Sunday, August 30, 2015


We went to church. I taught my little class of 6 year olds. The talks were good. I like the primary songs. 
After we came home and took a family nap.

In the evening we went to Emmett and Julia's for dinner. It was a lot of fun! 

We're going to see this little guy pretty soon! Can't wait:)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ward social and a date

We went to our first ward social tonight. It was the "Moroni's Cup Match Box Derby and Dessert Bar". Everyone could bring an unopened matchbox car to race. Our family entered two cars. Grace had a red one and Ethan a blue one. Grace's was eliminated in the first heat but Ethan's went to the semi finals. It was fun, and it was especially nice to get to visit with some of the new members in our ward. Well, new to us anyway.

Hannah didn't come because she was out on her very first date. She went with a boy named Jordan and they went to the fair. I'm excited to hear all about it when she gets home.
Ethan's camp out went well. I don't think I have ever seen him so filthy as when he got home. To our good fortune his friend Noah invited him to swim right after the camp out so the two boys washed off all that grime in their pool and not ours :)

Boxes continue to be unpacked and rooms are slowly coming together.

Post date picture. She has fun!

Friday, August 28, 2015

More unpacking and a scout trip

The movers finished bringing all our stuff inside today. The dish guy came. Sears came with the wrong dryer, but we will have a new one in a week. Internet is in:) Lots of boxes unpacked. Lots to go. My friend Kriste, in TX, was running and was in a crosswalk when she got hit by a truck yesterday.  Two broken wrists and a hurt knee later I am sure she would love to be unpacking stuff right now.  I feel terrible for her. 
All the kids stayed home to help unpack and set up and they have been really helpful and cheerful. Ethan enjoyed driving the hand truck and being one of the men. He worked hard. This afternoon I drove him to a scout camp out and he fell asleep on the way there (6 min away). He wasn't excited to go but I think it'll be great. There were about 20 boys and 6 leaders all from our ward. The youth have really done a great job welcoming the kids to the area. California camping is pretty nice.

One nice thing about Grace's new class is she has two other members of the ward in it. She said this is the first time she's had someone from church in a school class. 

Hannah got asked out on her first date! It's tomorrow, very exciting! Well she's been asked out before but now she can go. She's been counting down the years!

One thing I love about the desert is the sky at night. You can see so far. 

We had a few breaks in our stuff, nothing major except for the beautiful marble top to Grandpa Thacker's desk. We were very bummed :(

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Moving day 1

We went from 5000 sq ft. to 2500 sq ft. This takes a lot of downsizing. I thought we got rid of a lot of stuff before we moved. Turned out not so much. I'm going to spend the next month trying to get rid of half of what we own...most importantly (say it with me) our MD house.  The half we have to get rid of here is pretty important too.
In other news the schools here continue to disappoint. Yesterday Grace came to the car bawling because she had to go into the office at the end of the day and they gave her a letter saying she had to switch classes. They put her in a 4/5 combo without even talking to us about it first. The story is long and sordid with no happy ending and I am pretty furious about it. We have an appointment to meet with the principal on Tuesday, which is the earliest she could CS. I am not expecting good results but I will still go and register my complaint in person. We already called, left messages, and emailed. She has not responded.
So were up to our eyeballs in boxes and trying to get settled in.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Home sweet home

We are happy (and broke) homeowners! Good thing we can use the pool for a lot of fun!
Tomorrow we move out of the hotel. We can not wait!!
Dance party by the spa:) 

Praying for a home sale in Maryland!

Air challenge! The biggest boy was the highest:)

Monday, August 24, 2015


all swaddled
We love family home evening.  We are not always all that reverent about it but we try.  This week Grace was the conductor.  She had us sing "Come Follow Me", then I treated the family to a solo performance of "Love Is Spoken Here".  We ended with "A Child's Prayer". It was lovely, except Hannah sat at the table doing her homework instead of singing.  She was in the room though, which totally counts.

Then we prayed and Ethan gave the lesson.  He said "Families are very important" and to get to know each other better he used a random number generator and we took turns going in a circle, getting a number and saying that many things about our day.  We went around the circle a number of times until we exhausted all the interesting stuff of the day and got down to sharing who the dog barked at and what we ate for lunch.  It was very fun actually. He bore testimony of the importance of family and Grace passed out treats.

After the closing prayer we decided to do a "newborn" photo shoot with Ziva since she never got one :)  Also very fun.

I love my family.  There is no one else I'd rather be stuck in a hotel room for 5 weeks with.

slow progress

Things keep moving along (at a glacial pace).  This move has been a challenge from start to ..... I was going to say finish but the end isn't really in sight until we sell our MD house.

