Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Proof that we've settled into Davis...


Protests...


Bikes...


Outdoors...


Energy saving...


Shirtless...


And a little bit white trash.

So, two confessions. 1. We love Davis, 2. We're not really hippies (yet). I just can't get over how funny that picture is of Norah as a preachy environmentalist. I saw that shirt on clearance and got it because I knew it would make Jason laugh. Combined with holly jeans and "free spirit" hair, she definitely looks the part. Have you every hung your laundry out to dry? It stinks. Literally. And it's totally crunchy. We had some issues with our dryer when we first moved here, so I tried using the lines outside. Kids shirtless, and shoeless, and Jason riding a bike to school, are all true.

Norah's observation at a stop light a few weeks ago:
"Hey Mom, there are a LOT of bikes in Davis."
So true, Norah, so true.



Norah having a "book picnic" with Grandma Mary. Isn't that a cute idea? Mom has the best ideas, and Norah loves them all. Especially any involving books.


Davis Farmers Market is the best. It's been voted America's Favorite Farmers Market, in the WHOLE country. Norah enjoying a pony ride there.


We had to wait until she got the "pink one."


Packed truck on the way to Davis. This is very, very belated, but THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL THOSE WHO HELPED US MOVE!!! We have the best family and friends ever, especially considering that with how many times we've moved recently, they keep showing up. It was painless. THANKS!!



Proof that we still get them fully dressed, even in Davis. :)

First Day of School



I'm a horrible blogger, we all know it. Moving on... :) (Oh, and this will be long, because if I'm going to spend the time doing it it might as well be useful as a family journal, right? Sorry if you're bored, just look at the pictures.) So, in September Jason and Norah had their first day of school on the same day. How cute is that, huh? So here is their cute little "first day of school" picture together. They were both very excited, Jason to start his MBA at UC Davis, and Norah to start her first year of preschool. Jason's been really loving his program. It's challenging and busy, but so was work, and we're not paying all that tuition for nothing, so it's been great. Norah has loved loved LOVED school. I really had my doubts for awhile about what was the right choice for her, however, in the end, it has been perfect. It's a darling little nursery school, she goes 2 days a week for 3 hours, which is in my opinion a perfect amount for her right now. So I don't forget her special first day of "school," here's the story. (Note: would have documented Jason's first day in such detail as well, but can you believe he was against it? haha)


She was very excited--can you tell? First story is her outfit. Norah can sometimes be, well, let's say... opinionated, about what she wears. And let's face it, I am too. Even though I know my life would be much easier if I let her wear what she wanted, and even though I know it doesn't REALLY matter, I just can't give into her wearing polka dot pants with a striped shirt and crazy lady hair. So, to avoid a potential damper on her special day we headed over to the outlets where I let her pick out a special first-day-of-school outfit (I would have gone with the teal, but the pink is cute too). She looked adorable and was so excited, especially about the shoes.


Giving Daddy a squeeze before they both headed off to class.


It's so hard to believe that she's getting so big and independent. I often ask them to "stop growing, don't get any bigger." It doesn't seem to work of course.


Send off for Daddy.


This is outside of her preschool. While waiting for them to open the doors, Norah picked a flower. "Here Mom, I picked a flower for you." We didn't tell Teacher Ann though.


Although she was very excited about school she did want me to come in with her for a little bit. So for about 15 minutes or so she had fun showing Brother around. Here they're very excited about the pet turtle, Leroy.

After she was settled in Ellis and I got back in the car and drove home, and I cried all the way. I felt like a big dork, but getting in the car I just did the math. Two years of preschool and then she'll be in kindergarten. Crazy!


She was so happy when we picked her up, and that made me feel much better. She made this hat, and got a sucker. What 3 year old wouldn't be happy?


Happy girl.


Showing off her art (her favorite part of preschool).


My sweet girl. Not the best picture of me, but her face is just so sweet and happy. She was just beaming and kept asking me, "Mom, can we go to school again someday?" Looks like she's taking after her mommy in that regard. I LOVED school as a kid.


She wanted to make a hat for Brother too (aka Ellis, she calls him Brother). He was thrilled.













And then one for Mommy......













Ellis saying "cheese!" with his hat. It was hilarious how excited he was.













Well, Norah, we're so glad you love school, and we're so proud of all the good choices you make. You're our sweet, smart, spunky girl, and we just can't get enough. Every prayer since her first day of school has included, "and thank you for my class..." I guess it was the right choice.

Friday, June 5, 2009

We're BAaaaAACCKK

I know, you're shocked. There's actually a post.

We're here, alive, and happy. We just hate blogging, and (honestly) kind of forgot that we had a blog. Until, that is, we had a hundred requests for something, ANYTHING, new on the blog from family and friends. Sorry, sorry to keep you waiting. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I want to be better for the sake of journaling and providing pictures for my dear grandma if nothing else.

So.....here's what's been happening.

