Thursday, November 30, 2017

November The End

Well hey, we made it to the end of November.  Did I write every day?  No.  Did I write more often than I have been?  Yes.  I'm calling it a win.

This month has been pretty hard.  Between starting a new job, feeling the stress of our current living situation, and the feelings of loneliness that are always attached with moving, there have been many tears shed.  I have hope that things will improve soon, but I don't have any guarantees, and that is unnerving.  Rather than write, "I'm sad, wah," every day, I opted not to write.

But the thing is, my life is not terrible.  I may not be in my own home, but I have a home.  I have all my necessities met.  I got a job, despite feeling woefully unqualified to do any job ever.  I have my family surrounding me.  And now it's Christmas time, the most wonderful time of the year!  I have much to be grateful for, and I would be a fool not to recognize that.

Here's to a Christmas season full of hope and love.  I could use an extra dose of both.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Listy Thursday...on a Saturday!

The holiday has thrown my writing schedule out of whack.  But here is what would have been my list on Thursday of 20 things I'm grateful for:
  1. family
  2. my marriage
  3. motherhood
  4. spending Thanksgiving with family
  5. good food
  6. pie
  7. cozy blankets
  8. fleece pajamas
  9. faith
  10. my Savior
  11. the scriptures
  12. my job
  13. fresh starts
  14. libraries
  15. good books
  16. good music
  17. technology
  18. rocking chairs
  19. babies to snuggle
  20. my glasses and contacts (holy smokes, I'd be lost without those)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Last Saturday I realized it's been exactly 3 months since we arrived in Utah.  Those 3 months have flown by. 

Some days it still feels like we are on vacation.  Some days it feels like we've lived here forever.  Some days I'm frustrated that we have no definitive plan for the future.  Some days I'm just plain tired.  But some days I look back at the experiences we've had since coming here and I'm left with a deep sense of gratitude and wonder.  My sister had a baby, and I was here to help, to meet my new niece, to play with my nephew.  My girls have been able to spend time with both sets of grandparents, with aunts and uncles, with cousins.  We've had family dinners, shopping trips, ice cream runs, and extra help with homework.  My mom made amazing Halloween costumes for my girls, no USPS required.  We had to decide where to go for Thanksgiving, because we had options.  It's pretty incredible that we've been given this opportunity to not only be in Utah and see so much of our family, but to live with my parents, to spend quality time with them, to learn from them and enjoy them.  I know it isn't ideal, but instead of wishing it was over, I have come to realize that we are uniquely blessed to have this time with them. 

Life is fleeting.  No one knows how long we have on this earth, or how long our family members have.  To have this chance to create lasting memories of those we hold dear?  It's priceless.  I enjoyed our adventures in the Midwest, but I am so grateful we get to be back home, with our families.  I'm certain our girls will look back on this year and be grateful too.

Friday, November 17, 2017

My Life in Pictures

Here's a smattering of photos from my phone. I clear out my camera roll pretty often, so it's really not many.

I found these paddles in the gym closet at school. I'm not sure what one would use them for. Tableless ping pong?

I made a pie. It was delicious. And pretty, courtesy of my mom's mini heart cookie cutter.

 Trivia night at the Salt Lake library is always a good idea, even when you are down a man (Clark ditched out and headed to Vegas). 3rd place this month!

Another mystery item from the gym closet. May-pole dancing?  Crazy group jump roping? I'm at a loss.

