Sunday, March 6, 2016

This and That

In the past few months we've....

Had a girls'n'mom trip to Asheville, NC wherein I turned over the selfie reins to my far more capable 12-year-old daughter's hands,
had the best meal of my life at Tupelo Honey Cafe (Ava loved hers, too!),

and all in all got along most of the time. Success!
Thomas took home the coveted "Best Icing" award at the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet.
We got some frozen custard at Freddy's

And gave it six thumbs up. 

Went on a cool hike through Conestee Park and ate cheese,

poked things with sticks, 

proved our manliness in trees, 

and poked things with sticks. 

Oh wait, I already said that.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What to Do If You Find Yourself at the Columbia, SC Temple with Time to Spare

I can't. I can't do it. I can't get back on facebook. I have tried. I probably will try again. But not now. I need some space and time to get my blood pressure back down to normal. I just spent the morning googling privacy tips because if there's one thing I'm passionate about it's privacy. Not healthy eating or dog breeding or something normal. In the few years I've been gone, things have gotten even more out of control--my control--on facebook. In a bad way. The way I see it, everyone will know everything about me all the time and in a few weeks time I'll be obsessively checking it every spare moment and stressing over the passive aggressive and downright idiotic and polarizing and self-centered comments from normally nice sort-of-friends.

On the other hand, I did get on instagram awhile ago, but haven't ever posted any pictures and am only following my sisters. I remember to check it about once a month but I don't like to comment because then people will see it. People I don't know or possibly sorta know. I realize it's weird that that thought absolutely freaks me out. I realize these "people" neither know nor care who I am, what I'm saying, or where I am, but that doesn't calm the emotional tizzy I would work myself into by potentially drawing unwanted attention to myself. As an aside, I remember a boy I dated in college giving me the nickname "the queen of discretion", meaning I didn't like to reveal too much about myself. (Wasn't fully intended as a compliment, ahem.) He made it sound a lot cooler than it is. Discretion can be taken too far, methinks. Meknows.


Funny stories about the kids! Family updates! Pictures!

A couple weeks ago I got to go to the temple in Columbia with some friends. Hinckley, who had gone with Darron a week or two before and had regaled me with tales of catching teeny tiny frogs on the grounds, came to me with this before I left.

It's a map. Of where to find frogs. For my own amusement and pleasure. Perhaps if I arrived a bit early with time to kill before I went in? Or maybe when I came out and had the overwhelming urge to forage in the bushes for thumbnail-sized amphibious souvenirs? Map was also accompanied by a very detailed explanation of which colors and sizes were to be found in each location. He was quite mystified when I got home and had to confess that I didn't find any. "Wait," (eyes narrowing) "You didn't even look, did you?" he accused. My excuse that it was dark and I was in heels. Not that the map wasn't particularly helpful and clear or that I am really only interested in his frog-hunting excursions, not in conducting my own personal ones. 

Here's a picture of our house, I thought you might like to see. We do like it. It's up on a hill, it's white, and it's pretty cute. 

Hinckley and the gang. At his last meet he beat his previous time by over two minutes. We were so super proud of him. I also just love watching Darron run around during Hinckley's race, trying to reach different points on the track so he can holler and cheer for his son. It does my heart good. Only the fastest siblings can keep up with Dad, and Delilah and I are usually a few seconds too late. 

I am teaching the kids their piano lessons, with results being inconclusive at this time. It was Darron's idea, since we are trying to save money for a house and all. I told him I would try and I am. No has yelled or stormed off during the middle of a lesson. We are all proud of ourselves. The attitudes of the children have been far better than I had anticipated. My teaching strategy "fake smile lots and pretend these are not your children so you don't get snappy" is working for the time being. 

I got called to serve in Cub Scouts with Thomas. I'm trying to set up an effective program with a small number of boys (4 wolves, 1 bear, 1 webelos, 1 11-yr-old) and only two leaders. It's tricky and is causing me stress, but I'm surprised at how much I like being with the boys. Like most people, Cub Scouts was on my short list of the things, I *fingers crossed* hoped I was never asked to do. Well, the list just got shorter, because I like it. Darron got called into the High Priests group leadership and he likes it because he's weird. 

We are happy and really doing well. It is my goal to reach out to my old friends in Utah and other places from other times in my life because, well, I like you and want to still be a part of your lives, so please know I am taking baby steps in that direction. 


The Queen of Discretion

P.S. You should know that when I filled out those career surveys in high school, my top three occupations were: long-haul trucker, sheep herder, and forest ranger (I'm assuming the kind that lives alone in a cabin and cares for trails and trees and animals, not humans. I'm assuming.) Do you think there's a pattern?

Friday, September 4, 2015

And Now We're Here

We made it. You may exhale.

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.

First impressions:

-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",'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.

Moving in!

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!

So let me just tell you. Darron,in some misguided desire to tidy up my phone photos, erased all "duplicate" poses. Not necessarily the bad duplicates, where the subject may have a questionable expression, or the photo may be blurry, but those duplicate poses which followed the first. Sorry Ava.

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. 

Apple picking

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.

Family room

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.