All the Small Things

There are a lot of things about California that drive me bonkers. But, for me, this is home. And I do love bits and pieces of this place. For example, I looked out my window and saw this:

In the middle of November, people!

Flowers till Thanksgiving time? Love it.


Go Bananas!

Emmy had her first finger food. An ooey, gooey, mushy banana. She kinda liked it. Of course, most of it ended up smashed on the fabric of the chair. But, we all gotta start somewhere, eh?


On the Move: Part 7

I scoured the internet daily. I looked in the local newspaper. I made my mother-in-law drive around town and take pictures of homes with signs in the front.

We narrowed it down and Allen viewed a number of homes during one of this trips out to California. He saw lots of homes that would work. But, not very much that we would really like. He had one appointment left but prepared me to make the move homeless. We would crash with his parents and try to find a rental a.s.a.p. when we got here.

When he got home, he told me that the last appointment had been promising. He was pretty sure he had found the house. He insisted I fly out to see it for myself. And I did. If you missed the story, you can find it here.

I drove up to a street full of kids playing ball. There were stationary crossing guard signs posted at either end of the street so that drivers had to slow down to go around them. Clearly, this was a kid friendly kinda place.

I saw the house.

When I walked through the door, I saw this large living/bonus room in front of me. To the right, is a room that could be a bedroom or office.
Looking back toward the front door.
Then, I saw the kitchen. Which is connected to the family room.
I can cook and visit at the same time.
I checked out the kids' rooms.

And took a look at the back yard.
I stepped out onto the front porch and saw this view.

I walked down the street and found this awesome park.
Almost across the street. With two play areas: one for the little kids and one for the big kids. Basketball courts that are removed from the play ground (you know, so the shortlings don't have to be around strange folk using questionable language), a pavillion, lit baseball/softball field and gobs of open space.  

 Allen was right; he'd found our house.


On the Move: Part 6

There was a hestiant pause.

"Um. Trace? We don't even know them."

"I know! But it's them. It's totally them. We'll fight about it later."

Just a few weeks prior, a new family had moved into our ward. A family of 6. They were coming back home to be close to their family in New Mexico. They had, to put it mildly, traveled a pretty rocky road the past few years. And from what I knew, by no fault of their own. Mom and Dad were both working full time. They were in a temporary housing situation that was, to put it kindly, less than ideal for their family. And, they had a newborn.

It would be perfect. They would have a house to live in with an awesome yard, great schools and good neighbors. The commute would be short. They could fit their whole family. Now, I just had to convince them of the same thing.

The next week at church, I pulled the mom aside. I chanced coming off as a total nutcase and relayed the entire experience to her. I was pretty sure she would chalk me up as the local nutjob and go about her way. After all, I hadn't said two words to her before all of this.

When I got done telling her what the arrangement would be if they were interested, she had tears in her eyes. With all they had endured and suffered through in the last year, it was easy to feel like they had been forgotten. Like when they would come up for air, something was waiting to push them back down.

To have me tell her that I had that type of experience regarding their family reminded her that Heavenly Father doesn't forget us. When times are hard, our struggles do not go unnoticed. He does know our hearts and hopes and he cares for us.

Allen and I agreed that we didn't really know these people. But, we were being prayerful and obedient about every step of the process. Whether we knew this family or not wasn't important. Trusting in the Lord. That's what was important. In no way do I think their moving into our area just as we had finally made the choice to move away was a coincidence.  He made a way for both of our families to prosper.

We worked out the details. They checked out the place. And they said yes.

As with most events in our lives that are directed by Heavenly Father, the pieces were falling into place.

We had all of the details worked out.

Well, almost.

Except that itty, bitty, tiny detail about where the heck we were gonna live.


On the Move: Part 5

Now what do we do? Did we really just agree to move? When do we go? How long will we be gone? What are we going to do with our house? The horse? All of our stuff? Can we afford it? Will our house get trashed? Will we get there and realize we really do hate it?

We set out to answer those questions to the best of our ability. The rest? We left it up to the Lord. (As a wise friend once said to me: His plan is always so much better than ours anyway.)

The date: November 1st. A mere 6 weeks away.

How long: 18 months.

The horse: super neighbor next door would throw hay at her for us.

Our stuff: Sandia pays for packing, moving, unpacking and haul away of boxes.

Our vehicles: Shipped. Why not just drive? Um, do any of you want to drive for 2 days with my 3 kids? Exactly.

The dog: Fly.

Us: Sandia covered 5 full price tickets for us. Squee!

Could we afford it: Sandia would pay us a monthly stipend to rent a home. And, California's economy took a big dump so we could actually find ourselves a really nice house in our budget.

