Thursday, March 12, 2015

Winter Break

After Christmas is over, there was still a good 10 days before Ben and the kids had to go back to work and school.  Having a husband home for almost all of Christmas break is not the norm, but sure is fabulous.  

The kids (Chloe especially) kept asking to do big and grand activities with our spare time.  We are usually pretty low key people, much to the dismay of our kids (Chloe), and we spent the rest of our time doing things around home or very close to home.

The first order of business on the day after Christmas was to get Chloe into the doctor.  She had been running a fever almost constantly for 3 full days and had been complaining of a sore throat and felt miserable.  I didn't want to wait until the weekend and have to go to an urgent care (or ER), so I called our pediatrician first thing Friday morning.  I got appointments for that morning- I got one for Leah too, as she had been running a random fever every evening and figured what one might have, the other would have as well.

I suspected strep throat for either or both of the girls, but both their rapid tests came back negative.  We were sent home thinking it was just a virus, but got a call back on Sunday from the doctor saying Chloe's culture had come back positive for strep.  This has happened twice in just a few months- Chloe having symptoms of strep (fever, sore throat), but her throat looks fine, having the rapid test come back negative and the culture positive.  They called in some antibiotics for her, but also set up a follow up appointment for her to come back with she was healthy and get re-swabbed to see if she is just a carrier for strep.  Chloe got feeling better after less than 24 hours on antibiotics- coincidence?  I don't know.

The kids, and their big kid dad, played with our magnet tiles every. single. day of Christmas break.  Ben had been hesitant to buy them for a few reasons: one- mostly being nervous about toys with magnets in them and their safety with kids playing with them.  And two- he had never heard or seen them before and didn't know how much fun they would be.  He quickly changed his tune and really became just as enthralled with them as the kids were.  He helped them build all sorts of neat structures, complete with lights on the inside for special effects.  It's pretty fun to have an engineer for a dad sometimes.  

I put Livy in a new sweater she had received for Christmas and when I tried to snap a picture of her in it, she was not happy.

An unhappy baby, but an adorable sweater.  Sometimes it's overwhelming to be so cute. :)

After crying for quite some time, refusing to be consoled, she laid down in front of the stairs in protest.

Ben's favorite part of the break was eating our leftover Christmas Eve food.  He makes a mean hot turkey sandwich and enjoyed more than one of those bad boys.

Over then break, we started reading the first book of "The Indian in the Cupboard" to the kids.  They really enjoyed it, and we loved all being cozied up together as a family reading.
Ben took the kids to the church gym one day to play.  They loved it and decided to go back the next day and I joined them.

We brought all sorts of balls and toys.  Little Leah sure loves anything to do with balls and sports and it was fun to watch her bounce a basketball bigger than she was around the gym.

The biggest and craziest part of Christmas break came on New Year's Eve day.  There is a bit of back story to our big news, so I will start there.  Back in October of 2014, Ben received news at work that Boeing would be moving a chunk of their employees to Oklahoma City (and a few other locations), staring in 2016.  Ben's group that he currently worked with would have all of their jobs move to OK City, OK.  The transition would start in 2016, but Ben's group most likely wouldn't move until 2017 sometime.  Upon hearing this news, we were kind of indifferent.  There had been rumors of something like this happening for years, and when it became official, we knew that we had probably two years to deal with it and two years seems like a long way off.  It's much better than getting 2 weeks notice, so we kept it in the back of our minds, but we weren't panicking or stressing too much. It was kind of weird.

But after hearing the news, we did have a number of discussions about this.  We wouldn't be transferred to OK City outright- the jobs would move and Ben would have to reapply for his job there.  He was fairly confident that he could get a job in Oklahoma, but we weren't sure that Oklahoma was where we wanted to be.  Ben had been there on a few business trips and while he said it was a nice place (not to mention super cheap cost of living and more sun), we just didn't feel like it was where we wanted to move our family.  But with 2 years notice, we felt good about the time we had to find something else.

Ben started applying for new jobs in November.  His thought was he could get his resume out there now and we would have two years to go on interviews and get offers and turn down and weed out the places and jobs that weren't right for us.  At the end of November, we heard from a company in Tri-Cities, Washington.  We were pretty shocked to have heard something so soon, and it got us thinking, but surely didn't put all of our eggs in this one basket quite yet.

After the initial phone call, this company sounded very interested and kept in close contact with us over the next week and a half, and Ben had an interview set up in Tri-Cities less than 2 weeks into December.  Another company he had applied to in Tri-Cities contacted him as well, and he set up an informal visit with him on the same day as his official interview.

The interview went well.  The company was extremely interested in Ben and told him it would be just a matter of time before he would receive an offer.  At this point, everything felt very surreal.  We had just found out 2 months prior that we would be job hunting in the next few years, but never dreamed of anything happening this soon.  It was a very strange feeling.

While waiting for an offer, a company from Idaho Falls, Idaho called Ben as well.  After the initial phone call, he set up a more formal phone interview with them.  Having so much interest at once was great, but kind of overwhelming.  Idaho decided pretty quickly that Ben wasn't the right fit for that particular job, but were interested in fitting him for a job more tailored for his skills and experience, but we didn't hear from them after that.

