Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Settling In

A new adventure means adjusting, but fun too.

Just a week or two after moving in, Ben's sister Bethany took the 3 big girl cousins on a girl's day out.  They went shopping first- what tween doesn't love to shop?

Pizza for lunch!

And the carousel after.  What a fun day.  Aunt Bethany is so fun.

Livy has loved joining us for family scripture study.

We have been graced with some gorgeous sunrises.  Ben gets up at 4:45 a.m. every morning for work and is privy to these.  

And sunsets, too.

I didn't sign the twins up for any preschool here and have loved having them home with me.  Olivia has loved it too.  These 3 spend sometimes hours and hours a day in the backyard together.

On Valentine's Day Eve, Ben and I found this note on our bed.  They surely did bring us breakfast in bed and it was so cute.

Grandma and Papa Blakeslee sent a fun V-Day gift for them!

It was a gorgeous and warm day, so we invited cousins and family to come and play baseball with us at the nearby high school.

Lexi, up to bat!

Even Nana batted!

Picking teams

Leah, our fierce little athlete.

Grandma Cynde sent the kids a Valentine and a gift card to McDonald's.

It was so nice and warm that we had V-Day dinner out on the lawn.

Later that night, we invited Nana and Papa and Aunt Bethany over for s'mores around the fire pit.

A 17 month old and a fire pit are a busy, scary activity!  I took her to bed after just a few minutes.

Ben took the kids on a bike ride one day to a nearby gas station for slurpees.  We have been loving all the sunshine here!

More backyard fun while the big kids are at school.  They all play so well together, these 3.

Daisy the dog has loved having the kids outside so much playing with her.  Olivia is just really getting to know here since moving here.  Here she is giving her a "hug".  She calls any dog "gaga."

One Saturday late in February, Aunt Bethany took the big boy cousins out for a "man day."  They did the carousel as well.

They also had pizza for lunch and went to the skate park.  They were in heaven!

For dinner one night, we took the kids to use their McDonald's gift card from Cynde.

Having cousins so close has been so fun.  These two redheads are becoming fast buddies (although next to Grant, Olivia does not look red-headed at all.

Cousins over for dinner!

Mitch loved giving his dad a hair cut one day.  He was quite giddy about it.

This little sweetie is 17 months going on 3.  She quickly learned how to climb to the top of the play structure by herself and loves it up there, but scares her parents a bit.  She loves, loves, loves being outside.  She will run and grab her shoes and jacket anytime she wants to go outside and bring them to me (or anyone who will help her). 

The middle of March was her 18 month birthday, which means nursery time at church!  She did really well for her first time.  I stayed in there with her for a bit and snuck out while she was occupied.  I checked in later and was told that she would cry every once in awhile, but when she was distracted, she did just fine.  We will call it a success!

Nothing cuter than a sleeping baby!  She recently started requesting sleeping with a blanket.

We did our new, traditional family March Madness competition where we all fill out a bracket and then keep points per round on how many choices are correct.  The kids love it, even if they have no clue that a 12 seed doesn't usually win the whole thing. :)  I loved watching all the games I could this year.  I love college basketball and couldn't get enough.  I was sad when it ended.  Leah was our big winner this year.

Livy has always taken a binky so great (which I am so thankful for when my kids are babies).  Right after she turned a year old, I was getting tired of the binky, as she would have it in her mouth, toddle around the house and then hide it or lose it somewhere random that would take forever to find.  We were constantly searching for binkies everywhere and I quickly tired of that.  Over Thanksgiving break, I started implementing a "binky in bed only" policy, which she took to extremely well.  This eliminated that constant binky searches and it was fun to see that sweet face without a binky always in.  It also made it easier to start pushing for her to use words.  Since moving here, Livy has been very non-dependent on her binky in bed.  We always offered it to her, but she wasn't excited to have it anymore and it was never in when I came to check on her before going to bed.  I thought about taking it away before the baby came, to just have one child with a binky.  I forced my own hand into doing this one night when I couldn't find her binky anywhere.  For the next few days, naps and bedtime were a bit harder and she cried more than normal at bedtime.  But within a few days, she was just fine.  She has actually become attached to some of Leah and Alexis's toys- their stuffed puppies and their favorite toddler stuffed dolls.  She insists on sleeping with one or both of those things every night.  It's very sweet.  It feels good to be binky free!

At the end of March, we had set up a "girl's shopping trip" with all of the girls in the family (Ben's mom, Grandma, sisters, and me).  The plan was to go shopping for material for a baby quilt for my baby, as Ben's grandma makes each great-grand child a quilt.  We would then go to lunch afterwards.

Shopping went great and we headed off to our predetermined lunch spot.  Soon after we got there, Megan (Ben's sister), started whispering to one of the waitresses.  I didn't think much about that.  As we were seated, at a huge table with far too many spots for us, Ben's dad showed up with cupcakes and balloons.  "Surprise," everyone said.  They were throwing me a little baby shower.  But the surprises didn't stop- soon, guests from my new ward started showing up, all towing gifts.  I was completely shocked by all of it and overwhelmed with everyone's kindness toward me.

