Now that I am back home in Nebraska the past week almost seems like a dream. I know it happened but for a moment I can live in ignorance. This is much harder than I expected. Seems my heart got anchored to Sidney whether or not I wanted it to. I endorse small town living, mostly because of the folks you get to know and love.
We started off last week with a trip to Scottsbluff. The girls and I drove up there to get Amelia fit with a new retainer. Once there Mia realized the old retainer got left behind in spite of several reminders. The office almost refused to replace it without seeing the old one. We spent 10 minutes in the new office to get a new mold made, we had to return 3 hours later to try on the new one. The new office is pretty sleek and fun. There is an indoor playground for the kids to burn off energy. We played longer on the playground than Mia spent in the ortho chair. To burn time we had some "girl" bonding at the "mall." I used quotations because the mall is hardly a mall anymore. It only has 10-15 open shops, more than 70% is closed. Still to a 10 year old it was amazing. We went to Bath and Body Works to spray on body cologne, try new lotions, and even lip glosses. Next we skipped over to the rock shop and admired crystals with special powers. Lastly, the department store for makeovers. The ladies at the Lancome table were quite accommodating. As a kid I was always too embarrassed to try out a makeup counter, not so as an adult. All day we heard news about a super cell developing over Wyoming and Nebraska. We missed all the fun weather by a couple miles. A few tornadoes touched down and ripped up a barn over in Bayard. Justin was quite busy while I was away. He combed through the food storage and chucked all the goods more than 2 years expired. Guess that amounted to over 640 pounds in canned goods, condiments, mixes, spices, etc. Made my heart sink down to my toes. I admit to shedding more than a few tears over that loss.
Phillip got up every morning (at 6 am) to read his scriptures right by my bed. As I tried to steal extra winks of shut eye he read on the floor right beside me. Every few moments his head would pop up and he'd "whisper" asking what a particular word was. Whisper is not a part of this boy, his whisper is a normal talking voice. After he finished reading he'd lay a wet smacker on my cheek. So proud of him! He wants to earn the green bear award at church, a thrifted teddy bear that the kids covet to earn. Once he earned it (yes, he earned it) Phillip gave the reward to Josie. Phillip is such a tender-hearted boy.
Tuesday we worked on cleaning the house and finishing a couple rooms that needed some magic. Justin spent a good portion of the morning packing and sorting his stuff to take to AZ now and the rest to follow. He had a couple large suitcases because he needed an assortment of casual, business, and church clothes to last several months. I finally got Josie her birth certificate ordered, that means all our vital documents are at last complete. I packed in a rush several moments before bedtime and early the next morning. Phillip adopted a single black weight lifting glove a couple weeks ago. He wears it all the time! Ok, Michael Jackson. All the girls went to the Beauty Salon for much needed hair cuts. Evelyn got her first hair cut in a very long while (it might actually be her first haircut). Sheena organized a lovely farewell BBQ for us that night. Everyone who came brought a picnic item to share. I was delighted my lovely friend Nora was in attendance. I love that woman! She whispered, "Sister Jenni, I fell like a minority, the only brown person in attendance." I felt the same way a day later in Las Vegas, NM where white folks are scarce. Amelia disappeared with Katelyn walking around the pond several times. Phillip got whacked with a stick on the head, he was not happy about it at all. I'm not sure Everett even ate dinner, he was scarce, playing his little heart out. Good folks, good food, good conversation.
Mayflower sent over a surveyor to critically survey and estimate the amount of stuff we had to move. He arrived around 10:30 am. I took him over to my storage unit first. He has a handy program where he enters the amount of items we have by average weight and description. I'm sure this was the first time he entered the number 300+ for number of photo frames up on the walls. Yehhhhh, I might have a photo frame (and photo) addiction. I estimated that our weight would be about 20,000 lbs. Dad Call estimated 14,000. Justin 'fessed up his estimation after the food storage at 22,000. I think that disqualifies him because he did not say his guess before the surveyor arrived. Justin was pretty close. I think the estimation was around 24,000 lbs. The 900 lbs gun safe, a 500 lbs motorcycle, and food storage were the heavy items. Made us sweat a bit as the number kept going higher and higher. Guess more purging is my main task once again. Or figuring out a way to haul some heavy items if the cost is worth the effort. We will hear next week what the monetary cost will be.
We rushed the kids out the door with the swim bag to get some quick lunch at Mcd's before saying our goodbyes. I'm glad it was quick and the kids were excited. I think that made it easier on Justin! Monday Justin's truck decided to break down and ended up back in Rocky's shop instead of headed to AZ. Justin, Josie, and I crammed (literally) into ole Betty Blue for the long, hot trek to Arizona. It was just that: long and hot. Josie entertained herself for a while playing with all the bags of stuff within her reach like baby food, diapers, and baby books. Getting such a late start makes it really hard on those little ones. She was done before the sun even set, we still had 4 hours left to travel. I wedged myself into the backseat with piles of stuff keeping me safe from bodily harm. Josie and I sweated it out together for the last two hours. I let her roam free in the back seat once the sun was completely down. I rather did enjoy the stunning view of the Milky Way as we drove. We stayed the night in Las Vegas...New Mexico. Imagine the opposite of the Nevada version. I was prepared to stay up most of the night with a restless baby. Instead she decided to sleep heavily the entire night. I was most grateful. Justin and I nerded ourselves out listening to audio books most of the journey. We did spend some time talking and sharing emotions. LOL. We bonded. He refused to make up silly songs with me and dance to rap music so that was an epic road trip failure. It was quite stifling in the back of the car with a crabby baby. Maybe that cramped our style.