But what about our house: Well, since we were getting a stipend to live in California, we had to find someone to occupy our home for free. When the word got out, some of our friends mentioned they would be interested.

September was slipping through our fingers. We needed to start making things happen. I kept going through the names of those folks I thought could be possibilities. None felt right.

The end of September arrived. Still no one.

One morning, I was mentally running through the names again. Every one of them was a clear no. Who then? Who should be in this house? Over and over, the list rolled through my mind.

And then, as clear as day, the face of a man came into my mind. It was them! Oh my gosh. It made total sense. How could I have missed this?

I called Allen.

"I know who it is!"

"What are you talking about?"

"The people who should live in the house. DUH."



"Oooohhh. Who?"


On the Move: Part 4

The advance warning we had received about moving was still kicking around in the back of our minds. We felt we had been given a heads-up of sorts and didn't want to miss the boat. We also didn't want to make any assumptions (like we would be moving to California) about what could really happen. What if we were going to be moving elsewhere? What would it really take for us to leave behind everything we had built in New Mexico? Would we ever be willing to walk away? After all of the blood, sweat and tears we'd put into the place?

Let's not forget we moved from California for some pretty legitimate reasons. We don't like the political climate. We don't like the overall moral standing of the people influencing the powers that be (and I'm not talking about gay marriage thank-you-very-much). We don't like the way the state does business. We hated the outrageous taxes. And most of all, the invasive nature of the laws that are being passed make us want to pipe bomb the capital building.

That being said, a good part of our family lives there. Oddly enough, we both grew up in the town where we would have to relocate back to. Going back would be like coming home.

By the end of the summer, I was finally open to the idea of moving.

Allen was not. He was pretty sure moving back would be like living in hell. He was kind and patient with my constant mentioning of the idea, but it was mostly the art of "yes, dear" and not real intent.

As it was, our niece was turning 8 in August. She was also going to be baptized. We had decided a couple of years ago we would make the trip out when she got baptized and confirmed.

I was able to convince Allen to use our visit as a litmus test of sorts. If we had a great time, we would be open to the idea of moving. If we had a craptastic time, and believe me when I say the odds were in favor of this, we would grin and bear his assignment from New Mexico.

And, much to our surprise, we had an awesome time. Sure, Allen and I loved catching up with our friends and family. But, what really got us thinking was the reaction our kids had to being around their friends and family.

They seemed so much more alive. They were happy. They screamed and ran and hugged and laughed. Being around family created a whole dimension in their lives.

When we left, they sobbed. And hiccuped. And had quivering lips. They had never shown us this type of attachment to anything before. It was clear the trip had made an impression on their little hearts.

The next week Allen was telling his boss about the fun vacation we had out in California. Within 3 hours time, his boss called him back and told him, "We could really use a guy like you out there full time. If you want to go, you're approved."

At that point, the right choice became crystal clear. We were moving.


On the Move: Part 3

Time marched on. Allen flew to California at least every other week. He kept telling me he was trying to go as little as possible, but every time I checked our email I saw another "Ticketless Travel Passenger Itinerary". I was recovering from a c-section, had a refluxing, food allerging, colicing newborn, a really pissed off 16 month old and a 4 year old who was practically raising herself. To use the word "basketcase" is an understatement.

Working in California, he wasn't happy. He wasn't doing what he wanted to be doing at work. He wasn't working with the people he expected to be working with. His dream job was at the Z Machine. He was excited to be on the project and his team members. In New Mexico.

You see, Allen had just been hired to work on the Z Machine when this whole NIF project emergency came to a head. He had been working at Z for about a month, maybe 6 weeks tops, when his boss took him aside and explained the situation:

NIF (National Ignition Facility) was hurting. Congress could see that the big plan wasn't achieving much. Congress would cut the budget if NIF didn't hurry up and produce some results. Why does this matter to a little ol' vacuum engineer in New Mexico? Because NIF and the Z Machine are different projects working to achieve the same result. On good days, they are friendly (or not so friendly depending on the labby you ask) competitors. Of the two, NIF is, nationally and politically, more visible. NIF fails. Z fails. The best hands on deck were being pulled from Z and sent to NIF.

He would come home frustrated. He was becoming short with the kids. He wasn't able to focus on any task or project at home any more. I could see this whole arrangement was taking a toll on him.

Combine the stress of a new baby, a new job, another new job in a different state, working with a bunch of jerks all of the time, and a spazzed out wife and you're looking at one mess of a man. We talked seriously of looking for different employment. We talked about trying to ease out of the NIF scene all together. If it was a possibility, we were open to discussion. At the end of each talk, we both knew he could not walk away. It would destroy his career. He spoke candidly with his managers and they told him the same thing. We were married to this, for better or worse.

On the Move: Part 2

During the blessing, he counseled me to "be prepared to move."

