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!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Housing: To be or Not to be

The day Jared and I were flying home from Texas (Sun, April 6th) after committing to build a new home, I started to feel sick. Just the dumb head cold thing, but the congestion and fatigue were heightened with a day full of travel and five+ hours of flights.

On Monday and Tuesday (April 7th and 8th), I was fighting to keep myself upright. I felt like the gravity of the viral infection was yanking me relentlessly to the floor. It was tough. Especially because the world wouldn't stop for me and neither did my family's needs, so I had to keep going too. I had phone calls to make, things to figure out and plans to coordinate for our move.

One of those tasks was to call the schools now that we knew which ones we were zoned for and find out what they would need from us in order to get them all enrolled. I've never had to enroll four kids at a time...just once, when they all started Kindergarten. We'd be spread out over three campuses this year: elementary K-4, intermediate 5-6 and high school 9-12. There is a middle school for 7-8, but our family isn't represented there yet.

I called the elementary school and they listed the things I would need...a copy of their birth certificates, their social security cards (which I had moved to a safe place and then couldn't remember where they were), their updated immunization records, their last report card, and proof of residency. When the lady mentioned the latter, I told her that we were going to be renting somewhere for the first month of school, but that we were building a house in that particular school zone and I just planned to drive them to and from school, probably from Bryan (the sister city to College Station) until the house was finished.

That's when things came crashing down.

In order for the kids to attend the schools that our new home is zoned for, we must be currently residing in the College Station School District boundaries. Didn't she realize that's impossible? It's a college town and all the rentals in College Station have already been pre-leased for the 2014-2015 school year months ago. No one does short term leases. We were going to be lucky to find a place in the outskirts of Bryan/College Station that would allow a 6 month lease as it was. Beggars can't be choosers. We'd have to take what we could find. But I was told I would not be allowed to drive kids in from outside of the College Station school district, even though our house is IN the school district and IN those school boundaries. In fact, I was told that if it would take more than a couple months for the home to be built, we might not get a waiver even if we WERE in the school district. Bottom line, if we're not residing in the College Station School District, we'd have to start in the schools our rental was zoned for and then TRANSFER when our house was done. I quietly hung up the phone while the hot tears welled up in my eyes and spilled all down my face. My mommy heart was crushed.

They can't do this to my kids! We're not just coming from a different part of Texas or across town. We are coming from twenty-five hundred miles across the country! My kids are already faced with the challenge and trial of starting over in a new state and a new school district and new schools with new teachers and new peers and new ways of doing things. They've left behind all their successes and friends and comforts and reputations and future possibilities. They need the stability of starting in the school they'll be attending in the future. My heart ached, especially for Jake. This will be his first year in high school. I know he's supposed to be stretched. But I begged Heavenly Father to please, please, not let it be this way. Don't make him have to start at one school with 7 teachers only to have to change a month later and start ALL OVER AGAIN. Please, no.

This was the first dumb thing about Texas I had come across.

The tears continued to fall. I would have been emotional about this news regardless. The fact that I wasn't feeling well, only made me feel worse as I continued with my mental tirade. I'm an advocate of public education. I have big plans to get involved in my kids' new schools and help out the teachers and give them as much support as I can. But this was unacceptable. I had visions of me marching into the district offices with my red hair flapping wildly behind me like a flag warning to all: You say "don't mess with Texas"? Well, I say, "don't mess with me!" I would demand to know how their stiff boundary rules actually help their future students--especially ones who have come from so far away, to a new land, as it were. And then I'd let them have it.

Your district mantra is "SUCCESS: Each life, Each day, Each hour." I'm sorry, but how is denying my children the opportunity to start at the schools they're supposed to be at helping them be successful? It's setting them up for failure! What child is going to want to engage themselves at the beginning of the school year knowing they'll be leaving 5-6 weeks later anyway?? Our residence outside CSISD is only temporary. Surely you can make exceptions for extenuating circumstances. Where's your humanity??

But I didn't want to be known as "that woman" or for people to cringe or get defensive whenever they heard or saw the Hough name, whether in the district offices or at the individual schools. Furthermore, I wouldn't be strong. I'd be ugly crying and wouldn't get one word out. So I called Jared. Crying. I sputtered out the problem in between sobs and then explained he'd have to be the calm, diplomatic one--that I am clearly the antithesis of. Poor guy. That's not what he needed. He assured me it would be okay and told me not to worry about it any more for the time being. [I later came across a fitting quote for this situation that I really like. "It will all be okay in the end. And if it's not okay, it's not the end."]

Jared called me back a short time later and said he had actually spoken with a woman at the district. He explained the situation to her and she said it was true that we had to reside in the district but they would certainly give us a waiver to start at the schools that were zoned with our new home if we were indeed within the CSISD.

Great. So now we just needed to find a rental in a place where virtually none existed. When we were looking at rental options with our realtor, Saundra, while in Texas, we knew that searching in the greater Bryan/College Station area would be like finding a needle in a haystack. But now? Forget the needle...having to narrow the search area down even more seemed to be the nail in the coffin.

Our new Bishop had given us the name of a sister in the College Station stake who is a manager over a hundred rental properties. She told me that a) no one does short term leases and b) most of the apartments/homes had been rented out (pre-leased) for the beginning of the school year by the returning Texas A & M students...way back in December!! She said the only way we'd be able to find something is if there's a place that falls through at the last minute. In the beginning, I was worried about paying a year long lease when we only needed a few months, but at that point, I was willing to pay nine extra months of rent...if it meant we'd have a place to live in College Station. There was nothing. She knew of nothing either. We had drained all the resources we could. Who knew that living in a college town would be so trying for a family needing to relocate there. We were completely unprepared for this.

