Thursday, May 26, 2016

Go Go GO!!!

It's official!!  After a month of paperwork, the army has determined that Chopper is indeed qualified for his job and has extended a firm offer of employment to start in Bavaria July 10!  That's fast - especially considering everything that needs to be done!

That all happened Friday morning.  Chopper immediately got another ream of paperwork to fill out and a request for the kids birth certificates/passports and a copy of our marriage certificate.  So so glad that we got that worked out already!  He also called our realtor to talk about putting the house on the market.

Two years ago we had a wild hair to get a bigger house.  The market was already going up here and we weren't really finding anything that we loved enough to pay the higher prices for.  We did make an offer on one house and our realtor went ahead and took pictures of our house to be ready for sale should our offer be accepted.  Well something weird happened with the other realtor and our offer didn't happen.  At that point, Chopper and I decided to be content with our blessings and wait for a different job opportunity.

Two years ago.

Friday afternoon our realtor listed our house with the old pictures -- biggest difference being that I have painted the ENTIRE house since then! -- and I FRANTICALLY cleaned, packed, and decluttered our very lived in house.  I had already been purging all month but I filled several boxes with stuff that went into the garage just to make our house sparse and clean.  It looked really good but we couldn't have pulled it off without help from friends!  Friday night I took the kids to have dinner and play at the park while Chopper cleaned the carpets and then we drove to a hotel and had a little Frisco "staycation" for the weekend.

Saturday our house had 7 showings and an open house.  Sunday we had 3 showings -- including 1 that showed up 15 minutes early and prevented me from sneaking in to get all the church stuff I forgot to pack.  We had church clothes but pretty much nothing else.  At least we're good at winging it!  Monday we had another 3 showings and our realtor came over that night with the offers.  Eight of them!!!

That's how hot the market is in North Texas -- there's a shortage of housing, especially affordable single family homes that aren't huge.  The building in this area is not producing those kinds of home which I'd imagine is very frustrating.  It would be for us if we were buying -- when we moved here were felt like we got a nice house for an affordable price but now I doubt we could afford anything more.

Monday night after we accepted an offer (which took an hour of discussion and a possible coin flipping), Chopper and I sat on the couch and absorbed the ramifications of this.  Selling your house certainly makes it real.  And just to put it into perspective a little bit:

This is the first house we have purchased in our marriage.
When we moved here, Megan was 2 1/2 and Abby about 6 months old.  William and Aaron were born here.  It's pretty much the only house our kids have known.
We have suffered through the grief of losing Chopper's dad and Grannie and Aaron here.  That's a lot for a space of 6 years I think.
We have potty-trained all our children here, had innumerable tantrums and fights, lots of getting hurt, lots of tears.
We've also had first steps, first days of school, first lost teeth (only from Megan -- Abby's STILL has not lost a single tooth!), and lots of laughter and love.
We've hosted a lot of parties (and I find that I like that!): fairy parties to watch Tinker Bell movies, birthday parties where I went overboard, Downton Abbey tea parties, Harry Potter parties, baby showers for friends, etc.
We have played outside in the grass and on the swing set and swam A LOT every summer in the pool.
We have been regulars at the Arboretum and explored a good chunk of Texas.

I knew that as we came to the end of our time here in Texas that I would be emotional about leaving my friends and our ward and our elementary school.  I guess I didn't really expect to be emotional about the house, but I am.  Because it's been a home!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I Hate Waiting

No news on a move date yet.  I hate waiting.  I also know that this is normal when it comes to military or military sponsored moves.  So what can you do?

Well in the meantime, you can potty train William.  I have to admit, it's going a lot better this time than the last two times!!  We've gone cold turkey and cut out the diapers.  Every time we brought it up he would ask for diapers and so I told him that #1 -- there are no diapers in Germany (side note -- I did this in Megan and Abby's hearing range and they wanted to know what babies in Germany wear so I had to clarify specifically for them), and #2 -- when the diapers run out, they're all gone.

Never underestimate the power of something being all gone and a child not yet understanding that you can just go to the store and get more.  I don't know why he doesn't get that honestly but I'll take it!!!  

