Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Long Winters Nap

It has been a pretty eventful stretch of time for the Winn family since I last wrote. A quick recap of the summer of 2015: Maggie was born in June and was soon after whisked away to Delaware to be raised in safety a la Jesus. Alixa and the kids spent the better part of July and August enjoying grandma’s pool and hospitality. This trip helped to ease Alixa into motherhood of four with helpers, but it also reminded her that Dallas is a very ugly place. She really enjoyed the beauty of the east coast, with the trees and hills and stuff. So upon her return, as Jenna was beginning 1st grade and Bo was entering his final year of preschool, she told Jarom that she would like to look for a new job in some other locales. After some thinking they settled on 3 locations and Alixa began to search for jobs in North Carolina, Kansas City, and Denver. Jarom hates job hunting, and Alixa loves it, so it was her job to find jobs and fill out the applications, and if and when any got to the interview stage he would take over. For several months it was just waiting, and then towards the beginning of November there were several calls for interviews. One was for a position at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, located in Aurora just east of Denver. The phone interview went well and they offered a job right before Thanksgiving.

Now Jarom and Alixa had to decide how serious they were about leaving Texas. On the one hand, they were both very excited about the new job opportunity and the chance for a new start. They have some friends in Denver and had only heard good things. The climate is nice, there is lots of stuff to do outside, they would get to find a new home, they’d be closer to some of Alixa’s family…all positives. But on the other hand, moving is the worst. Jarom had a good job that he knew he liked with great friends at work and they had some really great friends in Frisco that they would be very sad to leave and family that lived less than a mile away. After a lot of discussion and some serious trepidation they decided that although they had very much enjoyed their 4 years in Dallas it was time to move on to a new adventure.

Taken at a friends wedding. Arent we cute

House hunting. We are building and should move in this summer

After accepting the job and choosing a start date of mid-January, the next challenge was the logistics of the move. Step one was a weekend trip up to Denver sans kids to check out some housing options. It was a whirlwind trip covering less than 48 hours. They looked at a bunch of houses, including several model home options for building new. They’ve always wanted to build their own house and choose the layout and finishes that they want, so they decided to choose that option, even though it meant the house wouldn’t be ready for them until at least the summer.
Step two was getting rid of the house in Frisco. Fortunately, the housing market there is a good one for sellers. After briefly flirting with the idea of selling it by owner Alixa decided that she would really like some help, so we enlisted a real estate friend of ours. The house went onto the market and was seen by a bunch of folks over the weekend and an offer came in on Monday. Then the real fun began. At inspection they said that the roof was in need of being replaced and that they wouldn’t buy it unless that was taken care of. We had known that roof was damaged, although we didn’t realize the extent of it. In fact, a claim had already been started with the home insurance company (Allstate) to have the hail damage repaired. However, Allstate is the inspiration for the insurance company in the Incredibles, whose policy is to deny, deny, deny. So they force you to go through all manner of appeals and challenges, hoping that you will give up and go away at some point during the process. We haven’t, and nearly 4 months after beginning the claims process are still waiting on a final settlement. It should come this week (cross your fingers), which means that we could get started on the replacement and repairs to get the house ready to sell. This was obviously of no use to the folks who tried to buy the house in December, so that offer fell through. Once the roof is taken care of the house will go back on the market. When that happens, Alixa and the kids can move up to Denver and find a place to stay with Jarom until the house is ready. Since mid-January when Jarom came up to Denver to start work Alixa has been single-momming it, and that gets old real fast with 4 little ones.
However, through this entire uncomfortable process of leaving an old home and finding a new one there have been a lot of great friends who have lent a hand without asking anything in return. People have babysat, driven Jarom to the airport at insane hours, helped with packing things, offered up homes in Denver to stay in, and generally been helpful to a fault. It really is nice to have such great friends in our lives. And I’m sure there will be lot more of that in the months to come before we are finally settled in.
While all that was going on Jenna started and is over halfway done with 1st grade and is killing it. She loves school to death. She pretty much never stops reading, even when we tell her to turn her light off and go to bed. She usually aces all her tests and gets nothing but nice comments from her teachers. She has a few really good friends in school that she loves. She got the part of Little Miss Muffett in the school play and did a great job memorizing and delivering her lines. She played soccer in the fall and did well, although she would suffer from long bouts of disinterest in the middle of some of the games. She is an amazing big sister and has been a tremendous help to Alixa in Jarom’s absence.
First day of first grade

She has now lost three teeth, but this was the first.

