Saturday, September 24, 2011

Family fun

The past month or two has sure helped me better appreciate my family.  Not that I didn't appreciate them, but I love and appreciate them now more than ever.  I try to treasure each moment with them, because it feels like those moments come way too infrequently now that I've started working.  

Even moments like this make me smile...

Yes.  Yes.  That is gum smashed all across my one-year old's head.  Logan got a hair cut after that one.  This little incident was courtesy of Dallin.  

Also, John has now left for TX.  One more thing to help me treasure the time we have together.   His job here was breaking his back, and not paying a whole lot, so after a lot of thought/prayer/stress we've decided to send him to find a job in TX.  He doesn't officially have the job, but has been told the next job opening will be his, so here's hoping...!!  Meanwhile, I will stay behind and work and get the house ready to sell.  The kids and I will be moving in with my parents.  I have to be to work by 4am (sometimes earlier), and getting them up between 3-3:30 am on a school morning just didn't make sense.  And this way, they can have the stability of a constant routine.  On nights that I work late, they will still have dinner at the same time and with the same people.  I appreciate my parents for helping us so much.  

The day before he left I was determined to have some family fun.  We pulled the kids out of school for the day, and just ran errands as a family.  Then, in the afternoon, I dragged a family full of grumpy boys to the county fair.  Once we got there they all cheered up, and we had a blast.  Cory was excited to go on some of the bigger rides with daddy, including the Gravatron!!  Here they are on the ferris wheel, although you can't really see them.  

Dallin and Bryson decided to play it a little safer, and had some fun riding the smaller rides.  

I love this shot!  Brothers having FUN!

My handsome boys!!

The next morning John headed off to TX at 4am.  Dallin woke up first.  He grabbed his little orange blanket, and followed Daddy into the car, assuming he was going too.  We had to tell him he couldn't go.  He went back to bed, and then the older boys woke up in time to all give Daddy a hug before we sent him off to the great unknown.  We'll miss you, Daddy!

Oh Dallin, what entertainment you are!

The other morning, there was a mad rush to get ready on Sunday morning, as there usually is.  I was putting on my make-up when Dallin got out of the bath.  I told him to go put his underwear on, and put on his church clothes.  A few minutes later he came to me, telling me he was all ready for church.  His voice had a hint of mischief in it, and when I turned around, this is what I saw:  

HA HA!  Oh, Dallin, you are so funny.  

Then, the other afternoon I came into our front room, and found Dallin meditating.   Hee hee.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dallin's 4th birthday

Yay!  Dallin turned FOUR!!!!!  I just can't believe it.  He used to be my baby, it doesn't feel like THAT long ago!!  

I was scheduled to work on Dallin's big day, but my preceptor (trainer) allowed me to switch days so I could be home with my little boy!  THANK HEAVENS!!

So, we started the morning with a special breakfast: pancakes with sprinkles and white chocolate chips, and his own bottle of apple juice.  :)  He was a happy camper.  

So were his brothers.

We sent the bigger boys off to school and had some fun around the house.  He got a batman shirt as his first present (see the first picture), and he was THRILLED with it.  He decided to get ready to he got dressed with his hat, gloves, sunglasses, and two...yes, TWO belts.  

Then he wanted a photo shoot.  He wanted me get his front side...

...and his backside.  :)

Oh, Dallin.  I love you.  You provide ENDLESS amounts of entertainment!!

Just before the kids got home from school, Nanny Goates (my mom) picked up Dallin and took him out for ice cream.  The kid at the table next to him said to his mother "MOM!  That boy has a BATMAN shirt on!"  Dallin felt like cool stuff!  

While Dallin was away, the older boys decorated the house with streamers and balloons.  We picked up a pizza and a cake - yes, store bought.  *shaking head*  That's what being a working mom has done to me.  

We had Nana, Grandpa Tilton, and Jacob over for dinner and dessert.  

Such a handsome group of boys!!!  You can just feel how happy Dallin is!!

