24 February 2009



I got a priesthood blessing this morning while Christie was handing off the Family History Center keys. We then got down to house hunting and found a new place. The owner used to work for TYC so he knows the score, and he's trying to get us in a fast as possible, probably middle of next week. We extended the rental on teh moving truck to buy us some time and keep most of our plans intact. The EQ President of the Gainesville ward has offered us a place to park the truck, so we're good there.

New address: 1107 S. Howeth, Gainesville TX 76240

The girls will get to visit their 3 favorite doggies again. Thanks again to the Texas Jeppsons!

Granny is here to help with packing. Elizabeth is soaking up all the attention and is helping whole bunches. Amelia isn't feeling well, but she enjoys the extra attention when she is able.

My parents will try to come help with the unloading and/or unpacking depending on which day. The girls will get extra love from more grandparents.

I just filed reports on the previous rental company with BBB and HUD.

My tentative new supervisor is LDS (from a different ward) and he is aware of our situation. I should be able to take some time as needed for the move. Other than that, I was able to find out that my first week at work will be learning the ropes in the Security unit and filling in there until they get a replacement (unless I take it). Depending on the work schedule, this could be a nice change of pace.

Still a bit hectic, but at least we have a direction to jump while we're doing the leap of faith thing.

23 February 2009

Oh No!

The rental company just called and said our application was denied. They won't say why and I'm getting the runaround at the other places I've been referred to find out. They'll mail me a credit report in about 10 days, but that doesn't do much good right now. Argh!!!!

22 February 2009

Just in time!

While we were out house hunting, the facility here in Pyote got a sudden second round RiF. The facility population is being reduced by half, and lots of other changes are being made. They ended up RiFing 67 people while we were driving back on Friday. The cut the chaplain, Youth Rights specialist, one of only 3 psychologists (we're starting a treatment heavy program that needed all 3 psychs to operate properly) plus dozens of others I don't know about yet. Here's the relevant portion from the Executive Commissioner's e-mail on Friday:

"The most significant impact will be to the West Texas State School. We are reducing its capacity to 48 beds for youth committed to TYC from the West region. The appropriate staff size for that population is 69, which means we will be reducing staff by about 110 positions. Due to fewer vacant positions at West Texas, 67 employees will be losing their jobs.

We are transforming the West Texas campus to a less restrictive, more treatment-oriented facility. Many of the buildings on campus will be closed, and we will operate only three dorms. There will be no pickets, security units, warehouse or gate. As a regional facility, the campus will focus on chemical dependency and abuse treatment since more than 70 percent of youth from the West region come to us with identified chemical dependency and/or abuse treatment needs. We will aggressively implement CoNEXTions and best treatment practices in this smaller setting and JCOs will become much more involved in the treatment of youth."

Anyone thinking that we were supposed to somehow stay in the area understood just how blessed we were to get the first round of RiFs. I got a transfer offer, but I doubt anyone who just got RiFed will have that benefit. Gotta love Texas politics, as all this has nothing to do with the economy.

21 February 2009

Our New Home!

After a lot of searching and shaking our heads at just how lazy some of the rental companies are in Gainesville, we found a house which is within our budget that we can also live with.

A sample picture is below. Just reverse the image and you'll see what ours looks like. It's a duplex built townhome style. The entrances are set far apart so you forget that these are duplexes. This is the newest housing area in Gainesville (Google Earth doesn't even
View Larger Map">show it yet).

We'll be in 1610 Diamond Circle, Gainesville Texas 76240!

The house was built in 2005, and that is on the "older" side of the housing area. Several lots are still undeveloped.

Here's a floorplan for the house. We'll be in the left side.

Work is less than 4 miles east, and the church is about the same distance west. Super Wal-Mart is right up Grand Ave nearby. I-35 is just a short jaunt west. The Dallas temple is about an hour or so south. On the way to the chapel is a zoo and a city park with an awesome playground the girls both love.

