"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Movies, hotwings, and giant playgrounds

The final day of 2005. It was a big year, a stressful year, and a fun year.. and we're all looking forward to a new start in 2006. Since we have the rest of our lives to go out on New Years, we'll be ringing in the New Year at home with the boys. We all went out this morning to rent a couple movies - Robots to watch with the kids, I Heart Huckabees to watch after they're asleep - and loaded up on snacks for our little party. We'll spread a big blanket on the living room floor so we can eat picnic-style, and will be dining on hotwings, pizza, corndogs, popcorn chicken, and shrimp. On the way home from the store, we stopped at a local park that we had yet to visit. We relaxed and played for an hour, and made a mental note that we needed to buy a good basketball and volleyball for the next time. The playground was HUGE, and we counted over 10 different slides. Everett spent a long time playing in the sand. Paxton liked the tire-swing. Spencer kept gravitating to the race cars, where he played Dukes and jumped and slid over the hood. When we got home, our neighbor rang our doorbell with a Christmas gift of homemade cookies, chocolates, and coated nuts. We used them to get our stomachs primed for all our late-night eating tonight.

Happy New Year, and wishes for a safe and blessed 2006.




Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Aftermath

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Santa was very good to the boys this year. Three days after Christmas, we are still finding homes for all the new toys, games, books, and craft supplies. Our first Christmas in Arizona went well... we listened to Christmas music, read our Christmas books, ate too many cookies, and played played played. Like most everything else we've encountered so far, it was different, and will take some getting used to. I tried my best to keep some traditions intact though. We stayed home on Christmas Eve, we read The Night Before Christmas, and we put out our cookies for Santa. The boys were beside themselves with excitement (Spencer so much so that he was awake half the night) and they weren't disappointed in the morning. We enjoyed a quiet
morning with the 5 of us, and were very happy to Sandi, Mitch and the kids for dinner. Maba and Pop called to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and we tried to do a video chat. Computers and firewalls being what they are, we couldn't get it to work until the day after Christmas, but it was worth it. They sent a Christmas video of themselves singing to the boys as well, and they watched it at least 5 times.

Now that Christmas is over, we're back about the business of getting settled in, and returning to our new normal. Daddy's interviews have picked up again. The boys are looking forward to going to some homeschool activities. We're waiting - mostly patiently - for our new furniture to be delivered. And today, December 28th, is our second trip to the zoo.






Friday, December 23, 2005

'Twas Four Days Before Christmas

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Four days before Christmas, and we went to the zoo! It was a strange and wonderful feeling to be walking around a zoo, enjoying the sunshine, less than a week before Christmas. It seemed a fitting thing to do for our first holiday season in Arizona. Still
looking like tourists, we all went in short sleeves, while most of the "locals" were in jackets and sweatshirts despite the 70+ degrees. Funny.


It took less than 20 minutes to get there, even with a little bit of traffic. It was a great zoo, nice and big, and the boys had a
blast. We could have sat and watched the monkeys all day. We stayed nearly 5 hours, almost till closing, and still had so much left to see. We took our time, walked around, and read all about
the animals. Paxton rode the carousel, they all had icecream, and
Spencer got some popcorn on the way out. If I wasn't positive I
wanted a membership before we went, I was after we left. It was
the first thing I did when I got home, and we are all excited to get our memberships cards in the mail. I see a lot more zoo visits in our future. Next trip we'll start off with the areas we didn't
make it to this time - the snake house, the reptiles, and the petting area.


This morning we had a visit from an exterminator - something we've never done before, but need to get used to. He sprayed all around the perimeter of the house, both inside and out. The boys liked him because he was nice and patient and answered their questions.. and because he gave them lolipops. I liked him because he's going to keep the cockroaches away.




Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot

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...like Christmas.

