The rest of the stories…

In the last month or so, there have been a few items that I’ve thrown out there for your advice and input, so I wanted to let you know how it’s all turned out.

1.  Appliances. Remember you all had 1,000 different opinions about the must-have items and features in my up-and-coming appliance collection?  Well, today is delivery day and I am so excited.  I rented appliances for almost a month– partially to give myself time to pick out what I wanted, and partially because I was afraid all this short-sale title-transfer business at the new house might not work itself out and we’d find ourselves out on the street with our brand-new appliances.  (We’ve been paying rent in the meantime, but the title was finally all cleared and we now have an official closing date to own the house.)  Anyway, go here if you even care about the final purchases.  I started to post it all, but then I felt dumb because it might come across as bragging or something  (Hey, wow, look at my awesome new fridge!), but I thought some of you might be curious about what I finally decided.  If I did not buy your very favorite item in the whole world, I hope you’ll forgive me.  I do have a budget, you know.

2.  Grant’s school. I had to channel the “mother lion” inside of me so I could hold my ground when I met with Grant’s principal and teacher. The kid is a year ahead of their curriculum and it has been a struggle to figure out what’s going to help him have a good learning experience.  My biggest fear is that he would become lazy and lose the attitude that he has to work and try when he goes to school.  We ended up with 3 options: clearance from the principal to (1) move him into another classroom with a teacher who’s much more equipped for “enrichment” or (2) have him tested to skip a grade, which he’d probably pass, but I’m just not sure about it, OR (3) put him in a brand-new charter school that just opened last week, but it feels kind of like a gamble because there’s no history or reputation to rely on.  We discussed all our options with Grant and let him pray about it. He chose to go to the charter school and started there on Monday. I’m still pretty nervous about it all, since the school is so new and still seems pretty unorganized. When I expressed my apprehension, he got frustrated with me: “Mom, God said (the charter school) will be fine.”  I figure that I need to let it play itself out, if for no other reason, to let him know we honor the answers he gets to his prayers.  Hopefully it will all work out okay. I guess the worse case scenario is he could learn nothing new this year, but then he’d at least be on schedule again for 3rd grade. Maybe. 🙂  By the way, I left Clark in his first grade class where he already was because he has a good teacher and seems to be doing well.

3.  The move in general. It’s gone much better than I feared.  Our neighborhood is nice, the neighbors are kind, the views out my windows are lovely, and the gospel is still true and all.  Things like Facebook and the phone have let me stay in touch with people I love and miss, and I’m beginning to feel more confident that I’ll be able to form some new friendships here.  The Lord has blessed us so much through this transition that I keep looking over my shoulder waiting for something terrible to happen, but I need to let it go and just be grateful.  This past weekend, we were able to attend a Regional Conference where Sister Beck, Elder Holland, and President Packer all spoke.  You can’t complain about opportunities like that.  (By the way, Sister Beck basically told young moms to stop spending so much time on the computer and to turn our attention to our children.  She reminded us –who am I kidding?  She reminded me— that the computer is simply a tool, just like a dishwasher or washing machine, and should not be a distraction.  It was one of those aha! moments for me– rebuking enough to be a little uncomfortable, but encouraging enough that I felt inspired by the counsel.)  Anyway, life is good at the moment and we’re starting to fall into routines and feel comfortable on our new journey.  There’s been stress, yes, but I know we’ve been blessed.

It is human nature, I suppose, to seek elsewhere for our happiness. Pursuit of career goals, wealth, and material rewards can cloud our perspective and often leads to a lack of appreciation for the bounteous blessings of our present circumstances. It is precarious to dwell on why we have not been given more. It is, however, beneficial and humbling to dwell on why we have been given so much. An old proverb states, “The greater wealth is contentment with a little.”

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philip. 4:11).

Alma instructed his son Helaman, giving him counsel that all fathers should teach their children: “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 37:37). Alma says, “Let thy heart be full of thanks unto God.” The Lord desires that we give thanks. In Thessalonians we read, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thes. 5:18).

… We should constantly strive to increase our gratitude. Gratitude may be increased by constantly reflecting on our blessings and giving thanks for them in our daily prayers.”  ~Steven E. Snow, “Gratitude,” Liahona, Jan 2002, 49–51

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Here she is… Miss I-crossed-America

I made it.

I am alive.  And I finally have Internet access.

Here is a little time-line to point out the whirlwind the last two months have been (and to record this insanity for my posterity):

June 21:  Matt gets his new job offer.  We negotiate and ponder for a few days and decide to accept it, contingent upon selling our home in Minnesota.  I begrudgingly accept the possibility of moving to Utah, but only if our house is sold first.