Little Ms. Muffet

Jenna proudly representing the 80's for decades day at school

Bo is in his final year of preschool with Mrs. B and loves her. We’ve discovered that he has quite the aptitude for math and loves to do all manner of word problems. He also played soccer in the fall, with Jarom as his coach. He seems to be more into it than Jenna, although keeping score of the games was often his favorite part. He is a very sensitive boy, which makes him a great brother because he is usually kind and helpful with his sisters, but it does sometimes drive his parents crazy when they have to try and get him to stop crying about something.
First day of School!

Bo got to go camping with dad and the scouts.

Batman and his posse; Catwoman, Robin, and the Riddler

Emmy is pretty much the opposite. She is a firecracker and our challenge with her is getting her to be less mean. Since my last post she has become potty-trained and her vocabulary has really exploded. Age 2 is probably my favorite little kid age, because that is the year that they really learn to start interacting with others, start to form full sentences and they change and grow so much on a daily basis. Emmy is definitely a chip off her mom’s block, and even though there isn’t an official ranking I think that she is at the top of Alixa’s favorite kid board. She loves to go shopping with her mom, she is probably our most independent child and tries to do everything herself, and she is very stubborn. But we all love her and her adorable little face.
Just working on the poses

This girl LOVES to shop and has become mom's little shopping buddy.

Putting the binky in a bear

Maggie Lu has been an amazing baby. Really all the kids have been amazing babies, which is probably the only reason that Jarom and Alixa have kept having more. Maggie is a very good sleeper, which makes all the difference in the world. She is prototypical fourth kid who has spent the better part of her life in the car seat getting toted from place to place, and she handles it well. She naps when and wherever she can and doesn’t fuss about it much. After being born small she has fattened up just like all the other ones did and now looks like she is permanently storing food in her cheeks. She sits up, rolls around, and is great at balancing on Jarom’s hand. She is starting to really love the jumper. She is onto solidish foods now and her hair is long enough for a little ponytail, which makes Alixa super happy. The older kids usually enjoy playing with her and are great at helping out.

Mags is the happiest baby

Maggies 6 month photo shoot courtesy of Frontlighting Photography

Jazz and I hold down the animal end of the family. Jazz keeps killing birds and mice and bringing them to the family as presents. She’s become quite the outdoorsy cat, and is really only inside to take naps on her bed. She is still aloof and doesn’t really like to cuddle or be held, which bothers Alixa. She really wants a cat that will cuddle with her. She tries to buy Jazz’s affection with treats, but that doesn’t work with cats. Jarom is really the only one that Jazz really likes.
Annual trip to the pumpkin patch

And no long recap would be complete with a vacation summary. The week before Thanksgiving was the Holderness reunion cruise, so the family dropped Maggie off with some great friends for the week and drove the 18 hours to Orlando for a 7 day Disney cruise. It was the same itinerary as the cruise they took Jenna and Bo on last summer, and was every bit as fun. There were more family members than you can shake a stick at, lots of fun shows and beautiful islands and games and waterslides and pools and stingrays and ice cream and characters and towel animals and sun. Disney cruises never disappoint. The family also went to Delaware for Christmas and spent a week at Grandpa’s house. It was great to see lots of family and friends that they don’t get to see very often and generally enjoy some time lazing around.

Getting ready to get on the boat!

Emmy destroyed all Micky bars that dared cross her path

Meeting Mickey! A 

Castaway Cay before the storm rolled in.

Meeting Anna and Elsa. They can no cross that off the bucket list.

Sometimes the table is the best place for a nap.

Our annual trains at North Park mall outing.

Christmas in Delaware

Ice Skating the day after Christmas

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