Friday, February 27, 2015

Five Things Friday-#1

1-Today is a very sad day. Last night Sam noticed that my very favorite jeans had a hole in the knee! I bought these jeans at Goodwill about a year ago for $8. They looked brand new, and they fit me perfectly. They have served me so well...the color hardly faded at all through many washings and they didn't stretch out throughout the day as I wore them. It is next-to-impossible for me to find jeans that fit me well, so I wore these about 50% of the time. I thought maybe I could order some more, so I typed the brand into Google and discovered that my beloved $8 jeans sell for close to $200!! You can bet they've earned their place in the next blue-jean quilt I put together, but it looks like I won't be getting an identical replacement any time soon.

2-Intrigued by a friend's post on Facebook, I asked Talmage and Wesley if they remembered what it was like inside of my tummy. Talmage said it was dark and it looked like a circle surrounded by tubes (looks like someone has seen a few books about the body!) and he could hear a beat, and Wesley said he didn't remember.

3-This week we went to Free Day at Hogle Zoo. It was pretty insane! Between the huge crowds of people and all the animals that weren't out because of the winter, I was relieved to be back in the car. But the boys had a wonderful time. Talmage's favorite animal to see was the zebra, and Wesley's favorite was the polar bear--especially when it shook the water off its neck. My favorite was the gorilla. He was napping, and when he opened his eyes a crack and saw so many faces peering down at him, he got a very disgruntled look on his face, rolled away from the glass, and pulled his blanket over his head.

4-I'm hoping to finish this project next week. I'm excited to put it up!

5-I gave Sam this book for Valentine's Day and we have been reading it this week. Sam finished it in under 24 hours, even with his crazy schedule, because he couldn't put it down into the wee hours of the morning! It's a gripping story, and incredibly inspiring. If you want to increase your faith in the power of prayer and in God's Hand in our lives, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mormon Moms Who Blog

Today "Mormon Moms Who Blog" shared my post about women and the priesthood.
As I've gotten to know Heidi, the founder, a little bit over the past few weeks, I've come to really admire the fact that she sincerely seeks the Spirit in her life and then acts on the promptings she receives with complete trust.
She's had some really tough experiences in her life, but she remains a steadfast example of faithfulness.
I hope you'll take a look at her blog and be inspired!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Growing Up

I opened the back door and called out, "Okay, boys, it's time to go!"
Talmage sprang to his feet and let out his typical, "Oh, BOY!" as he ran to the car.
He could hardly contain his enthusiasm.
It was time to drop off his kindergarten registration packet.

It might seem like a simple event, but deciding what to do school-wise with him has been quite the conundrum!
It's not something we've taken lightly.
We've considered so many options.
For a while I was pretty seriously considering home schooling.
Charter schools and elementary schools we're not zoned to took their fair share of thought.
But, in the end, we felt guided that for our family's specific situation, this was the best way to go.
And it's been a struggle for me to fully accept.

Today his excitement filled him to the bursting.
We walked into the school and I was immediately transported back in time 20 years as I breathed in the familiar scent of crayons, pencil shavings, and Elmer's glue.
Registration packet in hand, Talmage marched into the front office, slapped it onto the desk, and proudly declared, "I'm five! And I'm about to start kindergarten!"
"Do you have a name, five?" the secretary teased.
"My name's not five!" he exclaimed.
"It's T-A-L-M-A-G-E." he spelled out, writing each letter dramatically on the desktop with his finger.

I stood back and watched Mr. Social work his magic as he soon had the office staff and the school principle gathered around him as he told them tale after tale, from FHE lessons to our move to Utah.
He was on top of the world.
He held his new packet of picture books, crayons, erasers, and more like it was a treasure.
When we returned to bring in one more document I'd forgotten, the secretary took his hand and led him to the back of the office to show him how the copy machine worked.
As they disappeared I heard her say to the principle, "Look! Our friend is back!"

He was on cloud nine for the rest of the day,
insisting that he wanted to ride the school bus from day one
and asking me questions to gauge just how many days there were until summer would be over.

It still tugs at my heartstrings a lot to think of the limited time I have with my boy to myself.
(And when I heard Wesley say, "We're all going to miss Talmage when he goes to kindergarten!" I had those "Mommy-feelings," as Sam calls them, well up inside of me!)
But I couldn't help but share in his excitement today as he prepares to enter the next stage of life.

My boy is growing up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tracy Aviary

Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City offers $1 Wednesdays during the winter months.
Last week I took the boys and for $3 we enjoyed a fantastic morning looking at the birds, followed by a picnic at the park.

One of the highlights was watching some employees weigh this condor and feed him mice and rats. He weighs about as much as Talmage and Wesley, and his wingspan is longer than all 3 boys' arm spans put together.

Lincoln was content to sit in the wagon and drink the water bottle.

The golden eagle and bald eagle were impressive!

