Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It's Time for a Reunion! (...oh wait... we facebook...)

I'm 28 years old. Twenty-eight. TEN years ago I graduated from high school. At the time, high school graduation was the biggest deal ever. Now though... looking back... it doesn't mean so much. It was a milestone. For sure! But it was not the ONLY milestone in the past TEN years.

And life has changed.

When we graduated from high school, I just barely got my first cell phone. Facebook did not exist. And gmail required a special invite to be able to create an account. We chatted using MSN messenger or calling the home phone number. As friends when on missions, I sent letters through the mailbox. Life was different ten years ago. And when you stop and think about the technology changes, it truly is amazing! But that is a post for another day.

Saying goodbye to friends on graduation day actually meant goodbye. No one had my brand new cell phone number. MSN messenger was obviously not allowed on missions so although I never went on a mission, I stopped using it too. Just because there was no one to talk to on it. 

I grew up hearing stories from my mom of her wondering what happened to this friend or where so and so was living now. I thought that would always be the case for me. I never could have imagined the boom of facebook.

Truthfully, I had to be convinced into facebook by my college roommates a few years later. I thought it sounded dumb. Reluctantly I made an account. And people that I barely knew were asking to be my friend. Even weirder was when people I knew but they were far from my friend in real life sent a friend request. And slowly but surely the number of "friends" grew.

Well, our time has come for a high school reunion. And somehow the excitement of it is lost. I already know who is living where and how many kids they have. I already know who is still in school and who has been divorced. I already know where they work and what trials they have gone through. I already know their successes, tears, laughs, life.... I already know their life!

There once was a time when high school reunions meant something. It was anticipated and thrilling to finally have a chance to catch up. When I graduated, I thought I would be living in that time. But technology changed. And with that change, I wonder if we lost some of the excitement. We are still undecided if we will even go to our high school reunion. Not because I hated high school and don't want to go back. But because we barely see the point. 







And... just for the record... we did go to our five year reunion.... While we both had facebook, the reunion was before it took over. Haha. 

And before life changed... and life happened.... and new friends happened.... And I'm really wondering why we should even go to our upcoming reunion....




Monday, August 15, 2016

I Was The Stranger

I was the stranger. 
And I felt every sense of that word.
Let's rewind a bit first though.



March 26, 2016.
General Women's Broadcast.

I sat all by myself for the broadcast. I was at our old stake center. It was extremely dark. I stood by the door awkwardly straining to try to find anyone I knew. I don't know if it was because very few people from my ward were at the broadcast or because the room was so dark that I couldn't find them. Likely some of both. I finally decided to sit near the back so someone would see me and come join me. It never happened and I sat by myself for the whole meeting. (And just a note... being by myself is not a terrible thing. I still had no children crawling all over my lap. I was able to concentrate.) However... Knowing that we were moving next Saturday, I already felt lonely. And sitting there made me feel so alone.

At this meeting the topic of "I Was A Stranger" and helping the refugees was introduced. A few things were mentioned about how to help the refugees. One that I remember was that they needed a friend. Now. Lets just be clear. In no way do I consider ourselves refugees. We are blessed beyond measure with a lovely house that is quite honestly pretty close to my dream house. Casey has a wonderful job. And we can afford to keep me home as a full time mommy. No. I'm definitely not in the same boat and can't even imagine. But... in that moment... the only thing I needed with the upcoming change was a friend.



April 1, 2016.
Moving. (And General Conference.)

That morning after sleeping so little the night before in our new house, I woke up crying. I felt so alone. Casey was at our old house trying to clean and finish up. The kids were asleep. And my body ached. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to lift a single box. I was completely drained from loading everything the day before. I was overwhelmed. Exhausted. Alone. And scared. 

What if my new ward was clique-ish and I never fit in? What if my kids don't? What if I never make friends? What if I'm not accepted? What if I never feel at home?

To say I was scared would be such an understatement. I was a stranger.

And then the whole army appeared. More people than I even can remember came to help us unload. We were able to park our cars in the garage that night because these strangers took us in instantly. They moved everything out of the garage and truck and into the correct rooms. Somehow, I'm honestly not sure how, they squished the couch down the stairs. Casey claimed it wouldn't fit. But somehow they wiggled it in and out of the rooms until it magically appeared in the family room. (And just for the record, it is a super great thing that the couch is nearly brand new. Because it is seriously never leaving that room!)

