The New House with Pictures Downstairs

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People have been wanting to see pictures of the house for some time. I was desperate to see pictures too before we were able to see the house in person. Dawn took pictures but I couldn’t really visualize the space. The sales rep sent pictures and I still couldn’t really tell what the house looked like. I think having things in the space helps give it context.

Every time I walked through the empty house was a surreal experience. It always felt like it would be a lovely place to live. It just never felt like it was mine until the trailer arrived and we started moving our stuff in.

The rooms fluctuate between being chaotic to somewhat organized and back to chaos again. The boxes seem to be multiplying because for as much as the empty box stack grows, there are still more boxes to empty. For all the messiness I still decided to take pictures. I figure when we finally have the place under control we can do a video tour. That is, after all, how we fell in love with the house long distance. We liked the floor plan provided online and we obsessed over YouTube video tours of the DR Horton Legacy floor plan.

Think of the popular song by Flo Rida, “My House.” Welcome to my house, it is really messy, play the music so loud, just watch out for the boxes!
Or something like that.

house

Nice curb appeal. By the way, since this was the last house built on the street we were given the hose and sprinkler. Sweet! It’s a two car garage which is a bit of an adjustment after being used to a three car garage. But there is a lot more storage space inside so the garage isn’t as critical here as it was in CA. My concern is whether or not we can actually get both cars inside at the same time. It will be a tight squeeze.

front-door

This is the front door with the new mat we bought. The door is really pretty and I like the glass. The swirling they did in the glass isn’t swirly enough. I imagine the idea is to obscure the view inside. Except it leaves little to the imagination at night! We will be getting some privacy film soon.

front-to-back

Here is the view from the front door. The popular thing now is to have perfect sight lines from the front of the house to the back. Heath wants to have a pizza oven in the backyard as part of our paver paradise. He wants it straight back in line with this view from the front door. Kind of a welcome to the party vibe.

pizza-oven

I found his pizza oven! It should be durable and affordable since it’s plastic. I wonder if the Everett Children’s Museum will sell it to us?

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This is the living room. Yes, I am sharing my chairs. I couldn’t make them work in the bedroom and since I had given away my living room furniture I decided to try them down there. The living room is cozy so I don’t want big, bulky furniture anyway. I think my wingback chairs will be a great beginning for something wonderful in there. Until then company can sit on stacks of boxes.

hall-closet

This closet is one of my favorite features of the home. It’s another under the stairs closet like what we had before. Only this one has space to hang coats. It’s a real coat closet! I get that California is known for its wonderful warm weather but it does get cool enough to need a jacket in the winter! We put up hooks on the wall by the laundry room/mud room. I love that we have a place to shut the door on coats and jackets while having them conveniently located.

Harry-Potter-closet

Dawn likes to call the coat closet a Harry Potter closet because it’s big enough for a child to live in. It goes back behind the coats for great storage and then turns a corner and there is still more space for storage. He put in the shelves we used to use in our garage. They are shorter of course but he managed to fit three in there. Two are stacked deep around the corner on the left. I put all my holiday decorations on those shelves with room to spare.

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Next to the closet is the dining room. The high windows let in natural light while providing privacy. We negotiated blinds being installed but never expected the small high windows to be covered. The only window that wasn’t covered was the big one in front of the stairs. There was some weird explanation as to why that window was left alone. It’s a west window that lets in a lot of heat so we will be covering that with some sort of film soon. I hope we can find something that allows us to still see out because the view is pretty.

Gavin-bathroom

This is Gavin’s bathroom. He likes to think he doesn’t have to share. He has a bunch of rules and everything! I am impressed with how well he is taking care of the shower. He wipes down the glass every day. I need to get him a basket to keep his toiletries in under the sink. I have one I just haven’t found it yet.

Gavin-room

Gavin’s room.

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I took a couple pictures of the kitchen and decided this one shows enough of the kitchen. I love the color of the cabinets and the granite they chose. We came too late to the party to choose any finishes. I really like the center island too. It’s much more functional than the peninsulas we had in our last two houses.

I wish the countertop came out for a breakfast bar. We could have chosen an island like that but it would have had an electric cooktop in the island and I thought that was stupid. Plus, Heath really wanted the gas range. So our plan is to get a counter height table with stools to extend the space and combine the eat in kitchen into one.

The refrigerator is ours. We bought it when we moved into our last house. The landlord didn’t want to buy it from us so we’re hoping we get our safety deposit back. That will be our budget for a new fridge. There is nothing wrong with our fridge. It’s quite nice. We just want to have the water in the door feature. We could have negotiated a new fridge with the house but we didn’t like what they had to offer. I kind of wish we had tried for a new washer and dryer only because it was a nightmare for the guys to carry those monsters upstairs.

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More chaos. This is our family room. We finally got the TV working this morning so we could see channels. We have been watching Netflix only the last two days while we waited for a Comcast guy to be able to come back and fix the problem.

Behind the folding chair in the middle of the room is a gas fireplace. There probably are hardly any spare the air days here that would prevent use of a wood burning fireplace. I have always dreamed of a gas fireplace because they are easier and cleaner. Flip a switch and you have instant heat. Turn it off when you’re done. Supposedly this fireplace will heat the house if we need it to. We also learned how to turn it on if the power is out. Good to know.

