Monday, February 25, 2013

We are Oklahomans!

It's brrrrr cold over here!  Not Minnesota cold, mind you, but that Oklahoma wind chill shivers me timbers.  When it's cold outside, I just can't quite force myself off my booty in the evening to craft, organize, or maybe even do the dishes.  But I can blog!  Or I could whittle hours away researching the foreign service, accumulating both practical pointers for jumping through all the hoops to get hired and persuasive data to convince Hubby this is worth pursuing.  Yup, that's been a major obsession around my laptop lately.  But blogging is good, too!  Here's some stuff that happened last fall.  

Kyle's parents offered invaluable service to us during our move, taking the kids while I flew down to OK with Ming to find housing and Kyle flew to AZ to relocate our junk.  They then drove the kidlets down here and helped me get settled in.  Kyle was already gone for training in New Jersey for a week.

Thankfully the Elders Quorum stepped it up and moved all the boxes in.  Still, this is what I awoke to the morning of my birthday.  Kyle's parents had just left, I believe.  It felt a little familiar, waking up in a new land with unpacked boxes and no friends on my birthday.  We like to move in August, I guess.  Yep, just made a mental tally and since we were married this was the 6th birthday I've celebrated shortly after a move.  I really ought to have joined facebook the night before so I could've reeled in cyber birthday kudos.  Next August move! 

School had already been in session over a week when we arrived, so these ones jumped right in!  I had reservations about putting Erik in all-day kindergarten, which is the only option here.  I still struggle with it if I think hard enough about what he's missing.

My Debo dolphins of Angie Debo Elementary!  We were fortunate to find a home close to a great school--close enough for them to walk, which saves my living sanity!  If you recall, waking Charlie and Amelia up from naps to pick Erik up from school last year just about lost me my marbles.  It's less than half a mile through our neighborhood to the school, and two older neighbor girls walk with them.  Perfection!

Erik's teacher, Mrs. Bowden, is everything a kindergarten teacher should be.  He adores her, and I believe she feels likewise.  He's smart and quiet and never misbehaves in the slightest.  At school.  He saves his naughtiness for home.  =)

Miss Ashcraft is a great teacher for Ellie, too.  Ellie is especially thriving socially being at school all day.  

This leaves Charlie a whole lot more attention from Mom at home.  Our first couple of months here, he behaved remarkably well.  Really stunningly agreeable.  Of course, once the novelty wore off he reverted back to his old fiendish ways.  The same pattern recently elapsed during Grandma's visit here.  He went full days without yelling, hitting/squashing Amelia, fighting, disobeying, destroying, etc.  Okay maybe just hours, but still!  The kid is coming around.  I can tell he's maturing.  In many ways he is pleasant and delightful.  And I think he'll always be a kid who loves to push buttons, test limits, resist authority, and do things his own way regardless of rules or expectations.  As I'm accepting this long-term reality, we're making progress.  I'm making progress.  Charlie's raising me as I raise him.

October weather was beautiful and perfect for a car wash.  We looooved experiencing fall here.   We'd been missing that season.

After I convinced Charlie that thrift stores are treasure stores, and before Ming could walk, we three familiarized ourselves with this town via thrift store routes, oh and very much garage sales while they were in season.  We were shopping for several furniture items, but I also tend to completely redo household decor every time I move.

  This time I decided to stop suppressing and just embrace my eclectic leanings.  Basically, I love every color (except tan or black), every style, and every era, so I put it all up there and bam!  Design magic.  I decided I love the charm of vintage items, too.  Someday I'll finish filling frames around this pad and take some photos.   

Not sure why I felt like anyone would care what I found at thrift stores, but it was probably because I was going to brag about how little I spent on all this.  

Talk-like-a-pirate day landed us at a local pirate-themed playground with church peeps and then to Krispy Kreme, where all six of us looked ridiculous (too bad I lost that pic) and said something like "Arrrr!  Ahoy shiver me donuts, matey!" and walked out of there with 24 free donuts.  We woulda done it for five.  Now that's a good feeling. 

The zoo here is perfect.  Just the right size, just the right price, and no one else seems to think so as each visit we've mostly had the zoo to ourselves.  

Terra and Isabelle were so thoughtful to invite us on lots of outings when we first moved here.  Jason works at Hertz with Kyle and all our kids get along swimmingly.  We kind of think they're awesome.   Charlie and Isabelle especially click well and relate in quirky ways.  Namely, they both love hoarding random objects around the house and shoving them in containers to bring along and share on outings.  

Feeding lorikeets was great entertainment.  Those are not dull claws so I was proud of Charlie was being brave enough to try it.  He looks subdued enough here, but I don't think he'd try it again!

Dress-like-Andy-Bernard Day for church!  Don't tell me you don't celebrate that holiday!

Ellie was star student the week of her birthday so I got to bring in cupcakes to share with the class.  At least here they allow homemade goodies.  In Arizona treats had to be identical and individually packaged.  Yay birthday granola bars.  Anyway, her teacher doesn't welcome parent volunteers so I'm happy for even a brief opportunity to visit her class.  

When I finally decided Ming was old enough to be awake while we play with legos, she was so thrilled she wanted to become one with them and hopped right in the bin.

Perhaps you can't tell from that goofy expression, but this birthday gift from Kyle's parents was perfect.  It was a sew-your-own-penguin kit, though the penguin's name is Erik (from the Happy Feet movies) so our Erik took the liberty of penguin-napping him.  He's taken permanent residence on Erik's bed ever since.

