Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Photo Dump

Some random pics from the last couple of months...

One of the best part of moving, at least for the kids, is jumping in and crawling through the loads of packing paper the movers use.

When Charlie and Jane pretend to be going some place it is almost always to one of the grandparent's houses or... Costco, which is where Jane was headed in her little pink car.

Three mountain jays hogging the feeder. The majority of the birds show up to eat right around the time my family wants to eat as well. This has resulted in more than a few late dinners because I have a rather difficult time focusing on getting our food ready when there is so much avian action right outside the window.

One of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds guarding the feeder. Do you see her perched on the wire?

Hummingbird feeder aren't just for the hummers. Downy Woodpeckers apparently are fans too! These two are frequent visitors to our yard.

Jane's morning hair. Always impressive, always a mess.

Jane got the side taken off her crib! About a week after she got it taken off she started getting out of bed a lot so Keith put it back on. The entire time he was putting it on both kids cried and pleaded with him to leave it off. We apparently are the meanest parents ever. Ever since it came back off a few days later, though, she has been pretty good at staying in. Oh, and she pretty much potty trained herself. Keith and I are still in shock at the stark difference between our drawn-out disaster experience of potty training Charlie and her. I would have kept her in diapers until she was in kindergarten if it meant not going through a Charlie experience again. Maybe she picked up on that...

The week before school started the nearest cousins drove down for a visit! It included a trip to the huge and free zoo here. That is right, it is free. Just another reason people should come visit us. ;)

There was this gorilla statue that every kid wanted to get onto. It couldn't fit all without a major disaster so we compromised with doing boy/girl pics.

Jane was super cool and cute with her pink hat, purple sunglasses and little attitude that I had to get a picture. She didn't want anything to do with it but I got this one and I think it represents it well.

Merrill Water Park! It was all fun and games until they broke the sprinkler. The good news is that we haven't had to water the lawn since.

They were making mud pies but it looked like more of a mud puddle.

I like to think that I handle kids playing in mud fairly well. I think it is healthy for kids to be free to get their hands in the dirt. Mud worked deep into hair however, is a different story. It took loads of shampoo and a rather unpleasant wrestling match in the tub to get it out.

You can't see them in the picture, but Jane is staring intently at a little group of baby bunnies hiding in our tiny garden box. Bunnies seem to like us this summer.
My super awesome hubby designed and made this super awesome bookshelf for the kids...

...with a little help from our super awesome kids.

Bugs, bugs and...

...more bugs! Jane is actually becoming more drawn to them and cautiously wants to hold them now. Well, most of them.

And THIS big guy started kindergarten!

He likes it a lot although it has been quite the adjustment for both of us. I am getting used to a less flexible routine and so is he. There were about three weeks there when almost everyday he would come home and I would wonder what happened to my Charlie. He was mister grouchy pants! I was describing what he was like to a friend and she pretty accurately said that it is like he used up all his energy to sit still and behave well at school that when he got home he just couldn't keep his crazy emotions in check any more. Gratefully we are learning together how to make the transition from school to home better and things are improving. At least the adjustment didn't seem to dampen his excitement for school!

With Charlie in school I have had more time to spend just with Jane. At first she was grouchy because she missed her older brother, but now she seems to be happy to spend time with me. It also helped when she realized that when Charlie is away she can play with whatever she wants, how ever she wants without Charlie there to boss her around. In the above picture she is showing off the bagel with cream cheese that she made for me. :)

Still she loves going to get Charlie from the bus; rain or shine.

Life is good.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Fourth, Family and the Big Move

The big move happened over 4th of July weekend. I know, I am a bit behind.

There was a mix up with the trucks. Apparently the one they sent to us (a full-sized semi trailer) was supposed to go to a place a couple hours away and the one we were supposed to get (a much more reasonably sized one) was there. When they said this I had two thoughts: wow, those people must have a ton of stuff, and, what are they going to do when a little truck comes to get all that stuff?

