Tonight, Micah has been out shopping, both kids have been asleep since 8 and I have cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed three rugs, baked sugar cookies and am now devouring them. It's been a great Christmas season so far for us so far!
It began the day after Thanksgiving with putting up the lights
We caught a grasshopper
In order for Micah to reach the dormer windows, he had to use our ladder to climb on the roof behind the house where it wasn't quite so steep, then climb up and over the point and slide down to the top of the windows and then try to scurry back up to the top. It was crazy and he nearly died over and over again and it took all day and we are now contemplating just leaving them up year round. Or getting a longer ladder as a Christmas gift.
But it does look very nice.
The girls' favorite game lately is called "snuggle pile". It involves collecting as many soft things as possible in a cluster and then wrestling on the ground until Angela's head get rolled on and she starts crying. I *HATE* snuggle pile. It's not so bad downstairs, like in this photo. But when it occurs in their bedrooms, they empty all the clothes and stuffed animals and blankets and pillows, often with a few toys strewn in that are NOT soft, and of course they can't be trusted to sort all their stuff back out into the right place, so I end up cleaning it up every. single. time.
Our biggest adventure was going up to Atlanta last weekend for Micah's graduation. Angela got to sit front-facing for the first time. It didn't have the intended effect, she still whined and screamed the whole time. Also, I learned that chips are the worst car snack ever for a small child. I think more crumbs reached her carseat than were actually swallowed.
The girls were actually very well behaved considering they had to sit through 2 long, really boring ceremonies the day after being stuck in the car for 9 hours.
We're very proud of Doctor Daddy, as I am trying to get the girls to call him now.
We watched frozen on the car ride home on Micah's laptop and it reawakened our girls' enthusiasm for the movie. Angela has been singing "let it go". Natalie was intrigued by the ice cutters in the first scene. She asked what they were doing and what the tools were that they were using. She asked if she could have one. When I said no, she said she would ask Santa for one. We tried to distract her from the idea, but she was determined that she had to have one. Micah, in his wisdom, made her a "toy ice saw" out of paper to satisfy her. Because, no. Just, no.
I'm finding that Christmas is even more joyful as a parent of multiple young children because, instead of decorating just once, you continually decorate all month as your children keep messing things up.
...in some cases, even hiding the Christmas decor!
The nativity is from Gabby, who used to play with one at Christmastime when she was little!
Why the kids love the dog bed so much, I will never understand.
Trying to make sugar cookies with the children was a complete disaster. Maybe next year, I will just throw the dough straight into the garbage and send the kids out to roll in the mud. They will have just as much fun, make just as much mess, and I will end up with about as many cookies. But I will be spared the misery of having the oven on all afternoon in this 85 degree heat!
Natalie has been really into the Santa thing this year, and is certainly beginning to understand the commercial side of things
But she is also grasping more details about the real reason for Christmas, too.
This is the definition of being a younger sister
And, finally, I become so crazy during road trips that I revert to a twelve-year-old state.
The only big news around here: we just signed a contract to have a fence built. We are very suddenly not feeling rich anymore :)
We're excited, though. After researching online, we thought that we could only afford a split-rail or agricultural fence- 4 ft tall with wire mesh to contain the kids and dog. We got some quotes from local contractors and found that a 6ft wooden privacy fence would actually be cheaper than we had expected. When you're spending $8000, why not go all the way and make it $11000 and get a good, quality product? It should help the property value, last longer and help us maintain healthy distance from our single, male neighbors on either side. It will be safer for the kids- they won't be able to climb it as easily and creepers from the street won't see them out playing in the yard. It should be up before Christmas!
I haven't taken a lot of pictures lately, but Natalie took this one of me before I left for the gym this morning.
Here are a few videos illustrating Angela's development:
Kind of late sharing this one, but the week of Halloween, Micah taught Angela to do an evil laugh
She's learning all of her body parts. Just can't figure out where mom is!
She's been using a lot more words, especially the important ones like "cookie", "juice"
And this was hilarious. Micah and I were talking about Angela's cute little curls, and a minute later we looked over in the family room to find Natalie trying to curl her hair with her toy tongs. Bwahaha.
