Monday, April 4, 2016

The Move Southwest: Visiting and making our way to Texas

I know this is a huge backtrack, but I never did get around to blogging the rest of the trip we took as we moved, and I'd still like to do it.

When last I left off, we arrived in Kansas.  We stayed with my friend Amanda, whom I've known for well over a decade now.  She has take upon herself to be an adoptive aunt to our kids, and has yet to miss a birthday--it's truly impressive!  I mean, we have like a lot of kids, y'know?  So I was sooo happy to be able to put the kids down in the evening and then come out and spend some time with her, as if no time at all had passed since I was sitting at the end of her bed at the end of the day while we were roommates.

Aaaaaand, I didn't get a single picture with her.  Again.

It occurred to me that we would be in the area for Father's Day and I honestly could not remember one single year that I'd spent that day with my own father...so we gave Poppa his first real Father's Day in Kansas City, he treated us to Legoland.

SUUUUPER fun!!

We made a number of other visits.  We stopped by for a playdate with the Bryants--I went to high school with Josh but as my male friends marry, I befriend their wives and Leah has become a dear friend.  They have twin girls a few months older than Elliot and a boy who shares a birthday with Paxton.  Fun fact: their fathers also share a birthday (like, the exact same day and year and the whole bit).  We also popped in on my friend Brandy, who had ADORABLE twins herself the winter before.

I can't decide what is more jarring--seeing people I knew as toddlers grow up into adults, or see people I knew as adolescents with babies of their own.  WEIRD.

BUT I did get some pictures with the Deans--Halley and I lived on the same floor in the dorms our freshman year of college at KU.  Fun, fun, fun times.  It was so cool seeing our babies all playing together.  I also happen to have an invested interest in her youngest baby, so it was particularly gratifying to see that lovely face in person.

SO.  MANY.  BABIES!!

Besides their grandparents, I was also able to take the kids to meet more of their relatives.  Their great-great Aunt Susanne, who sent the beloved Little Lamb to Kendra when she was born...and with whom I did not get any pictures (I suck at taking pictures).  And their great-grandparents.  My grandpa is pretty awesome with kids we had fun stopping by to see them.


It was a pretty fun week.  I took the kids to a park with a retired train engine parked.  It used to be something you could climb up into the car and play in, but we found it closed off.  The boys still appreciated the up close view.


We had a lot of fun--I reeeeeally loved going HOME, and bringing my children through was so gratifying.  But, all good things must come to an end so we eventually said our goodbyes to hit the road again.


I saved the two most important stops for last, simply because of geography.  We left Lawrence one rainy morning and made our way down to north central Oklahoma to visit my Grandpa.  I'd only seen him once in the past 15 years, simply because I've lived so far away for so long and just never made it down.  So, we did it.  I knew going in that short and sweet would be best, so it really was a brief visit--we were in and out of his house in less than an hour, but it was a really, really sweet hour.  It turns out that both of their surviving great-grandfathers are awesome with kids.


From there, we headed straight east to Joplin and spent the night in a hotel.  The kids were pretty into hotels, and even though this day by far at the most driving in any given day on the trip, we actually checked in the earliest of all the times we stayed at a hotel.  Woohoo!

The kids were awesome.   Like, SO awesome the whole trip.  This last hotel was pretty busy and there weren't any luggage carts available, but it was no problem!  I had lots of valets with me who were all too happy to help!


We got a good night's sleep and then headed over for one final visit.  My Great-aunt Fayanne.  She.  Is.  AWESOME.  She probably would have kept us a week if we'd let her, but I decided to do just another short visit.  We also got to see my dad's cousin Tracy, and her daughter Whitney, who is my age and we grew up attending family events together, and her awesome son Mateo, who is in between Paxton and Bridget.  Paxton and Mateo have a LOT of overlapping taste in toys, and when I said that it was time to go, Paxton really melted down about getting pulled away from Mateo's really cool stuff--I had my camera with me but had put it away thinking it was out of the question, but Tracy convinced me to go ahead.  I'm so glad she did!  I hadn't seen any of them since my grandmother's funeral almost exactly 15 years before, and it was sooo nice to.  My Auntie is one of the most vivacious people I've ever met and has incredible spunk!  She's pretty fantastic.


By this point, we'd been on the road for more than a week.  It was time to get to Daddy and see our new home, so we went from Joplin down to Fort Worth to see the house he bought for us for the first time.  It was a really pretty drive down Oklahoma and into Texas--there's a really nice-looking visitors center at the border on the highway we took but I drove right on past it because we needed to get to Daddy way more than we needed to get a picture of finally arriving in Texas.

