Monday, December 29, 2008

Post-Christmas Catchup

I've been planning to update our blog for the last few days but I've spent most of my time on Facebook. No one told me I would get sucked into it like that. Well, okay, maybe one person tried to warn me but you should have typed it in all caps or something Kim to tell me you were serious! Dana hasn't been much help controlling my obsession because if I'm not on Facebook, she is.


So after tearing myself away for the evening, I figured I'd better post a quick (or not) blog update since I have to disassemble the computer tonight and won't be back online until sometime after our stuff arrives in Athens on Tuesday.

We had a really nice Christmas this year. My mom went with us to the Christmas Eve service at our church, then we drove around looking at lights. Kevin woke up at 4:30 Christmas morning and couldn't go back to sleep so he patiently waited, under threat of death from Dana, not to wake us up until 6:00. Right before 6, he woke up both of his brothers and marched them through the house to make sure they didn't peak at the presents first (such a good kid!) and woke us up to the children's battle cry heard 'round the world on Christmas morning. "Wake up! Wake up! Santa came! It's Christmas! Wake up!" I drug myself out of bed, started a fire, and got the camera ready to capture the carnage that is Christmas morning. Exactly 3 minutes, 12 seconds later, wrapping paper was strewn about the room, hanging from the ceiling fans, lost behind the TV, and completely carpeting the entire living room.

Later that morning, we headed to my parents house to spend the day with them. My sister and niece also came as well as my sister's new significant other, Adam. That was the first time we met him. Really nice guy. All-in-all, it was great day.

In other news, Kevin is really starting to worry about moving to Alabama. He's really going to miss his buddies here. Pray for my little buddy to help make the transition easy on him and his brothers.

Saturday, we got together with our Life Group to have a Christmas/Welcome Temporarily Home Steve (training in GA to be a US Marshall)/Goodbye Reynolds family party. Good friends those people are and we'll really miss them.

Yesterday, we had several friends stop by to visit one last time. It's hard not to wonder if I didn't make a mistake taking this job in Bama.

Today, while running errands, Cade saw a pickup pulling an empty trailer and said, "A trailer! But there's no bikes on it!" That was one of those moments in fatherhood that brings a tear of pride to my eye. What IS the point of a trailer if it isn't loaded with motorcycles? Silly people.

As I type, our house is cluttered with boxes of all sizes containing almost everything we own. The packers should finish tomorrow morning then the loaders will load the truck on Wednesday. Should take about 1/2 a day. We'll head out on Thursday afternoon and plan on arriving at our new home on Saturday. It's getting harder and more depressing to see my house emptied (and my garage!).

I'll start the picture update with the random photos of the daily mayhem in our household.


Cade thinks he's Superman jumping off the footboard of our bed. I like the grin on his face.


Here, he just finished combing his hair all by himself without being asked. Not bad. Trendy, but not bad.

Here's one of Cam at Inlow in November. I just think he looks cool except for his goober visor-less helmet. Which reminds me, I ordered a new visor in August and it still hasn't arrived!


Pretty much a normal picture of Cameron. Did you ever read Calvin & Hobbes? Remember how it was impossible to take a nice, normal picture of Calvin? He's my Calvin.


Hey look, a nice picture! This wasn't the first try though. Try to take a picture like this and you end up with several more pictures like...


This.

Cameron handing out presents on Christmas morning. That boy NEVER wears a shirt unless we make him and we're lucky we caught him with pants on in this photo.



Like big brother like little brother. Don't these kids realize it's December? Put some clothes on! Santa brought this spoiled boy an iPod Touch. Have you seen those things? Holy Cow, they're awesome! And why do the kids get all the cool stuff nowadays? I want one!


Cade loves his new toy gun!



My hottie and our youngest boy.



Cade really loves his new bicycle/video game courtesy of Pa and Tootie.

Cameron jamming out to Guitar Hero on the Wii.


And with that, we wish you all a Happy New Year. Wish us luck as we turn the page and start a new chapter in our lives!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I made it back to Mexico! New Mexico, whatever. According to my fellow Alabamanese (?) it's all the same. It sure is good to be able to see the horizon and mountains again! And my garage!!! Geez, I'm going to miss this house.

