Cross Country Road Trip 2016: The Man Show

cross country road trip

This beautiful lone cypress (a trademark of Carmel/Monterey area) painting was a thank you gift to Alan for being a basketball and baseball and tee-ball coach. It was painted by a grandfather of boys on those teams. This artist was at almost every single game. Thank you so much, sweet friends!!

It’s purely a man show this time, y’all. Last time it was just Alan and me. This time it’s Alan, Joshua, and Caleb.They are crossing the country mostly on I-40 riding in a full cab pick-up truck with a camper-cover. Is that what you call those things? I don’t know.  It’s a truck with a hut built on it to keep your luggage dry.

If you follow Alan on Facebook, then I have no news for you because Alan used up his text message plan and I took these pics from Facebook. Don’t you think it’s time for him to upgrade to unlimited texts?

Day 1, Friday:

Morning–hung out with friends and cleared out of old house. This military housing office was very easy to work with. Highly recommend!

Afternoon–Drove to Las Vegas

Evening–stayed at Treasure Island Resort

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breakfast in Vegas with friends

Day 2, Saturday:

Morning–Hung out with the same friends they hung out with on Friday. If you’ve been to our house in California this past year, then I’m sure you met Tom and Amy and family. We love these people.

Afternoon–Drove to the Grand Canyon, North Rim (because we saw the South Rim last time)

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dinner at sunset, overlooking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Evening–Go to bed early because boys are desperately sleep deprived after having so much fun with their friends and 2 sleepovers prior to the trip. (See, Alan could have made them sleep in the truck, but he is kind.)

Caleb has tried over and over again to get out of this road trip. He begged to fly with me and JD, but we insisted. There is no experience like seeing the American Southwest for yourself. We wanted him to experience seeing America, appreciate the great distances, and see the Grand Canyon.

I think it’s going quite well.

Last night Alan said this in an email:

And, April, please know that we actually are having fun. I may point out a bad thing or two that’s happened but it’s mostly “really cool”, “really awesome road trip”, “thanks, Dad”, …with an occasional “No, I meant, you and Josh fly with me to Georgia and then come back and get the truck!?!” Yea, he asked for that during a lull today…BUT, it’s not much at all of the trip.

Future Plans:

Last night Alan said, “We’re staying the night in Jacob Lake, AZ and tomorrow is 4 corners, Anasazi Cliff Dwellers in Mesa Verde and then…who knows!”

I’m so excited that they get to see the Anasazi Villages!!  That one was mine and Caleb’s request!!  Remember, I’m only not there because my hip went rogue this year and won’t let me sit for long periods. I am the kind of person that would LOVE to be on a cross-country road trip. In fact, I went last time, and I blogged about it.

Have you seen the Anasazi Villages? We learned about them in the Classical Conversations curriculum this year. We even memorized this song:

“The Anasazi of the Southwestern United Stated built adobe villages on the sides of the cliffs from 500 BC to 1200 AD.”

Want to see what they look like? Here’s a short YouTube video:

When I talked to them on the phone a few minutes ago, they’d already left Four Corners. Apparently, the line was an hour and a half long, so they just took photos and left. We are not line people. I also skipped the Liberty Bell a few years ago because eh, history is interesting and all, but waiting in line? How many things are really worth that?

Meanwhile, Dan, JD, and I are relaxing at my parents’ temporary house. Tomorrow I’m going to go polish my floors.

Wait. Did I say “my floors”?? That’s right! We take occupancy tomorrow!  We don’t have furniture until at least next weekend, but I’m just pleased as punch to not have to put my stuff in storage or live homeless like I did last time we moved!!

Yep. We are happy, happy, happy!

Want to read more Road Trip posts? See this list from last time!

Cross Country Road Trip: Days 2 &3

Alabamahttp://storiesofourboys.com/2014/06/20/road-trip-jd-turns-1/
Tuscaloosa:
http://storiesofourboys.com/2014/06/21/thoughts-from-the-road-trip/

Southwest:
http://storiesofourboys.com/2014/06/23/we-dont-want-to-eat-the-bread-we-just-want-to-collect-the-bread/

 

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The boys with their friends, their last day in California

The boys with their friends, their last day in California

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The 9th Move: Empty Houses, “Bees”, and Good-byes

 

Sweet Home Alabama

Sweet Home Alabama

I know you are probably expecting an update on the cross-country move. Well, all I can tell you is that:

my pretty new kitchen

my pretty new kitchen

1.) We are still negotiating repairs on our new house, which may end up delaying our move-in date. So so sad!! I’m choosing to hope for the best. Moving in July 1st or bust!!!