In theory we are signing our final papers today and getting the keys on Wednesday.  It's 3:30 and so far nothing but the business day isn't over yet.  

The good news is today as I did the kid pick up from school rounds; let me set the scene:  I park by the elementary school at 1:30 (to get good and close) and Ethan walks down the street from the middle school and joins me in the car at 1:40ish.  I always say "how was your day?" and he says "fine, I'm hungry can we stop for a drink/snack somewhere?" We then wait for Grace who slowly walks over after talking to everyone she sees and makes it to the car around 2:10 (she gets out at 1:50) It's fine though because we just have to wait for Hannah.  I ask her how her day was and she begins to answer with her 30 minute play back of the day (which is great I love to hear it) We sometimes stop for a drink/snack and then drive to the high school where we park and wait until 2:50.  Ethan and Grace fight.  Grace talks to me and gets mad at Ethan for interrupting.  Ethan tells Grace she is Asian or Russian, or Canadian or whatever and she gets mad.  He turns on the music and she gets mad.  She has things to say (always) and he doesn't want to hear them (ever). It's delightful.  Finally Hannah gets in the car and we drive back to the hotel.  I ask how her day was and she reports.  Today she said, about 5 minutes in, while Grace was talking (always) and Ethan was turning up the music (sigh) that she was very sad.  I turned off the music and told Grace to hush and asked why and she said "actually I am not, this is the first time since we've moved here that I haven't felt sad."  Happy news.  

To say it's been a tough move is no exaggeration.  We didn't want to come from the get go, although I have to say that we are all supportive of Rob's career and he loves his job.  It was just MUCH harder than our previous job moves.  Things haven't been going smoothly and there is a fair amount of angst and anguish.  One thing that is in our favor is we are happy, cheerful people (as a rule) and are good at finding the bright side.  We are doing that and it continues to show itself and to lighten the edges of the gloom.  We will adjust.  I think even next week will be nicer (as we will be in the house) and when our MD house sells that will be awesome! and in a year we will feel at home and eventually we may be sad to move on ......(ROFLMHO we won't but we will have made friends that we will miss :) )

Sunday, August 23, 2015

counting down

We are counting down the days until we move out of the hotel and into our home.  Everyone has been doing really well but it's challenging and we are not used to such small quarters.  Today Rob retreated to a nap in his room.  Grace and I shared the couch in the common area, Hannah was on the girls bed and Ethan locked himself in the bathroom and sat in the tub with a lap top to play games in peace.  We try to entertain ourselves but there are few chores to do, we can't make much noise, it's hot outside and homework and electronics only make for so many filled hours :)   We are also really looking forward to cooking and eating at home.  

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Hannah and Ethan got up early (for a Saturday) and went on the youth temple trip.
Gracie got invited to a classmates birthday party. Macy is her name and her mom and grandmas planned a super cute art themed swim party.

After all that Hannah went to Shelby's and the two girls went to a tri-stake priest/laurel activity. 


We went to the fair and had a fun time. We looked at stuff and drank watermelon lemonade. We got in free and had free parking because we arrived between 4-5 on opening day. This was a pleasant surprise.

We ran into my moms BFF, Daisy! So fun to see her!
Grace made a vegetable creation and got a ribbon.
It was fun, I was glad it was free because it wasn't awesome, still it was a nice break from the hotel.

Friday, August 21, 2015


fair fun in the past
Today is the start of the Antelope Valley Fair.  We are going to go tonight.  Hopefully it'll be a lot of fun. 
The past 6 years we have gone to the fair with the Martines'.  The kids get a day off of school and we spend the whole of it looking at pigs and pumpkins, eating fair food and riding rides.  We stock up on free pens and politician's stickers and get dusty and hot.  It is one of our favorite MD memories.

I am beginning to sound like a broken record, and I know I definitely feel like a broken record but we really enjoyed our years in southern Maryland.  Luckily even while we were in the middle of it I knew that we loved it and were lucky and had found some place special and made friends that were special. I appreciated it while we were there and that is a blessing.  It's a shame to look back and think "if only I had enjoyed this or that." 

Today is also laundry day.  Grace forgot her lunch in the car and Hannah needed yet another schedule change at school.  We close next week (fingers crossed) and are PRAYING for a sale in MD.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Funny things the kids have noticed about Californians.
They say "dude" and "broh" a lot. Even adults.
Grown men go sockless to church.
They aren't super friendly.
They are casual.
Everyone's athletic.

