Sunday, September 30, 2012

Making our house a home

We had a LONG drive in the car, with 3 kids, age 5 and under.  It went about like you would imagine.  There were times that we giggled and sang songs, and had great family bonding time.  There were times when Kate was crying and refused to sleep, during which we almost lost our minds.  We drove about 10 hours a day for 3 days, and usually between 6 & 7 hours was when we all started losing our patience with being in the car.  We were all over-tired after the first day, because Kate thought it was SO fun to be in a hotel room with the 5 of us together that she decided to stay up ALL night and entertain us all.  It could have been a lot worse, the girls were troopers, but I am glad that we don't have to make that drive again for a LONG time!

One thing that was REALLY awesome, fun, and helpful was that my mom made a suprise box for us.  The girls got a morning and afternoon present and snack, wrapped in wrapping paper, to open each day that we drove.  So a few hours in we would bribe them with a fun treat & present from "BlahBlah", and then again late in the afternoon.  They would then play with their new toys and snack for the next hour, which they loved, and which really saved Matt's & my sanity.  Here they are playing with one of their surprises.
We got rained on the last half of the last day, pretty severely.  Most of the cars on the road had pulled over because it was raining so hard, but we found a semi who was willing to drive, and we rode behind him, since we could see his lights.  Another day, I am sure we would've pulled over, but at this point, we were only a few hours from home, and we had a strong desire to push through and get here ASAP!

 As we finally reached Rochester, we let the girls know when we were in our neighborhood, so that they could keep an eye out for our house.  They had seen pictures of the outside and knew what it looked like, they were very excited to finally get to see what our new neighborhood looked like.

We got to the house, and I had to get out in the rain and cut down all the stuff in the cargo area on top of the car and pull it off, so that we could pull into the garage.  Then Matt ran inside and got positioned with the camera, to be able to catch the girl's reactions as they saw the house for the first time, and got reunited with all of their stuff that they had been seperated from for the past month and a half.

We spent the first few weeks settling in, getting projects done.  Just to name a couple: taming the lawn & doing lots of yard work that had been neglected for 1.5 months, sanding down and re-sealing the deck, cleaning out the spiderwebby garage/reorganizing/putting up shelves/etc, stocking the house with groceries, hitting up 2nd hand stores in search of winter wardrobes, registering Lily for Kindergarten, registering our vehicles in MN, getting driver's licenses, trying to figure out Health Insurance, filling out lots of paperwork, doing all the final steps for Matt's school/orientation/student loans, and many, many other "grown-up" responisbilities.

Along with making sure the girls were adjusting to the big change, trying our best to spend as much quality time together as a family before school started, enjoying our yard and the FANTASTIC play set that the previous owners left (really, its my favorite part of the house, having this great play set that all my kids love so much, so thanks previous owners!!), and getting familiar with Rochester. 
And randomly at our house summer time seems to equal eating lots of dill pickles.  All 3 of my girls LOVE pickles.  Which makes sense, since I love them, and they are one of my go-to pregnancy foods, so they each got a lot of pickles in utero!  :)  They are a favorite summer time snack at our house.
Summer has quickly turned into fall here, and I finally understand the whole back to school "in the fall" phrase.  Growing up in Arizona, it was still over 100 degrees during the first 2 months back to school, and still felt very much like summer.  Things have cooled off here though and for the most part, I am really enjoying it.  The changing colors, the leaves blowing in the wind, the crisp-ness in the air.  It makes me want to read Harry Potter :)

 Apparently my "cool mom" stock went up 100% when the girls discovered that I have a secret box full of old acting trophies in my closet.  To a kid trophies=coolness. (to be fair 2 of these trophies are Matt's, so he is cool too!)

 Nothing better than the sound of 3 little girls giggling as they chase bubbles!

 If you look at the picture below, you can see a lady bug on Lily's hand.  We always seem to have a couple flying around the yard, the girls love it!

Matt and I also started P90X, and have been working out everyday, which has been great.  So needless to say, we've been keeping pretty busy!