I came home last Thursday to spend Christmas here and then we'll all be getting ready to make the move on January 1. In the meantime, I keep telling Dana I'm on vacation but she's still making me work and do all kinds of hard stuff around the house. What's up with that?
The boys had a Christmas singing performance on Friday to wrap up their school for this year. My parents were even able to go watch. That's the first time my dad has been able to go to one of those. After their performance was over, Dana and I went to each of the boys' classrooms for a few minutes and took their pictures with some of their friends.
Here are some pictures of Cameron and his friends:

And Kevin with his buddies:
This obviously isn't at school, but here is another of Kevin's best friend.
My best friend came to visit from Silver City on Saturday. It's been awhile since I've seen him so I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to him and his family and I really appreciated his effort to come see us before we left town. I met that guy back in 2nd grade and we've been best friends ever since.

When Dana isn't working us to death around the house (clean your room, do the dishes (cracks the whip), dust EVERYTHING! and don't make too much noise because I'm trying to relax on the couch with my container of bon-bons!) we've just been hanging around the house not doing much of anything. It's been pretty nice. We had most of our Christmas shopping done fairly early so we didn't have too much of a last minute panic like we usually do. Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been very good. It was really windy and nasty yesterday so we hid indoors all day.
I saw Jennifer's e-mail to Dana suggesting she sign up with Facebook. Neither of us had ever even looked at that website before so I figured I'd be the guinea pig and sign up. I'm all set up and Dana made half an effort to sign up but now we don't know what we're supposed to do. I did make Dana accept me as a friend though so I now have ONE friend. Actually, I accepted me for her because I knew her password. Shhhh! She doesn't have any friends yet. I'm not sure if I should brag about having more friends than her or if I should be upset with her for not asking me, her own husband, to be her friend.
These next few pictures were taken back in November.



The Wiles family all got together (w/o ME!) at Inlow for Thanksgiving. Seeing all these kids on dirt bikes (and ATV) brings a tear of joy to my eyes!

Papa, Galena, Dana and the boys









I just took this one a few days ago. Cade has been wearing these goggles everywhere.
Cade is my little helper in the garage. Notice, the boy who owns this bike is no where to be seen.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama

I know everyone has been waiting with baited breath for an update about life in Alabama. Right? Fine, no one even noticed I had been offline. I see how you are. I don’t know how people survived before the internet. I was going through some serious withdrawls until I finally got a computer at work on Wednesday. I don’t have a computer at home so I spent most of my evenings curled up in a ball in the corner, rocking back and forth and muttering to myself. I have a computer now but no internet connection so I have to find a restaurant that offers wireless to its customers. See what I go through for this blog thing? Sheesh.

So my last day at work was really nice. My coworkers arranged a potluck lunch and gave me a few gifts as a going away present. I got a collage with pictures that defined my work out there (White Sands Test Facility) over the last 11 years. Everyone signed around the border to give it that personal touch. My roomie also made another collage that summarized our antics over the years. And, a bunch of them pitched in and bought a really nice, framed pin set (the kind of pin you wear on your clothes) that had the logo for all the shuttle missions from 1997 – 2002. They also gave me a couple of gift cards with the left over money. It was all very nice and a little emotional too. I tell you, it sure felt weird being on that side of the going away party.

My last few days at home were hectic as I tried to get everything ready but with the help of my wonderful family, we managed to get ‘er dun. We all went out to eat one last time on Monday (11/17). Then I spent most of the day Tuesday stuffing the Camaro to the gills and the Titan beyond the gills before driving into the great unknown at about 3:00 that afternoon. I have a very vivid memory of looking up the street as I turned the corner and watching Dana, Kevin and Cade waving goodbye. Cameron had already gone inside. (More on that in a second) Two days later I arrived, after a relatively uneventful trip, at our new home in Athens, AL. When it was all said and done, I slept in 4 states in 4 days (and drove through part of another).

Poor little Cameron was apparently taking my moving harder than we all realized. The next day at school, Kevin was called to the Principal’s office to console his little brother. Cameron started crying when he got in class and couldn’t quit so the teacher sent him to the office to settle him down (Like that’s going to help! That would have freaked me out when I was his age!). Sweet Kevin talked to Cam and stayed there until he was ok but Kevin later admitted he almost started crying too. That broke my heart when I heard that!