The cupcakes.  "It's a girl!"

The whole bunch of us

Everyone was so generous with their gifts.  I got so many adorable things.  This is my first Spring baby ever, so even after having 4 girls previously, I was in need of little baby spring and summer stuff.

My fabulous in-laws.  I love them all!  They were very sneaky about this whole thing and I never once suspected anything.

Ben has taken the kids bike riding numerous times to a fun place that has dirt hills.  The kids absolutely love it and I love that they love being outside so much.

After helping pick out the baby quilt material, Ben, Bethany and I went over one night the next eek to help Grandma cut it out.  This was my first time helping cut out a quilt.

Ben was a natural at cutting material.  Real men quilt!

Beth and I even helped sew a few strips, with help and encouragement from Grandma.

She's the real mastermind with this quilting business.  She does such a great job and it's so commendable and sweet that she does this for so many great-grandchildren.

The last full weekend of March, Ben went down to Auburn to visit our house just one more time before it closed.  He mowed the lawn and picked up a few things in the garage that we didn't have room for when we moved.  He sent me this picture and I admit it made me a bit sad.  We loved that home and were so sad to leave it.  We were also sad to leave the area and all its beauty, including all the people.

The next weekend, a nasty stomach bug hit our house.  Chloe got it first, then me, Leah and Lexi had it all on the same night/day.  The three of us shared a bed as we tried to recover.  Having the stomach flu while pregnant is one of the worst things I've ever experienced.  I'm glad it was over well before baby time. 

Moving Time!

After a busy and hectic month, moving day came quickly.  It came on a beautiful, clear Monday, January 26th. 

The moving trucks showed up around 9:00 a.m.  

This first one held all the packing and loading supplies.

The bigger one, where 90% of our stuff was loaded into, stayed on the street the whole first day.

Day 1 was packing.  I had 4 strange men in my home, packing up every single thing I owned.  It was very strange to go from basically living normally the day before, to having my entire house packed up in about 10 hours.  I'm not going to lie- it was fabulous not having to worry about packing anything and sitting and watching other people do it for me.

Their moving boxes had this on it.  We knew we were in good hands!  If it's good enough for the Seahawks, it is good enough for us.

The 3 little girls were loving all the commotion and wanted to be right in the thick of all the packing.

They also wanted to play and run all around while the men were packing.  When I say it was nice to "sit and watch" I actually didn't do a lot of sitting.  Keeping Olivia out of everyone's way was a full time job.  Luckily, Leah and Lexi were great entertainment for her and a huge help.  During Livy's nap time, we all were able to relax a bit.

My packed up kitchen!

With all of our cooking/baking supplies and most of our food packed up, we had to eat out for dinner that night.  I had kept some paper plates, bowls, cups and silverware out and had milk and cereal for breakfast in the mornings.  I had the big kids take hot lunch at school (a very rare treat), so we didn't have to worry about packing lunches.

Day two, Tuesday, was loading day.

This was a tricky day for us.  The twins were at school all day (their last day of school here) and that left just me and Olivia at home.  Without any big sisters to entertain her, she was extra busy.  And since it was loading day, the movers had the front door wide open all day and as soon as Livy found this out, she tried to make an escape for the front door every 3 minutes.


And climbing on anything she could!

The movers, for the most part, just labeled things pretty generically.  "Master bedroom, living room, family", etc.  The extra bedrooms were just labeled "bedroom."  But Chloe's room must have had enough pictures and signs up that they knew her name and labeled all of her boxes with her name on it.  It bought it was cute.

I was glad to see how much precaution and prep work went into the whole process, including padding the banister and the front door, and laying down sticky paper to help save the carpet from stains.

I needed a break from chasing this sweet girl, so I put her up on some boxes and she was too afraid to get down.  It gave me a few minutes of peace.  She did not love it.

The kitchen table got taken apart and loaded this day, so the twins had to have their after school snack on the floor.  Their "snack" was leftover cake that Ben brought home from another party at work, celebrating his last day at Boeing.

With no furniture and no toys, the kids were left to their own devices to play.  An empty box helped for a little bit.

My visiting teacher's brought over a super yummy dinner, which we were so grateful for (we had nothing to cook with, and it was nice not to have to go out again).  We all ate on the floor, minus Livy.

Cynde stopped by after dinner for one last "see you later" farewell.  Man, we are going to miss this sweet lady.  Watching her leave that night was really hard.  We love you Cynde!

One last snuggle with Olivia!

The movers had a long day that day.  They didn't have everything loaded until about 9:00 p.m.  With no beds or furniture, we set up an air mattress and had reserved blankets and pillows for sleeping with.  We also had no internet and felt a little lost without that.  :)  Luckily we were exhausted and went right to bed.