I was stumped. I didn't know what else we could do. Especially being new to the area, not being there to look around or get the word out. I knew, because of the peace I had felt and still felt--if I stopped and tuned in--that relocating to Texas was the right decision for our family. And I was fairly confident the Lord wouldn't require us to be homeless.

I finally came to the realization that I had to move on. I had to let this housing conundrum go. Ultimately, it was in the Lord's hands anyway because it was going to take a miracle.

We had our open house the day before we returned home from Texas. We had about five groups come through. There were a couple of them who loved the house but, Cari, our realtor, wasn't able to follow up with them because their realtors weren't also there. So we just had to wait for those people to contact us, assuming they were serious and not just spouting off nice things they didn't really mean or weren't people from the neighborhood only interested in seeing the inside of the only house for sale in the Cross Creek Subdivision.

While I was muddling through the beginning of that week, trying to keep my head above water, part of me hoped I wouldn't have the added stress of getting the house ready for a showing when I already felt like getting my kindergartener on the afternoon bus was way too much.

By Wednesday morning, I couldn't get out of bed. Knowing Jared didn't work until noon that day, was a relief of gigantic proportions to me. I didn't start coming out of my stupor until about 9:30am when Dr. Hicken's new office manager called to ask me some questions about the accounts that had been previously sent to collections. If she noticed my hoarse, raspy voice, as I tried to force a clear, audible sound in the phone receiver, she didn't say anything. I answered her questions as best I could with my head in a thick fog. After that conversation, I was at least up right. But still not right. Begrudgingly, I canceled my volunteering time in Karcyn's class and tutoring that afternoon--two of my built-in weekly opportunities for service. I hate that. But I hated the way I felt too and something had to give.

On Thursday Cari called. Each time we had an appointment for a showing, I would text her. This would be her back-up confirmation. Her computer would actually alert her when the lock box with our house key was accessed by another realtor to show the house. My text would let Cari know that I had been contacted and the computer would notify her that someone saw the house.

The last individual showing (#11) was a couple hours before the open house that we hadn't even been in town for. And now the activity on the house had dried up. Not one phone call by an interested party. We hadn't had one request for a showing in five days. We were in new territory. Our house was no longer one of the "hot new ones" listed on the first page or two of the online web sites. Cari had told us that after a home has been on the market for the first two weeks, it can really peter out fast. Those first two weeks are crucial.

So when Cari called on Thursday, April 10th, she wanted to make sure her computer wasn't broken because it hadn't alerted her to any showings since Saturday. I confirmed her computer wasn't broken. We just hadn't had any showings. This, of course, wasn't a good sign. Personally, deep down, I was confident this was a gift from my Heavenly Father who loves me and knows what I need. I'd felt horrible after coming home from Texas, got worse and just trying to survive was all I could handle at the moment. Cari was kind of worried. I kind of wasn't. But we agreed that if we didn't have another showing by the next week Thursday (the 17th) that we might need to talk about lowering the price. Not what you want to hear, but it's all a part of the experience.

I was still under the weather on Friday but was getting some of my strength back. I wasn't surprised when we got a call for a showing (#12) on Saturday at 9 in the morning. On a day when I had lots of other people to help tidy up the house.

That Sunday, Jared and I had decided to do another fast, to consider how long we wanted to keep the house listed at the original price of $265,000. We both felt we should wait until the beginning of May. Jared had been doing a temple recommend interview that day at church and felt impressed that we should wait until May 10th. So we both agreed at least a week into May.

That night Jared was looking for possible rental options in College Station. The first one he came across seemed nice enough. Until he clicked on a picture with a bunch of college students having a frat party in a pool. While some of our kids might not have minded that, Jared knew that clearly wouldn't work.

A couple nights later, Jared showed me another property he had found that touted itself as being "the best in student and family living." It did look nice and the fact that it mentioned 'family' was encouraging. He emailed the property manager that evening around 11pm.

My family will be moving down to college station this summer due to a job change for me.  The dilemma we have is that the house we are building to live in down there will not be ready until the beginning of October.  Do you do short term leases and if yes what are the possibilities of there being something available from about July through October?  We are finding it very difficult to find something in the College Station area due to the large student population.  If you do not have anything I would be interested in any suggestion that may help my family for that time frame. Thank you.
Jared Hough

The manager's response came in on Wednesday afternoon. Jared forwarded the message to me with two sentences. "I love fasting and prayer. Tell me what you think."

Hi Jared,
We normally do not allow short term leases, except for our furnished corporate units.  However, I have a tenant that is looking to sub-lease their large 3 bedroom 2 bath.  The duplex is 1446 sq. ft. and the rent is $1,325 a month with your water, cable, internet, lawn care and pest control all being paid.  The units come with all the kitchen appliances, full size washers and dryers, 2" faux wood blinds, 9 foot ceilings with ceiling fans throughout and have individual privacy fenced back yards.  We are a pet friendly property and there are two options on the pet deposit/monthly fee depending on the number of animals.  You can find these options and other information regarding the property on the attached Frequently Asked Questions.  The current tenants could be out July 1st and their lease end date is October 31st
Let me know if this is an option that you may be interested in or if you have any other questions.

Tell you what I think???  I think we need to crawl through the phone and sign the lease TODAY!
This was mind-blowing. This was the second property he found and the first place Jared inquired about after doing an online search. And while they don't do short term leases, there's a tenant who needs to sub-lease his duplex...the LARGEST sized duplex with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms we were living in for the same exact same time frame that we needed and for just under the same price as our current mortgage!! This was the miracle of all miracles. I knew the house would sell. I knew we would make money on it. It was just a matter of when and how much. But this?! This was better than any of my fondest dreams.

