22 July 2009

Amelia's 2nd Birthday!

Amelia had a blast! She loved her presents, her Winnie the Pooh card, and the cake Momma made her. Elizabeth was just as excited about presents, perhaps moreso than Amelia. She's already counting down until her birthday, over 6 months away!

Dinner was rotisserie chicken from Wal-Mart (the girls can just about devour one by themselves), potato wedges, and little cans of A&W Root Beer. Amelia managed to get it on her new shirt but is just as happy.

Here's a bunch of pictures and some videos. We have a video of Amelia enjoying her bubble blowing machine, but Elizabeth decided to shuck her diaper somewhere along the way so until we figure out how to edit the video, you'll just have to look at the pictures to see her enjoying it.
































video video video

13 July 2009

Our future home!

We're approved for the rental house. I just have to turn in the last of the paperwork and the rent/deposit check tomorrow and we're set. I can also get utilities scheduled while I'm still down here, as well as get some stuff taken care of for work (temporary parking tag, get the textbooks for class, touch base with the internet class guru, etc.).

We're moving in on July 31st. The Landlady is being nice and letting us skip the prorated rent for the extra day. So we get to move in when we can get help from our new ward. I visited yesterday and they were already trying to call dibs on me in priesthood. Of course, my "other dad" got a jump on the others and submitted my name for a calling *two months ago*.

As I said, the church is walking distance away, and it's in a nice neighborhood. My other parents are a couple of streets away, and I can get to the main roads pretty quick. It's almost a straight shot to the main campus (about 4 miles away), and a few streets away from the main rout to the highway that will take me to my initial assigned campus.

We'll be paying $900 for a 1534 sq ft house with plenty of room for the girls to play and for Christie and I to stash our stuff. OK, Ok, here's the pictures:

Front of the house. There's a lime tree in front with fruit on the branches. The garage fits two cars and has an automatic opener. Fancy!



The kitchen. Lots of cabinet and counter space.
























Another view of the kitchen.



















Dining area next to the kitchen. Some of the kitchen counter can also be used for eating if we get some stools. Outside the bay windows is the sun room.






The sun room. It faces east, so it doesn't get the sun in the hot afternoon. The girls will have their toys in here, so they can play and still come to the kitchen for lunch or whatever (Amelia is always running back and forth getting graham crackers). The sun room was added when the original porch was enclosed.



Living room right off of the kitchen. We can actually have the living room not also be the dining room for once!



One of the bedrooms. All of the bedrooms have walk-in closets with double layers of hanger rods and shelves. All rooms have ceiling fans, as well as cable and phone connection points. One will be the girls' room, and the other will be the library/office/sewing room until Jeb is big enough to need his own room.
























Main bathroom


























Master bathroom. The shower was just re-done.
























And there it is! Things went so much smoother this time. Except for a navigation error trying to drop off the first batch of paperwork (ya miss one number and you end up across town instead of around the corner.... I could have walked the paperwork over!).

This is happening! New job, new house. We're being so blessed with this!

10 July 2009

Squawking 1200

AT&T didn't come to fix the phone line yesterday like they said they would. We're going out of town today to house hunt, but this was going to change our plans.

But.... they somehow got it fixed at 7:30 this morning. They just saved themselves from a cranky customer call. Now we can get back to packing for the trip. Just wanted to update everyone because, you know, our lives are so exciting and captivating.

08 July 2009

Squawking 7600

Our phone line suddenly went dead right before I went to work. That cuts off the internet. I had to wrestle with the AT&T website at work just to find a phone number so I could report the problem. the website wanted me to troubleshoot and fix it myself.

Anyway, we're down to just cell phones until sometime "between 8 AM and 7 PM" tomorrow. Yeah, technology has spoiled us. I'm also a target for all kinds of pillow fights on Facebook now. Good thing I printed off my readings for my Forensics class so I can work on it offline and submit from my alternate location.

See you on the flip side.

02 July 2009

I'm thankful....

I originally planned to do one of these for each work day left on my countdown, but I'm almost done anyway so I'll just do this all in one.

I am thankful for the new job I will be starting at South Texas College next month. My reasons why (no particular order):


1. House:


Our transfer to Gainesville was with little in the way of notice or time to prepare. Due to issues of the rental history company having flawed records, we were denied a rental on a nice house (which in retrospect would have been more than we could afford with Axia being unsteady income at the moment). We ended up getting a rental at the last minute, sight unseen. This was a blessing to be sure, as it gave us a place to live and allowed us to figure out the problem with the rental records and get them fixed.

But...

This house is infested. First it was fleas. Amelia was their bed time snack. Poor girl. Elizabeth somewhat as well, but always Amelia. Then we had a lot of rain and got mosquitoes. Ok, we could avoid them by staying inside, but still. And now we have mice. I think Eliza took a stab at getting some, but she wasn't here long enough to get them all.

And don't get me started on the damage to the house and the safety hazards with the wiring that my dad found. Yikes!

Sooo....

Moving to McAllen gives us a chance to leave this house early with a really good reason. It'll also give us a chance to look around in a housing market that isn't messed up. there are nice houses, and there is enough demand and competition that we can find something nice, within our budget. We've done some preliminary looking, and so far, so good. I'll go down to McAllen in a little over a week to house hunt, then come back to make the move.