2.) JD and Dan are having trouble adjusting to the “bees”, and by bees, they mean GNATS.

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He’s happy for a few moments, until the gnats start in on his sweaty face again.

and 3.) The big boys spent their last day in California playing with neighborhood friends and skateboarding while the movers are loading our truck. Caleb even got to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Monterey Aquarium with one of his best buds. (Thank you, Joy!!!)

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Caleb and our sweet friends

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Each time I looked down this street of mostly empty houses, the homes of my friends who all moved out a week before I did, I would feel that sad longing to live a regular life, where people only move occasionally, where you grow old with the same group of people.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say good-bye less often?

But that’s not our life. In our world, you don’t watch your kids grow up together. You spend a few years with each new friend, and then it’s on to the next town. And who knows what awaits us all there? We have only to trust God with our future because most of it is out of our control anyway.

Move-out week was hectic, but it ends suddenly, and before you know it, you are on new ground.

As I entered the health clinic of our new duty station, I found my way to the Tricare office. And I couldn’t help but think about how time has changed us. When we started this journey of military service, we were in our early 20s. Alan had finished his training and was ready to take on his first true duty assignment.

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a very young us

At each new post, you have to go enroll in Tricare and have them assign you a doctor. Way back when we began, in a Texas installation, we stumbled in with clueless bravery and happiness. We were both timid and excited. It was all such an adventure. Well, Alan was the brave hard-charger. I was the timid one, probably asking to wait in the car.

But on this Tuesday, many moons later, I no longer feel timid. I called first. Why bother walking in there if the clinic doesn’t even have a Tricare office, I figured. I went without my husband, because I no longer need him to accompany me. Each post does things slightly differently though, so I had to figure this new one out. And when you do that, you have to inevitably provide a little background. Who are you? What do you need? Where are you coming from?

As it turns out, you now enroll on the phone, so that’s what I did. That’s new. But in the meantime, I asked the girl in the insurance office about the local system for health care. How are the doctors? Where’s the family clinic? Do you outsource for cardiology and pediatric neurology? I got my questions answered, and somehow it came up that I’ve moved 9 times already.

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the 9th move

9 times. And suddenly I felt a bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway. You remember when he finally returns to civilization, after being stranded on that island for so many years? And they ask him questions, and it’s just like….where do you even begin to explain?

How do I explain? And people have begun to ask me how close we are to retiring from the military. Huh. How can this be? Where did the time go?

I can’t say that I do still feel like that 22-year-old girl, standing by the bus, hugging my soldier as he shipped out to Iraq because I don’t feel at all the same. I’m not the same. Alan is not the same. We are older, wiser, loaded down with children, far less emotional, and less extreme on all accounts. We are both hardened and softened, and we are nowhere near finished.

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the first time I welcomed Alan home, 12 years ago

However, I am still just as ready to meet whatever comes our way as I was fourteen years ago.

Here’s to all the adventurers, the nomads, and the wanderers. May we always be learning, always seeking, and never shy away from the call of the ocean, or the Lord, or whatever calling it is that we follow on our path.

As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord. The government only thinks they call the shots. But it was never so plain who truly directs our steps as it was the day that I sat in a doctor’s office, anxiously awaiting a doctor who had just explained to me that I needed medicine for my high blood pressure and racing heart. Stress was killing me. Right then, while the PA got my prescriptions signed off on by the doctor, I got a text from Alan.

That text said that Alan’s next job was taking us home!!!  Just when I needed that news most! I could see God’s fingerprints so clearly. We had not even asked for a respite from our wandering, and yet we’ve been given two years at home. This happened once before. I never dreamed it would happen again. That morning, I felt the essence of soaring on the wings of eagles.

…30Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not grow tired, They will walk and not become weary.   Isaiah 40:31

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Daniel’s tee-ball team, coached by Alan, taking it in for one last huddle

Today Alan, Joshua, and Caleb say their good-byes. Dan, JD, and I await them down South. Good-bye sweet California friends. Thank you for being there for us through the hardest job I’ve ever had. Thank you for loving us when we needed it so badly.

 

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Bring on the next adventure!

 

Let the Summer Shenanigans Begin! (With a Sneak Peek at Our New House)

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Let the Shenanigans begin

Dan and his best friend, Carter

There’s a word we hear a lot around here: “best friend.”

JD says that Daniel is his best friend. That is mostly because I drill that into all of my children’s heads from the moment they are born.

“Oh, look, he is being so sweet to you. He is your best friend.”

“Your brother will always be your best friend.”

