Monday, August 30, 2010

I promise I wont bring this up in the next Fast and Testimony Meeting

After Sis's recent tumble down the stairs, I decided to get down to business on teaching her to turn around and scoot down on her belly. I am sure her last fall down the stairs isn't behind her, but she is kind of a champ now. She has also learned how to push aside the gate leading up the stairs (I can't get it attached to the wall, so I have been propping and securing it with a chair. It worked for about three minutes and once Sis figures something out once...) Now she can escape up there anytime she wants. I actually kind of like it. When I'm getting ready for the day, she joins me in the bathroom and brushes her hair and pats her face when I put my make-up on and then gives kisses to herself in the mirror (again, mimicking me :-) As long as we keep the bathroom doors shut, she is safe roaming around up there (unless we don't remember to lean extra hard on my bathroom door to make it catch. She has already figured out that pushing really hard on it sometimes yields results. It's like having a raccoon in the house.)

I baby proof my house. I swear it! I vacuum, I get down on eye level with the floor and check corners and keep change jars and knick-knacks up high. Among my scariest experiences are the times when my kids are eating and they start to choke (and I have been to a haunted house where a crazy guy swung what felt like a real chainsaw at our legs.) Bubba needed to be rescued weekly just from his lunch and it is not something you ever get used to.

So, why, why, why does Sis keep wandering out with things in her mouth? And when I hold out my hand she always spits out a coin of some kind. She is like a mobile ATM and I have no clue where her stash is. Believe me, I've looked (because if she is finding money somewhere secret, I think I should be in on that pot of gold.) I suppose there are worse things than a child who regurgitates money. On top of that, for the last few days there has been a quarter in the bowl of all three toilets in the house. ??? The culprit could be any of my kids at this point. Or...

Am I finding money in random places because I paid my tithing this month? Makes you think doesn't it?

(You all know I am totally joking, right?)


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bye Summer... (*sniff)

The tradition in my family while I was growing up was that we could pick whatever we wanted to eat on the first day of school. With seven kids in the family, I recall choosing more uncommon luxuries like pop-tarts, steak and vanilla yogurt (my order for several years in a row). In fact, I think most of us would set off for the first morning of school with a big steak meal in our bellies. I was excited to start that tradition with Junior last year. Anything goes on the first day of school (not just breakfast choices) but for all that, Junior still picked waffles with berry syrup, bacon and strawberry milk. He did shake things up a little with dippin' dots ice cream (pretty much his same choices as last year). He clearly doesn't realize what a golden ticket he has here. By the time he does, I may be regretting starting this tradition up. If I recall, my dad was always up well before us grilling steaks and assembling multiple random breakfasts that first day.

This is the 'secret passageway' to his school. He is excited when we take it (come on!! A secret passageway??!! :-) and I am excited it makes a 15 minute walk into a 5 minute one. It is faster to walk him to school than it would be to put the kids in the car and drive him.

Junior has been begging since last year to ride his bike to school himself, and although I have relaxed quite a bit on his hanging out outside on his own since moving, I haven't gone that far yet. We compromised by him riding his bike, followed by me and the little ones and then meeting him at the front doors after school to walk him home.

I remember first grade very well. It was the scene of my first crush, losing my first tooth, my first playground friend drama, my first feeling of independence and the first time I remember learning something new and the euphoria of knowing I could read and do math. I hope it's a good year for Junior. I know it will feel like no time at all before my bright eyed little guy, who is dying to ride his bike to school alone, will be graduating and heading off into the world.

Sis really wanted to join all the kids on the playground.

We tried to make the most of the last few weeks of summer and probably did more in the time since we moved here than we did at the old place where I was able to be much lazier and much more of a hermit. Being here has been good for getting me "out." In the old house, I couldn't get the kids to set foot outside for more than ten minutes at a time unless we went to the park. In this house, the hard part is getting them to come back inside. Junior is setting records for being on wheels more than his own two feet (yes Junior, 6:30 a.m. IS too early for you to go ride your bike. Go back to bed) and Bubba just follows him and the neighborhood gang around alternately on his scooter and his bike. Sis very badly wants to be one of the big kids and follows anyone who will let her. She adores the neighbor girls who come over and want to tend and play with her.

What else have we been up to?

