Sunday, December 16, 2007

Picture (almost) perfect!

Here they are. The three Houghlings. In their Sunday best around the Christmas tree in our big new living room! You probably noticed how the right side of the tree in the picture is a little sparse on ornaments. Yeah...that would be Ms. Karcyn's doing. Oh well.
With smiles like those, you have to wonder how these three could ever get in trouble.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

Sat. December 8th, we had the unique opportunity of finding and cutting down our own Christmas tree this year. This is only the third tree (and Christmas) out of 11 we've had at home. Fortunately it wasn't raining and it didn't take too long to find one we liked. The branches were so low to the ground, however, that Jared had a tad bit of trouble sawing through the thick base of the trunk. Sensing this, Jake eventually said "Dad, why don't you let me help?" I assured Jake that though his offer was appreciated, if Dad was having some difficulty, Jake surely would too.
Shortly after, Jared managed to saw right through and bring that tree down. That's when Jared gave the boys a chance to saw on the tree trunk themselves. Both Jake and Cooper decided that was really hard work and Dad did a good job after all!

We hauled the tree back to where we started to pay for it and got it shaken (that was a first for me!) and watched it move "Mr. Incredible style" through a binding machine. (They really had to SHOVE it through the opening). Two hours after our start time and four days after moving in, we had a Christmas tree at our new house. Well, on our porch. Only to discover that the base was too big for our tree stand. Drats! That's when we got to meet our new Bishop who lives just a few streets down from us and ask to borrow his saw so we could literally trim our tree. Surely he's had stranger requests than that....

Sunday, December 2, 2007

What's that white stuff??

Sat. December 1st began the first big moving day for us--the garage and all packed boxes/bins. I was in the garage while Jared took the first load over around 9:30am when big white snowflakes started falling from the sky. Having lived with snow most my life, I tend to think it's a little overrated (you don't have to shovel rain). But here in the northwest, it's not a very common thing to get it and I was surprised by my awe as the snow came down and the quiet stillness around me. It really was beautiful. The snow didn't stick of course, but watching it fall was lovely.

I went inside to tell the kids and found Karcyn's nose already pasted to the back door. I'm sure she was wondering "what's that white stuff?" She was too little last year to remember our drive to Utah for the holidays. So I took her outside for a little introduction. Karcyn, this is snow. Snow, this is Karcyn. She seemed to like it though she kept her head down at first trying to avoid direct contact with her face. Discovering we'd be out there more than a couple minutes, I wrestled on her marshmallow coat (which she hates) and we played and watched for a little longer. The mysterious white stuff didn't last very long, but even I appreciated the little December treat.

It's a Hough!

True to Hough form, the tradition continues. Baby #4 is a boy. (I knew we were having a boy. I even wore blue from head to toe the day of the ultrasound to prove my point. Actually, I figured all our kids would be boys because that's what these Hough men tend to do...produce boys!) It's exciting to finally know the gender of the baby, but I'll tell ya, I've been very surprised by how many people are almost sympathetic for us because we didn't get another girl. Sure, it would have been convenient to have a girl for the sake of bedrooms and decorating purposes. But we had another baby to have another Hough, regardless of its gender. Prior to the ultrasound, Jake and Cooper admitted they were hoping for a girl. But as soon as we told them it was a boy, they cheered with delight. In fact, Cooper was so thrilled, he cheered so much he almost fell off the top bunk. I had no doubt they'd love their baby brother as soon as they laid eyes on him, but until that moment came, I was grateful for their open excitement at the early news.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Vader and Spidey and Pig, Oh My!

For the 6th year in a row, Halloween night was spent at our ward's Trunk or Treat...the greatest Halloween invention in my opinion. Our kids will never need to go door to door to Trick or Treat. Their buckets were FULL...just short of overflowing when they returned less than 30 minutes later. This was Karcyn's first year out on her own. But she just ran around and squealed with pleasure her curly tail bobbing behind her while Jared attempted to corral her. Jake, er, Darth Vader, happily filled her bucket for her. I heard Spidey left Vader in his dust, making his own fortune for himself even though they were supposed to stay together!

Miracles Do Happen

Here's the long and short of it. We've been doing research and getting ready for the home buying process since February, when we contacted a lender and agent. We weren't planning on buying a home for a couple years with the market such as it is (for those of you NOT in the Portland area, the market here has stalled, but hasn't hit rock bottom and maybe never will). It has been frustrating for us as first time buyers. No equity, no substantial down payment, a nice student loan payment and a decent salary. All those factors aren't a good combination. Or aren't good enough. It was especially hard to think about how much these homes were priced at 3-5 years ago. Regardless, we wanted to be prepared and ready because we knew it would only take one desperate seller and/or the right time of year (I feel guilty to think that we were hoping for another's misfortune! But not guilty enough I guess.)

