Olivia’s Birthday

Dec

18

2016

Of all the things that have happened the past couple months, nothing is more imperative to remember forever than my kids birthdays.

So let’s talk about Olivia’s birthday.

Her big day came on the Friday after we moved. In trying to be sensitive to the challenges of moving for our kids, we were a little more indulgent than we usually are, and let Olivia invite an unspecified number of friends to celebrate with her. She decided she wanted to invite friends both old and new to our house to watch a movie and have pizza.

The party was simple, but I think the girls really had a good time. Olivia switched schools back in September, so it was the first time seeing some of her old friends in several weeks.  It was also the first time for Wyatt and I to meet some of her new friends.

Happy Birthday Olivia! What a sparkle of Sunshine you are to us!

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The Logistics of Our Move

Dec

18

2016

MEDIUMAs part of buying the house from the Romero’s we told them we would give them extra time to move out after the closing. They had entire lives within the walls of this home and we knew it would be hard for them, emotionally and physically, to move.

What we didn’t anticipate was just how much help they would need. Of course, Wyatt is never one to shrink when there’s work to be done. He started with the garage in the back. It’s a large shop (30×60) that Leo had built as a wood working shop for himself. It probably hadn’t been cleaned in 10 or 15 years. Wyatt said there was dust and leaves and dirt 18 inches high covering the whole floor. He swept, cleaned and organized the contents, moving them to the front where Leo could easily determine what needed to go, sell, and throw away.

After that Wyatt moved on to the house (now, my complainy side kept asking Wyatt “Where are their children?!” They have 10 kids between the two of them, but in the 8 weeks it took them to move, only one son showed up for about two days to help.) But that’s okay. When it comes to things like that, Wyatt can do the work of 5 guys – he just can. And so he did.

After watching them struggle to carry, pack and move things for a few days (while he was working on the garage for Leo), Wyatt invited himself in and got to work on the house. He moved everything upstairs to the downstairs, lining it up in rows of easily visible boxes for Anna to quickly go through. Anna would walk up and down the aisles that Wyatt created (or sometimes just sit in a chair and direct) telling Wyatt which of three piles each thing needed to be moved to: Move, DI, or Sell. Wyatt would then move each thing into an appropriate pile, and then move the larger piles to where they needed to go: their new house, the DI or a corner for a future yard sale.

When the upstairs was done, Wyatt did the same with the basement. And when the basement was done he helped with the main floor. The Romero’s did have their ward come for one evening of moving stuff over to the new house, but mostly it was Wyatt, day in and day out, going back and forth with truck loads of their belongings, moving them into their new house per Anna’s direction.

About two months after we put the home under contract, and a month after we closed, the Romero’s were able to move over to their new home, and Wyatt and I were ready to start moving in.

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We had cinnamon rolls on our first morning in our new house.

On our side things were much simpler. We had already packed our entire house earlier that summer, and it was waiting and ready in boxes in the garage. Most of our furniture had been disassembled and so it was a matter of loading up a moving truck, which Wyatt did with the help of a few of our friends, and bringing things over in one marathon evening. After that there were little things to move over (garden tools from the shed, things like that), but since our house hadn’t sold yet, and we were driving Everett to and from school over there anyway, it didn’t cause too much headache.

The biggest problem we ran into when we moved is that our dryer broke. I was warned last spring by a repair man that our set was really old in washer/dryer terms, and it would probably die any minute, so I wasn’t too surprised, but it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. We bandaided the problem with a dryer from KSL, which lasted about three weeks before it died as well. Finally we went and got one of the cheapest sets we could find from the Christmas sale. It’s not the set I would have gotten if I had more of a choice, but like I said it kinda happened at the worse time possible.

Also, about a week after we moved in I was in that accident that wrecked the van. That added stress to the chaos.

So the move wasn’t perfectly smooth, but we’ve felt the love and blessings of Heavenly Father in each step of this process. And Anna and Leo have now adopted Wyatt as their 11th child, calling him when ever they have something heavy to move :D

The Story of Our Move

Dec

18

2016

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Over the four plus years that we were actively looking to move, we seriously considered (as in, saw the house twice and discussed possibly putting in an offer) no less than 10 homes (to be clear, we saw dozens more than this, but these we actually considered or put offers on).

