Monday, December 29, 2014

Tis the Season

Just sharing some holiday cheer and documenting memories from Christmases past.

Reminiscing about favorite Christmas memories on Christmas Eve, Jared and I both thought of Christmas 1996. We were engaged but each of us went home to be with our families. What I didn't know is that Jared had already conspired with my parents and best friend, Kellie, to fly up to Alaska from Illinois to surprise me for Christmas and stay through New Year's. I was floored to see him sitting in my living room after (conveniently) returning to the house with my mom after some errands. It was so fun!! (Everything is so much fun with Jared around!) Jared, however, got a special taste of Alaska in the dead of winter...which was a complete 180 from when he was there visiting with his parents in July :)

In 2005, my parents were on a mission in Salt Lake City. Jared had been on medical rotations and consequently, away from our Forest Grove, OR home for 4 months. Much to our delight, we were able to have a lovely Christmas with Jared and my parents (who were able to sneak away) that year. On Christmas morning, someone handed me a big box wrapped in red paper. It was from Jared. Upon closer inspection, however, I realized the wrapping paper said "Happy Birthday" on it, not "Merry Christmas." I was a little confused, as I was the pregnant one, losing brain cells, not him. I looked at him with a funny expression and in mocked defense, Jared explained, " looked Christmas-y when I grabbed it. I realized it wasn't when I was finished but there was no way I was unwrapping and rewrapping it again."

One Sunday in December 2012, Jake was asked to play the opening song in Priesthood meeting. This was one of his first times playing the piano with just the men in church. As one of the Bishopric members, Jared was on the stand sitting next to Bishop Nelson. It was time for the opening song and Jake starts pounding out a simplified version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Bishop Nelson leaned over to Jared and asked, "This is a Christmas song?" Jared chuckled and responded, "It is now!" They got a good laugh over it. Jake said he had been asked to play in Priesthood last minute and that song was the only one he felt comfortable playing as accompaniment on the spur of the moment. Jake's come a long way in two years as he's since accompanied for the band in school and special musical numbers in Sacrament meeting.

Last year, instead of putting his dirty socks where they belonged (at least in his room if not in the dirty clothes hamper), I would periodically find one of Calvin's socks adorning our tree here:


and here--slowly making its way to the top of the tree.

As if that wasn't enough Merry Calvin Cheer, I found some of my decorations had been tampered with. Not sure what happened to the poor snowman, but this has Calvin written all over it. He thinks it's hysterical.

Last year I got a that wouldn't completely freak me out if the kids touched it. I've never really had the money for one, or the space. But a friend of mine shared that her kids always put the figures in a circle with the Baby Jesus in the middle after she sets it out. I thought that was so cool and wanted to see if my kids would do the same. They did! I don't mind this kind of tampering :)

I even caught them in the act this year!

This is CATZILLA in Oregon who wiped out the poor unsuspecting Nativity characters in one fell swoop.

Calvin has tampered with not only decorations, but Christmas pictures as well. Last year, Karcyn made me this Nativity card.
The majority of my Christmas decorations in the new house this year consisted of the children's artwork and pictures they've made in school, church and on their own over the years. A couple of weeks ago, I heard Karcyn scream, "CALVIN! You gave them TWO eyes!!" She was standing in front of her Nativity picture that was on the wall. Calvin calmly (and I would add smugly) replied, "They're supposed to have two eyes." Karcyn exclaimed, "Not when they're facing baby Jesus. All you see is one eye on the side of their faces!!" Calvin didn't say a word. Just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Upon spying a one-eyed Nativity, he took it upon himself to right this terrible wrong and gave every member of the Nativity two eyes...and in black ink on a picture that was done in colored pencil, no less (a detail that didn't escape Karcyn's own eyes)!
A highlight these last couple of years, has been attending Karcyn's dance recital. Seriously, the best! It was such a delightful treat to see her perform. Heidi Ball and her mom are amazing! We miss Heidi's Creative Dance! These pictures are from "Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice"--Dec. 2013.

"Christmas Syrup"

"Hot Chocolate"

"Latin Christmas"


"Music Box"

"Candy Man"

On Saturday, Dec. 20th, Calvin finally pulled his out his crooked snaggle tooth and we all started to sing: "All I want for Chrith-math are my two front teef!"