First pony rides with Grandpa's help

Feeding the goats (Sis did NOT want to give up her corn.)

Helping me unpack and "rearrange"

Washing the car (kind of)

Re-designating my anniversary as "kid day." All day long, the kids called the shots on what we did and what we ate (yes becky, I stole the idea from you guys :-) Mostly they chose to play at Jungle Jim's (a cooler, less crowded version of Chuck E. Cheese). The Bradshaws joined us. We have missed them!! Afterward, we went to Target and shopped in the dollar section and picked out a backpack for Junior (a very close race between Mario Bros. and Space Monkeys. Mario won.) For dinner, we had chicken nuggets, pudding and pop rocks.

Second pony ride :-)

Falling out of bed pretty much every night and being tired enough to not even notice. If I heard him fall, I put him back. If not, he came to climb in with me eventually.

Also on the list; crawdad fishing with grandpa and cousins at Strawberry Reservoir (no pix, I didn't go on this one!) Dave Matthews Band outdoor concert with friends (for me, not the kids! Thanks again Phread.) Hours of playing on the front porch and avoiding unpacking the rest of the house. Teaching Sis to dance and to give kisses and say our names. Trying to figure out what to make with all the vegetables my generous neighbor's bountiful garden keeps producing for us (almost salsa season!) School shopping date with Junior and a bi-annual all-nighter with the old roomies. These cooler mornings are getting me very excited for my favorite season. I expect to enjoy it a lot more this year. However, at the moment, I might also be too tired to notice if I have fallen out of bed either.

Happy first week of school to everyone!

Monday, August 23, 2010

And The Oscar Goes To...

Junior starts first grade in the morning and I think I am having a delayed reaction about him starting school. I was fully expecting to stress about him being ushered into the world of standardized learning and playground politics when he started Kindergarten. However, I found out about the mistress (hereafter known as The DLS. Not her initials, just a private joke. What we used to call her is not something I can print here) right before the first day of school. Needless to say, the sentimentality of Junior starting Kindergarten took a pretty far back seat to some of the other things I had going on emotionally. But it seems to have caught up to me this year and I kind of don't want him to go! Bubba will go nuts all day without him. I don't want to be the kind of mom that won't let her kids progress, but I am also not really in favor of all the rampant growing around here.

On weeks like this, I really hate being a single mom. It's another big change. Not a bad one, but still a change and any time my kids do something that strikes the sentimental side of my heart, I miss sharing that with their father. I just can't help it. Don't get mad at me (you know who you are :-)If it helps, I am also mad at him for the hundreds of little things that he misses. A years worth of changes for our kids.

I didn't think that anything could hurt as much as J leaving, but even before having to endure it, I had a pretty good idea that hearing my kids refer to The DLS would be high up on the list. When I asked J to choose our family, I asked him (among the many, many things) to consider how painful it would be for me to not only know he was with her, but have to hear my kids talk about her and have to encourage them to like her because she is with their dad. I guess I continue to be acceptable collateral damage. Despite how I feel about her personally, I know that it is better for her to be nice to my kids and for them to like her than the alternative (until they bond with her and she and J go kaput and she becomes a person who acted like she cares and then just disappears from their lives). Unfortunately, this means my acting skills get put to the test because when my boys enthusiastically relate something to do with her or a story she has told them, I have to play along and act like nothing in the world thrills me more than to know that they had a good time hanging out with the piece of trash their father is with (sorry, in a mood...and I've earned it this week).

The boys ask me all the time if I have met The DLS ("not since Junior was a baby") and if I like her (the best I can manage is that "we are not friends, but I'm glad you like her and want to be her friend") Otherwise, to the daily comments they throw out, they don't hear anything but enthusiasm from me regarding the woman I actually desperately want to protect them from even though I am certain I have removed years from my life from the strain of it. I do it because I don't want them to worry about me and I do it because I want them to feel like they do not have to censor what they say when they come home from J's. I do it because they are not pawns and they are not to blame for the life we are living now. These poor kids are already eclipsed enough. I don't ask lots of questions about what they do when they are away, other than some of the obvious ("did you have good dreams?" or "you look sunburned, you must have been outside lots today" etc.) I don't want them to feel like they have to "report back." I want them to be able to tell me whatever they want without worrying that mom doesn't like to hear about The DLS. But, it is the hardest thing in the world to hear them refer to her casually. It's one of the final indignities about this whole situation. It's not enough to know that this woman successfully made a play for my husband. She is also schmoozing my kids and holding my baby and is standing in my place on the outings we used to take as a family while I stay home and do the laundry and wait for the kids to be delivered home so I can put them to bed alone again for the 300th time after I cheerfully inquire whether they had a good time and reassure them that although I am glad they are home, I had lots of stuff to do too.

