Saturday, August 29, 2015

1st Day of School 2016

I'm not sure who was more anxious about the kids first day of school this year-me or them! Sending them to school in a new place is scary. Oh man did I stress. I'm thankful that we went under contract with a home(more on that in another post!) quick so we knew which schools to enroll them in. I did not want them to have to change schools mid-year. We got everything done just in time! We didn't have much time between arriving and school starting to figure it all out but we did. I got them all registered at the right places, found all of their supplies, and bought them all new clothes before the big day. Cali is young enough to where it didn't seem like a huge deal to her. We went to Meet the Teacher night and that really calmed any nerves she might have had. Her teacher is SO nice and was extremely welcoming to her. Cali seemed excited for the first day so that was great! She can make friends with kids in one second :) Aubrey had met a girl at church, Rachel, that went to her school and was the same grade as her so she knew she would have that familiar face(and that they could sit together at lunch too). That gave her confidence and by the time the first day of school came, she didn't seem too nervous at all. She also knew a couple of other 9th graders from church that would also be in the same building(they have 8-9 together here, kinda weird!)So, she knew a few girls that were all very friendly to her and that made her feel good about it. Ella was the one I stressed out about the week before. She hadn't met anyone yet that was in her grade at the same school.  I worried mostly about lunch..I kept imagining her not having anyone to sit by or talk to. And she isn't the most outgoing kid, though she is nice and friendly. She just isn't the type to just go up to someone and start talking to them. She was really feeling anxious and worried.

So I prayed..and prayed..and prayed  for her. I remember the Saturday before praying for a miracle, praying for someone to be at church the next day that she hadn't met yet or for somehow everything to be okay. Well at church I walked over to a girl(she looked Ella's age but wasn't in her church class...which I knew didn't necessarily mean she wasn't in her grade because of the way the church sets up the classes) and asked her what grade she was going into and stuff like that since Ella wouldn't :) The primary 1st counselor had told me that this young lady (Emily) might be in her grade. Turns out, she was. She and Ella talked for about ten seconds which wasn't what I had hoped for but at least, I told Ella, there was a face that she would know at school. She felt a little bit better but not much. I had also been told about another girl, Alyssa, that might be in her grade but that their family was out of town. Anyways, that afternoon I was still feeling worried for Ella as she still seemed worried. Then, I received a phone call from an unknown number and when I answered there was a sweet woman's voice on the other end that said something like, "Hi, I'm Teresa and I'm in your ward at church! Our family has been on vacation and we just got back and found out that you have a daughter our daughters age and that they'll go to the same school together. We would love to come over and meet you this afternoon if thats ok. We have a treat to bring your daughter too." I almost cried. I was so excited! Within half an hour we were talking to this family in our parking lot(as they are a big family with seven kids that wouldn't even fit in our apartment with us:) Their daughter was so sweet(their whole family was!) and I couldn't believe the inspiration that Teresa had to come over and do this. I know she must've been SO busy. 7 kids and they had literally just gotten home from a vacation just one day before school started. But I know she must have followed a prompting from the Spirit to do this. She answered my prayers that day(and I'm sure the prayers of Ella as well). That night all three of my girls were excited to start their new schools. I know Heavenly Father listens to the prayers of a mother pleading for her child. This was a testimony building experience for me on the power of prayer. It was also a teaching moment for me and my children on how He answers our prayers and how sometimes He answers them through others. We always have to be living in a way to where the Spirit can guide us not just for ourselves but to help others too. All 3 of them did have a wonderful first day and I was so grateful for it! I also have to say that the night before Joey gave them all father's blessings(even the boys..even Luke..and even me as I was needing a blessing myself:) I'm so so grateful to have a husband that has the priesthood and honors it.

Joey took these photos at our apartment complex that morning...they have some really beautiful weeping willows that made a unique background for their photo shoot. I think these might be my favorite back to school photos ever! We have three beautiful girls, inside and out.

Aubrey, 8th grade

Ella, 6th grade

 Cali, 3rd grade

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Made it here! And Happy 3rd Birthday Wesley!!!

So, we made it to Iowa :) It was a LONG trip. And when we arrived at midnight, it was pouring rain. And the garage we had been promised wasn't available. So, poor poor Joey offloaded a ton of it in the cold rain so that our valuables wouldn't just be sitting out in a parking lot. And then he did more in the morning with no help. Oh, and did I mention we were on the second floor?  He was exhausted! I don't know how he did it, though I'm not surprised as he has crazy strength. Like HULK strength :) He didn't even have a place to park the cars/trailer that night as all the spots were full. It was a mess. I didn't help a ton with that because, well, I had all the kids and was getting them all in bed and the baby nursed/in bed. So, our arrival wasn't picture perfect. I do remember once we laid in bed thinking, whoa, did we just do all that?! And falling asleep in seconds. We were just exhausted. yet, made it to church in the morning as it was a HUGE priority to me for the girls especially to go and meet some people before school started. School was starting just a couple of weeks later!

