Friday, June 16, 2017

Seasons Change


We're moving.

After a whirlwind week since finding out last Saturday that our landlord decided to sell the house we live in,
this morning we signed a new contract and the moving preparations have begun.

The circumstances surrounding the move are nothing short of miraculous.
Utah is having a housing shortage, which means that there is extremely intense competition to get a home--especially a rental.
And the fact that we are trying to keep living on a pretty rigid budget in order to meet some financial goals meant that we didn't have a lot of wiggle room on the price.
For several days I was checking the computer every 5-10 minutes, watching for something that would work so I could be the first to call on it. Postings that had been online for 8 hours had over 6,000 page views!

After a couple of failed attempts, a house in a nearby city popped up for rent.
I was able to walk through it and we were first in line to get it.
It was within walking distance of Sam's bus so I wouldn't need to drop him off and pick him up every day, it had plenty of room to grow, and it had a rather charming yard that just needed someone to love it and restore it to its original beauty.
The house had a really strange layout and had plenty of quirks, but it was certainly livable.

But something didn't feel right...

We filled out the applications and sent them in, and then I went to walk through it again with my mom while Sam was at work. And as the afternoon went on, I felt worse and worse. By the time Sam got home I felt like throwing up and I apologetically explained that it just didn't feel right.
Bless Sam...without a moment's hesitation he said that was the answer and that we would keep looking.

It took a leap of faith to tell the person that we decided it wasn't the right fit for us.
We had no idea if another suitable home in the area we hoped to live would become available in the time frame given to us.
But we went through with it and that night I knelt down and told Heavenly Father that I didn't feel right about the house and that we were acting in faith. I asked Him to provide a way for us and to grant us the righteous desires of our hearts, according to His will.

The next morning, I sat down at the computer at about 6:30 and opened up the list of rentals.
And there was a new listing, just a couple of miles from where we currently live!
It was in our price range, the location was great, the house had plenty of room, it was on a fairly large piece of land, it had all new carpet and paint, and the pictures looked beautiful.

To be honest, it looked too good to be true.
I thought it might be a scam, but I sent a quick text message to the number listed and didn't expect much to come of it. But a short time later, I received a text back and we set up a time for me to come look at the house that morning.
I dropped the kids off at my parents' house, warning my mom that the house seemed better than the cost of the rent would allow so if I didn't come back she should know something terrible happened and call the police.
And when I arrived and a big, scary kidnapper van pulled slowly out of the driveway to meet me my heart raced...
but then a smiling man stepped out of it and greeted me and showed me around.

The house was perfect for us, and the landlord was unbelievably kind.
It was really mind-boggling how kind he was, actually--and I even learned that I went to high school with his daughter! One part of the yard was not fenced and when I asked if he would be okay with us putting a fence along that side he said he'd even reimburse us for it. Although our contract begins on July 1 he said we're welcome to move in as early as we want since it's currently empty and he won't charge us more. I could go on and on...it was unreal!

And there are tender mercies sprinkled all through the house in elements I never thought we would have while renting.
A few examples:
-I just recently told Sam that it's important to me to look out of our home and see plants instead of other houses in my face. The owner of this home also owns an adjacent 1.5 acres of wild land that is packed with trees so when we look out the window we see a beautiful forest that he said the boys are welcome to explore and play in.
-Since high school I've wished for a west-facing balcony off the master bedroom where I could watch the sunsets. This home has just that! I'm looking forward to enjoying the stunning colors of the sky over the Great Salt Lake.
-I've loved having our boys share a room and I hoped to continue that as they grow and as Maxwell gets old enough to join them. But it's pretty hard to find homes with bedrooms big enough for four boys to share. This home has a huge room that the landlord said could be used for whatever we wanted but that the previous renters used it as a bedroom. It's big enough for 4 boys plus a good-sized play area for their toys!

I could list so many more tender mercies.
After we signed the contract this morning I knelt down and thanked Heavenly Father for a long list of things. I am so overwhelmed by His goodness and love.
Sometimes we have to take that first scary step into the darkness before we see the light,
but His way is ALWAYS the best.

I doubt I'll be posting much for the next few weeks while we move and get settled,
but I look forward to recording our new adventures as time goes on.

Friday, June 9, 2017

In Defense of Fresh Flowers


These beauties have been brightening my kitchen this week.
Last Saturday Sam brought me roses from his mom's garden after he mowed her lawn,
and then later that day I held my piano recital and my students showered me with flowers and cards.

I've often heard the argument that it's pointless to spend money on flowers bouquets
because they will just die.
To that I ask...
-would you say the same thing about getting a pet? It's pointless because it will just die?
-would you argue that you shouldn't spend money on a vacation because you will just have to come home?
-would you say that you shouldn't enjoy a meal at a favorite restaurant because it will just be eaten?

To me, the beauty of flowers is not about how long they will last...
it's about the enjoyment and beauty they bring to my home during their short lives.
And then I get to rejoice in the memory of them
and appreciate the sentiments of the giver that accompanied them.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Root Beer Floats


At the end of school last year,
I decided to start a tradition of having root beer floats on the last day of school.
The boys were looking forward to it with great anticipation this year,
and when Talmage burst through the door after school last Friday,
he asked if he could invite a neighbor boy over to share in the fun.
And so four little boys sat together on the porch swing outside, sipping root beer floats (or just root beer, in Wesley's case), enjoying one another and frothy bubbles and frosty glasses and creamy ice cream.