Ella's cup overflowed today when the slight chance of snow developed into fat fluffy flakes that actually stuck to the ground. That girl is a snow princess if I've ever seen one. Remember when she was allergic to the cold? I think she's going to spend the rest of her life trying to make up for all lost opportunity from that one winter.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Listy Thursday

Shows I've recently binge-watched on Netflix:
  1. Parks and Rec: This is our current favorite.  I watched the first season a few years ago and said, "This is a dumb show."  Then I was told by multiple people to keep going.  I watched the first few episodes of the second season, and said, "It's still a dumb show."  Then someone told me to watch just a little bit further, and I was finally rewarded with a show that is laugh-out-loud funny and thoroughly enjoyable to watch.  But I could have done without the first season, and the first few episodes of the second.
  2. The Office: I watched The Office way back when it was airing on TV, but rewatching it on Netflix is always a great idea.  It's a good one.
  3. Parenthood: Clark and I just blew through Parenthood a couple months ago. Those Bravermans make terrible choices, but I just can't look away!
  4. Once Upon a Time: I'll admit, this show has gone on a season or two too long. There are new episodes on Netflix that I haven't brought myself to watch yet. But it's a fun, fluffy show to watch while you fold laundry. 
  5. Friends: Because, I mean, it's Friends. Of course you should watch it. 
  6. Frasier: It's been a while since we watched the whole series, but only a few nights since I queued up an episode. This show had a great little formula going during its run.
  7. Arrested Development: A little crass, but it makes me laugh so hard.  I never finished the last "Netflix Only" season, though.  Not as good as 1-3.
  8. Gilmore Girls: I watched this one on my own.  I love the Lorelai's witty banter, mixed in with soap opera drama. 
  9. North and South: This is a miniseries, only 4 episodes long, but it's so great!  It's based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, set in Victorian England, a love story set against the backdrop of social class issues and the industrial era.  It's definitely worth the 3+ hours to sit through it.
  10. The Great British Baking Show: I love cooking shows. I love baked goods. I love British tv. This show gives me all three. 
  11. The West Wing: One of the best television programs ever created. I think we've watched the entire series at least 3 times, maybe 4. The writing and the acting are spot. ON. 
  12. Stranger Things: I'm basically obsessed with this show right now. It's scary and funny and nostalgic and sad and sweet. It's all the feels. Beware: Once you start, you won't want to stop. So you'll need to set aside about 8 hours of your life to get through the first season. Also, prepare for some crazy dreams. The upside down messes with your head.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I'm Tired

I've missed a couple days.  You know why?  I'm tired.  I'm tired down into my bones.  I wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and yearn for the day to be over so I can get back in.

I'm not exactly physically tired, although that is part of it.  Turns out you are running around all day when you teach PE.  But I'm emotionally exhausted.  I'm tired of my current situation.  I'm tired of feeling stuck.  I'm tired of uncertainty.  I'm tired of waiting to move on from our temporary circumstances.  I'm tired of my girls fighting every waking moment of every single day.  I'm tired of trying to make new friends and be social.  I'm so tired.

But I keep trying to find little rays of light.  We've had lovely fall weather.  I have a job, which eases some of my anxiety.  We've spent tons of time with family, which is always delightful.  We are in a safe place.  I'm surrounded by people who love me.  There is a lot to be thankful for.

But I'm still tired.  Which means the last thing I want to do is write up a blog post about who knows what.  So instead you get a post about me being tired.  Keeping it real here on Blogburger.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day

I have a special place in my heart for Veterans Day, and for the veterans we remember on it.  The past few years we've gone to Cantigny Park and enjoyed seeing the luminaries they set up for the occasion, and then strolling through the First Division Museum, a military museum dedicated to telling the story of the First Division, from WWI to today.  It always felt like an appropriate way to commemorate this holiday, and it always left me shedding tears of gratitude for our soldiers.

Since this isn't an option this year, I'll instead look through my pictures, and remember the emotions stirred attending this event, as well as the day we went to Arlington National Cemetery (that place is sacred ground, and was absolutely a highlight of our trip to DC, and in fact, a highlight in my life).  I'm so grateful for the men and women who have served our country in the military, who have risked their lives for our freedoms, who have sacrificed themselves so we can live the way we do.  God bless our soldiers.

Friday, November 10, 2017


Whew, writing every day is hard.  I'm running low on ideas, so you get a random thought today: I love bridges.  I love 'em.  If there are two paths, and one involves a bridge?  I'll take the bridge every time, even if it means going out of my way. 