The tree is trimmed, the presents are wrapped, we've all had colds, and
we've watched The Grinch. Our projects for today were to clean
the house, and get started on our cookies. In the interest of
simplifying, I was only going to make one kind this year, but majority
ruled. Oreo balls were first, followed by a new recipe for butter
cookies (the best I've ever tried.) Peanut butter with Hershey's
kisses will round out the list. It's fun baking with the older
boys... they're great at following directions, have no problem with the
measuring and the math, and don't make TOO big of a mess. Everett
hasn't quite gotten to the point where his help is actually helpful,
but he sure has a good time. :O)

I also ventured out by myself to find the local Blockbuster - 3 minutes
away - and rented Herbie for the boys. They loved the movie, and
asked that it be put on their "to buy someday" list. Children
after my own heart, their list is getting as long as mine.






Saturday, December 17, 2005

Desert Run

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Mike and Mich took off for the day for a run through the desert today. It was something he'd been dying to do since we got here, and he wasn't disappointed. In fact, I think the comment he made was "It's worth living in Arizona just to be able to do that." They were gone for several hours, traveling over dirt roads and old washes. They had a really good time, so much so that I was willing to forgive the new scratches on my 4Runner.

I talked to the leader of a local homeschool group while he was gone, and the boys and I are looking forward to joining. I have to fill out and sign a waiver to be "official", something that wasn't necessary for our little meet-in-the-gym-once-a-week group in NH. One of the big upsides to joining a larger group? Diversity; in homeschooling styles, culture, and religion, to name just a few. Diversity is good. Getting involved in the group will be good for them too, although they've been more than happy at home. Today they made Christmas cards, played with their legos, read some more of their castle book, and played several rounds of GT4. This was all in between their usual venture outside, for bike riding, bug hunting, and mail gathering.

Tonight we decided it was time to try out the local pizza places, and got take-out from a place just around the corner. The pizza was good, and the proximity couldn't be beat.

I still feel like a tourist, walking around with my mouth hanging open.




Monday, December 12, 2005

A new kind of church

We tried a new church yesterday, and it was unlike any church we'd ever been to. As we walked from the car(once we'd finally found a place to park) to the information center, I was trying very hard not to point or comment to loud; already feeling like we had a glaring sign on our foreheads that we were not only visitors, but from another part of the country as well.

The church was not just a little church building, but in fact several buildings, spread out over an entire campus. I never did find out the membership number, but I'm pretty sure it was larger than the town of Andover. They don't have churches that size in New Hampshire. A very friendly woman gave us a map, and a tour, and walked us to where we needed to go. Both Spencer and Paxton tried the kids' classes, and - aside from a scared and confused moment when Paxton's class switched buildings and he was afraid we wouldn't find him - had a good time. He said he was ready to stay by himself, so we'd dropped him off, but he didn't understand how it would work or where we would meet him. A bad parenting moment. We joined them for the kids' services, which was a great presentation of songs, puppets, and lessons. After the service they went back to their classes, and this time Mike went with Paxton, and Everett and I went with Spencer, to make sure everyone was ok. They enjoyed the rest of the morning, and both want to go back next week. Next week we'll see if Everett is interested in the toddler class, and when everyone is happy and comfortable and ready, we'll check out the adult services.

We visited Sandi, Mitch, and the kids yesterday too, and spent the afternoon playing at the playground. We picked up the Usborne books we'd ordered from her too, and the boys went to bed happily reading about tractors, castles, and dinosaurs.




Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fractions and creature games

Yesterday was the first really "normal"-feeling, comfortable, happy day since we've moved in. The boys are adjusting, and we're getting into a rhythm again. We've been unpacking box after box, and I've given a preference to the kids' stuff, so that they'd feel at home as soon as possible. They found a fraction pizza game that they'd forgotten about, and we all played several rounds first thing in the morning. Paxton has also been really into these Weird N Wild Creature cards that he got in the mail, and we played with those too.. learning about creatures like anacondas, sharks, velociraptors, and the loch ness monster.