Edit: Also, the girls have 3 doggies about an hours drive away that love playing with them. Thanks for the reminder, Aunt Merideth.

We went by the Gainesville Ward on Wednesday evening to try to sort out our (lack of) prospects up to that point, and saw the primary classrooms have class rosters posted. There are 8 Sunbeams, and most other primary classes are of similar size. Elizabeth found the Nursery, and we're guessing it will be about the same size (we didn't find a class list in there). There is a Family History Center in the Gainesville building. It's a nice building, and looks like one of the newer designs. They have baby changing stations in both bathrooms. Guess I'm still on the hook for diaper duty.

We're back in Pyote trying to pack up the house. We're planning to load the moving truck on Wednesday and be in our new home by Friday. Our exile is ending!

12 February 2009

Elizabeth's Busy Day

Elizabeth had her 3 Year appointment at the doctor today. No shots were needed, but that didn't make the appointment any less a traumatic ordeal. The fix: Elizabeth's favorite food and most frequently requested shopping item.


Over at the mall, one of the shops clinging to life (the mall was barely surviving during the oil boom due to poor management) is a sweet shop with Blue Bell ice cream. Two scoops of Dutch Chocolate turned out to be two *big* scoops, but Elizabeth hadn't had lunch and had worked up an appetite playing on the nearby playground.

After ice cream, we headed to the other playground on the opposite side of the mall. Along the way is a large carousel. It was in use by another group of kids, so of course it captured Elizabeth's attention. We've always talked about letting Elizabeth ride, but now we're getting ready to leave the area. Plus Elizabeth had some money from Grandma and Grandpa Blair for her birthday and Valentine's day.

First time around Elizabeth enjoyed the spinning seats.

Elizabeth wanted another ride, and climbed up onto the horse herself. Such a big girl!

Elizabeth then went to the playground nearby, then hit the arcade next to it. Elizabeth loves the Deal or No Deal game. She won almost 160 tickets, which added to her previous winnings in the diaper bag came out to 400 tickets. After a few more rounds playing on the playground with the other kids, she picked her prize.

It's a giant crayon bank. Elizabeth is using it as a running stick in the picture. She ran the entire length of the mall back to the van. She had such a fun time she didn't mind leaving to do some quick shopping and come back home.

Once we got home, she went and got her piggy banks down from her dresser and emptied out the elephant one. She and Amelia have spent the evening putting the pennies in the crayon, dumping them out, then putting them back in.

Amelia can't wait for her next turn for a Daddy day!

09 February 2009

Update again!

I got the confirmation on the second training, but it will be in March at another location. It will be right after the training in Austin, so everything will be in sequence. This will put me a bit behind my co-workers at the new facility (they'll get me up to speed real quick before the training, I'm sure) and it also gives us more time on this end to find a place and get there.


I finshed the previous post just in time to get a phone call from Austin. Arrangements are being made on the training side of things. So far they'll let me take the training out of sequence because they think I'm smart enough to handle it. I'm waiting for the confirmation for the training scheduled in Gainesville for next week. The training scheduled for this week was full, but instead I get to wait until March 18-19 and take the training down in Austin with all the fancy people there.

Zip Squeal

Quick updates on stuff:

1. Travels: Special thanks to the Colemans for letting a grumpy bear hang out in their house last week.

2. Transfer: I received a call on my way to the interview in Concord. TYC offered a transfer to a facility in Gainesville, but I had only 24 hours to accept the offer (including signing the paperwork). It took some juggling but Christie was able to get the form, scan and e-mail it to me, so I could print it and beg Katie to get her printer to scan it so I could e-mail it back, and then Christie turned in a signed form to the HR office the same day.

