The last week and a half of Utah life was beyond hectic. The chaos just continued to build until we were actually relieved to climb into the cars to leave simply so we'd have a minute to just sit. Packing the truck took three solid days. We had to use every square centimeter of truck space because although we'd reserved the biggest truck we knew it wouldn't be big enough. We left a bunch of stuff in our Utah storage unit to be retrieved at a later date. Then the driving. 10 hours (me in the van)/13 hours (Darron with the moving truck and trailer pulling his jeep) the first day, 18 (me)/22 (D) the second, 12/14 the third. It was pretty horrific and we were in a daze when we arrived. When we arrived in a HEAT WAVE because of course when you move to a new place known to be hot and muggy it is going to be the HOTTEST and the MUGGIEST it's ever been.
-Rental house: very nice. We lost 1000 square feet of living space but it feels cozy, not cramped. Hallelujah for that. It's clean. It has FLAT PAINT. Who paints a house-- any house let alone a rental-- with flat paint? The lot is .6 acres which is enormous by our standards. Across the street sits an empty lot--but not your usual empty lot, but woods. With bogs and streams and trees and frogs and fireflies.
-Country roads: long, winding, tree lined, confusing, thank Google for navigation and Verizon for excellent coverage. One month in and I can find the grocery store, kids' schools, and a Walmart (if I concentrate) without navigating. We are burning through data as well as gas, because everything is...down long windy country roads.
-General beauty of place: Wow. Green, hilly, lush even though it's the end of August. I can breathe here.
-Humidity: I find it interesting that although I sweat more here, I don't necessarily need to drink more. Reason? Anyone? Has my body reached some new level of homeostasis? I do not know. On top of that, my skin feels smoother and not as flaky, my hair is softer, and my killer calloused/cracked heels have dramatically improved. I'm gonna rule on the side of...I kind of *like* it???
-People: quite friendly, especially the older they are. Helpful and nice. Lots of waving around here, holding the door open, good manners, even in Walmart. Which reminds me, this happened: while in Walmart the other day, an employee approached me--approached me--to ask if I needed assistance. In Walmart. WAL-mart. I've had people scoot their cart out of my way, ask my pardon if they have to go ahead of me, say things like "you go first", smile...it's just weird.
-Ward: I should be cautious with this one, as I am talking about real people in my new life. The ward has been so welcoming. Much of the awkwardness has been averted because our extended family is in the ward and they've done so much to ease our transition. We've been invited to do things, had offers of babysitting, two people brought us meals.... As time goes by I would like to post about my impressions of in Utah/ out of Utah, but I need more than 4 Sundays before I can consider myself an "expert".
-Hinckley: So you know he's a very happy kid to begin with. He was bummed to leave his friends, he had lots of good ones. He wasn't one I was worried about though, because he just makes friends so effortlessly. Everyone likes him, he's fun and nice and loves to have a good time. But for a couple of reasons, he had a rough start. It broke my heart a little. But he worked at it-- never got too down or negative, just kept on going. He prayed for help (on his own!), joined the cross country team, and tried to make friends. To see the growth and the attitude he's taken on, brings me to tears. I have never been more proud of him. He is enjoying early morning seminary (Really. He's said this with his own two lips) and faithfully gets up each day at 5. Hasn't complained, doesn't act grumpy, he's just--- I'm speechless. At church, there is one other boy in his teachers quorum. The first Sunday we were here, the other boy came up and gave Hinckley a hug and said he was so excited to have his quorum size double. And then asked him to help pass the sacrament. He's definitely going to get the chance to serve more in priesthood capacities and in meaningful ways. That makes me so very glad.
-Halle: I was worried about her before we left. She's more reserved, doesn't attract friends as effortlessly as her brother. But wow, has she blossomed. This is her first year of middle school and she's been thrilled for all of it. She is greatly enjoying the no more uniforms of public school. She is bound and determined to ride the bus, even though we drive right by her school on the way to take Hinckley. She loves the bus. Okay, whatever, ride the bus. I think the drama of middle school really appeals to her at this point. The newness of it all. Although her friend-making wasn't instant, she is content to just let it develop. She's been excited to go to school every day and has become braver and more self-sufficient. I don't think she's found her true friend group yet, but they'll do for now. She's happy and learning along the way and there's so much to learn in middle school. She got "asked out" (don't tell her I said anything) today, and came home with a check yes or no note and I almost died holding in my giggles. OH the memories.