I know my eyes were as big as saucers.  I tried to downplay the implications of this information: Yeah, but it's the Lord's time. We could be, like, 80 or something.

Allen chuckled and said, "Totally. Except as we were visiting afterward, he said how sad he's going to be to lose us. That we would be around to have the baby, but it wouldn't be long after that."

We decided this could mean a few different things for us. We pondered this counsel and came up with a plan.

First, we studied the phrasing of the advice. Be prepared to move. Not, "you will be moving." You know, sometimes we are asked to be ready for events that may never actually transpire. However, the test is in your obedience to the request. In other words: we weren't really buying into it.

Second, Allen interpreted this as: save money and have no debt. It was time to "hit the mattresses". We would stop all unnecessary spending and make sure we could walk away clean. I'm sure this comes as a shock to most of you.

Third, I interpreted this as: dump gobs of money into the house to make it sale ready. Read: finally remodel my crappy ass kitchen. I'd been waiting patiently, you know.

After some fist fights discussion and prayer, we decided we would clean the place up, try to eliminate any debts we had, and save as much money as reasonably possible so that we would be prepared to leave.

If it ever really happened.


On the Move: Part 1

Our move has not gone without notice, I'm sure. I've cryptically mentioned it a bazillion times. What has been lacking is an explanation and the spiritual experience that has accompanied our decision.

I've decided the easiest way to explain the entire story is to do so chronologically. You'll have to excuse the lengthy paragraphs. I'm trying to include lots of the details; not only for you, but for the future readers who will have to understand this whole thing out of context. 

Allen began working 50% of his time in California in February. He would travel every other week for a few days at a time. We knew that the travel amount would increase as time went on. We had been told the project would complete phase 1 near the end of March 2011. Let's not forget, however, that he is working for the government and these things have a tendency to be over budget and behind on deadlines. And that this was phase 1. In fact, when Allen came home to tell me they had pulled him for this assignment, I believe the first words out of my mouth were "When are we moving back to California?". I was half joking.

Allen was very upfront when he was approached about this job. He explained he had a pregnant wife, two kids 4 and under at home, and no family nearby to help when he was out of town. While his boss and peers were sympathetic to his situation, it was made very clear to him that this job would entail lots of travel. 

We talked about it and agreed that he could not refuse the job. He could not bow out of the project. It would be career damaging.

Allen would come and go. Work was extremely stressful. I was extremely grumpy. I was mad I was alone with the kids during the week. I was mad when he was home on the weekends. He would come home and need to catch up the chores, and I would, once again, be alone with the kids. I tried so hard to be happy and nice and supportive, but the sarcastic comments just kept slipping out. Allen was getting crapped on at work. He was getting crapped on at home. It wasn't pretty. 

I think it was March when he had an appointment with our stake president. Our stake president is an incredible man. You know all those shorts they have on mormon.org now? Yeah. He travels to Europe to film them. His wife? The primary president in their ward. They have 4 kids. So, he's the stake president and he works on another continent. And, he always seems glad to see us. Super awesome. Ok, so every time you meet with the guy, he gives you a priesthood blessing.

When Allen came home from the  meeting, I asked how it had gone. Great. Good. Did you get a blessing? Yeah. Well? It was nice. That's it? Um, well, I kinda don't want to mention this but...

Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: Parent Your Child, Not Your Childhood

Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: Parent Your Child, Not Your Childhood: "When I was a little girl, I always wanted a Little Tykes cozy coupe car. But alas, I never got one. But you know who has one? McKenna. Whe..."



Halloween is, by far, my most favorite holiday of the year. I put up decorations September 30. I love to watch the scary movies that are on TV all month long. I love the fall smells and the baking. And the candy. And mostly the sweet smell of candy on my kids breath as they snuggle in after a night of treats and fun.

This year was a little different for our family. We were so focused on getting to California, I didn't even decorate. We didn't carve pumpkins or make caramel apples. We didn't make ghosty sugar cookies either.

We did dress the kiddos up and go to a few parties. We did some light trick-or-treating on our block but turned in pretty early. The kids had fun, but I really hope to go over the top next year when we can savor the season.
Sleeping Beauty ready for her preschool party. Families were invited to attend so Addie and Emmy got to come too.

Addie snuck off and suckered the teacher and mommies into filling her bag even though she wouldn't play any games.
Emmy was happy to play the whole time without any fuss.
Lexi and her awesome teacher, Mrs. Kinghorn.
On the way to trunk or treat at church. Addie thought it was just so funny to wear her candy bag on her head.
We were so disorganized that night. We grabbed dinner and ate while we trunk or treated.
Sleeping Beauty, our Monkey and cheerleader after a night on the town.