And then I started to have guilt. How could I have doubted the Lord? Why did I break down and get mentally upset at the school district? Of course the Lord would orchestrate everything perfectly to meet our needs. The task of securing temporary housing in a college town was near impossible based on our limited knowledge and that of others who were helping us, but not to the Lord. He can see all things. And knows the right timing of all things too. We exhausted all our options and resources and when we realized there was no more we could do, we moved forward in faith. And the pieces fell into place.

If you thought that was remarkable, it gets even better. This duplex (which is part of a small community of duplexes connected to a larger subdivision of homes) is just 2 miles as the crow flies from our new home. And therefore, it is zoned for the exact, same schools all of our children will be attending when the house is ready. No need to go storming into the district offices. No need for a waiver. No need to change schools or wards. This duplex is as close to our new home as we can get. I cannot express how miraculous this manna from heaven was to us. It is the single-most INCREDIBLE part of this whole moving process. We'd been richly blessed in so many ways already, but even the Texas locals are amazed we were able to secure a sub-lease (an option, of course, that we had never considered) for a few months time in the College Station school district. But the fact that it was already zoned in our schools, is a fact that makes my heart swell with gratitude even today. Our rental application was approved and our portion of the lease would start July 1st.

Over the next week, we had four more showings, taking us to 16 total showings (21 if you count those from the open house) in four week's time.

We had one lady that really, really liked the house who saw it the first couple of weeks it was on the market. But we never heard back from her. We had another younger couple, referred by a friend in our ward, who loved the house too. In fact, they spent a LOT of time there. We came back after an hour and they were still there so we had to just keep driving.

We asked Cari if she would let the realtor of the first lady know that there was a couple really interested in the house. She reported was already on it! She got back with us and said that the lady liked our house and another one and decided to go with the other one. Of course she did.

And still no offers.

What added more to Jared's frustration, is that we had three friends in our ward who all listed their homes a week or two or four after ours and every single one of them were in contract within 3-6 days of being on the market. So then we had people at church asking Jared if we had the right realtor, because they were all using the same one, etc. I know they were trying to be helpful. But it wasn't. It was like rubbing salt in our wounds and made us feel bad like something was wrong with us, or our home or our choices. It was a little bit of a sting to me too, but I tried so hard not to let that get to me. Jared, on the other hand, was struggling. He had been through the wringer already with so much pressure on him and so many changes and unknowns, he was not feeling well and not sleeping. So the fact that the homes of our friends were going like hot cakes, one after the other, was taking its toll on him.

While two of the three homes were similar in size as ours, you simply cannot compare ours with theirs. It was like apples to oranges. They were all in a new, compact subdivision. They have no yard. The HOA dues they pay are 4x as much as ours is monthly and they have no pool or recreation center, like we do. Our home is an older, ranch style. We have a big back yard. We live in an established neighborhood and even the schools are different so I think those factors all draw in a different population of buyers. It just isn't the same. Except we were all trying to sell our homes and they did and we were still trying.

I am grateful though that Cari valued us enough not to price our home for a quick sale. She wanted us to reap everything that we could. If we had priced our home for $25K to $30K less than what we bought it for, we would have sold ours in one day, too. But the equity we had built up is the only extra money we really had to put down on a new home aside from a little bit in savings. So every dollar mattered.

The third week in April (5 weeks on the market) we had 4 more showings, taking us to 20 individual showings and 20 separate times we (me mostly) had to get the house super clean and put our lives on pause so we could vacate the house for about an hour.

Jared was growing increasingly discouraged, especially as the feedback from friends added extra pressure and resentment. Twenty showings (not to mention the open house) and not one offer. Not even a lowball offer. It was weird. All the realtors who came through were saying that the home was showing really well. People even liked the paint colors. So why then was no one submitting any offers? Cari explained that it's really hard to understand the buyer psyche. The first few people who saw it the first week on the market and loved it were turned off by the busy road behind our back fence. They thought it was too loud. I get that. I remember when we were at the house, as the prospective buyers waiting for the inspection to be done, and I asked Cari, "So do you think 209th will be a problem if we ever try and sell the house?" She said, "Well, you're buying someone else will." Yes, you can hear the car traffic when you're standing in a quiet house and not moving. But that's not how one lives in a home. Turn on the kitchen faucet and you can't hear the cars, even as you watch their shadows pass through the back fence from the kitchen window. It's not a big deal, at all. Jared's a super light sleeper and if there are cars that are on the road at night, they certainly haven't kept him up. So whatever.

Other specific issues buyers had:
*the backyard is too big (seriously?? that's like one of the best parts of the house!)
*the shower in the master is too small
*it's too far on the west side (then why were you looking at it?)
*it's too pricey (then why were you looking at it? Buy within your means, people!! That would solve a lot of America's problems!!)

And for the rest of the buyers, I'm sure it was just "not for them." I get that, too. While there were some things I liked about the four homes we looked at in Texas, they just weren't "it" or where I saw myself everyday. I didn't want to settle, and I don't expect anyone else to either.

But the fact remained...our house had been on the market for 5 weeks and even WITH a ton of foot offers. The young couple who LOVED the house and spent so much time at it, didn't put an offer in either. Cari had talked with their realtor to see what was up with them and it was explained that they were very jumpy first time buyers, taking their precious time. Cari had worked with these types of people before and found that pushing them into a contract does more harm than good.