Later that night, blessings poured down from heaven. I was still a stranger.

A dear, dear sister showed up with dinner and salad and these amazing blondies. She thought that we might need a home cooked meal after moving. Words can't even express how much this meant to me. It was so much more than food. It was love and acceptance and comfort. We saved the food for the next day, Sunday, so we could have something to eat when we couldn't go out.

Two other sisters came and wanted to make sure that we had beds to sleep in and basic things unpacked. I was the stranger and they just came. Angels is what they were honestly.



Fast forward a week or two. 
I was a struggling stranger.

The excitement and adrenaline of moving had finally worn off. Casey had gone back to work. Due to General Conference then Stake Conference, we still had not really gone to our ward. I was home with our Little Loves. And once again I was crying. With the timing of conferences, I was not making many friends because we were not attending "normal" church. And I felt alone. I prayed for someone to come to me. I had no idea who I could call for friendship. So I prayed.

And the missionaries came. These missionaries kept coming. We were far from inactive. But they saw the need. And so come they did. So many hours of service. I'm not sure when we became old enough to have the missionaries help us. But service with a smile they did. 

Another day a sister called to invite me to go with her to RS.
I swear someone always sat by me in RS on Sundays.
Hugs.
Kind words.
Text messages.
Treats.
Personal play dates.
Dinner.

The other memorable experience was while I was sitting at a near by park for a mommy and me ward play date. The park is in walking distance to our home but is not within our ward boundaries. We were considering buying a house that was right by that park. While sitting there and chatting I mentioned that we had thought about a house up there. Without even missing a breath, the sweet sister right next me commented how grateful she was that we didn't buy the house near the park. I still felt vulnerable and outsider-ish. But. That day. That comment. Something changed.

I was accepted. I was loved. My kids were as well. We all were making friends. Friendships to literally last a lifetime because no one plans on moving out.

"...I was a stranger, and ye took me in." (Matt 25:35)


Four and a half months later. 
August 15, 2016
The moving dust has settled. The boxes are far and few between. Our old insurance has finally canceled. (Ugh! Insurance....) Weeds have been pulled and air vents cleaned (granted both could probably use it again). Closets are filled. Furniture arranged. Homemade bread.

And truthfully... truthfully we are home. I can't explain it. I don't know what it is exactly. But somehow it just feels different than anywhere we have lived. We are home. Our ward is home. I was taken in. I was welcomed. I once was the stranger.

I am loved.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Prepare and Prevent

Recently, we received a notice on our door stating that our road would be closed for maintenance/ road work. I was confused because as I looked at the road, it looked lovely. The road was in great condition and I honestly had no idea what needed to be fixed.

You see... allow me to introduce you to the roads at our last house. Potholes. Like big enough to swallow your whole tire. Cracks all over the place. The streets were basically never plowed the entire time we lived there. And road maintenance. Ha. That just didn't happen either. And on the slight occasion when it did, the workers seemed to pick their favorites from the solemn course and leave the rest. Serious. The roads were a joke.

1. We had a neighbor that owned a personal snow plow. He was the reason the roads are as good as they were.
2. It is hard to tell... but stare at the road and all the lines in the shadows. They were seriously terrible!
3. The massive snow bank ate part of my dad's truck and Devin was worried!

Now... compare the next picture. I know there are not shadows from the tree or snow... but look at the road. It is SMOOTH!! And this was taken before we were notified that the road needed repairing.



So... why was our new city "fixing" the road when it was already in great shape. And then Casey told me that they are doing the "prepare and prevent" method rather than the "repair and repent." And I thought about that over and over.

Both methods require work. Both require the city to pay the road workers. Our new city required the road being closed and we never had that happen at our last house. In some ways that one day of closure was much more inconvenient than the potholes. Because at least with the potholes, I could still leave my house and not have my car stuck. 

But truly in the long run, one day of dealing with our road being completely closed will be so worth it. The sealant was placed on top. And our road in great shape will continue to remain smooth!

