Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Firefighters

You may know that Texas is in a pretty bad drought and has had wildfires going on some place or another for a while. Our main hotel while we waited on home repairs happened to be a home base for some firefighters in case some of the fires nearby spread or got out of hand.

My extremely friendly kids of course quickly became friends with several of the firefighters. Before they left for another area, the firefighters wanted to give them a tour of some of their trucks, parked in a field near the hotel.

Can I tell you how cool it was to get our own personal tour of Forest Fire trucks? They are different from city fire trucks in several ways and there are several types of trucks too. It was really interesting and the kids loved it.

Princess did not want to get out of the truck. She told me she was staying in it forever.

Dinoguy of course wanted to put on some gear
They have the lights and sirens on in this picture.
Here's where we attach the hose
 
The various fire trucks
A special bulldozer they use in fighting the fires.

It was too powerful for her to hold by herself
I narrowly missed being washed away after this picture
Holding a giant powerful hose is pretty fun
I think they could have used the hose all day. It really sprayed quite far.
A wet Princess thanks to Dinoguy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When your ceiling falls in


When your roof is replaced by the owners/property managers...

Make sure they completely cover the roof before leaving for the night. Even the small trim piece areas.

Because there might be a freak rainstorm in your neighborhood. Despite the drought in the area and the fact that it was not forecast to rain.

Then you might have water start dripping in from the ceiling, light fixtures and down the walls. You might have the ceiling fall in your house. And wet insulation spread all over your house. At 1 AM.

Despite being funny in a "I can't believe this is really happening to us" kind of way, it is not funny at all when it comes to dealing with the aftermath. Which is still going on.

We got to live in hotels for 17 days. In case you thought that would be fun with 4 kids, well hmm, not so much.

The clean up of such a mess involves making a much larger mess first and drying the house out. None of our stuff was ruined though all of our clothes in the master closet had to be professionally cleaned to remove insulation.

The ceiling had to be completely replaced in the master bedroom, master bathroom and dining room. There were also holes in the ceiling and walls through out the house that were made to help dry things out that had to be repaired.

Well here are some pictures of the mess. Most of October seemed to be lost to this disaster.

My only advice is to just contact your insurance from the beginning if this happens. It is exactly why you have insurance. Instead of agreeing to let the roofer take care of it by paying cash for everything. He ended up filing with his insurance anyway. They were very nice but we're still waiting for some reimbursement and a few minor fixes.


Bulging wet bedroom ceiling we propped up to keep it from falling on our bed.

Dining room ceiling

Dining room floor

After more pieces fell

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dinoguy turns 9

My baby boy is 9. And 4'10", 96lbs. However I refuse to stop calling him my baby. He is awesome. I love him a lot.


We had a small family party which we video taped, so not many pictures. For his presents he got a slightly used bike (which needs a new tube) and a trip to a football game at the local university with his dad. They had a blast. Did I mention he likes football?

Then for his party he chose his two closest friends to come over and we went mini-golfing, made individual pizzas and watched Cars 2 (which we hadn't seen yet). We finished up with cake and ice cream. They had a good time. I bought him a cake with angry birds on it which was apparently awesome.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baby turns 1

 Baby turned 1 in October! We were just barely back in our house after the ceiling repairs. On his actualy birthday we gave him a giant cupcake with a match for a candle. I couldn't find the candles. He didn't notice. He did however know exactly what to do with cake.
He got a haircut for his birthday, so we'd be able to see his beautiful hazel eyes in the photos. His second haircut this year. He's going to need another soon probably .The kid grows hair.

 

 

  

The rest of us had mini cupcakes and brownie bites that night.
Then that weekend we made him the traditional Duff 1st birthday cake. 

 He went for the cake. When we gave him the clown afterward, he destroyed it but did not eat it. It's on video that I don't know how to put on the computer right now. He got a fun toy for his birthday that his big sister promptly "borrowed". Such is the life of a fourth child.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

hi hope hi hope its off to work I go

Or so I used to sing to annoy my sister. :) Love ya sis!

So we needed to increase our income and Fixitman was already booked. 13 hours of graduate classes and a research assistantship already kept him gone most days until 8 or 9pm. So I applied for various part time jobs and tried to get more tutoring, both in person and online. But it wasn't working out the way I hoped.

Moms who homeschool, work at home and cook from scratch and keep a semblance of a clean home amaze me. Because I couldn't do it. I could not be 3 people at once. I tried and tried to make calendars and organize myself better but the long and short of it was I could either homeschool my kids the way I wanted OR I could work OR I could cook and clean my home the way I wanted. In the past, when work wasn't part of the equation, I have let cleaning slide or incorporated it into the kids' day. But the new variable of needing to work was too much. I just couldn't do it all. I tried for over a month. I'm pretty stubborn. I would still be trying if it were my decision. I like hitting my head against brick walls I guess.

I either worked and the kids played/watched movies a bunch and half heartedly did some schoolwork or I did the homeschooling thoroughly and was happy during the day but increasingly worried about our finances at night. This was my struggle. My unsolvable problem. I considered night jobs, Fixitman considered night jobs. We talked and I applied for jobs and yet things were not getting better. We prayed and fasted and went to the temple. We looked for guidance from our Heavenly Father.