  1. Alpine ugly house (Alpine) – Wyatt liked it for the price/location. I hated it because it was ugly.
  2. Alpine bank owned house (Alpine) – we both loved the house, but it was just a little too far out of our price range at the time.
  3. Dawn Hill (Pepperwood)- fantastic view/location/lot, but the house was a disaster in terms of construction/floor plan. It would have needed a giant remodel and I wasn’t up for it.
  4. Manfield (Draper) – New house on 1 acre in Draper with a small barn in the back of the lot. Wyatt felt they were asking too much for what the house was (it was 4500 sq feet but only 2300 finished, and the yard had some basic work done, but still had a long ways to go. In the end  Wyatt didn’t like the house/quality and I didn’t like that it butted right up against the Draper Park.
  5. Northridge #1 (Pepperwood) – the house was in perfect vintage condition – old, but perfectly clean and functional. Because it was so perfect, it made a remodel not eminent. Wyatt liked it right away, but I wasn’t so sure. The yard left much to be desired. By the time I came around to the idea, it was under contract.
  6. Bear Hill (Draper) – the yard was AMAZING! The house was cool, but kinda quirky too. The ceilings in the basement were low, and the bedroom configuration was kinda weird. But like I said, the yard was AMAZING!!! We waffled on this one for a long time. Finally someone else put us out of our misery by buying it.
  7. High Mesa ( Next to Pepperwood, Sandy) – this one was also a bank owned. The house was FANTASTIC, and the yard was kinda quirky, but it bordered a creek and had huge trees. The neighborhood wasn’t great (let’s be honest) and we weren’t super thrilled by the ward either, but in light of the house and location, we figured we’d have to compromise somewhere so this would probably work. This is the one I really thought we would buy. We spent months in negotiations and trying to work it out with the bank. Finally someone else came in and bought it out from under us.
  8. Alpine 2 Acres (Alpine) – After High Mesa fell through, a 4500 sq foot (old) home with 2 acres came on the market. The house was old and needed some work, but did I mention it had 2 acres and a small barn?! We were willing to overlook the problems with Alpine in general for the property specifically. We put in an offer, but didn’t get it.
  9. Lost Canyon (Cottonwood Heights) – We looked through this house a few times. The house was fine, the yard was fantastic, butting right up to the mountain. Just go through a gate and you’re on the mountain hiking or playing. But the area wasn’t super kid friendly (neighborhood values were more liberal and DINKY (Dual-Income, No-Kids) and the house didn’t quite have everything we needed in terms of functionality.
  10. Northridge #2 (Pepperwood) – This was a beautiful high end home in Pepperwood that had been remodeled fantastically. The house was beautiful, the location was tops. The yard was big, and even though it needed a lot of work, it had a lot of potential.

Now it was when we were looking through Northridge 2 that I finally confessed a problem that I felt –

I felt it with all the homes we had looked at. We had discussed the problem many times over the years: LOCATION

Each place we looked lacked something in terms of location – proximity to work/cabin. Neighborhood. Ward. Something was always off. And as we went through the Northridge#2 home for the 3rd or 4th time, I finally told Wyatt:

“Look, I know this house is perfect. It’s everything anyone has on a checklist. It’s beautiful, it’s updated, it’s a fantastic neighborhood with great schools. The ward has a member of the 12 in it . . . but there’s something wrong.”

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it just WASN’T RIGHT.

But of course, we were frustrated. And I think Wyatt was a little bewildered that I was balking at this home.

Then one night we were driving through the neighborhood of the Manfield home (see above) – I don’t remember why were driving through, but as we went through this neighborhood, I finally finally could feel it. This was it! This was the neighborhood I wanted to be in. The neighborhood we needed to be in. I felt it like electricity through my arms.

I told this to Wyatt and we started looking right away. Trouble was – there was only ONE home on the market in the neighborhood. We went through it and quickly determined that the owner was wildly over priced – so much so that there wasn’t even room for negotiation.

And there was nothing else . . .

We waited a couple weeks, checking the market every day for something to pop. Nothing came.

One night we were driving through (it’s about 3 streets and 30 homes) hoping for a FSBO sign, and saw a neighbor out working in the yard. We stopped and asked her if she knew of any homes for sale.

And that’s how we started knocking doors. We went through the neighborhood knocking on doors asking if anyone wanted to sell.

On the following Sunday we went to church and asked the Bishop if he knew of anyone looking to sell. He didn’t.

No one seemed to know.

Finally on the 3rd night of knocking doors we met a lady named Joan Davis. She told us she had just done her VT the week before, and her teachee had mentioned in passing that they might start thinking of downsizing. She pointed us to the house and we went and knocked on it. No one was home.

