Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Visiting Layne and Anadeane

Over the summer we went to visit our dear friends Layne and Anadeane.  We were able to spend about a week there, including an Independence Day celebrations!
Little backstory.
John was baptized when he was 17.  Layne was his young men's president.  Beyond that Layne and Anadeane let John live with them for a while before he left on a mission.  They became family.
Now they are, in effect, grandparents to our kids.
Okay, more backstory.
Analee is, in part, named for Anadeane.  I spent so much time looking at names that it all became a blur before Analee was born.  I couldn't tell you where her name really came from.  Later, however, we realized something.  Not only do Anadeane and Analee share a syllable, but John's mom's name is Betty Lee.
Anadeane + Betty Lee = Analee
So, in honor of some lovely women, we reverse engineered her name and are even more pleased with it than we were before.

Back to the future.
Analee turned 7 this summer and, for the first time since she was a baby, we visited her namesake!
Layne setting up fireworks




Enjoying the fireworks.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Family Photos

During this summer, before we left for South Dakota, we did the family picture bit.  Of course, we're not usually good at the whole coordinating outfits bit, but this time, well, I forgot.
Yep, forgot about family pictures.  So I scrambled and got the younger three in blue and that's about all I could get.  Once I realized I couldn't get the older two to match I said bag it and John and I didn't even try for John and I.
Oh well.  It's closer to reality this way anyways, right?

This was about as happy as Drake got.  Not sure why, he just didn't feel like smiling much.

In this one Drake actually looks angry, but I promise he wasn't!

This one is pretty true to life as well.  Analee is generally happy and always has a cheesy smile to share for photos.  Bubby is 100% exactly however he feels, right here that's goofy.  Drake typically comes across as quietly mischievous and skeptical.  Gideon is usually a bit more cheery, but is always close on the heels of the older three. So far Benjamin is happy and excited to join in the fun.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What Does the Fox Say?

It's been a crazy long time.
Crazy Long.

But now that we have an internet connection, well, here we go.

Things didn't pan out in Nebraska.  Maybe someday we'll write down everything that happened, but not now.
What now?  South Dakota.

Yep.  South Dakota.

We live just outside of Hoven.  (That's Northern South Dakota, in case you were wondering.)  And, despite being August, my kids put coats on when they went out to play this morning.  I can't complain too much though.  We've been here almost two weeks and I can already seem improvements on ol' NE.  There is slightly more variance in the landscape.  You know, instead of paper flat it's like blanket flat.  Still flat, but at least you can see things.  I'm also pretty surprised about the wildlife here.  In addition to the to-be-expected deer, we've seen frogs, foxes, turtles and a whole slew of birds, including heron and ducks and seagulls.  Seriously, seagulls.  We've got some marshy areas around plus a lake maybe 15 miles away.  That's our best guess as to why they'd be here.  I wouldn't have guessed that as a good enough reason, but there you go.
But I'm not gonna lie, I think the part that gets me to most are the foxes.  Have you ever heard a fox?  'Cause, despite popular media choices, they don't say "hockey hockey hockey po".  That first night was bizarre.  I had no idea what I was hearing.  That noise sounded like it should be coming out of the mouth of a baby moose.  Don't know what I'm talking about?  Well, this Animal Planet post is pretty good for that.  You can hear different fox calls as well as an explanation for that "hockey po" bit.  I'll let you guess which fox calls I've been hearing.  

But, strangely enough, one of the biggest plusses has been the dirt.  Have you ever been grateful for the dirt?  I realize that farmers think about dirt a lot.  But do the rest of us?  Well, I didn't until Nebraska.  Let me tell you about Nebraska dirt.  It's pretty much a combination of sand and dust (which, as a side note, grows spurs and not grass).  And when it rains that leaves you with a combination of mud and quicksand.  Multiple times we were 'mudded in'.  Traipse up North a bit.  It's just dirt.  Virginia was clay.  Nebraska was sandy dust.  South Dakota has dirt.  Right now we could use some rain, so it's dry, but it's just dirt.  And it grows grass.  The kids were so excited when they could walk outside without being stabbed.  Totally not kidding.

Anyways, sorry I don't have pictures now.  But I'm thinking I need to pull out the camera again.  Every spring I used to go picture happy.  In Virginia at least.  Not in Nebraska.  But maybe in South Dakota.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The More, the Merrier!