Bo-ho-holing then (2013)

Bo-ho-holing now (2014)


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Selling Rosa Drive

A couple funny things about the offer on our house. It wasn't until the buyers accepted our offer that I noticed two items. #1) They wanted our washer and dryer to stay. Part of me was okay with that. They are 12 years old and while they still work, are on the downside of their lifetime. I would love a bigger and more efficient washer and dryer set. But I did not budget $3000 for them into our moving fund. And #2) The buyers wanted to close on Fri. June 20th. I actually saw the date they wanted to close on when we gave our counter offer, but it wasn't until after they already accepted that it dawned on me that we should have countered to push it back a week. We wouldn't be able to leave until the 27th because of Jared's work schedule. I mentioned it to our realtor Cari and she said she'd call their realtor to see about moving it back. No biggie. Except that THEY were wondering if they could move the closing UP a week because they had a trip to take. Ha ha. Uh, no. The 20th it is. That would leave us a week without a place to live, but for some reason...after going through what I did trying to find temporary housing in Texas, this didn't even phase me.

The next big step in selling our house was the home inspection. This made me more nervous than anything. We're talking about a 40 year old house--and although in pretty good condition, is still 40 years old. The roof was brand new and the siding was good but it's the things you can't see in the walls and in the attic or the crawlspace that had me worried.

I admit, I did not read the 68+ page home inspection report when it came back. I was only interested in what the buyers wanted us to do.

Cari, told us right away to just ignore the $7500 credit the sellers wanted (in addition to the $3000 in closing costs) for the removal of the popcorn ceiling and replacement of the 30 year old pipes. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen. If they don't want old pipes or popcorn ceiling they can buy a newer home.

Corrective action requested by buyer:
hire professional duct cleaner to clean air ducts and dryer vent
hire professional masonry contractor to repair and replace mortar on chimney
hire professional contractor to
       install carbon monoxide detectors
       repair or adjust the kitchen fan vent pipe to properly vent to exterior of house
       repair foundation vent screens
       install a back-flow valve to low point drain in crawl space
       repair downspout on corner of house
       repair damaged roof overhangs and eaves
       repair leaking hallway bathroom faucet valve and laundry room stub-out and shut off
       repair/replace nails/fasteners on roof to proper installation
       replace step flashing termination on roof

Is it bad when we don't know what half these things mean?? I was actually surprised not to see that the hot water heater needed to be secured to the garage wall in case of an earthquake because that was something that came up on our inspection when we bought the house. We let it slide and then never had it taken care of ourselves. Oops.

Our philosophy on the corrective action: If it ain't broke, we're not fixing it. First of all, we had the ducts cleaned two years ago. We weren't doing it again. I even had the receipt to prove it. But, we agreed to have the dryer vent cleaned. We said no to the chimney repairs. The fireplace works just fine. We would have someone install carbon monoxide detectors, readjust the fan vent in the attic and replace vent screens. We were not going to put a back-flow valve in the crawl space (whatever that is), we'd attach the downspout to the house, but we just had the drainage redone on both sides of the house by our landscapers that previous fall and would produce a receipt to prove that as well. We are not replacing the overhangs or eaves. They were just barely showing signs of wear. We'd have our home warranty peeps come fix the bathtub faucet and have someone look at the laundry room thing even though we had no idea what it meant. As far as the roof's brand new and still under warranty. Anything that is wrong would be handled by that company.

And then we got to work. It REALLY helps to have a general contractor as a friend. Wid Payne SAVED us! He installed the CO2 detectors we purchased, he adjusted the fan vent in the attic by 2 mm that took all of two seconds, he adjusted the downspout for us, and when he looked at our screen vents (which were sitting in the original concrete of the foundation) he said they were all fine. He couldn't figure out what they were talking about. When the A/C was installed, they did cut a little hole in that screen to get the pipe under there and a hole about 1/8 inch remained. Technically, small animals could potentially squeeze through there, so we got some spray insulation that he added to close the gap. This was actually a relief because if the screens were really damaged, it would have been a big job to fix. He also checked the laundry room stub-out which has to do with where your water lines come in, but he said that was fine too. So great!