And this beauty had the longest eyelashes--if you look closely you can see them.
This one had Wesley's vote for the favorite.

We all thought it was fun to see the peacock wandering around! We didn't get to see a full display of his tail feathers, but it was a beautiful sight nonetheless.

The children's play area had a sand pit to dig with various beak-like instruments.

The flamingos might have been my favorite!
We had to sing "Mr. Stand-on-one-leg" while looking at them all.

Talmage's favorites were the condor and this little bird, which he thinks is a baby flamingo (since it was in the same pen with the flamingos), but really isn't.

We also loved seeing the owls and toucan and feeding the ducks.
The aviary was the perfect size to be able to visit all the exhibits without getting overwhelmed.
The boys had a fantastic time!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Third Home

As I mentioned last week, the cockroaches drove us away from our apartment in a hurry!
As soon as the end of our 1-year lease was a few months away, we began diligently searching for a better place to live.
One morning I stumbled across a duplex listed on-line and discovered that with a 3-year contract, the rent was almost exactly the same as we were paying for our apartment!
We quickly called, set up an appointment to look at the duplex, and the realtor pulled some strings to get it for us because there were about 10 other people interested.
We were so grateful!!

One big draw was the garage, and also the yard. It was so nice to not have to lug groceries and a baby across a parking lot and up stairs to our locked apartment door. (I know, I sound so spoiled...)

Immediately inside the front door there was a flight of stairs with a landing in the middle. We would sometimes drag the LoveSac out to the bottom of the stairs so the kids could jump down into it.

If you turned right before the stairs, there was a hallway leading to this bathroom and 2 bedrooms.

The nursery had travertine tile floors (like most of the house), a door leading out to the backyard, a closet, and a nice long crawl space for storage.

The bedroom down the hall was Talmage and Wesley's by the time we moved. I had fun making the quilts for the bunk beds, putting together the big star (it's made of cardboard and hot glue), making the magnet board (which weighs about 30 pounds thanks to the sheet of steel on it), sewing the curtains, and making the toy storage boxes. It's about the only room where we actually bought most of what's in it, rather than someone giving it to us!
We scored the train table on Craigslist one year at Christmas time, and it's certainly served us well.

At the top of the stairs there was a large closet for the washer and dryer. And then around the corner it opened up to our main living area. Our small living room, kitchen, and dining area were all together here. It was cozy, but it was perfect for our little family. I loved the huge windows that lit up the whole area with natural light all day long!

The granite sink was seriously one of the best parts of the house. It stayed so clean and was so deep, making it great for baby-baths! I also loved the corner pantry and stainless steel appliances. We had to buy our own fridge, so Craigslist served us well once again...unfortunately, I discovered once we got it that what I thought were crumbs all over the inside were actually weevil-like critters. I spent 10 hours cleaning it out when we first got it! I think over the course of the 5 years we spent in Texas, we experienced almost every bug problem you could have there. We still love Texas despite the bugs!

Just off the kitchen was the master bedroom and a little half-bath (I couldn't find any good pictures of these). This was the master bathroom.

From the dining area, a door opened up onto this balcony that overlooked the huge yard...we were grateful yard care was included in the contract so we didn't have to worry about it! Sam bought me this swing the first Christmas after we moved here, and we spent many hours out here playing with water, swinging, reading stories, drinking smoothies, drawing with chalk, and star gazing.

I loved looking out into so much space, but the yard wasn't very friendly to play in due guessed it...lots and lots of bugs. Because the house was new construction, there were TONS of fire ant hills. Treating them wouldn't have done much good because we had vacant fields around us, so we just let them be for the most part and didn't spend much time out here. It sure was pretty, though!

All in all, I loved living here. There were some drawbacks to the location, but it served our young family so well. I went from being anxious and feeling so limited in our apartment to exploding with projects and things to do here. It was a joy to pass the time here, and as we went from having 1 little baby to having 3 active little boys, the dynamics of our days and my life changed drastically. This became the base station for story time at the library, trips to the beach, play group at the park, trips to the splash pads, days at the zoo, and so much more. This was the place I really grew into my role as a young mother and life with young children took on the characteristics I always imagined. This home welcomed many family visitors, and it saw us through the majority of Sam's PhD program.
Although the cockroaches were terrible, we'll forever be grateful they drove us to a greatly improved living circumstance! This little home in Texas will always have a place in our hearts. We're so grateful we were led here!

And now, here we are in our fourth home. Perhaps a tour of it will commence some day, but for now we'll enjoy making more memories to help it earn its place in our hearts.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Our Second Home

It was early spring when we determined we would be moving to Houston for Sam to attend graduate school at UT-Houston/MD Anderson Cancer Center. The hours we spent perusing apartments on-line were somewhat discouraging. Our rent would double, and it was so hard to select something without seeing it in person! Houston, especially around the Medical Center, is a bit of a checkerboard of safe and not-so-safe areas, and ultimately we decided we would play it safe and live in a suburb just south of Houston called Pearland, about a 25 minute drive from the Medical Center. We eventually settled on a 2-bedroom apartment at Westlake Residential, a rather large apartment complex in the heart of Pearland.