Positive reinforcement style of brain washing is a good thing to do. Trust me.

JD often asks, “Where my best fwiend?”

And now that Daniel has been gone for over a week, poor little JD has started to look elsewhere for a new “best friend.” There aren’t many other small folk around lately. The person he sees most is me, but I’m his mom, so I don’t count. So he has found our neighbor Mr. Tom. After all, Mr. Tom always talks to him and jokes with him. He’s the natural choice.

We were headed out to dinner the other night, and JD asked, “Is Mr. Tom going to be there? He’s my other best fwiend.”

Not to worry. Mr. Tom was there. You know we are too lazy to make friends with people who do not live next door to us. Hanging out with neighbors just makes good sense. Thankfully, our neighbors happen to be awesome people.

moving shenanigans

Remember Emma?

Since Emma’s husband is out of state for military training, I got to go up and stand with Emma and Matthias for the baby dedication. Don’t you think I look a lot like Richard?? Okay, well, maybe not, but I was there for support anyway.

We got to see Emma this past weekend. That’s right. She is back from Malaysia. Her parents are traveling with her now, and they are all doing just swell. It was so fun to visit with them again!

Moving Shenanigans

This is our current Chief of Shenanigans

Sometimes, when I go to bed, I find surprises on my pillow. I don’t know why he doesn’t call me his best friend. Clearly, I am it. But he has informed me that Daddy is my best friend, and that sounds correct.

Moving Shenanigans

Daniel, at his class bike-a-thon

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He likes to make faces for the photos.

He’s been at camp for a week, and the camp is always posting photos of the kids at camp, and they never ever never never post more than the back of Caleb’s head. Maybe this is why.

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Daniel and his “favyite giryull in my cwass.”

Moving Shenanigans

Joshua’s team’s last huddle. Caleb occasionally got to play with this older league as well, as sometimes they were short players.

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Joshua and his coach

Okay now this next one truly is shenanigans. There’s really no other word for it. We put the little kids in our pitiful little backyard while the adults stood around and talked outside the fence. When Alan went in to check on the kids. He found this:

Moving Shenanigans

Yes, that’s JD. Those are his shorts on his head.

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Yep.

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Alan took Joshua and Caleb to work with him one day to tour the robotics department.

Moving Shenanigans

Aqua robots

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My boys actually went to a graduate course with Alan and sat and listened to Alan’s classmates make their thesis presentations.

Believe it or not, Alan said they were perfect gentlemen.

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Caleb enjoyed going to class with his dad so much, he asked to go again the next week. Joshua looked a little…..less…interested.

I know. Alan is the man. He also took ALL FOUR boys on a bike ride by the bay:

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And another week he took the oldest three to a minor league baseball game, the San Jose Giants.

 

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Then Alan and Daniel headed down South for the funeral.

Summer Shenanigans

I think he was pretty happy to take a trip with Dad.

Summer Shenanigans

Super excited about all the ice cream

Summer Shenanigans

But eventually even Daniel hit his limit.

And now I’ve saved my favorite part for last. Here’s a little preview of the new house I’m so excited about! We are downsizing by around 300 square feet, which also means going from 5 bedrooms to 3, buuuuuuuuuuut that’s okay because everything else about this place is fabulousness! Hard floors! Big backyard! Closer to family! Big living room! Nice kitchen! And the outside is pretty too. Okay. Remember our old backyard looked like this:

Summer Shenanigans

See how tiny?

And this is our new backyard:

Summer Shenanigans

just a little peek into the backyard

Summer Shenanigans

More backyard! Covered patio! Nice slip and slide hill…Just so long as they don’t um…slide right into the house…

And the front!!!

Summer Shenanigans

Ah. So pretty. And notice the front yard crepe myrtle tree by the driveway. Love those.  OH!!  And look. Green grass.

So we have the ball rolling on buying this new house. Meanwhile, we’re cleaning up and packing out of this beloved old house. It’s just been the three of us this week, Alan, JD, and me. The other night we ate out on the wharf, and there was an otter that hung out by our window, eating and diving, and eating and diving. It was heavenly.

Alan has let JD tag along with him on his many, many errands:

Summer Shenanigans

Is that JD playing with some sort of missile??? i have no idea, really.

Summer Shenanigans

Bye-bye, big California trees! (That was a Band-aid on his chin.There was a nasty fall on some concrete steps.)

And Friday, Alan graduated. He now officially has a master’s degree in Systems Engineering. We’re proud of you, honey. Now, let the shenanigans begin. Well, as you can see, they sort of already have.

summer shenanigans

JD said, “I was sad in that picture. I wanted to go eat cake.”