I love big bridges like the Golden Gate bridge or the Mackinaw bridge.  I love logs across streams.  Covered bridges are particularly picturesque.  I go across at least one bridge on my current walking paths.  I would go across a bridge daily on my old walking path in Illinois.  I'll walk over them, I'll drive over them.  I just love them.

Why?  I don't know.  Something about being over water, maybe.  Or something about connecting land that otherwise wouldn't be connected.  Or maybe it's the coming together of nature (a river, a lake, a stream) and man (the bridge).  I absolutely love sitting on a bridge and watching the water go underneath my feet, legs swinging.  It's carefree, reminiscent of the lazy summer days of childhood.  (And yet I don't think I spent a lot of time on bridges as a kid, so that's weird.)

Anyway.  I just thought you should know that about me.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Listy Thursday

Books I've recently read:
  1. March: Book One by John Lewis: I don't normally read graphic novels, but I won this one at our last trivia night, and it was so good I checked out book two and book three.
  2. Calvin by Martine Leavitt: Kim reviewed this over on Bookburger, and it sounded great so I checked it out.  It was definitely worthwhile reading.
  3. The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein: This was a book club pick.  It's about growing up in industrial England on a street that was half Jewish and half Christian.  I made it all the way to the epilogue before I realized it took place just before WWI, not WWII.  Doh.  Still a good read, though.
  4. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt: I read this one for Julia's library book club.  It's about a girl who has dyslexia, finding a way to navigate the world.  It's a good one to remind kids that everyone has their struggles, and you should quit being a jerk.  PS, I love that Julia goes to a book club.  Good job, Salt Lake County library.
  5. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie: I reviewed this one on Bookburger.  It's an oldie but goodie.
  6. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott: I just finished this one today.  Another book club pick.  It's about a young girl who tries to escape her life of servitude by sailing to America with a wealthy designer.  Only they sailed on the Titanic.  And that didn't go well.  A fascinating look at what happened after the ship sank and everyone made it back on land, which is something I had never thought about before.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017


Last night our Relief Society held a progressive dinner (appetizers at one house, dinner at another, dessert at yet another).  I was determined to go, but I was pretty nervous.  I've been to a few activities here already, and most of the time I sit by myself and wish someone would talk to me.  Same thing on Sundays. 

Tonight was different.  I met a lot of new people, had some great conversations, and genuinely had a good time.  I was so relieved. 

Which got me thinking about the term Relief Society.  When I focus on that word "relief" I think about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, relieving the poor, that kind of thing.  But tonight was a relief for my soul, a safe haven, a place to feel welcome and loved.  It was a glimpse of what Relief Society is all about, what it can and should be.  It made me realize that sometimes we need to offer spiritual relief, as well as temporal.

I recently read this article on By Common Consent about what sisterhood really looks like, and my heart ached for the tight bonds of friendship and love she describes.  I've been so blessed to feel those bonds in other places I've lived, and I hope and pray that we can create the same thing here.  It's what we all crave as sisters.  Women need other women.  We need the strength more experienced women can offer.  We need new perspectives and insights.  We need that sisterly love.  As a church, we need good, strong, functional Relief Societies. 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Day 2

Day two of teaching PE.
  • I was terrified of having 6th graders.  Turns out 6th graders are awesome.  It's the 1st graders you have to watch out for.
  • I had a kid thank me for letting them play a game today.  Um, it's elementary school PE.  There should be games every day.  Apparently they have done a lot of sit ups, push ups, jumping jacks, and running laps the past couple of months.  I would contend that PE at this age should teach kids to like exercise.  I don't know very many adults that like to do sit ups and push ups, let alone kids.  The trick is to find exercise that you like to do.  Kids like games.  So that's what we will do.
  • I told a class that my last name is Blockburger, and one kid's hand shot right up.  He said his last name is McDonald, so we basically get each other now.
  • I get to go to work in workout clothes, and that is pretty amazing.
  • Some kids can be pretty mouthy, and my first impression is that they are trouble.  But in the end every kid has some goodness in them, you just have to be willing to coax it out of them.  I found myself remembering this more than once today.

