Move to Indiana / Ryker Born

I can’t believe my last blog post was a whole two years ago.  It’s as if I blinked my eyes and two years were taken from me. I’m afraid to blink again lest I open my eyes to find myself with grandchildren!  Life goes by so incredibly quickly and I have incredible “Mom guilt” for not doing more with my kids before they grow up completely.  I just wish I was made of Energizer batteries.

Well, besides the many “every-day” events over the past two years I’ve forgotten to write about, two major events are pretty noteworthy and since this blog serves as our family journal, I’ve decided I’d better mention them.  :)

First off, we added the last member to our family! Ryker Andrew Neus was born May 8, 2012 at 10:41pm! He weighed 7lbs. 4 oz. and was 19-3/4 in. long.  He missed sharing a birthday with my brother Casey by 1 hour and 19 minutes.  (Whew!)  I’ve joked that going to the hospital and having him was like going through a fast-food drive-through – quick and easy.    I guess it gets like that after you’ve had a few babies.  :)

Buckled in and ready to go home

Buckled in and ready to go home

My due date for having Ryker was May 20th, but Michael had just accepted a new job in Indiana and had already started working there, so I was scheduled to be induced during a time Michael could fly back to Arizona.  The kids and I were waiting out the end of the school year before joining Michael in Indiana, and I needed to get our house ready to rent out as we planned to return to it after spending a couple of years in Indy.

This leads me to our second major family event. We moved to Indiana. Yeah, whaaaat?  Yes, me.  Never in my life did I fathom moving out of state. It was completely out of the question since being close to my family has always been more important to me than any paycheck amount. But I did want to support Michael in a career opportunity he had sought out for a long time, so I reluctantly agreed to go.  We thought we would be in Indiana for about two years. Then suddenly last June his company went through a series of layoffs and he was let go.  It was a complete surprise we weren’t really prepared for, as we had only been in Indiana for a little over a year.  And what a mess it was moving ourselves back.  That’s a whole other story for another day though.  :)

Our Fishers, IN home

Our Fishers, IN home


Neus kids and their "snowbug"

Neus kids and their “snowbug”

Living in Indiana wasn’t as horrible as I had thought it would be – imagine that!  We really did miss family and friends in Arizona, but we met some great people and made some fun trips.  We were able to visit my sister Karri and her family in Pennsylvania a few times too.  It was just a 6 hour drive from Fishers, IN where we lived, so it was nice to have at least some family within a day’s drive.  We also managed to take a trip to London, Ontario so Michael and the kids could experience their first time outside the U.S.

Camby, Merik, Anlie & Maille at the top of the Duquesne Incline

Camby, Merik, Anlie & Maille at the top of the Duquesne Incline- Pittsburgh, PA


Camby & Ryker at the top of the Duquesne Incline

Camby & Ryker at the top of the Duquesne Incline

Now I actually find myself wishing we had a little more time there.  (Ha – never thought I’d hear myself say that!) Don’t get me wrong – it is SO nice having my family back!  But wow – Arizona is just plain, dry and ugly.  The only place in the U.S. worse than AZ is New Mexico, and wow – is that an eyesore, ha, ha!  I miss the lush green grass, beautiful trees and flowers, changing of the seasons, the perfect amount of snow and cold and the awesome weather.  If Indiana could grow some mountains it would be perfect.  :)  I spent four summers living in Alaska and absolutely enjoyed that too – it’s breath-taking.  But I certainly wouldn’t want to live the whole year round there. Indiana is juuust right.  :)  We will definitely be going back for a visit.  Probably around the time the Indianapolis temple is finished – the first LDS temple to be built in Indiana.  Michael served his church mission in Indiana so it’s a really neat thing for him to see a temple being built there.