It's been in the mid-sixties, and all of our neighbors are complaining about how "cold" it is. We've met quite a few of them now, and they've been friendly. The most eventful meeting by far was a few nights ago:

It was a nice quiet afternoon. Mike and the boys were playing outside and had just come in. I was inside with Everett because he wasn't feeling well, and we were sitting and chatting on the computer. The doorbell rang, and it was two boys, one of them hysterical and bleeding, and he was so upset that it was hard to get a story out of him as to what happened. He just kept asking for help over and over. After what felt like forever (but was probably less than a minute) he told us that a dog had gotten into the yard and attacked his dog, and he'd gotten bit trying to separate them. We called 911, had him sit down - right on the cement of our entranceway because he was starting to seem like he was going to hyperventilate - and I ran and got him a towel for his hand. One of his fingers was very badly bitten. They said something about their cousin and their dog still being in the house, so I went across the street to find three very freaked out, but unhurt, other kids coming out of the front door. They were all crying, and I tried to calm them down and find out if there were parents or friends or anyone I could call. One of the girls was holding her dog, who'd also gotten badly bitten. By this time, Mike and the first two boys were coming across the street. The one who was bitten had calmed down by then, and we just stayed with them while we waited for the paramedics and everyone to get there. The paramedics came first, and were getting the one who was hurt ready to go to the hospital. The girl's father came home, then the mother. They thanked us profusely and said they were sorry to be meeting under those circumstances. The police came, and animal control. They captured the dog who'd caused the whole thing - a PITBULL - and took it away. The dog wasn't leashed, and had somehow climbed onto something to get over the wall into their backyard.

Once everything was under control, we came home. It was very scary. On a side note, they seem like very nice neighbors.




Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Making a house a home

Our main objective for the week - aside from continuing Mike's job search - was to just keep on working on settling in. This has meant unpacking... lots and lots of unpacking... which is exciting for the kids. They've been rediscovering long-lost books, toys and games. Spencer spent the morning playing around with a How To Draw Animals book, and Paxton played Uno. We're slowly filling up bookcases, shelves and closets. We've started hanging things on the walls. No longer just some random house we are renting, it is becoming home. Home extends out the doors too... after lunch the older boys and I took a long, slow walk around the block, chatting and checking out the neighbors' cars and houses.

We got a catalog for local classes in the mail yesterday, and we're looking forward to jumping in in January. Paxton is planning on taking a karate class; Spencer and I are going to take a parent/child yoga class; and I'm signing Everett up for toddler tumbling. I'm hoping to try a new church this weekend, and the boys are excited about its childrens' programs. We're all still in awe at everything the area has to offer.




Sunday, December 04, 2005

Adjusting

We've discovered that the transition to a new home (in a new city, in a new state, in a new part of the country no less) is very much a process. We were thinking that the boys were handling it very well, given the circumstances, and that it would just get better and better. In fact the opposite seems to be happening. As they get more and more comfortable, more and more layers come off, and we're seeing stronger reactions to the change. Yesterday was a hard day, with too many tears and yelling and frustrations. We cannot blame them... exciting as it is for all of us, it is HARD. It is tiring. It is overwhelming. It is new. It is scary. They really ARE handling it well, and as we cycle through this adjustment, we know we'll hit an upswing soon. Last night and today were huge steps to returning to normalcy, or at least to a new normalcy. Last night we met Sandi, Mitch and the kids at a big indoor play area down the street. For two hours we forgot about everything else and just played together... in tubes, slides, ziplines, trees, mazes, and forts. It was a great time, and it was needed by all. Today was needed just as well - a true day of a rest. A lazy morning, a late lunch, and a walk down the street to the park. The boys went on the swings and slides, and Mike and I laughed about all the people wearing sweatshirts and hoods and gloves in the 65 degree weather.




Saturday, December 03, 2005

Just two good old boys

The other day, Mike and the boys were playing Grand Turismo, a racing game on Playstation,and one of them was racing a car like the General Lee on Dukes of Hazzard. Mike introduced them to the show, and they are hooked. The three of them have been watching it together twice a day for the past two days. Mike is reliving a good memory from childhood, and the boys are enjoying a fun new show with adventure and car chases. When they're not watching it, they're playing it, with four little lego people standing in for Bo, Luke, and Daisy.

We have been spending a little more time at home, started to find some rhythm to our days again. Yesterday our one outing was a fun one, a trip to get a new Christmas tree. We got a nice artificial one - already pre-strung with white lights - and let the boys each choose one new decoration apiece. Some new red and gold balls and candy canes and we were good to go. After dinner and baths and haircuts, we were too tired to do it last night... so it's our first project on tap for this weekend.






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