That's really like life. Every choice we make is either keeping our personal road smooth or slowly deteriorating it. And it does require effort on our part to maintain the road but it is so much easier than trying to play catch up later!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Love is... Dairy-Free Almond Poppy Muffins {Recipe}

This morning I was thinking about to our courtship. When we fell in love and married, I had no food allergies. Then we had two children. I couldn't eat walnuts with the first. And dairy with the second. I thought things would improve after Heidi was born but instead the intolerance continued to get worse. And worse. And worse. To the point that even trace amounts of lactose in something will make me sick now. Lactaid pills are no longer effective. Every single item that I put into my body, I have to read the label first. If it contains any milk/dairy/lactose it is a no go.

The other day I was shopping with my mom at Costco. She bought some Almond Poppy Muffins. I have since wanted some almond poppy muffins. Costco's contains milk. I started looking at other stores. Practically all bakery things have dairy, even if it is just butter. I have continued to want almond poppy muffins.

Well today I realized that love truly does continues to grow. Our love when we were dating does not even compare to what it is today. I had heard others say that love grows but I didn't think they knew what they were talking about. I thought the love on our wedding day was real. But today... today... love was shown in homemade, dairy-free almond poppy muffins. Casey had to "invent" the muffins to make sure they were completely dairy free. When we were married, neither of us had ever even thought about having to make special food. And today he did it so willingly--even if it did take a large chunk of the morning to figure out.

And they were delicious. Almond Poppy Muffins at their finest!!


And here is Casey's recipe... written by him. The wording is just adorable!

[ ] 1 1/2 cups of flour
[ ] 2 egg yolks 
[ ] 2 egg whites
[ ] 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
[ ] 3/4 tsp baking soda
[ ] ~1/2 cup almond milk
[ ] 1/2 cup coconut oil
[ ] 1/4 cup oil
[ ] 3/4 cup sugar
[ ] 1/2 tsp salt
[ ] 2 tsp almond extract
[ ] 1 1/2 tblsp poppy
[ ] 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Makes 12- 16 muffins.
Preheat to 350°.
Mix well coconut oil, egg yolks, and sugar in one bowl.
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in another bowl.
Add milk, oil, to sugar, egg, and coconut oil mixture.
Spray muffin pan.
Fluff egg whites.
Combine wet mix to dry mix and add extracts.
Fold in egg whites.
Divide into muffin tin.
Bake for at least 12 minutes.  May need more until they turn golden.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Goodbye Decade of Decisions



10 years ago I entered the decade of decisions. TEN YEARS!! So much has happened and changed. And I have grown. It is interesting to look back to all the "milestones" in my decade of decisions. There are a few things... well one thing really that I would change every day if I could. But I can't. So forward I will go.


2006 -- High School Graduation
I was so sad to say goodbye to Casey!
He was my absolute best friend and I had no idea what would happen after graduation.
We went on a breakfast date before Graduation.
This meant more to me than words could even say.
And I cherished this during the hard times that would come in the next years.
Why did it mean so much?
Because I wanted more than anything to walk with Casey.
But it was totally random.
The guys were in a line in one tunnel and the girls another.
There was no way to coordinate this.

2007 -- The Year I Wish to Forget

Yes there are plenty of pictures I could post for this year. But I don't want to. It was a horrible year and some of the most painful moments I ever experienced. I learned a ton and was blessed so much a long the way. But if I could go back and change it, I absolutely would.


2008 -- SLCC Graduation

Because of the massive trials I went through the previous year,
this was nothing short of miraculous!
A.S. Degree of General Studies with Honors

2009 -- Best Day Ever

If it looks like I'm glowing, I probably am!
Remember how I was sad/ nervous/ scared to say goodbye to this
handsome boy at high school graduation?
Now we are best friends forever. Literally. All eternity.
Seriously. The Best Day Ever!

2010 -- BYU Graduation

I did it! Four years later...
My degree was really a 5 year degree.
And somehow I still finished in four.
16 credits a semester and summer classes is how.
I just love this picture...
I love BYU!
I LOVE Casey!!


2011 -- To Be A Teacher

Teaching is not for the faint of heart...
But I truly enjoyed it.
I loved watching when kids finally "got it!"

