Friday, December 7, 2018

March 2018

1st--Karcyn's 6th grade English class had a poetry unit. Each child read their poem to the class and the class then voted on which one they felt was worthy of being selected for the 1st Annual Poetry Slam. We were so surprised and excited to learn that Karcyn's poem had been voted in! I actually don't have a copy of the poem, but she wrote about her Grandpa Hough's funeral. She did a super job writing it and reading it. I was very proud!
The boy wearing red in the row behind Karcyn (below) has liked her since the beginning of 5th grade. :) They're good friends. Karcyn is VERY clear that she doesn't date until she's 16. AND...she even asks the kids around her to not say bad words or take the Lord's name in vain because it bothers her. This young man wanted to know what kind of words not to say, so she elaborated as best she could without saying them. ;) To his credit, he refrains from saying those things when he's around her and if he slips, he quickly apologizes. 
Karcyn and her friend from orchestra, Andrea.
2nd--Jake had to pick up a marathon packet in the Woodlands, Texas (about 90 minutes from College Station). He left as soon as school was out so he won't be gone all night. When he arrived, he learned that there was some other BIG event taking place in downtown Woodlands. There was NO place to park a small Civic. He eventually found a place THREE miles away. I was NOT happy about that. At all. So as the sun is going down, he had to walk SIX miles round trip in an unfamiliar place. I expressed my great concern over this and Jake told me not to worry--he could always RUN if there was trouble. I told him while that may be true, I was unimpressed with the organizers of both events. This was the only time they could get their running packets. I was totally going to talk to the event organizers about that poor planning with a conflict like that, but forgot to!!

3rd--Read this post to find out about Jake's big weekend! 

--This was a big month for Jared. He was in the process of switching job locations and possibly different duties/responsibilities within St. Joseph. He spent three years commuting 100 miles/2 hours of driving each day he had an 11 hour shift in Brenham. He loved his co-workers, but he only committed to two years and working every other weekend was really wearing on him spiritually. He needed to be able to take the Sacrament. There's a reason why we're commanded to meet together oft. Jared was moved up to the Bryan Express Care (instead of Brenham) until he was given a chance to interview/check out the local ENT clinic who was looking for a Physician Assistant. Jared wasn't sure he wanted to make a huge jump from primary care to the ENT specialty. But they were offering M-F, 8-5 hours with no weekends. Kind of hard to turn that down. Still--he wanted to at least shadow them to get a feel for it all. Well, on his days off from the Express Care, that's what he did, and he was paid for it. Finally, on March 6th, the ENT docs/surgeons decided they wanted Jared to stay with them. The only thing really holding Jared back was the big jump in the type of medicine he'd be practicing. He was basically making a career change after 12 years in Primary Care. ENT may only be dealing with things from the neck on up, but there are so many different procedures and instruments! Jared's head was spinning for a while and he felt like a deer in headlights most days. But he made the commitment.

