Sunday, April 26, 2020

Settling in

We made it! Driving back to Arizona less than a month after we had last left felt a bit like we had never been out of the car.  We stopped for Sunday in Utah.  We spent Saturday night with Anni, went to church with her family, and then drove down to Provo and crashed for the night with Colette's husband Jacob's parents so that we could be a little bit closer to our destination for the last long day of driving.  The Campbells were very kind to let us take over their basement for the night.  
The drive was long, hot, and not terribly eventful until the last two hours.  As we drove from Phoenix to Tucson, the sky put on a spectacular pyrotechnic show of full monsoon glory.  It was a welcome to Arizona that we will not forget any time soon.  Every crash of thunder of lightning strike built the excitement in our car as we drove through the heart of the storm.  
We spent our first night in Tucson with Grandma and Grandpa Knight.  Our rental house (after two offers to buy houses fell through) is across the street from Todd's parents.  They may not always love having us so close, but we love being so close to them.  Colette's family lives a couple of blocks away.  
We got rid of a bunch of our junky old furniture when we moved, so one of the first things we had to do after we got the keys to our new house was to get some seating.  
 Furniture stores are full of endless fun. 
 August in Tucson is always either hot and raining or just hot. All of that walking from our air conditioned car into air conditioned furniture stores had made us hot, so we went to Eegee's for lunch.  Eegee's is a particularly Tucson institution.  They sell unspectacular deli sandwiches and eegee's, which are a slushy ice drink that reminds me of drinking lemonade concentrate.  Cold + sugar = eegee's/happy children. 
 When adjusting to astonishing heat, it is a good idea to swim as much as possible.  You will notice that we were the only people at the pool.  Our new school district has year round school, so the kids here went back to school the third week in July.  We just got out of school the last week in June, so we decided to give the kids a week before we signed them up for school. 
 We did go check out the school.  Colette was there volunteering, and she offered to give the kids a tour.  The new school has all of its hallways outdoors, a tortoise pen in a courtyard, lots of brightly painted sidewalk art, and a giant chair.  It's a very welcoming place. 
 Sammy and I went on a walk to check out a potential preschool that is within walking distance of home.  Sammy is nonstop happy about being in Arizona.  He claims to love the heat. 
 When the POD had arrived, but we hadn't unpacked anything except a chair and a folding table, we were excited to eat breakfast at a table. 
 The kids were excited to be reunited with their toys.  It was a long week without them. 
 B and Ryan are so happy to have each other.
 We create our new normal in our new house by cooking together.  I got Sammy this Arizona Wildcat shirt (it says "Born to be a Wildcat") and he wore it every single day that he could find it clean until either it shrank or he grew a bunch, and it had to be retired.  Have I mentioned that Sammy was a little bit excited about being in Arizona?
 Our first day of school was August 12.  This is Jared's first day of fifth grade in Ms. Rabuck's class. 
 Eloise's first day of third grade.  She was in Ms. Duncan's class with Annie. 
B's first day of first grade in Mrs. Lane's class.  I was very happy that B got a teacher with many years of experience.  B was able to form a bond with her very quickly.  During is very first week of school, B was given a reading assessment.  Mrs. Lane told him that he is a good reader, and he believed her.  Before that his reading had been okay, but lagging a bit behind the rest of his learning.  After discovering that he is a good reader, he was full of enthusiasm to be a good reader, and his reading skills have taken off.  
 And Sammy's first day of preschool.  There is a preschool at the elementary school where the other kids go, but it was full.  Sammy ended up at a preschool in another elementary school closer to where we live.  He was very excited, and happy to go to preschool for the first week, although he was disappointed that he doesn't get to ride the bus.  Grandma picked him up from preschool every day a little bit less than an hour before the other kids came home, at 2:00.  He stayed with Grandma until I got home around 4 Monday through Thursday.  I don't have classes on Fridays, so Sammy stayed with me, and we went to exercise class and grocery shopped together. 
 The school heard the name of our street in our address and assigned our kids to a bus stop waaaaay at the other end of our street.  After a few days of making the long trek, Jared informed me that the bus has a stop on a different street right around the corner from our house.  It only took three phone calls to get the kids reassigned to the closer stop.  I'm extremely impressed with the bus driver.  She has actually called me to discuss strategies for dealing with one child's challenging behavior on the bus.  We have really lucked out with awesome bus drivers. 
 August 14 was my first day of law school orientation.  Jared took my first day portrait.  I was apprehensive.  Even after all of the work we had put in to getting to this point, Todd and I were still ready to pull the plug on this experiment at any time. 
Law school turned out to be amazing! I love the classes, I love my teachers, and I love all of the new friends I have made.  It is definitely hard, and the commute is not my favorite thing, but after a few emotional and stretching weeks, we were able to find a sort of a rhythm.  Everything we did to get to this point was challenging, but I have felt really peaceful at every stage.  It's amazing to be surrounded by an extended family support team that is ready to step up and do anything to help us, even if we are working on a crazy project like law school. 