- We closed on the house in March. Since Jason was in the midst of applying to business schools, we moved in with the Browns until we figured out where we would be going. We really love being there. They are SO sweet and fun and Norah is just in heaven with all the grandparents and pets around. The moving transition was hard for both the kids....they still don't seem themselves to me.....but hopefully once we're somewhere more permanent they'll chill out.

- Ellis turned 1 on April 21st! Separate post about that later.

- We went down to Southern California for Jason's interview for the MBA program at UC Irvine. At the end of the interview the head of admission said, "Well, you're in. I make the decisions, and you're in." Plus a scholarship! We were so proud (but that's not where we're going....). While down there we stayed with our great friends Scott and Karisa and saw their gorgeous baby girl. It was so fun to play with them and go to the beach.

- Then he had his UC Davis interview, which is where he really wanted to go for various reasons, but mostly because they have a phenomenal business program. However, they only admit 60 students a year (the selectivity and intimacy of the program is partly what makes it so great) so we tried not to get our hopes up. The interview went well, and he ended up being accepted, with a scholarship!! We're SO SO SO excited and proud of him.

(People usually ask about whether we considered BYU. The answer is, for a second. But, because we already have been there and done that, and because Jason got his business undergrad there and would be getting his business masters from the same program, we ruled it out. Plus, for networking/career reasons it's best for him to stay close to where we want to be permanently. But it would have been fun to see the Bushs and Stutzs!)

- We went to Tahoe with Jason's parents (they have a condo timeshare there) and had a great time. Went to the lake, Truckee, made smores, and went on walks.

- Looked EVERYWHERE in Davis for housing. It took forever, and a lot of days in the car driving around with the kids in the back while I threw food and toys to the back of our crowded Forester, but we found something that will work great. We'll be moving in September. Time to grow beards (well, for Jason), wear pig-tails (me), and get some Birkenstocks. :)

- Right now we're in St. Louis visiting my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins out here. It is so great to see them all and makes us wish we lived closer. We've been busy doing all sorts of fun things and will head to the Lake of the Ozarks with all the family for the 4th. After that we're going to take a little detour to go see Nauvoo (a church historical city) which should be wonderful.

Here are some pictures of the kids, until I get another post together:

....I know what you're thinking, "yeah right, it's going to be another 3 months before she puts anything else up".......we'll see. :)

Here's Ellis:


Pretty blue eyes, blond hair, and new teeth.


Snazzy in his Easter suit.


I kiss this face AT LEAST 100 times a day.


Begging to come outside by giving kisses through the glass. This kid wishes he lived outdoors.


Showing off his Michigan State hat that Great Grandpa Ellis got him. Cute!


This pictures old....he's walking solo now, with the help of his Frankenstein-balancing arms. The 98th percentile head (true to the Brown genes) makes balance a challenge, but he's mastering it.

Here's Norah:


Smelling the poppies on a walk. Although we've tried to explain why we don't pick those particular flowers, she usually brings me one along the way.


On one of our many walks to the park down the street.


I love those dimples...


With her cute friend, Evan after a trip to the park.


On a walk a couple months ago at the old house. This picture cracks me up, because it perfectly encapsulates Norah's personality--very girly, and yet tom-boyish all at the same time. She loves taking the baby (and CareBear) for a stroll while I stroll Ellis. But some where along the way she finds the largest stick possible, and while pushing the stroller pokes at things with the sticks. Good safety training for taking car of a baby? Probably not. However, she does know how to multi-task.


Norah showing off her sticks, and Ellis rocking on.


REALLY excited to be riding a bus while we were down in Southern California for Jason's UC Irvine interview. It's so funny to me that for a 2 year old a bus ride, of all things, is this thrilling.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Looking for a rainy day activity?

Here's what Norah came up with.  

video

Oh, the things they think of....

(Scott: apparently "stiff as a board" is genetic.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Miracles Happen!


It's been a long time, and this is a long story, so beware of a long post.......

Ok, kids are asleep and I have a quite moment not consumed with cleaning, organizing, or playing with the little ones to update you all on what's been happening. Christmas was wonderful (have I seriously not posted in THAT long? Happy New Year to everyone by the way....) and we've been busy making plans. After serious thought and reflection and lots of fasting and prayer, we decided to sell the house. To put it simply, it just felt like the right thing to do. Which seemed odd at first, since it definitely felt like buying it was the right thing to do a little over a year ago. However, as our wise Bishop counseled during tithing settlement, you cannot second guess a decision that you knew at the time was right. Life takes you in twists and turns, sometimes by design. Anyway, once we decided to sell the house we (okay, I) became COMPLETELY obsessed with cleaning, staging, and organizing the house. Just to give you an idea, here are some things we did:

