Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Okay, must admit here, I have never really been into Halloween. I do not enjoy scary movies and I don't appreciate gore. Having said that, I think it's darling when kids choose something they want to be in real life, for their Halloween costume. Benny wants to be a fireman, of course. Who wouldn't? Everything firetruck here, especially when we're in need of a bribery, ehem, "encouragement" tool. Benny didn't want to come out of the McDonald's play area, so "Benny, should we go find a firetruck?" It was time for potty-training, so "Benny, you get to wear the fireman's hat and blow the horn when you go potty!" And when it's time for bed? You got it, firetruck jammies. Can't complain at all though, who doesn't want their son to aim for hero status? Here's to the day we get to dream big. Happy Halloween, all!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Wilds of Connecticut

"Welcome to the wilds of Connecticut!" one person told me. This is our neighbor, Baloo, he is one of the bears that live in our area. I suppose you know you're living rural when you see more wildlife than humans. At first Baloo was exciting and we took pictures and admired him from afar. He is big, seems majestic, and unusual. Then he became a nuisance. He tore the lock and trim off the shed door and took our trash. He poops on our lawn. He leaves just enough fear in our hearts to not let Benny fully enjoy the large yard we have. Baloo is not welcome here, and I can think of a great place for a bearskin rug... or two or three.

Having said that, we do appreciate the beauty of this place. We truly live in the middle of the woods where the stars are breathtaking, the wildlife is amazing, the nature is calming, and the privacy is comforting. Home feels like Heaven here. It's not fancy, it's just a haven from the world. It was our only option, if we were going to live in Canton, and I feel blessed to know that it was saved for us. The fireplace is set to go, for that first cozy night of hot chocolate and cider. I feel it in my bones, it's not too far away!

The mountains aren't nearly as rugged and steep as they are in the Rockies, but the woods are. We're not high in altitude but we're high in seasons. The rivers are wider and calmer and the lakes are pristine. The trails beckon, the attractions call, the adventure awaits. We have only just begun. NYC is incredible, Boston is exciting, Rhode Island is dreamy. The ocean seems easy-going, but the weather is definitely opinionated. History surrounds us while the future lies at our toes. Ready, set, go, we're stepping ahead.

The "wilds of Connecticut" are just that - wild. As my mom keeps saying, it's like another country here, but somehow we find our sense of home sweet home the minute we pull up our (roughly) 1/3 mile gravel driveway and walk through the doors which are open to all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

We've Moved!

From the rugged Rocky Mountains to the peaceful towns of New England. Our family made a change that has shocked us more than we ever dreamed. In a good way. Moves in the past have been simple, dare I say "easy"compared this 2500 mile adventure, but the adventure continues day by day and we are blessed to be a part of the Canton community in Connecticut. In the 3 months that we've been here we have done well in transition and adjustment to new surroundings, culture, and accents, and... roads.

The house is on 14 acres, but only a couple are cleared (but mowing a couple acres is all we need!). We are in the middle of the woods, complete with multiple bear, dear, turkey, woodchucks, bobcats, coyotes, and any other New England wild animal you can think of. It took a while to adjust to that, but we have now named our visitors, and enjoy taking pictures of them. The ward is enormous, geographically, and small in numbers. Visiting teaching is a whole new kind of assignment out here - I drive about an hour each way, for one visit--but the rewards seem that much greater!

As for each of us in the adjustment:

Dave stepped right into his career in the insurance industry, a huge change from academia to say the least, and appears to be successful and content in his assignments and experiences there. It's a new rhythm and routine, new colleagues, and new opportunities. Future's looking bright for him, and the kids and I are proud of his progress.

I've jumped into my new territory with PARAGON, so far so good. Lots of potentials out there, and it's still early in the game. With several seminars and conventions coming up, I'm hopeful for a fantastic first year here. Otherwise, it's all about settling into the new home with the family, establishing a good routine for the kids, and finding a little time to set personal goals as well.