 

A Long Reader’s Digest Version

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Time marches on and the stories keep unfolding. Meanwhile I am so busy I haven’t taken the time to tell many of them.

The day before we moved a hummingbird flew into the house. It took Heath at least half an hour to get it out. He managed to block off all the rooms upstairs except Gwen’s room. He shut it in the room, took the screen out of the window, and eventually had to use the screen to convince “Sweetie” to fly low enough down to get out the open window! He did take several minutes of video.

Gavin worked with his scout leader to get things up to date. He earned the citizenship in the community merit badge and may even qualify for a rank advancement. The boys signed up to volunteer at the library. Parker went twice and Gavin went once. Gavin just needed one more hour to finish the requirements for the merit badge. Those three trips to the library were time consuming enough that when Gavin was finished I told the boys they were finished volunteering for the summer!

I let the kids check out library books since I was going to pack up all the books. Gwen accidently left one on the bookshelf and it was packed. She had to pay $10 to fix the mistake. Did I already tell this story? I don’t remember. I don’t want to deal with sending the book back when we find it. Dawn says I can return it to our new local library and they will send it for me. Or I can donate it to her little library (neighborhood library). I would rather do that. Or I could just be nice enough to let Gwen keep it! We’ll see.

Parker-Vader

Parker designed and created a Darth Vader head out of a cardboard box at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I love how creative he is. It’s unfortunate I’m his mother. Fortunately he asked his creative grandma if he could execute on this idea and she agreed. She provided minimal supervision. Mostly with the spray painting part. Other than that he did it all himself.

The day before we moved into our new house we went to the Everett Children’s Museum. I took a bunch of pictures and will one day post them! We also had a lot of fun at Grandma Holmes’ birthday party last Saturday. More pictures for another day. Gwen became fast friends with her second cousins again. They were really upset when we had to leave. They love Gwen. Seeing her play with Ashton, Kiera, and Aiden reminds me of how we tricked the kids with a trip to Disneyland. We told them we were going to visit Uncle Dan, Aunt Dana, and Danielle and her kids. Gwen was so disappointed we were going to Disneyland instead that she cried and wouldn’t forgive us for most of the drive!

Last Saturday we made friends with perfect strangers at the mall. We parked next to a car with Utah plates. They happened to go back to their car at the same time we did. We got to talking and found out they were Mormons also who recently moved here from Kansas but were originally from Utah. I exchanged numbers with the lady. Her name is Kristen! I don’t remember how it came up but she and her husband knew people who graduated from my high school the same year I graduated! It was the funniest coincidental encounter.

After that we drove to our new neighborhood and met several neighbors just chatting outside. Gwen went to the playground at the top of the street and found several BFF’s. We felt so great about everything with our neighborhood, I decided the mall encounter was more for Kristen’s benefit than mine.

Our new ward is so awesome! It felt like being back in P4 with the warm welcome we received. Even couples who were new the Sunday before welcomed us to the ward and the area. I love that the attitude we grew accustomed to in P4 continues here as well.

Scout camp was this week. Heath and I agreed that if we had more notice we would have sent Gavin a second time. He loves scout camp and it would be fun for him to bond with the boys his age. There are lots of deacons in our ward and they are excited to welcome Gavin.

Parker made some friends that first day at church as well. There are lots of boys on our street the same age as Gavin and Parker. Lots of girls around Gwen’s age as well. She even made friends with the boy next door last night. Angie (his mom) said that he is so shy and hadn’t even played with anyone since they moved in a month ago.

Wednesday was move in day. Gwen was invited to a playdate in the morning and the boys were invited to a movie that evening. All by the same family. Tom and Natalie have four kids. The younger kids wanted to invite friends over while their older brother was at scout camp.

We got here early enough for Gwen to go to her playdate. We were hoping we could get keys in the morning even though technically we weren’t supposed to until that afternoon. We ate Subway in the grassy park next to our house while we waited for a supervisor to come give us keys. He was able to come at 1:30. When we got into the house we went nuts trying to seal tile, grout, and countertops. Just as we were laying carpet protecting plastic on the stairs the trailer arrived. Things sort of snowballed from there.

I went back to the playdate house to ask if Tom could help us with the ramp. Oh yeah, when the trailer was delivered in CA they didn’t deliver it with a ramp. When Heath called they said they were out of them! It was up to us to get one. That was an adventure since none of the home improvement stores actually rent them like we were told. He called a Crestco in Fremont (not that close to us) and was able to get one delivered. It was delivered on Saturday morning and they said they wouldn’t charge us for Sunday. They picked it up on Monday after the trailer was loaded. ABF paid for the ramp rental since they made the mistake.

Anyway, we only wanted Tom to help move the ramp. The Elders Quorum was supposed to provide the muscle at 6:30 that evening. A day earlier than we originally planned for their help. Once the ramp was in place Tom called the Elders Quorum President to come over. He brought his two sons (11 and 9). Kirk came over too. With all that help we were able to unload about half the trailer between 4:30 and 6:30 when more men came by to help.

