Friday, March 18, 2011


I won't say I am "on track" again or that I have any intention of being "on track." I've decided, this is just LIFE. You get caught up, then you fall behind. It is normal. I no longer have guilt or will feel guilty for not keeping up whether that is with the Jones' or with what I think is a Jones. With that said ...


December was a long month. It was crazy, busy, exciting and finally, ended.

We were so hoping that we would have a job and could buy a home and be moved into our new place, settle down in our new life, whatever the Lord had planned for us, all by December 1st. Well, December 1st was closing in on us, no word about a job, lots of interviews, no call backs only happy denial letters were coming. December 1st came ... and went. We extended our stay with Uncle Bruce and Aunt Chris. That is when I realized, FINE - obviously YOUR time, NOT MINE Dear Lord! Oh, how I really had so much put into the stability and home I had built in Utah and how much I DIDN'T realize I had relied on that new-found stability and home until it was whisked away by our priority of following His guidance.

No matter, the Lord has something BETTER planned for us, right!? Darin continued to study, apply for jobs and do what he could to help us earn our keep (which often meant helping Bruce with websites, manual labors and other oddities). I continued to work and homeschool Dylan. As the baby in my belly continued to grow the idea of me homeschooling with a newborn while balancing a toddler and working from home became unbearable. I began looking into other schooling options for Dylan. As always, public school is out of the question. There are some private schools out here, but for the most part they have certain religious affiliations. That is out of the question for Darin. Chris mentioned a non-religious and very well reputable private school, Thomas Jefferson. We took the month of December and began the process the school has for enrollment, which is right on par with the application process for COLLEGE! It is an amazing process and rigorous. We first had to tour the school, meet with the Director of Admissions, fill out the application, attend an interview, fill out financial aid (because it is an actual private school, admissions is very expensive), turn in all the financial aid documentation required, much like the FAFSA. The process doesn't end there, Dylan had to go to school for a full day to be observed and tested which would let the school know if he was ready for their curriculum and if he was a good "fit" both with his classmates, behaviorally and academically! WOW. After that, his results of all the processes so far had to be reviewed and determined by a board a Yay or Nay for admissions. FOR A SIX YEAR OLD!

My motivations? Well, the school is amazing. They have top-of-the-line technology; students begin learning a 2nd AND THIRD language from pre-K; they are not standardized test driven; they are collegiate-based driven; they offer art, music, P.E., etc that I cannot offer as a homeschooler out here in a small town (in SLC I was able to join clubs and groups that supplemented our curriculum); and the biggest motivation for me ... 100% of their graduates go on to college!!!! This is my investment into my child's future education. Their class sizes are small, each grade has approximately 20 students so there is a lot of one-on-one attention!! They offer tutorials for as young as 1st graders for students who need extra practice (what a great way to begin study habits). Graduates average 1.1 million dollars PER YEAR in MERIT-BASED scholarships! Amazing!!! Need I say more? I really can!! Anyway, so with the expense, with the process, I am highly motivated. I have high expectations for my childrens' education and Thomas Jefferson is the closest to match my expectations than any other option I have found and believe me, I have been looking!!!

The only down side (and it isn't much of a downside because of all the up-sides), my child is between 1 and 4 years ahead of his grade/age in various subjects. This school does not have an accelerated program, but is on par with curriculum being offered for 1st graders at other schools. The difference is ... see above!! Plus, in 7th grade they get to start Latin. They begin accelerated education in higher grades, so I'm not worried.

So, with the process started and finished and the waiting game commencing, we are at the middle of the month already.

Take a break if you need one ... this post is loooooong

Closer to Christmas we made sure to do our annual Gingerbread house. Aunt Chris joined us. We had a ton of fun with the assortment of candies and fondant. Be sure to catch the Hansel and Gretel witch at the top of the house. After it was all said and done I mentioned to Darin, "I bet you couldn't eat that witch without puking." Knowing he couldn't pass up a comment against his masculinity like this, of course, he had to wager a bet. I bet him $20 of our money that he couldn't do it. You'll see who won below.

Before moving out of Utah, the agreement I made Dylan's "one-Daddy" (as he calls him) was that Dylan will fly home three times per year. Every other Fall break, Christmas, Spring break, Thanksgiving and for 1/2 the summer as long as he is current on any support obligations. Dylan already flew in October for Fall break, all by himself. That was a hard. He loved it, of course. It was a great big adventure for a 6 yo. 2010 is the year for Fall break and Christmas. I booked tickets for all of us to go back to Utah to visit for Christmas.

The way airline tickets work is amazingly expensive. For one ticket, only available through Delta for an unaccompanied minor, tickets for Christmas were about $700 (total)!! I booked tickets for all four of us on a regional airline for the full break plus a week for $700!!! Darin still didn't have a job and so there was no point in him staying home, alone for Christmas so he got a ticket, too. We were days away from leaving on our Utah Christmas vacation ... and ...