At the Beginning of Sept, Lily started school.  She absolutely loves it.  Especially riding the bus.  I am adjusting.  I know its good for her, it is just hard for me to let go of control of her surroundings and send her out into the world.  I'm handling it better than I thought I would though.  As long as I don't think about it too much.  :)

 Doing her first homework assignment
 Daddy walking her to her orientation

The next week Matt started his program at The Mayo Clinic, and is already a slave to it.  He had 4 test/quizzes this week, one last week, and has 2 next week.  He has been a rockstar so far.  I am very proud of him.  Here is his pager, AKA his mistress.  He is at her becon call for the next 2.5 years.
I am also doing a rotating pre/joy school with 6 other moms for Izzie.  I feel so bad that she isn't getting to go to Miss Linda's preschool like Lily did.  I feel like Lily was REALLY well prepared for Kindergarten.  But I am hoping that this one day a week program will at least be helpful for Izzie, and that I can work with her at home.  Here she is before HER first day.  She LOVES it so far, and is so happy that she is finally big enough to go to school!
Izzie is always doing things to catch me off guard and being her mom is always entertaining to say the least.  Here is an example of a conversation the other day.
IZ: "Mom, do you know God kills monsters?
ME: "..."
 (squinty eyes, trying to think of a good response)
(She can see that I am scrutinizing what she said)
ME: (very slowly) "Did you say, 'God kills monsters'?"
(Her looking at me like I'm slow)
IZ: "Yeah.  Really mom.  Him does.  Him kill them."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Arizona

The way our move worked out, we got back from Minnesota and had a whole month to live out of suitcases and say goodbye to family and loved ones.  It was great to have lots of time to be able to try and squeeze in most of our AZ favorites before being gone for the next 3 years.

I decided to split the last month pretty evenly between friends & family in Thatcher (my hometown) and the Phoenix valley.

The girls & I spent the first 2.5 weeks without Matt in Thatcher.  We missed him, but we sure stayed busy and had LOTS of fun!
 We spent lots of time visiting a couple different parks, a few times each, sometimes with just us, sometimes with cousins and friends

 Aunt Beth works at an ice cream/snow cone place, and she brings home all the left over soft serve at the end of the night, these girls sure didn't mind!  Mommy didn't either, though I am still trying to lose the 8 lbs that I gained over the last 1/2 of the summer!  Lots of good food & treats/moving eating, but NO time to exercise...

 We also fed the ducks a couple times, which was one of my favorite things to do as a kid, and now is one of my girls favorites.

 We also spent a lot of time out a GG's house.  We played a lot in her backyard, and I taught the girls some baseball.  Lily eventually learned how to hit a pitch almost every time!
It's harder to hit balls pitched to you by  kids under the age of 10 than you might think, but I did my best to let all the kids practice pitching, and managed to hit most of them.

 We went out to visit Auntie Em's (my sister) horses and ride her pony, "Little Lady".  Kate is obsessed with animals and has no fear.  She'll run up to Em's big dogs who are 2x's her height, let them lick and tackle her, let the horses eat hay right out of her hand (which made me WAY more nervous that her fingers might get nipped by those big horse teeth than she was), all without flinching.  Actually while smiling and giggling.

 The girl's had a great time riding Little Lady, and it is so fun that Emily has her, it was the first time I'd gotten to see her.
 We took lots of baths in Grandma's super-sized tub (mommy's favorite too)
 Helped make bread at GG's

 Since I am a fun Aunt, we had an impromptu sprinkler party with both my sister's kids.  Though one of them wasn't too happy that their kids got their clothes soaked, we still had lots of fun!!

 More park time!

 One of the times we were at the park, there were some kids there with their pet, a 7 week old bunny.  It was so adorable, and the girls LOVED it.  So that was fun!

 This day, one of my best friends, Cindy, drove down to spend the day with me, we did lunch at the park with all our kiddos in tow.  It is hard to believe that in the past 5 years we have pushed out 6 kids between the 2 of us!
 I love Miss Cindy (and her little family) so much.  It will be a TRAGEDY if we never live in the same city again.  I love this girl way too much.
 All of Kate's life we have called her our "Cindy Savage Baby" (which is Cindy's maiden name), because with her blond  curly hair and bright blue eyes she looks like she came down the wrong chute.  So I love these pics of them together.

 We (and by we I mean my mom) also baked brownies, and then we headed up the mountain to spend the morning up there.  I love Mt Graham so much.  It is one of my top 5 places in the whole world.  It makes me happy that my kids love it too.  I just wish we could've spent a week or 2 up there instead only 1/2 a day.

 My sweet mom (the best grandma ever!) let Katie lead her up and down and all over the place for a long time, just like this.  I am sure it was a workout!  But Kate was in Heaven!

 Emily (my sis who is done having babies), is in love with Katie.  She always tries to kidnap her and spoil her rotten.  Really Em is just a crazy baby lover and I am sure next time we have one, she won't be able to keep her hands off that one either!
 Auntie Em of course brought over all her fancy gel nail stuff and painted every one's piggies.  Even Miss Katie, who was VERY insistent that hers get done.

 We went to the pioneer day celebrations, including a family rodeo, Lily got to participate in the stick horse race, she had lots of fun!