Right now we living in Michael’s parents’ home which is located in the same Castlegate neighborhood as our home is in.  His parents were gracious enough to temporarily give up their new home for us and Michael’s sister Katie was kind enough to let them stay with her in the meantime.  I’m very grateful the kids are able to go to the same school they attended before we moved to Indiana.  It has made for a much easier transition. They love being able to ride their bikes together to school again.  Once Michael finds long-term employment, we will move back into our home. Our renters intend to move out at the end of the school year (from what I’ve heard from our property management rep) so I sure hope something turns up quickly for Michael.  I’m sure the in-laws would love their house back too.  :)  In the meantime, I will simply go crazy living in limbo-land.  :)

Catching up on Summer – June

June 25, 2011 (Sat.) – Castlegate Community Splash Party and Grandma McDowell’s Birthday at the Circus!

Cousins Connor & Korynn spent the night at our house since their parents (Kevin & Kristen) were up in Flagstaff.  Perfect timing since our community was having a splash party that day AND we were going to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for Grandma McDowell’s birthday!  Much more fun than just hanging out at our house!  :)

Merik sliding, Anlie in the pool, cousin Connor (red/white/blue swim trunks) going up

Cousin Korynn and Maille run down the slip 'n slide

Camby & cousin Connor on the way to the circus - all tuckered out from the splash party

On the way to the cirucs - most of the kids are worn out from the splash party!

Grandpa McDowell holding cousin Henry, and Anlie, G-ma McDowell, Maille, and cousin Korynn

The pre-show at the circus

The pre-show at the circus

The pre-show at the circus; fun watching the elephant paint!

A view of the show from our seats

 June 23, 2011 (Thu.) – Swim Meet: Butterfly

Due to our family campout, Camby missed the backstroke meet, so his 2nd meet was actually butterfly. I had Stake Sisters Temple Night to go to, so Michael took Camby and the kids to the meet.  On my way to the Temple, I text Michael to tell him to record the meet for me.  I couldn’t have timed my text message more badly… Michael was trying to start recording Camby swimming but my message interrupted it.  Dang!  I was so annoyed with myself.  Camby won first place in butterfly!  He was SO happy with himself. We were so happy for him since he was so bummed with his last meet.  His relay team got 6th place.

Camby holding his 1st and 6th place ribbons from the butterfly meet

Camby holding his 1st and 6th place ribbons from the butterfly meet

June 20, 2011 (Mon.) – Anlie’s 4th Birthday and New Church Callings

I can’t believe my baby is 4 years old!!  And to make her seem even more grown up, Michael and I got her a “big girl” bike for her birthday!  She was the only one in our family who didn’t have a 2-wheeled bike (well, we’re not counting training wheels here.)  :)  Not anymore!  She is now the proud owner of cute pink bike with a baby doll seat.  I looked all over for that bike and finally found it.  I knew she would have so much fun riding her bike with her Lalaloopsy dolls strapped in behind her.  We had lots of family over to help celebrate and Anlie got everything she wanted plus tons more.  She got some really cute stuff from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins (and Mom & Dad, of course!)  She was one happy birthday girl.  Below are some photos from her party.

Anlie with her Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake

Family enjoying b-day cake & ice cream

Anlie opening presents

Anlie & Daddy posing with Anlie's new bike

Anlie riding her new bike... in the house :)

Merik finishing off the rest of the ice cream!

After the party was over, the kids wanted to “race” Grandma and Grandpa McDowell as they drove away down the street.  Anlie opted to ride her bike instead of run with the other kids (smart girl!)  As Michael and I followed behind her, Bishop White drove by (he lives on our street) and mentioned he wanted to stop by our house soon (around 9:00 p.m.)  Well, everyone knows that only means trouble.  :)  Our ward boundary realignment was announced at a special stake meeting the day before on Father’s Day, June 19th.  Subsequently, our ward underwent many new changes since we lost half of our “original” ward and gained half of another (part of the former Sierra Ranch ward which Timothy & Kristy lived in before they moved to Idaho.)   I was currently serving as the secretary in Relief Society, and due to the fact our Relief Society president was due to have her baby any time and that we lost our two counselors to the other ward with the realignment, I figured it would be a possibility that I would be released if they decided to call a new Relief Society president. Anyway, Bishop White came over and as he started to tell me I was going to be asked to accept a new calling, I started thinking he would maybe call me to play the piano or the organ (it was understood we now had a shortage of piano players in our ward) or maybe put me in nursery or Primary.  I was good with any of those and was excited at the prospect of having a little more spare time on my hands.  But he asked me to serve as Young Women’s president.  Huh?  Okay – the last I served in Young Women’s was in the year 2000… just after I got married. I knew practically nothing about the program.  Ha.  Well, um, okay.  So I had a LOT of ramping up to do; a lot of reading.  The Young Women’s program has changed so much in the last 11 years!!  And now I have even less spare time than I did before.  But I will say that I am loving it.  I just love those girls to pieces – they are absolutely wonderful.