Heath bought Little Caesars Pizza to feed our new friends. Dawn came with brownies after she was finished taking Grandma Holmes to the eye doctor. We were done unloading the trailer a little after 7:00. The doorbell kept ringing! The sister missionaries came over wanting to help and more men came by. It was strange to have to turn them all away! We did talk to the sisters for a while though.

The Sunday before we moved I was talking to my neighbor Peggy A. She asked if we had a church to go to when we moved. I told her that we did. Then she asked if Heath’s parents were also Mormon. I told her they were. She was happy to know that we would have a church community when we arrived. The sentiment really touched me. I do love that the Mormon community is so prevalent throughout the world. No matter where you go the church is likely there. There are instant friends and always help moving. It really is a comforting thing.

The kids have not gone to bed any earlier than 11:00 pm in days. Last night we couldn’t ignore our congregating neighbors outside any more. I live on Mayberry Street in the 1950’s and I love it! Watching the kids run around playing late into the night was such a summer thing to see.

Today was the first cooler day. It has been in the upper 80’s to low 90’s since we moved in. We chose not to have air conditioning installed because it’s the Northwest. Most of our neighbors don’t have A/C either. The air has been stagnant with no breeze so it has been intensely hot. I thought we left the heat! Heath bought a portable air conditioner on his fourth trip to Lowe’s yesterday. We were melting in our house.

Heath and I will be substituting in Gwen’s Primary class tomorrow and the following Sunday. It is nice to dive right into serving in a new ward. We have been so blessed by the service from our fellow ward members.

The stories will continue to unfold. I hope to be better at recording them.

Jumping Through Hoops for Keys

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Two more days to home ownership. I can’t wait! On Friday Heath and I left early in the morning to jump through a few more hoops for the house.

I had missed thunderstorms in the middle of the night but the rain lasted through most of the day. Have I mentioned how much I love rain! Having a rainy day was no problem at all. A rainy day in the middle of July just makes me happy. Oh how I have missed the rain. Heath has been telling people about the weather in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s simple. It rains from October or November to February or March. The rest of the time it’s sunny. Which is nice but I honestly got bored of it.

We had left early enough to get McDonald’s for breakfast. We went to the McDonald’s by our house. Then we met Jason at our house for a four hour tour. Luckily it ended in four hours and no one was marooned on an island. I loved the house tour. Jason was so easy to talk to and fun to be around. He went through a lot of info about the house – how to care for it and whatnot. I was particularly interested in the cleaning paperwork.

The tour part was mostly to look for any issues and tag them to be fixed before we close on Wednesday. Jason was awesome. He was so meticulous and thorough finding high spots on the walls or spots where paint needed to be touched up. It was like following myself around! I was extra picky coming from OCD cleaning my last house. I noticed so much more than I would have otherwise. Jason found most of the issues before I pointed them out.

I appreciated his attention to detail and the pride he took in his work. I’m back to nervous after talking with some of the neighbors on Saturday night and hearing horror stories of major issues when they moved in. A tub that wasn’t set properly, the washing machine tripping the breaker every time it hit the spin cycle. It had a lock feature so the lady couldn’t even get her clothes out! We heard about shower pipes not even being connected so someone basically watered their crawl space. Crazy stuff like that. I hope that these issues have been anticipated in our house. Our house was the last one built on the street so I guess we’ll see.

After the tour we signed paper after paper with a notary. My sloppy signature is legible enough I had to include an E for my middle initial. I hate signing my name and having to think to add an E was tedious. Writing the correct date turned out to be a bit of an issue too! I accidently wrote 7/16 instead of 7/22/16. I scribbled it out and tried again and still couldn’t get the 22 in there! Of course we both had to initial my idiocy.

That was when the notary said she didn’t want to say anything about people messing up dates. It only jinxes everyone. We were fine for a while until Heath accidently wrote 7/16. He was funny about it. He put the pen back in the jar and grabbed another one. Candy and I laughed because Heath kept saying it was a bad pen. When we were finished we found a bad pen in the parking lot that had been run over it was so bad! The best we could figure was that we kept messing up the date because Parker’s birthday is 7/16/05.

That night we went to see a community theater production of Mary Poppins. It was a cute play put on by teenagers. Gwen abandoned us for her cousins. They had had a rough day so I’m not sure how happy they were to have Gwen there all sunshine and smiles. Dayleen’s dad recently passed away. I had just joined Facebook when I found out and I couldn’t figure out what to say to her to let her know how much my heart was going out to her. Last night Heath and I invited her to our house to scream if she ever needed to. I know how she feels after dealing with three deaths in one year.

The good news was everything was official to get our house. We just needed to give the hoopers time to close it all and give us keys. The plan is to get keys on Wednesday. Jason left us with the impression that we could get them Wednesday morning. When Heath called ABF to get the trailer out to our house he found out we could get it there by Wednesday afternoon. I imagine we will still wait to unload. We already commissioned the Elders Quorum to come help on Thursday evening.

