Tuesday, August 23, 2011

4x4 First Days of School

The first day of school has finally arrived. The weeks leading up to this watershed day were fraught with registration forms, immunization verifications, official documentations, and lots of waiting. Being the proactive planner that I am, I knew way back in about April that we absolutely had to be in Texas no later than August 1st. In my mind, that was the drop dead deadline. We closed on our house July 29th, and with only a couple of days to spare in my grand design, I was ready to kick into gear with the enrollment process.

One of the first things I did was call around to the schools to see what I would need to bring in order to get the kids registered because I am so organized and on top of things. That is how I roll. So I make the first call, and in talking with one of the secretaries at the elementary school, I learned a jarring piece of information. Upon informing her that my students were going into 3rd and 5th grade, she came back with the declaration that my 5th grader would not in fact be attending their school. What?! But this school is right around the corner from our house, the house we picked in part because of the close proximity to school. WHAT?! Here in this neck of the woods they have a charming little thing called intermediate school. It is not elementary, not middle school or junior high, but something in between, a sort of interim if you will. They rotate around a little bit, and they even get lockers. They don't have recess anymore, but there is "break" after they eat lunch. Okay. A little surprising, but it is what it is. Moving on.

More calls were made, and as mentioned, lots of paperwork was completed. We met with counselors for the two older boys so as to plan out their schedules. Theo was beyond thrilled to learn that our younger boys would have P.E. three days a week and the older kids every single day. Bonus!  We were a little disappointed that the high school doesn't have an orchestra program for Drake. Besides that, they seemed to have some great classes to take.

The Friday before school was supposed to start, each of the schools had a "meet the teacher" night. Luckily none of them were at the same time. Maybe less lucky was that they were all in 30 minute increments. We would have to hustle from one place to the next to get in the face time I had planned to get with the teachers. Drake got to attend a half day freshman orientation at the high school sans parents. If I had my way, I think I would have liked to go and sit in the back so I could have my own peace of mind that I knew the procedures and policies without having to rely on Drake to relay them to me. He is not well known for his communication skills. When the late afternoon rolled around, we started our rounds at the other three schools.

Holy parent involvement! The traffic to the schools was insane! I think every single parent of every single kid was at the schools trying to hone in on my teacher face time. It was a spectacle. We did get to meet Bowen's three core teachers and Rex's teacher. Corbin was barely tolerating our presence on his turf and refused to let us walk around to meet each of his teachers. I guess he didn't notice the halls were teeming with families all doing the exact same thing. We are so embarrassing!

Monday morning rolled around, and it was time to put all of the planning and preparation into play. The kids all donned their new clothes and shoes, ate a little breakfast, and we were off. Rex was first on the docket as I walked him around the corner to his school. It was borderline pandemonium in the roads and parking lot surrounding the school, and I was so glad we were on foot. Apparently, kids aren't allowed anywhere but the cafeteria before school, and they in there in rows by grade until the appointed time. I left Rex sitting in his little row looking so anxious it was all I could do to leave him there. Bowen was next as Theo loaded him up for the drive to the Intermediate school. Luckily, we got him signed up to ride the bus, so this was just a first day of school ride. Corbin left on foot to the junior high with nary a look back. Drake was last to go, the only kid who will get a ride every day. As we dropped Drake for his first day in the big scary world of high school, I admit, I had a little bit of a lump in my throat. Our baby, in high school!

Some things never change, as this was sadly the best photo I was able to snap before they all dispersed.
As the day wound down, I was anxious for everyone to get home. I walked over to meet Rex, and was so happy to see him emerge from the building with a big smile on his face and a greeting of, "I made a friend today. His name is Colton!" Sigh of relief! We made our way back to the house and waited for Bo's bus to arrive. The scheduled time of his dropoff came and went. At about 15 minutes past the appointed time, I called the school. Then I called the bus barn. Then the school called me. Then I called the bus barn again. No Bowen! Great! They lost my kid on the first day of school. As I am sitting on the phone with the bus barn again, the bus finally pulled up more than a half an hour behind schedule. Oy! That was a tense 29 minutes!
Corbin had arrived home in the nervous waiting for Bowen and declared that almost all of his teachers are mean. Finally, Theo departed to collect Drake. No drama there at all.

Once we were all home, snacked, and settled, tales of the day were overlapping. The gist was, for the most part, they survived. it wasn't so bad. It was even pretty good! YAY! Maybe school in Texas won't be so bad afterall.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some of the Stuff We've Been Up To

This is a picture of the trampoline at our AZ house. Theo dug a huge hole by hand so that it was level with the ground. Our kids have spent hours and hours and hours jumping on that thing. One of the best investments we have ever made in the way of kid entertainment.
Because there would be a big empty hole if we took the tramp when we moved, not to mention it had seen better days, we opted to leave it behind for our renters to enjoy or trash, whichever they preferred. That also meant that our very first purchase upon arrival in Texas was a new trampoline!
Once again, our boys have spent hours and hours and hours jumping. We have yet to decide if this one will go into the ground.