Cake time!!!!  Captain America!!  Dallin loved it!

Snug as a bug in a rug!

Night night, little Dallin.  You are my joy.  You are so much fun, you add so much to my daily life.  Thank you for being you.  Oh, and happy happy birthday!!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

New job

So - as many of you know I started a new job this last week.  I wanted to load a picture of me in my scrubs here, but I'm always in a rush getting out the door, and by the time I come home, I just look nasty.  So, no visual aides for this post, sorry.  To clarify, my motive for going back to work is not to fill some need to "keep my sanity" or to pursue a career I felt I missed out on,or put on hold while having kids.  I keep getting the comment "Good for you, going back to work!" and it just puzzles me.  There is one reason, and one reason alone: money money money, stupid stupid money.  Or maybe I should say "bills bills bills.  Stupid bills."  Well, that and John's back - we're hoping him not being the sole "bacon bringer" will ease some of his burden, so his back doesn't end up with permanent damage.  So, we're keeping our fingers crossed for that.

So, what's the job you ask?  I work as a patient care technician at a dialysis company.  I will be working 40+ hours per week, and my responsibilities will include caring for 4 patients at a time, checking blood pressures, reacting to dialysis alarms, connecting patients to the dialysis machine (Yes, that means I'll be putting in large needles into frail veins), administering some forms of medication, etc.

I'll only work 3 days a week most weeks.  Sure there will be some long (like 15 hour) days - which will likely start just before 4am, but the other 4 days I will be home with my family.  Since John usually gets Friday and Saturdays off, this means I only have to find a sitter 2 days a week.  The company provides full benefits, bonuses, frequent raises, etc.  It really seems like a good job.  Something to carry us through until John gets done with school.

I've now worked 3 days (in a row).  It's going good, I think.  Usually training is like 10 weeks, but they're hoping to condense it into about half of that because they are so short-handed.  To someone who has no previous medical experience, it definitely feels more than a little overwhelming.  Plus I miss the kids horribly.  I could lie and say that it's not that bad, but it is.  I hate leaving them.  It completely breaks my heart.  I'll have to work on Dallin's 4th birthday on Tuesday and so that's just salt in the wound.

As for your next question:  Who's watching the kids?  I have to divide them up during the week.  One of John's coworkers lives just a couple streets away, and she takes the older kids before and after school both days.  She also takes the younger ones during one of the days (all day).  The other day, Dallin and Logan go to my in-laws house.  It makes for some early mornings for the kids, being dropped off just before 5, and on a school morning!  Ah.  Once again, breaks my heart.  But what else can I do?

So, that's the scoop.  It's a good job, in fact it's fascinating.  I've learned a lot.  I like the people I work with, they all have been nice.  Just kind of a bummer that I have to leave my babies...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back to School 2011


He's taken a few steps.  First to Daddy.  I love it!!!

And now, let me introduce my sons.  Cory, a third grader, and Bryson, a second grader...

And here's Dallin with the big boys, so wishing HE could go to school TOO!

Yes, there are a lot of smiley pictures, but here's what REALLY happened once we got out the door...

but the boy can sure turn on the charm once he knows I'm taking pictures...

(love you, Cory.)

But once we got to the bus stop, they were eager to go.  Never even looked back once the bus came.

Dallin wasn't that sad when they left...

...but Logan was a bit sad to see them go.

We had lots of fun with just the three of us home.  I couldn't believe how much smoother the day went.  It was just so nice.  Somehow I didn't think the big boys going back to school make THAT big a difference.  Boy oh boy was I wrong.  It's just so nice and calm and quiet with "JUST" two.  :)

This one deserves its own post.

Caught you.

Just a bunch of kidlette shots

 I just love my four beautiful boys!

 Here's Bryson riding his bike around our back yard.

Yes, that's a mohalk on my son's head.  And I love it.  

I just love this picture.  My crazy kids.  That's all I can say.