Wednesday will be our prep day. We will seal the tile and countertops. We’re going to Rain-X all the glass in the showers. An Amazon box full of carpet protecting plastic sits in the corner of the living room waiting for us to be able to put it down. We will also try to tape cardboard over the railings so they don’t get dinged by gigantic heavy beds, and carrying up our washer and dryer. The house is so close I can taste it! We can’t wait to movie in.

Vices to Get Through

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This is how I’m getting through this move. Normally I don’t buy my Diet Coke a liter at a time. The gas station didn’t have any smaller bottles. They had smaller Diet Pepsi bottles but that is not the same. Maybe we need to worry that I downed my liter in 90 minutes. True story.

The kids were told they could choose a drink or candy. The boys chose candy while Gwen was excited about some Gwenny sized orange soda. We planned on getting to our hotel as quickly as possible. Gwen needed a rest stop first. She was about to burst. I had just put away a full liter of caffeinated soda and felt fine. I can hold my water. Gwen was dying!

We stopped at the first rest stop we could find after she announced her emergency. When we were back on the road again is when I saw that she hadn’t even finished her drink! She hadn’t even had half of it! That girl has the bladder capacity of a thimble.

Chris came to visit on Monday. She came with two large Diet Cokes from Burger King. I showed up a little later because I was buying some last minute stuff from Home Depot, including Diet Coke! I love Chris. I love so much that she brought us the magic elixir that is helping us get through this move. Carla came to visit at the same time. She didn’t quite understand the importance of the Diet Coke. Chris said that we would visit teach together and then get Diet Cokes. It’s nice to have a partner in crime.

Yesterday was a long day. We got up early so I could not only shower, but do hair and makeup. The plan was to visit some friends in Oregon and get to our house by 3:00 for a walk thru. Seeing the house for the first time was really great. It was also a little overwhelming. So much to see and so many people talking at once. I had sensory overload.

Heath bought us some caffeine free Diet Coke when we went to Fred Meyer last night to buy Parker some pajama shorts. I was melting down a little. Well, kind of a lot. Gavin couldn’t find his phone. The boys were going to sleep outside in the tent trailer so Parker really needed at least a pair of shorts to wear to bed. We were on vacation while not really being on vacation. It was the end of a long day.

Heath bought me a pair of pajama shorts because mine were getting old. They had melted crayon stains and always felt like I was wearing them backwards! So he bought me a pair with Darth Vader saying “Call me the Boss”. Parker really wanted me to get them because he is obsessed with Star Wars right now. I just think Heath spoils me.

Heath worked from his parents’ back deck today. When he finished for the day we escaped to a local grocery store for some Diet Coke. He bought a six pack of bottles for the fridge and some cold ones for the drive home.

Tomorrow we will sign our names until we get carpal tunnel. Just a few more days. It’s like Christmas. We know exactly what we’re getting but we can’t play with any of it yet! In the meantime I am guzzling gallons of Diet Coke. It’s how I’m getting through it all. I credit my “sanity” to all the happy juice.

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to!

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My snuggle monkey is now 11. Parker’s birthday came and went with little acknowledgement. We warned him it would be that way. It’s hard to have a great birthday when you’re moving two days later.

We gave him gifts a whole week early to make up for his not so great birthday. The Gravity Falls book he really wanted wouldn’t be available that early. We got him one book and told him he could get the other one later. He also got some books from Amazon. That wasn’t really related to his birthday. He packed his Kindle and said he had nothing to read. Being the softies we are, we bought him some books to enjoy until we moved in to our new house.

My mom sent birthday cards to the boys with some birthday cash. She went to her post office to hand over the cards in person for delivery. She was a day late on Gavin’s birthday, making her ten days early on Parker’s birthday. Parker’s card arrived on the 12th. I went to my post office to see what happened to Gavin’s card. No one really had an answer for me. When I asked why I didn’t receive any mail I was reminded that I had put in a mail transfer request. Um, you’re holding my mail a week early? What? The supervisor guy went into the back once and handed me a piece of junk mail. We talked in circles some more and he went to the back again. He came back with a handful of normal looking mail. Just no Gavin card.

I left the post office being told that cards are processed by hand and do not go through a machine. Wait and see was the basic sentiment. I was not impressed since it had already been about a week since my mom sent the cards! Even though I was assured my mailman knew to continue delivering our mail until the 18th, we did not get any mail. We meant to go pick it up from the post office on Saturday and didn’t have time. Gavin’s card was delivered that evening. You know, after 5:00. Even though they swear my postman clocks out at 5:00. I have video evidence that says otherwise!

At least Gavin got his birthday gift from my mom. In the meantime, Parker cannot wait to move into our house so he can spend his birthday money! My boys are complete opposites when it comes to money. Gavin never spends his own but has no problem spending our money. Parker just can’t function with any amount of cash in his possession.

Parker also received a birthday gift from his best friend, Paul. Paul’s family had invited us over to celebrate the 4th of July. That’s when he gave Parker a gift. So sweet. Paul has a birthday later in July and was going to have a party on the 30th. I had to break the sad news to his mom that we would be gone by then. Paul was extremely upset that we were leaving. Julie was nice enough to rearrange the entire party for the 6th.