Everyone keeps telling me the area is in a drought but I think I’ve already seen more rain than I did in Las Cruces all year. These people have no idea what a drought is. And it’s cold here! What the heck? And what’s with days like Monday where the overnight low was 34 and the high was 37? It’s a different world.

And people talk funny here.

I’m still trying to figure out what it is that I do at work. And talk about acronym city! I thought WSTF was bad. I’m not kidding – in a meeting Friday one slide was titled something like “FC/ACU ERB ECC DAC2B”. Now you tell me what that means.

I’m slowly starting to pick up on things but I think it will be awhile before I can be productive. Right now I spend pretty much all day in meetings but I don’t have anything to contribute. It bothers me to be like that. I want to jump in and get my hands dirty and get going.

In general, I think people are more friendly here but I hate the way they drive. If the speed limit is 60, someone in each lane will idle out of the stoplight and take their time getting up to 40. More often than not, they’re in the fast lane. If they’re not doing that, they’re busy squeezing into the space between you and the car in front of you – regardless if there is room or not. But it’s OK, because most of them will flash their turn signal once.

Oh, and several people thought I was from Mexico.

I’m not overly impressed with the house I’m living in. Actually, I really don’t like it but I’m trying not to complain. It’s a cookie cutter house that was built as quickly and cheaply as possible. So things like the poor installation of the fake wood on the floors (areas with bubbles that pop when you walk through) and poor insulation throughout the house (and none in the garage) get old pretty quick. I’ve come to realize how much I really LOVE my house in Las Cruces. I’m really going to miss it and our neighbors. There are NO signs of kids anywhere near this neighborhood. I never even see anyone outside. I guess they like to keep to themselves and enjoy the peace and quiet. Just wait until everyone gets a load of the boys and all our toys! Maybe I can talk some of the golfers into a drag race across the driving range with my dirt bike!

Since I got here I've been seeing fliers and hearing advertisements for all the Christmas parades and activities. One of them was a parade of lights on the River. I thought that sounded pretty neat so I plugged the address into my Garmin last night and headed out. Jack (Garmin's name for the voice) took me to my destination which was about 6 or 7 miles from where I was supposed to be. To add insult to injury I drove right by the place on the way to nowhere. There's probably a joke about relying on a guy for directions here but I'm not going there. Anyway, once I got there, I got out and stood by the water while I waited for the parade to start. Soon the cold started soaking in and the parade was late starting. Eventually the first boat came around into view. Then another and another. Eight in all! You're kidding, right? All that hype for 8 boats? I stood in below freezing weather and drove all over Decatur (although I did stop and get gas for $1.53/gal) for 8 boats!?!

I go back to NM on the 18th! I can’t wait. I’ll drag the family across the country with me right around New Year’s Day.

I'm having some serious issues with the formatting today so I'm including my pictures at the end and I'll include the text here (Seriously - major formatting issues). They're all out of order too (mostly backwards) and I can't rearrange them. Sorry.

First picture: This is right before I get to the parking lot at work. Pretty drive.
Second picture: This is one of the routes I can take to work. It's slower but prettier than the main route.
Third picture: I saw this tree downtown and thought it was really pretty. I want the boys to see some of the colors around here.
Fourth picture: That's our new home on the right.

Disclaimer - the next few pictures were taken while I was driving so excuse the prominent dashboard or other features in the picture. I wasn't looking at the camera when I took the picture. Literally just point and shoot.

Fifth picture: Picture of the river. It has about as many boats on it now as it did during the parade.
Sixth picture: Sweet home Alabama.
Seventh picture: This is in Dallas. I took this to show the boys the colors on the trees.
Eighth picture: The scenery is changing from what I'm used to.
Ninth picture: Downtown Dallas. This picture is for Dana.
Tenth picture: West Texas. This is where they make all the wind. Sometimes in the Spring I wish they would turn it off.