2012 -- He Named Me Mommy

We named him Devin.
And he named me Mommy.
Life was once again perfect.
My dreams were coming true.
I quit my job to stay home full time.
Full time mommy is not easy but so worth it!

2013 -- First Home

We bought our first home!
At the time, we thought it was our last home purchase.
We planned on staying here forever.

2014 -- He Named Her Best Friend

Best friends of these two would be an understatement!
This is still one of my FAVORITE pictures!
Devin's smile to see Heidi for the first time was as real as could be.
And he has never stopped loving her!
Heidi had a scary beginning!
But she is a fighter and she wanted to be here in our family so badly!
I'm so grateful she made the choice to stay!!! 

2015 -- First Brand New Car

You would think we have a picture of this. It was a big deal. We bought our first brand new car! It was so nice not having to share the car anymore as we also kept our older one. But... I sure can't find any picture. Haha. Signing the paperwork took forever!!!! And by the time we finally left the dealership, I think we were all just done.


2016 -- Second Home (and last...)

This has truly become home.
In every sense of the word!
I never would have dreamed that it would be "home" so quickly.
Two and a half months later...
This truly is HOME!
(And always will be!)
I just love these two!
And I'm grateful for the sudden change that happened earlier this year.
I never would have dreamed we would be here today.
But I love it.
And I would move all over again (even though it was a nightmare)
just so we could live here... live at home!

While I'm sure we will buy other cars and hopefully someday have another Little Love... truly my decade of decisions has come to a close.

GOODBYE DECADE OF DECISIONS....

Now I'm striving to follow Elder Hale's advice from Oct. 2007

After your decade of decision, go onward and upward.... Be faithful.... Be true. Rise up and be worthy.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Relative Reunion

Last night was... oh ya know... one of those nights where I was just done. The kids were driving me nuts and I was just longing for them to go to bed. Finally peace and quiet. 

We rarely watch TV. I let the kids watch maybe one PBS show a day... maybe two if they are lucky. (Unless you are sick... then it is TV all day over here. That's a different story though!) But seriously, the TV is hardly ever on.

Yesterday though, I just wanted something to unwind with in the evening. So I turned on the ROKU (streaming TV) and started hunting for something to watch. I managed to browse through BYUtv and saw "Relative Race." I had heard both of my mom and grandma talk about. Figured I had nothing to loose so I pressed play.

The show touched me more than I thought it would. Probably because I connected to it on such a personal level. So the gist of "Relative Race" is 4 teams are driving all over the country meeting people they are related to through their DNA samples. Their family that they never knew. Distant cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Extended family of some sort.

The thing that hit me was that they are all family. They care for each other and welcome them openly even though they have never met. And I'm sure that having a camera in your face probably encourages the hospitality but still it truly does feel genuine. They have a love that can only be described in one way... family. 

Recently my husband and I had our own "Relative Race" or rather "Relative Reunion" because we were not driving all over the whole country. I'm sure that's why the show touched me so deeply. My husband's father passed away. For reasons I would rather not discuss... and ones I don't even entirely understand myself... contact has been kept to extremely limited or even non-existent. I was so nervous to attend the funeral. It would be a room filled with strangers. That shared my husband's blood but did that really make them family?! Would I be comfortable? Would we be welcomed? 

But attend the funeral we did. And there was a love there. A love that can only be described in one way... family. We met his siblings that he has no memories of. We met their children. We heard stories of his father. We worked to fill in the missing pieces of the family tree. We were connected and we always will be. 

Why... because we are family.

At the funeral... Casey with some siblings that he just met.
Family.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Divine Intervention with Closing

Exactly one week ago on March 6th, I wrote on my facebook
"I remember all the miracles and prayers it took for us to move to our current house. And because of a loving Heavenly Father, it all worked out. Right now we are praying for miracles again. It is going to take some major help from the other side to have everything for both houses come together at the same time."
I can hardly believe that it has only been one week since I wrote that. It seems soooo much longer because so many things have happened. I thought I would recount the story of our divine intervention simply because so many in my ward today wanted to know the details.

So let's back up a bit...