Bye Rio Grande Zoo

While Allen was busy courting his mistress working on the shed, I took the kids to the zoo. Of course, I enlisted the help of our trusty and wonderful babysitter, Kaylie. She was, as usual, awesome and totally saved my hide and prevented multiple public beatings from occurring.

The weather was great and the kids had tons of fun.

Addie ready to go!
Emily loved the zoo this time.
This is Kaylie. She has been a real life saver for our family. When I asked Lexi if she would miss her she said, "No. 'Cause she's always going to be in my heart."
Some kind of wild African cow.
This was the first time we'd ever seen the hippos out of the water. They are the weirdest animals ever.
When we stood around for a few minutes, the mama hippo got up and got the baby up and in the water. She kept nudging the daddy hippo, but he ignored her and just kept sleeping. Shocking, I know.
Throwing food to the ducks and Coi fish.
They have free roaming peacocks throughout the zoo. This one was perched up there with her two babies as we were leaving.
Lexi enjoying some R&R on the lawn during lunch.
We're going to miss this zoo. It's so clean and has so many nice exhibits. I love how close you can get to each of the animals. Not to mention, it was only 20 minutes from our house and was never crowded. If you're ever in the Albuquerque area and need something really fun and easy to do for half a day, this is definitely the place to go.



One of the integral parts of our landscaping master design was a shed. This shed would house our sprinkler timer, pump for the well that runs said sprinklers, all of the corresponding electrical, all of the yard tools, and have a workbench for Allen to do his projects.

The sprinkler timer and electrical for the pump are, by far, the most important parts of the entire deal. See, the current set up has the timer and pump running off of a 15 amp breaker. However, it really needs a 20 amp. So, like, every 3rd or 4th watering cycle, the breaker pops and we have to manually reset everything. This causes us stress and is quite annoying 'cause if we forget, the sprinklers don't run. If the sprinklers don't run, our grass and trees die. If our grass and trees die, Allen and I go into a downward spiral of despair and depression.

I'm sure you see the seriousness of the situation.

Well, this shed kinda never made it on our "to do" list. 'Cause we mostly remember about the amp problem and the yard stays nice. It's one of those things that as the owner you deal with because, meh, you're the owner and you just do. But then we get word we're being relocated and all of a sudden this project gets moved to numero uno on the list. I mean, to expect someone else to deal with that type of nonsense would be way too risky.

And I'm not gonna lie. This shed was the cause of much contention in our household. We (meaning myself and Allen) have (notice I said "have" - as in still don't see eye to eye on this thing) two very different schools of thought on this one.

Me: I'm alone all the damn time and don't want to be alone on the weekends too while Allen builds the shed. Super solution: buy a shed. It's as easy as 1. look at sheds, 2. pay for shed, and 3. put shed in yard. Ta da! Insta-shed. To me, Allen's time is more valuable in some instances than the money we save by doing something ourselves.

Allen: I can save myself money on the shed and we're always on the precipice of financial disaster so I better not spend any more money than absolutely necessary. Plus, my stem wall dimensions are not standard and thus, I cannot buy a prefabricated shed and have it fit my location. Not to mention, we would have to put an assembled shed into our fully fenced yard and this cannot possibly be done. No one, in the history of all yards on the earth, has ever put a fabricated shed into an already fenced yard. It is an impossible feat. I shall build the shed myself. 

I stomped my foot and said no; he built the shed. I contemplated torching it. He whispered sweet nothings to it. You see, now the shed is the other woman in our lives.

This is mid-July. Allen framed out the stem walls and poured the concrete expecting to have it done during the summer.
This is September. Finally framing the walls. In an effort to give him some privacy with his mistress, I took the kids (with the help of our awesome babysitter - yeah, I'm not gonna lie - I'm too chicken to take all three by myself. Don't judge.) to the zoo for 5 hours.
Five hours later he had framed up all 4 of the walls and was working on trusses.

End of Day 1.
Trusses up and siding going on.
The roof! The roof!
The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire!
We don't need to water! Let the mutha - I mean - Allen putting on the tar paper.
Roof done.
Windows on each side. You know, for ambiance and such.
Right now it has a simple dirt floor, but someday he plans on putting pavers in there.
And the door on. Complete with dead bolt. And, yes, it was locked when we left.
Allen still has to do some finish work and run the electrical through the piping he installed when we trenched for the sprinkler system. Then, he can put the sprinkler timer and pump controls, with correct amperage available, into the shed so we will have a totally automated system.

I know. I should be so grateful that I'm married to such an awesome guy. He can design and build rockets. He can design and build sheds. He works hard. Ok. I get it. And he did a nice job. He always does. And he did save us money. You're right, ok. OK?!?

I still hate it.

About Me

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.