I had some pictures of some of the boats last night but I can't upload them. Maybe next time...

































































Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween

I never really seemed to get in the groove this year with Halloween. I finally decorated the house on Halloween morning which prompted our neighbors to stop by to tell us how happy they were to see us decorate. They thought we weren't going to do anything this year.

Needless to say, that day was a busy one. We hadn't had the chance to carve any pumpkins because of soccer practice in the evenings so when the kids got home from school we hurriedly bought some pumpkins and went home to start the slicing and dicing. Because of our time constraint, I didn't carve any of the fancy patterns that we usually do. Instead, I told Kevin and Cameron it was time they learned to carve their own pumpkin. They drew their own designs and carved them all by themselves.


Cade wasn't too impressed with the stringy guts on the inside so he wasn't much help.



Kevin's pumpkin. If you look closely, you can see it already lost a tooth.



Cade was proud of his pumpkin.



Cameron looking not unlike his pumpkin.



Ready to get some candy!
Here's a quick review of our Halloween. Cade wanted to be Spiderman with a Batman mask but we dressed him up as Batman. That worked until he was about as far from the house as they could get and had a little accident. The rest of the evening he got his wish of being Spatman, or Baterman, or whatever you call it. I stayed home to hand out candy to all the little kids - but they had to work for it. I scared the pants off some of them. One of my favorites was Superman who screamed like a little girl when he realized I was real and dropped to the ground and tried to crawl away when I grabbed him by the shoulders. A couple of teenage girls finally worked up the nerve to get close enough to say trick or treat then ran screaming when I moved. They came back later and did the same thing again without ever getting any candy. When another group came up, I grabbed one girl around the waist as she walked by me while I stood up and grabbed for another kid. The girl didn't make a sound but she went completely limp. I couldn't let go because I was afraid she would fall on her face. I was literally having to hold her up. I could go on and on with the stories of the chickens that came by our house but you get the idea. Obviously, I probably had more fun than the kids.


The day after a holiday is always a bit of a letdown. Especially when you put your house up for sale. I got a big ol' lump in my throat when I signed the papers with the realtor.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our New Home

Dana and I left the kids with my parents and flew to Alabama, er, I mean 'Bama last weekend to look for a house to rent. We flew out on Thursday and went from upper 70's and clear, beautiful weather to overcast and drizzling. For the 3rd time in a row, Dana wasn't able to see the Mississippi River and she was bummed about it. We met our realtor on Friday and by noon had settled on a house to rent, not that there were very many to choose from. The house we chose is a 2000 sq. ft, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage place in a golf course community. So much for firing up the Camaro without mufflers when I get the new engine installed. Of course, I think golfers should have to concentrate while dealing with noises just like all the other sports - no offense, Larry! Anyway, the house is nice and isn't much more than a year old but the garage is so small! :( The more houses we looked at the more I realized how much I really love this house. So by noon, we had signed the paperwork for the house and the skies had cleared. Dana and I had Friday afternoon and all day Saturday to ourselves with nothing to do. We ate out, watched a movie, went window shopping at a very girl-oriented strip mall (NO guy stores) and just enjoyed the time we had together knowing we won't have another opportunity to do that for who knows how long. Then, at oh-dark thirty Sunday morning, we were at the airport for our trip home and to see our boys. And we had perfect weather the whole day so Dana was finally able to see that elusive river.

There are very few fences in that neighborhood - and most of the area - and that house is no different. Unfortunately, Cade won't be able to play in the backyard by himself anymore because he could easily end up in the front yard or the neighbor's yard or who knows where. The back yard is pretty small and sloped so that will cause problems for a swingset or a trampoline. The dirt levels off at the edge of the property though so I might try to stick the trampoline out there. A short distance behind the house is a wooded area that I'm hoping the kids can go play in. I think they would like that.

We didn't take the camera with us so you'll have to wait until I move next month to post anything. Of course, that's assuming I can find a cheap laptop and get internet access while I'm there.