Monday, November 06, 2017


I'm trying to think what I could write about Halloween, and nothing is coming.  I am just not terribly inspired by this holiday.  It's fun to dress up and go trick or treating, but it's an awful lot of work for a holiday that's, in my opinion, not all that great.  I don't really do horror or gore, which is entirely too abundant this time of year.  Anyway, we made it through with happy kids, and that's what counts.

Julia decided to be a dragon, which immediately made me think of cute dragon costumes for babies, which is 100% not what she was going for.  After scouring Pinterest I found a tutorial for a dragon cape that she liked. However, I have got about 2 skills in sewing, and this costume required 356,  so I basically had to call in the reinforcements, aka my mom.  What with my sisters both having babies last month (!!) my mom was pretty busy, and was in fact out of town until October 25.  She pulled this amazing costume together in 2 days.  I am in awe of her sewing prowess.

Ella, ever thinking outside the box, declared in early October that she wanted to be a marionette.  I could think of hundreds of costume ideas, but marionette has never been one of them.  We crafted this headpiece, and I thought it turned out pretty amazing.  She got lots of comments on her costume, and corrected everyone who told her they liked her puppet costume.  "It's a MARIONETTE."  Blank stares.  Turns out most kids don't know what a marionette is.  (Julia's solution was to say, "Like in the French Revolution, Mary Annette!"  Which is a) not quite right and b) completely over their heads as well.  Bless that Julia and her big brain.)

Trick or treating in our new neighborhood was pretty amazing.  There was a whole buffet being served down the street, kids running was kind of like Halloween in a movie.  But not a Halloween movie, more like a happy movie for little kids.  Anyway, good times were had by all.  We ran out of candy here at 8, turned off the lights, and called it a night.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Fast Sunday

This morning was rough.  We drove back from Boise yesterday evening, and got home at about bedtime.  Except we hadn't eaten dinner, and we needed the girls to take Saturday night showers.  Luckily we got to change the clocks courtesy of Daylight Saving Time, otherwise we would have been in a real mess.  Anyway, the point is, we went to bed late, we had a time change, and everyone woke up grumpy.

As if the lack of sleep wasn't enough to create the mood, it's Fast Sunday.  I'm gonna be honest: fasting is really hard for me.  I have a difficult time going for long stretches without food, and as much as I'd like to say I feel a great spiritual benefit, lots of times I just don't.  I probably shouldn't admit that, but there it is.  Mostly I fast out of obedience.  Now, I don't do well with the fasting, but Julia turns into a little beast.  The hanger (hungry anger) is strong with this one.  So to add that fun factor into an already tired kid was a recipe for disaster.  Julia spent most of her time before church yelling at Ella, crying, yelling at me, and throwing a fit.  She's 9.  9-year-olds throwing tantrums look a little ridiculous.

So it was a rough morning.

The fun continued at church, where Ella refused to share the fun and games she packed with Julia, claiming they were hers and she needed them all to herself at all times.  I think Clark was beginning to wonder if we should just go home, because the day was turning out to be a wash.

But then we got to the testimony portion of the meeting.

I was enjoying the spirit of the meeting, soaking in the stories and wisdom shared by members of the congregation.  I've been having a hard time adjusting to this ward, and today was one of those days where I had a lot more compassion and understanding for those around me.  And then Julia, my grump-master of the day, headed up.  I was kind of worried she was going to say something about how hard it was to love her sister.  But instead she shared the sweetest testimony of the day.  She started out by saying, "I'm not very big, and my testimony might not be very big either."  Heart. Melted.  She proceeded to explain that we should never doubt Jesus Christ.  He is the creator of the world, He was resurrected from the tomb, He lived a perfect life, and we should never doubt Him.  That was basically it, but her sincerity was astounding.  She sounded like an adult, to be honest.  None of her phrasing was scripted or copied, it was all Julia, and it was beautiful. I don't know where this kid came from, but I am in awe of her spirit, of her knowledge of spiritual things, of her mind and her heart.  I can't take any credit for this incredible human, but it makes my mother heart feel joy and gratitude and hope that perhaps we are doing something right in allowing her to grow and learn and develop into the amazing person she is.