The apartments themselves weren't too bad, and the buildings were positioned around a picturesque lake with ducks and paddle boats for residents to use (and the occasional alligator, as well!).
(Pictures from Westlake & Apartment Guide)

There was also a pretty nice pool with a waterfall and a hot tub that we used a time or two.

But this was by far the most difficult place for me to live.
In a matter of just a few weeks we went from both being college students, living just an hour from our families, to becoming complete strangers to everyone, having a brand-new baby, living thousands of miles away from family, and Sam being gone very long hours for graduate school.
Needless to say, it was a rather lonely year for me.
I gradually got to know ward members, but we had only one car, and unless I dropped Sam off and picked him up at the Medical Center (which would take up to 3 hours total with traffic), I was stuck home. There are very few sidewalks outside of housing developments in Pearland, and roads don't have shoulders on them, so if I wanted to go on much of a walk I had to drive somewhere first. There were a few times that I went an entire week without setting foot outside the apartment except to go to Church.
I felt uneasy about some of the events going on in apartments adjacent to us, and we frequently got waves of swearing, fighting, and cigarette smoke through the vents.

And then the cockroaches came.
Evidently we had a neighbor with cleanliness issues, and the cockroaches started as a trickle but eventually infested our apartment by the thousands. Even the exterminator admitted we had a bad problem. The roaches had come through the walls and were everywhere...especially in the kitchen. We were constantly finding roaches in our food. It took me at least a year after moving to get rid of the habit of throwing the cupboard doors open and then stepping back with horror to wait for the frenzied roaches to disappear. I'll never forget the time Sam was going to take out the trash and set the bag by the front door for a couple of minutes. When he came back to grab the bag, many of the roaches in the bag had crawled out and were all over the ceiling and walls around the door. At the peak of the infestation, there were empty egg sacs and roach feces spread throughout our cupboards, which we had to empty. We didn't eat meals we had to cook because I just couldn't bear to work in the kitchen with roaches crawling all about. One day we had something cooking in the crock pot and because cockroaches like warmth, when I opened the cupboard underneath the counter space where the crock pot was sitting, the underside of the counter was filled with a mass of nasty little roaches warming themselves. I nearly fainted!
Being alone all day, every day from the wee hours of the morning until late at night with just a little baby and thousands of roaches to keep me company nearly drove me insane. I think I shed more tears during the year we lived in this little apartment than the rest of our married years combined!

(We just took a video tour of this apartment, so pardon the candid photos--they'll give you the basic idea!)
This is a view of the front door behind Sam. The other door you see led into a bathroom which connected to Talmage's room. Directly behind Sam was the entrance to the kitchen.

This is a view of our kitchen with a common scenario--Sam smashing a roach.

Just to the left of this picture was a closet with accordion-style doors that housed a washer and dryer, a welcome change after the hours spent in the laundromat in Provo!

To the right of the picture above was the dining area. A half-wall divided the dining area and the kitchen.

Opposite the dining room was our living room (here we were playing balloon volleyball). For the first few months we lived here, our giant LoveSac, the piano, and a rocking chair were the only pieces of furniture in our living room. It was always funny to have people over and invite them to take a seat in the LoveSac!

The door behind Sam led out to a covered balcony, and just to the right of this picture was the opening to Talmage's bedroom.

I wish I had a better picture of Talmage's bedroom! It was rather spacious with a big walk-in closet. His room had a jungle animal theme. I spent many hours here rocking and singing my baby to sleep.

And our room was diagonally across the living room from Talmage's. It had a large attached bathroom as well as a big walk-in closet. Our apartment had so much more space than we had in Provo!

But don't get me wrong. There is much to love about this place as well. While many lonely hours were spent here, I have to remember the many hours I spent on the phone with my mom each week as she chatted with me, just to help pass the time.
I remember my kind visiting teacher who, without even knowing how alone I felt at times, would come and pick me up and take me to storytime at the library with her young daughter.
I remember another thoughtful ward member who would pick me up each week when she took her son to piano lessons. While she waited during his lesson, she would let her other children play at the park and we would sit and visit.
I remember the exquisite joy and awe we felt as we brought our newborn son to this home just 7 or 8 weeks after moving in.
I remember experiencing his firsts--his first laugh, his first taste of solid food, his first steps.
I remember visits from my mom and my sister.
I remember ice cream sculpting, water fights, game nights, and many love notes.

So while we practically ran out the door when our lease was up,
I'll always cherish many of the memories made here.
And, with the passage of time, I've come to be able to laugh at many of the others!
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