 They had 5 or 6 impromptu events for kids at the beginning, before the traditional rodeo stuff started, including a greased pig race for the different age groups.  Whoever caught it got to keep the pig.  You can see them holding the pig, about to let him run wild for all the kids to try and catch.  Needless to say, my dainty Lily didn't want to participate in this one!

 Later in the night, Emily showed up with Carter and Ava, and Lily was happy to have some friends to watch the rest of the rodeo with.  We got rained on, off & on, so the kiddos huddled under a blanket.

 Here is Lily, sitting on the wall at GG's, feeding neighbor's chickens from over the wall.  Another favorite past time of the girls.

 Sure do love my GG.  These pictures choke me up.
 GG made cupcake cones one of the days we came out, Katie wasn't sure why the ice cream was so hard to lick, but she sure tried.  Eventually she even tried to bite off the bottom, and suck it out that way.  Can you tell she had been eating lots of ice cream cones from Aunt Beth?
 The night before I left, there were more Pioneer Day celebrations.  The whole family went to the parade.

 Of course the kids loved waving, seeing lots of horses, and catching candy!

 My sisters
 Katie wanted to run to all the horses during the parade, but she settled for getting to ride one afterward
 They put on a big play/pageant after the parade and dinner
 Then we went over to Mike and Emily's to watch the fireworks from their yard, where it wasn't quite so noisy, or too crowded.  They only live about 2 blocks away, so we just walked over.  It was great.
Kate LOVES Emily's brother in law, Nelson.  I am not sure how this came about, but every time she sees him, she wants him and no one else.  We had to pry her from his arms to leave.  She didn't even want grandma and that is saying something.  She has only met him 4 or 5 times, but every time, she heads straight for him.  Its pretty funny.  Luckily he is a great guy, and loves being best buddies with her.

(NOTE: for some reason I took no pictures of my visit with Tavia (and her kiddos), a dear, lifelong friend, one of the sweetest people I know and one of my all time favorites.  I am super sad that I was a total loser and missed the opportunity to get pics of our kids at this age together, and also to get a sprink-ee eyed picture of us together.  But I did get to see her, and I do love her with all my heart, and that is what matters!  So, I am documenting it here, since I failed to photo-doc it!)

At the end of my 2.5 weeks, my sweet mother-in-law met up with my mom halfway to "hand us off".  We had been car-less since Matt took our family car back to work in Glendale after we got back from MN.  So we got passed off to Nana (Matt's mom) and drove home to see Daddy exactly 2 weeks before our departure date.  While in Phoenix Matt still had to work for those 2 weeks, but we all tried to make the most of our last little bit of time in AZ.

Our first Friday night back we had a slumber party @ Matt's sister Heather's.  Matt was working, but the girls & I had lots of fun we of course had Barros pizza for dinner, and the grown-ups had a late night custard run. 
 "K" and Izzie have become quite the pair over the last year.  I love seeing the older cousins latch onto and take good care of my girlies.
 Reading before bed.

My girls are totally in love with Heather's dog, "Sneakers".  When we skype now-a-days, it is always mandatory that Sneakers makes an appearance as well.

 Miss "J" always takes such good care of Kate.  They are best buddies, and I sure am sad to leave her behind.  I have told her that anytime her parents want to send her to visit, and be my baby sitting slave, I would love to have her!  :)

 We took another trip to the Phx Zoo.

(NOTE: We also went out to dinner on a double date with Barry & Janeal. We went to Chinese food, then they used movie passes to take us all to see The Dark Night Rises. For some reason, we didn't photo-document this either. I slacked off, but it was lots of fun, and I am glad that we got to do something with them before we left)

 Our last Friday night in town, Matt worked, of course, but I really wanted to take the girls to the Phoenix Children's Museum.  I had heard such great things, and the museum is free the first Friday night of the month, so I really wanted to check it out before we left.  Its also REALLY crowded the free night, big surprise right?  So I was nervous about taking the girls by myself.  Heather and Tom's family volunteered to go with me, their older kids are old enough to be LOADS of help!  I am sure glad they came with us, it was a blast, and it would've been really stressful keeping an eye on all 3, with it so packed, by myself.

 Our last night in town we had a big family dinner.  Clearly, I hadn't thought through the fact that lots of people were probably going to want to take pictures with us, other wise I probably would have done something with my hair. Or make-up. Or maybe not wear paint splattered, boys, jersey shorts and a Tshirt, and no shoes.  Oh well.

 My dear friend Sara brought us goodies for our early morning road trip (and we even managed to share one or two with the kids along the way).  She is just the kindest, most thoughtful friend I've ever had!  Her stopping by got the sprinks going for me and then I cried off and on the rest of the night.
We took some photos with families, and had lots of snuggle time, getting in our last hugs for a long time!