All of the Good Byes.

With all of our moving events scheduled, we started to say good bye to all of our favorite things in Kirkland.  We may not have made it to all of them.  We had a lot of adventures here in eight years.  We managed to say goodbye to O.O. Denny Park and Lake Washington.  
 We visited the woods. We have walked a few miles on these trails. 
 The packing was pretty exhausting, so one afternoon we watched a sundae and ate a movie for a break.  :)
 Jared had his 10 year well check a month early so we wouldn't have to rush to find a doctor after the move.
 Our PODS got delivered.  Somehow we accumulated a lot more stuff since we moved to Washington from California in 2011, including two more kids.
 When all of our stuff was packed, the Carvers invited us to have dinner and family home evening with them in their neighborhood park.  This is our attempt at getting everyone in the same picture.  We have so many good memories with all of these friends. 
 I didn't manage to get any pictures, but my best girlfriends had a girls' night.  We took a couple of inflatable kayaks and a raft out on Lake Washington and messed around.  It was so fun.  I'm grateful for a group of supportive ladies who made my life so much easier in Kirkland.  They were unstoppable with childcare and meals while we packed.  We monkeyed around in our tree.
 We visited our neighborhood bears. 
 We loaded our POD.
 I was too busy saying goodbye to get any pictures, but we had a bring your own picnic meetup at the park to say goodbye to everyone at once, and most of our ward showed up!  We are so loved.  I let Jared take all of the pictures, so there were a lot of pictures of pieces of playground equipment, and not a lot with people in them.  This one is a gem. 
 One thing that I had been meaning to do for a couple of years was take the kids to Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend.  We picked up the older Christensen boys to take them with us and went early to hike to Rattlesnake Ledge as one of our last adventures before we moved.  This was August 1.  Our scheduled move date was August 3. 
This is a long, steep hike. The kids were ready to turn back less than a quarter mile from the top, but I convinced them to persevere.  I think they were glad they made it.  Except Sammy, who wanted to be carried most of the way down.  We did it! 
 When we came down, Rebecca was there with the rest of her boys and the Blackwelders playing in the lake.  Everyone was incredibly ready for lunch by the time we got there.
 This was a great climbing tree.  No one wanted to leave (even though everyone was tired). 
 Later that afternoon we stopped by Kaylee's house so Eloise could say goodbye.  Girlfriends are a treasure.
 Then, since they hadn't already done enough for us (totally kidding.  I owe Rebecca my life during the move), the Christensens hosted Jared's early birthday party.  Rebecca even made the cake. Most of the people he wanted to invite are Christensens, and everything we own was packed for a move, so we met at the Christensens for cake, and then the dads took the older kids bowling. 
 Josh, Jared's best friend from school, was the only non-Christensen/Knight who was there.  Bowling was great. The graphics above the bowling lane showed a great image of a ball falling into quicksand halfway to the pins if you got a gutter ball.  I'm so glad Jared got to celebrate his birthday with all of his friends.  We seriously missed our Christensen campout for Jared's birthday this year. 
 August 2 was our last day in Kirkland.  So we spent it with the Christensens.  We have so many children between us.  What this picture can't capture is the noise level.  Wow.
 Some of the Christensens thought they might move to Arizona with us.  We simply did not have room.  We would have brought them if we could have.  We always need more Christensens in our lives. 
 The Behrs invited us over for a goodbye dinner. Noah and B have been inseparable for the past year, and the Behrs are taking care of our house while their house gets remodeled. 
 These kids have so much fun together.  I wish we could have brought all of our friends to Arizona with us. 
 The next morning was our date of departure.  We took one last silly picture with our monkey tree. 
Then we got in the car and drove away. Leaving was bittersweet.  It's painful to leave so many beloved friends, but so many adventures await!