Rushed and a bit unorganized photos from my camera:
Micah's bonuses and stipend/travel reimbursements have all come through now and we are feeling silly rich. We plan to hang on to some for savings, but we're also just enjoying spending money on quality things that we will get good use out of. It's nice to let loose after so many years of being a tightwad!
I set a $2000 budget for Micah to get a riding lawn mower. So, here he is on his $2800 mower.
He also spent several hundred on other tools. We now have stuff to take care of our yard.
Last weekend, Natalie had her first primary program. She said her part in the microphone very loud, kept dancing to the songs and giving me two thumbs up in the audience. Also, Angela is in nursery now. They love her because she is a sweet doll.
Our stake also had an amazing family fun festival last weekend. I didn't get many good pictures because it was raining half the time, but we had a great time. Natalie rode a horse and did bouncy houses and we rode a little train around the parking lot.
Micah was gone last weekend in Atlanta defending his thesis. He passed. It is over. Hallelujah. He celebrated his return by destressing with a good friend and some nice, mindless dominance over nature.
Micah's buddy Alex visited to help Micah get the yard under control. Here is a portion of the brush they cut from the back of our property. Some had already been hauled away by waste management and some is still out in the back yard and needs to be hauled out to the curb. It's hard to get perspective- this pile is about as tall as me. It was a massive amount of growth they cleared.
We tried hard to stay out of the way. We went to the zoo- here's Natalie being a sea turtle.
We also played water table a couple of times
We had an issue with the a/c- it took 2 days to get it fixed and our home warranty only saved us a little bit of money. The problem was a coolant leak, guy put a sealant through the system and filled the freon. We're still hoping it will die completely so that we can get the unit replaced under warranty. It's like 20 years old!
We love watching our neighbor's chickens. The girls always want to go out and feed them bread, they're so entertaining. Excitedly looking forward to getting our own once we've got a handle on a few other things.
We closed on the house Friday at 4pm, went straight to the ward Halloween party, spent Saturday running errands, Micah cleaned the church, Natalie had a birthday party, we got an estimate on a fence and we moved some of our stuff out of the apartment to the house, then went trick or treating. Sunday was cleaning and getting the last things out of the apartment, then Monday, the movers arrived. I've been rushing to get this place in decent order so that I can host preschool tomorrow and Micah is leaving to drive to Atlanta after work tomorrow so he can defend his thesis and he is still working on his presentation. To say the least, we have been busy. So, here are a few pictures...
This is a little kid mannequin. I found him/her in JC Penny at the mall. He/She had stripped naked and was hiding in the women's clothing section. Ah, kids.
Natalie asking the ocean to carry her away
Which Jack-o-lantern is better?! And for the record, we carved on Monday and they were moldy by Friday. This heat and humidity!
Here's our family room, off the back of the house. It used to be a screened porch, the previous owners finished it and put it under air. It has the square footage of our previous living room, dining room and kitchen combined, so it's a nice little space.
Paper pit for the kids to play in. Bought these couches and pictures from the house sellers, btw.
The living areas downstairs are all in decent shape- still have plenty of boxes in the garage to unpack slowly, but all the essentials are in place for us to live comfortably. Our bedrooms, especially mine and Micah's, are still disasters. Here is one small example of why I can't get anything done up there (that's Micah's shirt I had just put away)
Aaaaaaand, finally, here are the dining room set and hutch we bought from the sellers. With leaves, we can comfortably seat 10 in here :)
A few interesting details about our new town to give you all a real sense of the place.
Melbourne and Palm Bay are full of Mexican restaurants, medical offices and furniture stores. If you drive around, that is what you'll see. If you look closer, there are also a lot of churches of all different kinds. People here must be very religious, in poor health from enjoying too much rice and beans and they break furniture a lot.
Baking here is a little bit different because of the heat and humidity. Bread rises much faster. Coconut oil stays completely liquid in my cupboard. Brown sugar from the store has hard lumps in it before I even open the bag for the first time.
It rains almost every day. But, it rarely rains for more than 5 minutes. So, every single day is incredibly bright and sunny with random, brief rain a constant threat. The playground always has puddles. Always.