--This is my dear friend, Donna Fruhling. I was assigned to be her visiting teacher in July 2017. She is an amazing woman! She was an Olympic basketball player back in the day. She is also a convert to the church. Her husband was in the military so they traveled all over the world with their kids and then served a mission in Thailand. Donna has cancer and spent some time in Reno getting special healing treatments. It was hard for me to know how to minister to her. Her husband takes good care of her, she can't eat much of anything, so making her a meal is out of the question. She has kind and watchful friends. But after visiting with her in March, during the course of our conversation, she mentioned that she should probably juice produce more because those foods provide great nutrients for her but it's a long and somewhat tiring process. That's when the light bulb went on! I exclaimed, "Donna! That's what I can do for you! I can help you juice your fruits and veggies. Let me be your hands, feet and back." So we set a date for me to come back and we juiced and had a wonderful time together. She even shared her drink. :) I love this memory. And from a visiting teaching or ministering perspective, it took me eight months of visiting Donna and getting to know her before this need ever surface. I know she valued our visits, as did I. But it's only after truly getting to know someone and becoming a part of their life that you are able to "see" things you didn't before.
--This meme cracks me up!
--Jared's mom was planning to leave Arizona where she had been living with her daughter Nicole since November and move in with us at the end of April or beginning of May. To prepare for her arrival, we decided we needed to make the living room a more social hub and conversational area. That meant, we needed to get some new furniture and fortunately, our tax refund would make that possible. We purchased this sectional in Oregon and it was in our living room exactly as it is here in our game room--just one floor above it's previous location. However, it faced our piano and the area to the kitchen. It fits good in the game room...makes it nice and cozy.
--This is a picture of the couch and ottoman I wanted to get for the living room downstairs. We purchased them before we left on Spring Break, but wouldn't have them delivered until after we got back. I was excited!
We were down to just two chairs in our breakfast nook and wanted something a little more stable for Karole. I sold those no problem.
This is the new table and chairs we got. They are much more substantial. Still only two chairs, but we can always add more if we want. Now that our kids older now, they mostly sit at our dining room table these days.
--This is our Young Women's president, Terri Klabunde (who was the Primary President when we were realigned into the CS1 ward in May 2017). She came over with the Beehive Counselor and Personal Progress sister to welcome Karcyn into Young Women's two days before we left for Spring Break. :) Unfortunately, it would be SIX WEEKS before Karcyn went to Young Women in our ward. She'd miss two Sundays with Spring Break. I was scheduled to visit the Navasota Branch on 3/25 and the family was coming with me (I think it's a great perspective to give our kids, when they can see that not all members of the Church meet in buildings like ours...sometimes they are small rented spaces. The branches always appreciate it when families visit, too, because it helps boost their numbers. :) The Sunday after that was General Conference, and the Sunday after that we were going to visit the Caldwell Branch! In other news, we're squeezing all we can get out of Jake before he leaves on his mission! We had him assemble the console center that the TV would be set on. It comes with a faux fireplace and a built-in space heater. You can turn on just the "fire" or just the heat or both. It's pretty cool.
The fun little poster Karcyn was given from her new Young Women leaders.
--I finally BIT the BULLET and got my substitute teacher orientation and training done for the College Station Independent School District. I'm certainly not doing it for the pay. I make less than $8 an hour. It's more like a charitable cause. My teenagers make more money an hour than I do! BUT--I cannot dispute that the flexibility of being a substitute work whenever and wherever I want definitely offsets the lack of money. We'll see how it goes!! I'm not gonna like. I'm a bit scared. It's one thing to have your own room and students. It's quite another to be a stranger to them and not know how to get around a school, etc. And I wasn't expecting to hear from the district that we have to work FIVE jobs before the end of the school year! Dang. If I had known that, I would have done my orientation much sooner. Not in the last 2 months of school.

--I also FINALLY taught Karcyn how to put her hair in a ponytail. It's probably more accurate that I showed her. How does one teach a girl how to do that?? Karcyn's a minimalist (much like her mom) when it comes to her hair. She didn't even like bows or cute little headbands in her hair when she was a baby. She is definitely not a fashionista, which most of me is grateful for! ;) But she's on the tip of turning 12 and she really needs to know how to do this at girls camp this summer! She's going to Colorado for a high adventure camp (from 6/30 to 7/7 and Cooper will be at EFY from 7/2 to 7/7 and Jake put his mission availability date as 7/1, so it might just be me and Jared and the two little boys that week!!) Like I said, I don't know how to teach someone to pull their hair back, so I knelt down on my knees and had Karcyn watch me as I slowly modeled how I put my hair in a pony tail. I did it a couple times and then she tried. Her hair is SO thick!!! She didn't do too bad. She had it down just a couple days later!