So Jared and I decided to lower the price $7000 to $258,000 and see what that did. We were advised to go a full $10K but we weren't quite ready to make that jump yet. We had a goal to wait until May, but we gave it over a month and I was growing weary of putting my life on hold, wondering when/if the phone would ring and how much notice I'd get this time before having to start my whirlwind cleaning again and get out of the house.

Interestingly enough, we had a thought cross our minds that hadn't occurred to us before. We had been praying that the right people who needed to be in our house would be led to it. After all that time had passed with no offers, we realized that maybe the right buyers weren't in the $265,000 price range. And maybe by our lowering the price, it would allow them to be in a position to find our home and it would be a blessing to them, even if it's at "our expense." We were so blessed to get our house when were the buyers, so maybe it was our turn to do it for someone else.

We got three more showings the last week of April,  Monday through Wednesday. On Tuesday, that young couple came back for a second showing which happened to be on my birthday, April 29th. But even after praying for a birthday miracle, we didn't hear back from them. Drats!! And nothing on Thursday or Friday. Jared had had enough. He didn't see where waiting another week would make a difference so we decided to go ahead and lower the price the full $10K (another $3,000) to $254,900. We were slowly creeping into the time when we needed to be in contract because if the closing took a full 45 days, we needed to close by the end of June so we didn't have to pay mortgage and rent in July when we started living in Texas.

There was no activity on our house the first weekend in May.

Monday, May 5th, we had a showing scheduled for 6:30 that night. The buyers actually called Cari because they drove by and saw the house for sale. This was encouraging because that meant, the buyers had actually seen the outside of the house and the street it was on and knew where the house was in relation to other the busy road, the subdivision, the schools, etc. And she reported they were VERY excited about it. In fact, they had called her on Sunday, twice. They wanted to see it then, but Cari respected our wishes not to show the house on Sunday when we weren't at church and told them Monday evening would work. She would meet them at the house because they didn't have a realtor yet.

We had texted about the showing the night before. So when Cari called Monday morning, around 8am, I knew something was up.

We got an offer! WHAT?!

But who? No one had seen it or given her feedback. Get was the lady who liked the house way back in the beginning, and she had only seen it that one time. Cari saw the realtor's name and remembered them. It was between our house and another and the lady put an offer on the other one. But somewhere along the way, it fell through and we were her number 2. She saw it was still for sale, so she put an offer in. Very interesting. We don't know the details of what happened...if the fall out was buyer or seller initiated. But either way, we saw an opportunity. Cari said that she suspects the buyer didn't listen to her realtor and lost the house for one reason or another. And once buyers lose one house, they are usually very careful not to lose the next one. We used this as leverage...mostly as confidence in our not bending over backwards to their outlandish requests.

Her offer was atrocious. It was a super low price, almost what we paid for it 6 1/2 years ago! Plus she wanted $10,000 in closing costs on top of that. Give me a break. What irked me a little further was that she had seen the house at our original listing price, which she obviously could have afforded and still low-balled us. was an offer. Our only offer at that point. Cari told us not to fear. We'd counter all the way back up to the asking price and give a little in closing costs. I hate closing costs. When we were talking to Cari that evening in our room, she was on speaker. Cari suggested maybe we could do $4,000 or $5,000 in closing costs. I sat on our bed slowly shaking my head "no way" with my jaw set and it was as if she could see me because she's like, "Or what about $3,000?" Okay, fine. I guess we have to give something. That was a third of what was requested.

So we countered at $255,000 for the asking price and would give $3,000 in closing costs. They had through Tuesday, May 6th to counter that offer or accept.

We had our showing at 6:30pm Monday evening, so we decided to get some food and try a picnic in the park again. It was still cool, but not as bad as it was the last time we tried that. Around 6:50, I got a call. It was Cari. The buyers never showed up. She called them to find out where they were. They had decided the house was too expensive for them and changed their mind, but they each thought the other had called Cari to cancel. Ugh!! I felt really bad for Cari who wasted a trip out to the house. While I wasn't happy about the waste of money, we had to eat anyway. And I suppose, considering how many showings we had had up to that point, only 1 no-show was pretty good odds.

On Tuesday, I got three calls within an hour from realtors who wanted to show the house that day. One that morning and two that evening. The third call was from Rachel, the realtor for the buyer who had submitted the offer. They wanted to come see the house again (yeah, considering it had been over a month since she had seen it the first time that would probably be a good idea!) She wanted to see it at 6pm. I smiled impishly to myself and said that "Oh, well, we have our second showing that day at 6pm. Is there another time you could come?" So now she knew we had other people still looking at it and more than one on that day. She opted for 6:30.

We told Jared we'd meet him in the Target parking lot and asked if he would pick up a couple pizzas after he got off work. We waited for Jared til about 6:20. He took longer than I expected but at least he'd have dinner with him. He pulled up next to the burb and I asked, "You got the pizzas?" He looked at me and said, "No." I thought he was kidding. He wasn't. So back he went. Fortunately, the pizza place wasn't too far from Target. But the natives were getting restless.

We wasted as much time as we could and around 7:15, I figured it had been enough time for a second showing. We drove toward the house at 7:25pm and as we turned down the street, we saw they were STILL at the house...standing outside on the lawn, talking. So we drove past the house (I refused to look in their direction because I just knew they'd see right through me and say "That's her! That's the owner!" as if I was guilty of a clean house...and told the other kids not to look either) and we parked on the next street down from ours. We waited for about 10 minutes. There was a neighbor girl that the kids know who was riding her bike in the cul-de-sac. We asked her if she would ride her bike up the path to see if there were people still in front of our house. She rode back and reported they were leaving. They were there til 7:35, well over an hour. I hoped that was a good sign.
Cari said it usually is.