We were locked into a year lease until August. After that it went month to month. We kept an eye on the market and spoke periodically with our agent, Cari, about what was happening. We didn't physically start looking at houses til the end of August, first of September. Only because we figured that was the best chance to find some deals, if they existed.

Working around Jared's work schedule and Jake's school schedule and lugging the kids with us every time we looked at a house was totally draining. I don't think we really saw more than a dozen homes, but it felt like triple that. And we didn't HAVE to move. How do people, who are under the gun, find a house in just a week or weekend? In fact, just a few days before we saw this house (pictured above), I told Jared I was done. I was tired of looking at homes. I just wanted to stay where we were and save money while paying down debt. All the decent homes are only 1200 sq. ft. (which is the size of the rental we're currently in) and though we went back and forth on the issue, we finally decided it wasn't worth stretching ourselves thin for a house that size. All the homes we saw over 1500 sq. ft. were dumps...dives. No joke. IF they were structurally sound to begin with, we would have had to rip up the carpet, maybe the sub flooring and put new carpet in and new paint just to get "smells" out before moving in. Even the kids couldn't stomach some of the smells. When we drove past this house and decided the neighborhood seemed decent enough to actually take a look inside, I was skeptical. I told Jared on the way over "I have no hopes for this house." Boy, was I ever wrong. Not only was it big (well, big to us), but move in ready. One of my few stipulations. I almost couldn't believe it. We saw it the morning of Thurs. Oct. 25th. Of course it was priced at $249,000, the very tippy top of our pre-approval range, that of course we couldn't afford, but we couldn't ignore it's condition and space for the price. (Just to give you an idea for price comparison...a house on our street right now is 1400 sq. ft. and priced at $276,900--3 bed, 2 bath). So we decided to look at it again that night, without the kids and see how we felt about it then. We still liked it. The sellers had relocated to AZ and the house had only been on the market a month. Cari thinks it hadn't sold yet because the backyard butts up to a busy street. Our rental now butts up to a lesser busy street, but there's a high school across the street and that hasn't bothered us.

So even though it was too expensive, we decided we had nothing to lose. Saturday morning, the 27th, we put in our offer. Our agent thought it was a reasonably low offer. Not a low ball, but low enough to give us some room to negotiate up. We were having to work through a relocation company which requires more paperwork than normal and is often slower than other situations. We didn't expect their counter offer til Tues. or Wed. of the next week. Later Saturday night as we were getting ready for bed, my cell phone rang. It was Cari. As I answered I was thinking "shoot, did we forget to sign something" or worse "the sellers totally rejected the offer". I missed the first part of what she said but she eventually announced "They accepted your offer!" Holy Schnikey!!!! In three days we saw a house, put an offer on it and it was accepted with no counter. We were all stunned. Cari insists we have "good vibes" but we know better than that! We feel so blessed. We had the inspection this past Thursday morning and as inspections go (even though this was our first) I think it went well. Nothing major came up to keep us from wanting the house. Our lender doesn't foresee any problems getting approved for a home loan (even with the new restrictions) so we're gearing up for a closing date of November 29th and moving over in December! Our heads are still spinning....

Waiting for Brother

Cooper's birthday was Sunday, Oct. 21st. He got his birthday crown from preschool on Tuesday. Like most days, Cooper can't wait til Jake comes home on the bus. He often asks me as soon as 12:30 if he can go wait for Jake. I try to explain that Jake won't be home til 2:30 and I'll let him know when he can go out. Sometimes I'm met with resistance. Sometimes it's okay. I let him go out a little early on this afternoon. He promised he'd sit by the stop sign. I love the fall colors of the trees on our street in this picture. But more than that, I love that Cooper can't wait to see his brother again.

The Big Five

That's right, Folks. Cooper actually made it to year five. We did have our doubts. Several of them actually. But our lives would be pretty dull without this ball of charisma we call Coop.

The requested theme for the year: a space party. So we invited his friends to come on the "Cooper5 Mission to Space." We prepared for our mission by playing space bingo and making space gorp. Then we watched a real shuttle launch that took us into space. We landed on the moon and searched for moon rocks (in the backyard) with capture capsules (cups) and specimen pinchers (tongs). After we returned to earth we made sure we enjoyed some rocket cake. A successful mission, I think!

The Pumpkin Patch

This was our first trip to a real pumpkin patch as a family (at least that I recall...sad, I know, on both counts) to get our pumpkins for Halloween. It was a beautiful autumn day...not only was it NOT raining, but the sun was shining.
Karcyn had one heck of a time navigating the uneven terrain. But she was happy to roam free. And we were happy to let her roam.

We visited Lake View Farms in North Plains, OR. You have the option to ride the train out to the patch and take the boat back or vice versa. We took the train out and after giving them a choice, the boys opted to take the train back too. So we didn't get to experience the spooky lake on the paddle boat. Perhaps next year. Although, there's always the Roloff Farm (as in the show "Little People, Big World" on TLC) not far from here. And I heard there's a fun patch in Canby, OR. Too many patches, so little autumns!