-Painted Norah's room
-Painted downstairs bathroom
-Organized all closets perfectly
-Organized all (I mean every single one) drawers and cabinets because buyers are nosey
-Hung curtain rods
-Installed 2 light fixtures
-Moved a bunch of furniture and storage to the Browns to prepare for staging
-Removed all family pictures and replaced with prints from IKEA
-Weeded entire yard
-Had city drop off a 3 yard dumpster and filled it (twice!) with random junk, including a huge pile of wood/junk that the previous owner so kindly left in the side yard
-Planted flowers
-Put down bark
-Power washed the house and pavement
-Cleaned carpets (thanks to my sweet SWEET mother-in-law, Barbara, who helped in this and many other areas! In another life, she could be a phenomenal carpet cleaner)
-Organized and cleaned out garage
-Touched up and polished all cabinets (kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, linen closet, even the banister....)
-Cleaned every window track, counter, sink, light fixture, blind, air vent, bathroom..........until the whole house sparkled

It was quite the work load. And it wasn't like we were living in a dirty house to begin with. I just wanted it to be perfect, so that the most nosey and picky buyer wouldn't be able to complain about one untidy cabinet or dusty windowsill. And I must say, I think I've become addicted. It's hard to ever sit down without feeling like I should be cleaning something. But with hardly spending a dime and using things we had, all the work was worth it in the end.

So, after our spring cleaning on steroids, we took pictures and listed the house. My mom's dear boyfriend Chuck is just about the nicest Texas gentleman you'd ever meet and came to our rescue and offered to list the house for us since he has his brokers license. I don't think any of us realized how heavy a workload it would be for him....lots of paperwork and running around.....but he certainly has remained true to his gentleman ways throughout the whole ordeal and been extremely helpful. Since Chuck isn't a realtor and doesn't have a realty company we had to get creative on our marketing tactics. I took the house pictures, we created a flyer, and then had to figure out what to do for a sign. Not wanting to go with a glorified garage sale sign, we designed a generic sign and had it made by a company down the street. Jason tracked down a sign setting company to come install a wood post, and tah-dah (as Norah would say)!!! Pro-jo looking sign for under $100! What we really wanted to do was paste a big cheesy picture of Chuck in a suit, but now that wouldn't be very gentleman/ladylike of us, so we resisted the urge.

So, what do you think......... "JCB Realty".......not a bad ring to it. Yeah right.

OK, this story is going on and on. I'll try to speed it up. So after everything was picture perfect we got it listed the afternoon of Wednesday, January 28th. The next day 2 different families came to see the house. To our great surprise one of the brokers called back with an offer, not far off from our asking price! We were.....amazed. THEN, the next morning Jason runs upstairs and tells me in his most excited I'm-a-little-boy-on-Christmas-
morning sort of way that we had received an offer from the other family as well, at our asking price. Now we were......shocked. WE SOLD THE HOUSE IN ONE DAY!!!! ONE DAY! In this market. With this economy. Now that's a miracle. Plain and simple miracle.

In the end, we sold it to a sweet wonderful family for well beyond what we expected to get for the house. And to top it all off they have got to be the most pleasant, accommodating, qualified, and easy to work with buyers ever. Plus, they really want the house and are just in love with it. For me, this is a great relief and means a lot. When we bought it, I thought we would be here for 10 years. Until we had a bunch of bigger kids and were busting at the seams. I would be walking them to school in the morning and making fresh cherry pies every summer. Giving it to someone who was ho-hum about it and had an attitude of "okay, I guess this will work" would have been heartbreaking. Moving out while a family who will cherish it and enjoy it as much as we would have is moving in makes it so much easier.


So, if you're wondering where we are for the next couple weeks, you'd be smart to place your bet on packing, moving, studying for the GMAT, writing application essays, and/or getting all other MBA related application hoopla completed. We'll be moving the end of this month, so maybe March will give a little breather.

It's so funny how life works sometimes. The same day that we sold the house we found out that the job Jason had been waiting on didn't come through. It sounds so weird, but we didn't even care. We felt so blessed already. It was clear to us that there was more than luck involved here, and it makes you feel so wonderful to get that clear confirmation that the (sometimes hard) decisions you're making are the right ones. We're excited for a new adventure, even though it's totally unexpected and unplanned. Amongst all of these changes and adjustments, in a lot of ways we really feel like we've never been happier. Uncertain times allow us this priceless opportunity to recognize the blessings in our lives, and depend on our loving Heavenly Father who one way or another always guides us down the right path.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of those family and friends who have been sending kind thoughts and prayers our way--I guess they were put to good use! Yesterday as I turned the corner to come home I looked up and saw the most amazing rainbow. It was enormous, just a perfect end to end rainbow, with our house right in the middle. I've only seen one other one like that before. It literally took my breath away. It was there just long enough for me to run inside and get Jason and the camera, although the pictures do very little justice. We're definitely not sign seekers, but it was too beautiful not to make us wonder. So beautiful that I couldn't help but burst into, "Somewhhhheeeerrrre, over the rainbow, blue birds.........." (not really, although I wanted to). It sure was beautiful though.