly enjoyed their time here, I didn't want them to leave and have to face reality. Back to school shopping, painting bathrooms, picking out new furniture, hanging drapes, blah, blah, blah. But we had fun while it lasted! And now that they moved only 5 hours from us, I can't wait to be able to see them more often!

Monday, November 16, 2015

New beginnings

Home. Nothing had changed, yet everything was different. It's been strange coming back to the same house, to the same neighborhood, to what we thought would be the same life. From the outside, everything looked the same, but neighbors had moved, the ward had split, a new school had been built, old friends had formed new friendships and at times we found ourselves on the outside wondering exactly where we fit in. Work has been challenging for Jason, he had built up a good reputation with his clients, but his position was filled and now he finds himself at a new and challenging client site. Life went on while we were away and we were kidding ourselves to think it would be a seamless transition back. Being away I craved the sunshine, the Mexican food, the social life, the inexpensive shopping, the convenience and ease of life, and above all, a clothes dryer. The novelty wore off and we were left with a suffocating heat and a to-do list a mile long. There were so many mixed emotions those first couple of weeks. Months. There was so much I wanted to write about, so many thoughts swirling in my head. We've been home for almost 5 months now and I'm finally starting to feel settled and genuinely happy.  I can't put my finger on it exactly, but I was just in a rut. On top of the insanity of moving half way across the world, I had made a long list of things I was going to change when we moved back. I would bake cookies for the neighbors and send "just thinking of you" notes to friends. I would send cards on every birthday. I would regularly clean out the crumbs from the toaster, organize the pencil drawer and dust the ceiling fans. I would wash everyone's sheets once a week. I would continue to cook from scratch and never be caught with a box of macaroni and cheese in my pantry.  I would regularly volunteer at the schools and be the first to sign up to take in a meal when someone had a baby. I would exfoliate my feet and put lotion on the little boys every night after showers. Pajama drawers would always remain folded. The kids would be too busy playing outside to ever watch TV. I would go to bed early and wake up at 5:30 every morning to go to the gym. I would splurge on Bath and Body Works soap in every bathroom. I would floss daily and keep a fresh coat of nail polish on my toes. I would effortlessly balance church callings, sports practices, appointments and always have a hot meal on the table and a smile on my face. A new start, a new me. I remember standing in the middle of the Basha pool on Jayden's birthday. I was up the night before hanging banners and balloons, then squeezed in a lunch date with him and donuts for his class in between grocery shopping and cleaning the house. I had a roast dinner cooking at home, with a homemade double layer oreo cake and family coming over for dinner. I was mentally planning out the rest of the week, a meal to take in to a friend, curriculum night at two different schools, a young women's meeting, a friend's birthday, ballet classes and a new leotard that I needed to get, lunch date with friends, a baby gift and birthday present I needed to buy, dentist appointments and immunizations that needed to be scheduled, weekend plans for Kylie with friends, preschool show and tell, volunteering in Jayden's class, school pictures, painters coming...I felt I had to be busy to be important. I felt this sense of accomplishment that I could do it all. And I did. I kept up the charade for a few weeks, but I put so much pressure on myself that it was inevitable that I would fail. It's good to set goals, to try and improve myself for the better, but I was being unrealistic and began feeling overwhelmed. I forgot that even with a new environment, I'm still the same me. I still have an impossible sweet tooth, love staying up late watching TV, don't really care to paint my nails, would much rather spend my free time during preschool going shopping than volunteering at the school and I figure a birthday phone call or text is just as good as a card. And Jayden still eats ramen noodles at least twice a week. It's taken me some time to find that balance and prioritize, to realize it's okay if I don't do it all. The one thing I thought I would take back from our time in NZ is to embrace simplicity. I don't know where I went so wrong. Some of the goals I have kept, but so many I have let go, and that's okay. So those are some thoughts from those hazy first weeks home, and here are some pictures.... Our renters still had a week or so until they had to be out, and at this point we were so done with living out of suitcases. That first week or so consisted of Jason spending every waking minute looking for cars. Trying to find 2 new vehicles in 12 days is not a fun challenge. While he was test driving cars we were stuck in a hotel room all day. I don't know who had it worse.

We were so excited when we finally got the keys back to our house. We had to wait for the carpets to get cleaned and to slowly move everything out from the storage unit before we could officially move in, but the excitement of going back to our house for the first time in 2 years was tangible. The kids ran from room to room in the empty house with echos of excitement. We all jumped in the pool and that night spent swimming under the stars was the perfect escape from all that was weighing heavily on my mind.

And I couldn't deny how good it felt to be back with friends and family. They were heaven sent. Inviting us for dinners, bringing food over, helping with the move and having our kids over. And our kids were thrilled to be back with their friends. Even after two years it was so good to see that they picked up right where they left off.

We were on the fence about going up to Vegas and Utah to see family. We had so much that needed to be done and only one week left until Jason had to go back to work, but it had been so long since we had seen our family and we were anxious for a visit. We finally decided to go for a quick whirlwind trip. As we were on the road to Vegas I was reminded that there's nothing quite like a desert sunset.

Vegas just wouldn't be Vegas with out Dim Sum with Grandpa Young and the cousins.

I'm determined to find the beauty here, it's definitely not New Zealand, but there really is beauty in all of God's creations.

We made it to Cedar City and were so glad to be back in the States in time to celebrate the 4th of July. Fireworks, sparklers, siblings and Wendy's Frostys at midnight.

Enterprise is one of my all time favorite places to be. I was so glad we were able to go there one last time before Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Angel's family moved up north. We've made so many wonderful memories there, it's sad to say goodbye, but no matter where they are there will always be a party!

We drove up north in hopes of getting a car Jason had found on-line. We made a pit stop at BYU for some reminiscing and chocolate covered cinnamon bears.

And then a drive by at our very first house. How has it been 13 years since we brought Kylie home from the hospital here?

Thankfully everything checked out with the vehicle and we drove away as proud owners of a Toyota Sequoia. One down, one to go.

We had to drive two vehicles home since the rental van had to be returned to Phoenix. It actually worked out good having the kids divided, Kylie and Jayden sure enjoyed living in the lap of luxury as they sprawled out watching movies. We stopped and saw my other set of grandparents. Then my parents and brother's family had just moved to Ephraim so we were able to go and see them. I feel bad, we didn't get a single picture with any of those visits. Honestly, after all of our traveling I was burned out from taking pictures. Instead I just enjoyed their company.

We made it back home and it seemed like we couldn't catch any breaks. A wasps nest on the cable box so we couldn't get internet for a week, an infestation of scorpions, money was tight and the renters in our other property bailed out without paying rent and leaving us with new flooring and paint that had to be done and then I went to visit a friend the very first day that I drove our new vehicle and out of nowhere a gust of wind blew their basketball stand over on the car leaving a dent.  She felt awful and was so kind to get it fixed and I felt awful that she had to do that. It was just one of those freak accidents.

And then as Jason was unloading the storage unit he discovered there had been water damage in our unit and our photo books and albums were covered in mold. Our pictures are my treasures. I just sat and cried and cried. The photo books, thankfully, have been reprinted, but there are so many pictures in albums that are forever gone. It's been a huge headache working with the storage company about compensation, but we finally got a check covering only half of the damages.

It was a rough start. But after traveling for 6 weeks it felt so good to finally get moved in and sleep in our own beds. It was almost like Christmas as we unpacked all of our belongings, toys the kids hadn't played with in years, and furniture and decorations to make our house a home. It took a little longer than we had expected, but slowly and surely we are remembering just what it was we had missed so much from home. Slowly but surely we are writing new stories and creating new memories within these familiar walls.