First of all, I love it here. It's different than I had envisioned, and in many ways for the better. People are kind and friendly --not one person has said anything rude about my kids or how many kids I have! We live in neighborhood with very large lots (.5 to 1.5 acres per house) and so there's a lot of privacy and quiet. Our driveway is long and narrow (all driveways here are long and narrow!) and we have massive amounts of grass and trees and bushes.
The other day I saw a rabbit bounding quickly across our backyard. We've spotted hawks, red cardinals, squirrels, deer (lots of deer), raccoons, lots of bugs, and tons of farm animals (mostly sheep, horses, and cows). The trees are king and rule the area --most homes and buildings have been built around them, near them, beside them, and it's interesting to see tree lines --where they just cut until they needed to and then stopped. This might not be interesting or strange to anyone but me (or people who have lived in the west or midwest or desert?), but I'm used to trees needing to be planted, you know? So all of these trees are just wonderful. Sure, the leaves equate hard work (we did that last Saturday), sure that means more animals and more danger during ice storms (branches falling on homes/cars), but I'm seriously in heaven.
There's a lake near our house (not a recreational one) where several Canadian geese live, and you can see it from the road and through the trees. Around our corner is a gorgeous old stone Methodist church with a cemetery next to it. A few miles up the road there is a beautiful state park where we can picnic, hike, and ramble. Our village has about four buildings "downtown" and the park near it is pretty great: a large playground, soccer fields, picnic areas, a jogging trail, a baseball diamond, and tennis courts.
If you drive about four minutes a different way, you come to a pretty busy road (it's a highway, I think) and there you have Costco, Target, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. I have the best of both worlds! Country, history, rustic, and new, convenience, Target. Target! and Costco!
The kids are in school and they are doing well. #1 is in 7th grade, and she catches the bus around 7:30AM. Her school is grades 6-8, and she seems to be adjusting to it. The schools are great, actually, and have done their best to make all my kids feel welcome! #2, #3, and #4 are in 5th, 4th, and 1st grade, and they catch the bus around 8:30AM. I worried about how they would fare with their special needs/talents (#2 is gifted, #3 has a 502 because of his misophonia), but they are doing fantastic! I haven't found a preschool for #5, yet, but there are five trillion to choose from --it's just a matter of finding the right fit for our budget.
The cat (Kaz) has adjusted well, too. Brandon brought him out a week before we all flew out here, and he was pretty happy when we all came. Actually, I think he was happiest when all our stuff came! He's still afraid to go outside for long, but I think it's due more to his age than to his fear. He's almost 14 1/2 years old now, and for a cat, that's pretty old!
Because of the huge properties in our neighborhood, we haven't met a ton of our neighbors. But we've met some! They have all been incredibly nice, too. One lady just showed up (I only met her while she was driving past and stopped briefly to say hello) and brought us donuts; our next door neighbor brought us cider, apples, and pears! As soon as I'm able, I'm going to bake banana bread or something to take as a thank you. The family across the street is perfect, too: Four kids! 16 down to 2. Perfect! Their 11 year old daughter is now our daughters' good friend.
And I've met a friend! Well, the ward has given me friends (and more to come), but I met Anita the second day we were here (she's in our ward, as is her mom; long story) and she's fantastic. Her step-daughter is 13 and the girls love her! Two friends nearby almost immediately --it helped so much with their fears of moving here.
Our ward: pretty good, I'd say! It's just different. In Provo, we had nearly 500 people in our ward (or more?!) and we all lived on a four block radius (plus a long row of town/twin homes). Here, it's close to 300 people (or less?) and our ward boundaries are quite large. From one tip to the other is about a 40-45 minute drive. The primary in Provo was so large, they had 3 nurseries and several split classes. Here, the primary is so small that they have combined classes, including Sharing Time. In Provo, the YM/YW was huge; here it is much smaller. You get the idea. In fact, thinking about the ward boundaries, there are only a few other ward members in our township --well, in our village, anyway. Us, another family, and Anita. The YW's President lives close, although it's not in our village area.