Yup, Logan is his father's son.  Tee hee hee!!!

Silly Logan being goofy!!

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this shot of Bryson!  What a handsome boy!

And my sweet Cory!  What a special kid.  And I mean "special" in a good way!!!  :)

And you can't forget Dallin!  ha ha ha!  What a nut.

My and my baby, who's not as much of a baby these days.

Monday, July 25, 2011

4th of July - 2011 edition

The 4th of July this year was very fun.  We had a Goates family reunion, so everyone, including spouses and children, were there!  Nothing in the world like family!  Sierra Vista usually has a spectacular fireworks show, but due to the recent fires in the area, it had to be cancelled.  But that's ok, we had fun putting mentos in diet soda and watching some non-flammable explosions!  

Wish I had gotten more pictures, but oh well.  This picture of me and the kids was the best I could get...crazy boys...gotta love them!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Logan Utah

My little sister Reenie was put on bedrest at only 14 weeks along in her pregnancy due to a subchorionic hematoma (look it up if you're curious).  Logan and I have had the opportunity to go visit her this last week in Utah!  Thanks everyone who made this a possibility, especially my darling husband who took care of everything back home while I was gone, as well as my parents and in-laws who watched the kids while said husband was at work.  

We've had lots of...well...memorable experiences.  Here are some fun shots of Logan enjoying  himself with Aunt Reenie.  They were pals from the beginning. 

Sweet little Logan provided endless amounts of entertainment for Reenie.  This was his favorite spot:  between her legs on the couch.  :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monument Fire

Ok, so I finally have set the time aside so I can chronicle the happenings of last week.  Two weeks ago a fire started in the mountains near our home.  Now, a fire is never good.  However, this one was especially awful.  Earlier this year we got a hard freeze, which killed off a significant number of plants, shrubs, and trees, leaving a dry, extremely flammable layer to the ground.  This, in combination with 100+ temperatures and single digit humidity, and strong winds made this fire very difficult to manage.  This has a ton of pictures and lots of details, more for my benefit than anyone elses.  I know I will forget most of this, and so I wanted to have it written down somewhere.

Sunday, June 12
There had been several fires in AZ, so we were quite used to seeing smoke in the air at this point.  After church, in the afternoon, my neighbor Ben came knocking on my door.  He notified me that another fire had started, this time in the Coronado National Monument - about a 20 minute drive from our home.  I looked out the door and saw quite a bit of smoke.  Oh dear.  For the rest of the afternoon I would glance out and each time the fire got bigger.  I didn't feel like me or our home was in any danger.  It was just fascinating.

Monday, June 13
The fire got bigger and felt closer, but still, didn't feel like I was in any kind of danger.  Just went along with my normal routine, but kept a closer eye on the smoke.

Tuesday, June 14
The fire made it's way down Ash Canyon.  Lots of smoke.  The fire consumed a friend's home.  I felt very strange going about my daily life while I knew their house was burning.  It was hard to concentrate, I felt like I should be doing something, but all I really could do was take care of the kids.  

This is the view from our driveway.

It's hard to tell in the picture, but we could see the flames from our home.

I couldn't get ahold of my in-laws, so I went over there to check on them.  They were fine, and I hurried out of there.

These pictures just don't do it justice.  I felt like I was driving into the bowels of the fire.  We finished up, and as I drove away, it felt like those movies where the tornado is right behind you.  I knew this wasn't the case, it was just odd and unsettling.  This is the fire in the evening.  Everyone on our street just stood in middle of the road in awe.

And another smoke shot...blogger is so hard to edit...

Later that night...

Wed, June 15
The fire continued to creep closer.  We went out to Huachuca City to get Starbucks (our dog) neutered.  As we came back, the fire really started to kick up because of the wind.

The mountain began to resemble a volcano.  Here's the intersection of Fry and HWY 92.  As the fire came over the peak of the mountain, it looked like a fireball.  It was orange, and glowed from the inside, and it was at least as tall as the mountain was.  It was spectacular.  I was at Fry's in the parking lot, and everyone just stopped and starred.  What else could we do?