We haven't had only daytime fun. One evening as Theo and I were returning from the grocery store just after dark, we spotted a bunch of frogs in our alley behind the house. We told the boys to grab their flashlights, and the hunting ensued. This was new and fun. These animals were not as quick as our AZ lizards, but they were a whole lot of slimey.
The boys gathered their bounty in a big bucket. Even though they were only in our possession for less than half an hour, they were christened with names. Meet Joe, BJ (Bowen Jr.), RJ (Rex Jr.), and Squeaker (one of them was literally making weird squeaking sounds).

The boys were sure Ruby was going to make a late night snack out of one of their new friends.
Aside from the fun at home, we have been lucky that all four of the boys have had an opportunity to do some scouting stuff since they got here. Just a few days after our arrival, Drake and Corbin got to attend a day camp. The stake had organized a day at a local BSA camp to get all of the eleven year old boys up to their first class rank. Corbin had some work to complete and Drake went to get in some service hours. The day sounded like a lot of fun. A couple weeks later, there was a swimming party for the cubs at the same boy scout camp Drake and Corbin had been to. The pool was really nice and they boys had a great time beating the heat from the great Texas drought of 2011.  

School starts tomorrow so it is time to get into a new routine. The summer of our big move has come to a close!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Double Digits

All of our family birthdays are condensed into a relatively short spring/summer season. It kicks off with Rex in early April and ends at the beginning of August with Bowen. I hate to admit it, but with multiple celebrations with only weeks between, I sometimes run out of birthday steam by August.

We had closed on the house just a few days before, and Theo had gone back to Lubbock for his last week of the summer session. Bo's birthday was on Wednesday, right in the middle of the week that was all about trying to find a new place for all of the crap we brought from Arizona, trying to get the kids registered for school, stocking our fridge after forgetting to bring in the cooler we left in the garage for two days, you get the picture.

Bowen being the great sport that he is agreed that a day at the local swimming pool would suffice on his actual birthday followed by a celebration once his dad was home on Friday. Stellar mom that I am, I left my camera at home while we frolicked at the outdoor Southwest Amarillo public pool in 100+ degree weather. At least I am consistent in keeping the photographic documentation of my third child to a bare minimum. I told myself that all would be redeemed when we celebrated on Friday.

In driving around, our kids had spotted an eatery called Pizza Planet. If you are familiar with the movie Toy Story at all, you know that this is a place of fun frolic and good food. Think Chucky Cheese with a space theme. Since spotting it, the boys had made repeated requests to go check out this establishment. Perfect birthday destination!

Friday rolled around, and Theo got home for good. This in itself was awesome. After more than two months, we were finally reunited! As dinnertime approached we readied ourselves for some epic party time at the Pizza Planet. We jumped in the car and headed to the place we had passed several times in excited anticipation. As we drove into the actual parking lot, we began to realize that this place looked a little on the small side as it was at the end of a not huge strip mall. Once we could see inside the front doors it became obvious that Pizza Planet was not a big video game filled, token dispensing, candy machine kind of place. It was take out only! There was not even a chair in the lobby!

Plan B. One of the nice things about being in a bigger town is the abundance of decent chain restaurants to choose from. We even suggested Chucky Cheese. The boys all quickly shot down that idea and voted for Olive Garden as an alternative. I have trained them well. Even though it was Friday night, we had gone early enough that we were able to get in pretty quickly and commence the celebration. Bowen got to open his presents while we waited for our food, and then we stuffed ourselves with gluttonous abandon. Not a bad way to celebrate this wonderful young man's big day turning 10.

Happy Birthday, Bowen. 10 years old!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Move- Part II

After all of the mayhem of packing, cleaning, and loading on Wednesday night, the kids and I got up early Thursday morning to make the 10 hour drive to Amarillo. Theo's mom, Lisa, would also be caravaning with us to help out. We shifted a few things around in the light of the morning as the loading had gone well after dark the night before. I even discovered the corner piece of our sectional had been left sitting in the backyard. We also had a delivery of several large storage tubs arrive from one of the Page bishops. A woman had broken down several months ago and had left her car and lots of stuff behind. Since she was now in Lubbock, we were a good option to get a good portion of the stuff to her. Once locked and loaded, we took off into the great unknown.

The trip was relatively uneventful for us. We actually left the trailer and uhaul behind in Page as our drivers would be coming later that day from Durango. My nephew, Ty, and John's cousin, Hank, a couple of fun-loving, young, strong 20-somethings would be doing the dirty work of driving all of our junk to our new home.

Lisa, the kids, and I drove into Amarillo as the sun was setting and got settled in our hotel for the evening. To my chagrin, there were signs posted all over the hotel doors proclaiming their pet policy. It was not in Ruby's favor. All day long, Ruby hadn't even wanted to get out of the car when we stopped for breaks. She has some abandonment issues, I am guessing from her puppy days being left behind on the reservation. The boys thought it was very exciting sneaking Ruby in the back door and into our room. I felt so shady.