We returned a few days later at met Anna Romero at the door. We introduced ourselves and told her we were looking to buy, and there on the porch she started telling us all about the home. She let us look around the yard and back shop and invited us to come back the next week to meet with her and her husband to discuss it more.

When we came back the next week she showed us the whole house and then invited us to talk numbers. We were able to settle on a price and put the house under contract.

Leo Romero was the original owner of the home, and had built it as a custom build after his divorce 35 years ago. A few years later he married Anna and they had raised kids in a yours/mine/ours situation. But now Leo was aging (85) and in increasingly frail health. The home had long since become to big and burdensome to care for properly. The yard was wildly overgrown, the house was starting to really fall apart.

But the final straw had been an incident that happened just the week before we knocked on their door. Leo had fallen on an exposed nail on the rotting deck in the back. The tumble took a real toll on him.

They (Leo and Anna) told us after the move that us knocking on their door had proven to be an answer to a prayer they didn’t even know they needed to offer yet. By us being able to come buy their home in its current condition with no requests of fix up or repairs, by being able to help them move (more on that later), and get them into a new home that was better suited for their health needs (a 1 story rambler within the same ward where they had years of friendships and relationships built), so many problems had been solved for them so quickly they didn’t have to carry an emotional struggle of accomplishing those things.

I am so grateful they felt their prayers were answered, because Wyatt and I really felt like we were the ones who received answers to long given prayer.

 

A Gospel Truth

Nov

30

2016
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I’m really loving this view from my bedroom window. There are a few windows in the house where you can see the beautiful Draper temple above us on the hill.

A couple weeks ago, while cleaning my kitchen, I was listening to the BYU Devotional ago about agency. [It was on in the background and I never even looked up to see who was speaking, but I’m certain it was a professor, not a member of the 12].

I listened to this professors thoughts on agency as I wiped and swept and scrubbed. At the beginning of the talk he pointed out the obvious – God’s plan is-and has always been -to allow us to choose for ourselves – be it good or evil. But Satan’s plan is – and has always been – to bind us to choices, to take away our ability to choose. He exercises his plan over us by and through habits and addictions.

Later, in the talk the speaker said something to the effect of “each choice we make for good brings the power of Heavenly Father into our lives, and each choice we make for evil brings the power of Satan into our lives.” And when he said that a light went on in my head. Remember this thought from earlier in the fall:

I’m trying to change some of my habits right now (let’s be honest, I have a lot of habits I want to change). One habit in particular I am using a friend as mentor/person to help me be accountable for the change. The other day I text her a small success I had. She text me back and said “It only takes 21 days to make a habit”

And in my head, my snarky side said “Oh bull.”

Maybe it takes 21 days to develop a bad habit. But at age 36 I can say I’ve never developed a good habit yet. I looked through my whole soul to see if I have any good habits, and guess what? I don’t. NOT ONE.

Example: Going to church.

I’ve gone to church pretty much every single week of my entire life. Other than being out of town and out of range of a church, which happens maybe once a year, I’m at church every.single.week. And still, it’s not something I consider a habit. I still have weeks where I’m tired, overwhelmed or just plain have a bad attitude, and I don’t want to go. On those Sundays the only reason I’m there is because I willed myself to be there. But it most definitely isn’t out of thoughtless habit.

There’s lots of other things I’ve done for much longer than 21 days, and those habits have never taken either. So . . . I don’t know what to say about that other than it probably only takes 21 days to set a bad habit, but definitely not a good one.

-I Think I Think Too Much

When the speaker talked about letting the power of God into our lives – it came to me – that power isn’t found in God forcing us into the next choice through habit or addiction. That power is the blessings of the Lord, and the confidence gained in doing what’s right. But the next time that choice comes before us, the Lord steps back, and again let’s us make the choice.

And the inverse is true of Satan. Each time we make a choice that goes against the teachings of our Father, Satan uses his power to bind us and to tie us, to take away our choices the next time. That is why addictions and habits are so powerfully destructive.

I know, sometimes I miss the obvious. I find that gospel truths are always so simple and obvious, and yet I never see it until I do. Funny how that works.

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And let’s have another look at that temple!

Blessings in Challenges
– or –
The Story of How I Wrecked My Van

Nov

25

2016
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The wheel of the van.


A week after we moved in to Somerdowns a tragedy stuck.

Wyatt’s business partner, Dave’s niece went missing in the Pacific Northwest. Dave went to Oregon to help search for the girl. Wyatt went too.