So the good news is that #1 (in potty speak now) is going really well.  I still mostly prompt him but he does well with it and has stayed dry all night every night since we've started!
#2 we haven't mastered yet.  But I'll take what I can get.  And this time around I have been less stressed about it which is good.

Also in the meantime I've been sewing costumes for Chavez Elementary's production of The Lion King!!  This is the fourth year that they've done a musical.  The art teacher, music teacher, and librarian are the directors and they utilize the Lion King Jr. scripts and do a fantastic job.  Last year as I had gotten to know the art teacher better, she asked me to do some hemming on some fabric backdrops for their production of Aladdin.  This year she and the librarian sucked me in with animal ears, Rafiki collars, hats, and belts (and there were 5!), Zaza's wings and tail, Pumba and Timon, and a bunch of hemming of tunics and dresses.  It was a lot of work but fun to come up with ideas especially and I was proud of my work but seeing it on stage last night and with the kids all put together and with the makeup to complete the look was AMAZING!!  I felt the same as finishing a race after training for weeks.  Euphoric!!  The kids have been effusive in how much they liked the costumes and I have to say that I now really want to do costumes for theater!! 

Abby is modeling a pair of hyena ears for me.  Kids at Chavez can't do the musical theater until 3rd grade and I think that she would love it and do well.  I do know that the elementary school the girls will go to does do musical theater as well -- in fact, this year they also did the Lion King!
I am actually very proud of these 5 Rafikis.  Yes FIVE!!  Seems odd but the way the part is written is very good for the five.  Mrs. Woolsey, the librarian, is mainly in charge of costume and she is a marvel with thrifting.  She found so many tunics and dresses and we had four that were all earthy reds and the one black.  To make them cohesive, I made them headbands, wide belts (in gold cheetah print!!!) and these really fabulous African collars!  It was a matter of fleece and yarn and beads and they turned out so magnificently!  I really should get one and take a close up picture.  

This one was also fun to make.  They needed costumes for Pumba and Timon of course and Mrs. Woolsey had found one online that is the face and back of Pumba worn like this.  There's a company that makes them actually but they're something like $500.  Instead, we used craft foam, poster board, spray paint, and a LOT of hot glue and sewing and managed to pull this off.  It was lightweight and fabulous!  Timon was a simpler costume but also very cute.

I think this is the entire cast.  It's a picture that Mrs. Sutherland sent me.  They were so fabulous!!!

Last weekend a friend and I were able to go see Wicked!!  I've been wanting to see this musical for years because so many people rave about it but have never had the chance.  It really was supposed to be a date with Chopper but William's potty-training was having a rough time and our babysitter backed out so he stayed behind and Bronwyn and I had a great time.  It was a really good musical and I did drool over the costumes.

The stage before the beginning.  A giant map of Oz and I thought Megan would love the dragon stretched out over the top.  The one complaint that I have about the play is that in parts it felt like a play adapted from a book - like there are some missing parts and details.  One of those was a frequent mention of the dragon clock without any real clarity as to what it was for or the role that it played in Oz.  I haven't heard great things about the book so I probably won't read it though.

Waiting for the start

Because I was just excited!!

Other than that, we continue to get the house ready and are gearing up for summer in just a little over 2 weeks!!  Lately the girls have been at each other all the time so I'm not sure how I'm going to manage that over the summer so that it doesn't drive me crazy but I am also very much looking forward to an end to the get up and out the door for school madness and an end to homework!!!  It's no fun as a student, but kind've torture as an adult.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Happy 13 years to us!!!

It's not our anniversary.  But it almost was!!!

Chopper and I have never been the type of people who have a "day we met anniversary" and "day we got engaged anniversary".  We just have a wedding anniversary -- one that I'm rather fond of actually.  With all of the prep work needed for the move (no date yet though), we've been tracking down every official document we have.  Chopper had to provide proof of marriage and proof that the children are ours to the army so that they will pay for us to get to Germany.  We've also gone ahead and gotten our passports so that it's done.  So through the past 13 years of marriage, we have used a "certificate" that we were given on the day we married at the Washington D.C. temple.  It's not official -- in fact I think it's really just a copy of the marriage license.  But no one has ever questioned it.  Well with this emphasis on things being official, I decided to order an official marriage certificate from the state of Maryland just in case.  Boy am I glad we did.

