Friday, June 29, 2012

Californ-I-A

     I don't have much to report, nor do I have any pictures.  We've spent the last 2 days driving across the desert.  It was hot and barren... it felt just like home :) Sometime yesterday we crossed the border into California, but the sign wasn't really accessible or very fun.  No "Welcome to California" or any such greeting.  Just a "You are now entering California" and then a border station where they ask you if you have any fruits, vegetables, plants or animals like you're coming from a foreign country and they don't want your germs coming into their desert wasteland.  So my first impression of California wasn't great.
     However, tonight we are in Mammoth Lakes.  I wore jeans and a sweater to dinner and loved every minute of it.  It's a beautiful little ski mountain town and hopefully tomorrow we will take a gondola ride up to the top and get a better view of where we are.  After dinner tonight we took a dip in the hot tub and met a sweet couple from New Zealand who are on a 10 week holiday from what turns out to be a lenticular bookmark empire.  We spent the evening talking business and parenting.  I think we might have all been starved for a little outside interaction cause the longer we talked the closer they got to us.  By the time we said goodnight I could've easily given her a kiss.
    Tomorrow we make the final 6 hour drive through Yosemite to our new home.  I thought I would have more to add after that statement, but I don't really.  It's been a good week of vacation and I still don't think it's hit me yet that we are actually moving.  I'll let you know when it does.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Large Hole in the Ground and the Grand Canyon

Good morning,
     Turns out we were only about 15 miles from the Arizona border yesterday.  

 At our first stop we checked out the Painted Desert Visitor Center, but didn't actually go to the Painted Desert or the Petrified Forest.  Caleb said we would save that for the trip back, and Hayley said the Petrified Forest was pretty boring anyway.
  So then we headed to Meteor Crater which is a seriously large hole in the ground where a meteor hit the Earth.  Pretty amazing to see, but caused mass confusion for the kids.  Where is the rock?  Why was it on fire?  I want to see the rock, let's find it.

 Here are the kids at the bottom of the crater mural...
 After the crater we headed to the Grand Canyon.  As we got close we saw this elk out the window.  I got the camera out of the glove box, turned it on, lens cap off, window down, and picture taken in, I kid you not, less than 10 seconds.  I have mad fast elk photography skills.
 Here we are at Mater Point, I think....
 The Grand Canyon with Joe is pretty stressful.  There aren't rails for the most part, and the ones they do have he can walk under.  So we spent a lot of time saying, "not so close Joe, stop jumping, please don't swing on the rails, etc..." Caleb ended up just holding on to the back of his shirt the whole time.  If ever there was a reason to have one of those kid leashes it would be Joe at the Grand Canyon.
We spent about 3 hours walking and riding the buses (I think the kids were more excited about the bus rides) and then headed back to Flagstaff to see Mama J and Papa Tim who are spending the week in Sedona.  By the end of today we should officially be in California!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Roadtrip

Hello from Gallup, New Mexico!  
     Bright and early Monday morning, 4am to be exact, Caleb awoke with a start worried about the 18 wheeler parking on Austin St and went out to block off the street.  Sure enough, sometime between 1 and 4 someone had parked directly in front of our house.   We had talked to the driver on Sunday about how busy the street gets, so he said he planned on being there by 6:30 to beat the rush.   Starting at 6 Caleb began guarding the street in front of the neighbors house, our last vestige of hope that the truck could park somewhere.  If any of you have seen Austin St you know an 18 wheeler was gonna have trouble no matter how many parking spots we blocked off.   Anyhoo, around 8:30 they showed up, there was no way they were fitting anywhere, so Ray just parked in the middle of the street.  You could still squeeze around him on one side if you had a tiny car, but it wasn't great.  Ray was probably 70ish, long white beard, and a beer belly.  Tim and Tony were the heavy lifters.  All 3 guys were super nice, sweet to the kids, and had our whole house packed and ready to go in 3 hours.  I joked to Tim that it had taken me 3 years to get everything just where I wanted it, and 3 hours for them to completely take it apart.  Amazingly, our entire house fit into the very front of the truck where there's that little raised loft portion.  Ray was heading to Houston to pack up a house and then driving to California, making stops in Bakersfield and LA, putting him to Santa Clara no earlier than the 4th.  I was told they wouldn't deliver on the holiday, so let's call that the 5th.  Putting us in California 6 days before our belongings.  Sweet.

     We were loaded up and pulling out of the driveway about 30 minutes after the truck.  Joe looked like this about 10 minutes down the road...

     You know when kids fall asleep in the car and their neck falls over and they look super uncomfortable?  Well, we bought these pillows to help combat that, but Joe's pushes his head too far forward if you put it behind his neck, so after he falls asleep we've been putting it on this way so that it resembles a demented monkey neck brace.  Also, it gives him amazing pouty lips.
     We headed South (I know that's the wrong direction, let me get there) to Carrollton to sign papers on selling Caleb's truck and buying a Jetta that they are shipping to California for us which somehow saves on sales tax, or something.  I start hearing buzzing sounds when Caleb brings up a percentage of any kind, so the basic thing I heard was that we saved money that way.
     We headed back up 35 to our starting point and then headed west to Amarillo.  Yesterday's drive was more about getting there than anything else and we made it to our destination around 8, took baths, and fell asleep.
     Today we woke up, had some breakfast, made a Target stop so I could buy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and hit the road!