As for the roof, I called and told them that our home inspection stated there were some problems. We were curious what they might be considering how new it was. Our warranty has a section that covers us for 10 years regarding installation errors, which is what we figured it had to be. The warranty company, however, had to send a third party out to get a sample to make sure it wasn't defective materials. And that would be at least a week before he came out and another week or so before the results came back. We only had 2 weeks to get this taken care of. As time wore on I basically told Cari that the buyers needed to know the roof issue wouldn't be resolved until long after our repair deadline had passed and chances are...even after they take possession of the house. But the warranty on the roof transfers to them so they can just pick up where I left off. It took a little convincing but they finally agreed to those terms.

Our sewer scope came back in our favor. It was good to go. Phew! All these potential problems were a little worrisome.

But then there was the chimney. Cari had called and asked if the buyers could have someone look at the chimney to estimate the cost to fix it (after we said no). Yes, they could. But that got me  thinking. What if they demanded we pay for that repair and if so, who's to say they got the best quote on the repair. Ohhh no you don't. I was going to be pro-active, baby. So I got on the phone and immediately started calling every masonry person I could, to get as many bids as possible that SAME day for the job so we could be adequately armed with accurate information. I actually got 3 companies to come by with a bid. And I got one online. They were all fairly close in price and one was super inexpensive.

Cari called later in the day and let us know the buyers weren't concerned about the chimney. It wasn't as expensive as they thought to repair (not a deal breaker apparently!). To which I replied, "So I guess they don't need the 4 different bids I got today to counter any outrageously high bid they might have gotten?" Cari was impressed with my initiative and congratulated me. She actually called me later to ask if I would share those bids with the buyers--I did so happily.

And then it was time for the appraisal.

Ironically enough, the appraisal could not be completed until the hot water heater was secured properly. So...we had Wid come to our rescue again! He worked hard and got that thing strapped down in beautiful shape. We are SO grateful for his help and we highly recommend him for any general contracting work that you may need. If he can't do it, he'll know someone who can.

Clearly we don't know what the house appraised least the price we were selling it for and that's all we cared about. we just had to pray that the buyer's loan would fund. Cari had told me that their loan guy had contacted her a while ago to say they shouldn't have any problems getting the funding. But I was not about celebrating until this thing was a done deal. Too many question-marks still.

Jared and I drove to the title company on Wednesday, June 18th, to make the sale of our first house official. It was a lot quicker than when we went to sign for the purchase of it, that's for sure! We're so grateful to Cari Crossley who has such a calming influence on you when there are big decisions to make and consider. She rocked it for us just like she did when we bought our house. We're so appreciative of her support and interest in our family's well being. We have never felt, as buyers or sellers, that we were just another gig. We highly recommend her for anyone's realtor needs in the Beaverton area!

The first thing Friday morning, June 20th, and for the first time ever in our lives, we had a HUGE gob of money deposited into our checking account from the title company. Yay for equity and the American dream of home-ownership!

and now (6 1/2 years later).

Good-bye, Rosa Drive.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turning points

Both Jake and Cooper each made an important decision this past spring that we believe were pretty big turning points for them. These decisions weren't easy and as their parents we are grateful they used their agency wisely. Jared spoke in Sacrament meeting in our new College Station ward the Sunday before school started in August. He actually referenced both these experiences as examples in his talk which was about the power of the Plan of Salvation and how we've tried to prioritize our temporal lives by keeping an eternal perspective. Below are the excerpts from Jared's talk in italics.

"Before we moved here, our oldest son, Jake, was involved in band. He started playing the saxophone when he was in 6th grade and was really good at it right off the bat. He worked hard, practiced and as an 8th grader was invited by the high school band director to join the marching band as the only 8th grader. It was a wonderful experience for him. He met some fantastic kids and got to know a group he could associate with before he went into high school. He even earned a varsity letter. He was looking forward to four more years of marching band, possible college scholarships and the opportunity to participate in other activities such as cross-country and seminary. Seminary at Century High School is time release [a built-in class period], cross-country is held after school and band is later in the evening. Jake had his whole schedule figured out. It all fit.

Then we moved.