Currently, we have ten people living in what is a 3-bedroom one story home with a basement.  Four of us live upstairs in two of the bedrooms, the other bedroom is the TV room, and six of us live in the basement.  Mom and Dad have their room, and the girls (Anja and Analee) live across the hall from them.  Anika, Gideon, and I have a room downstairs.  Josiah, Bub, and Duck share a room, as well.  Today we add to the mix Aunt (or sister) Erika, who will live in what is known here as the Little House.  (It's basically a converted wood shop out back.)  So 11, now.  Three bathrooms help, but we need to get another shower operational, or shower time will be an even bigger mess here. 

Dad is running for city council here in Lincoln, and has put Anika to work on social media, so expect more of that coming soon.  Feel free to like Dad even if you aren't in the area.  We'll post something when we get his stuff up.  Anika and I registered to vote here in Lincoln, so he's got our votes, for sure.

I'm applying to a number of jobs in the area.  One of them seems fun; I am applying to tutor the jocks at UNL.  I'd get paid well-ish, and it'd be fun to work at UNL.  I'm also applying for teaching certification here in Nebraska.  I don't know what the future holds, but I'm willing to embrace it.  I am no longer complaining about where I live; instead, I'm happy to be somewhere.  Can't wait for the future!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Normal

We're starting to get used to the new normal.  Life is still up in the air, but we're still finding pieces of normality all around.  We're settling into a new rhythm that meshes with our now-huge household.  I get up first usually, around 5 or 6 in the morning.  Then we do our best to both keep busy and out of Mom's way until it's time for combined bed time.  Then heck breaks loose as 5 kids brush teeth and get ready for bed, then songs, scriptures, prayer, and books for everybody, and then screaming (er...ahem...bedtime) for our two oldest boys, while our girl and Aunt Anja (8 years old) and Uncle Josiah (10) listen to a chapter book.  I usually go to sleep between our boys' bedtime and Josiah, who shares a room with them.

All of the kids here (all six of them!) are trying to find their place in the new household, which means fighting and limit testing.  Luckily for us, they mostly sleep through the night.  We find the line between parent and brother/sister/grandma/grampa is a difficult one to toe, but I think offense is being limited, for the most part.

We're going car hunting tomorrow, so normalcy might start returning in a big way.  Once I have a car, I can start really job hunting.  I'll probably end up substitute teaching, but I need a teaching license here in Nebraska before I can do so.  In the meantime, I plan on working at some store that is desperate for work (there are a lot in the area, apparently), just to earn a little bit of a living.

Our kids are getting ready for Christmas, which means ever-changing Christmas lists and fighting over whose will be the best.  I don't want anything for Christmas but a job, and nobody that lives here can give that to me.  So I honestly hope I don't get anything, though I have a lot of desires.  After moving recently and hoping to move again soon, I don't want anything else to schlep from here to wherever we end up.

I continue putting in applications, hoping against hope that someone will hire me.  I continue to find that in this profession, it's more about who you know than what.  I might be the best teacher the world's ever seen, but can't get a job because I'm not good at making connections with adults.  (I'm great with kids, though, I swear!)

In the meantime, the world keeps turning, and eventually life will go on.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Blessings from the Storm

As mentioned, we've noticed a number of blessings from the accident.  Among them are the following:

1.  Our Cutco knives were among the last things packed, and they weren't packed solidly.  In fact, that box wasn't even closed.  And it was in the front seat, next to me and in front of the kids.  They never moved.  We totaled our car, but the knives never moved.

2.  Razor blades were flying around the car in the accident, but nobody got hit.  As we were getting out, my good wife saw one on top of the air bag. 

3.  We all literally walked away.  Admittedly, I stumbled out first, and then assured the paramedic that came running behind the car that we were fine.  I then looked back and saw my wife gasping for air.  (Needless to say, our air conditioning was toast, and spitting out smoke.)  I then pried her door open and we stumbled out and away from the car.  The kids (especially John William Adams) were so enamored with the wreck that they kept going back to it.  The sheriff told us to keep our kids off the bridge where we wrecked, so we tried.  Occasionally a kid got away from us.

4.  We were on the bridge, so we could crash into the wall, and not fall into a ditch.    If we'd have hit the ditch, we probably would have rolled.  Drake's car seat came unhitched during the accident, and if it'd happened in a roll, who knows what kind of damage would have been done?

5.  We got to meet the Daetwylers.  Awesome people.

6.  Analee wasn't there.  Grandma picked her up earlier, much to Anika's chagrin.  If she'd have been there, it would have been mayhem.