Dania is off to BYU but has already been back for a visit here. We saw a Broadway show in NYC, went to Rhode Island, Cape Cod, and Boston for flights. She has her new room all set up, and knows it awaits her. We are forever looking forward to the next visit, but are thrilled to Skype with her weekly. She is doing better than ever, off on her own, we couldn't me more pleased with her college experience so far.

Tori is incredible. I don't know of another 16-year old that could move across the country with as much grace and positive attitude as she has. She's jumped right into yet another school curriculum (3rd in 3 years), cross country team, and the youth at church. She is working hard toward college right now, it's a big year for her where that goes, and we are very proud of her hard work and amazing efforts. ACT this month, cross country season now, stake youth committee all year, and oh yeah... great grades. I don't know how she does it all.

Benny is a big boy and now goes to preschool. He just turned 3, is potty trained, sleeps in a big bed, and as usual, keeps us hopping. He has adjusted very very well, thankfully, and appears to be thriving in this new community. His favorite thing to do here is to jump on the tramp while Dave mows the lawn for hours on end.

All in all, all is well. Enough about the change, and on to real life at home here in Connecticut!


"And then what?" someone once taught me to ask, when facing life's pivotal points. 4 months ago Dania graduated high school. I held it together during the ceremony, much to my surprise. Until their entire class stood up and did a flash-mob dance for the whole audience. What a fun way to give back to the people who had been supporting them for the last 18 or so years. While I watched them move in unison, I looked for familiar faces. Kids who had been in our home countless times, kids I had photographed at races or concerts or awards ceremonies. I saw them all. Smiling, celebrating, moving on. I found Dania again. It hit me. This was the end of the life I had worked so hard to keep together, and I would somehow have to find it in my heart to let her go and support her in her efforts to stretch her wings and fly solo. And then what?

Now she attends BYU and I stalk her on facebook daily. We Skype. We text. We call. I see her growing into the independent person she thought she was since kindergarten, bless her heart, and sure enough she is incredible. She's taking hard classes and acing tests and making friends and setting her bar high. She's preparing for the future and making herself known. And then what? Where will this path lead her? Where will this path lead our family?

There is a void in our home, that is only partially filled during our Sunday afternoon Skype sessions. We miss her deeply. Even with another teenager and toddler in the home, it is significantly quieter around here. But in that calm, it seems right, gosh darn it, and I can't deny it. It's right to be proud of her decisions and it's right to celebrate with her the fantastic consequences of good hard effort and it's right to go to her room and sniff her pillows every now-and-again just to feel her close. It's right that she's gone and it's right that she will come back. It makes me think of the eternal plan for us and how Heavenly Father must feel while we're away. I'm sure with my family here on Earth, Heaven is significantly less chaotic and more orderly. I doubt my heavenly parents sniff my celestial pillow but I know they watch me closely, and as I send an occasional something to Dania while she's away, I know they send things into my life to make it more interesting and bearable.

So here's to looking back and taking comfort. Here's to enjoying the moment. And here's to looking ahead and wondering where our path will take us next. A very belated hats (with four corners) off to you, Dania, for choosing your path well. You're an inspiration to watch. We are proud to be your parents and family. We miss you. We look forward to November 23rd for a quick Thanksgiving visit, and even more to Christmas break. Keep looking ahead, setting your bar, and taking those steps.

Big Boy Ben (and the golden Birthday)

4 years ago we gave up. Literally. I got a job, sold the Suburban, bought a Jetta, lost my weight, and moved on. 3 years ago, we couldn't believe our eyes. Red and wrinkly, soft and warm, and straight from Heaven. 2 years ago he walked and talked and filled our home and days and lives with immeasurable joy. 1 year ago we couldn't keep up with him - a tornado of energy, happiness, innocence. Today, our big boy Ben turns 3. More than ever we celebrate his presence in our family and the glorious chaos and noise and mess that he makes. We celebrate the miracle of life and answers to prayer and yes, even God's plan and timing in all things. More than ever, we celebrate Ben--his personality, his smile, his wit, his sweetness, his comedy, his strength, his voice, his laughter. Happy birthday to Ben, our constant reminder that "Sunday will come."