Virginia wrap up

Virginia was good to us.  I remember we were just starting to discuss home buying options when we found out the Mr.'s work was relocating us.  It was a huge shock and we were really pretty bummed about it for several months.   We had finally starting feeling at home and had to get used to the idea of being uprooted once again.   We were especially heartbroken for the kids because it meant we had to drag them away from friends for the second time.  We waited a long time before we told them.  In fact, we didn't tell anyone for a whole year.  Not even our parents.  Because right up until about 3 months before the move, we had no idea where we were going.

Ok, so enough about that.......

Did I say that Virginia was good to us?  It was.  Just before we left, the Mr. and I made a mental list of all the fun things we had been able to do while we were there.  We made a lot of good memories, visited a lot of historic sites and enjoyed the outdoors often.  And for the first time, we lived somewhere where the deer sightings were common and the seasons were amazing.  I think I'll miss the seasons most.  So I am obviously a little sad when people tell us some seasons in this part of Texas don't really exist.  But I am sure we'll love it here anyway.

Our last month there was packed full of birthdays, packing, saying good-byes, and tying up loose ends. We quietly celebrated the Mr.'s 40th birthday and Tatum's 10th birthday in June.  The Mr. & I squeezed in an afternoon date of bowling and frozen yogurt for our 17th anniversary, too.  I was so stressed with the move and the end of school year activities that birthday planning  and big anniversary plans were put on the back burner.  I'm pretty sure that puts me first on the Bad Mom & Wife of the Year list, but I'm over it.  There's always next year, right?

The Mr. and I also managed to free up a Saturday during all the craziness to go to the Washington, DC Temple.  It was the only place we wanted to go to just one last time.  I had been feeling unsettled about the move and knew I needed to be in the temple to feel peace.  I felt it almost as soon as we were inside.  I love it when that happens.

I bought a cheap grill at Target & we spent the very last bits of our Virginia summer roasting marshmallows and stuffing our faces with yummy s'mores.

So thank you Virginia, for showing us a good time.  A little piece of our hearts will always be with you.


visiting the Virginia State Capitol

Summer is almost over for us and A LOT has happened to our little family (which I will blog about soon).  I was thinking about all the fun things the kids have been able to do this past school year and realized I never blogged about Noah's field trip to the state capitol building earlier this year ("this year" meaning "the school year".  Because my life's calendar is based on the school calendar year, not a traditional calendar.  After almost 16 years of being a mother, my mind has turned to mush and I can't think in terms of both.)

The Mr. & I tagged along with Noah's class, who ended up with an amazing tour guide.  He was entertaining and so full of knowledge.  We took our time in each room (just wee bit longer than his 1st grade class) and another worker pointed out tidbits of knowledge about the building and its history.

Fun facts for you (name that movie).......
1.  The Richmond State Capitol Building is the oldest government building in United States.
2.  The large pillars on the outside of the building were originally supported by large evergreen trees (pine trees, I think).  The trees are inside the pillars, providing support when they were built.  I'm pretty sure they are still there.
3.  There is a full size statue of George Washington in the original lobby (the building has since been added on to).  It is the only full size statue of him ever made and the only one that he posed for.  It's grand and amazing and kind of inspiring.

I am in love with the architecture you can find in Richmond. There are so many lovely buildings. The State Capitol building has such great stories to go along with it. It was somewhat of an honor to be in a building that helped shape our modern government and is still used today.


Metro Richmond Zoo

At the end of a short Spring Break week, we piled into the van and headed to the Metro Richmond Zoo.  It had been recommended to us by a few friends as a great place take the kids.  We put it on our list of places to go before we move to Texas.  The Mr. took the day off and we headed in the direction of the zoo after running some errands that morning.  We treated the kids to lunch at Panda Express on the way.  We're kind of in love with their orange chicken and it had been ages since our last Panda fix.  It was so worth the stop.  My mouth is starting to water just thinking about it....

The zoo itself is small enough that we made it through the whole thing in four hours.   I like small zoos.  By the time we arrive, the kids are pumped to be there.  By the time hour four rolls around, they are all done and ready to go home.  Our time there included a couple trips to the bathroom (there are only two) and really taking our time to enjoy each animal exhibit.  We paid a couple extra bucks for two cups of  animal feed.  There are several animals around the zoo to feed so we started with the giraffes (while Tatum and I took a bathroom break) and fed a little to the goats and camels toward the end of the day.  A little girl in front of us did a pretty spectacular face plant on the pavement just after we had entered the park.  Her cup of animal feed went flying everywhere.  Poor thing.  I had Hailey give the little girl her cup of animal feed while her mom was checking her knees for scrapes.  The cups were large and had plenty of feed for all four of our kids to give the animals, so we really just needed one anyway.  Hand sanitation stations speckle the park - just enough to keep the kid's hands clean.  I'm pretty sure they were sick of me telling them not to touch their faces until we found another sanitizer station.  I'm kind of a germ cop with my kids when we're in public.