The next day, we had a lazy morning since our house was closing in the afternoon. Theo had a test in the morning in Lubbock, and he planned to meet us for a final walk-through as soon as he could get up to Amarillo. The kids were so anxious for their dad to arrive. They kept asking me when he was going to get there. It was all they could do to relax and play. Everything went according to plan. Theo arrived. We met the realtor. We did the walk though. We had the closing. The house was ours. Cool.

Meanwhile, our driving pair along with my sister, Michelle, and her boys, Gabe and Seth were making their way from Durango to Amarillo. We had told our bishop that we could use help at 5pm and as I said, things seemed to be going according to plan. Then I got a text from Michelle. They were about an hour away, and the trailer had blown a tire, generally not a huge deal, but the spare was inside the trailer under all of our stuff! We all said our own little prayers and I fired off a message to our bishop pushing the help back to 7pm.

Apparently our prayers were heard. They found the tire quickly and easily, and were back on their way. Everyone arrived safe and sound, and the unloading was ready to begin. We were so pleasantly surprised by the huge turnout we had from our new Amarillo ward. I had heard in calling ahead that our ward was small and they were excited to have us move in, but this was above and beyond. It was awesome! Helpers galore.

Since we were done pretty late in the evening, we just set up a few beds and cleared areas for a good night rest. The next day was spent trying to organize and sort. All of our helpers were great! Later on Saturday, we discovered another prayer that had been answered. I guess John's truck had some kind of mechanical issue, and there were parts that had literally melted in the engine! Yikes! When John talked to Michelle, he felt as though we were very fortunate there hadn't been a fire! Crazy! They ended up getting the truck into a dealership, and made plans to rent a car to get home. Oy!

Sunday morning, Theo's mom made a very early departure to get home, and the rest of us went to our new ward together. I think Ty enjoyed it more than anyone since this is where he had served the first part of his mission. Michelle and her gang cleared out after sacrament meeting, and we were left in the aftermath of the unload. Now comes the work of putting our new house together. We are home!

Hank changes the trailer tire

The boys having way too much fun in a gas station. Gabe bought this hat and wore it all weekend!

Looking off into the Texas horizon

Cadillac Ranch

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Move- Part I

After much planning and praying and worrying and waiting, the time had come to make our move to Amarillo, Texas! On the Monday prior to our departure, I signed papers with our renters-to-be. That was a big relief. They even brought their parents who were visiting to see the house. Seals of approval were abounding. Yippee!

Tuesday and much of Wednesday were spent doing all of those last minute business items like utilities, mail, and of course packing, packing, packing. Being without my husband was a challenge at times. However, some of my very awesome friends popped in and out to help with all kinds of tasks like picking up the uhaul, cleaning the fridge, and of course, packing, packing, and more packing. They were lifesavers!

I had asked people in our ward to come on Wednesday evening to help us load our trailer, generously on loan from my sister, Michelle, as well as fill the ginormous uhaul truck. When the appointed time arrived, one young man was at our door. Hmmmmm, okay, this is a smaller turnout than I expected. Time ticked on, and I began to grow uneasy. Were people really not going to show up? How the heck are me and 15 year old Roger, going to load the treadmill, or the piano?!! I began to relax a little as my dear friend and her husband showed up; they are somewhat the moving experts. From then on people began to trickle in, and then it became a flood....

Wow, I admit, I am not the most emotional person, but there came moment after moment when members of my ward family approached me to ask how I would like to put them to use, and it was all I could do to not break down in grateful weepy tears! There were couples, elders, young men, even kids, everywhere! It was all I could do to point people in the right direction most of the time. Now of course, there is the obvious joke that this ward was anxious to get us out of Page, hahaha. But, I choose to believe that all of these people came over to show us their love and support! I was humbled.

That night once the trucks were filled, the crowds dispersed, and many hugs and handshakes were given, a small group of my gals stayed to help me clear up the dregs. In all honesty, there wasn't much left to do, but we all felt like we weren't quite ready to say our see-you-soons (I am vehemently opposed to goodbye). Just like always, we chatted, we reminisced, and laughed a bunch. Finally, after midnight, we had our tearful parting until we are next in Page as visitors.

As I lay on my luxurious air mattress trying to catch at least a few hours of rest before our long drive the following day, I realized that I have lived in that house longer than any other home in my entire life! Whoa! Crazy! So many wonderful memories there like sending our oldest off to kindergarten, the birth of our youngest child, losing first teeth, riding the first two-wheeler, blessings, baptisms, a rich, full, happy, blessed life. Another flood, this time memories, and maybe a few tears. As much as I know that this is what the Lord wants our family to do, it was hard to go. THANK YOU to our Page family! The Martin family loves, loves, loves you. So, see-you-soon!