Despite its rough beginning, today turned out to be pretty great.

Saturday, November 04, 2017


When we moved back to Utah, we decided we needed to make it a top priority to get up to Idaho to visit Clark's 97-year-old grandmother.  Everything finally came together this weekend!

First off, you should know that our girls are expert road-trippers.  They have perfected the art of the pit stop, and they don't complain one bit about sitting in the car for long stretches.  When we drove across the country this summer I was alone in the car with the girls, and they were amazing at taking care of themselves.  They got their snacks (and mine too!), they worked the DVD player, they took care of everything they needed, and they were cheerful and happy to boot.  Champion road-trippers.  Because of this, we cruised right on up to Boise with no meltdowns, potty emergencies, or long stops.  It was glorious.

The girls had Friday off of school, so we left Thursday afternoon.  Friday morning we headed to the Meridian Temple Open House. Clark's aunt Carolyn has been involved in a lot of the planning for the open house, so we got the inside scoop (and a great parking spot).  The girls loved going inside a temple, and we all enjoyed seeing the beautiful details put into a House of the Lord.

After the temple, we had a little down time before going to visit Grandma Meme.  Once they discovered Carolyn's enormous backyard, and in particular the large maple tree that was losing its leaves, the girls decided to spend some time out back, raking those leaves into a pile for jumping.  They spent quite a bit of time getting that pile built up to be "as tall as Ella" before jumping in.  Then we moved the big pile over to Carolyn's garden.  A little bit of work, a little bit of play.  Everyone was happy.

Then we headed over to Meme's.  This was definitely the highlight of the trip.  Seeing Clark with his grandmother, having the girls see their great-grandmother...we won't have many more opportunities to do this, and I'm so glad we made the time now, while we can.  Meme's memory isn't too great, and I don't think she recognized the girls, but hey, they didn't recognize her either!  We visited, looked at photo albums, listened to Ella and Clark play the piano, and just enjoyed being together.  Meme has always been cheerful and upbeat; she is a joy to be around.  Even if she isn't quite sure who you are or what's going on, she's just happy to go along. I was worried the girls would get bored, but they did great.  It was only near the end that I had to find a deck of cards so Ella could play solitaire (best investment I ever made was teaching her that game).

We rounded out the day with dinner at Clark's cousin Andy's house.  The girls loved playing with second cousins, the adults loved catching up, and everyone loved the fabulous food.  Seriously, Wycherlys.  You guys are fun. 

Today we slept in, watched a Blockburger home movie (The Eve of Mert, and other snippets), gave Meme a thimble (which we had forgotten yesterday), went to a Wycherly basketball game, and headed home.  It was a quick trip, but it was one of my favorite things we've done.  We loved reconnecting with Clark's family and hearing family stories.  I'm pretty sure the girls were enamored with Aunt Carolyn and would jump at the chance to visit her again.  Idaho, you were good to us.  Thanks for the memories.

First Day of School

Thursday was my first day of school/work!

I started off by teaching Kindergarten all day.  It was a great way to ease into it, actually.  I found a fun game to play on the internet, and tweaked it as I went along.  By the 4th class, I think I figured out how to make it work just right.  I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the day, but I had fun, and I heard from lots of kids that they had fun too.  That's my goal, so I was pretty pleased.

I was less pleased the next morning when I was sore as all get out.  I don't even know why, but my whole body is aching.  Apparently I was doing more than I realized.