On the downside, Michael had to be released from his calling in Young Men’s since I was going to be in Young Women’s (Bishop’s policy).  Michael was so disappointed.  He loved working with the young men and had really started getting the Venture Scouting program into gear.  I know he put so much time and effort into his calling and truely loved it, so it made me so sad that he had to be released due to my calling.  However, Michael was then called to teach Gospel Doctrine.  It has been so fun for me to hear his excitement as he shares with me the really interesting things he learns during his course of study for his lesson.  I love it!  And I know this is exactly what he needs to be doing right now.  :)

Jun 14 – 17, 2011 (Tue. – Fri.) – McDowell Family Campout

We managed to cram in a campout with my parents and siblings’ families (well, all except for Timothy & Kristy’s family.)  We camped at Airplane Flat campground, a site a little southeast of Christopher Creek. As soon as we reached the bottom of the canyon where we were planning to camp, Maille threw up in the car.  Yea.  She get car sick on trips so we figured that’s what it was, but we soon found out it was some sort of “bug” she had.   She and Merik threw up 3 out of the 4 days we camped.  I had lots of fun boiling water to wash out the unfortunate items in the line “fire”. But Maille and Merik were really good sports and still managed to enjoy themselves.  Their throw-up sessions were not very frequent, so that was a major plus if there was one.  :)  I must say that the fire restriction was a bummer (weird camping without a campfire), but it was still fun and propane became our best friend.  Well, next to the skunk that frequented our camp.  He actually gave me a lovely scare in the middle of the night along with some all-natural skunk air freshener. But that’s another story.  We had tons of fun playing frisbee golf, playing in the creek, and feeding the trout at the fish hatchery. Which reminds me… Maille threw up about 8 feet away from the door at the fish hatchery.  Ha, ha.  We used bottles of water to clean it up.  Poor thing!  I know it wasn’t fun for her, but we the rest of us were laughing.  :)  Hey – she felt much better the rest of the time we were there!

Camby (buried in his bag in the back), Maille, & Anlie sleeping

Anlie & Merik

Camby fishing

Maile fishing, Michael "supervising" :)

Anlie was upset about something... can't remember what :)

Anlie and her newly found beatle pet "Strawberry"

Anlie & "Strawberry"... who looks more like a "Blueberry" to me :)

June 9, 2011 (Thu.) – Swim Meet: Freestyle

Camby started swim team (Carson Cudas)for the first time this year. He did better than I thought he would for it being his first year.  He qualified to be in the relay for the “A” team.  At practice the day of the meet, the coaches were using Sharpie marker to number the arms of the kids who were swimming relay.  The coach went to mark Camby’s arm and Camby hollered, “You can’t do that!  I’m Mormon – and that’s like a tattoo!”  Yeah… and the coach had a tattoo above her ankle.  Niiice.  She came up to me and asked if she could write on Camby’s arm.  I said it was fine and then she laughingly told me what he had said.  Oh, brother.  At least he’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes in!  :)

Camby was pretty disappointed with how he did in the meet.  After he dove in, his goggles came loose and let in a bunch of water.  Michael and I could tell something was up and we were trying to figure out why he wasn’t swimming like he normally did.  Well, that was why!  He placed 8th and he was pretty upset.  And to add insult to injury, the ribbon was pink.  :)  He wadded it up.  In relay his team didn’t fare too much better – they were 6th; but at least the ribbon was orange!  That one was saved from the crumble! I suggested to Michael that he take Camby out for frozen yogurt afterward to cheer him up.  He agreed and the two of them went to Sweetie Peaz after dropping me and the kids off at home.  But I must say Camby did much better at the butterfly meet!