And of course, I didn't get any pictures of our reunion with him, or of seeing the house for the first time.  But, spoiler alert:  I love it.  There's a bunch of stuff we've already changed and more we want to do, but I really love this house!

Even though it's been so long since we took it, itt's important to me to document this trip because this was a pretty big game-changer for me.  I moved 4 children 5 and under more than halfway across the country.  By myself.  While 20-22 weeks pregnant.  As the Hungarians say, "That's not nothing!"  But I did it.  And not just by the skin of my teeth, either, we had a really good time.  We were exhausted, but in a good way.  It was huge and daunting, but manageable.

It showed me a lot about myself.  Before this trip, I knew I wasn't a bad mother, but this trip convinced me that I actually kind of rock this gig.  And our kids...man, we just have really, really, REALLY amazing children.  I mean, they're not perfect--I just told a story about a pretty massive meltdown at one of our stops.  But that's pretty typical of a two-and-a-half-year-old getting plucked from a toy he's super into before he's ready.  So while I do feel that I rock this gig, I only rock this gig because I'm playing it with them.  It made me SO excited to meet the baby that was on the way...and spoiler alert: he's just as awesome as the others.

I've had a lot more confidence in myself since we did this.  I didn't do a whole lot in State College because...I dunno.  But now?  I have already proven to myself that I can go anywhere I want to, regardless of how many children tag along, and y'know what?  I DO.  I do tons of stuff now that I wouldn't have done with 1 baby!  (But to anyone reading this who thinks they "only" have 1 baby--honey, there is no "only", there is merely "zero" and "nonzero" and once the number of children you're raising is "nonzero", you're in the club--and there are soooo many ways that "only" 1 baby is so much harder than 4, so give yourself some credit--you ROCK this gig, too!!)

So, I'm incredibly grateful for this trip.  I'm so glad that we happened to move in a direction that allowed us to spend time with soooo many loved ones.  My heart has been longing for Home, for all the people we visited and so many more we couldn't squeeze in, for years now.

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like Home.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Horseback Riding with Grandma and Grandpa!

Grandma and Grandpa Farnsworth recently came to visit us. Elliot recently had a really fun time posing on a pony and Kendra is in a huge pony loving stage, so they arranged for some horseback riding for the kids.

There was a cute little dog there, which Kendra and Elliot took an immediate shine to


They had Elliot and Kendra wear these sweet helmets, even though the horses were very tame and laid-back


Elliot and Kendra started out by holding the horses and getting ready to lead them by themselves.  Elliot's horse was named "Gamble" and hew as a very calm, although somewhat larger horse.


Kendra was very happy to ride Skylar.  Skylar was smaller, but a more eager horse, and a faster walker!


Then on to the riding!  They tell us that Kendra rides in more of an English style


And Elliot more of a western style.



They also got to help take off the horses' equipment




Overall a super fun day!  Thanks so much to Grandma and Grandpa Farnsworth!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Elliot the cowboy

The week after the holiday break, the kids at Elliot's preschool got a little surprise visit:


And as far as he was concerned, it was Christmas all over again.  He was SO excited about getting to be a cowboy.  This kid is a pretty sweet little dude.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cheesy

Phone cameras will never be as good as actual cameras at taking pictures.  That's just a fact.  But, as they get better at the job, I've found myself taking more and more pictures with my phone because I happen to have it on me most of the time.  Besides the lessened quality of pictures, the other major downside is that the shots I take don't automatically get integrated into our family's collection like things I take on the DSLR or my point and shoot.

So tonight, after much supplication from my sweet husband (because pretty much any task from me for anyone needs repeated requesting--I'm kind of at a point in my life where at any given moment I've got several balls in the air that I'm trying to juggle so I get distracted pretty easily, heck even at this moment I'm rocking a baby with my foot while I type) I finally made the past 9 months worth of photos available to him to get into our collection.  It turned out to be hundreds of pictures.

However, even with hundreds of pictures, we noticed that we have a LOT of shots of Bridget that are pretty similar...


























This baby girl has one CHEESY grin!  And man, does it light up all of our lives!  Bridget arrived in the world just a darling little thing and these pictures really let that shine through.  She has also turned out to be our most expressive child by a wide margin as well.  We are constantly cracking up at the faces she's making at us or others (because while she's delightful towards us, she gives MAJOR shade and stinkface to any stranger who has the audacity to look her in the eye).  And she's also the most verbally advanced of our children--just today when she handed Grant something she wasn't supposed to have and he tossed it aside she exclaimed, "That's not nice!"  It was awesome.

Just AWESOME.

We use that word quite often when talking about any one of our children.  They're really such fantastic little people whom we happen to have the privilege of raising and calling our own.