Despite feeling like I was going to throw up because I was so nervous in the morning, things went pretty smoothly.  I think I've got Kindergarten mostly figured out.  Next week I start grades 1-6.  6th graders are terrifying, so I'm expecting another bout of intense nerves Tuesday morning.  Fingers crossed I get them figured out, too.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Listy Thursday

Remember my 52 list fail?  Well, I've decided to resurrect the idea, in a revised format.  Instead of sharing a list someone else came up with each week, I'll share a list of my own, which means they will probably be less personal, and I'll be more comfortable sharing. 

I love a good list.

Today's list: Music I've Been Playing Lately

  1. Reverie by Debussy: Debussy is lovely, and I really haven't played much of his stuff.  Reverie looked the easiest in the book I have, so I decided to polish it up.  Just for fun.
  2. Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainers by Scott Joplin: We have a book of Joplin duets.  These two are the most familiar to me, so we've been playing them.
  3. I Saw Three Ships arranged by John Schmidt: This is the part where some of you say, "What, you've been playing Christmas music?  In October??" And I say, yeah, I have.  Perhaps you don't know, but October is exactly when you start practicing Christmas music so it's ready by December.  Of course, I have nothing to be ready for, I'm just playing it for fun.  But December will be infinitely better if I can sit down and play things instead of wishing I had more time to practice it.  So there.
  4. Old choir numbers, including Master the Tempest is Raging, Awake Ye Saints of God Awake, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and Still, Still, Still: Note: I don't know the arrangers off the top of my head, and it was easier to just lump them together than go all the way downstairs to figure it out.  Also, again with the Christmas!
  5. Fidelity by Regina Spektor: I had forgotten about that song, but found it in the music pile.  I get to sing along to it, too!  Even more musical enjoyment!
  6. Angel Eyes by Jim Brickman: Lots of unexpected rhythms in this one.  Very fun to play.
  7. Somebody to Love by Queen: Because don't we all want to feel a little bit like a rockstar sometimes, even as a lowly pianist? 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Post #1

Well hey.  It's November 1st.  My last post was July 15.  So many changes since July 15.

We are now in Utah!  The girls are settled into the local school, and I've recently picked up a part time job at said school (PE teacher! Woo!).  I start tomorrow.  I'm excited and terrified.  Excited to have a job, to stretch myself, to be around kids.  Terrified of having a job, stretching myself, and being around kids.  I'm sure you all understand.  I'm mostly hopeful, though.

I've got a new church calling, which was extended about a week after we got here: ward organist.  I play every other week.  Clark also got a new calling: ward organist.  He plays every other week.  We make a great team.  In this and in all things.

We're trying to find the new normal here, trying out new libraries, finding new local events, making new friends.  It's mostly going well, but making new friends is SO HARD.  People are busy and I don't want to be annoying, so I generally fly under the radar.  I don't stay long at church events.  Almost half the time is spent sitting by myself, wishing someone would talk to me.  "It takes time," I say in my head over and over again, but I hate that it takes time.  I wish we were done with this time business, and already to the part where we felt comfortable, where we recognized people, where people recognized us.  Sadly I haven't found a way to speed up this process.  Luckily, kids make friends more easily, and the girls have found people to play with both at school and in the neighborhood.  We live in a great neighborhood full of kids.  That has helped immensely.

I've decided to do something bold for the month of November.  I'm going to attempt to write something every day on this here blog.  It's been neglected for so long, and I'm just sure I have a lot to say. (That last phrase may or may not have had a hint of sarcasm in it.)  My goal is 30 days of posts, but I'd even be happy with 25.  I've come to the realization that I really do love to write.  It makes me happy.  But I don't do it nearly enough.  Hence my November Challenge.

1 down.  29 to go.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

30 by 30, #10: Find a family name to take to the temple.

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

I cannot believe I am sitting here writing these words.  I have completed something I never thought would be possible.  I have found a family name and taken it to the temple.