So, just a few days after our big move, we were able to celebrate our little Wesley's 3rd birthday. He told me he wanted a trains cake(well, he pointed to that one in the cake book;) so I ordered one from Hyvee(a really awesome grocery store here in Iowa that I'm diggin). We spent a really fun evening out at Chuck E Cheese. The younger kids(heck, all of us) had a blast. It had been a long time since we had gone to one so it was exciting to the little boys especially. Wesley was running around and having a grand ole time :) Chuck E Cheese was where I had LOTS of birthdays as a kid. I have so many memories of running from that big scary mouse(ok, mostly having fun;). But my kids aren't quite as scared as I was thankfully. We've had our share of kids scared of him, but the boys got over it quick. Wesley even gave him a high five! And if you know our family/kids, thats a miracle :) They've changed the "look" of Chuck E to where he isn't as big and intimidating. I approve. When we got home, we sang him Happy Birthday, ate a yummy cake(not made by me hallelujah, I couldn't handle that that week:) and watched him very excitedly open his and candy from the girls, a robot and train from us and lot of other fun things from extended family. He had a great night. Its so fun to create these memories and fun for your kids.

Wesley, you are a busy brave energetic kiddo! You are determined to do the things you want(and while that is hard right now..I know it will serve you well someday;) You love to jump off things which I'm sure our downstairs neighbor LOVES, haha. You love to climb. You love "treats" and will do anything for gummies or to play with anything with wheels. Or to play on a tablet or phone(you are constantly stealing ours) If we can't find you and you are quiet, you are either 1. Eating candy in a corner or 2. Playing on someones phone in a corner or closet. Sneaky kid. You don't talk much, but we are going to work on that and find you some help soon! You are cuddly and loving. You are becoming a wonderful big brother to Luke. I'm seeing some new qualities come out in you which warm my heart. You pat him softly and put your little arm around him sometimes. You try to show him things. You love your siblings and parents. I know if you have done something wrong and I look sad, you will come and hug me because your little heart is so tender. You are also unusually handsome, which makes it hard when I'm mad and you give me that sweet smile. Your smile and dimples kill me! We love you, Wesley! Happy 3rd birthday little buddy.

We always have the kids stay in a room while we decorate..and then they come out for the big reveal. His little excited shy happy face makes me smile :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Time for me to say goodbye

The last week we lived in Texas, I was able to get together with some wonderful friends for the last time. The kids and I had one last lunch with my dear Susan and her girls. Saying goodbye to her really pulled at my heartstrings!  (never thought I would use the word heartstrings in a sentence but I just did;) I have so many wonderful memories of us together with our kids. Many afternoons after school at the park just talking and talking while our kids played. Girls nights, just her and I. She was a breath of fresh air, always. I miss her laugh. Am I sounding weird right now describing her? Haha. I'm not a stalker. I just love her :) I treasure those times. I may or may not have cried a little when we said goodbye. She was a close close friend of mine almost the entire time we lived in the area, whether we were in McKinney or Prosper. We met in probably 2008? I could talk to her about anything and could be myself around her. She was always there for me.  I was grateful for her true and undying friendship for so many years.  Another sweet friend was Emily.  Emily and I had dinner one night just the two of us before the move. Fun to be silly with her and talk about life together. I will miss her and her generosity and genuinity. She also knew how to have fun. We ordered dessert before dinner that night, her idea. I loved it! Our favorite place to go was BJ's and we would always share a pizza and pizzookies :) She had the funniest stories to share with me every time we hung out. And I knew she would do anything for me and I would for her. I'm glad for phone calls and texts and social media to keep up! We also had park/playdate with my sweet friend Alison and a couple of her kids. She was a good friend to me in Prosper and her daughter, Alivia, was a good friend of Aubrey's. She helped me in so many ways and I will never forget her. She was a HUGE example to me in my life of leadership, thoughtfulness(she did so many inspired things..) and faith. There was also my sweet friend, Jessica. Her and I became very close the last year before we moved. She was "real." Our personalities were similar and I just loved being around her. She is a talented, smart, funny and loving person. I'm so glad for Facebook so I can continue to see her beautiful face and those adorable kiddos! I will miss her a ton. I'm so glad we got to know each other this year! Then there were the Grigg's. The coolest couple. We had finally found a couple to go on double dates with and hang out with. The last year we lived in Prosper, we realized how much we all had in common. Its hard to find another couple to hang out with! Mike and Joey had similar personalities and interests and so did Tamara and I. They were fun fun fun. And they had a lot of kids like us :) So, they "got" us. We had fun playing tennis and foosball together :) And having dinners together and playing games while the kids played. I still hope we can go on a trip or cruise together someday like we talked about :) We also had to say goodbye to my Aunt Cindy and Aunt Sandy(and her family). It sucked that they both lived so close to us and we were leaving them. The kids were super bummed about that especially. Sandy and her family actually lived in our town and had just moved into our ward even! Aubrey loved having their son, Joey, in the youth program with her. He's a fun guy to be around. I'm glad we had the opportunity to get to know all of them better. And even my Aunt Cindy had recently moved closer. And Sharlene and Brandon too! Ugh! Then we up and moved. I am so sorry y'all!! We love you so much and miss you so much!! We'll be back through on our way to CC next year though(so that makes me feel better, this isn't "forever":) They are both wonderful aunts. Also, the last photo is a photo of me, the kids and our dear neighbor, Nancy, across the street. She was the very last person we said goodbye to before we drove off. She was such a giving warm hearted lady that we will never forget. She made us countless things for the kids by hand. Wallets, stuffed animals, bowl holders(for the microwave:), blankets and spit up cloths for Luke. She even put money in one of those wallets for us for our drive to Iowa("for snacks and food on your way up") It was sweet to hug her goodbye and thank her for her friendship and kindness. And, as you know, she taught us a sweet lesson in our life...