So far, everything seems to be coming together fairly smoothly. I'm sure we'll run into several snags as we get closer or get in the middle of the move but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

As for a boy update, I haven't taken any pictures lately so nothing new to post. About all we've been doing is going to soccer practice and games. Kevin's team is now 3-2-1 after dropping a tough game today. But it was close and exciting to watch. Kevin has improved tremendously over the last few weeks. I can see a big difference in his ball handling and power when he gets caught up in traffic. He rocks! He's also very honest, almost to a fault. In today's game, he kicked the ball out of bounds and ref called it against the other team. Just as his teammate was about to throw it in, Kevin (standing right beside the ref) hollers that it's the other team's ball because he kicked it out. Suddenly, the ref acted like he knew that and was trying to get the other team to throw it in all along. Silly boy.

Like his big brother, Cameron is getting better all the time and he makes some good plays every game. Lately, he tends to hang back and play on the defense side of things. Cameron's team is 3-3 and only needs one more win to finish with at least a 50% win ratio and to beat last year's number of wins. Trust me when I say that would be a huge accomplishment. Can they do it? Stay tuned to find out.

As for little Cade, he's just happy not to get lost in the shuffle. He thoroughly enjoys being outside every chance he gets so he doesn't mind the games and practices at all. Tell that boy to come inside and his world falls apart.

Halloween is in 6 days so I'll wish everyone a Happy Halloween now. I recently bought a night vision camera that I plan to use on Halloween. Hopefully I can get some good video to share in a few weeks.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Busy Weekend

Alright, alright, I know everyone wants to know about the job in Huntsville. Well, I received the new offer package and... You'll have to wait until the end of the blog to find out what I did with it. I know. I've sunk to a new low in order to direct traffic to our blog.

First, we need to talk about Cade's birthday! My boy turned 3 on Sunday but we celebrated on Saturday. That really messed him up too. Every time I tried to tell him "happy birthday" on his actual birthday he kept telling me it wasn't his birthday anymore. Several of our friends from Life Group came to his party as well as Papa and Pa and Tootie. We rented a bouncing balloon with a slide for the kids to play in - and let me tell you, that thing was a blast! Um, I mean, that's what the kids told me anyway.
These kids are responsible for what had to be the worst rendition of "happy birthday" ever in the history of ever. But they had fun singing it at the top of their lungs and Cade had fun getting the attention.

Putting a hurting on ol' Pablo.
Presents!


Bubbles ALWAYS make good presents.



Not a birthday picture, but it's cute enough to include. Cade had the great idea of taking a balloon into the bath with him.

Here are some of the pictures from his party and of us playing on the bouncing balloon.

The Man of the Hour.
It looks bad, but Cade is actually giggling here. Funny picture!
Can't just go down the slide like normal people, can we?
Dana got in on the action too.
After tiring of sliding down, we had the idea to try to take one bounce and jump to the top. Superman!

Superwoman.
Iron Man! Or, maybe Iron Cam.
I never knew Iron Man had long hair.


This is my favorite shot. Kevin looks like he's hovering.
This weekend I also taught Cameron a magic trick. Watch the video and tell us what you think.
video

Continuing with the reverse chronological order of things, Cameron's class had a field trip to the local corn maze on Thursday. Dana, Cade and I all went with him. Here are some pictures of that.

Another free pumpkin. We now have 7.



Say Cheese!


"Driving" the tractor.


Gotta see how tall they are.

And, finally, I talked to the HR lady in Huntsville on Thursday and accepted their offer. My heart is doing flip flops even as I write that. My new boss called later that day to discuss a start date. He wanted me there ASAP and I was hoping to push it back as far as possible because the holidays are rapidly approaching. As it turned out, we settled on November 24 (or 25th, whatever that Monday is). Yep, that's 3 days before Thanksgiving. I'll be all alone on Thanksgiving. Empty house, just me. I also can't cook so I guess I'll buy a Turkey Hungry Man dinner for myself. Bleh. But, at least I'll be home for Christmas!

It's starting to sink in - slowly. But things are already moving fast. We have a realtor lined up already. I spent all day today doing the things to the house that I've been putting off for the last 2-1/2 years so we can get it ready to sell. It looks nice too. I wish I'd done that when we moved in. I guess I only have 6 more weeks to enjoy it (as well as my nice, big house and huge garage). I guess the bright side is that I'll have lots more fodder for the blog for quite some time.

Thank you all for your kind words and prayers during this exciting time.