A few weeks go by and a letter comes in the mail -- it's a form letter stating that they do not have a record of our marriage and it's because (check mark next to the box) "The minister return form was never received."  Crap.  There's a 6 month limit on when you can use a marriage certificate and if the minister return form doesn't get filed, the marriage never happened.

So Chopper and I spend a weekend half laughing, half panicking that we're not actually married legally.  Brilliant.  Also ironic given that as a people, Mormons tend to preach abstinence before marriage.  And here we are 4 kids later . . . And yes, I know that we're married in God's eyes (that whole religious ceremony thing) and that the world probably doesn't care if we're legally married or not, but it's still a big deal to me!!

So step #1:  Call the temple and see if they have records that they can resubmit.  I did this on the Saturday that we received the letter and although I wasn't able to talk to the head recorder, the gentleman on the phone was able to tell me that they don't keep records back that far.

Ok then, step #2:  Call church headquarters and find out what records they keep.  They keep records of the sealing, but not legal documents.  Makes sense really but still not good.

On to step #3:  Start to panic and find the information on what we need to do to get married here in Texas.  Good news -- no blood test required but we will have to get a marriage license and then wait 3 days before we go to court and just get it done.  Chopper is all for going straight there. 

I hold out for step #4:  call Maryland and talk to a supervisor.  Find out that they are in a meeting and will call us back.  Send an email to the individual who sent the letter and attach a picture of the document that we have and ask if they can generate a marriage certificate based on this information.

Monday afternoon -- get an email back that says "we found it!"  

Rather than sending me a letter saying -- too bad so sorry -- maybe I could get a letter saying -- can you give us any more information to help us find this?    I'm not very impressed Maryland.

End of story.  We are still married and won't have a second wedding anniversary or have to explain to our children why there are two wedding anniversaries (phew!).  But I was already planning a wedding reception and gift registry.  There should be some advantage to this right?

Bonus -- Chopper and I had to examine our marriage -- should we stay together?  Of course.  We still love each other!

Monday, May 2, 2016

The (Mostly) Complete Story

It's no secret that Chopper has been job hunting for a while.  We like Texas, and his job has been a good one, but he's wanted to do something different for a while and advance within the government.  We've never felt like Texas would be our forever home and now, it's not!

About 2.5 weeks ago (seriously, is that all??), Chopper interviewed with, and received an offer, for a position that is taking us to Bavaria, Germany!!!  We are so so excited!!  When we first got engaged and he was in the process of joining the Air Force, we had really high hopes for seeing the world.  We got to see New Mexico.  I remember driving over the Sandia mountains and being so disappointed.  But not only did we come to love Albuquerque, the experiences and opportunities that were given to us there have literally paved the way for us to be here now.  I'm not kidding!!  It's amazing to see how things have worked for our good BOTH as a family and as individuals.  I see the hand of the Lord so strongly in our lives, even in very little things, but also in a way that I never could have anticipated.

The road ahead of us is not going to be an easy one, but it is a very exciting one and if we can just get through the mountain of paperwork, we'll be ok!

The girls are excited too (William is clueless) but do have their quiet moments of realization where they are upset about leaving their friends and everything they're comfortable with.  This place, this house, and this school is really all that they know.  And honestly, it's when I think about those things that I start to get emotional.  We've made wonderful friends everywhere we've been but Texas is where my best friends are -- the ones who have raised children with me and who have supported me (and Chopper of course) through the biggest challenge of our life to date.  Megan is comfortable here and I worry about this big change for her.  Abby adjusts a little more easily but it's still a big deal.  William -- well I'm hoping to get him potty-trained before we go so he's got a lot of upheaval ahead!

I want to make sure I document this process though -- I've begun purging and preparing the house for sale and we've applied for our passports last Monday the 25th.  Chopper has paperwork to complete before we can get an actual report date but we're anticipating the move to happen this summer.