Catching up on Summer – May

I have absolutely no business blogging right now when I have a million other things I should be doing (ha – like going to bed), but time is just flying by so fast in all the craziness and I feel like I need to just record at least something!  School starts in four days and I haven’t blogged a thing about summer!  :)  So I’ll include a few ramblings for journaling purposes, starting with the most recent events first. :)

May 26, 2011 (Thu.) – Camby’s Honor Roll Assembly & Last Day of School

Camby had his 2nd grade Honor Roll assembly the last day of school at Simonton Elementary.  Maille was in morning kindergarten, so her last day of school was actually the day prior.  Kindergartners don’t participate in Honor Roll assemblies, so Camby is the only one I have a photo of on the “real” last day of school.  :)

Camby holding his Honor Roll certificate, cup & pencil, and bumper sticker

May 24, 2011 (Tue.) – Merik’s Preschool Graduation

Merik receiving his diploma from Ms. Shelly (Rachelle Jones) and his photo from inside his “diploma”.

Proud Merik and his teacher "Ms. Shelly" (Sis. Rachelle Jones)

May 21, 2011 (Sat.) – Camby’s Piano Recital

Camby had another piano recital at My First Piano in Mesa.  He played “Robots”. Video posted below.  After the recital, I took the kids to Sweetie Peaz frozen yogurt by our house.  It was YUM.

Camby and his piano teacher, Laura Dunlap

Click here To Watch Video
Click to Watch

Anlie & Maille at Sweetie Peaz

May 14, 2011 (Sat.) – Merik’s 5th Birthday!!

After Camby’s day at ASU, we went home to gear-up for Merik’s big #5 birthday!  Merik wanted to celebrate his birthday at Desert Mountain Park (Ocotillo & Hawes in Queen Creek), so we hauled the cake, ice cream, and gifts to the park that evening.  I think he had a blast.

Happy 5th Birthday Merik!

May 14, 2011 (Sat.) – Camby’s very first year in Arizona Study Program

Camby participated in the AZ Study Program at ASU for the first time his year.  He first played the piano for the ajudicator (his appt. was at 11:05 a.m.) – technique and three memorized piano pieces, then went downstairs for his theory test, which he passed.  He achieved “Excellence” for his performance for the adjudicator and later received a big beautiful blue & white ribbon along with a certificate.  I finally remembered to take picture of him as we were leaving the building that day.  Go Mom.  :)

Camby outside of ASU's music building just after he finished playing the piano & taking his music theory test.

May 13, 2011 (Fri.) – Grandma McDowell’s “Yellow Party” / Timothy and Kristy and kids visit from Idaho

We finally got to see Timothy and Kristy’s family when they came down for a visit and to attend Larry’s PhD graduation!  Grandma McDowell held her yellow party then since Merik, Anlie, and Kelsey learned how to say “yellow” with the “l’s” pronounced correctly.  This has been a fun tradition of Grandma’s! We play yellow games and eat yellow food.  :)

McDowell grandkids playing a game at Grandma's house


My mom's big yellow glasses are a hoot!

May 12, 2011 (Thu.) – Michael got the urge to have a family outing at Thrifty’s.  Whoah… I think I was a tiny kid the last time I stepped foot into Thrifty.  The kids thought it was a great idea, of course.  :)

Anlie, Camby, Merik, Maille eating ice cream from Thrifty's

May 7, 2011 (Sat.) – Maille lost 3 teeth in one day!

Tooth Fairy's gonna have to get a loan!

 May 6, 2011 (Fri.) – Father’s and Son’s Campout

Well, this is the only photo Michael sent me, so it’s all I’ve got!  I heard they had lots of fun though.

Merik (far left) & Camby (far right) at our ward's Father's and Son's Campout