Monday, June 20, 2016

Eviction 2016

Colorado giveth, and Colorado taketh away. I suppose I will start with the giving. The whole crew has been up here for two months now, and we love it. The people, the weather, the fun things to do, the job, it is all excellent. And even though living in somebody else's basement is never ideal, it has been really great living with Alixa's parents.

Lix and the kids take weekly field trips with the Melbys to nearby parks and zoos. The kids love playing on the swings. Maggie isn't as talented as the others, but she seems to enjoy it just as much.

One of the first orders of business here in Denver was to take advantage of the short distance between us and Alixa's brother Zak in Casper, Wyoming. So about a week after we got there his family came down and Abe flew out from New York. Then a few weeks after that we drove up there for a long weekend. The kids had a blast hanging out with each other. Lix and Sam took all the little ones on a hike up Casper Mountain, which was awesome. Then they had to come back down, which wasn't quite as awesome. The ground was lots of loose rock so they mostly just slid down on their butts, scraping up their hands and arms and legs in the process. But I guess that's what memories are made of, right? The kids picked dandelions and offered them for sale for the upcoming mother's day. They didn't have any customers, despite their bargain pricing of $0 per bouquet, but it was pretty cute.
When family visits Lix makes everybody exercise. She's the worst.

Stopping halfway up (or down, who knows) the sliding rock face.
Happy Mother's Day!
Looking for golf balls
Back in the shadow of the Rockies Jenna was finishing up first grade. She had a great transition and quickly made a bunch of friends, and her teacher was great, which is a sentence that I keep writing every time she gets a new teacher. She got to go on some field trips and we are confident that she is going to love being at Aspen Crossing for the next few years. Jarom even took me in to school one day for show and tell. The kids in Jenna's class thought it was pretty sweet that she has a pet python and they had lots of really good questions to ask about me. Jenna did a great job answering them and then everyone who wanted to (which was pretty much everyone) had a chance to come up and touch me.
With Ms. Workman before her play with the part of Farmer's Wife.
We had some late snowstorms that mixed not terrible temps with bundles of snow to play in. Ideal.
Definitely late to the show but we did start working on bike riding at last
Bo has been missing Mrs. B and his preschool class, so Lix has been doing some work with him on his math, writing, and reading and he is doing really well. He is looking forward to starting kindergarten in the fall. He's gotten to go out golfing with Jarom a couple of times, and one of the benefits of living on the golf course is that he can go out for 11 holes and then just get dropped off at the door while dad finishes the last 7 holes.
Jarom's caddies

Playing a little advanced peek-a-bo

Emily went with Jarom to get tested by the speech therapist and failed, which is really what everyone was hoping for. That means she gets two years of state-funded preschool, so she will also be headed to Aspen Crossing in the fall along with Bo and Jenna. She just has some issues with a handful of sounds and sometimes it is hard to figure out what she is saying. Bo can always tell what she is trying to say, but he isn't always around. We've also started to discover that unlike all her other siblings, Emmy doesn't really like the water. When we go to the pool she spends most of her time lounging nearby instead of swimming. Which is okay too, just kind of interesting.
Bath buddies
Magpie is growing up too fast. She started crawling, then started crawling super fast, then started going up stairs, and now she is about to start walking. She had the saddest event of the past few months when she got burned. Lix had just come home from the gym in early May and it was a little chilly, especially in the basement. So she turned on the gas fireplace and was going to jump into the shower. It hadn't been on for more than a few minutes when Maggie climbed up on the wall and put her hands right on the hot glass. She screamed, but didn't know enough to take her fingers off. Fortunately, Bo was close to her and thought quickly and grabbed her and pulled her off. It definitely could have been a lot worse, but it was bad. Her poor little fingertips were swollen to 2-3 times their normal size and she could touch anything without being in pain. After a week the swelling went down, but then the blisters popped and we had to watch out for infection. There aren't many things worse than having a little kid in pain, because they don't understand what is happening, you can't explain it, and they just want you to make it better but you can't. Heartbreaking stuff, but she got through it and no permanent damage. Since the event Bo has been like Maggie's personal bodyguard, keeping an especially close eye on her whenever she is around. It is actually quite adorable.
She loves messing with Jazz, which is why she was near the fireplace

She's better now
Jarom has been enjoying his work, and recently imported his former coworker at Parkland, Luis. They were good friends in Dallas and shortly after taking the job Luis asked him if there were any openings. There was, as it turns out, an opening on the team. So he got Luis to apply and Children's hired him. So now Jarom has another friend at work. This has not been ideal for his relationship with his other work friends back in Texas, who were less than thrilled to have Jarom siphoning off people.
We also took a trip to Idaho for a funeral and some rock climbing
Jenna wanted a closer look
This did not please Alixa
This is about as good as the family can look