     We made it to Santa Rosa, New Mexico around noon grabbed some lunch at a Route 66 Diner (that was the name of it, but Caleb said he had eaten at another one in Vegas hence the use of the word "a" instead of "the") and then headed over to the Blue Hole.

     It's a spring fed sink hole just sitting in the middle of nowhere, so we stopped to play for a bit.  I will tell you that is not Caleb screaming in this video.  Someone highjacked the video which I think is hilarious.
video

   The overflow goes in this little creek part that was more kid friendly.  Daddy splashing the babies was not super kid friendly.



     Our last random stop of the day was at the Continental Divide.  Caleb complained that I hadn't been in a picture all day, but this is the exact reason I don't let him take pictures.  He gets you when you are talking to him and your hair is in your face so you look ridiculous.  Neither one of us knew what the Continental Divide actually was so when we read the sign we both made that, "Huh." sound.  You can't read that sign very well, but it says, "Rainfall divides at this point.  To the west it drains into the Pacific Ocean, to the east, into the Atlantic."  Huh.
   We finished out the drive to Gallup, grabbed some dinner, hit the pool and now we're watching American Ninja Warrior.  Aren't I being good about updating the blog?!?!?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dear Austin St

     Tomorrow we are officially leaving little Austin St.  On Saturday, John, the mailman, knocked on our door to give us the boxes to send our cable boxes back in.  I guess he recognized what they were, so he asked if we were getting rid of Verizon and I told him about our move to California.  He seemed genuinely sad to see us go and commented on how he hadn't seen our change of address form come through.  I realized that is not the standard mailman interaction.  I have never been able to pick my mailman out of a lineup let alone have almost daily conversations with them.  So it got me thinking about all the little quirks about Austin St that make it so dear to my heart.
     John is high on that list.  We spend a lot of time in our front yard, so we see him at least once a week I would guess.  I should specify that we don't have mail boxes on the street so John walks to everyone's house.  We have a mail slot on our door that he just tosses the mail through on to the floor.  This seems to bother him cause he's always apologizing for it.  One Saturday during football season Caleb was sitting on the front porch with the door open watching a football game while the kids rode their bikes.  John came by and hung out for about half an hour and watched the game with him.  When Joe was just starting to walk John walked around the corner and said hi to Joe then stopped and said, "Man, that boy looks just like his daddy."  Which he does, anyone who has met my boys once can see that, but whose mailman knows that?
    Joann is also very high on this list.  Joann works at TWU and drives a little red scooter to work.  She's a beautiful woman with flowing white hair and a huge smile.  That's right she's our Austin St grandma on a scooter.  She used to park her scooter on the street in front of our house and one day I witnessed her scooter being backed into.  The girl appeared to leave a note, but it turns out it just had her phone number on it and she never answered the phone.  That's the day I officially met Joann.  Her scooter was damaged so that she couldn't drive it home, so I gave her a ride and we were friends from then on.  We also told her to just park in our driveway cause it was the 2nd time her scooter had been knocked over on the street.  If we were outside when she got done with work she would sit on the porch with me and watch the kids.  She quickly adopted us as her own and hugged me three different times when she came by to tell us goodbye.
    The next person on my list is Triathlon Girl.  The rest of these people we have named ourselves cause we've never officially met them, but see them often enough to feel like we know them.  Triathlon Girl is this super fit little bit of a girl who we always see running or biking.  We just assume she also swims and thus must be a triathlete.  She's legit too, I've only ever seen her sprinting.  Granted she lives 3 houses down from us, so we see her at the beginning and end of her workout, but I like to believe she sprints the whole time.  A couple months ago I'm pretty sure I majorly creeped her out.  We were walking back from the Rozell's and she was in her front yard with her dog in a skirt and t-shirt.  I've only ever seen her in workout clothes so as we got close and said hello I added, "you look cute today!" She gave me a weird look, and I realized she's usually sprinting by me as I sit in the shade on my porch.  She probably has never seen my face that well and thinks I am a stalker of some sort.  I awkwardly added, "I'm used to seeing you in workout clothes running by the house."  She gave me a polite smile, but I'm not sure she put together who I was.
     Next up, Figaro.  Figaro lives diagonally from us.  He likes to stand on his porch and play the accordion and he sings in this beautiful baritone voice.  I don't know if it's the distance and we can't understand him or what, but it sounds like he's singing Italian operas.  We've sat out there and listened to him sing many a night.  He also serves as the cheering squad for our front yard baseball games.  He's a discerning fan though, only cheering for really good hits that make it all the way across the street.
     And last but not least there's Safari Santa.  When the weather is nice, between 3 and 4 in the afternoon Safari Santa rides his bike down the street.  He wears one of those tan hard safari hats, and his long white hair and beard blow out behind him in the wind.  He has rosy red cheeks and always makes sure to wave really big at the kids.  I'm not completely convinced that Santa doesn't summer in Denton.
   I'm tired, so I'm not gonna check my grammar or spelling.  I'm just waiting for the washer to finish so I can put the last load of laundry I will do in this house into the dryer and then I'm off to bed.  Goodnight, sweet Austin St.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bouncing is Fun

We had our final soiree this morning at Jumping for Fun.  Basically a warehouse filled with bounce houses.  In an hour everyone was exhausted, impressively sweaty, and ready for pizza and cake!