For her birthday, Ellie just really wanted to have her ears pierced.  She doesn't ask for very many things, but she wanted this so so badly.  Finally I convinced Kyle so her birthday gift was a trip to the mall and a couple puncture wounds.

For a kid who hyperventilates and has to leave the building when Amelia is getting shots, Ellie did remarkably well. 

What a brave little toaster.

Here's more shots from the zoo.  Every once in a while Ellie and Erik get to have some fun, too.  I struggled with their loss of unstructured play time when they started all-day school.  I'm still adjusting.  I love taking Charlie and Amelia to museums and such, but while we're there I can't help thinking of how much the older kids would enjoy and benefit from being there, too.  

Ellie chose a penguin theme for her party, and thanks to extreme commercialism, Christmas penguin products were already on the loose at walmart and ready to be made into party favors!

This brrrrthday spread was brought to you by Kjerstin-was-in-town.  You didn't think  I could pull off a party by myself, did ya?

Ellie agreed to my color scheme of turquoisey-blues and corals, which just happens to be the color scheme of the Target kitchenware line I'd been eyeing all summer that finally went on 70% off clearance and landed in my hot little shopping cart.

We had adorable olive penguins, fishies, ice bergs/marshmallows,

an igloo cheese ball,

Milano penguin cookies, an igloo cake,

tuna fish sandwiches,

and one ecstatic birthday girl!

And five mostly pretend penguins.

Ellie had seven or eight friends over for some riotous fun, which was all captured on video.  It was a wet day so we held it all indoors, but nothing broke (had some close calls with our ear drums) and the kids were so much fun.  I love this age.

My favorite moment was when we were ready to start the Papa penguin relay (teams keep their baby penguin safe from the freezing floor and hungry polar bears as they race around the room) but we couldn't find our polar bear, which was Kyle.  Checked the bathrooms, garage... and finally he came out growling all dressed up in bear claws and anything white and furry he could find in the kids' closet.  The kids all shrieked (me, too!) and some were actually frightened, I think.  I love how spontaneous Kyle is, and just plain fun.

Ming splashed to her heart's content after the party, which led me to believe that she's faking her water phobia every time I fill up the bath...

Family fun night at the kids' school was super hero themed, and thanks to Aunt Tana, we've got capes covered for the whole fameroo!  And yes Erik's favorite super hero is a ninja turtle.

We heard that a friend of a friend in Utah asks families to fundraise for medical treatments for their daughter, Maggie, who has cerebral palsy, every September.  With the move and all, we were a little behind, but the kids rallied one warm October Saturday morning to host our own little garage sale.  Now mind you, we got rid of lots of stuff right before we moved.  So we didn't really have big items to sell.  Still, we hoped and prayed and planted those charming little faces at the concession stand and...  despite a very slow flow of traffic...  

we made almost exactly $150 to send to Maggie, which was our goal!  I still don't really know how some broken frames and stained clothes earned us that much.  Okay, we did scrounge up some decent items, but not terribly much.  I'm convinced it was divine intervention rewarding my kids for having such big hearts.  They loved being involved in the prep and execution of this sale.  They still talk about it, and about Maggie, with fondness.  Just the other day Erik expressed interest in having another sale for Maggie when the weather warms up.

"Happy Halloween!", taunted an ugly arachnid at our front door.  Shudder.  Spiders are the worst part of my experience in Oklahoma.  Even after our house blows away in a tornado I will still vote that spiders are the worst.

There.  Much better.  What says Happy Halloween better than homemade braces and a creepy mustache?

I wish I would've found darker make-up for my role, but in the dim lighting of the cultural hall dance floor at church, I probably achieved the right hue.  I definitely looked out of Kyle's league, which is what counts.

As of October 30th, the kids were going to be for Halloween the following: a witch, a ninja turtle, a knight, and a unicorn.   

Then Erik decided he absolutely positively had to be a vampire instead, so I spent the day hunting every Halloween store in the county for a suitable cape, and found nothing but disturbing masks and gory props that will give my kids nightmares forever.  Seriously, what the heck, Halloween.  You are so gross.

Finally while the littles, bless their hearts, overlapped their naps for once, I figured out that I know how to sew, and I improvised.  Charlie opted for the turtle costume now that Erik forsook it, even though he'd been thoroughly committed to his knight costume.  I think the mistake I made was buying his costume three weeks before Halloween.  He'd already been wearing it around town for weeks and was ready to move on to a new persona come holiday time.  So ninja turtle it was, though we forgot to put on the shell and belt Kyle had crafted.  Ellie couldn't find her witch hat so she became a ballerina.  And that's the story of how I managed to make my children presentable for massive candy accumulation. 

And cans!  We also trick-or-treated for canned goods that we donated to the food bank.  Ellie helped me make and distribute a flyer to neighbors and we picked up the donations while we trekked for treats.  She's such a stalwart, seriously.  We also got to enjoy dinner and trick-or-treating with some friends from church.  Spooktacular!

Really?  I must be tired.  Signing off!  I didn't take any pictures of Thanksgiving in Minnesota or Christmas in Arizona and California or anything that's happened since, but I'm pretty sure it all still did happen (hard to prove sans pictorial evidence) so that might be coming up next post.