The boys might like her but they are not fooled, either by the situation or by my acting. Not long ago, upon returning home, Junior randomly asked "Do you think we like The DLS more than you? Because we don't. We love you the very most." (whaaaat?) I tried to swallow my shock that my six year old had to come up with that on his own (because he did not hear it from me) and said (verrry cheerfully) "No sweetie, I know you love me. I love you guys the most too. It's ok for you to like lots of people." Junior is a bit of a hit and run conversationalist. He will casually bring up something that is on his mind multiple times, but the minute you try to pin him down on the subject he does an escape and evade. He misses his dad a lot these days though and will mention that he wishes he could see dad "tonight" or "right now" at least once a day. We have a constant, running tally of how long it is until the next 'dad day.' However, if I ever try to talk to him about the things he worries about, he closes down. At least once a week though, he will still say "I still miss dad, do you miss him too, mom?" I walk a fine line between wanting to give him a chance to express himself and not scaring him away.

Bubba is more direct in his emotions. He got teary and crawled into my lap the other evening "mom, I sure miss dad. I sure wish he could come back to live in our house." Rocking him and rubbing his back at least made me feel like I was doing something. Junior expresses most affection under duress these days as six year old boys do. Bubba had a minor meltdown last week because when he proudly announced that he would be marrying me when he grew up, Junior scornfully told him that he couldn't. "I have to marry mom so she can't ever leave" was his tearful, hysterical response and it kind of shocked me. I don't know what else to do besides let them know that what they are feeling is ok and that everyone loves them. It's just not right though. These emotions are too big for them and they are certainly not too young to know what feels right to them. Their lives would be simpler if their parents did not live 70 miles apart but, like me, they get dragged along for the ride. They miss their dad and I don't blame them at all. I just don't know how to make it better for them. I never wanted this for them. A mom and a dad in the same place should have been a fundamental right for them. No child should have to try to work out how things will work emotionally when Mom lives one place and Dad in another and also has a girlfriend.

I am no different than any other parent that wants to protect their child. I want for them to be safe and happy and wise and to have good friends and good judgment. I do not want to be pretending that I am ok with dad's "new" friend. It is horrifying to me and far harder than I ever thought. Every mention of her name cuts little pieces out of the core of me until all I want to do is beg them not to mention her anymore. I never have and I am committing to continue that, but I can't help but be slapped with the continuing unfairness of it. There will be a time and a place for honesty about her, but not for many years, by which time I am certain she will be out of the picture one way or another. Until then, I have to grit my teeth and wait for the moment that I just don't care. I hope it's really soon. Feeling like this is getting very old.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Sis fell down the stairs on Friday night. Not just two or three, but almost the whole flight of stairs. Those of you with children know how it goes.Yyou think they are right there (I was running a bath for her) and before you know it, you hear a thump (thump, thump, thump) and a wail. Or (as in this case) no wail, which was even scarier. She was sprawled at the bottom of the stairs with a goose-egg on her forehead and the wind knocked out of her. I blew into her face to startle her into taking a breath and she got one single gasp. Her body jerked a little but she still couldn't get air. Seconds passed by like full minutes and in the instant before I went for the phone to call 911, she finally got a deep breath and really let me have it. Even then, she was a little bit limp and didn't want to sit up or open her eyes for a few minutes. Anyone with young children probably remembers their first frantic call to their Pediatrician when Jr. smacked his head a little too hard. Being a mother to Bubba, I am well versed in warning signs to look for after a head bonk. Even after Sis had shaken it off and was running again five minutes later, I kept an eye on her and kept her up an extra hour or so to make sure her pupils remained the same size, that she wasn't going to vomit and that she could keep herself awake, etc. etc. Despite the baby gates I have up and the caution I usually try to take with her, it was my fault and I felt horrible, but she was fine.