What's nice is that our ward is very eclectic and fairly diverse. The Korean branch in this area was dissolved and they are assimilated into our ward. The mid-singles in our stake meet in our ward, too. We also have many African, Indian, Italian, Irish, and British cultures.
CALLINGS! We got callings already! I was called to be the Relief Society Meeting Coordinator (basically, the Enrichment leader). I have no committee, but I'm hoping to change that at least a little bit. I already have lots to do! The RS is in charge of the Ward Christmas Party, and that means they've given a lot of that responsibility to my calling. But the RS presidency is so awesome (we had a meeting this morning) and I'm excited to help as much as I can. Brandon was called to be the Teachers Quorum Advisor (Ha! As if we didn't think he'd be called to the Young Men, eh!?), and guess what? Our #1 just got called to be the Beehive President (12-13 year old girls). She's been so cute about it, too.
The house is coming along. The truck came 9 days after we did, and it was a welcome sight. I still have a lot to unpack, but the most important things are finished. We bought a new van! That FITS ALL OF US! And Brandon's car finally arrived today! We also have a fridge, a microwave, internet, phone, TV, and got a gas line put in so I can use my dryer. Huzzah!
My goals this week: buy drapes, a dining room table (Amish, of course), get the boys' hair cut, buy a desk for the kitchen, find a used piano (okay, that can wait a month or two), consider purchasing slipcovers for our couches, find doctors/dentists/optometrists, fulfill my calling the best I can, find out about scouts for #3 (he's the ONLY Bear!), and finish unpacking as much as I can.
Brandon has to travel a lot, still. He was gone to NY and D.C. all last week and is in Texas for a few days this week. People keep asking me how I can handle his traveling so much, but the truth is, he's only gone 5-10 days a month. It seems like a lot, but he's here every weekend, and it's not nearly as bad as it was when he was working here while we were still in Utah. That was tough. Plus, whenever I get all mopey and whiney, I like to remember that:
A. I've got a husband. Period. The end.
B. I have a husband with a job!
C. He's not in the military and deployed (that is soooo hard!).
D. He loves me. And the kids.
E. He works hard to take care of us.
F. This job got me this house and this place to live.
So, yeah, I wish he was around more, but I'm not going to complain.
Okay, let's see, what else... Our family has had some pretty good times! The drive to and from church (it's a 25-30 minute drive for us) is actually kind of fun. Our new van doesn't have DVD players, and so we get to talk and laugh and sing, instead. [Yesterday we named a leaf that happened to fly up from the road and get "attached" to our antenna. It was there for miles! We fake sobbed when "Toby" (#3 named the leaf Toby) finally fell off of our car and we were laughing so hard we were crying. Hmmm... Maybe you had to be there?]
We've also enjoyed our real fireplaces! Brandon has become pretty adept at creating beautiful fires for us. We ordered an entire cord of wood, and Saturday the kids helped their dad stack it.
The weather is gorgeous! Rain, a little, yes. Lots of sunshine, breezes, and we had some "snow" (cold, gentle-hail-looking sleet/snow?), but it was gone quickly. There are still some trees with gorgeous reds and yellows, but most of the leaves have all fallen. Have I said that already? I'm just typing, people --not thinking very clearly!
I put some pictures up on Facebook of our home, I guess I should do it here, too! I'll take some "after the furniture gets here" shots next week (when it's finally all unpacked!) to share. I'm excited to show you the house, dear reader! It's nothing spectacular or fancy (holy cow, some of the homes here are just amazing) and it's rather "old" (old bones and it's been through some use), but it's perfect as a rental and it's perfect for us.
I'm very happy here, dear reader. Content and happy.
Pictures of our house before our furniture arrived (And none of them are in order. Most of the upstairs rooms are listed first and the downstairs is second. I didn't take a photo of our cement/unfinished/pretty small basement where we keep food storage. Or the guest room/office bathroom. The last few pictures are some from Instagram that show what we've been up to! Just a bit, though. We've mostly been up to getting our house ready and unpacking):