And first define a couple of things. It is in relation to us.
1. "Seller" means the person who currently owns the house we want to buy (and will be buying).
2. "Buyer" means the people who are going to be buying our current house.
3. "Our Realtor" mean the best of the best. Most patient and amazing and knowledgeable realtor helping to deal with all the problems and such a unique situation.

When we originally placed an offer on our new house, it was conditional that our current house would sell. We had the settlement date written as March 31st with the understanding that it would change based on how fast our current home sold. The seller and seller's agent agreed that the settlement date would likely change.

Our house went under contract fast and the settlement date that the buyers gave us was March 15th.  Our realtor contacted the seller's agent. And everything was agreed to March 15. Verbally. We never sent a revision to change it. But everything seemed fine and so we all went forward.

Inspections. Appraisals. Underwriting. Etc.

Realizing how quickly and smoothly everything was proceeding, we asked to change the settlement date from the 15th to the 9th. With the reason being we would not have to pay our mortgage for March. Instead we would use our March mortgage money to help with the down payment.

The buyers agreed. The seller said he would see. No one responded quickly though. Finally the seller said that he could not close that soon because his loan for his new house could not be processed but he agreed to the 15th. Verbally. We changed the date back to the 15th with the buyers. Everything was still going forward.

This brings us back to around a week ago. We learned that the seller's loan had not even been sent to underwriting yet. Let alone come out and sat its government required waiting period. It became clear that there was going to be no way the seller would be closing on the 15th. And because everything was agreed verbally; legally he had until March 31st for settlement.

Our only hope for our buyer's to grant us an extension that released us from their date of the 15th. Then we would extend it to match whenever the seller would be able to close.

Well. That was not happening. The buyers had already moved out of their apartment. And they refused to give us any more time than what was the written agreement.

We were going to end up homeless. And my stress level started to rise. Our realtor started trying to figure out any kind of a plan. Long-term motel? Rent a POD or storage unit? Oh my goodness the extra costs would add up quickly with those.

I changed my prayers. Instead of praying for everything to work out on the 15th, I (1) prayed for peace and (2) prayed that we would blessed with something better.

No matter what our realtor tried or asked, we were getting no where. Buyer insisted on the 15th for closing. Seller could not do it.

March 10th. Turned into a super disappointing evening. Our realtor relayed messages that he finally received from the buyer. I cried. I wondered if we just needed to back out and loose our earnest money and the house we wanted to move too. As well as having to pay the buyer for us backing out. At this point, that began to seem like what was going to have to happen.

I again just prayed for peace. And my prayers were truly answered. I slept perfectly peacefully. For me having insomnia, and having to deal with so many nightmares before bedtime, I did not think I would be sleeping that night. But I did. And I was peaceful.

My sister texted me this quote that evening. (I made it pretty the next morning.)
I so needed these precious words from Elder Holland. I seriously think once we do move, I'm going to be making a permanent wood sign (paint? modge podge? etc) of some sort with this quote on to hang in our new house. I need this reminder in my daily life because life is always hard... regardless of if you are moving or not.

Which finally brings us to Friday March 11th. The day we learned that our prayers have been answered.

Our buyers' agent finally contacted our agent on March 11th. (Remember how I said neither party was awesome at responding quickly... it is frustrating on our end!) But, our buyer's loan (theirs, not ours) got stuck in underwriting. They couldn't figure it out. Supposedly they were going to be ready by the 9th and therefore were refusing to let us extend the settlement deadline.

But. Their was divine intervention.

And the buyers' loan became stuck in underwriting. They are now having to ask us to grant them an extension.

We are counting our blessings and offering prayers of gratitude that we will not be homeless. I paid our mortgage for March. Simply grateful that we have a place to call home and not worrying about the down payment currently.

So... that brings us to the big question of when is closing? And when are we moving?

The answer... we don't know. No idea.

Sometime between now and March 31st. Hopefully sooner than later. Probably in the 20s somewhere. And not on a Sunday. Hopefully we will learn more tomorrow when the underwriting is back at work. We are living in boxes. Most things are packed. And yet we are so blessed and so ok with living in boxes. Heavenly Father is so good and somehow things will work out!