It was an all day deal too. In the morning I took Parker shopping for the perfect Infinity expansion pack that Paul wanted. Parker found a card that nearly had me in tears. It was the perfect sentiment considering the circumstances. We ran a couple more errands then got home in time for a sad raid-the-freezer-and-microwave-it lunch. Then I dropped Parker off at Paul’s house for the rest of the day.

They started out at Rock N Jump. Then they went back to Paul’s place for swimming and pizza. They rounded out the evening with a movie. Julie kept texting asking if Parker could stay longer since they got off schedule. He had the time of his life! Paul had only invited Parker and another friend from school. The boys got along great and had a blast together.

I made sure Parker’s birthday was recognized at church the Sunday before. I didn’t want him to be spotlighted the day after his birthday on his last day in that ward!

It was funny that Parker couldn’t sleep the night before we promised to give him early birthday presents. He still couldn’t sleep the night before his real birthday! We warned him that his birthday would be a bust. He didn’t care. He told us weeks ago that all he wanted for his birthday was a house. We tried to remind him that’s what he wanted and that his birthday would be a bust. He didn’t care.

I love my Parker. He is such a great kid. He worked his tail off all day helping us with random things. He helped his dad take furniture apart and pack things. He helped me pack things and clean. He helped all day long. We were very vocal with our approval. That boy is a lifesaver sometimes with how helpful he is.

A meltdown still happened. Heath and I could not feel worse. It was the world’s crappiest birthday. We warned him it would be. We did our best to make up for it by celebrating early. Saturday came and all ill warnings came true. It still hurt. A lot.

We were on the fence about stopping our progress to see a movie. That was the tipping point. Parker melted down into a puddle of tears buried in his dad’s chest. I took my sobbing boy over to the couch and held him on my lap for a good cry. Heath yelled and growled at the desk components he was trying to take apart. He was very proud that he never said any bad words! When he had beaten the desk into submission, (we both remembered what a pain it was to put together in the first place), he told the kids to get ready for dinner and a movie. Parker sobbed even harder. Every bit of moving stress erupted out at that time.

The movie tickets were purchased first. Then we headed over to On the Border for our very last meal. I was so happy to get one of our regular waiters. We made sure all the OTB staff knew it was Parker’s birthday. At the end of the meal a bunch of wait staff came by screaming and pounding walls OTB birthday style. They yelled out that it was Parker’s birthday! Our waiter set in front of him a huge platter of apple crisp a la mode. He poured caramel sauce on it that bubbled and sizzled on contact.

Luckily they brought out five spoons. There was more dessert there than anyone could eat alone. After dinner we watched The Secret Life of Pets. It was cute. Slow story but riveting enough that I never did fall asleep! All was right with the world once more. My boy had turned 11 and he was happy.

We made it to the cave!

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We are homeless. As of about 3:00 pm yesterday afternoon. Everything sort of happened at once. The movers were still loading our stuff. The Relief Society sisters were finishing up the cleaning party. The landlord showed up for the final walk thru. It was awkward and the strangest ending to the longest day.

The landlord asked for our keys before he was even finished wandering around. Want us out much? He asked when we could get all the garbage out. Then he asked us to lock up the house when we left. Hmm. Dude, you got all our keys and the garage door openers. You lock up!

We stuffed our kids into the very full van and made them hold garbage on their laps since there was nowhere else to put it. We drove up the Road to Nowhere for the last time. Instead of driving up to the light, we turned into the park in search of a dumpster. This time it wasn’t the dead of night. We were in light colored clothing dumping our contraband in broad daylight.

Heath had told Ron and Margo about our late night run to the dumpster a few days earlier. Ron said that we weren’t the first ones to do that. I’m sure not. But the recycle truck left us no choice. Who goes to all the trouble of removing large cardboard boxes standing tall and at attention, only to leave them on the grass? Between that idiocy and the passive aggressive mailman saga continuing with him holding our mail a week early! I was not in the best of moods. I no longer felt any spec of remorse with secretly dumping all kinds of fun stuff in a dumpster in the park in the dead of night.

This time around was full of as much desperation. The movers had fizzled out by the end, adding two hours to the four we planned on paying for. They quickly lost their tip. Especially when they were packing so tightly and well that we thought we could save space on the trailer and they finished off with us gaining space. Ugh. So when we had to literally carry out garbage and items we expected people to take for us, we stopped caring. Extra packing supplies and all went straight into the dumpster. Ironically it was the dumpster near the playground closest to our house. Yes we drove two miles to get to a dumpster ten or so houses from where we used to live. What are you going to do?

There are so many stories to share. I’m not sure where to begin. Maybe I won’t today. We reached out to Paula, our home builder contact, to let her know we wanted to swing by the house tomorrow on our way through town. She agreed to meet us at the house and let us walk through. I am so excited! We still have our 2-4 hour tour scheduled for Friday. The kids can see the house tomorrow. I think we’re having a big party tomorrow with Heath’s parents and Aunt Chris and Uncle Charlie joining. I can’t wait! Who buys a house sight unseen? Only us!