The struggle was real with this one.  My family tree goes back far with temple work completed as far as the eye can see.  On my mother's side all of my ancestors were pioneers.  That means there have been people working on this for over a century.  Dedicated people, who had dozens of dedicated children, working on their family lines, even spreading to aunts and uncles and cousins.  Until I become a professional genealogist, there is no hope for this line of research.  On my father's side there is also a lot of pioneer ancestry.  One of the lines that isn't includes my great-grandfather who was a genealogist for the church.  So...that's right out.  But I have one family line that includes a convert great-grandmother, one family line wherein it might be possible to find someone whose work hasn't been completed yet.

Our ward had a family history open house, wherein all the consultants were available to help with laptops at the ready.  I learned about the descendancy view, wherein you can find cousins, children of great-aunts and uncles, who are ready for work to be done.  I clicked through this one line, the last great hope for the completion of this task, and lo and behold, there were names to be done!  I could not believe it!  I reserved them as quick as I could.

I took them to the temple back in May while my parents were visiting.  It was a sweet experience to have a family name with me, and to share this with my mom and dad.  I'm so grateful the timing worked out to do this with them.  It made me feel the strength of family bonds even more strongly.

I must say, I've gone back on Family Search since then and looked some more to find nothing available.  I think it was sheer luck of timing that I even found those few names I did before someone else clicked on them.  But my goal was just to find one name, and I completed my goal.  28 down, 2 to go.


The folks on Facebook know this already, but our family is facing big changes: We are heading back to Utah!

The pros:
  • We are moving back to be close to family.  
  • We will be close to a lot of dear friends.
  • We are getting out of Illinois just as the huge income tax hike hits.  
  • We are getting rid of a lot of stuff we don't need anymore.
  •  We get to be by mountains again!
  • We will be close to National Parks and wide open spaces and real hikes and fresh air! 
The cons:
  • Clark is unemployed.  This is the reason for the move - we can't afford to live in our current situation for very long with no income.  We would be flat broke in no time.
  •  We have to pack up all the stuff we still need.
  • We have to drive across the country with said stuff.
  • We have to change all the things: addresses, schools, doctors, dentists, health insurance, auto insurance, utilities, etc.  This means making phone calls.  Phone calls = torture.  Can I just fill out the form online?  Text you my information?  Write a letter?  ANYTHING BUT A PHONE CALL.  (Now you all know why I never call you...)
  • We have to say goodbye to our dear friends here.
So you see, I have some mixed feelings about this.  Perhaps my faithful readers will remember when this happened before, back in 2013?   That was a lot harder than this.  This time around we had some advance notice, so we had time to make a plan.  Moving in with your parents might not sound like the best of plans, but I'd contend that any plan is better than none.  Also, I love my parents, and I'm actually excited to live with them again.  And this time, Clark is focusing all his job-searching efforts in Utah, which is where we want to be. 

I cannot believe that those words have come out of my mouth, but they have.  I want to live in Utah again.  I recognize there are some hard things about living in Utah.  I can see all the growth our little family has made living here in the Midwest, far from our extended families, and we have loved our time here.  But that pull of living close to family is strong, even stronger than my aversion to some of Utah's quirks.  And the desire to show my kids some of the things I experienced growing up is pretty strong too.  Places I went as a kid (like Yellowstone and Bryce Canyon and San Diego and camping in the mountains) are pretty far out of reach right now.  Moving west gives us a chance to explore a new section of the country together.  And that thrills me more than you know.

We almost hit 4 years here in Illinois.  I was not excited about living here at first.  It took me 6 months to warm up to a state of non-dislike, and another 6 months to actually like it.  While it's still not my favorite place we've lived, I've grown to love a lot of things.  Like the people.  And the . . . grocery stores?  Ok, mostly the people.  We have made dear friends here and we will be sad to leave them.  But on the whole, we are excited about this change, and that makes everything, even the phone calls, a little easier.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Time We Went to the Beach

 While we were in California, we took an afternoon off of Disney and headed to the beach.  Ella had never seen the Pacific Ocean before, and Julia was 2 the last time she was there.  While the weather at Disneyland was warm, the beach was a bit cold.  But that didn't stop us from wading in the water, walking on the sand, and having a great time together. 