We spent a good deal of time in the bird exhibit.  For a dollar, you can buy a popsicle stick with sticky bird feed on one end.  If you are patient enough, eventually a bird will cautiously land on your stick and peck at the feed.  We had to stay in the exhibit until each of the kids had a bird land on their stick.  One mama bird was super protective of one of the birdhouses.  I'm guessing her eggs inside were not yet hatched and she was just doing what any mama would do - protecting her young.

The penguin exhibit was my favorite.  I crouched down as one of them was waddling by.  It stopped and we had a little staring contest.  It's like it knew that I wanted to reach through the fencing and touch it.  But soaking in our little 20 second encounter would have to suffice.  And then a worker opened a door and a little herd of penguins waddled out to the pool's edge.  My heart skipped a beat.  Seriously.  I love penguins.  Like a lot.  You know how Kristen Bell loves sloths?  That's pretty much me with penguins.

It was fun to mark off another fun outing off our list of things to do in Virginia.  It's a cute zoo with a good variety of animals.  It was a huge plus that we could feed the animals too, allowing us more interaction with them than other zoos we've been to.


Easter in a flash

So I only have one picture to post because that is all I managed to take over the Easter holiday weekend.  It's been months since I've used my big boy camera and I've missed it.  Easter was the perfect way to end the kid's spring break from school.  It's late in the school year and it was a desperately needed time away from our hectic routine.

We got dressed up fancy for church.  I bought a new top (and wore it backwards because I liked how it looked under my sweater better & no one even knew!).  The girls got new dresses and the boys looked pretty handsome in their suits.  I spoke in Sacrament Meeting and the Mr. sang my very favorite Easter song "Consider the Lilies".  I've loved that song since I was a little girl, when my grandma was the choir director in our ward in Pittsburgh and had them sing it every year.  Maybe I love it because it is a memory that is attached to Grandma.  I love anything that reminds me of her.  Anyhoo.....I also had to teach the Sharing Time lesson in Primary and Tatum gave a short talk too.  I really felt the Spirit throughout the day

I was completely exhausted from our adventures during the week and just wanted to collapse on the couch and take a nap right after church.  Instead, I talked everyone into heading right into the backyard so I could take a family picture.  And then I collapsed.

I hope this Easter was good to you & your loved ones.


life as of late

To say that life has been busy the last three months would be an understatement.  It's been so much more than that.  And at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is sit down and blog.  I'd much rather sip a cup of hot chocolate and go to bed - not edit pictures and type up coherent sentences to go with them.

The Mr. & Carter are on a boy scout campout tonight.  The other kiddos are all asleep.  This is the first little bit of time I've had to myself in such a long time.  It's the perfect time to jot down thoughts about the last couple of months and all of our little adventures and accomplishments.

Birthdays were celebrated for the boys in January and February.  A little piece of my heart breaks as my children get older.  Like many mothers, I wish they could stay young forever.  But I know that growing up is what we must all do.  I'm watching my boys grow into young men and I hope they hold on to their childhood as long as they possibly can.

Carter, who celebrated his 12th birthday in February, was ordained a deacon the Sunday after his birthday.  (In my church, boys receive the priesthood at age 12.)  Nana flew in from Arizona to celebrate this special day with us.  I could hardly keep the tears from flowing as Mike offered the blessing.  My heart is full.

January and February also brought a lot of snow.  The kids spent a lot of days at home.  The flu was passed from Tatum to Noah to Carter over a two week period.  We watched a lot of movies and played in the snow once the fevers were gone.   The snow was a kind reminder that I need to slow down.  I am learning that I can only do so much.  I am learning my what my limits are.

For the last year, I have been working hard to get a cub scout pack established and running in my ward (church).  Somehow, being the Cubmaster fell into my lap.   We have a small group of boys that keep me on my toes and leaders that are willing to do whatever I ask of them.   Shortly after we started up, it was Pinewood Derby time.  The Mr. & I sanded and repaired a 30 year old track that worked just enough to run a successful derby.  Just one month later, we held a circus themed Blue & Gold Banquet.    It was another successful event.  It felt so rewarding to get our scout program off to a good start.  But my mind has turned into mush.  I'm still serving as the 1st Counselor in Primary (for children ages 18 months to 11 years) and have had to keep up with those responsibilities too.  To say I've been working my butt off would be an understatement.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I am learning that sometimes I have to stop and take just a little time for myself.  It's tough to balance both of my callings and my home life too.  I try to keep up with chores but the piles of laundry and dishes never end.  I won't lie and say that the last few months have been easy.  They have not been.  But my heart is full and I see the blessings Heavenly Father is pouring out on my family.  We are happy.  We are healthy.  We have everything we need.  We have each other.  That makes all the hard work worth it.