Darin got a job! Of course, he has to take it. We aren't picky. It was a temporary job working at a call center offering IT support for tax software during tax season. He took the job and we took a plane. Before we left, we had Christmas for our family 12/18. Way early, but way fun. Pics to come.

Our family tradition for Christmas is to keep the meaning of Christmas as close to the surface as possible so we only get 3 gifts and our budget is small. The three gifts are symbolic to the 3 Christ got from the Wise Men. It works out even better than other Christmas' we've had or have heard about because the gifts become more meaningful and the Spirit is so much more evident as we ponder the true meaning of Christmas and the limit creates more personalized gifts. Plus, with small budgets, things get creative. This year I tried to stay away from buying books. I'm a book feign and my kids have a million books.

Christmas morning ...

Instead, Dylan got Legos, a Belt Blaster Nerf gun (he's been asking for since September) and a panda bear Pillow Pet. Abigail got a Lady Bug board game, a lady bug Pillow Pet and a magnetic dress-up doll. The gifts were perfect. The kids LOVED them. Dylan kept repeating "this Christmas was the best Christmas ever" and "the Legos were the best gift ever." Even after he came back from his "one-Dad's" house, he still said it!!! Whether it is his age and level of cognition or what, I don't care. I'm taking that compliment and keeping it close to my heart!!! What a doll for saying such ... oh, sorry, I'm not allowed to call him a doll anymore. He's my "action figure!" What a great action figure for saying such nice things and validating Mom's hard work to find the perfect gifts for Christmas. The kids carried their Pillow Pets everywhere the whole time we traveled to and from Utah. They were a big hit, too. Abigail swooned over her dress up doll and just loved it from morning until night the whole rest of the month.

Dylan had so much fun with his Belt Blaster, but I believe Uncle Bruce had the most fun trolling around the house and shooting anyone who was (or wasn't) looking! It was so fun. The kids got special gifts from Aunt Chris and Uncle Bruce, too. Abigail got chapstick and a necklace. Dylan got explorer gifts and a flashlight. Dylan made Abigail an ABC necklace so "she can learn her ABCs." She knows her letters and now she gets to learn what they look like. What a thoughtful kid.

This year we were able to do Christmas Eve PJs. The kids desperately needed new PJs and all our warm comfy PJs were in storage. We expected to be in our own place by now and able to wear them. Darn, but we did get to buy new ones. Yum!

Mom got a couple maternity sweaters for her gifts and the kids and Dad made her new church bags. Darin got a complete new dress outfit. He looks WAY nice. He got new khaki dress pants, a new button up dress shirt, a new silk tie, and new dress socks. He got to wear them earlier than our early Christmas since his gifts were to rock interviews and look oh-so professional!! I know it worked! He is such a stud.

The next day we were off to Utah, leaving behind my sweet husband. Bruce and Chris were also heading out to Utah for the holidays so Darin would be completely alone. I was bummed for him, but he was excited to have the time to knock out his studying and enjoy working a job for the first time in three months. I asked for members of our Ward to take him in for Christmas and/or Christmas Eve. I was sorely disappointed when he did not get much of an invitation and was ultimately forgotten about for the entire length of our adventures.

Needless to say, we were both worried for me 7 months pregnant with a toddler and a 6 yo traveling with 3 carry-ons and a laptop case through airports and on the plane with a car seat. Whew! It was a mess. People were generally nice about it until we got to Vegas. People were much less patient and kind in Vegas. Go figure. We made it, though. The trip was excellent. Abigail had a blast on her first airplane ride. The kids played well together and all was agreeable. We landed in Las Vegas and my sweet brother-in-law was there to pick us up. We had a great chat on the car ride home to my in-law's house. The next day, my sister came to pick us up from St. George and tow us home to Salt Lake City where I would get to spend the next two weeks with my Mom. It was a round-about and long way to get from Missouri to SLC, but we did it and we did it well. Thanks to all who helped us!!

I dropped Dylan off at his "one-Dad's" house, much to my dismay and Abigail and I began our two week visit with Grandma. It was awesome. Mom and I had a wonderful time catching up, talking about so many things, finding out what we had in common and how much we enjoy many of the same things. It was a re-connection that meant the world and more to me! I wouldn't trade any of the happenings over that two weeks for anything because I got so much more out of my relationship with my Mom than I thought possible. I got to visit family and friends. Abigail and I visited Klasina, Sarah, Sharane, Melissa, Kim, Jen and many other friends and family. I even got a surprise Christmas delivery from my husband. He ordered and sent me flowers, my favorites - Lilies! Mom and I got to go to the new Oquirrh Mountain temple.

Christmas came and went. We got to go to my Aunt's house and see the rest of my Mom's side of the family. It was so great to see everyone and hang out like old times. It was exactly what I was looking for. I had already missed my family soooo much more than I thought I would. Abigail got to play in the snow and got a new Christmas dress from Grandma.

New Year's came and went.

and now it is January ...

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