Sunday, September 14, 2014

It starts with an I and ends with an O

 I never thought myself the University type.

I took some classes after high school, but a career was never my end goal. In fact, the last college class that I took was the semester before Kate was born. Me, walking waddling to class, 7 months pregnant. Ah, good times :)

So then 2013 came around. I was pregnant with baby #2. Jon had been looking for full time work since graduating with his master's degree in May 2012.
(Pictured below: my sister Michelle, Jon, Me, my Mom. My dad was being the photographer!)

Although he was an adjunct faculty member for IADT, there was nothing concrete and reliable in that, and sure enough when I went on maternity leave in March 2014 he was laid off altogether.

But I digress.

I had talked back and forth for the better part of a year (2012-2013) about applying to a bigger college than the junior Sierra that I had been attending in Rocklin on and off since high school. I was tired of having jobs and feeling like I was just treading the pool water of my life. I was like, "I'm ready to find an ocean now and freestyle it up!" But somehow I kept talking myself out of good reasons to try the Church Educational System. I wanted to let Jon have his chance at really making Sacramento work for us, I was enjoying my job full-time at Beverly's, and I wasn't ready for a commitment to school that would keep me busy and away from the babies even more.

In November of 2013 I just burst with thoughts. After talking to Jon about ALL the pros and cons, I went for it. Jon was a HUGE help in my application process. He was so incredibly supportive and excited for me! The idea of going to a big college sounded really fun. Jon has always wanted me to have "my college experience". Suddenly things started rolling quickly. The decision was made at the beginning of November that I would apply to all the BYUs, and within a week I had met with our bishop and a member of the stake presidency for ecclesiastical endorsements. I started to get excited! I finished all the application necessities by December, and then we waited . . .

On February 4th 2014 I received the email from BYU-Idaho. It was the first school to respond and it was my first choice. Jon had already gone to bed for the night, but I couldn't read the reply on my own! I got him up to come stand there and read it with me.


I felt like everything changed in that moment. This was good. This meant blessings. My favorite part of the letter was when it said "life changing opportunities await you here." Golden.

We started to look for housing, but quickly learned that dog-friendly apartments were few and far between, and similarly it is way too hard to lock down something 6 months before you're actually going to move HAHA. Was I overly eager? Maybe a little :)

It was a "hurry up and wait" situation. There was nothing we could really do to prepare just yet, so I kept a file of research on my major, classes, housing, etc. and we agreed to not say anything until after baby II was born.

Jon's lay off on March 17th was both a blessing and a challenge. It made the decision to actually move much easier. It sort of made things really official. It also meant that we weren't going to be saving quite as much as we had hoped for the move. We also pushed up our timeline for talking to family about our plans.

Edwin was born on March 31st and we just basked in his awesomeness :) Seriously, I've never been so in love.

 At the end of April Jon's semester ended. We focused on the etsy store, sold our Explorer, started packing boxes, inventoried ALL of our 600+ books, and really embraced our moving adventure.

In June (at the end of my maternity leave) I went back to work at Beverly's. Although I had wanted to go back full time and try to save up as much as possible, I realized that it would be way better to enjoy the Summer, spend as much time with the kids as possible, and feel ready for our move. So I only went back to Bev's one day a week. On Fridays for 2 months I helped wrap things up. When it actually came time to leave I was really sad. Beverly's was a big 3 years of my life.

The first weekend in August was Kate's birthday. We had a fantastic celebration and enjoyed our last break-the-fast dinner in Fair Oaks. What an era!

reading birthday cards!

Kate's ACTUAL birthday cake, homemade 100% from scratch by me and Jon:

We were able to say good-bye to friends, going to Cheesecake Factory, Loomis Chinese, birthday dinners, having movie nights.

We were very spoiled and miss everyone a TON!!

Things slowly got emptier and emptier as we spent all our spare time packing.

The second weekend in August I had my last day at work and we went to the wedding of a great friend from high school.