Mason and Blythe

Mason coming down the pirate ship

These three all came tumbling down in a pile

Baby Claire watching the action

Big Claire doing a very graceful belly slide.

Phyllis and Mattie sliding.

Blythe and Isabella

Tate thought it was fun too!

Valera and Cade, V is enjoying herself a bit more than Cade.

Daddy and the half birthday babies taking one last slide.

The party people.

We are going to miss all our sweet friends and family more than words could express.  Thanks to everyone for coming out and bouncing with us!  We love you all!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Swim Lessons

     The last 2 weeks Blythe, Joe, and I have been taking swim lessons at the Civic Center pool just around the corner.  Blythe and Joe rode their bikes every morning which is a big accomplishment for all of us.  They were both pretty nervous going into it, but did great and got rave reviews on their end of class evaluations.  

Here's Blythe patiently waiting her turn with her class...
This is Mr. Tim (who Blythe called Timmy the whole time, I don't know if he told them to do that or she just decided that on her own).  She's preparing for her big trick...

Going under water!!!!

Then kicking back to the step, but she wanted to make sure I saw her.

Here's Joe with his teacher Mr. Jake.  I went with Joe to his class so he actually had little to do with Mr. Jake, but was kind enough to take a picture with him anyway.  Joe is excellent at kicking and scooping as long as you keep his face far far away from even acting like it might in anyway go under water.
 Highly successful 2 weeks.  Gave us something to do that didn't involve moving, and both kids are much more comfortable in the water.  An enthusiastic 2 thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's been a long day...

    With the unexpected addition of the Range Rover, we became a 3 car family.  Today, we went all the way down to 1 and miraculously made it back up to 3 by 8pm!

    Come June 25th a giant 18 wheeler will be picking up all our worldly possessions and then we will load up in the Highlander and drive the 1200 miles to Santa Clara, CA.  In preparation for this journey we are getting everything tuned up, so at 1pm today we dropped it off (the Highlander) to get the front brakes redone.  We made it all the way back to Austin St before Caleb remembered he was supposed to pick up the Range Rover which had been dropped off 3 days earlier to have the transmission looked at.  It got rave reviews and a clean bill of health so was ready for pick up.  We dropped Caleb off and the kids and I headed home for naps.  After about 20 minutes (the shop was 5 minutes away) I started to wonder about him.  Every time I called his phone went straight to voice mail.  No answers from texts or emails. He was MIA.
    Trying not to panic, I just packed a couple boxes, got all the utilities on either end of this shindig set up, and kept calling his phone with no answer.  About 4:15 I got a call from an unknown number which I answered.  Usually, as I'm sure most of you know, I would screen the crap out of that, but with all the insurance, landlords, utility companies, etc. calling me these days I've given up and just started answering.  Lo' and behold, it's young Caleb Johnson.  The Range Rover didn't make it 100 yards down the road before the battery died.  Died as in can't be jumped, died.  Much like Mr. Johnson's cell phone which had also died leaving him stranded.
    Caleb had been negotiating his way through a borrowed cell phone, recruited 2 volunteers to push the Rover from one gas pump to another (one of which had their own broken down car), and even cashed in a dollar for quarters for a mysterious pay phone that everyone swore existed, but which was never found.  The borrowed cell phone called a tow truck that never showed up (and turned out was never dispatched). He eventually convinced the receptionist at the company next door to let him borrow the phone to call me.  The babies and I showed up around 4:30 to pick him up in the only working vehicle on the Johnson books.
    We headed to Walmart to buy a new battery.  We headed home for about an hour before the shop called to say the Highlander was ready for pickup.  Off we went again to pick up another car, this time everyone made it home for dinner and Caleb even stopped off to change the battery in the Range Rover which then started up like nothing had happened.  We had some dinner and then.... loaded up one last time to retrieve the last of our vehicular arsenal.  This time we followed Caleb and the Rover home, just in case.
    Needless to say, Caleb has had a very long day, and is now hard at work doing his day job after spending the day in the parking lot of Racetrac awkwardly approaching strangers.  We survived, but are both kind of in panic mode about the size of our to do list vs. the time we have to get things done.  Did I mention Caleb leaves Sunday and doesn't come back until Thursday??
    I will end with the phrases I've said 1000 times in the last 3 weeks... Awesome.  It's gonna be fine :)