I was also able to have one last GNO with some of my very favorite people. My visiting teachers, Annilee and Heidi, put it together for me. These gals are amazing and really helped me last year! I won't forget how they weren't just my visiting teachers, but how they really were my friends and looked out for me. It was a perfect evening that I was so grateful to them for. It was a great way to see so many ladies and say goodbye to them. I was also thrilled that my dear friend, Amanda, was able to come to that too. She still lived in McKinney the past three years while I was in Prosper but was one of the few that still kept up with me and showed me she still valued our friendship. She is an awesome person that texts me out of the blue to see how I'm doing or what I'm up to. She is super funny and so easy to talk to. And a great mama to her three little cuties. I love her! It meant a lot to me that she came that night. All of the girls in the picture at TCF picture are AMAZING. They have all touched my life for good in some way. Every one of them. Every person, every family we have met in our marriage so far has taught us something. Thats the best part of moving, is getting to know more people. Every move has brought us new treasured friends. So, I look forward to meeting more friends in our new place! As I reflect on our lives in North Texas, it was a good life. There were some ups and some downs, but the ups outnumbered the downs for sure! As I felt ready to move on, I also wanted to hold on to some of these ladies forever! We had so many great memories and experiences. And wonderful people to bless us. We miss everyone so much.

I may or not be tearing up looking at their faces right now as I type this from Iowa....

And here is our last picture before we drove away..our family in front of our old home. Goodbye Texas!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Our first time in Iowa(and Luke's first airplane ride)

So I look a smidge crazy in this photo but oh well. I am crazy so whats the surprise there? Hehe. This is a picture of Joey, me and little Lukey when we landed in Des Moines for our little house hunting trip before the big move just a week later. It was past midnight so we were really tired. But excited! And Luke did so so awesome on the whole trip! It was a fun trip. We looked at several houses, but didn't find "the one." That was disappointing. But traveling and seeing it all in person helped us to realize we were looking in the wrong suburb. We decided we wanted to be closer to Joey's work during this trip. I will also add that having only one kid in tow versus six sure was nice! (though we love you older kids and missed you ;) It was kinda like a vacation and we had lots of fun! We also got to meet up with Brian and his wife, Jeanie, for dinner one night. They are a wonderful couple! This trip helped me feel even better about the move. Iowa really is beautiful. The corn fields, grass and trees are so green! And it felt like a slower pace of life, which I loved.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fishing!!! Little Manila Lumpia House. Racing Go Karts. Fun with cousins.

Those were the highlights from our visit with Joey's side of the fam. Don Roy got the kids the hook up with a really neat fishing experience at the hatchery. They had a blast. And I finally tried the lumpia house in the Bluff. Tasty! We had a fun visit.  Sad to say goodbye..especially for the younger kids to say goodbye to miss Shelby :( Cali, Shelby and Ammon are quite the trio. Hopefully it won't be too long before we see everyone again!! We miss you lots!!!