3. Interview: I applied for a Youth Counselor position, and flew out to Charlotte for the interview. The job description sounds like almost exactly what I do here with TYC (except less garbage, hopefully). When I got there, the description they gave me at the beginning of the interview sounded more like a Youth Services Technician. In TYC, we would call this a Juvenile Correctional Officer, or "babysitter". I was told I was interviewing for a 2:30-10:30 PM position, which required me to spend my entire shift with my assigned 4 juveniles. No idea when I'm supposed to do the case management part of the job, except maybe after I tuck them in at night, but then that means I can't coordinate with all the resources in the community (parole, MHMR, etc.) that they'll need when they go home. The more Christie and I talk, it sounds like a bait and switch.

I was advised to add to my applications everything I've ever done that involved working with people, as this would directly increase my starting pay. I've cranked out two extra pages, and I just now remembered another page's wort of tings I could add. But unless I can get some answers and a heck of a pay offer when they call back for the pee and psych testing, the deal is off.

4. Back to the Gainesville transfer: I have to report at the beginning of March. So that leaves us less than 3 weeks to find a place, pack up a truk, get there, and unload. Which would be fun enough except I need to attend two different two day blocks of training for the new program we're rolling out this month agency wide. I'm trying to make arrangements to take the training up in Gainesville, so we can house hunt at the same time, but that means we'd have to leave *tomorrow*. Right now I'm waiting on someone in Austin to call and give me permission to attend training at my new duty station, because I'm requesting it less than 10 days from the training. So now I'm stuck in my office waiting for a phone call which can change our plans for the rest of the month. I didn't even leave for lunch today.

5. Church: Just to make things extra complicated, Feb 28 & March 1 is a Texas-Wide Stake Conference. In other words, right when we probably need to arrive an unload the truck, the entire state of Texas will be in stake conference! Yet another reason why being able to attend training in Gainesville is so important; otherwise I'm stuck down here in training right when we need to leave.

We've started contacting the wards we might possibly live in, and so far Denton 3rd Ward, which is possible if we don't live in Gainseville itself, might be a good fit. The Bishop's wife reports they are a young ward with lots of kids. The Bishop called back this morning because he didn't get a chance to call last night. They both sound very friendly.

Yesterday was a very rough day at church for the whole family. I'll leave it at that for now.

6. School: I complete my training for Axia College - University of Phoenix today. After that, I spend a week with a mentor, then I start teaching.

Gainesville is advantageous academically because on of the universities in DFW (UT Dallas I think) is preparing to open a PhD in Criminal Justice program. This (and UT San Marcos) will be the first programs in the state outside of Sam Houston State University, which has had a political stranglehold on the possibility of other schools getting programs. SHSU has been going downhill hard and fast lately, so these expansions are long needed.

7. Family (Texas, etc): Gainesville is close to some of the Jeppson clan , and is a few hours closer to my parents. We're right on I-35 and DFW airport isn't that far off, so we can make it just about anywhere else we need to go to be near family for special stuff.

8. Other stuff: Still waiting to hear on other job applications I sent out. Best deal wins. Gainesville sounds like it will be home for the next while, but if someplace else makes an offer I can't refuse, we'll pick back up again.

9. RenFest!!! We can actually go to Scarborough Faire this year without having to take a whole week off from work! Just looking for more bright sides to the transfer.

04 February 2009

Jedi Academy

So I'm hanging out at the Coleman's, waiting for a job interview tomorrow and catching up on sleep and my Axia training. I'm also helping out with the Colin's Star Wars training. This includes figuring out Jedi names for everyone. Here's what we have so far:

Colin: COLCO WACHA of the planet Worm!

Gabe: COLGA WHCHA of the planet Worm!

Oliver: COLOL MOCHA of the planet Tylenol!

James: BLAJA FOCOP of the planet Pepto!

Chad: COLCH POCHA of the planet Roomba!

Katie: COLKA WICHA of the planet Chocolate!

Katie says she has the best name, or at least the best home planet. I think we also figured out why Oliver is so peppy all the time: Cola & Mochas!

03 February 2009

Something different

I think I might try this while James is in North Carolina. Sounds quite different and good, yet easy to make. He doesn't like sour cream, so best to make it while he's away (also plan on finishing up the fish in the freezer).