We made pretty good time driving the remaining 9 hours on Thursday. As we headed down from the Show Low area into northern Mesa Saguaro Cactus suddenly appeared in the landscape. We drove straight to the Auxier's home, Laura's parents, where some friends threw an early birthday party for Laura. Her parents have a pool so that is the place to party. Josie was quite relieved to get out of the hot car and her carseat. It was a classic Arizona evening: hot, dry, and sunny. The three of us did not last very long after dinner. Spenser guided us to their home a few miles away and helped get us settled. Once again Josie slept all night long another much needed respite. Justin also slept all night long. It was a good night.
Early the next morning we met with Jared, the real estate agent Spenser suggested. We checked out 6 homes in the first few hours. Mostly, we left that experience with our hearts pounding and feeling quite nervous. All the homes we starred online were either in terrible neighborhoods, next to busy streets, or much smaller than the photos conveyed. We quickly realized that our budget would pretty much only allow us to afford a small 3 bedroom home with a much smaller footprint than our current home. That means getting rid of quite a bit more stuff, large items like furniture, my photo frames, and photography props. Made me feel quite queasy to be honest. Justin looked up more homes in different parts of the city, even parts of Tempe just to see what that city offered. We met up with Jared again that evening around 5 pm and looked at more homes than I care to admit. We found one or two that seemed to be a better fit with slightly more square footage. By this time both of us were quite challenged to hold it together and not spaz out. Thankfully, Josie stayed with her cousins so we did not need to deal with her whining about all the car time. Jared drove us around in his air conditioned car. The best parts were visiting with Spenser and Laura after the kids went to bed. Those are some good people right there.
Josie did not sleep well Friday night. She was awake from 1:30 until 5 am rolling around and whining. I spent the night on the carpet with her diapered bum on my face, or a finger in my nose, or sloppy kisses on my cheeks. We narrowed down the search a bit more and went to see 6-7 more homes. The first home on the Saturday list was by far the nicest for the listing price. We saw the other homes just to make sure. We liked this particular home because it seems more rural than the other homes, the neighborhood has a good vibe, the home itself has a bit more room, and the schools are rated A+. Perks include a nice pool, landscaping, and a close chapel. Justin started to worry about owning a home with a pool. This home comes with a high pool fence and no other entry points besides the gate. Still felt like a pit in our bellies! We really felt like renting was not an option, complete stupor of thought when we started down that road. By the time we parted ways with Jared we both were hungry and cranky. A meal helped significantly. Across the parking lot from where we ate lunch was a barbershop. Justin got a hot shave with a straight razor for Father's Day. Justin said it was quite relaxing and a bit strange to have some girl holding a straight razor to one's face. While Justin napped the Call kids filled up water balloons for a water fight. Laura wanted a water fight for her birthday! While showing Spenser the home we liked best, his dialogue about the area, the home, and such brought quite a positive light to our number one choice. For us, his input verified what we knew in our hearts but had a hard time seeing. Justin had Jared write up an offer with a deadline for Monday night at 8 pm. Laura chose to eat Mexican food for dinner at a favorite restaurant. Yum.
The Call kids are pretty cool kids. I loved how Renee loves to sing Disney songs, the amount of reading all the girls accomplish, Ellie's connection with Josie, Anna's thoughtfulness, Anson's Lego creations, and how much Gary loved Josie. Josie was quite taken with Gary and their dog Oreck. Early Father's Day morning Josie and I were at the airport headed back to Nebraska. It was hard to leave Justin there in Phoenix on his special day. We can make it day by day with that prayer in our hearts. Getting through the airport with Josie squirming to get out of the front carrier and a heavy backpack was quite fun. We qualified for an extra special backpack check since several food pouches were inside. Josie did quite well her first plane ride. She and I read books most of the time. Once she started to get bored and tired she simply fell asleep in my lap until the plane started to let passengers off after docking. I got my checked bag and car seat from baggage claim. I could not find where my ride home was waiting. Appears I was on the wrong level. Evelyn was so excited that I actually was at the air-board. Jen drove the van to pick me up with Evelyn along for the ride.
After all the stress from driving and house hunting, coming HOME, felt so amazing. The kids were excited to see me. I was excited to see them. The familiar draw of home seeped all that stress right out of my body. I wished the same could happen for Justin staying with Spenser and about to start a new job the next day. Evelyn was alarmed Justin was not coming home. Poor kid. The next 6-8 weeks will be a long time without our favorite Daddy Justin. Everett practiced Away in a Manger to sing for Justin over our video call for scriptures and prayer. All the kids sang the Primary song, "When Daddy Comes Home!" Evelyn wished Justin a Happy Father's Day every other sentence. I hope he felt the love from us that night and every night we talk.
My heart is so grateful for all those who helped watch the kids in my absence. Amy (and Ryley) McManis stayed every night with the kids from 5 pm until 7:30 am. Setti from down the street came to watch the kids until play dates arrived. Mia stayed with Rachel one day and Katelyn for two days. She even got to spend the night and go to a swim meet with Katelyn! The rest of the kids played with the Talbots one day and the Campos family the next. Brother and Sister Cudaback stayed all Saturday with Phillip, Everett, and Evelyn. The Siler family helped get the kids ready for church, stayed with them during and after church. So many moving parts to account for but we all managed it just fine.