Sorry for the great dearth of posts! I sat down and spend over 30 minutes one afternoon uploading and organizing dozens of photos and then, thanks to my computers' twitchy, hyper, super-annoying windows 10, the page navigated away and I lost it all. And didn't have time to start over.
Alas, now I have a moment, thanks to a heinous head cold that has me lying down for the evening while dear, sweet Micah feeds and plays with the girls. Unfortunately, my photos are not on this computer, so alas, it'll have to be just text for now! I'll aim to upload photos soon.
Christmas was wonderful and pretty laid-back. The girls enjoyed many wonderful gifts, Micah cooked a turkey for dinner and I was just happy to relax at home.
Micah spent several days home from work, during which we somehow remained so busy that we accomplished none of the jobs we had hoped to tackle around the house, like completing the stain job on our fence, painting the trim in our family room where we replaced a door jamb several months ago or reseeding the lawn (particularly in the big, empty spot where our tree was knocked down by Hurrican Matthew) and replace the lost shutter on one of our windows (damage also from Matthew). We did manage to hire a tree service to come and work on our yard. It seems that we're much more talented at hiring people to do things for us than actually getting stuff done ourselves! After losing the sycamore tree in the front yard in the storm, we knew the one by the back of the house would have to go. So, we had it removed and trimmed a couple of messy oak trees as well. Our paver-stone patio area now has a big empty hole where we should probably put a fire pit or an herb garden and my fear of a tree crashing down on our house has diminished dramatically.
I started my new job at Painting with a Twist the week following Christmas and it has been a wonderful whirlwind. With the opening of a new studio, I had to go in a lot more than just Saturdays, for staff meetings, working to get the space in order, training, etc. Now, I am struggling to get ahead with the example paintings that I make for our classes to follow- they have to be pretty close to the original and ideally be on display several weeks before the class for that painting is scheduled. Hopefully it will soon slow down now and I will settle into a routine of working Saturday afternoons and evenings only and doing just one or two prepaints at home during the week. So far, it has been very fun and the feedback I have received has been very positive. It's fun to entertain, exciting to help people make beautiful art, sometimes frustrating when people are pessimistic about their work or when paintings really don't turn out well; but the pay is great, all of my coworkers are great and it's nice to get out of the house and explore a different part of myself.
Natalie had a wonderful 5th birthday. Since it fell on a Sunday, we celebrated at home with cake and presents and then the following day went to the movies to see Moana with 3 of Natalie's friends. We loved the movie, especially the music, and no children were run over in the parking lot before or after the movie. Seriously, trying to keep a 2-year-old, 3 4-year-olds and a newly-turned-5-year-old together going into and leaving from the movie brought me to a level of anxiety that I have only ever experienced while driving at speeds exceeding 75 mph. But they enjoyed themselves and Natalie was happy with her 'birthday party' even though there was no pinata- which, by the way, she always calls a 'ponyta' by accident. So cute. We got her a labelmaker as a gift and she LOVES it and has been blowing through the tape refills like a madwoman. She enjoys writing notes to everyone and sends Daddy texts saying, "Daddyiloveyou" or "Imissyoudaddy" any time she sees my phone sitting around on the counter or in the car.
Natalie enjoyed the break but was happy to go back to preschool. Hanging with me while I clean, run errands and go to the gym is officially less exciting to her than learning and seeing her friends, so that's great. We're currently exploring/applying to some charter schools and wondering where Natalie will end up doing Kindergarten next year. I haven't been on board until now about applying to some schools that are a bit far away (like, 15 minutes), but if I'm gonna be spending 30 minutes in the car twice a day taking her to and from school anyway, I might as well spend 45 minutes and have her challenged and happy. Our assigned school wouldn't be that bad, but there are a lot of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and I worry that Natalie would just be bored and ignored among students who are mostly from low socioeconomic backgrounds with low academic preparation and behavioral issues.
I have been getting to know our new relief society president and she is fantastic. It may take me a while to feel comfortable working with her because she is so different from the last president I worked with, but she has many amazing qualities and I hope I can serve her well as a counselor. We're currently gathering information for a major organizational overhaul of the visiting teaching program and it's pretty overwhelming. Our church time has now changed to 12:00 and I hate it. Coming home late Saturday nights, I am super exhausted on Sunday and by the time I get home it's too late for a nap and I have too little time to make a decent Sunday dinner. Blah. We're awake by 7 and dressed and ready by 9 anyway, then the rest of the morning is spent trying to get the kids not to destroy their clothes.
I'm currently gathering quotes for a small remodel to the bathroom that me and the girls use. We're ripping out the nasty, old wall-to-wall double vanity and replacing it with a single sink and moving the toilet against the same wall so that it's not squeezed up next to the tub anymore. The tub could also use an upgrade, but it's clean and functional so we'll leave it for now. Hopefully bathtime will soon be a lot less claustrophobic an experience! And now that I'm making a little money, I feel no guilt splurging on a functional change that will dramatically improve such a heavily-used space. It will only take a few months of my paychecks to cover it all!
Micah is struggling to figure out what to do at work because everybody wants him on their project and he is interested in doing too many of them. Tough problem, but it's good to be wanted and interested! He's got one deacon now who turned 12 over the holidays and another coming in Februrary, so his scout troop is basically doubling ;) They will soon start to combine with the other ward for scouting events, which has over a dozen deacons, an arrangement that has taken many, many months to get approval.
I took the girls to seaworld on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They have a cool program where preschoolers can get free annual passes, so now we have another fun place to visit in Orlando. Both girls were super impressed with the killer whale shows and I'm looking forward to returning to see the dolphins and penguins.