Chalk Art Contest

Jake decided he wanted to enter his school's chalk art contest held on Oct. 5th. His theme for the night was the "Ladd Acres Astros". It was really cold outside under that covered play area, but he never once complained. Jake loves to draw, but I think he discovered it's one thing to draw with a pencil and quite another to draw with a thick piece of chalk in a space larger than yourself.
The judges gave one award per grade level. The only other second grader Jake recognized was his friend Jake. His friend is not only in his class at school, but in Primary as well. Turns out the other Jake won! I was proud of MY Jake though, even beyond his art. He handled his loss well. Two great lessons were learned to be a good loser and how to lose to your friend....the latter being the hardest, I think!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hough and Puff

Today the whole family participated in the Seventh Annual Run and Walk for Sight in Forest Grove, OR. Jared and Jenn ran the 5K last year, hoping to improve their times this year. Jenn was planning to run it today, but thought it was the previous weekend when she was in AZ visiting her sister and consequently quit training for it long ago. It worked out though because we wanted the boys to be able to join us too, so Jared ran while Jenn pushed Karcyn (and Cooper most the way) and Jake walked (and ran) the course himself. Jenn did the 3.1 miles in 50 minutes (remember, she was pushing about 60 lbs of kids in a stroller!) At least three of us were huffing and puffing by the end. Jared shaved more than 5 minutes off his running time last year at 31.26. Go Jared "Hugh" (which is how his name was pronounced when he was awarded a 3rd place ribbon for his age group). We hope to make this an annual tradition for our family. Oh, and Cooper was mad because his raffle ticket number wasn't called, naturally.

Moving Up!

Karcyn has arrived! She's an official member of the Reedville Ward Nursery! She went in and never looked back. We're not sure who is more excited about this most important rite of passage...Karcyn or her parents!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Flying Solo

A week ago Thursday, I found myself being dropped off at the airport with just two bags. It was a quick transition, less than 90 seconds. No hording the curb space while unloading. No unbuckling of car seats. No counting heads and double checking tickets while digging out my ID. No balancing act with the diaper bag, blankets, car seats or carry ons in my arms and hands. I was flying alone. How easy it was to glide through the revolving entrance door not having to hold kids back while trying to time our movement just right. How easy it was to walk right up to the ticket counter and check my bags. No corraling kids, no disciplining repeatedly for playing with the retractable dividers or climbing on the baggage scale. No pacifying a tired young one. How easy it was to go through security and plop my one bag on the belt and my cell phone in a bowl. No stroller to break down, no blanket to pry from little fingers, no laptop to dig out, no more than one pair of shoes to remove and replace. On the other side of security I discovered I had an hour before my flight would be boarding. I wandered in and out of stores. I leisurely found a place to grab dinner that didn't have "kids meals" anywhere on the menu. I even sat at a table and read a book while I ate. And yet, I was restless. Why did I keep looking over my shoulder and around me? Why did I feel like I was forgetting something? I became anxious at the gate and was relieved when it was time to board. It was a breeze finding a seat, stowing my one bag and settling in for the flight. No car seats to awkwardly maneuver down the narrow ailse to avoid konking unsuspecting passengers in the head as I found my seat, only to bump them with my big diaper bag instead. No last minute runs against the flow of traffic to the one-half-of-a-person sized bathroom with two young children. No snacks or distractions to dig out from the bottom of the diaper bag. No sippy cups to spike with Benadryl. No squirmy toddler to hold in a vice grip in my lap. No negotiations of who gets the window seat. No eyes bright with excitement in anticipation of take off and flight. As we took off and left Portland behind us, silly tears tried to sneak up on me. And that's when it hit me. I hadn't flown solo in over a decade! No wonder I felt unsettled. I had forgotten what it was like. As much as I was looking forward to flying alone, I was surprised by the irony that I didn't enjoy the easy trip like I had anticipated. WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME? I guess flying by myself and without kids just isn't my style anymore. Although...I have no doubt my tune will change next summer when we pile the six of us in some Boeing 740-something for a hopeful trip to Alaska. And...I'm pretty sure, before we even hit security, I'll be wishing for someone to put Benadryl in MY juice!

Monday, September 3, 2007


So...we don't know what we're doing...but we just created a blog. Nothing against blog lovers or their creations ('cause we love viewing the updates), we just weren't convinced that WE needed one, compounded by the fact that we had NO CLUE how to create one. However, with the encouragement and tech support of our special friend Cortney (who is partly responsible for getting me and Jared together at Ricks), here is our attempt. We recently went on our first ever Hough Family camping trip to Wallowa Lake, Oregon and hope that this blog will be a vehicle for sharing those pictures. Brace yourself, there may even be a slideshow to come! This blog is especially done with my parents in mind who are living in L'viv, Ukraine with very S...L...O...W and sensitive internet connections.
from Oregon
P.S. Thanks again, Cort!

Wallowa Lake, Oregon