I think we have officially made it to the cave. On Sunday Gwen said, “We made it to the bathrooms! Tomorrow we will be at the entrance to the cave!” Driving has been the easy part. I’m on pins and needles for the walk back up to the bathrooms. Then again, maybe not every cave hiking metaphor will manifest itself.

Tell them Mike Sent You

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Saying goodbye is hard to do. Especially real goodbyes. It’s not like I’m dying or anything. After all, I did join Facebook in order to keep in touch with friends. Still, I’m leaving.

Yesterday I had a wonderful long lunch with the Primary presidency that was just lovely. I would post the pictures here but I still believe in the Bogeyman and I don’t want him to know so easily where I live! I love the women in Primary I work with. They are so wonderful.

Being the secretary hasn’t been my favorite. It took a lot of time to get used to my responsibilities. None of it came easily to me but I have gotten better over time. I will miss the people more than anything. Last Sunday I was knocking on doors with my buddy. The president saw him race through the halls for the door around the corner. She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said I was going to miss him. Yes I will! I love that boy! He is my pet.

Today I went to a pool party for visiting teaching. The kids had a lot of fun splashing in the pool while we women sat around talking. My friend Vicki is feeling a little abandoned. Both her visiting teachers are moving and her neighbor across the street is also moving. The other sister we visit teach is also moving. Poor Vicki was probably tired of being reminded of how the ward is rapidly emptying out. Yesterday the presidency counted about 15 or 16 kids that are moving out of Nursery and Primary. That is significant loss!

At the end of the pool party Pei-Ting hugged everyone with individual words of encouragement and love for each of us. Vicki almost sounded angry as she tried to put on a brave face to say goodbye. Her words were, “I refuse to think of you moving. I will see you on Sunday.” Chris more or less had the same sentiment. She said she would see me on Sunday and she would visit me on Monday before we leave. No need for real goodbyes yet.

Part of me wants to stay home on Sunday. Not go to church. My heart has been ripped out every Sunday these last couple of weeks. I see everyone and I realize how much I will miss this ward. Up until now I have been all smiles. I think this Sunday my smile will crack and I may leak a little.

I almost leaked a little at lunch today. We went to Chili’s to see Mike one last time. We haven’t seen him since the last day of school when we asked him and his wife to pray for us. He knew we were coming in one last time with the kids. He was afraid he had missed us since it had been so long.

Lunch was great. Mike was fabulous as usual. Instead of a steady stream of two mugs, he would bring three mugs to the table every time. Two Diet Cokes and a Sprite for Gavin. The manager came by at one point. Mike has introduced us to him before. I love Mike. He can’t say enough nice things about any of the Chili’s staff. Same thing today.

Mike walked away to take care of his other tables and Sergio, the manager, stayed behind to talk to us for a minute. He asked us about our move. Was it a job change? Those types of questions. We talked to him for a minute. Then he shook Heath’s hand and reached out to shake my hand as well. He wished us luck in our move.

I didn’t think anything of it. What a nice guy was as far as my thoughts went. A few minutes later Mike came by again and told us to ask for Sergio when we were ready to leave. He went on and on about what a great Christian Sergio was.

“He’s a believer too. He doubts a lot but he’s a believer. He fell in love with your family and has paid for your meal.”

I have never felt more stunned or humbled at the same time. I have never had anyone pay for my meal like that. He wanted to pay for our whole family. What a blessing to know people who exhibit the best of humanity. The only way we knew to pay it forward was to give Mike a generous tip as we left. He gave both me and Heath a hug and wished us well.

Earlier in the meal he came by to say he didn’t think he had big enough to go cups to get us all the way to Seattle. Maybe a town just down the road but not all the way to Seattle! He suggested we stop off at every Chili’s along our route to refill our to go cups. “Just tell them Mike sent you!”

There is so much I am ready to leave behind. Those things prove to me that the time is right to move. We are ready. But I will miss so much all the people we have grown to love here.

Is that a scuff mark on my soul?

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I sat on the stairs of my new home, a pair of pliers in hand. I pulled staple after staple. It was depressing work especially when I could see people working on more exciting demo projects. I would have loved to hammer the tile. Or at least scoop it up.

Peeling wallpaper was another job I could do. Wallpaper and staple removal were about all I could do in that house. Modified bed rest during pregnancy is hard enough. Buying a fixer upper house while on modified bed rest is torture.

I did the best I could with the few jobs I could help with. My pride never hurt so much as it did when the carpet layers essentially told me I had wasted my time with the staples. They said all we really needed to do was hammer in the staples flush with the stairs. Great, I got carpal tunnel for this?

My fingers are sore from scrubbing all morning. I have scrubbed baseboards, doors, windowsills, and mopped floors. That was just the laundry room. It’s not like I am even scrubbing off nine years of dust and grime either. I have attacked that laundry room many times. It still took hours.

Heath rescued me when he saw me scrubbing the wall and baseboards by the stairs again. I have problems. The extreme perfectionism I suffer from gets a little ridiculous when I clean. Once I start I can’t stop. I work until my blood sugar drops too low or Heath rescues me. He was a little annoyed because I had already spent hours on the stairs a couple days ago.