Wednesday was a busy, busy day for us.  I had my last OB appointment at the doctor in the morning, and then we had some last minute errands to run.  Back to the house to pack up our remaining stuff.  For as amazing as it was to have packers pack, load and move us (it really was amazing), they sure left a lot of random stuff laying around the house.  They wouldn't move anything liquid, so we had numerous large boxes filled with Costco sized shampoo bottles, soaps, etc.  And then one bathroom they didn't even pack.  The shower curtain was still up, the towels, all the bath toys and accessories.  Lots of random odds and ends were left in the kitchen, probably because they weren't sure if we would need them left out.  I had to load up all of our kitchen fridge and freezer food and we double and triple checked every closet, cupboard, drawer, etc to make sure we had everything.  Chloe and Mitch were just getting home from their last day of Auburn school when we were running around like crazy people, trying to get everything loaded so we could start for Tri-Cities at a semi-decent time.

The cleaning company I hired showed up right as we were loading up to leave.  Hiring someone to clean my house to get it ready to sell was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  It was one less thing I had to worry about and to get it sparkling clean, enough to sell for top dollar, would have taken us hours and hours (it ended up taking 4 or 5 professionals hours and hours and hours).

Ben snapped one last picture of our house, with me on the from porch.

Ben took a few of the kids in the truck and the rest with me in the van.  I took this pic on my phone as we pulled out onto the main road behind our house.  It was as if this beautiful sunset was just for us.  I was in tears before we even left our driveway.  I recorded my feelings on Instagram as this "An emotional departure as we bid farewell to the only area our family has called home.  A new adventure awaits us, but the beautiful city we love and the many wonderful friends and loved ones we leave behind will not soon be forgotten.  We left a piece of our hearts in Seattle tonight."

We arrived in Tri-Cities around 9:00 p.m. or so.  The kids were tired and so were the drivers, but we had great traveling weather and a smooth trip.  We stayed with Ben's parents, as we were homeless and supply-less.  :)

Mitch's Auburn classmates sent him home with this sweet note, saying goodbye and signed by everyone.  Chloe had something similar.  Mitch's teacher even sent him home with a new book.  All 4 of the school kids came home with all of their supplies and current projects and we had an overwhelming amount of "stuff."

Thursday, I went and registered Chloe and Mitchell for school first thing.  They told me they could start the very next day!  Our rental house was available, but the moving company wouldn't be bringing our stuff by until the next day.  We stopped by the house, as it was my first time seeing it in person.  An empty, clean house sure is a pretty sight!  It wouldn't be empty for long...

Friday, the kids started their first day of school in Pasco School District.  It was also the last Blue Friday of the year, and you better believe they had brought their Seahawk gear.  We are glad to still be in Washington State and rooting for our home team!

In front of their new school.  These two were such troopers and so positive about starting school in a new city.  They have done amazingly well and we are so proud of them.

Ben's parents watched the little girls all day while Ben and I hung out at the new house.  It was moving day- AGAIN!

The movers showed up around 9:00 a.m.

98% of our possessions, inside that truck.

My job was to do inventory.  Every single item or box had a number on it and as the movers brought it into the house or garage, they would yell off the number and I would find it on one of these 14 papers and mark it off. 

Ben's job was to direct them to where to put stuff and he maned the garage to neatly stack and organize everything.  We knew that we wouldn't be unpacking a great deal of our stuff until we moved into a permanent house, but still wanted it all accessible and neatly organized so we could still get around out there.  He did a great job.

I could barely watch as they brought in my piano!

Our backyard has a fun fire pit

And the best thing of all- a play structure!  We have never had our own play structure and the kids were beyond ecstatic about it.  The thrill still hasn't worn off, even 2.5 months later.  The first few weeks, the kids would sneak outside any spare minute they had, including before school and as soon as they got home from school.  We love this rental!

Livy (and the twins) had a fabulous day with Nana and Papa and I don't think even missed us at all.

By the end of the day, my house looked like this in every room- boxes stacked everywhere!!

My poor, poor kitchen was beyond messy.  I HATE a cluttered kitchen, so it nearly drove me crazy.

We left behind clear, sunny skies and 50 degree weather in Seattle and were welcomed with clouds, rain and 30 degree weather.  

Our first Sunday there was Superbowl Sunday with our Hawks playing the Patriots.  We were so excited to watch the game (although kind of sad not to be in Seattle during this back-to-back Superbowl appearance year).  Just watching the game on TV in the Seattle area is so fun.  Most people here are big fans too, but we were sad to miss out back home.  The Seahawks lost, but it was a great game and we are still green and blue strong!

The next week, the kitchen was my top priority in organizing.  Whew- I could finally sleep at night!

Livy was my big helper in unpacking the next week.  She found all sorts of things to climb into and tear apart.

It was all fun and games until she got her leg stuck in the banister.

After just a week or so, we had made a huge dent in unpacking.  All of the main stuff was unpacked and we had gone through practically everything we owned, deciding what should be unpacked and what should stay boxed up.  I threw lots of stuff away and we made many large boxes full of stuff to take to Goodwill.  Over the next few weeks, at a slower rate, we finished up all the organizing and unpacking.  I am glad to be done unpacking and have been enjoying a few months of calm and peace.  Ben's parents and siblings were fabulous with helping us.  People watched kids whenever we needed it, his mom and sister helped me unpack multiple times and his two other sisters brought over dinner on 2 consecutive nights right after we moved in.  We have the best family!