4 days after leaving Beverly's, we picked up the moving truck.

(Like our nice two-toned grass?? ^^  Because of the drought we stopped watering 90% of the lawn for the Summer.)

We had a TON of great help from amazing friends. From carrying furniture, to Tetris packing the truck, to helping me clean, entertain the kids, and pack ALL of my jewelry and nail polish - you know who you are ;) - We felt an outpouring of love that last day as many awesome people came to visit us and wish us well. Probably because we bribed them with pizza and donuts.

Thus we said goodbye to California!

With the help of my dad we drove one LONG day from California to Idaho. We had severe thunderstorms like I have never seen for about 2/3 of our drive. It was incessant.

The kids were pretty good . . . until the last two hours into Idaho when they turned into a crying baby chorus of wails and gnashing of gums and baby teeth (it was messy and awful, as you can imagine.)

When we pulled into Rexburg, our nerves were shot, I was exhausted and starving which turned into being HANGRY. It was not a happy evening.

The next day was much better - and SUNNY!

 Breakfast was excellent and we got to the apartment complex without a problem.

We moved into our new place and happily found some comforts like home.

(Humorous side note - due to my rush of packing, I ended up having to wear the same clothes 3 days in a row. I packed undies in our duffel, but everything else was in the truck! Fail.)

One of my favorite things is how you can see the temple from our apartment.

Can you see it? My phone makes everything look far away. We live a little over a mile from the temple.

Jon and I have lived close to temples before - both in Utah and California we were 5 minutes from the Provo and Sacramento temples respectively. But never have we been able to see the glow of the temple on the hill at night from our building. It really does preside over the town. It's such a reverent feeling.

Some other things that we love is that our building is near the freeway so we get the white noise from traffic just like in Loomis!

We can also hear the train from our apartment :) I love when the horn blows and Kate knows what it is. It really has been a tender mercy to have those familiar sounds nearby.

Lynsi Barfuss came up from Pocatello with some friends where she is attending ISU to help us move in. HUGE BLESSING! Summer and Riley Hooper also came up from SLC with their baby Kensey and stayed over a couple nights to help us unpack and feel not so alone :) They showed us around town, pointed out important buildings on campus...

 and took us to eat a 2lb hamburger at Big Jud's!

Rexburg has a lot of farms and fields. Like this:

But there are a lot more trees than we expected, and actually most of it reminds me of looking over Sacramento :)

My dad also stayed in town with us until Sunday before heading home to California. He was able to go to the Idaho Falls temple on Saturday (which is where he received his endowment back in the '70s) and I was able to drive around with him Sunday morning while he showed me all the old places he used to live and things he remembered from his time at Rick's. He hadn't been back in over 40 years! I'm so grateful that he volunteered to take this trip with us.

Truly, the whole first weekend was really overwhelming. When everyone was gone and the dust of moving was starting to settle, I just cried. We had a not-so-good experience at the family ward our first Sunday, and it made us feel kicked down before we'd even had a chance to get ourselves up.

There were ups and downs of course, but I didn't really feel like myself for the first few weeks. I knew that moving would be hard, but it sucked in ways that I didn't expect. The things that I thought would bother me turned out to be a piece of cake, and the things that I didn't even consider turned out to be major weights. Thankfully in college towns like Provo and Rexburg, you have multiple ward options if you are a student. Our second Sunday here we tried the married student ward, and it was an instant difference! A big chunk of our ward is also from Northern California. There is not a "holier than thou" attitude. The feeling has been peaceful and mutual in the ward like, "we're all in this together" Which I believe is exactly how it should be.

I started going to devotionals on campus, and all around I find myself more spiritually minded and surrounded by the gospel.

Jon was MAJORLY blessed to find a job within two weeks of being here. That, along with the grants and scholarships I was awarded have made being here for school feel like the absolute right thing for our family. We are being helped out in so many ways!