8th--Cooper had a tennis tournament in Madisonville about an hour away from CS. He texted that he won his first match! I got another text from him around 11am, while I was running errands to get ready for our drive to Utah for Spring Break. He asked, and I quote, "Can you come down to Madisonville real quick? I need a shirt." Ahhh, so the purple shirt I saw sitting in the dryer earlier that morning was his. Okay, so first of all, Madisonville is not south or down. It's actually northwest. Secondly, it's an hour each way. There is nothing "real quick" about it. Third, this would be a really good lesson about making sure you have everything you need before you go. Do a mental check. I responded to Cooper and said, "Sorry Babe, I can't." To which he replied, "Dang it. :(" He had to forfeit his second match because he got pelted in the crotch. When he got home around 7pm that night and was getting food, we told him to please take his coat off (it's bright orange with a marshmallowy/quilted style). When he did, his chest was bare and exposed. See picture below. Jared asked him where his shirt was. Coop said, "I didn't have one." "Is that why you texted us??" We thought you needed a specific shirt not A shirt!!" Hahahaha! He said he put it in the dryer that morning (to heat it up) and put his coat on to keep warm in the meantime. But he left the house forgetting he needed a shirt. So he played his match with his coat on (haha!!) and won! ;)
--Our friend, Teasha Adams, who came to visit and was talking with JJ. It had been awhile since she'd visited so this was the first time she heard him speak. 
--Before leaving for Spring Break, I needed to get fingerprinted to finalize my application to be a substitute teacher. The place you go to is not much wider than a door itself. The space of a glorified bathroom, perhaps. As I walked in, there was a partition off to the left. I heard this low voice ask if I was there for fingerprints. Automatically, I say, "Yes, sir" then realizing I didn't know the gender behind the partition, I quickly added, "ma'am" so as not to offend. There was a slight pause, crickets if you will, and then I heard a firm voice say: "middle finger." I was shocked!! This employee just verbally flicked me off! I was so stunned and embarrassed that I almost missed the next instructions about filling out some paperwork. The worker, a female, was saying something to the guy she was helping, but I was trying to maintain my dignity and focus on the papers in front of me, so I didn't hear what they were saying. Then it was my turn. I tried to be cautiously friendly and not make it more awkward between me and this woman who was clearly in the grind and mode of what seemed like a most monotonous job, in a chair, in a corner, behind a partition in a small space. I gave her my paperwork, she verified it, then she said she'd be doing my right hand first. "Pointer finger," which I gave her. Then she said, "Middle finger." And dawning smacked me up side the head. She was asking for the guy's individual fingers to scan when I walked in...not verbally flipping me off. I was soooo mortified. Even though nobody but me was aware of this terrible mistake I made. Wow. How could my mind even think the worst of a stranger like that?? It really made me think.

--Jake drove to a couple bookstores in town. He found this little $4 gem (a pocket-sized book on Hungarian words and phrases) tucked in a corner at a second-hand store. He didn't have much hope of finding anything because he came up empty at Barnes and Noble. Once we knew where Jake was going to be laboring on his mission, we wanted to learn everything we could about Hungary's history and culture. So naturally I went to the public library. Such a disappointment. They had books on Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, Austria, and Slovenia. Every country that Hungary is landlocked by. But NOT Hungary. What kind of library is this? What if a child needed to do a school report on the country and couldn't find anything at their public library? I have to say that the library in College Station is one of the FEW things that are disappointing about this town. I don't understand how an educated and well supported college town such as this one could have such a dinky and lousy library. I was able to check out an encyclopedia and we could read about Hungary that way, but still...

--This piece was written by JJ, right before we left for Spring Break. His translation to me: "On Spring Break, I am going to stay at Utah. I get to go see my Grandma and Grandpa."

