Friday, December 20, 2013

Passing Days

We've had good days and less good days here in San Angelo. The challenges have been due mostly to the fact that we visited the doctor 4 times in the first two weeks here. Carmen had a really high fever and cough which ended up being an ear infection. Plus she's had a big old cold since before Thanksgiving. Poor girl doesn't know life without the taste of snot anymore. Then she got what we thought was Pinkeye, it cleared up the day after we took her to the doctor for it. I came down with a random case of mastitis - flu symptoms and all. And then we moved here just in time to need to find a pediatrician to give Brooks his 4 month vaccines. Oh and yesterday I could barely walk with some sort of ankle sprain. No memory of falling/bruising/hurting my ankle. It was bizarre - and swollen and crippling and painful. But life doesn't stop for mommies with gimpy legs. We're ok now though! But if you wonder why your Christmas present doesn't make it to you on time, then that's why! 

Other than that...oh wait. Carmen had a good two weeks of "let's show mommy and daddy what life with the terrible twos looks like." She screamed every night for about an hour and woke up just about every 2 hours. We chalked it up to, well being 2, and the big move, new home, sickness, and then the cold turkey switch from sleeping in a crib to her own queen bed in an unfamiliar room. I had a couple grocery trips where she SCREAMED her way through the store. It was awful and I was in tears by the end of it. Folks helped me to my car and loaded the bags for me. People here are just so darn helpful. I've have more women stop and help me here than ever before. People are often holding the carseat, putting Carmen in the shopping cart for me, taking my bags, holding my diaper bag. Apparently I give off the appearance of having my hands full. I do. And I've been humbled and gladly accept all the help I am offered. 

She's getting back to her sweet self now and we're able to enjoy the town a little more. Here is one playground we found that she likes:

We've been loving the Christmas movies on the tv these days. (See how long her hair is getting!)

Our Christmas Tree! I handmade one of these last year and was so pleased with it. I forgot to bring it with us. I hated buying this darn perfect one at Michaels. It mocks me. 

Eggemeyer's General Store! We have spent hours in here! It's an old-timey general store on historic Concho Avenue that has gifts and goodies galore! Many Christmas presents were purchased here. The is also where we've been getting our freshly ground coffee. They have about 20 flavors to choose from.

Here's the sick sweetpea, sleeping on me.

It may be hard to see but below is the courthouse with "Merry Christmas" lights hung on it and a large nativity scene in the front lawn. I love Texas. 

We stop by the store whenever we are out and about (everything is SO close here, unlike northern Virginia.) Here's Carmen helping out with the sandwich buns:

We've been introduced to some absolutely wonderful people here. Ashley (the other IM wife - she's the greatest!) has many mom friends from the church here and they meet up for playdates weekly. McDonalds since our store is drive-thru only. This was the first time I've been in a McD's in years! I felt like I was cheating on Chick-fil-A. I documented Carmen getting her first Happy Meal. She didn't love it but she did love the toy. Chick-fil-A is hands down a better place to be ;) 

Here's another fabulous park with a giant, toddler friendly playground:

And here are Ashley's boys that I've simply fallen in love with! They are cute, cute, cute! We will miss them when we move on. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

San Angelo Apartment

Chick-fil-A is very good to us and takes care of locating, renting, and setting up our housing at each assignment. If an apartment is not ready in time for your arrival, you'll get placed in a hotel until it's available. When you are living in a hotel, you get a daily food stipend. We had that Saturday-Wednesday the first week. San Angelo is a bit smaller then most towns so there is a shortage of corporate housing available. We can't be too choosy. The places they find for us are fully furnished, similar to beach vacation rentals, so we basically travel with our clothes, a few toys, and maybe a box of personal items such as books - or in my case - more baby items.  Here's a glimpse of where we're staying now. And you'll get the full effect because I didn't tidy up anything for these pictures. Living messy like this just has to happen sometimes (like when you battle 3 types of sicknesses in one week!)

Walking in the front door


Extra office space

View into the kitchen

Kitchen. I try not to spend too much time in here...

 Second floor master

Shared bathroom

Carmen's Room

The cutest part of the house

So there it is! I'll spare you a picture of the outside of the complex, I don't want you to worry about us. :) From pictures, you might think this is a great place - and in some aspects it is. But once you actually start living in the space, it is not my cup of tea. These units were built in the 60s and when we moved into this place it was filthy. Michael and I spent the whole night deep cleaning it. It was like someone didn't even try to clean it for new tenants. I can't let my babies live in dirt like that. So Michael rented a steam cleaner and cleaned all the carpets, upholstery and stairs while I dusted, vacuumed, mopped twice to get the black residue off our feet, deep cleaned the moldy, hairy bathroom, etc. I hated it. This should not be our normal experience with the company, but because there's nowhere to relocate us, we need to make the best of it. It's gotten better this past week and I'm grateful to not be in a hotel any longer.