Lix recently became certifiably insane (is that what you say when someone is an Insanity instructor?) and has big plans to start teaching classes at some local gyms. Sadly, those plans got put on hold when a few weeks ago we got an email informing us that it is not permissible to have children living in a house in the 55+ community where her parents live. So we had to make some emergency adjustments and Lix and the kids have high-tailed it out to Delaware for the next 5 weeks. They'll be back in time for school to start right before our house is finished. So we celebrated Maggie's first birthday a few days early with the Melbys at Aurora Reservoir and Mags got to smash a cake made by Abby while the other kids tried to catch a goose on the beach. For her actual birthday Maggie got to fly on a red eye flight with her mom and all her siblings. It was a mess, but not as big a mess as it could have been. There was an extra seat and the kids were good travelers, as they usually are. Now they are swimming in Grandma's pool everyday while Jarom stays here to work and enjoy the beautiful Denver sunsets.
As for the house, it is coming along nicely. It is plumbed and wired and dry walled, and now we get to start seeing really fun things like cabinets and flooring and features. It will certainly be a happy day when everyone is back in the state together and living in our own house with enough rooms for everyone. But until then we will just enjoy the summer, wherever we may find ourselves.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lords of the North

During the first few months of the year Jarom and Alixa had a trial separation. Jarom was up in Denver trying to figure out his new job while Alixa stayed in Dallas. She had the responsibility of managing four small children, a cat and a snake, getting a roof replaced, keeping the house clean and presentable so it could be sold, packing up all the stuff in the house so it could be moved, selling the stuff that didn’t make the cut, and saying goodbyes to all of the wonderful people who made our stay in Texas such a memorable one. She also had to fly up to Denver for a couple of days in there to choose all of the finishes for the new house that is currently under construction in Colorado. So a pretty even division of labor between the spouses during their time apart.
While Jarom was away, Lix and the kids killed time by eating oreos.

and having mini photo sessions after church

and bowling with Grandma when she came to visit.

Miraculously, all of the stuff that Alixa needed to do got done, and done well, and no children were
harmed in the process. At least not harmed irreparably. I don’t think it is possible to sufficiently express our gratitude to all the great friends that helped Lix get all the stuff done that she needed to get done without Jarom being around. It made it all that much harder to actually leave.

All the moms at Emmys texas birthday party. 

Jenna and her fabulous teacher Ms. Tibuni

Bo and his irreplaceable preschool teacher, Ms. B

The Mundy's came to say goodbye. (crying emoji)

Selling the house – This is always a fun chore. The house was originally listed in December, and we
quickly found a buyer. However, the roof had some pretty significant damage from hail storms and the buyer (understandably) didn’t want to buy it as it was. Jarom had actually already started an insurance claim on the roof before the house was listed, so he wasn’t interested in giving the buyers a credit for a new roof if he could get the insurance company to pay for it instead. So that deal fell through and it was decided that the house would go back on the market once the roof was dealt with. Unfortunately, the Winn home was insured by Allstate, and contrary to what President Palmer from 24 would have you believe, they are the absolute worst. It took almost 6 months from start to finish to settle the claim. Much like Insuricare, Allstate’s company policy is “Deny, Deny, Deny.” So they denied the initial claim, and then denied it again after having a supervisor review it. So then we had to go to arbitration and have an independent third party come out and take a look. To nobody’s surprise that arbitration ended up in our favor and Allstate was forced to pay for a new roof. Sadly this took many months and a ton of calls and hassle. But in the end we got a new roof and were able to relist the house for sale.

Bo is the only person who enjoyed the roofing process.

The house went back on the market around the end of April, and after a short, high stress period of showings we got an offer from the same people who wanted to buy it back in December. Despite what a pain in the butt it was, it ended up being a better scenario because Lix and the kids were able to stay in the home for a few more months, which gave us a little more time to settle the housing situation in Denver. The second round of negotiations on the house went pretty smoothly, since we’d already done home inspections and what not. We were able to do a quick closing for the end of March and rented a truck to drive all our belongings up north.

All packed up and heading out of Frisco. 

Jazz has made herself quite comfortable in Alixa's parents home.

Our move was mirrored with Alixa’s parents. They followed us to Dallas a few years ago, and with our departure had no reason to stay. So Mario transferred up to the Denver office and they found a great place to live about 10 minutes from the house we are building. The best part is that the house they found has a basement that is great for the Winns to crash in during the construction. The basement has 2 big bedrooms, a bathroom, some living space, and a kitchenette with a fridge and a microwave. In exchange for a place to stay Jarom has taken on the role of live-in tech support and personal mover. The Hegewalds actually had 2 trucks worth of stuff to move from Dallas, and they did it in two trips. They planned the second trip coincide with our move so we could caravan.

Now that we are in Colorado we go to the park when it isnt snowing. 