Wednesday, May 7th, Jared and I celebrated 17 years of marriage. At 8am, Jared and Jake were rear-ended by an SUV while taking Jake to his orthodontist appointment--fortunately no one was injured; Cari called around 8:30 or 9 to tell us our offer was ACCEPTED!! and then I had to go pick up Jake from school around 10am because he wasn't feeling well. It was a busy morning!

We had our 28th showing scheduled for Wednesday evening that I had the privilege of calling and cancelling because we were in contract. When we told the kids the sale on the house was pending they asked, "does that mean we're done showing the house?" Yes, yes it does!! Hopefully. I was still cautiously optimistic. Ironically, I knew that getting an offer was the "easy" part. We still had the inspection, inspection negotiations, repairs and the appraisal yet to endure and hoped that the buyer's loan would be funded.

But that will be saved for another day and another post :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

From the Private Sector to the Corporate World

Thought I would give an update on Jared’s NEW job.
Monday morning, on 8/11, at the New Hire Orientation, Jared was met by a three-woman entourage. They marched out to welcome Jared specifically to the St. Joseph team and shared how thrilled they were to have him there. He spent all day in hospital training. Even Sister Penny (the nun that interviewed him) spoke and told all about the history of St. Joseph and the order of St. Francis. He had some HIPAA training. He was the only Physician Assistant (PA) there. Most of them were paramedics or Medical Assistants. He did find out that while he’s accruing his Paid Time Off (PTO) he cannot use it until 90 days have passed (that’s about the middle of November). This put a big damper on me flying back to Oregon for Elissa McCullough’s wedding reception and Jared’s plans to go to a Dallas Cowboy game when his parents come for Cooper’s ordination to the Priesthood the end of October. [When he mentioned he was hoping to go to a Dallas game, the three women exclaimed in their southern accents: “Oh yah gat ta goh to tha Stadium!” They said they’d make it work so he could get the time off for that and pull whatever strings they needed to because it's worth it go to "the Stadium!", which cracked him up. He said if they could swing anything, it would be so I could go to Utah for Elissa’s wedding, which was very touching to me. I guess it’s true that the Dallas Stadium isn’t going anywhere any time soon J]
Later that day he spoke with his entourage who informed him they got approval to have eClinical Works up at his rural site in Madisonville. This is the electronic medical records system Jared’s been using in Oregon for the last 7 ½ years. Because he’s so familiar with it, Tina, the director of Occ Med, fought the administration to get it put in place for him. It would make the occ med portion of documenting SO MUCH EASIER—otherwise it would all be by hand and paper charting—he hasn’t done that since his college days! In addition, his supervising physician can easily access files and charts remotely. It was an exciting announcement and I’m so grateful they pushed to get this system up in Madisonville!
On Tuesday, he met with the supervisor over mid-levels (they are called advance practitioners her or AP, so Jared is technically a PA and an AP) Kim, who was the first person from St. Joe’s who Jared spoke to back in March. She is very laid back and open to suggestions and ideas. There was another PA there (also named Kim) and the three of them chatted about nuances and the clinics in the areas and they had a very enjoyable lunch meeting J
On Wednesday 8/13, he was supposed to do billing/coding training but occupational med (occ med) is different with pre-employment forms for physicals that are billed to the companies as well as the work injuries and all the paperwork associated with those.  Apparently, there are people at the hospital who do all the referrals and coding for him. So that’s REALLY nice!! Because of this, he stayed in Bryan (where the hospital is located) and shadowed his supervising physician, Dr. Howard at his office. Jared was actually able to see patients and do physicals. **As a side note to our Oregon friends…Dr. Howard’s son lives in Portland and is a chef at the restaurant “Screen Door” where southern cuisine is celebrated. We’ve never been there, but talk about a small, small world!
On Thursday, the slated training was for the electronic medical records system (eclinical works). We got a laugh out of that, but Jared did learn a few things that he didn’t already know. Jared mentioned to the trainers that I had actually flown to San Antonio last October for the eClinical Works National Users Conference. Their eyes got big and they quickly asked, “So what’s your wife up to these days?” Kim, the other PA Jared had lunch with earlier in the week, spoke for him, “She’s raising five babies!” J Before the training started, there was a super early meeting, like at 6:30 or 7:00am. Jared went dutifully. It wasn’t long before I got a text from him which read, “So I’m the only one here.” Thinking back to a time when I was the ONLY patron at a session in the temple (which was on my birthday so I thought it was actually really cool!), I texted back, “Is that a little awkward, being the only person for the speakers to address?” He texted back, “No, I mean I am the ONLY person here.” What? Not even the presenters showed up? Later he texted me and said that a corporate guy had showed up and talked to Jared a little bit. He asked Jared if he had taken any ICD-10 training (ALLLLL the medical codes are changing by October of next year and it’s seriously going to be a nightmare…for everyone…so don’t be surprised when none of your medical claims don’t get paid because the providers have to be SOOOO atrociously detailed. It’s insanity). Jared said no and the man gave him a paper with some information and told him that if he took a 2-3 hour training online, Jared would get a $600 stipend. SWEET!!! We can use that money to replace the iPad that JJ dropped and shattered on the front walkway, the day we moved in while we were unloading the moving trailer. [The hardest part of moving in to a new place…not having anyone to watch your kids while you direct box and furniture traffic].  Jared shadowed Dr. Howard some more and even though he’s not quite payer credentialed yet, he learned the ins and outs of occ med and got paid to do it! However, as luck would have it, Jared started working right after a pay period ended so we had to make our last Oregon paycheck stretch THREE weeks instead of two. But tithing works every time! We were blessed to have more than enough AND the paycheck was direct deposited into our new bank account…something we thought would take a few more pay periods. We also get paid on Thursdays here, instead of Fridays. Which you wouldn’t think would be a big deal, but for some reason, not having to wait until the very last day of the work week to get paid, makes a huge difference!