July in Kirkland

Kirkland in July is not nearly as hot as Utah/Arizona.  We had until the 17th of July to accept my scholarship offer, so we decided to proceed as if we would be going, since it takes a little bit of work to move a family this size across the country.  I don't think we ever sat down and had a discussion where we said definitively that we would be going.  At every stage of the getting ready to move process we said, "We can always pull the plug on this at any moment.  We will just take this one more step, and if things work out, we will take the next one."  
In the mean time, life went on.  A Sunday walk in the woods was a given.  
 Eloise came back from the scorching desert ready to trim off the mane that was making her neck hot.  My friend Kensie brought her salon to us.  B and Sammy had a great time entertaining her baby, Rock, while Eloise got fixed up. 
 We got back from our trip just in time for cub scout camp.  Eloise was very excited to be old enough to go this year.  I traded volunteer days at camp and volunteer days watching extra kids with my new friend, Jolena. Spencer went to cub scout camp, and Genevieve, Aaron, and Chloe hung out with us.  Basically we had a week long party. 
 Cub scout camp was themed "Cubs Through Time."  No time travel themed camp would be complete without a pool noodle light saber activity. 
 One of the highlights of cub scout camp is shooting and archery every day.  My first day volunteering was a lovely day of pouring rain.  Everyone got pretty soaked.  This is typical July day in western Washington. 

The kids each made a piece of dough, then wrapped it around a sausage and toasted it on a stick over fire.  Most of the kids wrapped them too thick and ended up eating a lot of very raw dough, but it still tastes good when you made it yourself, right?
 We had some errands to do with our friends.  Silliness ensued. 
 The younger kids sometimes feel a little left out because they don't get to spend the entire day out in the elements, so we went to the Kelsey Creek Farm to look at the enormous pigs and play on the playground. 
 Then we went to Grass Lawn Park to pretend it was actually warm enough for the splash pad. 
 Sammy got to go to his friend Abby's 4th birthday party at Pump it Up.  Sammy loves bouncing, and he loves obstacle courses, and he loves air hockey, but he is not a fan of the giant bouncy slides.  He got his leg caught on his way down one once, and now our little thrill seeker won't go near them. 
 The end of the week was warmer than the beginning of the week, so we braved Idylwood Park on Lake Sammamish with the Ashmans and the Christensens.  You may notice that none of our kids are actually in the water, which shows that it hadn't warmed up much.
 Todd took a quick trip to Arizona to inspect a house we were offering on.  It turned out not to have been well cared for, and we ended up backing out of our offer. July 17th arrived, and I accepted the scholarship. I could always back out, right?
 Because we had to cram in as much adventure and togetherness as possible, we met the Blackwelders, Christensens, and one of their neighbors, Christina, and her son, Henry at the Issaquah hatchery.  It was too early for the salmon run, but there were plenty of fry and other immature fish in the holding tanks. 
 Family hatchery portrait!
 Todd came back from Arizona in time for the Google family picnic.  This year it was at the zoo.  Sammy was very excited about his rainbow sparkle tiger face paint.  B was a polar bear.  I think Sammy was trying to look fierce here. 
 Eloise liked Sammy's idea to be a rainbow tiger. 
 There was food, carousel rides, animals to see, Blackwelders and Christensens to play with, and so much to see and do that we went home late and exhausted.  It's pretty great when all of our best friends get to go to the same company picnic we go to. 
 July went by so quickly! We met the Christensens and Blackwelders in Seattle at the Alki Beach tidepools.  We had never been to Seattle's most famous beach before.  This is my favorite kind of Washington adventure.  All of the kids turned over rocks to find zillions of crabs.  There is so much to touch, see, explore, and learn on a beach like this. 
All of our July adventures were colored with a little bit of sadness since we were saying a very slow goodbye to our closest friends.  While we never really committed to leaving, our move date was set, our POD was scheduled, and we had renters lined up to be caretakers of our house in Washington for the next nine months.  At some point I guess we decided that we were leaving.