-Ava: (sigh) She's getting there. Her journey is still very much underway. Like Hinckley, she had to push through some awkward days. She had such good friends in Utah and she's so shy and sensitive. I know she'll figure things out and get her confidence back. I have great faith in her and her little soul. Church is good because she has a friend she really likes. She also loves her little 6 year old cousin, they have absolutely hit it off. So things are not all bad.
-Thomas: You know? He's just Thomas. He is in little boy heaven with endless frogs and sticks and woodland treasures. It's hard to question him about school friends because he doesn't really care about that stuff, I mostly just hear about how many crickets he found at recess or how what apps they used on their iPads at school. Yes. They get iPads in this school district. I can't tell you how annoyed I am. There is not a way to opt out, they need them for homework and other assignments during class. We are preparing them for functioning in a digital society. Come now. Any kid can figure out any electronic in five minutes. But if they don't teach iPad in school HOW WILL THEY EVER LEARN IT? Where were we? Thomas. IPad, frogs, bugs, and mud= South Carolina rocks.
-Delilah: She just lost her gaggle of friends to school, but she gained lots and lots more Mom time because Mom has no other distractions. She is one happy girl. And I am her "best mom I ever seed". We run errands, do our chores, and hang out. She is being potty trained and just had her third birthday. It was fun and all but what she's really looking forward to is her fifth birthday because I told her that's when she can chew gum.
-Mom and Dad: Well, we're good. It's been hard watching the kids struggle knowing that we did that to them. Even though we are confident it will be to their benefit, it still is hard knowing that it is all our doing. And like I said, we're enjoying the ward, but--and this applies mostly to Darron, but also me to some extent--it's been hard to go from somewhere we felt so needed and known and understood to a place where we're just "the new people". Good for a quick conversation, but not a part of things yet. Now I know that will come with time, we were building relationships for years in Utah, but it's just-- harder than I was expecting, I guess. Darron is running his business in Utah from here, but in his new more hands-off position, he has much less to keep him busy. He's here at home with me during the day, but he--we--don't have much to do now that the house is settled and organized. Normally I would end up shopping too much but everything's far away and Darron is always right next to me, so the opportunities to give in to temptation are--shall we say--limited.
We continue to search for a lot to build a house on. I learned a while back that I can end a sentence with a preposition if it sounds stuffy to word it the proper way. Nothing has jumped out at us, and there's not much to choose from in our actually pretty small school/church circle, so we're just slowly moving along, keeping our eyes open and waiting for something we think we can make work.
Now here are some pictures. I wrote this post before I looked at my cameras so they probably won't match up at all but whatever. My mom wants pictures, pictures she shall have.
|Packing up the truck!|
|So this series of two (although wildly unflattering to me---I was packing!) is cute because of Delilah's expressions in the back.|
|Is she copying me? I think she's copying me.|
|A few days in. Boxes are emptied, but now what?|
|No really, now what?|
|Delilah. With a frog on her head.|
|First day of school! And seminary!|
|First day of riding the bus!|
|Thomas' uncle told him all the kids would think he was awesome if he wore a Clemson shirt on his first day.|
|She has no idea that her day is about to get reeaal long and boring.|
|Could Halle be subconsciously compensating for my tendency to cut people's heads off in pictures? Well done.|
|Downtown Greenville with cousins!!!|
|Happy birthday! New bike!|
|And some other things!|
|She's just so cute.|
|The counters have been cleaned off. As of yesterday.|
|From the other side. The valances came with the house. I'm so vain that I have to put that in. Really, I'm trying to erase it, but I just. can't. make. myself.|
|Library/Piano Room. We went from four bookshelves down to one. These books are in a very delicate state of balance. I can come in and tell what the kids have taken out to read with one glance.|
|Piano room side. Also last remaining junk pile holdout over on the left. I am two days in to teaching my kids their piano lessons. It hasn't been horrible.|
|I think that's about it for the tour? I haven't cleaned the upstairs.|
And that's all! We're doing fine; things keep getting better, and we believe they will continue to do so. We have truly, truly appreciated the prayers and support from our friends and family for this strange adventure we've undertaken.