Thursday afternoon, Jared had a lunch meeting with Reed, the regional administrator of the Madisonville Hospital. Reed echoed the sentiment that they are SO excited to have Jared here because they’ve tried several times to get this occ med clinic up and running but it’s been touch and go for a long time. They just couldn’t “lure” someone there who was willing to stay at that location. With 30,000 annual, tax free reasons, we took the bait! And with the influx of the oil and gas companies moving into that region, they are tired of sending their employees all the way down to Bryan for their injuries or pre-employment physicals, etc. Jared does feel some pressure to at least get this program up and running during his two year contract for loan repayment (maybe longer if approved). But graciously, Reed did tell Jared not to worry though if the program can’t get off the ground. If it doesn’t work out, they would find another place for Jared to work. Which is nice…but this is the spot for the loan repayment! They actually mentioned this at the New Hire Orientation too. That St. Joseph doesn’t like turn over and they would rather move people around to different spots within the system than let them go. I’m not worried. They think they know Jared, but they haven’t seen what he can do or how great he is with patients and people. That’s why I wish they would have taken a chance on him and added him to the clinic in Navasota where apparently they had too many providers and not enough patient volume. He could have helped build the business there. But, I know there are bigger forces at play here, so I won’t complain.
Jared spoke with the marketing director, Celeste, shortly after his lunch meeting with Reed. She said Reed called her immediately after he and Jared had lunch and said emphatically, “Oh yeah! Jared’s great. We definitely have the right guy for the job.”
On Friday, 8/15, Jared drove north to Madisonville (to the critical access hospital) and he saw his new  space—which is attached to the itty bitty hospital. There are two exam rooms, 1 small area for vision testing and at that point they were still trying to create an office space for him. It helps to know this is only temporary. The geriatric/psych group will be moving out  of their current space and Occ Med will be moving in sometime next summer. They share the same campus as the hospital, it’s just a different building. Across the small parking lot from the future space will be rehab so Jared will be able to send his patients to PT right from there, which is nice and convenient.
Jared spoke with Reed again and despite Reed’s initial “no worries, we’ll make your employment with us work no matter what happens with Madisonville,” he told Jared, “Sooo, we’re kind of running a deficit here. We need to get things going as soon as possible.” I guess once Reed realized how good Jared would be, he felt he could be more forthcoming about the situation. Tina, the director of Occ Med, told Jared, “Don’t you worry about that. You just see the patients.” J
Jared learned that Dr. Howard is over all the Express Care facilities (urgent care), which is awesome, because a) Jared can get a foot in the door for picking up an extra shift every once in a while and b) Jared is already linked to Dr. Howard. If there was another doc over these facilities, Jared would have to go through more corporate/state hoops (a pain and time-consuming load of paperwork more than anything) to add himself under another supervising physician. The only problem, is that Jared found out his payer credentialing won’t be in effect until October 1st, which was later pushed back to October 15th. Whoa! That means he can’t see any work related injuries (a good 90% of what makes up occ med) until after that date. Nor can he work at an express care.
The mega commute and solo flight in Madisonville began about 10 days ago. He started on his own in Madisonville on September 8th. There will be about five weeks where he’ll just be doing physicals. Not ideal, but at least he’s working. I’m so grateful for that! The EMR is set to go in the second week of October so that will hopefully be in place right around the time he can start on the work related injuries.
During his first week of employment, Jared also learned that St. Joseph is about to become part of the Catholic Health Initiative which is a huge umbrella for health systems. Once that happens, we will be the 3rd or 4th largest hospital system in the country. Typically that also expands more coverage for employee benefits too. So we’ll see.
Additionally, there’s a rumor of a PA program being started at Texas A & M in the future. If so, that could possibly provide some teaching opportunities for Jared down the road. Jared had been offered a faculty teaching position at Pacific University the week before we found out we were moving, that he sadly had to decline.
One of Jared’s apprehensions about this occ med venture was put to rest. He won’t have to schmooze the oil and gas companies by himself. He’ll go with Celeste (marketing) during his regular scheduled office hours to do that.
On Saturday, 8/16, Jared had to take his DOT certification exam. He started the online training in July when we were apart. It was many details to remember. He was worried about taking the test because even the physicians had trouble with it. The average passing score for the docs is 70%. Jared passed at 79%!
Before we got our first paycheck on 8/28, Jared got his very own business cards! In case anyone wants to call or email him J

Since his first day in Madisonville, Jared had one or two patients here or there the first few days. On Thursday last week…no one. On Friday last week….no one. He and his temporary nurse/receptionist, Jana, spent their days moving their limited furniture around, finding other furniture in the storage area, and setting up the space and exam rooms. He got a tour of the hospital. This Monday, he saw…no one. Tuesday…Jana was going to be gone with no patient prospects. He had a Meet and Greet Breakfast at the hospital Tuesday morning and before it was over, around 8am, some of the supervisors he works with said, “Oh, hey, do you need to get going up to Madisonville?” He said, “My nurse isn’t going to be there today. It will only be me and we have NO ONE scheduled. Is there any filing I can do while I’m here?” He was trying to avoid the inevitable. BRUTALLY long days for someone who is used to seeing upwards of 25 patients a day! Yesterday, however, he saw A patient. I told him not to keep the patient too long. That he’d have to eventually let them get back to their life J
He does however, have a desk and a little office space in his little clinic. It's very nice and convenient that he has an attached bathroom :) Too bad his desk sits in a wifi blackhole!