Scuff marks taunt me. Nine years, I tell myself. Nine years with young children growing up in this house. I find myself scrubbing harder. I have learned that if you are patient enough and scrub hard enough, one of two things will happen. The mark will disappear or the paint will come off. Even with mild soapy water. I have problems.

The worst spots on the walls seem to be right where the texture is the most intense. It’s not like I haven’t been a good housekeeper over the years either. I have! I just can’t stop nitpicking when I know our deposit is at stake. I know more likely than not we won’t get our deposit back regardless of me scrubbing my fingers to the bone. I still have to try.

It’s strange prepping a rental house for a move. I have scrubbed this hard in apartments that I lived in for much less time. Not surprisingly I got the full deposit back. This is a house though. That we have raised our kids in for nine long years. I didn’t clean this meticulously when we sold that first fixer upper after four years of occupying it.

Selling a home is different from walking away from a rental. I look at this house that we have lived in for a significant period of time and think it just needs to be repainted. If it were my home I would repaint baseboards in a heartbeat. That’s the only way those scuff marks will ever go away.

I would do a better job painting too. The more I clean the more original mistakes I see. Drip marks, sides of door frames that never got the second coat they needed, knots in the boards, paint bleeding onto the walls or wall paint bleeding onto the baseboards. I know. I need to stop. Someone else’s work is not my problem. But it’s not perfect so it is my problem!

I don’t know if they are selling the home or renting it out. There are a lot of unfinished projects the handyman will finally have to finish though. In the meantime I am killing myself scrubbing because I can’t seem to stop. The worst part of all this is cleaning rooms we still need to use!

Heath joked that the Relief Society sisters will come in and wonder why we need help cleaning! That’s the hope. No, I do need help. I can’t get behind some places until things are moved. Like the refrigerator, the washer and dryer, some of the heavy furniture. My conscience won’t let me not keep working until this place sparkles. That and the promise of Diet Coke. I work for simple pleasures.

Where Have the Years Gone?

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My Gavin is officially a teenager. Yesterday he was a 12 year old boy and today he is a 13 year old man. He is taller than me, is starting to grow facial hair, and is a great kid.

He woke up on his own this morning and got in the shower before I was ready to emerge from my own comfy bed. He even fixed himself breakfast without being asked. All the kids are self sufficient with breakfast. They sometimes have to be reminded to eat when they sleep in. He said he decided to do all of that because he is 13 now.

I can’t believe I’m old enough to have a teenager. This is a new phase of parenting for me. It’s kind of exciting that all three kids are entering adolescence at the same time. It’s also quite scary too. Last week while Gavin was at Scout Camp, I took the other two kids to the doctor for their well child checkups. Gwen should have gone around her birthday but I got busy and forgot. Parker hasn’t been for a couple years so I figured we could fit it in before we moved.

Gwen is becoming a little woman, much to her father’s dismay. Have the gun control laws made it harder for fathers to protect their daughters? Two days later I took Parker to the doctor. The doctor made a big deal out of Parker reaching that next stage. He suggested that Parker announce to his father that he is becoming a man. It’s been a big thing in our family for days now. Parker still can’t say the words with a straight face though!

With the craziness of this move, the boys aren’t going to have very exciting birthdays. On Saturday we took Gavin to Best Buy. We told him we wanted to get him the Madden 17 game. It won’t be out for a while though. We let him shop and decide what he wanted for his birthday.

My only fiscally responsible child decided he didn’t want anything. He wasn’t sure he really wanted the Madden 17 game and he wasn’t interested in anything else the store had to offer. Heath and I convinced him to take his time. Research what he wanted before spending the money. He was fine with that. Although I better make sure he does something with the gift card. Gavin has a tendency to forget about money. It never burns a hole in his pocket. I’m more likely to accidently wash it.

We went out for lunch at a Philly cheese steak shop. It’s a place Heath and I have loved going to when the kids were at school. The kids weren’t so sure. I think they decided it wasn’t as bad as they thought. Gavin ordered a King of Philly, which is a very large sandwich. He struggled to finish it! Finally the kid was full! It was a birthday miracle!

For dinner we are having spaghetti because it’s Gavin’s favorite food. He doesn’t really care to go out to eat. He loves homemade food and spaghetti is his all time favorite. I love that when he was talking to my mom he told her that we weren’t going out for dinner. “Dad says we have to save money and stuff.” That’s partly true. But way to miss the point kid! We are having spaghetti because it’s your favorite.

Parker worked really hard on a Lego creation for Gavin last week. He creatively wrapped it in a toy bin with paper taped to the top that read: “To Gavin from Parker Do Not Shake!” I love the creativity involved with a special homemade gift.

Gavin is very creative too. He signed up for the rifle shooting merit badge at camp. The boys were supposed to hit a target a certain number of times within a small distance. I guess the first day Gavin didn’t qualify. I don’t know if they ran out of time or what the story was. He was going to have another chance on the last day.