A lot ran through my head in those few seconds that I thought I might have something serious on my hands. My first thought was that I was alone with the kids and I didn't know where my phone was immediately. I mentally tried to calculate the time I would need to call 911, plus try to revive Sis if she passed out. The second thought I had was that I was furious at J for not being there. Not only not being there, but I imagined that he must be out playing on his Friday night "off." Surprisingly, I have only felt that level of anger a handful of times (for him anyway. I will freely admit to hating The DLS about 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time, I just feel extreme contempt for her.) After what has gone on in the last year, you might assume that anger would be the primary emotion, but it's not. In my head, Anger is the one eating lunch in the locker room to hide from the bullies like Humiliation and Grief and Shock who generally beat the daylights out of it. Guilt is a sneaky little tag-along that likes to kick me when I'm down. Anger may yet grow up to be big enough to hold its own, but doesn't come out all that often. Yet.

More than one person has expressed their concern to me because I am not angry enough. I have had my moments, but honestly I just don't have the energy for anger right now. It is not a restful emotion and it keeps me awake at night. I believe it would spill over into how my kids see me and see us interact and I have a hard enough time keeping my head above water emotionally anyway. But in the moments I do get mad, it is because something brutally reminds me of how much J has changed our lives forever. It was MY fault Sis fell down the stairs and even if J were still home, there is a good chance it still would have happened sometime. There is also a good chance that it could have happened while he wasn't at home. The point is that he has removed the option of ever being there if we need him in that kind of situation. While my kids are with me, I can almost always count on being alone for any emergency. For a few minutes, I was really scared and not the least of it was how I was going to get help, plus be there for Sis. I was mad because wherever he was and whatever he was doing that night, he was doing it as a result of his choice to not be present with us. He chose to leave me the big things, like what to do if one of the kids gets hurt or sick, as well as the millions of small things, like always having to take three trips to carry in sleeping children by myself when they fall asleep in the car or doing the bedtime routine alone or the constant battle with manners and chores. I have never been so tired as in this past year. Completely aside from the emotional drain, the physical toll is like nothing I have ever felt. I know a few of you can sympathize. Every moment that the kids are with J or in bed is taken up with appointments or tasks that I can't manage with three of them under my feet all day. I go to bed exhausted and guilty with the feeling that my work is not done. I'm trying to be a good mom, but I am more tired than I feel I should have to be. I am more burdened with the things that are small yet add up and should be joint burdens (i.e. working dental insurance into the budget, yard work etc.) On moments like the one with Sis on Friday night, I don't just feel jettisoned as his wife, but also as the mother of his children.

Nine years ago tomorrow, at 10 a.m., J and I were married in the Logan Temple. A year later, we got to spend the weekend of our first anniversary together in South Carolina since his graduation from Basic Training fell on the same weekend. We had been apart for 2 1/2 months and would be apart 2 1/2 more. He wrote to me that being around me strengthened his spirit and that he looked forward to eternity with me every day. This time last year, I was on my way to California to spend our anniversary apart after a summer of assurances from him that he "just didn't love me." Given the previous few months, it didn't feel right to be celebrating a marriage he claimed not to cherish. However, he did joke that this year's anniversary might find us in Bora Bora (one of our dream vacation spots). I still had a lot of faith in him then. A week later, I found out about the girlfriend and a few days after that, he was gone. This year, I am still legally married at the moment (no divorce yet) and there will be no notice of the day from the man I married, who is currently with another woman. I am trying really hard to re-think of my anniversary as the day our family began as opposed to the day we got married. Because regardless of him trying to tell me that it was all a mistake, I have three perfect little people that remind me that it could never be that. Tomorrow, I am going to celebrate my children and their existence. I know that I will find myself being alternately angry at J and missing his presence in our home and in my life. I will be trying hard not to think of our wedding day and the way he used to look at me. I will try not to cry when I spend yet another evening on my own and crawl into bed alone as I have for almost a year. I will try not to think of our past anniversaries and the things he said to me about love and eternity and being so lucky to have me. I will try to forget that he has taken from us the only chance we had at being a normal family. I will try to remember that next year will probably be easier. I will keep in mind that any day, even a painful one, only has 24 hours in it and it can't last forever and it can't kill me.