I think it was the perfect welcome to Summer.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Another First, Another Last


My boy hasn't changed too much this year,
although his new front teeth make him look more mature!

It was a great school year.
I really liked his teacher for him--she loved all the kids so much and knew just how to challenge them, how to maintain control, and how to encourage their best work.

Some highlights from first grade:
-field trips to the farm and Red Butte Garden
-monthly trips to the assisted living center to read
-art night (the cutest thing where we got to come to the school and see a gallery of art they had done in the styles of different artists...the kids were the guides and walked us through the gallery, telling us brief biographical sketches of the artists while classical music played and classy refreshments were served!)
-making gifts for parents out of clay
-teddy bear picnic and field day
-participating in SEM
-class plays
-first grade patriotic program (which had me on the verge of tears as all the first-graders sang the anthems of all the branches of the military along with many other patriotic songs, ending with "God Bless America")
-fairy tale Fridays

I'm so grateful for the opportunities he had to grow this year.
I have seen so much good come from his time away,
but I'm sure glad to have a few months now to have him home!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Oddities


Our start to Summer has been a touch less than ideal
and a bit frustrating 
with a nasty bout of food poisoning,
continuing dishwasher issues (it's been over 2 months and it's still not fixed, even though it was under warranty and we've had many maintenance people come over...),
a package Talmage had been excitedly waiting for since April that arrived ripped open and empty,
broken AC in our car,
and a teething and fussy babe.

BUT
it's also been good
with sidewalk chalk,
a new chore chart that the boys are super excited about,
free Tillamook ice cream,
fruit slushes,
and lots of time swinging on the porch swing outside.

On Friday Sam and I went to a concert at a beautiful, quaint park in Salt Lake.
It was attended by mostly older people
and afterward I expressed my desire to buy an "old lady hat."
He laughingly told me to go for it.
"Do you ever watch old people and try to figure out which ones we'll be like?" I asked.
He burst out laughing and said, "No...I take it you do?"

I like to think he finds my oddities endearing.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The End of a Chapter

This girl graduated from high school today!
I am so happy for her, and I can't wait to see what her future holds.

Avalon is my youngest sister, and here are a few things that make her so great:
-She is an amazing aunt to her 10 nieces and nephews and she is always willing and even excited to offer her time and talents babysitting or entertaining them at family gatherings--even planning special activities for them for holidays.
-She is very kind and sensitive. I remember my mom telling me about how, in the midst of friend drama in elementary school, she would just go spend her recess periods helping the special needs children.
-She is smart. She is heading to BYU this Fall on a full-tuition scholarship. She plans to use her gifts to major in Elementary Education which is a perfect fit for her, in my opinion.
-She is conscientious and responsible, but still lots of fun. The kids beg her for piggy-back rides out to the car and I love our girl nights when Sam is out of town!
-She is devoted to her faith and nurtures a strong testimony.

I just love her.
I'm so grateful I've had the chance to see her grow into such an amazing woman and that we've been able to live so close to her over the past few years. Wesley was pretty upset this morning when he learned she would be moving to Provo to attend BYU because "then she won't live as close to us!!"
Somehow we'll survive, but we sure have grown to rely on her a lot!
Here's to the next few years, Avalon...I hope they're some of the best ones yet!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

We had such a lovely Memorial Day together as a family.
We headed up to a small town in Northern Utah to visit the graves of several of my ancestors. One of them was quite prominent in early Church history--he even dedicated one of the cornerstones of the Salt Lake temple! It was fun to meet some other descendants who were there putting flowers on the same graves. It just so happened that the woman I spoke with was in my late grandparents' ward in Idaho, but they never knew they shared a common ancestor!
We visited some others in a different part of the cemetery.
My eyes misted over when I read the inscription on the headstone of my distant uncle, who died when he was just a month old--
"Only hidden from our gaze."

The boys loved visiting the graves.
I expected them to tolerate it, but they thought it was the coolest thing. I shared some stories with them on our way up, and they loved feeling how peaceful that small-town cemetery is.


Then we headed down the road to a local Amish Market.
Once again, the boys just loved it!
A highlight was a bank that was hiding a fake spider that would jump out at you when you slid back the lid.
When it first jumped on Talmage's face, the boys laughed hysterically for several minutes.
We bought lunch here and wandered around the store, taking in the sights.
On our way home Wesley said we should work on going to that store more than Smith's...if only!


After an afternoon of some work around the house,
Sam, Talmage, and Wesley headed to our church building to play basketball with his brothers and a friend.
Those who know best say he's still an amazing basketball player--I love having opportunities to watch him!
But I stayed at home with Lincoln and Maxwell and prepared dinner for everyone.
After a couple of hours, they came to the house and we had another birthday celebration for Sam with cilantro-lime chicken quesadillas, chips and pico de gallo, lemon-broccoli bowtie pasta, watermelon, and peanut butter oreo ice cream pie. I think food is his love language...
I love how excited he gets over the meals I make him.
Sam and his brother played ping-pong while his brother's wife and I talked pregnancy--they are expecting a baby boy this Fall! That makes 100% boys for the boys in Sam's family!

All in all, it was a beautiful, peaceful day.
I'm so glad we had the chance to celebrate our ancestors and teach our boys to love and honor them.
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