7.  We left my car in Buena Vista.  We didn't know why, but we got the clear impression to do so.  Turns out to have been great counsel.  What kind of accident would it have been if both cars were involved?

8.  The car was luckily totaled.  That means we don't have to go back and get it, and can get a "new" car in roughly the same condition as the old one.

9.  The police, EMT's, and other helping personnel were great.  We loved meeting and working with them.

10.  Most of our new ward knew who we were when we got here.  Instead of being just another new family, we're the family that got in the wreck on the way to town.  People we didn't know were coming up to us and talking to us on the first day, just to talk about the wreck.

So yes, the wreck was an unpleasant experience.  We still don't have a car quite yet.  Some of our stuff was broken (a Wii game part and a bread maker, not to mention car seats, which is really not much).  It's kinda thrown off some of our plans.  That said, we really find the blessings of the Lord, even in the clouds of life.  Some people find reasons to believe the Lord isn't there in the hard times.  We're not those people.  The Lord loves us.  In this, we are assured.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

We're here!

Despite delays, we're actually in Lincoln, now!  ...and have been for about a week!

When we left Buena Vista last Tuesday, we expected to get to Lincoln in two long days.  It's about 1,100 miles distance, so we were braced for a long couple of days.

We were nowhere near prepared for what happened.

As we drove through Evansville, Indiana, I started thinking that we should stop.  My wife, on the other hand, always wants to get a bit farther.*  So we started to aim for Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  We got to about 4 miles from the Illinois border, and my wheel jerked to the left with no real cause.  I was in the wall and knew it'd be bad right away.  It turns out the van was totaled in the wreck, and the trailer with all of our stuff was on its side.  Luckily, nobody else was involved in the crash.  ...and we all literally walked away from the accident, though Drake had a limp for a few days. 

Great.  Now what?

So the police that showed up took us to a hotel (in Evansville), which was very nice of them.  One of them even gave Anika a coat because we just weren't prepared to wreck.  He also gave us his phone number just in case we needed it.  I can't say anything ill about the police.

So we called Anika's parents to let them know that we wouldn't be there the next day.  Then Anika started the insurance phone calls.  They lasted for days.  ...and our phone was quickly losing power.  The next day, still doing the insurance shuffle, our phone died.  That night, we asked Mom to put us in touch with a local bishop.  (We should have done that right when we got to the hotel room, in hindsight.)  He came over that night and started the process of helping us out.

Thursday morning, the Elders' Quorum president showed up to give us a ride to the Uhaul place, where we could get a truck to take us to Lincoln.  Then I went back to the hotel.  My wife and stuff were gone.  No worries, I figure, Bishop told us that Anika could spend some time with the sisters.  She'll be back soon.  At about noon, I ate the muffin that I'd picked up for her.  At about 2, I ate another.  Where was she?  At about 2:45, she called.  "What are you doing there?!?"  "Uhh...where should I be?"  About 5 minutes later, housekeeping showed up to let me know that my wife had checked out that morning.  (Wasn't it nice of her to tell me?!?)  I asked for a few minutes more to figure out where I was going, it was granted, and I called my wife back to figure out where I was going and when.

The high priest group leader was the next to call, and he set up time to move things from our newly busted trailer to our newly picked up truck.  That took about half an hour, and then off we went to the Relief Society president's home.

I should say right off the bat that we love the Daetwylers.  They took care of us and went far above the call of duty.  I'll let Anika write a bit more about them.  Needless to say, in my eyes they can do no wrong.

Still continuing the insurance boogie, Anika found a way to get us a car to get to Lincoln.  We picked it up on Friday morning, and then started to plan to get to Lincoln.  We decided to leave Friday afternoon, which put us through St. Louis right at rush hour (YAY!).  We stopped somewhere in Missouri that night, and then got to Lincoln on Saturday.

We've been unpacking and Thanksgiving ever since.  Literally.  We've noticed the blessings of the Lord being poured out on us from the first few minutes after the crash, but we're noticing them more and more since then.  The good Lord loves us.

That said, the hunt for a new family car begins.  Anyone want to give us a van?

* When we were first married (and less smart), we drove across the country a few times.  One day, we left Elko, Nevada.  As we passed through Cheyenne, Wyoming at about 9 PM, I thought it was about time to stop.  She asked "can we make it to Lincoln safely?"  "I guess."  I said.  About 8 hours later, we got to Lincoln.  It was horrific.  1,100 miles in one day.