There's a lot of redneckery around, but the hicks here are a little different from the ones we're used to. They put monster wheels on their trucks and dress in camo and have pro-firearm bumper stickers, but they are also really into fishing and lounging at the beach.
Everyone here smokes. Left and right, any time I'm out in public or around our apartment complex, people are lighting cigarettes. Didn't see that so much in Atlanta.
Tons of folks out on bikes- not just by the beach, pretty much everywhere. Very bicycle-friendly place. Also, lots of people here have boats, motorcycles and RV's.
There are homeless people everywhere. Either that, or a lot of greasy-looking, skinny folks like to loiter while toting around backpacks and carts full of stuff. Especially around shopping strips, parks and the beach.
Lots of residential areas are very mixed- gated, recently developed neighborhoods are right across the road from old, crumbling, tiny houses. Lots of really old and really new homes, big and small, all thrown up against one another in most areas of town. I was worried about the road we're buying on because there are a few old, grungy, ill-kept homes on our street, but now I see that is pretty normal for here so I don't feel as nervous.
We visited the zoo last Saturday and ended up enjoying it enough to buy a membership and return again today. They have lots of pictures to put your head in for a photo op, which is Natalie's favorite thing ever...
And they had tons of Halloween decorations up, which was very fun
The zoo is much smaller than Atlanta, but still has some awesome exhibits, like the giraffe dock where they come right up to you. They actually have employees lining the walkways nearby because you have to back away from the edge when the king of the herd (pictured) comes by- he can swing his head and easily hurt someone. They had quite a few Cheetahs, which were very exciting, as well as an aviary with multiple rooms full of birds who come right up and land on you and you can feed them seeds on sticks or cups of nectar. The only thing I didn't love was how draining the heat was- the girls were fading after only an hour and a half! Fortunately, they have a neat little kiddie pool to cool off.
There is a confusingly huge concentration of furniture stores near the place we're staying, so we went to get a feel for what pieces we might like to plan on buying once we're in our house. We will have 2.5x the square footage of our last home, so we may have a few empty rooms for a while as we collect pieces. One exciting development- I reached out to the buyers through our realtor to ask if they planned to get rid of any furniture. They're downsizing, so I figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask. It turns out the want to get rid of a lot of stuff, so we're going by tomorrow to see what we might buy from them.
In other news, our temporary housing situation has been up and down- as of last Friday, Harris had not responded whether they would cover the cost of extending our stay. Our 30 days was going to be ending on Monday, so over the weekend, I was researching some alternative places. We asked the relocation company how much it would be to pay ourselves to continue in our apartment, and it was pretty pricey. We could have stayed at a 3bd house nearby from airbnb and saved about $500. We decided to go ahead and commit on Monday that we would pay ourselves to continue to stay in the same apartment to spare the hassle of moving our things twice, as well as putting out kids through one extra adjustment. Then, we found out on Tuesday that Harris approved our extension and so they are paying over $2000 for us to keep staying here and the cost of storing our belongings before the delivery. It was just amazing because if we had been focused most on trying to save money and moved to another accommodation, Harris likely would not have covered the bill because they will only pay their relocation company, who only does business with certain approved facilities. So, there was some anxiety and uncertainty, but it's all worked out so well. Another nice perk- we close on our house on 10/30 but the moving company's closest available date to deliver our stuff was on 11/2. If paying ourselves, we were only going to stay until 10/30 and then spend the weekend in a house with no furniture or bedding or cooking implements. Now that Harris is paying, we asked to stay until 11/2.
While I was in the shower the other day, Natalie found my camera and went on a shoot. Here are a few of her best pictures:
We've gone to goodwill and salvation army thrift stores this last week and they are LAME. They have tons of clothes and glass things and curtains, but hardly any toys! We did find a few good books that are keeping the girls from going crazy. I tried to get a library card but was told that I can't until we close on the house. If I have to read Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See one more time, I'm gonna go crazy! And the girls are so sick of the toys we brought. I did find this little partial set of dominos for $.19 and it has entertained them for several glorious hours!
Natalie has been trying hard to get attention lately and not always in the best ways. Daddy say her down on Sunday to discuss some ways to get positive attention. He drew this for her reference and put it on the fridge.
When you go from one to two, life requires a bit of adaptation...