I will be glad when it is one more thing behind me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I should be unpacking something, but...

"He is close" we said as fledgling parents when thirteen month old Junior would lurch unsteadily and fall uncomplainingly. It seemed like we held our breath for several weeks waiting for our first born to take that major milestone of a first step. It happened on a day when J's brother was over getting laundry done and hanging out. J had a sandwich in his hand and Junior spied it from his spot at his uncle's knee a few feet away. Step, step, step, step, step. Not one shaky first step, but five steady determined ones (and yes, he got to share the sandwich :-) That was that from then on. He was a walker with a vengeance and there was no going back.

Junior is such a quiet, gentle, artistic soul that I often find myself underestimating him a little. For some reason, I forget how deep still waters can run and that my calm child has his own brand of determination that is just as strong as, say, Bubba's louder, more hands-on variety. But Junior is very tenacious when he wants something and today he wanted the training wheels to come off of his bike.

It was high time. I had been meaning to do it all summer but just didn't get to it. I made Junior a deal that I would get him a new bike (so his old one would go to Bubba) if he could ride it with no training wheels. I meant to be tough about it. I figured that it would help motivate him to learn if he had no other option. This was a concept I recalled from my first meal in Japan years ago when my brother-in-law withheld the forks, reasoning that we would learn how to use chopsticks quickly enough if we were hungry and didn't have a way to 'cheat.' Honestly, the immersion method worked like a charm and we learned very fast. It turns out that Junior didn't need any extra motivation. He had already decided that he would be ending the day on two wheels.

I reminded Junior that learning something new could be hard and that he might get frustrated. Being frustrated was ok, however tantrums were not. "We can do hard things" I said. He thought about that for a minute and said "OK. Can I have a gold bike so I look rich while I am riding it?"

"Sure" (Ironically, the only bike in Junior's size and within my budget was red with metallic gold splashes on it. Whew!)

After an hour of riding back and forth on the road in front of our house with me holding his shoulders for balance, it was looking like he might take a few days to get the hang of a two wheeler. He tipped over, banged his shins, scraped his hand and did not complain once ("I'm not frustrated, mom"). I left him in the shade with some cold water and went into the house to pay some attention to Sis. The next time I looked out the window, he was back on the bike, patiently riding up and down the side road using the fence for balance when he needed it. I watched from the window and let him learn.

"Mom, can you come look at this?" He shouted through the front door a half hour later. He asked me to hold his shoulders while he rode down the sidewalk. I jogged alongside him, not expecting to let go.

"OK Mom, let go!" he shouted. And I did. And he was off...

Half a block later he lost his balance, but for that few moments it was like seeing him walk for the first time again. I was so proud and a little torn at this next step of independence for my baby boy. In true Junior fashion, he has jumped in with both feet. By the time I hauled him in the house for bed tonight, he was circling the entire cul-de-sac as fast as he could go. Over bumps and cracks in the sidewalk, turning, maneuvering and steering (pretty much everything but stopping. He still leaps off rather than use the brake at the moment).

My father-in-law said one of his favorite things was teaching his 8 kids to ride bikes. That moment when everything clicks and they take off is an amazing thing. I think I get that now. Learning to ride a bike is a pretty basic notch in the measuring stick of childhood and until Junior is running along next to his own six year old who is telling him to "let go" he won't understand what a tug that is on the old parental heart strings. Someday, he may get just how overwhelmingly proud I felt at something as simple as him sailing down the sidewalk on two wheels, unassisted, for the first time. Someday, he will get to live this day again with even more meaning. More important than anything else, he is so visibly proud of himself. He can't stop smiling. I could bask in a day like today forever.

Well done Buddy!

Sis has been picking up a few new skills as well. Everyone pitches in in this family :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The New Nest

Doesn't the new place look like a dollhouse? Don't even get me started on the front porch. It's like a room. The boys have spent 3/4 of every day out there hanging with the neighborhood kids. We are settling in, but I am being far more lazy about getting unpacked than I was about getting packed. Apparently I need a deadline. But I am ready to not be surrounded by chaos, so I buckled down and got the garage sorted out and I will admit to wandering out there more than once, just to enjoy the neatly sorted surroundings (even the boxes of kids clothes are stacked by gender and age. Oh yeah, when I get the hankering, I am an organizational force to be reckoned with.) I would post a picture but that would probably be going too far.

