Anyway, enough about that....
The latest, biggest news in our lives is that we went through a drastic ward boundaries realignment last Sunday, with only 4 days notice that we were even having a special sacrament meeting with 4 other congregations. Most people speculated that a few families from the northern and southern areas would get divided out, to balance out the other surrounding congregations. Here's what they did....
They released our Bishopric and everyone in the ward from all of their callings. Then they read the new boundaries. They read the changes by school districts. They basically eliminated our ward (the largest) and divided us up into the 4 other congregations, putting the school district we are in, in a ward that meets in the city! A not-so-great part of town....with a gate around it and, I believe, bars on the windows.
No one is happy about it...Some are deciding to jump right in, but are still not thrilled about it. It really was a ward family for many many people. I was sad and bummed, and I've only been here for 4 years. Some have lived in that ward their entire lives. I can't imagine how hard it is for them. What many were upset about is that there was no notice, no chance to say farewell, have a final party....I guess that's how it usually works, but changes like this are not very common here....it's been 10 years since they rearranged the boundaries. None of Courtney's and Jessica's friends are moving with us to the city so that's hard for them....Well, one girl from Acheivement days but she will be turning 12 in Dec and thus going to YW.
They also cancelled Halloween parties, Acheivement Days for the week, and postponed the primary program which was only 3 weeks away. They gave permission to do that in January. I was bummed about the timing since I was the primary pianist, something I have always wanted to do. And so to be released like that was disappointing.
So our first time in the city is this week and we shall see how it goes.....we know NOTHING about that ward. No one going with us seems to know anything either. Our new bishop is actually someone who just got put in from our ward, so that's good. Or is it bad? How soon before we get callings???? :) JK. I'm ready for it!
Everything else is the same. Brian works and works and works and works. The kids are in school---5th and 3rd grades. Jessica is playing piano, Courtney playing flute. Ally entertains by singing and dancing and acting! I am busy helping with school stuff. Not doing Girl Scouts, really this year, except helping occasionally in Jessica's troop.
As I look back at some of our pictures, I realize we've got a lot to catch up on....I'll try to do it briefly..
Courtney and Brian took a trip to NY to celebrate Courtney's 10th birthday! I can't believe we have a 10 year old!!!!! Double digits....She has wanted to see "Wicked" for the longest time and so Brian took her on a Wednesday to go try to get in to see it. We told her they would try but that the chances that they could get discount tickets were very slim. She was just excited to go to NY with her dad!
They got there and put their names in a lottery to buy tickets for the matinee. When Brian called and told me, I thought "you're crazy. If you get picked, there's no way we can afford to buy those tickets." He said he had to do it anyway and see if he got them. He'd figure something out. ahhhhh...stressed me out. Tickets can be in the $200 range!!! I hung up with him, and called my friend who told me that the lottery is to be able to purchase tickets for about $25 each! And good seats, too! A few minutes later, Brian called back and said he had been one of 4 people picked. I was so happy for them! And even happier that it was only going to cost $50 total for both of them to see it. Know where the seats were? (Well, you do if you've heard this story already) Front and center, right behind the orchestra pit! Courtney could look down into the pit by the conductor! She was on cloud 9!!! It could not have been a more perfect birthday gift! It really went well! (Picture to come later when I can track it down.)
After the show, Brian took her to the American Girl store because she had gotten a lot of birthday money and wanted to buy herself a doll. She had 2 dolls already, but there was something cool for her about buying her own doll (almost $100, I might add).
And aside from her leaving her purse on a train (complete with a small AG doll she had bought earlier in the week, 2 pool passes, and a few other things that were disappointing to lose), the trip was a BLAST for her. I only wish I could have gone and shared that with her. But it was special because it was a daddy-daughter thing she will NEVER forget.
We were able to meet our "new" family, Brian's birth father and everyone else, at a lake house owned by Brian's aunt. Only Brian didn't get to go, he had to work. But the girls and I went. It was the first weekend after school got out, so it was a nice way to kick off the summer. We went out on their boat, where the girls got to do some tubing, jetskiing and cliff jumping. It was such a nice weekend and we really felt included and like part of the family, even though we've only known them for a short time. Those who were there were...Brian's birth father and his wife, Brian's 2 half brothers and their wives and children (one each), Brian's Aunt, Uncle, and 2 cousins. It was pretty cool to be part of their family. We hope to do many other things with them in the future and hopefully Brian will be able to join us sometimes!
We met some friends down at the beach in Ocean City, NJ. Their family has a beach house a few blocks away and it was nice to spend the day with them. It wasn't the best weather, a bit overcast and chilly, but the kids didn't let that keep them out of the water. Ally was a little nervous about the waves but the other girls totally went for it with boogie boards and shell searches!
We took the opportunity, on one of Brian's rare days off, to go to the NJ aquarium. We can get a nice picture of the city of Philadelphia from the aquarium, so we did that. We loved seeing sharks, stingrays, exotic fish, dolphins, etc.
During the summer we found out that Lowe's Home Improvement store does free kids' workshops twice a month. So we've started going. Sometimes we know what they are doing, sometimes we just go The girls seem to enjoy it and we've been lucky that Brian has gotten to go almost every time. I think he's only missed 1.
Here are more from the beach. I was too tired to put them in the right order on the blog, so I just left them here....
It was so very beautiful and relaxing!!
Uncle Bob letting Ally drive the boat. Everyone was so nice and kind to the kids and very helpful, since I was a single mom that day. They just really did a good job of "taking care of us" and making us have a comfortable and fun visit.