The view from our house.

And that night...

It was just incredible to watch.  

Thursday, June 16
My in-laws were put on Mandatory evacuation.  The fire jumped across HWY 92.  They had helicopters and airplanes and over 500 firefighters working on it, but they were no match for the extreme heat and dryness, along with the strong 20-30 mph winds, with gusts up to 40mph.  I like this next picture, you can see it glowing from the inside.   

Mandatory evacuation was ordered up until two blocks from our home.  I began to pack the car, just in case.  I didn't feel comfortable being so close to a mandatory evacuation zone.  I knew I needed to be prepared, especially because stronger winds were in the forecast over the weekend.  My 10 year high school reunion was planned for this weekend, and we had planned a girls night out with some of my HS buddies, but it was cancelled because we were all too drained, physically and emotionally. 


Friday, June 17
My HS friends had planned a pot luck in the park.  We decided it was worth a try to go, so I left, with all my important documents and belongings packed into the car.  Cory had to sit in the front seat so I could fold down the back row of seats.  Here's the view from my house as we left.

While I was at the park, my neighbor called and told me our neighborhood was given a pre-evacuation notice.  We were told to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.  So, we headed back home.   I wanted to be sure we could get our dogs out in time, if needed.  John came home and helped me.  On my way back home I called the sheriff's office to confirm our pre-evac status.  They said we weren't on pre-evac.  Ughh.  A friend of ours (Stormy) called and asked for help packing some stuff, so we headed on over to her house, with our car packed.  After we got home, I went online to see what was going on, and sure enough, we had been put under pre-evac.  There was so much bad information going around, I was frustrated that the sheriff's office had told me incorrect info.  Anyways, I was able to pack some more stuff in the car.  We were ready.  Come what may.

Then, about 2pm, we looked outside and another fire had started.  This one in the opposite direction, on Ft Huachuca.  A huge plume of smoke was spreading FAST.  Helicopters and manpower was diverted from the monument fire to what was to be called the Antelope Fire.  It burned 2400 acres in about 2 hours before it was put out.  My parent's house was put under evacuation.  

Here's the intersection of Buffalo Soldier Trail and Avenida Cochise.  My mom left to my brother's house, and offered to take a couple kids with her, since I figured at this point we would be evacuated shortly.  There were multiple car accidents on the road because of the histeria.  Everyone was jumpy.  By the time she got to Benson the fire was contained and she was able to return home.

Here's the monument fire that night.  Quite lively.

Saturday, June 18
We remained on pre-evac notice all day.  It was difficult to be ready at all times.  We knew when the fire jumped HWY 92 again, it would move fast.  I felt uneasy taking a nap (which is a necessity for me), I stayed home, and close to the radio and internet.  I wanted to know as soon as I needed if we were to leave.  It was hard to get anything done.  The winds were relatively low, it was almost the calm before the storm.  Weather forecast for Sunday was HOT and winds 25-35 mph, with gusts above 50 mph.  I stayed up late making sure the house was clean and laundry was all put away.  

Sunday, June 19 - Father's Day
The Church building was in a pre-evac zone, so they opted to only hold Sacrament Meetings for the three wards in the building.  We all came to church with our cars packed with important docs and belongings.  We had a very peaceful meeting, putting things in perspective for us.  I left feeling like I didn't need to be scared.  Prepared? Yes.  Scared?  No.  Before we left the meeting we got word that aircraft had been grounded because of high winds. There were over a thousand firemen working, and over 100 fire engines.

The peace from the meeting carried over into our home.  I finished chores and started preparing for our Father's Day meal while John went to a friend's house to replace his brakes on the car.  We were going to have company over, if we weren't evacuated.  Meat was thawing, everything was ready to go.