12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.  Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

 

 

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What I Learned from Our Time in Monterey

9th move

The boys will miss the California drought side-yard of this house.

There are 3 things everyone should do the week they are moving:

  1. Throw away as much junk as possible.
  2. Sell and giveaway as much junk as possible.
  3. Cry and hug people.

So that’s what we’ve been doing.

We’re officially under contract on a house I’m excited about too. Wahooo!!!  It has ZERO carpet in the living and dining areas. The master bathtub is gigantic, and so is the fenced backyard, so let me tell ya. I am happy.

Am I sad to leave? Nope! There ARE lots of people I loved here, and I will miss you all. I’ve been feeling melancholy about that for sure. I LOVED my friends at CC and my neighbors and our sweet, sweet church family. I will miss all of you.

The thing is that I will unfortunately always associate Monterey with 2 things:

What I Learned from Monterey

1. Homeschooling and how I felt like such a failure at it

and

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2. The ocean and the delightful whales, otters, and seals that I loved so much

Well, okay, also #3…

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3. My little health crisis (psoriatic arthritis-ugh!), which was mostly due to the stress of #1 and not visiting #2 as much as I should have.

There are so many if-onlys. But the positive is that we persevered. The past cannot be changed, but the future certainly can.

And so that is my best take-away from this little detour we called grad school:

Do not neglect fun. Do what you enjoy.

Having fun is far more important than I ever realized. The life that I am setting up for myself at our new house will look much different than what I was doing here.

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Don’t I look goofy celebrating over the end of home-school? Let’s never speak of this teaching and trying to do too many things at once experiment again. I am not a teacher.

Next year the boys are going to go to school, where they will be taught by people who (hopefully) enjoy teaching. Our house will be so close to Dan and Caleb’s school that we can walk there. And I am going to make more time for being out in nature with the boys because that is what I love to do. I will also have more time to write because that is my calling.

God created this big, beautiful world. It is a healing thing to take time to enjoy it. Our creator also bestowed us each with different gifts and talents, perspectives, and leanings. He does not wish for us to be idle, but he doesn’t want us to spend all our time fulfilling other people’s callings. We each have our own calling. We all have work we are capable of enjoying.

We are most happy when we are doing what we enjoy and teaching our children to do the same.

But we should not work ALL the time. I’ve always been good about taking vacations, but the past two years it was very rare for me to do anything fun DURING the week. I was not a “fun mom.” I was so busy trying to wear all my hats. I forgot the importance of ever just having fun.

That was a mistake. From now on, I am making more time for fun, even begging, borrowing, and stealing time for fun. This summer you won’t see posts on lesson planning or self-improvement. You are going to see posts on Disney World, baking, getting my Southern accent back, and shenanigans, shenanigans, shenanigans.

And as for those people who may be disappointed in me for not home-schooling anymore? Oh well. I only hope that they know that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and our family needs to skin our cat in a way that doesn’t make me feel like poking my own eye-balls out.

All I know is it’s time for our family to start having a little more fun again. Wait. That’s not quite right. The boys have been having fun all along.

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It’s time for me to start having fun again.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5

 

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Daniel at Caleb’s last baseball game

 

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While I was learning to lighten up, the boys were learning the value of hard work. Those are hard-earned medals and trophies, not at all like the participation sports medals. All three boys received book awards, for finishing their entire books, a big accomplishment. Joshua even earned TNT Clubber of the Year! So proud!

 

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift.   1 Timothy 4:13-14

From now on I’m going to focus more on the gifts I do possess and forget about the ones I’m lacking. Those things will be stealing my joy no longer.

Let’s all have a little more fun!!

 

Be still and know that I am God

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

 

 

 

 

 

Logan

This song has been on my mind all day: YouTubevideo

But if you’ve already been crying all day, just skip the video. Don’t listen to it.

 

But this week has been bigger than it was supposed to be.

I was already carrying new things in my mind. Joshua and Caleb are going to camp without me for a week. (I can’t explain it, but I’m so nervous!) We sold our minivan. For the life of us, we can’t figure out where to live next, but they came and did my pre-move-out inspection yesterday.

The wheels are in motion. And then we got this terrible news.

Our family is in mourning. Heart-breaking. This is heart breaking.

Logan

Logan is Alan’s cousin. She died in a car accident, just short of her 18th birthday.

The world lost one of our best. When I came into the family, Logan was a beautiful 5-year-old. She was always adorable, and she was so sweet to our babies. This was a Southern Belle. She had it all: the sass, the beauty, heart of gold, quick wit, and a daring spirit.