About 45 minutes after Wyatt pulled out of town, I was driving down the freeway. I saw the car in front of me swerve wildly. What he missed I saw I had to hit. I couldn’t swerve – I had cars flanking me on either side. So, I held the wheel tight, took my foot off the gas and brake, and braced for the impact . . .

A semi truck ahead of me had dropped a big jack off the back of it’s truck. I mean BIG Jack – the type that are used for tractor-trailers when they aren’t attached to trucks.

Well, I hit it with my front driver-side wheel, going 70 miles an hour. The tire exploded (creating smoke off the front of the car) and I held the wheel until I felt it settle down. Then I switched lanes as quickly as I could to the shoulder of the road. Once I reached the shoulder, that was the first time I attempted to brake (I didn’t want to brake before that because I knew with a blown tire it could pull the van to one side causing more problems). When I hit the brakes, there was absolutely no brake pressure – not even a little. So, I reached over, holding the wheel extra tight, and used the emergency brake. I wasn’t sure if the e-brake would pull as well, but it didn’t. It was effective, and I stopped on the side of the road none-the-worse.

So there I was, on the side of the road. Wyatt was out of town. I was pretty sure the car had some serious damage. I didn’t know what to do. Luckily a police officer must have been following up the freeway behind me, because he pulled up to me within a minute or two of stopping.

Also, the truck that dropped the jack had pulled over as well. Because of that I was able to get his insurance information to pay for the damages (phew!). The police officer changed my tire and I was able to drive off the freeway.

I took the van into the Toyota dealership for a damage assessment. Luckily they gave us a rental minivan since Wyatt was gone and I had no other vehicle to drive! Over the next several days they diagnosed the damage and it was determined that fixing the car wasn’t worth the effort (not only was the tire blown but a whole slew of other problems were caused). They totaled the car and cut us a check.

It was really stressful at the time (mostly because Wyatt was gone and I had kids going to three different schools in two different towns, and I didn’t have a washer and dryer working – but that’s a story for another day).

But all week I kept (trying to) remind myself how blessed we were. When I went to get the final assessment from the dealership the mechanic asked me in all seriousness if I caught air when I hit the jack. He said he’d never seen so much damage to a tire, and he imagined it could have launched the vehicle.

And when Wyatt showed his car-friend Ryan the damage, he too was blown away and told Wyatt we were pretty darn lucky there were no injuries. “Do you know how much force it takes to do damage like that?” he told Wyatt.

So I know we were blessed. I didn’t even so much as have a shot of adrenaline in the accident. I was very calm and clear headed, which was surely a blessing. And in light of the tragedy in Oregon, we felt extra blessed that we only lost a car in the ordeal.

Wyatt and the search party didn’t find the girl that week. It was three more weeks before they located her body. But she was found and has been put to rest, which is an answer to so many important prayers. I feel so grateful for that.

Christmas Book Lists

Oct

30

2016

Every year since they were born, each child has been given a Christmas Book. The idea is that when they are grown and ready to start their own families, these books will be the start of their own Christmas libary. We also get books for our family Christmas Library every so often (not really intentionally, just when I come across a book I want or someone gives us one).

We’ve started to get a respectable collection of books. We keep them put away with the other Christmas things, but when it’s time, they come out and go on a special book shelf for the Christmas season.

Olivia

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2006

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2007

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2007

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2008

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2008

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2009

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2009

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2009

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2010

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2010

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2011

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2011

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2011

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2011

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2012

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2012

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2012

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2012

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2013

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2013

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2013

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2013

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2014

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2014

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2014

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2014

Nate’s Christmas Book, 2014

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2015

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2015

Everett’s Christmas Book, 201

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2015

Nate’s Christmas Book, 2015

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

We Bought a House

Oct

19

2016
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The house is from 1982 – And hasn’t been updated since it was built (except the kitchen maybe 15 years ago).

After years of looking, we’ve finally bought a house.

Why did it take so long? The answer would be as long as the search. But suffice it to say that we feel really good about this purchase, and that it will be fantastic for our family.

But, let’s just be honest, there’s gonna be some hard work to do.

But when have Wyatt and I ever taken the easy way?

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This is the view from the street of the back of the house. There’s about a mile of juniper bushes that need to be pulled out.

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Again, the view of the back of the house from the sidewalk.

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The view from midway back in the yard.

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Wyatt’s favorite thing about the house is the 30×60 foot garage in the back. It’s extra tall, but far enough back that it doesn’t look too industrial. He’s got a lot of big plans for it.

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The view from the back deck.