--This makes me laugh, because JJ is starting to write his name as Jared--which it is. But it was a bit unexpected. I went to help out his teacher one day and she came up to me smiling and said she had asked a question of the class. When she called on him she said, "Yes, JJ?" Before answering he said, "Um, the name is Jared." Silly, silly boy!
21st--As a brand new Beehive (12 year old), this entry in Karcyn's personal progress journal was touching to me. (She let me read it. :)
22nd--This was our fun experience on the Thursday after spring break.
--The bedspread and pillows handed down to Karcyn from her Lee Grandparents. It's too fancy and slippery for Grandpa's liking. :)
--This is my dear friend, Ruth Graham. I have been her visiting teacher since 2015 and I love her to pieces. She is AMAZING. I love visiting her and getting to know her. She has incredible faith and wow, has she experienced so many things. She's from Canada. She was the valedictorian of her high school graduating class. She got engaged that night and her math teacher was so upset with her. She showed so much promise in that field. But Ruth believed family was of the ultimate importance. She is so positive. Her husband was the mayor of their town and a bishop. She has been a relief society president and a stake RS president--in a stake in Georgia that WE lived in. My family and her family lived in the same area and never knew it til now! She also used to babysit Wendy Watson Nelson, the prophet's current wife. She helped raise two grandsons long after her own children were gone and has been tending to and caring for her husband who had a stroke ten years ago. I just can't get enough of her. When our ward boundaries were realigned, she remained in the 3rd ward and we were moved into the 1st ward. I had been her RS president for 18 months and felt a watch care over her. But just because we're not in the same ward anymore, doesn't keep me away because we're friends. I visit Ruth as often as I can! About once a month. I took this picture because she said she had been at the store and when she came home, she realized she had been walking around with that bright pink sticker on her shirt that says, "New and Improved." Haha! We got a kick out of that.
--One day Calvin announced he wanted to try baseball. This is the first sport he's ever verbally expressed an interest in, so we said okay! (He glows in the dark! ;)
24th--Our friends the Hatalas invited us to join them in making the World's longest ice cream sundae. I'm not big on ice cream, but this is a world record we're talking about. How could we say no?? Unfortunately, Jake was SO sad to miss out on this. He had a track meet in Pflugerville where he would be pole vaulting! (He actually vaulted 12 feet and got 3rd place!)
Me and Annie--we are fellow altos in the ward choir.
Me and Karcyn. Hopefully the ice cream will be gluten-free. Fingers crossed!
Calvin and JJ following Jeff Hatala's example and soaking up the rays while we wait for the official start.
The lady next to us started spraying Reddi-whip in the kids' mouths. The kids sure liked it!! JJ couldn't get enough.
Ready, set, go!! And hurry! It won't take long before the ice cream MELTS! And it wasn't gluten free. :( Coop and Jared scooping.
Jeff, Baxter, Annie, and Posey.
Calvin waiting to pour on the toppings and do his part by eating!
Cooper and JJ doing teamwork.
Baxter having fun with the whipped cream.
Calvin holding up one of the "bridges."
Good job, JJ!
Eat faster, Coop!
Way to slurp up the ice cream soup, Calvin. Haha! That's what happens in Texas the end of March! Would a straw be easier?
--Our new living room furniture was finally delivered. Unfortunately, the cute yellow ottoman was too big for our space. *sigh*
The new fireplace/heater console for the TV.
And the two leather recliners at the other end of the room for Jenn and Jared. :) We got those at Sams. Some of us will be able to put our feet up.
--This happens EVERY year!! It's cold in the mornings in March, but then the sun comes out and it heats up. And those of us at track meets and in tank tops get burned because who thinks to pack sunscreen when it's FREEZING outside and you're scraping frost off your windshield??
--Sure love this great state of ours and our flag.
--JJ's new guilty pleasure.
--I really wanted to go out with my girls from my RS presidency (I had two second counselors over the 18 months). It only took rescheduling twice, but we finally did it and had a blast. Left to right: Melanie, Jenn, Stephanie, Meg and Kerstin. Love these women. Early on in my stewardship as Relief Society President, I remember Bishop Sharp (now president of our stake) teaching me that what I do and say in my presidency is training for these women to be future leaders and presidents themselves. I told my girls that several times and they laughed at me every time. But at the moment captured in the restaurant below, these were the callings:

Melanie (Young Women President); Jenn (Stake RS counselor), Steph (RS counselor), Meg (Primary President), Kerstin (RS counselor). Who has the last laugh now, ladies? Haha! They are the best.
As we got ready to leave the restaurant, we found ourselves caught in a spring monsoon. Some of us just went for it. Some of us tried to wait it out, but after 20 minutes or so, couldn't wait any longer as we had to be home when our kids got out of school. We texted each other our "wet rat" pictures. 
It looks like I just got out of the shower.
--Calvin found a friend outside our front door. 
--Karcyn sleeping with her Koala buddy. :)
--Jake had a track meet on the 29th right after school at our high school. So I picked up the little kids and we met Cooper there. What we thought would only be an hour, turned into three. The kids hadn't had dinner, it was getting close to their bedtimes, so we had to bail before Jake even vaulted. I was grossly disappointed. I hadn't seen him pole vault in person yet. These are some of the pictures I got of him warming up.
Beautiful sunset.
Calvin's teacher from last year was there watching her son vault and since she knew I had to leave early, she was kind enough to take these pictures of Jake and send them to me. Such a gift!!
--Refrigerator shopping. We were able to buy not one, but TWO refrigerators for HALF the price of the one we bought three years ago. The black one (which will be in stainless steel) will reside in our kitchen. The white one will be in our garage next to our deep freezer. The "free for all" food will be in the kitchen. Food/ingredients I need for meals and other special occasions will be in the garage as a "no touchy" location. Only Karcyn's gluten free frozen foods will be stored in the top freezer of the garage fridge so they will be in one place for her to find. The only drawback is that it was going to take 8 days for the appliances to be delivered. Thank goodness we had a working fridge, even if it was in the garage.
--Friday, March 30th was "Good Friday." The kids had it off from school and Jared had it off from work, so we jumped at the chance to take Jake suit shopping for his mission clothes just the three of us. We headed to Men's Warehouse because we knew there would be people there who could help us find the right fit and style. We were fortunate enough to cross paths with Matthew Silkwood that day. He was incredible. He listened to us and Jake's needs. He gave us information without being pushy. He truly, for lack of a better word, ministered to us that afternoon. our habit of quoting movies in our normal conversation, we learned that Matthew could do that too when he jumped right in with us. We died. All four of us were laughing, having a great time. I think the other customers must have thought we were a bit crazy. But no apologies here. Matthew knew Jake would need suits to last him at least two years, wearing them every day, in a far away country. When we told him Jake would be serving a mission in Hungary, Matthew said his roommate is from Hungary!!! What are the odds?? As we continued on in our suit shopping journey with Matthew, we felt such a connection with this young man. That was truly one of the best experiences ever. We decided to send Matthew a graduation/mission announcement and invite him to Jake's farewell.
--After we went shopping, we went fishing, of course!! Our favorite little spot in the Woodlake neighborhood.
Look at that large mouth bass Calvin caught right out of the gate.
I noticed something small poking out at the top of the surface halfway between us and the other side of the shore. A beaver maybe?
As it got closer, I realized it was a...snake!
You can hardly see it here. That's a little unsettling!
This was only the second live snake I've seen in Texas and definitely the closest I've ever been!
It was fascinating to watch. I also learned that only poisonous snakes will swim with their entire bodies visible on the water. This is because venomous snakes swim with their lungs inflated, whereas a harmless snake will swim with its body submerged.
It was realllllly long.
It headed toward a field on the neighboring property. My search of different snakes after that encounter lead me to believe that it was aTexas Rat Snake indigenous to the Brazos Valley where we live.
JJ's fish!!

Calvin's first catfish! Proud papa!
--Our subdivision pool getting a makeover. Looking forward to it opening up as soon as possible!
A perfectly small climbing tree for a perfectly small guy like JJ.

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