You might wonder about our decision to have Fixitman go back to school right now and to move here. It did not make ANY sense on paper or logically. Especially when our financial plans for how to pay for school fell thru. Several times.  It was completely based on following promptings from the spirit. We felt like it was what we were supposed to do. It was scary and unknown and took a lot of faith to make the move. But we did it and I can tell you that we KNOW we are where we are supposed to be, and that Fixitman is supposed to be in school. We have had many little things testify that this is the path we are supposed to be on.

However it still didn't solve the whole financial crisis thing. Bills needed to be paid, and we've got this thing about integrity. We believe in being honest and keeping our commitments. So I had to get a better job than just tutoring. The answer I got to my prayers was in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 10:5  "And I did cause that the women should spin, and toil, and work" To me it was like Heavenly Father said it was okay for me to work. That my willingness to work to help my family was a righteous thing. Work is a righteous principle of the gospel.

So I had been applying for things and continued. I applied for full time teaching positions. However it was late September, all the schools were done hiring for the year, so I applied for substitute teaching. Meanwhile my awesome Relief Society president offered to let me deliver her paper route. So I started getting up at 3 AM every morning to throw newspapers. I had to take a nap during the day and go to bed by 9 PM at the latest. It was kind of nuts.

But it felt really good to be working, to be trying to contribute and help. After a month though, I felt like I needed to be done with the paper route. I was able to start substitute teaching and while I wanted to believe I could do both, because I sometimes mistakenly believe I am superwoman, well, it wasn't really possible. So I stopped delivering papers.

So now I am substitute teaching every day and my precious younger two are at Kindercare while my precious older two are in elementary school. Next semester I do have a class to lecture at the university which came thru divine intervention. A tender mercy from my Heavenly Father. In the mean time I continue to work on transferring my teaching license to Texas so that if next fall I need to teach full time in the schools I can do so. It is a possibility. I don't know what's going to happen. There are a lot of possibilities out there and I am trusting in my Father in Heaven to guide us right now.

But can you see how my life is so different? At the beginning of this year I was a stay at home mother who home schooled my kids. A large part of our social life and my identity seemed to come from that. Now I am a working mother, with two kids in public school and two in daycare. I sometimes feel like my identity has changed to that of another person. Like maybe this is all just an elaborate game of pretend.

But who I really am hasn't changed at all. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and I love him. That has not changed and never will. No matter what.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Ch ch ch ch ch changes

I have put off posting this because I just don't know where to start. So here it is:

My boys started attending public school October 3rd.
Dinoguy went to 3rd grade and Trainboy went to 1st grade.

It is a decision made completely with the guidance of the spirit. I did not choose this. But I know it was the right choice for right now. They started the day after general conference because I felt like I had my very clear answer several times during conference that it was what I needed to do.

Fixitman gave them each father's blessings the night before. Then that morning I went in and filled out all twenty thousand pieces of paper and provided all the documentation necessary to enroll them. I walked them to their classrooms, met their teachers, and watched them disappear eagerly into their new classes. They were excited to find out what public school was like.

Dinoguy has been pretty happy. He has lots of friends, and plays sports during recess each day. He is reading lots of fun books and his teacher lets him sit on a giant exercise ball as long as he doesn't bounce on it. He loves school and is pretty happy.

Trainboy liked it for the first few days and then asked to be homeschooled again. He wasn't too happy about it. But since going to school was part of a series of decisions, I couldn't bring him home as much as I wanted to do so. We have had some talks and worked thru some of the troubles he was having. He is shy on his own and wasn't talking much to other kids. He was waiting for others to talk to him and so we've had several talks about being a friend and asking others to play with us. He has a few friends he plays with now and talks to at lunch. But he would still prefer to be homeschooled and will tell you so. He is not learning anything new, he had mastered all that they teach in 1st grade last year. So he colors pictures and reads books and makes the best of it.

It took me a few weeks to not feel like there was a gaping hole in my body during the day when they were gone. I miss them during the day.

And that's part 1. Stay tuned for more...


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I am extremely grateful for the knowledge that I am daughter of my Heavenly Father. I know that he loves me, cares for me and answers prayers. I know that no matter what trials we face, he is there to help us, to comfort us, to guide us and to love us. Though my life feels like it has been turned upside down the past few months and things are very different here, it has been okay. I have felt at peace and that I can handle these changes. I attribute this to the fact that my identity as a child of God is an eternal identity that cannot be changed or taken away. It provides perspective. I know who I am and why I am here on earth. And it has made all the difference.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flag Football




Dinoguy and Trainboy started playing flag football this fall. They enjoyed it and learned a lot.




I am working on accepting the fact. Thankfully they can play flag football thru 6th grade here.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

New home, August highlights

Our new home
Baby enjoying spaghetti

Dinoguy loses his top front tooth

Princess starts letting Mom do her hair in different styles

The camera ate a bunch of pictures this month, before I had unpacked enough to know where the thingamajig for putting the pictures on the computer was. I was crying over it and just couldn't believe that all of the summer photos were gone. I did download and try out several photo recovery software programs. These recovered most of the pictures. But some were lost or damaged permanently. Sigh. And no close up cute picture of Trainboy this month apparently. Seems unfair. Here's a close up of him from June in case you forgot what he looks like.

Thank goodness he's 6 and hasn't done anything dramatic with his hair since then.

Anyway, we moved into our new home in our new town (still in Texas) this month. We met lots of awesome people who are our new neighbors and ward members. We love it here.


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