Seminary shifted from time release to early morning at 6:45am. Concurrently he learned that due to the excessive heat, both cross-country and band practices were held at the same the mornings. We sat down and discussed this with Jake. While Jake knew he had the option to do a home study course of seminary and meet once a week with a group to discuss the assignments, he chose to sacrifice both band (including any chance for a music scholarship) and cross-country to be able to attend seminary daily with his peers and teachers. Preparing for a [two year service] mission has always been a goal for Jake and he knew that seminary--where he could feel the spirit and benefit from both sharing his testimony and experiences and hearing his friends do the same--would be a crucial part of that preparation. He loves band and jazz and the saxophone and was looking forward to competing in cross-country, but he chose the better part. His eternal perspective helped him choose between a good thing and the best thing."

I just want to clarify that there's nothing wrong with home-study seminary. And if anyone can do it, Jake certainly can. He's responsible, thoughtful and diligent. But--that just isn't how Jake envisioned his seminary experience. It's a lot like the new 'Come Follow Me' curriculum with the youth. It's about feeling the spirit and sharing and growing and learning from each other that helps deepen one's conversion. So we applaud him for making a tough decision, but one that we believe will have a great impact on him. And of course, we testified that you will never be punished (temporally or spiritually) for wanting more of the Lord's influence in your life. Additionally, the Lord is ever mindful of what he sacrificed with his talent on the saxophone and we're confident other doors will open for him in the future.

Since band and cross-country were out, the only other thing Jake wanted to try was basketball. In Texas, you enroll in the freshman basketball class which counts as your PE credit and that's how the team is formed. Perfect! Basketball is a class and it's played indoors (practices not predetermined by the heat), so Jake doesn't have to worry about it interfering before school. Wrong-o. The freshman basketball team has to practice at 6:30am so that JV and Varsity can have the courts after school. Of course they do.

The good news is that early morning practices are only during the game season which is mid/end of October to mid-March. That's a big difference compared to the time commitment with band. Jake would miss an equivalent of 2 years of seminary with his peers if he did band. Jake would only miss a few months with freshman basketball. Weighing his options, Jake moved forward with basketball so he could be involved in something and knows our expectation to graduate from seminary still applies. He has kept up on his assignments that he misses and attends seminary every Wednesday evening before his mutual activity each week to keep his attendance up. Being new to the area, it was also really beneficial for him to start seminary for a couple of months at the beginning of the year so he could get to know his peers and teachers before he had to attend regular basketball practices.

Now, Cooper.
"At the end of every school year, Cooper's school (Butternut Creek) holds a school-wide assembly where kids can audition to participate and then perform. Since this would be his last year at the school, Cooper wanted to be involved and auditioned by singing a very popular song. He was thrilled when he came home one day announcing that he had been selected to sing in the assembly. He immediately began to polish his performance by practicing with the song as it played on the computer, with the words scrolling so he could memorize them better. This was a song that the entire family had listened to many times. It had a great beat and was very fun to listen to, but like many songs with lyrics, you don't always catch the words that go with that catchy beat. As we began to really hear the words, we grew uneasy about Cooper singing it. Among some of the lyrics was a line that talked about feeling wrong for doing the right thing and feeling right for doing the wrong thing. Sounds very similar to a scripture we all know (2 Nephi 15:20). Cooper had a decision to make. At the beginning of every school year, we choose a scripture as a family to guide and strengthen us throughout the year. Last year it was 1 Timothy 4:12 "be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." In addition to reviewing our school scripture theme with Cooper, we went straight to the For Strength of Youth booklet and read the section on media and entertainment together. And then we left it to Cooper. He got on his bike and went back to the school and let his teacher know he could not sing the song and asked, knowing the answer might be no, if he could pick a different song to sing. He was told he could, but he would have to do it the coming Monday and he'd only have one chance to get it right. He auditioned again and his audition was flawless. He was selected to sing that as a solo at the assembly. Cooper recognized that this was about more than just a song. He had an opportunity to set an example for his peers and teachers at his school and was not afraid to stand what he knew was right. Cooper had an opportunity to let his Heavenly Father know that he wanted to be on the Lord's side and not slip, ever-so-slightly into Satan's grasp. While I was proud of him for the decision he made, I know his Heavenly Father was smiling as well and cheering him on at the assembly that day."