Last night I spent several hours at the local laundromat, while Mak and Dave watched my boys and gamely endured what was probably hundreds of attempts on Sis's part to either poke the new baby in the eye or poke the dog in the eye. I realized that I am 32 and it is the first time I have had to do laundry in a laundromat (does that classify me as "privileged?"). Even during our first year of marriage, J would take our laundry to be washed at the gym. The huge, industrial driers that were meant for towels often stretched or melted our clothes, but hey, free laundry! Once the torso of one of J's sweaters shrunk to about 12 inches long, while the arms stretched to about 4 feet each. It was amazing. We kept it in the closet just to pull it out and laugh at it sometimes :-)

Anyway, I caved tonight and took myself to a local Clearance center and allowed a salesman named 'Fonzy' (who actually WAS kind of cool) to sell me the most basic set they had. I realized as I was driving home that it is the first new appliance I have ever gotten. I am a bargain shopper and when we needed something, we usually went second hand with the thought of someday.... Now I actually own something with a warranty. It's kind of a big day for me around here!

I love my bright blue chairs! I also like that since they are slanted, it takes Sis some extra time to escape from them. It gives me just about enough time to finish my otter pop.

Otter Pops and waiting for Dad

We had a rainy day last week and spent most of it on the amazing front porch where we stayed dry (until Sis discovered the drain by the porch) while watching the lightning.

This is what my girl does the minute she thinks you are not watching. She is fast, but I'm faster.

All's Well...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

If These Old Walls Could Speak...

Glory Hallelujah! The move is over and I am more bone achingly tired than I have ever been in my life. I have gone through three pregnancies, so I feel like I have a reasonable point of reference when I say that. I have also gone through plenty of moves (6 during my 8 year marriage) and I know I never want to go through one like this again. Although I have always been the packer behind all of our previous moves, this one involved confronting ghosts I had tried to banish and dealing with constant ambushes in the form of letters and pictures tucked here and there. It involved sifting through the ashes of the last 9 years and deciding what to keep, what was J's and most heartbreakingly, what to throw away. The basement alone took ten hours to go through (files and pictures and boxes of intermingled stuff that was "ours") Into the trash went anything that had J's handwriting on it. Love notes, regular notes and innocuous out of date work notes alike all got pitched. Silly pictures and letters he had sent me (that I forgot I had) from Mock Trial trips and the dating years all were read for the last time and put in the "do not keep" pile. Our wedding license jumped out at me as I sorted through the file box. I remembered holding hands as we went to the little county courthouse to apply for it, having to let go as we each signed it and a big hug and kiss when we got back to the car because we were really on our way. Rolls of pictures from our engagement photos had to be looked through. I kept a few and threw the rest away. My wedding dress still hung in the back of Sis's closet. Ouch. On and on it went for days as I learned to get more ruthless, especially with the things I had treasured about 'us.' I have a single box that now holds any memento of us or our wedding that I think the kids might care to see someday. I don't expect to look at the contents again for years, if ever. Everything else is now gone. For someone who keeps anything even vaguely sentimental, this hurt. I hoped it would also be cathartic. I haven't felt cleansed yet though. Losing those things felt like amputations. They were the emotional toes that helped me keep my balance. They were my treasures.

I had lots of offers of help, and I could have transferred everything into boxes and dealt with it later. But there are some jobs you just can't pass off and there is something to be said for just buckling down and doing what you have been avoiding when you are already in the middle of something else hard. I was tired of being a coward and just wanted to have it done. But without a doubt, it was soul sapping and although I will miss my home, my ward, my friends and my amazing neighborhood, I am glad to have such a large hurdle cleared.