The night before he said he was sitting around the campfire and noticed something fall into his lap. It was the lens from his glasses. The pin had fallen out causing the lens to pop out of his frames. I had the same problem about the same time which is kind of funny. Gavin kept the lens in a safe place and walked around with only one corrective lens in his glasses.

He wasn’t sure what to do about the rifle shooting. You’re supposed to aim with your dominant eye but that was the lens that was missing. So he turned his glasses upside down to shoot! He qualified for the merit badge. We have seen his target paper and his shots are very close together. Nice shooting!

Happy birthday Gavin! We are so grateful you are part of our family. We missed you like crazy last week when you were camping. We love you so much! I’m sorry I was the only one to get presents on your birthday. A new insulin pump, glucometer, and new supplies isn’t much of a present though.

One Grain of Sand

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I was talking to a friend recently. She wondered if God really remembered her. “I’m just one grain of sand.” I assured her that He remembers her. He knows her name. He knows the desires of her heart. And I promised her that her miracle will happen.

She had been praying about something for quite some time. The more she talked about the journey and how it has humbled her family, the more I could see that the Lord, in His wisdom, was teaching them. She told me that on one of her many trips to the temple she felt the impression that she would receive a miracle.

I have had my own experiences with feeling those impressions in the temple. On one such occasion I had the thought that I would get my miracle. It would come in a way I would least expect it, but I would get my miracle. Two days later I was floored by the crazy circumstances that led to my miracle. He knows. He is in charge. We just have to trust Him.

God loves all of His children. He remembers each and every one.

Friends of ours found out they got the home they were hoping to move to. They have a few weeks to move from their apartment to the larger home before their lease is up. They are excited because they are only changing their address. They will be in the same schools and the same ward congregation. The community they love will not change.

Another friend is expecting. She has travailed through the lonely trail of infertility and miscarriage. After much fasting and prayer her greatest dreams are coming true. There may be an amazing story there that I don’t know about. All I know is this is something she and her husband have wanted for years. When she told me the happy news I got goosebumps.

I found out that another family is moving to Utah. It was interesting talking to him about it. He said that they look back and realize living here was not about them. It was for his sister in law. She needed help establishing herself here as she started her business. I wondered what would happen to her. She has built a great clientele and it would probably be silly for her to leave at this point. He told me she moved out several weeks ago. She reached the point where she was financially able to go out on her own. She will stay while they leave. God obviously had His hand all over this one!

My favorite story involves prayers, furniture, and Facebook. Signing up for Facebook was a big deal for me.  When the thought occurred to me to advertise my things there I thought maybe it was meant to be that I sign up at this time. Just before I left for church I checked my phone for messages. Any last minute changes in Primary that I needed to know about before I walked out the door.

Instead it was a Facebook comment. It very simply said, “We will come get them.” This was in response to the photo I posted of my living room furniture.

The story about giving away the furniture is interesting too. Heath tried to talk me into giving it away before we moved here. I flat out refused. He tried to tell me that we may not find a home with both a living room and family room so why not get rid of the extra furniture ahead of time. No. I wouldn’t do it. I loved that whole furniture set. I would not compromise. Gratefully the home we moved to had both a living room and family room. My furniture was safe.

Yesterday he tentatively suggested I consider giving away my living room furniture. He wasn’t sure how I would react. To his surprise, I said I would be fine with that. It felt like it was time. He promised me new furniture when we got to our new house. He promised me double the price we originally paid. I was fine with it. I hated to see my stuff go because I have loved it so much. But it was time and I was okay with it.

Someone contacted me about picking up the bookcases and she wanted the living room lamps as well. I commented on my own Facebook posts updating the status of the items I had advertised. For the living room post I just said the lamps had found a new home but the rest of the furniture was still available.

Circle back to the comment this morning. “We will come get them.” I will admit I thought she must have misunderstood. She must have only wanted the lamps or something. Not the whole furniture set. It couldn’t be true, right?

Heath was walking down the hall towards me and the kids as we walked in the door. Way before he got to us he said, “Our living room furniture is gone!” Chills and goosebumps all over again. He had been talking to the lady who commented that she wanted it.

She was so excited about the furniture and so stunned we were giving it all away that she asked him for a hug. After Sacrament Meeting she hugged me too. Actually just before the meeting started she waved at me with a huge grin on her face. I mouthed the words, “I love you!” Because when I make a decision I expect execution. The fact that she wants this furniture will probably save us $200 in space on the moving truck.

She and her family recently moved here. They have been using camping chairs and other outdoor furniture in their living room. The best part is we have a similar taste in furnishings. She loved everything about the furniture down to the shape of the couches. That was always my favorite part too.

This story is a real life example of what I used to tell the young women I taught years ago. “If it’s important to you, it’s important to Him!” The Lord wants us to be happy. So much so that He will orchestrate events like this. These are not mere coincidences. This is the hand of the Lord blessing the lives of His children. He chooses most often to bless His children’s lives through other people.

Does He remember you? I promise He does! When you have those moments of doubt and think He can’t possibly remember you because you’re only a grain of sand on the beach, remember this. He knows you. He knows what exactly what you are going through. He experienced it all when He atoned for you. He knows and He cares. More than you will ever know.

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