Cooper chose to sing "To the Sky" by Owl City. It was actually one of the songs we put on Jake's Trail to Eagle video. What I wasn't expecting were the few words Cooper shared with the entire school body before he sang the song. He said that this was his last assembly because his family was moving to Texas. Then he asked the kids to raise their hands if they thought he was flying to his new home. A good chunk of them did. He explained that we were actually driving. Then he added, very profoundly, "In a way, though, I will be flying to Texas. I'm taking to the sky on a new adventure." It was very touching. He sang his song and at the end, his former 2nd grade teacher and Karcyn's current teacher, Mrs. Vick came over to me, tears streaming down her cheeks and said she was so moved by his choice of song and said how much she was going to miss us. Just the sight of her tears and how she spoke through them, made me start to cry immediately, too! I wasn't expecting that either! We will miss that school and all the teachers and staff and administrators whom we grew to love and appreciate so much as they were a crucial part of the community village trying to help us raise our children.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Karcyn and the Broadcast

Karcyn attended the LDS church's General Women's Meeting for the first time six months ago, which was also the very first meeting where girls ages 8 and up and young women were also invited to attend. Additionally, it was held on the same day she was baptized, in fact! (We were at the stake center for several hours that day!) Karcyn took notes and they have since been packed away. But below are her notes from the General Women's Meeting that she and I attended last night together. She listened so intently and her only mild "complaint" near the end was that they were talking too fast for her to write things down. But after reading over her written thoughts (three pages, front and back), I am so impressed!

Womens brocast 9/26/14
Thomas .S monsan and his Preisadents "henry B. eyering and Pres. ucdorf"

uo this day of Joy and Love--This song can give me the Spirit inside me to help me want to be a young women someday.

the temple is the best place to be baptized and feel the warm feeling from the Spirit. I'm glad to be a yong women someday.

5-five (foolish) unkindness --to be bad to follow Satan
5-five (wise) kindness--be wise to follow God's words.

be like Jesus and follow the right!!!!

My best feeling is when Jesus died and was reseracted because I know that he will be sacrificed and live. (I know our redemer lives)--This song is my mom's favirote song so she can feel the Spirit. I will be like her and feel the spirit to feel the warm feeling of my heavenly Father.

Following commandmants

dating, wourthy (willing to serve), fasting, and missonary serves are all commandments with our heavenly father and Jesus Christ In our home where we were born.

I love the church.
It's the place to love!

temples are our example and god's love, every might heart and love.

ALL the Temples May Be Made different, But The Inside Will ALL-WAYS be The Same.

I hope you follow these commandments and return to youre heavenly father and Jesus Christ.

I will always be a child of God and help my-self get back to our father in heaven.

Question: why does #301 (I am a child of god) say "If I but learn to do his will" in the hymns book?
Answer: If I beileve, I will live with him again.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

May snippets

*May 1st was Calvin's 6th birthday. I had been asking him for awhile what he wanted to do to celebrate so I could adequately prepare myself. Each time he answered that he didn't want any party and no cake. What? Really? What 6-year-old doesn't want a party? or cake?? At the same time, considering the status of my life at the time, I was praising his good, albeit fitting, name. Planning a birthday party was the last thing I needed. His dinner request...chili mac. It's our "mom and dad are going to the temple" go-to dinner that the kids make. He did, however, make it known that he wanted the banana, strawberry and chocolate treat in place of a cake. I was confused. I don't bake anything with fruit in it. I finally realized he wanted fondue! We were all going to Jake's district track meet on his birthday evening, so I told Calvin we'd have his fondue on Sunday when we had more time.

On Thursday, 5/1, it was HOT for the beginning of May (and end of June even)--87 degrees! The kids came home from school, slowly dragging themselves like they would through a desert, faces flushed announcing they were "dyyyyyiiiinnnnggg" from the heat. (I really hoped they wouldn't take forever to get acclimated to the Texas heat and humidity!) Considering the heat, Jake ran pretty good in the 1500. He even overtook two other guys and almost a third in the final push. His time was 5:33 though. His slowest yet. (His PR is 5:26). Later, when I was going through his lunchbox that evening, his 6 broccoli and cheese mini-quiches were still in the container, untouched. He hadn't eaten his protein packed super bites. Jared said, "No wonder you got the time you did--there was nothing in the tank! You have to eat!"