Around 1 the smoke really started turning dark.  The fire looked angry.  John was back home and we started taking pictures of our furniture and home for insurance purposes.  Our neighbor Matt Taylor came over and told us the officials were getting ready to move everyone in our area out.  The fire was heating up and getting ready to jump 92.  I looked out the door, and saw this:

You can see it glowing from the inside of the smoke plume.  And look at the size of the smoke cloud in relation to our mountain.  It was huge.  We hurried and got everyone packed.  Another came over and told us we were officially under a hard mandatory evacuation order.  John took the dogs, I took the kids, and we got out of there as the officials came in with their loud speakers telling everyone they should leave immediately.

As I drove down the road, I snapped this shot:

It was incredible to see.  I just felt so humbled by the sheer power of this natural force.  

I drove to my brother's house in Casa Grande, and John stayed at a co-worker's house in Huachuca City.  Jason (my brother) was moving that weekend, but was still kind enough to put up me, my four children, and my mom.  What a saint!  

The three hour drive to Jason's house was one of the shortest in my life.  I was on the phone almost the whole time, making sure my VT families got out ok, talking to insurance, notifying family members of the new update, and several friends calling to make sure I had gotten out safely.  

As we got further away, it was odd to be more disconnected to the town.  The Tucson and Phoenix radio stations weren't giving regular updates, and I had no idea where the evacuation lines where, if there were more houses being burned, or in what areas.  I spoke to John on the road, and he had gone back to help his home teachee family move out their belongings.  He said he didn't have time to talk, and he would call me when he was safe.

By the time I got to Jason's house, I had no idea if my house was still standing even.  It was interesting that I didn't really feel concern for the house.  It was just that: a house.  My home was with the kids and hubby.  Sounds trite, but that's how I felt.

John didn't call me for TWO HOURS, which felt like a very long time.  I was happy to know he was safe.  But then he got a call that the firemen needed help because it was so out of control.  They needed John to drive a water truck.  So, back into danger my husband went.  And again, I started to feel uneasy.  

I got on facebook and everyone was saying how much dark smoke there was, and how it was bad.  Really really bad.  Yikes.  John called me about an hour later, they had gotten things under control, and his help wasn't needed anymore.  John was in front of our home, and it was fine.  Our whole neighborhood was fine.  And same with my parents.  I was just relieved that my hun was safe.  Hats off to you army wives.  I have a newfound respect for you.

We remained on evacuation status until Tuesday, and went down to pre-evac status.  By then we learned that my in-laws house was fine, although 2 houses down from them, a house had burned.  The fire had come to within a mile of our house.  The firemen truly did an EXCEPTIONAL job.  Reading the report of where the fire had gone, it was truly a miracle.  They channeled the fire into the washes, and around the homes, but didn't allow many houses to go.  About 50 homes were consumed, but compared to what it could have been...I can't even think about.  Sadly a friend of ours lost her home, and EVERYTHING in it.  Not even metal bowls could be salvaged.  My heart goes out to her.  

The fire has consumed 28,000 acres to date.

During our stay with Jason, we had a lot of fun.  It was nice to be away from the drama caused by the fire.  We were able to play with my neice, Kali (SO SO SO adorable), we got to go to the temple with the kids, out to bahama bucks, swimming, lunch with Shelisa, yummy dessert with my sister in law.  Allissa and I got our hair done.  All in all, it was a very very fun trip.  

We headed back home on Wed.  By the time we got home, we learned that our pre-evac status was lifted.  What a blessing.  The fire is now behind the mountain, where we can't see it.  Apparently it's headed for Ft. Huachuca.  We have been cautioned to not get complacent, the fire is still raging.  We desperately need rain.  They don't expect the fire to be gone within a month.  But, for now our houses are safe.  We don't have a constant dark plume of smoke hanging over our heads, and we don't see the flickering lights on the mountain at night.  I feel so very blessed.

Here is my "home" while we were visiting the temple.  After all, home is where the heart is, right?  Totally cheesy, I know, but I feel it more now than ever!