Every night for the final week and a half turned into a 2-3 a.m. packing marathon since I found I couldn't get anything done while the kids were awake. J was out of town for 10 days and even my usual breaks from the kids didn't happen. They missed their usual time with dad and let me know it! Three days before the move, I pinched a nerve in my back and after suffering through it for two days, I finally dragged myself to the doctor and begged for something that would just get me through moving day. I got teary as I explained that not functioning was not an option. At this emotional onslaught, the PA threw a few different prescriptions for muscle relaxers at me, wished me luck and fled. Not my greatest moment, but at this point let's face it. Who hasn't seen me cry? :-) I was so tired, I was beyond caring. Britny spent several evenings at my place helping pack up, bringing me diet coke, sitting with the sleeping kids and lending her truck so I could steal around town under the cover of darkness and find dumpsters for the increasingly growing pile of trash bags.

I was not a great mom during moving week and (good reasons or not) I feel guilty about it. I hurt, I was stressed, I was sleep deprived, and I barely refrained from smacking Junior. upside the head when he asked me disdainfully one morning (when he woke up at the crack of dawn and I made him pour his own cereal) "why are you so lazy, mom?" Oi.

But we did it. It took a village on both ends, but we are here! Bek showed up last Friday with a U-haul trailer full of furniture she was recycling out (Bek's hand me downs are like gold! The woman has great taste), a car full of Trader Joe's orders for all the Utah folks (mmm, Joe Joe's) and one of my very favorite little people in the world, her daughter Lulu. They packed my kitchen and Lulu packed the last of the kids stuff and mopped every mop-able surface in the house. At least half the men in my ward showed up on Saturday to help load up the U-Haul and Britny's Jared drove it to the new place for me. Bek directed the moving on the Provo end of things and I stayed behind to finish up, clean up and most importantly, to say good bye.

"It's just a house" is what I heard from several people when I would explain my reluctance to leave. But it wasn't. It was my home. It was my nest, it was where I brought two of my babies home and where they learned to walk. It was where we spent holidays and entertained friends and family. It was the room J and I slept in every night and stayed up late talking in. It was the home we were so excited to get into and the yard we watched our boys run in. It was my fortress when I retreated to lick my wounds and possibly most important of all, it was the last place on earth where we were a whole family. That makes it temple-like in its sacredness to me. It was definitely not just a house. I want to make clear that I was not kicked out, I was not asked to leave by J. Leaving my home was 100% my choice. But the reasons that it would have been so hard to stay in it wound up being the same reasons that made it so hard to leave. But what it boils down to is that I could not stay in the home where I was abandoned. I couldn't stand to hear J knock on the same door he walked through and kissed me hello at the end of the day for four years. I could not stay in a town where I was constantly on the watch for the day I would run into my husband and his mistress. I had to find a place that was mine, no matter how painful the separation. So, here we are, cautiously optimistic. We are closer to more family here and I have more options for when I start school again soon. So, thank you to everyone who helped me make this change. It was huge and emotional and it is not something I could have done alone. Thank you to my ward for the manpower, the prayers and the support. Thank you to Britny and Jared for sparing the nights of help and for everything you did to help me get set up on the other end. Thank you to Bek for coming out and being the support that I didn't know I needed (but she did). Thank you to my parents for watching the kids so well so I could work. Thank you to my parents in-law for showing up to help, painful backs notwithstanding. Thank you to my new neighbors for being so welcoming. I feel we have landed in a friendly place.

I'd like to share a few pictures of my old house. It was the setting for some serious heartbreak, but there was so much good there too. I will always love it.

The Living Room

The Family Room

My Bedroom (J and I put up the shelves around the top of the wall the week before we moved in. Thanks for the idea, Pottery Barn :-)

My kitchen, finally complete with new floor and beautiful new cabinets

The boys room. I painted this room when it was Bubba's nursery and spent hours getting the stripe on the wall straight. The color scheme worked a little better when it was a baby room, but I loved it so much I couldn't bring myself to paint over it.

The boys bedroom door, a two year work in progress. Only very special stickers (and the label from the jello packs we bought) made it on there.

Sis's room. We put the bead board in the week before we moved in and it used to be blue (it was Junior.'s room). When we found out we were having a girl, it just had to be pink! I never did quite get to put the finishing touches on this room, but I loved how it was turning out. Can you tell I find white walls completely boring?

My favorite part about these rooms were the window seats!

I found these ornaments clearanced at walmart after Christmas a few years ago and hung them all along one wall.

This picture was just too cute not to post. Two year old Gracie came across some of my nail polish in the packing up on moving day and talked Jared into taking a little break.