We opened gifts for Calvin after dinner. He got a nice windfall (about $70 in cash--I might have to ask my 6 year old for a loan), a whiffle-ball and bat, a pull-back-and-go plane from the movie Planes and a football. And no party and no cake, per his request.

His candles are in the bananas--because he's just plain bananas. But I cannot imagine my life without this boy.

*On Wednesday, May 7th, Jared and I celebrated 17 years of marriage and an offer on our house, with a fender-bender and a teenager with strep throat tossed in the mix to keep things real!

*On Friday, May 9th, Jared received a letter in the mail from Oregon's Department of Human Services--the Child Welfare Services Division. I froze. Why on earth was he getting a letter from them? Had we been reported?? Surely not. It would have been addressed to us both, right? But maybe not, because Jared's the head of the household. As soon as Jared got home, I made him open it. We discovered that it was a survey, asking Jared questions about a couple from our ward who was seeking to adopt. Ha ha! Yes, I was a little worried at first. But c'mon. Our kids are so vocal or "articulate" that they most certainly disclose family details unbeknownst to us, that taken out of context, might make people wonder. Maybe now you can see where I might have been a little puzzled. I remember my mom saying that my Kindergarten teacher had told the parents at the beginning of the year that she wouldn't believe everything they told her at school if the parents promised not to believe everything they heard about Kindergarten. I would hope that would be the courtesy given to parents, but man, in this litigious society, you just never know!

*On Sunday, May 11th, Mother's Day, Jared's Sunday meetings were cancelled. He was able to stay home and help us get ready for church. I forgot how great that was. We've loved having him serve in the Bishopric though and wouldn't trade it for the world. And it was a Mother's Day miracle that JJ made it through the Sacrament portion of Sacrament meeting all the way to 9:40am. Most days, he and I are in the hall before church even starts at 9:00.

We usually talk a family walk every Sunday that the weather is nice to enjoy the beautiful gifts of nature that God created for us. This Mother's Day stroll, the last I'd have in Oregon, was especially meaningful.

I'm not sure where Calvin was at the time...

Oh Calvin...whatever it is, it can't be that bad...

Silly Calvin...

*May 15th, Jake improved his wellness run (7/10 of a mile) time at school. Previous time: 4:02. New time: 3:58.

*On May 20th, Jake had an advanced band concert. He had a piano solo and was introduced to the whole audience as "Jacob Ho!" He and I both cringed and Jake gently beat his head against the piano in mock frustration. Jacob Ho had a great solo, though :)

*Before school on May 21st, I was doing Karcyn's hair in the bathroom. While she was standing there, Karcyn said she wished I could teach like her teacher, Mrs. Vick (who incidentally taught 2nd grade to both Jake and Cooper, too). I told Karcyn I was a teacher. I used to be Mrs. Hough to my students. Karcyn said when she becomes a teacher, she'll be Ms. Hough. I agreed and responded, "Until you get married and then you'll have a new last name." She asked me very seriously, "What will it be?" I told her, "I don't know. We'll have to wait and see...But it'll be the last name of the young man you marry in the temple." Then, with a drop of dreaminess in her voice she said, "I hope I marry Robby [the McCullough's oldest son--Elissa's twin]! Then I would be Mrs. McCullough." I rolled my eyes and chuckled. She was still on that kick?? Not that I blamer her--he's a cute returned missionary, from a great family about to start dental school...albeit 17 years her senior! :) I gently reminded her, "You know, Karcyn, Robby is a little old for you." Without missing a beat, she exclaimed a little indignantly, "Ah, c'mon Mom--he's not even married!" Oh boy.

Robby's going to dental school in Portland, of all places, so it's probably a good thing we're moving to Texas. Then he won't have to worry about an eight-year-old stalker.

Back story: We went to the coast with most of the McCullough clan right after New Year's. This wasn't the first time Karcyn had seen Robby, but maybe it was the first time she really saw him because right after we arrived at the beach house, Karcyn walked up to Robby and batting her eyes with her head cocked to one side, asked, "Robbeeee, will you marry me??" I didn't know if I should be proud or horrified at her initiative.

