Saturday, December 24, 2011

Where Do We Begin?

First, Merry Christmas!  There are no Christmas lights nativity scenes...but we do have stocking on the mantel.  We just moved into our new home last week and unpacked the last box a few days ago.  We didn't have it in us to unpack our Christmas items just to box them up again in a week or so.

My goodness.  It's been quite a ride for our family since October.  How about a quick recap?

I interviewed for a Corporate position at State Farm in October, was offered the position in October, Karen and I spent a week in Las Vegas for a CPCU conferment, Karen and I went on a house-hunting trip in November, we moved, spent a week in St. Louis for Thanksgiving, I started my job the Monday after while Karen and the kids stayed in St. Louis for another two weeks, and we moved into our new home in December.

Vegas, nothing that appeals to us.  Everything outside the strip was fun and the food was incredible (and incredibly expensive).  So we spent as much time as we could away from the "entertainment."

The temple was beautiful and a wonderful retreat.  It backs right up to the mountain on one side of the valley.  You can see the white spires from miles around against the brown rock.
And then when you go on the other side of the temple and look back towards the valley, it's quite a contrast with the temple elevated above the "world."  The Church sure knows how to make a statement.
And they have built a Stake Center alongside the property of the temple.  It has a beautifully landscaped desert garden.  Making arrangements to visit the temple was probably the best part of the trip. :)
But the next best part was a quick trip over to Hoover Dam.  It really is massive in person.  If you look behind the dam, you'll see a solid white line on the mountains.  That was the level of the water back in the 80s.
The bridge was completed recently.  There is no longer through traffic on the dam itself...which makes it much safer for all the pedestrians!
It really is amazing how they just built into the rock.  It was the best dam tour ever. The tour guides really enjoy using that joke in many different scenarios. :)
The lights of Vegas were beautiful.  We stayed at Caesar's Palace.  If you haven't been before and plan on going, watch out for the mini bars in the room.  Everything is weight-sensitive so if you pick something up out of the fridge, it automatically charges your account.  Nice.
And who needs to spend all that money for a show?!?  There is plenty of free entertainment along the strip.  The volcano is quite a production at the Mirage.  And it was super hot, too!
Karen and I could have spent all night at the fountains of the Belagio.  The music and water show was even better than Ocean's 11.
Larger than life doesn't even begin to describe what design engineers and architects have done in Vegas.
And this might have been the coolest intersection.  We played the role of the tourist and walked up and down the strip.
It was fun to see this familiar face on a billboard.  Karen noticed a nice touch on Gladys' finger...
See that?  It's a diamond CTR ring.  Love it!!!
So that was a quick recap of our trip to Vegas back in October.  We have so much catching up to do on our blog.  Maybe we'll get around to it...maybe not.

But we definitely need to share a few more select pictures.  Our family left Virginia the weekend before Thanksgiving.  A wonderful friend came over to take the kids after the movers drove off so we could clean the place.  Karen and I (ok...mostly Karen) did one last deep clean in our attempts to make the house more presentable for potential buyers.  Then we picked up the kids and brought them by the house one more time before driving west.  

We had them take their shoes off and run through the house.  Then it was time to say goodbye.  It wasn't easy...and there were definitely some genuine tears.  This picture pretty much captures it all.  The three youngest don't quite comprehend what was happening.  But the three oldest knew exactly what moving meant.  
Leaving was hard.  We made many good friends and created some incredible memories.  It was a beautiful part of the country (though we won't miss the trees that towered over our house and dumped leaves in our gutters year round).
And 800 miles away and a month later, we can finally call this new house our home.  Maybe we'll post more pictures of the new place.  It's amazing how quickly we've been able to settle in.  The neighbors are wonderful and the house will meet the needs of our growing family.
This last picture is an exact opposite of the kids leaving their home in Virginia.  The roles were reversed - the youngest (represented by Luke in this picture) was emotionally over-stimulated and was excited to finally be with Mom and Dad again.  The oldest (represented by Mark in this picture) couldn't wait to explore the new house.  I remember that feeling when I was his age and my family moved to St. Louis.
Good times.  Good times.  We're excited for the new adventures that await us here.  And we can't wait to record them here on our family blog.