Beginning of July:  Contacted by relocation team with realtors, inspectors, movers, etc.  All a little overwhelming, but things get rolling.  We work like crazy to get our house in great shape to go on the market, including painting, packing, garage sales, storage unit, landscaping, small repairs throughout, etc.

July 16:  FOR SALE sign goes up and house is officially on the market.  I take the kids over to my mother-in-law’s house to sleep (so our house stays CLEAN).

July 17:  Drove two 11-hour days to get to Atlanta (where my parents live) so that we could spend time with them and the house would stay clean for showings.  Matt drove with us, we got a flat tire and had to replace all our tires.  He flew back to return to work (which he was not allowed to quit until our house sold).

July 23:  Our house sold.  What?!!  The first people that came through for a showing put in an offer.  Negotiations made and accepted by both parties.  I was shocked.  I probably need not describe the current market conditions and what a miracle it was.  This is the part where I realized that God was totally in charge, and He had plans completely independent of mine.

July 28:  I leave the children with my parents and fly to Utah to house hunt.  I look for 3 days and then Matt joins me.  We find a house in an area I had not considered at all.  (Matt found it online and I finally consented to go see it after crossing it off the list several times and being annoyed at his lack of focus in the housing search.)

July 31:  Put an offer on the house.  A few days of negotiations, then accepted by both parties.  We feel really blessed that we were able to find something we both liked at a really great deal. I went back to Atlanta, and Matt went back to Minnesota.

Week of August 1:  House inspections, mortgage initiation, lots of paperwork, more negotiations, hundreds of cell phone minutes logged.  Matt puts in his notice at work.

August 6:  Matt flies to Atlanta, and we all begin the drive back to Minnesota.  Two more long days in the car.

August 11:  Moving company arrives and packing begins.  (Yes, that quickly.  And no, I could not have done it without packers.  Thank heavens.)

August 13:  Moving company loads up the van with all our items.  The house is left empty, and we head out of town by 8 pm.

August 16: We finally roll into the Salt Lake Valley after 4 days of travel that included all of the following:  3 children, two cars, a trailer in tow, 3 nights in hotels, thousands of Sturgis bikers on the roads and in the hotels, loading and unloading all the contents of our 2 vehicles every night (except for Matt’s toolbox which I accidentally left in the hotel closet in Rapid City, SD), altitude sickness at the Continental Divide and pulling over several times because I thought I was going to faint, children with short tempers and leg cramps and even some fever, and finally, an overheated truck resulting in 2 hours at a truck stop and the rest of the journey with no air conditioning.  Bet you wish you could have joined us.  Next two nights spent sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags at our new house waiting for our stuff to arrive.  I also registered the kids for school.

August 18:  Moving truck arrives with our stuff.  Hallelujah.  Next few days spent unpacking box after box after box.

Today:  Still unpacking, starting to feel settled in the house.  Haven’t ventured out much yet because there’s still so much to do here.  The children are all irritable and naughty, which given the circumstances is no big surprise.  I’ve been pretty darn irritable and tired myself.  Matt starts work next week and the boys start school.  Hopefully we’ll fall into a nice routine soon.  And hopefully that routine involves naps for me.

Lessons learned:  Even in a world full of billions of people and turmoil and mind-numbing events, Heavenly Father is still aware of us as individuals and families, and somehow manages to find the time to put His hand in the details of our simple lives and make things as they should be.  And though insignificant by comparison, He lifts us through our trials and struggles and helps us survive them all.  Maybe even better off than we were before, but that remains to be seen.  Trusting Him goes a long way.

(I’ll slowly fall back into the blogging routine, maybe at a new pace.  I’m so sorry about the neglected GCBC; I’ll try to pick up where I left off soon.)

Creative discipline, and seeking wisdom

I accomplished more items on a to-do list today than have ever been accomplished in Stephanie history.  The natural consequence of this is poor parenting.  “Quiet!  I’m on the phone.” “Stop touching each other and go do something quiet.”  “I am in a bad mood right now, so you’d better shape up.”  These are all hypothetical examples, of course.

Matt and I have dinner plans with my sister and her husband tonight so I made the kids their own dinner.  I then left them for no-more-than-four-minutes so I could go phone in my dinner order.  When I returned, I found that they had entered deadly territory:  the food fight.  The floor was covered with peas and pasta and broken pieces of biscuits.  I thought bad words in my head.  I sent the main perpetrator (who should remain unnamed but I’m mad at him:  Grant) to his room and then went and got Matt out of the garage.  “I need you to come inside before I hurt one of your children.”  This is when Matt had a stroke of parenting genius.  First he took all their plates away.