The packers had come the day before (Thursday) and boxed up our stuff. We were impressed with the job they did. Friday a different group of guys came to load it all into the truck. We were not so impressed with the job they did. They were supposed to wrap and put padding around furniture, mattresses, lamps, etc. Basically anything that couldn't be put in a box they were supposed to wrap before they loaded it. Keith saw them taking stuff out the door without wrapping it. When asked about this they said they were doing it outside.

They lied.

As a result we had a rather long list of things that were damaged/broken during the move, not the least of was the elliptical which apparently had something very heavy put on it which crashed it.. We filed the claim but it takes a while to process. In the mean time I am doing a lot of yoga via DVD. (I know that is making you smile Mom. We should do yoga together when you get here.)

Checkout and inspection was Saturday morning. That afternoon we began the drive to Paul and Jenae's place in Dayton, OH. They now live only 6 hours away! That may seem like quite the drive to some, but compared to Germany (where they have been for the past 4 years), and considering that is by far the closest we have lived to family for 5 years, it is awesome!

 Jenae has mad sewing skills and made Jane and Charlie dolls that look like them.
 I have no idea what the going on when this picture was taken but I get a kick out of the face Keith is making.


Monday Paul, who is a flight nurse in the Air Force and teaches nurses how to take care of patients at 40,000 feet. Let's just say, this made me appreciate the sacrifice wounded soldiers have made even more.

 I forget exactly how many wounded soldiers they can cram onto this plane but it is a lot. Each of those hook things can hold a stretcher. To make it worse, the lights are generally out during the flight so the nurses are doing everything by flashlight. I feel really bad for any claustrophobic soldiers that have to be in this situation. Maybe they could be given the top bunk.

 This is Paul showing Charlie the buttons that simulate various scenarios that are possible.
The fire one has fake smoke. :)

I would much rather be a patient on this plane. MUCH roomier. (Not that I would get a choice.) That being said, I can only imagine that a soldier in this situation would be happy to be in either one if it meant that they were going to go home.

 I am just thankful that there are people out there brave enough to make the sacrifices that keep our country free. It was a good way to spend our country's 240th birthday.

The next day, Tuesday, we went to this huge, really great and FREE flight museum. It was one of those museums where Keith and I could spend hours in it reading the information signs and immersing ourselves in history. However, we weren't alone, we had a pack of kids with us. The best part of going through a museum with kids is seeing how excited they get by seeing and experiencing various things. For example, Charlie has been interested in rockets and space shuttles. To his complete delight the museum not only had actual life-sized rockets but also a full-size replica of the space shuttle that you could walk through. Possibly the highlight of the museum.

Waiting in line to get on the space shuttle was also when we lost Charlie. Keith and Paul ran off looking for him, Jenae quickly headed to the nearest help desk, and I stood frantically keeping the rest of the kids as close to me as possible while yelling Charlie's name. A few people asked what he was wearing. As soon as I told them that he was wearing a red t-shirt I realized that it was 4th of July weekend. EVERYONE was wearing red, white and blue. I should have put him neon green. After what seemed like an eternity he calmly walked by completely oblivious to the panic he had caused. He just had decided to take a walk around the shuttle to get a better look.

Heading into Air Force One. It makes first class look like coach and coach look like those medical Air Force planes. (I don't think I mentioned that the commodes in those hospital planes are out in the open with only a curtain separating the user from the rest of the passengers.)

Charlie is always up for a ride on anything that remotely resembles a tractor.

Jane loved being served food while her cousins did the cooking. She kept them busy with her requests and complaints about the temperature of her food.

Brianna kept on preventing Charlie from getting each animal lined up and grouped by species. Future taxonomist or OCD or both?

Jane and Brianna hamming it up.

We asked the boys to smile and this is what we got...

All the Merrill grand kids!

Charlie and Jane both broke down when we left. The poor kids had a great time and were ready for stability again.

They sure were troopers though.

We finally got into the house Wednesday evening and it was a relief. No more bouncing around from hotel to family to hotel. We could begin the process of making our new house into a home. As Charlie would say for several weeks after we arrived: it takes a while before a new place feels like home.

Slowly it is beginning to.