The picture on the right is of Jared and his "best girl." The picture on the left is of his girls...Dawn, Shirley, Lisa and Elizabeth from Dr. Hicken's office. He misses them and they miss him like crazy! It's such a great picture! I was sad when he took it to the office because it made me smile every time I saw it. 
Today, Jared has one patient, right at the end of the day. Tomorrow, he wraps up his second week with a “To-Date” total of 5 whopping patients altogether...unless , of course, someone happens to call the office in the next 24 hours. Jared says he and Celeste may be going out to talk to some of the businesses tomorrow so that will help shake things up a bit for him. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part of anything we do! But we’re grateful and still happy and at peace with our choice to come here.
As far as the commute goes…Jared has calculated that he is actually driving 100 miles a day, not 80…making his weekly mileage…100 miles MORE a week than we thought. Craziness. Thank goodness gas is cheaper here.

Though I think Jared’s having some buyer’s remorse for not getting the hybrid Civic back in March. I appreciated though, that he was trying to keep our monthly payment down. Who knows…we might have to re-evaluate that after a month or two of commuting. Love the Civic though. It’s a great car. In case you missed it on Facebook...Jared sent this sunrise picture to me Monday morning while driving to Madisonville.
And one last funny thing…all the employees have been asked by St. Joseph hospital to take a survey to provide honest, anonymous feedback of their services and how they do business. The invitation Jared received in the mail to do this survey reminded the employees not to forget to pick up their participation gift, because they value the time the employees would spend doing so. Jared  happened to find out what that gift was. The most irrelevant gift you could give someone living in Texas.

An ice scraper.

A squeegee however--(the dew is SO heavy in the mornings!)—now there’s something to get excited about! Maybe he should mention that on the survey!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Jacob's Eagle Court of Honor

Jake had met all of his requirements to begin his Eagle a year ago last spring. He was done by the end of May 2013. It wasn't much later that his paperwork was completed. But, by the time he was able to get leaders to look at it and sign off on it (after summer vacations), it was August. No biggie. But that's when marching band practice started up for him (an unexpected surprise) and wouldn't you know it...the only night a scout can turn in his Eagle project and await a Board of Review is on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. Right during marching band practices! So Jake had a choice. He's always had a goal to get his Eagle before he turned 14. But as the newest and youngest high school marching band member (as an 8th grader), he felt it was probably best to be at ALL the marching band practices and continue with that commitment through the end of the calendar year.

He turned 14 December 27th and his Eagle Board of Review was scheduled for January 9th. Jake passed with flying colors (after his scout master put to rest any issues the Board might of had because of Jake's young age). Once the Board spoke with Jacob themselves, they were impressed with him. One woman made a comment about how articulate Jake was. (Yes, the Hough children are very articulate. That's one way of putting it.) Here is a picture of the two female Board members, Jake and Brother Oyama, who had served as our ward's scout advancement chairman. He was in charge of all the Courts of Honor and Boards of Review with the young men. He was amazing. And then he moved when our ward boundaries were realigned the end of December :(

Jake and Adam Thayne, scoutmaster, after Jake's Board of Review.

So then we had to await for official word that he had been recorded as an Eagle Scout. Once that happened the end of January, we needed to figure out a time to do Jake's Eagle Court of Honor. It kind of fell by the wayside when just  few weeks later, we made the decision to change jobs and relocate. When your options are limited to Saturdays, there just aren't very many of them, I've decided! March was out of the question because we were too busy trying to secure Jared's job and get the house ready to put on the market and Karcyn had her baptism. So that moved us to April. The first weekend was General Conference so that was out. The second weekend, Jake was going on an 8th grade trip to Seattle, WA and wouldn't be back until Saturday evening. So that was out. We finally settled on Sat. April 19th. It was the day before Easter, but if we didn't get it on the books, it might never happen. And this kid needed his Eagle rank!

Having never been behind the scenes of an Eagle Court of Honor and considering the state of our lives at the time, I think the program was just right.

We scheduled it for 10AM and later found out there was actually a ward Family History Activity that evening. So while we had to kick some basketball players out of the cultural hall that morning, some of them helped set up chairs and then we kept the chairs and tables set up for the activity later that night.

We set up two blocks of 25 chairs with a walkway in between the two. I had a little table by the door with a book highlighting Jake's TRAIL to EAGLE with permanent markers for guests to sign when they arrived. Along one wall, closest to the door, I had a long table set up with all of Jake's scout paraphernalia that I could find ranging from Cub Scout activity pins, belt loops and shirt to letters of Congratulations on his achieving Eagle Rank. Interestingly enough, Jake got a letter from the Washington Governor before he got one from the Oregon one. Haven't figured out yet why he even got one from the state of Washington.

Along the opposite wall from that display on the other side of the gym, was the most important table....the refreshments!

Up by the stage was the podium and flags and seats for those who were participating in the program.

Most of the craziness for me personally was that we were still showing our house. I had decided when this first began that it might be a good idea to always leave the house in "show ready" condition when running errands or doing activities, just in case someone wanted to see it while we were already out of the house. This paid off the day of Karcyn's baptism and also during Jake's Eagle Court of Honor. Right before 10:00, I got a call from a realtor who wanted to show it within the next 30 minutes. So that worked out beautifully. We didn't get an offer from it but at least I could sleep at night, knowing I had done everything in my power to make the house look good.