Just a few days before Christmas, the original company that Ben officially drove down to interview with called back and needed a few things from Ben, and then told him that the official offer would be ready by the end of that day, hopefully.  We never heard back from them.  We were hoping to hear before Christmas, but no such luck.  Finally, on December 29th, we received an official offer.  We were nervous, as over the past 10 years we have interviewed and received many offers from different companies all over.  None of the offers ever felt right and a few times the job felt right and we never received an offer.  If there was one things we learned over the years, it was was that we were meant to be in the Seattle area.  We never knew exactly why and at times we felt like (or wanted) to move and never had the opportunity.  We were frustrated sometimes, but God had better plans for us.  We learned that we needed to bloom where we were planted, and soon after getting that answer, we found the beautiful home that we currently live in and love, and felt very settled and very happy.

So with all of this past experience of it never being the right opportunity or time to move, we didn't know what this offer would bring.  And for once, we weren't looking or really wanting to move.  We had never been miserable in the past- not even close.  We just had never imagined living in the Seattle area for very long and thought we knew what we needed best more than Heavenly Father did.  The past 11 years have been such a great learning and growing experience for us as a couple and a family. We have come to absolutely love the area we live in and having lived here our entire married lives, this area and lifestyle is all we have ever known.  The real thought of moving and big changes was nerve wracking and kind of scary.  But upon hearing Boeing's big news, as we fasted and prayed, we felt like this was the time that our family would move.  When and where?  That was the unknown.

As we opened and read the offer, we were pleased and felt pretty good about it.  We negotiated a little bit with them, but in the end, it was pretty clear that this was the job for us and the place we needed to be.  Ben and I snuck away to the temple on December 30th.  We felt pretty confident about our gut reactions, but wanted a very clear and more assuring answer.  As we sat in the temple that evening, we both got a very clear answer that this was it.  We told ourselves that we needed to remember this feeling, so that we could reflect upon it and the feeling of how it feels to have your prayer answered when we came upon hard times in the move or times we doubted our decision.  It was a very spiritual night for us, one that we will not soon forget.  

On New Year's Eve day, we officially accepted the offer.  It was scary and exciting, all wrapped up together.  All of the unknowns were scary.  I am a person that does not love change.  We would have lots of change coming upon us very soon.  We were told that they wanted Ben to start the new job by the end of January or beginning of February.  Wow!  Nothing like getting going on change in 4-5 weeks!  We had lots of unanswered questions and things to do- where would we live?  How would it be to move while I was pregnant and having to find a new doctor at the end of the pregnancy?  I would have to find a new school for the kids half way through the year.  We would have to sell a house for the first time and leave a house that we loved (and thought would be our home for many, many years to come).  And how could we leave all of our friends and loved ones that we had met and grown close to over the past 11 1/2 years?  That thought alone was enough to make me doubt this decision.  Telling our closest friends was very hard and extremely sad.  Luckily, we knew whatever happened, Ben and I had each other and we would be doing this as a family.

Frist order of business- to celebrate!  Ben and I snuck away that afternoon for a date for lunch at our favorite papusa place in Auburn.  We were sad thinking about all the good food places we love that we would be leaving as well.  :)

We got back in time to have a fun New Year's Eve evening with the kids.  In true laid back style, we didn't do anything grand, but we had fun.  We watched a movie early in the evening and had lots of good treats, then finished out the night with a rousing game of Monopoly.  The kids received that for Christmas and it was their first time playing it.  They loved it, Chloe and Mitch especially.  The only down side is that Monopoly is a loooong game.

It was so long, in fact, that Leah left the table early and put herself to bed on the couch.

The first day of 2015 dawned sun and beautiful skies.  It was a good sign of new and great things to come for our family, but sure made us sad to be leaving such a beautiful area.

It was also time to take down the Christmas decorations.  Ben would leave them up for another week or so if it were up to him, but by the last few days of December and definitely by the beginning of January, I am done.  Taking down Christmas is both sad and refreshing.  I had some sweet little helpers that made the job fun.

Ben let the big kids stay up late a number of times.  This night was a bit too much for Mitch and he fell asleep. 

2014 was a great year.  We are a bit nervous about 2015 and all of its changes and unknowns, but know we have a fun adventure ahead of us!  Cheers to change!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Christmas 2014

We had a wonderful Christmas!

Christmas Eve started with Ben going to the church to play basketball with some buddies from the ward.  When he got home, we spent the rest of the afternoon cooking and preparing for our Christmas Eve feast.

We had two wonderful families from our ward over for dinner that evening.  I have no pictures to document it, but we had such a great time eating and visiting all afternoon and into the early evening with them.  Thanks Whetton's and Winkler's for making our Christmas Eve that much more fun.

After our guests left, it was time to open the Christmas Eve package.

New pajamas for everyone (except Livy because she didn't need any).

Then the kids helped bring down the wrapped gifts from our bedroom.  Ben and I keep most of the kid gifts in our closet all month long.  Partly because we don't get around to wrapping them until a day or two before Christmas (sometimes not until Christmas Eve), and partly because I don't like the look of our tree and living room being crowded with gifts all month.