Her obituary said this:

Kelli-Logan was a lover of life with a contagious smile on her face. She was adventurous and was an avid hunter and fisherman. Although she loved all things outdoors, she also enjoyed dressing up, doing hair and make-up, and listening to country music.

But mostly I’m thinking about her parents, Ken and Sadie, and her siblings Cale and Megan, Jeannie, Ken and Sheri, and Ashton and Paige, and all of Logan’s friends and family members. I don’t know how you manage a grief this deep.

This is the sort of thing that makes you want to pound the ground and beg God to un-do it.

Yet all we can do is stand with them in mourning. No amount of being sorry or praying will bring Logan back.

The other night, Joshua prayed for Logan’s parents to be able to get over this loss. Alan gently explained to Joshua that they can’t really ever ‘get over’ something like this. And poor Joshua, he said what we all must be thinking, “I know. I just didn’t know how to say it.” My children are maturing so quickly. I hugged him so tightly.

But God knew what he meant. We all know what he meant. None of us know what to say. There’s nothing we can say.

Alan and Daniel are on their way to the visitation and funeral now. Alan hasn’t seen this side of his family in three years. I wish we could all be there.

You are greatly missed, Kelli Logan. Thank you for winning our hearts as long as you did.

The family, gathered for Granny’s funeral, many years ago. Logan was the little girl in front, far right.

 

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Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.

Isaiah 57:1 New Living Translation

Life, According to Daniel

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He keeps us smilin’.

There are 7 kids in my living room right now, watching Zootopia. And JD’s asleep upstairs, so only 3 of those kids are mine. (But man, did JD NEED a nap. He was crying over every little thing. Note to adults: when you’re crying over everything, and the sky is falling, go take a nap!)

They are watching Zootopia. It sounds hilarious.

It’s officially summer. Listen to the snack I gave them: a plate full of corn on the cob, buttered and salted. Those are some happy kids going to town on corn and watching Zootopia.

I’m feeling successful. We still haven’t decided where to live next, but hey! I washed my hair this morning. Sounds like success to me.

 

 

Daniel has developed a photography interest lately. He borrowed our camera and took some pictures…

Life according to a 5-year-old

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I promise I had been cooking, not drinking. It’s hard not to blink at that flash.

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JD, doing what he does best, taking off his shoes.

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Do you see my sidekick?

Someone asked me, after my last post, “Don’t  you have to check on JD, not just Daniel?”

The answer is no. Rarely. JD is literally always 1 inch away from me. It seems like always. Occasionally, he does play in the sandbox.

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Yes, sometimes I sit down and answer messages and try to read. It’s not successful, and sometimes people get aggravated with me for not answering my phone or messages in a timely manner. I have one go-to excuse…4 children. Seriously.

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I didn’t get much reading done here. I ended up staying up until 2 or 3 am one night to finally finish this book. It was worth it.

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Everyone says I raise my eyebrows too much. “Mom, please don’t do the eyebrows.”

Even Alan says, “I’ll tell you, but just, please promise me you won’t do the eyebrows.”

 

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Maybe this one was taken by Caleb. I didn’t think Dan was this much taller than J.D.

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Daniel is so excited about this move and about going to kindergarten. Every once in a while, though, he confesses, “I just don’t want my fwiends to move away and nevwer see my fwiends.”

Auck! It makes me so sad for him. I’ve grown hard to all the moving and leaving. In fact, I get so caught up in the details of the move that I totally forget to say good-bye to people. I forget to be sensitive to other people’s feelings too. I don’t mean to be cold or anything. I simply go through the motions of the move, never stopping to think about when will be the last time I see our friends.

But the boys are young. They feel these things. They don’t have Facebook to use to keep in touch either. It’s important to remember and be sensitive.

Thankfully, Daniel is super-duper excited about kindergarten and the prospect of having a great, big backyard at our new house. Sometimes he sees me looking at houses online, and he always asks two questions:

  1. Is it close to my kindergarten?
  2. Does it have a big backyard for my dog?

No, he doesn’t actually have a dog, but they all have great plans to get one at their new house. They’ve even named him. Steve.

I have made it known, repeatedly, that this dog, IF we get one, will not be mine. I don’t like dogs (I know. I’m a horrible person), but mostly I don’t plan on cleaning up its poop. I’ve been changing diapers for 10 years. A line must be drawn somewhere.

I know what you’re all thinking. You think we will get a dog, and I will end up taking care of it. I desperately hope you’re wrong.

Only 13 more days until John David and I fly South!!!  Eeeeeeeee!!!!! So excited!!

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