So thank goodness, it was just a matter of setting up some tables and chairs, grabbing the podium, a TV/DVD player and Jake's scout stuff.

Here's a shot of people coming in and getting ready for the Court of Honor to begin. My parents are in the bottom right-hand corner! They got to attend via Skype from London, England!

This is Mrs. Hanzel sitting next to Karcyn. We gave her the front row as the special guest of honor. She is the beloved librarian from Butternut Creek Elementary and Jake's former reading teacher. Jake's Eagle project involved removing the deteriorating plastic bookshelf brackets and replacing them with metal ones.

This is the Hough family Engine and Caboose. The biggest brother and littlest brother. Jake and JJ :) (With Calvin in the back hanging out with one of the young men...)

Our Master of Ceremonies, and Jake's former Deacon's Quorum leader, Kevin McIntyre, who had just moved out of the ward that week. Bless his wife, Paty, for sparing him that morning!

We had set up fifty chairs that morning anticipating that would be plenty for the audience on a Saturday morning and the day before Easter no less. It wasn't. We had to set up another ten to fifteen for later arrivals. We were thrilled with the support offered to Jake on his special day.
Here's Adam Thayne, presenting Jake with the Eagle Scout award. I was wrestling with JJ off on the side, which is why Jake's back is to me. Which is fine. We got it on videotape...hopefully...we haven't watched it yet. 
The Farmington Ward has a secret scout weapon--Lee Sellers--a 40 year scouter! He would graciously guide the future Eagle scouts through the egregious mounds of paperwork and project requirements, giving all of his tips and advice along the way. He came up to me and Jared a few weeks before the Court of Honor and told us about a very cool, limited edition Centennial coin that the Church had made. It marked the 100th anniversary of the Church's relationship with scouting, but very few people knew about it. Grateful that he would share that with us, we said we would purchase one as a surprise for Jake and at our request, we asked Lee to present the coin to Jake during the program. Lee actually retired from scouting just earlier that month (although I don't think his wife is convinced of that yet :) and we were so grateful we were able to slide in at the end of Lee's incredible tenure as a member of the Boy Scouts of America and partake of his counsel and assistance.  
Our beloved Wes McCullough--Eagle Scout himself--presenting the Eagle Charge to Jake. "Your one of honor and responsibility...Your responsibility goes beyond your fellow scouts to your country and God...You are a leader, but lead only towards the best. You are a marked man!
Pictures with the friends and scout supporters!
Best Bud: Asa Gonzalez
Peter Dickinson: former 11-year-old scout leader and one of Jake's running and chess club buddies :)

Beaverton Oregon West Stake and Lego buddy: Nick Boss

Former 11-year-old scout leader: Onyie Onyeabor-Udeh, who had just returned home from his mission to Madagascar
Jake and his new Teacher's Quorum leader, Dave Valencia (who would later take Jared's place as 2nd counselor in the Bishopric).
Jake and Mac were together for Jake's entire two years as a Deacon. We appreciated Kevin's priesthood lessons and assistance with the scouting. Jake loved Mac's devotion to ultimate Frisbee!

Like Kevin McIntyre, Adam Thayne was Jake's scoutmaster the entire two years Jake was in Deacon's quorum. They made lots of memories on camp outs (a wet one in particular at Silver Falls in November, was just Jake, Jared and Adam. I love that Adam did the camp out anyway because matters!) and at scout camp. Adam even gifted Jake with a blow horn at the Court of Honor because he knew how frustrated Jake would get with his fellow scouters when they wouldn't wake up! Without a devoted scoutmaster, even the most motivated scout will find it difficult to earn his Eagle rank. Because of this, Jake honored Adam with the mentor pin.
Jake had wanted to do an Eagle project for Mrs. Hanzel since he was in 5th or 6th grade. He made it happen and they have formed a life long friendship.
Jake and Mighty Wes McCullough. Wes is a Hough family favorite!
Aside from being such a wonderful cheerleader to all the families with young children and the youth, Brother Gary Haroldsen has crossed paths with Jake a few times. He used to help his wife Carol teach Jake's Valiant 11 class, he was the merit badge counselor for the first badge Jake earned on his own (Family Life) and is the Stake Patriarch. When Jake was in the Valiant 11 class, Brother Haroldsen told me once, "You can just see the goodness in Jake's eyes." And after Jake's patriarchal blessing (the beginning of February which almost got rescheduled because of SNOW) he said, "I'll be watching for Jake. He's going to do great things."
Wid Payne was Jake's winter sports merit badge counselor. When Jake took snowboarding classes up at Mt. Hood a couple of winters in a row, he would see Brother Payne up there as an instructor. Wid would always take notice of Jake and offered him overall support in his young life.
Jake being swept off his feet by his friends from church, all of whom went to different schools or were schooled at home.
Left to Right: Samuel Myer, Aaron Jackman, Michael Waters, Lisa Jackman. Jake and Lisa were also dance partners in the upcoming Dance Festival. They were in the Russian Dance.
Bret Parker is Jake's former Sunday School teacher. Bret was also very supportive of Jake and took a vested interest in him. So much so, that Bret wanted to teach Jake how to wash windows so that when we moved, Jake would have the means to start earning money right away. Such a sweet and touching gesture.
Jake with Lee Sellers--Scouter Extraordinaire! This man has the unique perspective of the scouting program with 40 years experience! We were so grateful to have him as a mentor and cheerleader for Jake!

And finally, two of Jake's biggest fans! We love our Eagle Scout and his dedication in achieving this optional yet elite rank. We hope his three brothers will see the value in the scouting program and will choose to follow his example.