Somewhere among all the hard work, we managed to sneak in a lot of family walks when the weather was warm.  We are trying to make small changes in our health habits and are working toward a healthier lifestyle.  We have learned that Noah should never ride a scooter when we go on family walks.  He rides all over the place and has had several near misses with parked cars.  He's dangerous stuff.  Oh, & the Mr. managed to plan a sweet little Valentine's dinner sans kiddos.  It was a perfect date.  I'm so in love with him.



We told our parents.

We told our kids.

And everyone at church knows too.

So I can finally share a little secret we've been keeping for just under a year now.....

We are moving!  Yep, you read that right.  Moving.  Again.

Honestly, this came out of the blue.  We had been making plans to buy a home here in Virginia and stay for the rest of our days.  Or at least stay here until all of our kids were grown and done with high school.  And then we talked of retiring in Arizona (because we left a large part of our hearts there and would love to go back).  

But that is not the plan Heavenly Father has for us. 

The Mr. was driving home from work one day in April of last year.  He called me at home, which he never does unless something is up.  Something important.  He told me I should sit down.  That work was shutting down several offices across the country and relocating all the employees to 13 offices HUD was keeping open.  

Really HUD?  REALLY???!!!

Several months later, the Mr. called me again.  He had instructions regarding our relocation.  We had to submit a HUD office that we wanted to relocate to.  A lot of prayer and fasting was involved.  We had just 2 weeks to make our decision.  So we submitted our choices.  And one of them had to be the Mr.'s assigned hub office in Manhattan, New York.  We were certain that is where we would be assigned even though it was our fourth location on our submission list.  We were looking at homes online in Pennsylvania and New Jersey because we most certainly could not afford a home in New York.  We waited for months to find out where HUD had decided to relocate us to.

And then the Mr. called me from work.

HUD decided to wipe the slate clean.  They decided to keep 3 more offices open and we were no longer required to submit our assigned hub office in New York as one of our relocation choices.  

I was frustrated.  We had start all over.  More research online.  More praying.  More fasting.

We submitted our new choices and waited.  Waited.  Waited.  

And then one day about two weeks ago, Mike called me.  Again.  Only this time it was good news!

The hub director from the Forth Worth, Texas called him earlier that day to welcome to the office and was excited to meet him.  Fort Worth was our first choice.  We were so excited!

So for the second time in 2.5 years, we are going to live in a state where we don't know a single sole.  We are not familiar with the state in general.   We are starting from scratch and it's kind of exciting.  We'll be just a full days drive from from both our families.   We've had no official word yet, but word is we should be out there some time in June or July.

Moving to Virginia has been a pitstop full of blessings.  We've grown so close as a family since we've been here.  We love our ward (church) and have made good friends here.  We chose to move to Virginia.  When the Mr. applied for his job with HUD, my heart just knew that he would get it.  I knew without a doubt that we were supposed to move to Virginia.  We had to move here.  It took a lot of faith to believe that we belong in Texas.  I didn't feel the same way about Texas that I did about Virginia.   Until church one Sunday, weeks before we knew where we'd be moving to, we sang "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go" in Sacrament Meeting.  I could barely get through the song.  My eyes were wet with tears and I had a strong feeling in my heart that the Lord was going to send us where we are needed.  That's when I knew it didn't matter where we went.  All that mattered was that I knew that He trusted us enough to go and do His work.   I've felt at peace ever since.

So here's to Texas, ya'll!

Do you live in the Fort Worth area?  What fun places should we check out?


Science Museum of Virginia

After rummaging through old photos on my computer late last week, I realized I never shared a little day trip we took last fall to the Science Museum of Virginia.  The kids had a day off of school and so we made plans for the Mr. to take the day off work too and we took the kids to explore a new fun spot in Richmond.

I fell in love with the museum as soon as we drove up.  The building was once a train station and there are hints of that vintage era everywhere.  I imagine it was quite the busy station, with well dressed travelers passing through its halls to go to New York or other such places.  I appreciate that the history of the building is incorporated into the design of the Museum.

The Museum was a perfect place to spend the day.  The exhibits were interesting enough to keep our seven year old occupied (he is now 7) and fun enough to keep the Mr. & I interested too.  Most of the exhibits are hands-on, which is great for my kids who want to touch everything when we go to places like this.  We enjoyed a few demonstrations too.  I just love it when grown ups are excited and borderline nerdy about science because it rubs off on my kids.

A Museum employee clued us in to the fun exhibits on the bottom floor.  We made sure to save a good chunk of time to explore it before we left.  You get a little square card when you enter that has a barcode on the back.  You can scan your card at each exhibit in the room and it keeps the results of each activity on your card.  Cards can be kept and used any time you visit the Museum.  How cool is that?!  We did yoga, made a music video, tried to balance on a rope and watched a cooking demonstration.  The bottom floor far exceeded my expectations.

If you're looking for something fun to do for the family, the Museum is a great place to explore the world of science.  I wouldn't mind going back with just the Mr., but I'm sure our kids would be jealous.