2. Career vs job

TYC has been my job for the past 4 years. At first I considered the possibility of maybe staying with things and advancing, but soon it became clear that advancement wasn't likely. Then I was RiFed. I see the direction the agency is going, and I want no part of it.

Now I will be starting on a career path that I originally wanted. I will start as an instructor, but I will have the opportunity to advance up the professor career ladder. I can make my first promotion in as early as two years. This is usually not available to people without a PhD, but STC has the career path.

3. Nearby PhD program


Related to the above is the availability of some PhD programs at nearby UT PanAm. Although they don't of a CJ program at that level (CJ PhD programs are rare), I was advised that because I already have more than 18 doctoral hours in CJ, I can get a PhD in any subject and still teach graduate level CJ. The UT PanAm program include Management, which I could probably do without too much fuss, and will hold my interest as well as expand my teaching opportunities.

Plus, getting the PhD will expand my career advancement opportunities, as well as allowing me to advance faster.

4. Daddy Comes Home


Right now I'm working 2-10 PM. prior to that, I was liable to be called at any hour of the day or night and be gone for a few days at a time for emergencies.

Granted, my new career will require some evening classes (especially while I'm still the FNG) but otherwise I'll be home at a decent hour. No emergencies, no "staff didn't show up" or "take this kid to the hospital". Depending on how my class schedule each semester, I can probably be home early in the afternoons on some days, or even possibly have a weekday or two off if I work long days on the rest.

5. Holidays/Vacations


Related to the above is the fact that I don't have to work on holidays. No special duties or anything. If it's a holiday, I have it off. I get vacations scheduled in by the school calendar. No requesting time off and hoping that someone doesn't screw things up and my leave gets yanked.

This also gives me summers, off, unless I choose to work them for extra pay (see below). Having summers free will allow for all the usual summer fun of reunions, camps, or just plain old spending time with the family.

6. Pay (and overload and summer)


Starting off, my base pay will be better than what I make now. Granted, I won't get overtime pay, but it's not like TYC ever really paid my OT on a regular basis. I mainly accrued it just to burn off as leave time.

STC is rapidly growing, and the departments are working hard to keep up. The result is that everyone does at least one overload (extra) class. This translates into an extra $500 or so each month (per overload class) during the regular semesters.

As I mentioned above, I also get paid extra if I teach classes during the summer. Not only will this help keep the budget running smoother, but we'll use the extra pay to really snowball the debts and start saving to buy things we'll need soon (a new computer once the Phoenix one finally dies for the last time, a replacement vehicle or two in the next few years), and even buy a house instead of renting.

7. I know the Macs

Bill and Evelyn MacIntosh have been great friends, supporters, mentors, butt-kickers, etc. for several years. They are my "other parents." When I was hiding in the ward library, it was Evelyn that dragged me out by my ear, and Bill who arranged a High Priest escort to get me to attend classes and get my act together. They've also encouraged me in my academic career, and helped me get to where I am now. Not that we couldn't move somewhere completely new without knowing anyone there (we've done it before) but it helps having someone there that you already know.

Of course, they say they already have plans for us at church.... the recruiting thing at STC is also the Lord's work as well, which brings me to...

8. The Lord wants us there

Why? I don't know yet. I'm sure He knows what he wants us to do. I applied and interviewed all over the place in North Carolina back when I was first getting RiFed. Things looked pretty good that we'd be able to join the Jeppson exodus to Charlotte, as well as being able to hang around with my brother and his family at Fort Bragg. STC was the only place in Texas I applied with any real intent, and the only place that called for an interview. They are also the only place that called back with a job offer. I guess the Lord made it very clear where he wanted us to go, through this and other things he has done to help pave the way for us. So HE wants us there, but why?

9. Church is growing; maybe I'll use all the training I got in Monahans

The McAllen area just split off a new stake. They need Family History experts (hmm, where to find one of those) and priesthood leaders (ummmm). They were told that if they can form two more stakes, they get their own temple north of the border. Pretty neat to be a part of such growth. I'm not the only one curious as to what callings we'll get.

10. Bingo! South end of Texas the only part I haven't lived in yet.

Not really related to the others. The closest thing to home for me is central Texas. I went to school and got married in east Texas, started TYC and got a crash course in church leadership in west Texas, and have been marking time in north Texas. Going to south Texas should make bingo! all ends of the state dwelt in.


11. Subtropical area


McAllen is listed as being a subtropical area. Palm trees, snow birds in winter. We won't have to shovel the walk or anything like that.


Which leads me to the one thing I'm not looking forward to:

11.5 hot hot hot

I don't like the heat. Pyote was ok because it really was a dry heat. Up here is bearable as long as you stay inside during the day. Poor Amelia is definitely not a fan of the heat either... all day today it was "Water head!" meaning she wanted water poured on her head to cool her off (I'll let Christie explain). Elizabeth doesn't mind so much... she'll stay outside and keep playing if we let her and have water available for her. Looks like they'll be taking swimming lessons during the summer. I could use that as well. Don't let the Polar Bear Swim patch fool you, I still can't swim.