 As we had hoped, my school schedule and Jon's work schedule do not overlap, so we get to trade being home with the kids, which means no babysitters or daycare :) This was something we felt so strongly about. We always want one of us home with the kids. I know it is not always doable for everyone, but I'm just so grateful that we're making it work.

We've been visited by lots of great friends since moving in, been spoiled with mail and care packages, great email messages, and have also explored the surrounding towns a little bit!

Me with Betsy! (our kids: Edwin, Kate, Eli & Julie)

Kate enjoying her stickers from the O'Keefe family:

Lynsi made us breakfast in Pocatello for one of our Saturdays:

We visited the Museum of Clean! So kitschy and awesome.

Chimney Sweeps at the Museum :D

Some cuteness for good measure:

We celebrated my birthday:

Jon gathered all the candles he could find around the house for my birthday breakfast :)

Jon and our families got me a cruiser! Vanilla with fenders and white wall tires. I love!!

We have now been here a month as of today.

It's been a slow process unpacking. We have moved the kid's room around about 4 times already. We also have started some new traditions, drowning our loneliness in nightly rituals of hot chocolate and popcorn while watching Netflix...

Or whatever other sweets we can get our hands on. I've been baking a lot.

I am actually feeling well adjusted and am really loving Idaho. Everyone who said that we would love it here is right. I think Jon is still getting used to the whole thing, but overall I couldn't be happier :) There is a lot of rain, a lot of good food, and a very humble atmosphere.

I am so thankful for this experience, and it's just getting started! Get Connected (orientation) was this weekend and it made me feel totally immersed in the Spirit of Ricks. I am so glad that I went to as many of the activities as I could. (But there was no way in heck I was going to that welcome dance HAHA!)

Everywhere I've turned so far I have found the spirit pointing out clear reasons that I am here - and so far none of them really have anything to do with me. I won't share specifics, but let me just tell you that the people I have been meeting and have been placed in groups with and that I have crossed paths with are not chance meetings. There have been too many "coincidences" that have lined up for me to just take it for granted.

I know that our Heavenly Father is aware of us all individually, and I can see webs of lives of people I had never met before 3 weeks ago all intersecting in this place, and at this time, and it is so apparent and real to me that we are all supposed to be here together.

I have already learned so much about myself, my family, my Heavenly Father, and others. It is clear to me now that I am going to be learning in ways that I didn't anticipate. I don't even start classes til Monday! But I believe 100% that this place is where you become a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that the learning is a TOTAL experience. As President Clark said in his welcoming address to us freshmen on Friday, this is eternal learning that encompasses both the secular and spiritual. I am so grateful for that environment being cultivated here. I couldn't have asked for a better way to REALLY start college!


Laurel T. said...

Love this post! Moving for school can be waaay harder than anyone ever lets on, but it is soooo worth it. We can't wait to see how your program goes! Good luck!

The BaKeRs said...

WOW!!! Thank you so much for sharing!! It makes me feel like I am there with you! I am grateful for your experiences that you have shared as well as your testimony! You and Jon and the kids are amazing I am so excited to see the growth you all get to have from this experience! Yes I do miss you tons! BUT I also know that this is where you and your family are supposed to be! You are an amazing example! LOVE YOU ALL LOTS!! Hug and kiss the kiddos for me! Hug Jon for us too!

The BaKeRs said...

Also I love your jacket and want one for myself :) hehe!

Lindsey and Jared said...

Gah! I miss you guys like crazy! I loved everything about this post though. What an amazing experience. I cannot WAIT to hear how your classes go. I know you are being blessed for this really big leap of faith, and we are praying for you :)

Bay said...

Moving is ROUGH - and I've only done it without kids! It sounds like this is the right place for you guys to be. I'm so thrilled that you are there and for your exciting new adventure! Hope your new ward isn't lame and that they realize what treasures you guys are!

Rachel said...

We had the exact same yellow Penske truck when we moved! Jilly still points them out whenever we see them and says "look, it's daddy's yellow truck!" I'm glad you're liking Rexburg- what a neat adventure!