*One Wednesday evening, I took Karcyn to the church for her 4th or 5th Valiant Girls Activity. I hopped out of the car and followed her as she practically pranced inside. When she saw me behind her she said, "Oh, Mom, it's okay. I know where to go by myself." I skidded to a stop and reluctantly responded, "Ohh-kay." *Sigh* My baby girl is growing up. Then I called after her, "Can I have a kiss?" She swung around dramatically and said, coming towards me, "How could I forget my mommy-kiss?" And planted a kiss on my cheek. I smiled and watched her go through the first set of double doors. Out of habit, I said, "I love you." I thought I was surely out of her range of hearing, but she turned around and through the glass, I saw her blow me a kiss :)

*As we were sorting through desk drawers and belongings, I told the kids that I would put some of their treasured things in a storage bin with their other keepsakes. One afternoon, Cooper handed me a couple of stories he had written and asked if I'd put them in his "keep safe" bin. :)

*Jake and a friend had been planning ways to earn some money so Jake could fly back to Oregon and visit. A young men's advisor at church suggested they offer lawn mowing in his community. There's no HOA to do it and most yards are tiny--tiny enough no one wants to mow them so the homeowners might be willing to pay the boys to do it. They spent an hour and a half walking and knocking on doors. The first guy they spoke to said no. They were surprised when a little while later, that same guy came running down the street after them. He said his wife had no problem paying them to mow, so after 90 minutes of walking and knocking on 20+ doors, they got 1 job. Jake said it was good mission practice for him and his friend Aaron who's a little older than Jake. I certainly applaud them for their efforts to go out and try to earn money in the real world to get what they want and not by just doing odd jobs for Mom and Dad.

*Branch Basics strikes again! Jake has stinky feet. So stinky I can smell them through his shoes. One night, he took his shoes off in the family room before kicking back for the evening. I was in the far end of the kitchen a good 15+ feet away when I caught the unmistakable odor of his feet/socks. "Ohhhh, no you don't! Put your shoes and socks in the garage or put your shoes back on...which is only a little better." He protested insisting he couldn't smell them. I was actually getting ready to let him know that Jared was ready to do his personal priesthood interview with Jake, which would be conducted in our room. Which meant Jake would stink up my sanctuary. I needed some ammo and fast. In desperation, I grabbed the Branch Basics non-toxic soap (the 1:1 "tough stuff" solution) and before his meeting, I sprayed the tops and bottoms of his feet with the stuff. It's just like water. But magical! I was so amazed when I came into my room later and could not detect any residual stinky feet smell. Yay!! That stuff is worth it's weight in gold just for that purpose alone. It's not my fault I have a super sniffer!

*On May 27th, our female mail carrier pulled up to the house while we were outside and she said, "I hear you guys are moving to Texas!" (Thanks to our outgoing and talkative children who like to get the mail). When I confirmed that we were indeed headed south, she said, "I'm going to miss you guys. I used to live in Texas, in the Dallas area." She said we were going to love it there and then said, "I'll miss your kids!"

*On Thursday, May 29th, Cooper had his 5th grade musical AND science fair. It just happens that Cooper was cast as George Washington in the musical "13 Colonies." And he was GREAT! I laughed and laughed, rolled eyes, shook my head and laughed some more. It was pretty funny though since George was a lot shorter than Martha and hard to see off stage :) That kid's got talent. I hope he continues to develop it. It's not easy being on stage and putting yourself out there like that. I was very proud of his acting and singing that helped make this musical a success. In fact, I was impressed with the whole 5th grade. They did a fantastic job!

The other reason to be at the school on the 29th was to see all the 5th grade science fair projects. Cooper did his by setting chips on fire. Jake had heard from our friend who works for the Department of Forestry or Agriculture and is an avid, die-hard fisherman, that you can use Fritos corn chips to start a fire, even when they're wet--in case you can't find wood! So that got Cooper wondering about other chips and which type of chip could hold the flame of a match the longest. We already knew Fritos could, so he tested 3 different types: Doritos, Cheetos and Ruffles. Doritos pulled it out by burning for 6 minutes! All I know is that I no longer have an appetite for these chips anymore, but we made sure to pack some in our camping gear!

*Spring is my favorite season. I must have been so busy cleaning my house in April that I forgot to get pictures of my beloved tulips. (They always come up super early!) But I did get some pictures of our tiger lilies. I hope the new owners appreciate our flowers!