“Your dinner is now on the floor.  Eat every single piece of it, or you’re dead.”

I love my husband.

Moving is stressful.  Really stressful.  And sometimes it turns us into mean people.  I’m hoping to be nice again in about 3 weeks.

We planted a garden in our back yard and I planted zucchini for the first time.  Is this normal? (That’s my full-sized adult hand.)

Our new house has no appliances.  This is a list of the items I will have to buy next week:

  • range/oven
  • dishwasher
  • fridge
  • washer/dryer
  • microwave (hood w/fan)
  • oh, and a king-sized mattress (which I realize is not technically an appliance)

Do you own any of the above items that you LOVE (like so much that you would return your children before you’d return said appliance)?  I really want to hear your suggestions of things to consider. I have the option of gas or electric for both the range/oven and the dryer–  Any thoughts on that?  Just pretend like you’re the editor of Consumer Reports and tell me what to look for and what to avoid.  Brand names and model numbers are appreciated.

I apologize in advance if I do the same thing I did with your places-to-live suggestions (moved somewhere different) and totally ignore you.  I don’t know why I do that.  Trust me, it’s involuntary.

I was going to write more, but I can’t keep my mind off of the Chris’ Outrageous Chocolate Cake I just ordered from The Cheesecake Factory.

CHRIS’ OUTRAGEOUS CHOCOLATE CAKE ™
A Cheesecake Factory Original – Layers of Moist Chocolate Cake, Chewy Brownie,
Toasted Coconut-Pecan Frosting and Creamy Chocolate Chip Coconut Cheesecake

Oh sweet mercy.

On the road again

Early in the morning, we begin the return journey from my parents’ house to our soon-to-be-old home.  We’ll be there two days before the movers come and start packing everything up.  By next weekend, we’ll be on our way to the new home.  The kids will start school about a week and a half later.  At some point, I hope I can take a 36-hour nap.

Since I’ll be traveling, this is the talk that will be for General Conference Book Club next week:.

“He Is Risen!” by President Thomas S. Monson

I’ll try to get the actual post up when I get “home,” but for those of you who are participating, feel free to go ahead and start studying it.  Have a great weekend.

Conversations that make you wonder

So in this whole we-might-be-moving mess, Natalie somehow got it into her mind that if we buy a new house, we’re getting a dog.  We’re not.  But she was telling Grandma all about it on the phone today, and when Grant overheard her, he began speaking over her loudly trying to remind her that we’re not getting a dog until he’s 13 (because I said that once, and I might play dumb in 6 years when he tries to remind me).  This is how the rest of the conversation went, to the best of my memory:

Grant:  “NO, Natalie.  Not yet.  When I’m 13 we’re gonna get a dog.”

Clark chimed in:  “Kids don’t live until they’re 13.”

Grant: “Yes they do!  How do you think kids turn into adults then?”

Clark:  “We’ll, some kids fall down the stairs before they’re 13 and die.”

He has a point you, know.  I’m thinking maybe I took the baby gates down a little too early.

Update:  House goes on the market on Friday.  Driving to my parents’ home on Saturday, Sunday and maybe a little bit of Monday.  When I arrive, I may take a 36-hour nap.  Sorry, mom.  I promise I’ll take care of my children after that.

How you too can become the world’s lamest blogger

Put your house on the market.

Seriously, if you were looking for a way to get out of blogging, making dinner, or any other important life plans or obligations, just decide to sell your house. You’ll spend 73 hours a day priming, painting, cleaning, decluttering, planting flowers, making phone calls, and stressing yourself out of your mind.

Thanks for all your great comments and advice on my previous post.  I’m working through my uncertainties, mostly by doing my as-willing-as-I-can-muster-up part and putting the rest in the hands of God.  He usually gets it right.

I will post some before and after pictures later and you’d better oooh-and-aaah over them as if I’d just given birth.  In the meantime, please be patient with me.  The few brain cells I have left are currently being destroyed by paint fumes.

p.s.  The second the house is actually on MLS, I’m packing up my children in the van and driving across the country to my parents’ house.  Keep my house clean enough for showings at any given moment?  *snort*  I’m no fool.

oh, and one more p.s.:   I know I’m being cryptic about the details– Partly because of privacy/safety and partly because some of the details of the potential move are completely contingent upon selling the house.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself yet.  I’ll fill in the blanks more a little later down the road.