Chick-fil-A provides Michael with his own rental car at every location so we sold his car before moving here. He also gets perks like cell phone coverage, a company iPad, home visits (for all of us!), and some other helpful things. It's a really great opportunity for him! We'll find out around Christmas if we're staying here another month or if we're leaving. And if we're staying here, we'll also find out if we're staying in this apartment another month or moving. It can always change. Can't get too comfortable yet. We're heading up to Oklahoma for Christmas to be with family so we're really excited for that! We'll miss our mommies and daddies and siblings a ton this year though, hopefully we won't have to do this more than 1 or 2 Christmases! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

San Angelo

We've only been here a week now and are finding our way around town and learning where to go/where not to go. The store Michael is working at is a Drive-Thru Only. Seems crazy but it's one of the busiest stores in the whole country. You wouldn't believe how long these lines get! 

You can walk up to a front window to order and take it over to the covered patio. Carmen sure loves running around and chasing the birds. The store itself is pretty old and they are planning on building a brand new one next year - with a full service indoor restaurant. Too bad we'll miss that! 

See the cars in the background wrapped around the store?

The first 4 nights we stayed in a hotel. We didn't have a kitchen so we ate out for every meal (boy do you get sick of that quickly!). Here's Carmen having a pizza party with mommy in the hotel room while daddy's working late.

Living in the hotel room meant nap times for everyone when Carmen had to sleep. I didn't complain.

And here is how she passed many, many an hour the first week. I'm a little sad to admit it, but hey, she's really good at iPad puzzles and games now. And it won't be the norm. Just maybe every time we move.

Texas loves itself. Here's our morning waffle at the hotel breakfast bar. Texas.

Some of the best parts of San Angelo so far:
- Everything is a drive-thru! No kidding. These folks love a drive-thru and I for one am SO grateful! Subway, Little Caesar's, Ice cream shops, all Starbucks, other coffee shops, BBQ, tortilla factories - all have a drive-thru. Mom-with-Babies-Heaven

- It was 60-85 degrees the first week we were here. Then all of a sudden we had an ice storm and it was in the 20s BUT I hear these temperature swings are common which means more warmth coming our way.

- The stars are huge and bright and gorgeous out here!

- Tex Mex. I had a meal of 3 tacos, rice, beans and homemade tortillas for $3 and some change.

- Everyone really does drive a pick-up truck. Or a Tahoe. My SUV is all of a sudden really small.

- Most all people are friendly, nice and helpful. They were too in VA but not this friendly. People here aren't so self-absorbed in whatever errand they are running and they ain't in no hurry to get on with it.

- Sweet Tea is standard.

- There are some good churches to choose from!

Some of the not-so-best parts of San Angelo:
- It's in the middle of nowhere. 1 hour to the closest small town. 3 Hours to anywhere remotely resembling Northern Virginia.

- It's windy and gets really cold, really fast.

- There's not much "shopping" to choose from - which is hard at Christmas time. There is a Target, a Walmart and a small excuse of a mall but that's it.

- There's always a shortage of water here.

- It's so small. Texas small.

More to come on our living arrangements!

Monday, December 9, 2013

One-way Road Trip

We got our first assignment on Michael's birthday - Dallas, TX! We couldn't have been more excited! We wanted to get to live in Texas during this journey and many of my aunts, uncles and cousins all live within 45-3 hours of Dallas. And Dallas is just awesome. We got flights booked, travel plans made, and even nearly selected housing but as I was on the website to approve an apartment Michael sent a text message to me that read "Big change of plans already. We're not going to Dallas." My heart sank a little since it had only been 24 hours, but he said it was still Texas. Ok, where? Well, San Angelo. Google map it and see how far out this little town is. Waaaaay out in West Texas y'all. No Trader Joes here. Still exciting, but this time Michael decided to drive our little family and our only car (we sold his!) all the way to San Angelo.

The babies were amazing! Not perfect...especially between 4 -6pm when screaming seemed to be the only choice. But they were troopers for sitting tight for two ENTIRE days! Our car was packed way too full. I spent a lot of time squished in the middle seat trying to entertain Carmen or calm down Brooks.

We made it through Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and then most of Texas.

Here's the Mississippi River (thank you jump rope game for teaching me how to spell that as a kid. Just like Fergie helps me spell "Glamorous." Every time. Even Then.)

And here we are - San Angelo:

Chick-fil-A Interim Manager

Michael began a new job with Chick-fil-A Inc. in November. He went to Atlanta for 3 weeks of training, came home for the week of Thanksgiving, then we moved to our first location on the 29th. All these changes happened really fast but we were ready to get the ball rolling on this thing! We had been praying to get into this program for the last year. We sold our home back in April in good faith that he would get this job and we'd then be off on this adventure. He interviewed September 30th, found out he was selected a few days later to begin in the January 2014 class, then on our way down to the beach for our little vacation got called up to the November 2013 class! We made the decision to go ahead and start 2 weeks later. The babies and I missed him a lot for those 3 weeks of training but it is all worth it knowing that we are finally on the path to store ownership. We are so excited and this adventure is a little scary since we move from place to place with only a handful of our things and little to no heads up of where we're going next. But Michael is awesome at this job and we are ready to support him for however long it takes till we get to settle down again and eat chicken nuggets for the rest of our life.