Then we gathered round the piano and had the kids sing the Christmas song we'd learned and practiced all month long.  We started this tradition last year (they learned "Picture a Christmas") and this year the song was "The Nativity Song" out of the Children's church song book.  This is my and Ben's most favorite Christmas tradition, even just two years old.

After, we read the new book that came in the Christmas Eve package- "The Christmas Train" by President Monson. 

The kids then decorated sugar cookies for Santa and wrote him a note before heading off to bed.

A close up of the extremely decorated cookies... we were hoping Santa wouldn't choke on them!  We were also excited to use this new little milk jug for Santa's milk that we received from some friend's this year.  I love it.

Mitch wrote Santa's note this year.  I love how he ended the note. :)

Christmas morning started early for us, as it does every year.  The kids are early risers on a normal day and Christmas is no exception.  We do always make them wait to come wake us up until at least 6:00 a.m.

Ready and excited to come downstairs!  Livy was still asleep and we didn't want to wake her, nor wait for her.

The kids always open their stockings first.  Santa fills the stockings at our house and anything else that he brings (which is usually pretty small), is set out by their stockings.  Crazy to think that next year we will have one more stocking to fill!

My favorite part of Christmas morning is watching the kids open the gifts they bought for each other. Last year, we started a "sibling gift exchange."  Each kid buys for one other kid and they love it.  They were all so excited to watch each other open the gift they bought.

Leah was so excited with her gift from me and Ben- a semi truck car carrier.  I love that she loves toys like this.

Chloe went to bed on Christmas Eve not feeling well, and unfortunately didn't feel any better on Christmas morning.  She spent the majority of the day on the couch, including gift opening time.  It was very sad.  She was thrilled in this picture to open a gift that told her that we had downloaded the new Taylor Swift album to her iPod.

Our little man who LOVES to read got the Indian in the Cupboard books.  Those were some of my favorite books as a kid and I'm excited to read them with the kids.

Feeling up to sitting up for a minute, Chloe loved the Mustache Smash game Leah picked out for her.

So sweet!

The kids picked out some peppermint bark for Ben at Costco and were so excited to give it to him.  They were also very excited to help him eat it.  (So was I.  It is GOOD!)

Leah and Lexi received Picasso Tiles- the best gift of the day, really.  When we played with them later in the day, they were a HIT! (Photo bomb by Ben).

The kids' other favorite thing was to wrap up homemade gifts and random gifts throughout the month.  This one was hilarious.  The kids would often wrap up stuff before I had a chance to see it.  I saw Leah putting a small gift under the tree one day for Mitchell and I asked what it was.  She told me it was crayons.  I thought that was innocent enough and didn't think anything else about it.  Come to find out, she had found my scripture marking pencils/crayons in my room and thought they were free game, and wrapped them up for Mitch.  I snapped a quick picture before taking them back.  :)

Mitch made this cute door knob sign for Leah.  (Poor Chloe in the background... she had a rough week of feeling not good at all).

The wrapping paper that Mitch made to wrap the door know sign was my favorite.  He and Leah really are best buddies and it's adorable.

Lexi trying on the homemade mask Leah made for her.  I love that they all love to create and give to each other.  Chloe had also wrapped up some of her chopsticks and jewelry items that she doesn't use anymore for Lexi.

Livy finally woke up around 8:00 and was ready to open gifts. 

She immediately wanted to eat the Hello Kitty fruit snacks that were in her stocking.  I hate to admit that the fruit snacks were her favorite gift of the day, but that's not too surprising for a one year old.  She is drooling fruit snack juice in this picture.

She enjoyed ripping the paper off all her gifts.  This is her first Christmas to participate and it was so fun to watch her.

I tried to hide the fruit snacks after awhile, but she found them and begged for more.

She enlisted the help of everyone to open those snacks.  It was really hard to tell her no on Christmas.

After the gift opening, I made our traditional Christmas morning breakfast- cherry breakfast cake, juice and sausage.

We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and chowed down.

The rest of the day was spent playing, playing and playing.  We took a break at one point to watch a movie, then back to playing.  It really is the best day of the year.  Nothing to do but eat, play and rest.

The picasso tiles were one of the best purchases we've ever made.  They were loved by all 5 kids and they played with them all day on Christmas, everyday of Christmas break and every day for weeks after.

Ben loved them just as much as the kids did and helped them come up with quite the designs and shapes.  And all this while he wasn't feeling very well either.  He was a trooper.  The kids all needed his help setting up certain toys all day and he did it all, despite not feeling well.

Leah pushed her car carrier all over the house.

Mitch loved his new remote control car.

I was excited for all the reading I was going to get to do!  (I had both books finished in 3 days).

Some new running shoes- finally! 

The twins received some learning based games and Chloe was more than happy to play them with the girls.

Mitch loved sitting down with his new circuits toy with Ben and having Engineer Dad help him learn some science stuff.

It was such a great day!  I always hate to see Christmas Day come to a close, but it always does.  We can't wait until next year!