I think their perspective is interesting.

Our closing date got pushed back a few days. 
There are a lot of ups and downs to moving. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tate's birthday

Now We Are Six

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, 
I was just alive.
But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six 
now for ever and ever. 


Sunday, August 16, 2015


The Brandt's are back in Utah. We are on the road and Anna has her house back:)
We had a great trip. I'm glad we live closer now. 
I'm glad to be a real presence in my family instead of far away. Joneaux and Deo call me Mimi too, which I love. 
Today we went to church and then came home and cooked and visited. We had to drag ourselves away. We close on our house later this week and everyone is super excited to get out of the hotel.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sunset Beach trip

We finally made it to the beach around 5pm. It was awesome though.
The  kids had a great time in the water and in the sand and playing bocce ball.
We watched the sunset and stayed until every bit of light was gone and we had to make our way across the sand by the light of bonfires lite here and there. I loved the sand, it had sparkles of gold in it that glimmered and sparkled in the water. So pretty.

There is nothing better than a beach front sunset.


Today is Hannah's birthday!! I wanted to throw her a 16th birthday party but since we've lived in California for only three weeks that didn't seem like a very fun idea. We decided to do a birthday weekend trip. Yesterday we went to Disney and that was a big part of the celebration. We are staying with Anna and Amadeo for the weekend and our plan was to go to the beach all day today. This morning while we were making breakfast Anna ended up slicing her finger open and having to go to the emergency room to get five stitches. It took a long time and was quite an event.
As a result all of our plans shifted and we were home in the morning. We were able to have Mimi club and clean up breakfast and watch TV. Also Hannah and I went to the store and then we came home and prepared lunch. 
When everyone was home from the ER we had a late lunch, ate birthday cake, and opened presents. Anna, Tatum and Hannah all have birthdays in the next three days so we celebrated all three of them!
I hope she had fun!!!


It was awesome!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

San Diego

For Hannah's birthday weekend we came to Anna's!!!
Dani and her family are also here and we have big plans!  The kids were most looking forward to meeting Marshall and seeing Tate and Penn:)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I picked up a very sad girl after school today.  There were a lot of tears and patting on the back.

Things Hannah hates:

  • the ugly California flag
  • the desert
  • the drought
  • the mountains
  • the traffic
  • outside hallways at school
  • the big school
  • going into a class and not knowing anyone
  • having seminary at the stake center
  • french class
  • the hotel
  • being homeless
  • not having a kitchen
  • a small theater troop
  • getting lost at school
Things she misses:

  • Chelsea
  • Holly
  • her friends
  • even "stupid Brian"
  • her troop
  • her teachers
  • especially "B"
  • Sister Krugman
  • our house
  • the water
  • trees
  • our ward
  • her book club
  • being costume mistress
  • having people to hug in the hall
  • having people to talk to 
  • our neighborhood
  • a good school
  • being the president of stuff
  • planning things
  • welcoming new people
  •  having fun
  • joy
The silver lining:
  • there is none,
  • we don't make more money
  • we don't live close to family
  • she can't drive
  • it's not exciting or fun 
  • and she can't get a cat
Today she is particularly sad.  She's been a really good sport and really has been trying hard.  I know she will continue to but it's still sad and hard and all I can do is assure her it will get better.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

nights in the hotel

our cozy room
We are lucky to have a large hotel room.  Still a large hotel room is not that large.  I have been really happy with how the kids are doing, and the grown ups.  There have been a few moments of exhaustive boredom, some wildness, some shenanigans but also some really good times.  Hannah and Grace have been sharing a bed and they have been doing really well.  Ethan sleeps on the couch and hasn't complained once. We have a tiny table and it's often covered with crafty projects (or now homework).  We pile on the couch and do our thing (I've been making a blanket).  It's kind of nice knowing right where everyone is and spending so much time together.  I think we will look back at our time in our tiny hotel with great fondness.

11th grade

I'm not sure how one messes up an iPhone picture but I've been the queen of blurry unfortunantly. Anyway Hannah started school today. And seminary. It was early but the day went pretty well for her.
R stayed home sick today. He's got this killer cold. Hope he doesn't share. 
I went to lunch with a few sisters from the ward.
We bought more school supplies! Sheesh!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sabbath day

Look how big this cute boy is getting!! Can't wait to see him!! Only 4 more days :)

I got a calling today.  I am going to teach primary.  The 6 year olds.  That'll be a lot of fun. I haven't taught primary in a really long time.  The Bishop set me apart today and it was very nice.  I felt the Spirit testify to me that the Lord knows me and is in control.  I miss our MD life very much but will serve and bloom here.  I am grateful for His help and kindness.  His grace that sustains me and His gospel to lead me.