I thought to myself, "Hey, let's do some fun drawings in the sand!  The pictures will be so cute!"  I'm pretty sure I failed.  Either the waves came in too fast, or someone walked in my writing, or I failed to capture the entire image (Ockburger 2017!), or it just looks dumb.  But I tried, dang it.  I tried. 

 In any event, it was an enjoyable afternoon.  We need to do the beach more often.  In warmer weather. 

Oh wait, I remembered why we don't.  I get sunburned after 15 minutes.  Carry on.

The Time We Went To Disneyland

Many years ago, Grandma and Grandpa B thought it would be fun to take the whole family to Disneyland.  Then they realized that was an insane idea, with 5 adult kids (plus spouses) and grandkids of varying ages.  By the time the youngest ones were old enough to appreciate it, the oldest ones would be too old for the magic.  So they opted to take each family on their own.  This year was our turn.

Let me begin by saying that this vacation was everything I had hoped it would be.  The girls were the absolute perfect age to appreciate Disney.  They still believe in magic, but they also are tall enough to go on all the rides.  No one needs naps anymore, and we can now reason with our hungry children instead of watching them fall apart before our very eyes when there is no food rightthisverysecond.  I think the only thing they did not love, and probably weren't prepared for, was waiting in lines.  By the end of day 1, Julia was falling apart due to all the lines.  But by day 3, they had adjusted, and a 20 minute line didn't sound so bad.

If you know one thing about me, it's that I don't take a lot of pictures.  Disneyland was no exception to this.  But I did take a few, so let's look through them, shall we?

We stayed on property at the Paradise Pier Hotel. I have to say, it was pretty wonderful to be so close to the park.  Plus, we had surfing Goofy to welcome us in the lobby, so that was pretty amazing.  It also made it easy for us to go back to the park after the girls had gone to bed (this was a huge perk of going with Grandma and Grandpa - kid-free time out of the house is a rarity in our lives).

Julia was dying to go on Autopia.  She talked about "driving a real car" for months.  I'm not sure this was everything she was hoping for.  But hey, we did it, and now she can say she's done it.  Also, this was one of the 2 rides I got to ride alone on.  The other one was Goofy's Sky School in California Adventure.  We had 5 riders for the 4 seat ride.  Rather than make a girl ride alone on a bench, I went in a car by myself.  I felt. . . goofy.  Maybe that was part of the ride?

These Minnie ears made my heart happy the whole trip.  They were sent in the mail by Grandma and Grandpa before the trip, and Ella repeatedly reminded us that we had to pack them along.  They got a lot of wear in the park, and no one lost them, which is a miracle.


This shot was orchestrated by Julia.  I call it Lady and the Churro.

Mostly, my girls love each other.  Or, at least, they loved each other in Disneyland.  

We didn't spend a ton of time meeting characters, but we happened upon the Winnie the Pooh crew after Splash Mountain, and we made it a point to meet some princesses.  Eeyore was messing up everyone's hair, which made us all laugh.  Ella met Cinderella, and I thought she'd die from happiness.  "Cinder-ELLA, Mom.  We have the same name.  She is basically just like me.  Probably Ella is her real name."

 Peter Pan was too hard to catch - that guy was on the move - but we photobombed on him while he was signing an autograph.  Ella refused to go with Julia, and then spent the next 10 minutes crying because she had missed Peter Pan.  

 1 minute after this picture, they asked us to get off the flowers.  Oopsy.

Tinkerbell was very sweet.  Probably made it worth the half hour line to see her.  Maybe.

 And, of course, adventures in Toon Town.  We went on the Roger Rabbit ride, and tried to explain who Roger Rabbit is to the girls.  The more I tried to explain it, the more I realized that show is weird.  It's on Netflix, but...maybe I'll pass.

All in all, it was an amazing trip, and we made some wonderful memories!