Maggie also enjoys the Park

The Winns last few weeks in Dallas were full of a lot of goodbyes. This was the first move where any of the kids were in school, which was a new experience. Jenna has made a lot of really great friends and was very sad to leave them, even though she is very excited about going to a new place. Bo had to leave his preschool group with the world’s greatest teacher, Mrs. B. He loved that class and her, and she did an amazing job with him. Our only consolation in leaving is that she has a new job in the fall and wouldn’t have been able to teach our other kids anyway, otherwise we might have stayed. Emmy had an impromptu birthday party a few days early with all her buddies at Chick-Fil- A, which was awesome. She’ll probably miss Sister Bartlett from nursery the most. Maggie won’t miss anything, because she isn’t even one and has no concept of where she lives or what she’s doing. Alixa had a lengthy farewell tour that involved final nights of bunco, the bachelor, and fun dinners out with her best friends that very nearly ended with her getting a tattoo of the Texas star (don’t worry, disaster averted.)

Emmy had a birthday. She is three

It was her party and she cried whenever she wanted to. Which was a lot.

Bo also had a birthday. He is five

Moving weekend was a whirlwind. Jarom flew into town on Friday evening to a house that was almost completely boxed up. Friday night was spent taking care of and cleaning up after a couple of sick, barfy kids. Fortunately, it was relatively isolated, although each kid got a barf bowl to ride in the car with them, just in case. Early Saturday morning Jarom picked up the 26-foot truck and started taking apart some tables. Help arrived around 10 and it didn’t take too long before all the stuff was expertly stuffed into the truck. There was minimal room to spare and nothing had to be left behind. There was a short break in the middle to call the fire department to shut off the water to the house because the faucet in the laundry room wouldn’t turn off and we had to take the washer out. There was another break later on sign house closing docs with our awesome realtor and personal notary. There was some laundry that needed to finish drying after the washer and dryer had been sold, so that got sent to a nearby friend’s house. There was a lot of trash to dispose of and some cleaning to be done, and nice people on hand to help with all of it. We finished up around 4 and sent Lix and her mom off in the van with the kids while Mario and I each drove a truck. The first destination was Amarillo where we would stay Saturday night.

We also go on walks with beautiful sunsets in Colorado.

And we visit the temple. (And Emmy cries)

And we hike. Because "When in Rome..."

I got to ride shotgun in the truck with Jarom and Jazz. I don’t love car rides, but it is nothing compared to the terror that Jazz feels when driving anywhere. The fact that she had to be in a big diesel truck driving 6 hours on bumpy roads amplified that distress to very unhealthy levels. And just for fun there was a snowstorm in and around Amarillo that evening for everyone to drive through. The kids thought it was pretty cool. Trying to get everyone to sleep in the same hotel room with a whiny cat wasn’t the greatest, but at least we had gotten everything and everyone out safely. For day two we put Jazz in the minivan so her ride wasn’t as bumpy. She appreciated it, but still wasn’t happy. Everyone made it safely to Aurora late Sunday afternoon. The kids were thrilled to get out of the car and find lots of snow on the ground. They promptly began having snowball fights. We quickly had to lay down some ground rules: no throwing snowballs at Mom because she is a sissy, no throwing them in the house or near doors because they melt and make a mess, and you can only throw snow, not rocks.

Sometimes it starts out warm and then the storm comes and we freeze to death. 

As soon as we arrived in Denver Mario fell ill, so Jarom started unloading trucks by himself (with some help from a hand truck. Mechanical advantage is so great.) Monday afternoon a stream of people arrived to help unload all the big stuff, and by Monday evening everything was moved in. Most of the stuff is still in boxes in a storage area in the basement, with beds and dressers and a couch left out to make a more reasonable living situation. It all went pretty smoothly. The only real problem is that the bin with most of Emmy’s clothes in it got buried somewhere in the storage area, and despite a few efforts to get to it the bin remains hidden. But if that’s the worst that happened we are pretty lucky. Even though the setup at the Hegewalds is great, we are all very anxious to move into our own home. It is coming along nicely. We check on it regularly and it has been cool to watch it go from a lot to a hole to a foundation, and now walls and a roof and siding. Jenna’s new school is about a half mile away from the house and we were able to get her transferred there for the rest of this year even though we aren’t living there yet. We arrived during spring break so she only has a few days under her belt, but she already loves it. Her teacher, Ms. Workman, is great, as are the administrators. They did a space balloon launch on her first day, a field trip on her second, and she has a class pet (mealworms, gross.)

Maggie is still adorable and awesome.

And she learned to crawl 

Alixa has started working out at her new gym and even though it isn’t the FAC, it is growing on her. She is pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a group fitness instructor by getting a few certifications and will hopefully be able to get a job teaching relatively soon. She’s really hoping to get hired at Lifetime Fitness, because that’s the only way we’d be able to afford a membership there, which is all she really wants in life. She’s made some friends in our new ward and gone to a few park days. She has also been able to hang out with the Melbys, friends from Delaware who are building a house in Castle Rock. Slowly but surely we are settling in to our new lives and trying to learn what Colorado has in store for us.

We had Zak and Sam and Abe come visit. We hiked some more

An almost complete Hegewald family picture. (missing mikah)