Today we sang "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go", the 3rd verse touched my heart.

There's surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth's harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor through life's short day
For Jesus, the Crucified.
So trusting my all to thy tender care,
And knowing thou lovest me,
I'll do thy will with a heart sincere:
I'll be what you want me to be.

After church we took naps.  Yes! Then we ate roast that we made in the crock pot and it was good.  Tonight we had seminary kick off meeting.  Tomrorow is the first day of school/seminary for Hannah.  It starts earlier here so it will be 5am wake ups for us this year.

Rob has a pretty bad summer cold.  Poor guy.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

beach day

We went to the beach today.  It was pretty great.  I took a bad picture or two when we first got there and then got busy so I had to find one on line.

The water was a little frigid when you first got in but we soon went numb and had a great time out in the waves.  We dug in the sand.  Rob fished.  We laid on the beach and read.  We played in the water some more.  It was awesome.

Tonight we went to see Mission Impossible and then at 10pm Ethan remembered he needed school supplies...even though he went school supply shopping with Grace on Thursday and even though I already went to Wal mart today we all got to go back tonight.

Still the beach was great.

Friday, August 7, 2015

searching for inner peace

I like to think of myself as easy going, resilient and as someone who can be happy anywhere and under most circumstances.

This move is testing my patience though.

Every time we turn around there is "good news".
Good news: the house you bought cost a lot more than you wanted to spend.
Good news: income taxes are higher, property insurance is higher, car insurance is higher, gas prices are higher.
Good news: the schools are over crowded and sub-par in pretty much every way, except the kids do get a lot of recess time.
Good news: there is a drought
Good news: and btw your house in MD no one wants to buy... And....
Hannah and I had sushi for lunch.  It was yummy.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

First Day of School

Hannah helped Grace make her locks lovely
Today was the first day of school for Ethan and Grace.  It went pretty well.  Grace's class has 35 kids in it.  That is 13 more than last year, which is a lot more.  Her teacher seems really nice and she made friends with several girls in her class, including a cute little girl named Helen who moved here from the Netherlands this summer.  I met her dad and older sister after school and they were friendly and nice.  (side note: I forgot how Californians are not overly friendly, after living in the "south" for the last 17 years it's different).  She was happy to report that they have two recesses and a long lunchtime.

I went with Ethan to get his schedule because I was pretty confident they would have it wrong.  I was right.  The counselor was super helpful and since I brought his test scores and last three years transcripts she was able to move him around into the honors classes they offer.  At the end of the day he too was happy to report that he had a long time to play outside (an hour) and that he thought a lot of the kids were pretty nice.  He played football during recess.

They both think, although the first day might not be the best indicator, that it will be super easy.  One odd thing is that the school has no buses.  As a result there is a swarm of parents and cars and kids at pick up.  We'll have to figure that one out.
ready to go!

Grace's class
While the kids were at school Hannah and I shopped.  It was four hours of mall fun and all we bought was a pair of jeans.  I have seen the inside of the mall more the last two weeks than I have the last two years.
shopping trip
Tonight I went to Relief Society.  Hannah volunteered to work in the nursery, which was very nice.  RS was nice.  I met a couple of sisters (and our Bishop) who knew Colleen and Tara.  They were all in the same ward years ago at Edwards. It's a small world.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

last day of "summer"

School starts tomorrow so even though it's only the beginning of August it is our last day of summer. The summer that comes with no homework, late nights, free time and lazy days.  It's good to go back to school.  Particually this year:)  We had some big plans for the day.  First we went to "Paint Your Dreams" and painted pottery.  It was a lot of fun.  Ethan thought it took too long, although he didn't complain, he was the first one done by about 2 hours.  He had the foresight to bring his iPod so that worked out well.
little picasso
The girls and I enjoyed it a lot and hope we can go back.  We'll see how the finished products turn out before we decide.
Hannah hard at work

Grace's cute turtle bank.
After paitning and lunch we went to the pet store again. Grace wanted to visit the chinchillas.  It's only a block from our hotel which is good and bad.

Peter and Grace
In the afternoon we went to see "Inside Out".  It was cute, kind of long.  Ethan stayed home to watch a soccer game.
Next we went to the school to find out who Grace's teacher is.  Not that we know her but at least we know what classroom to go to.

Tonight is YW. Today was a fun day.