Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Better Late Than Never...We're Finally Moving In!!

I can hardly believe how long it has been since I have "blogged"!  Geez.  Talk about being just a little behind.  I don't even think I know where to begin.  But...putting the last year and half aside...we are moving into our new home in Alpine, UT TOMORROW!!  I am just a little excited, I tell you.  I thought I had better do a little documentation of a very few "before our junk arrives" pics, as it will NEVER, in my lifetime, look like this again.  This is our final resting place and we both couldn't be more excited about it.  These are pics off my phone, and not great ones, and definitely not in any priority order...so here goes...
 This is our music room.  Fun thing in here...our cabinet guy (Benjamin Blackwelder) built in some file drawers for all my piano music...yahoo!  I've never had a music cabinet and this is going to work out great.  Mr. Mason (my piano) is just about done getting his makeover (oh my!) and this is where he'll end up.  The carpet is kind of a red wine color.  I imagine Lizzy and Lucy will find this bench to be their favorite perch! 
 This is Rich's office, right across from the music room.  He is so excited.  Especially about the little not-so-secret corner.  That book case on the left goes into a little, awkward space that was just available...and Rich put it to good use.  So.......if Lisa can't be found, please check there!!  But the cabinets are gorgeous...they are cherry and turned out so pretty.  Same carpet as music room.  Notice the door knobs.  I'll explain in a minute. 
 Going down the hall towards our bedroom.  So, for some twenty years or more I have been dreaming about my "dream" home.  One of the things I started doing was collecting antique glass door knobs.  Our contractor was just a little bit caught off guard about my request to use them.  Long and short, Rich (bless his heart, bless his heart, bless his heart) never gave up on my dream of using these, in spite of the negative reaction from the contractor.  He figured it out and said he would do the installation.  Each one turned out to be just a little different when it came to the actual installation and it took him well over a couple of hours per door.  True love!!  They still need to be cleaned up a bit, but we had to get them on to pass inspection. 
 Our master bathroom.  Yep, you're seeing carpet in the bathroom, and blue carpet at that!  LOVE how this all turned out.  At the very beginning when I was thinking about colors, someone mentioned that I should decide on a color scheme...warm or cool.  Well, problem is I like both!  So, the rest of the house probably falls into the "warm" category, but our bedroom and bathroom are definitely "cool" and peaceful and calming, etc.  I made a blue and gray quilt last spring that I can't wait to use.  Countertops are a product similar to Corian with integrated sinks.  The light fixtures (oh, that's a crazy story) will be replaced back to the original ones...four fixtures ago. 
 Lisa's guilty pleasure and one of the other things I've dreamed about...the master shower!!  This is a combination of a steam shower, plus a vertical spa (yep, 4 jets on my back) and then one overhead and one on an adjustable pole.  See below.  Not particularly liking cold weather, we had to come up with every coping mechanism we could...and this was just one of them!  Another reason for carpet in the bathroom...besides the fact that it is super soft on the feet!
 My dad was in a wheelchair for the last 30 years of his life and my mother the last 10 years...soooo, it's in my mentality to think ahead and cover all the possibilities.  Definitely could get a walker in this shower.  All of our doors are wider, the toilet is higher, the shower walls have extra backing in them for when we need to install more handrails, etc. 
 Bed will go against this wall.  We have a fun bay window in our bedroom and the view, oh the view, is incredible.  Happened to find my Mother's Day present the other day...it is a chair and a half...perfect gray and perfect fit for the bay window.  Thanks Rich!!
 This is looking from the door of the laundry room into my craft room.  Oh, so excited to have this space.  It is kind of complicated to explain.  Lots of cabinets, big counter for cutting fabric and folding clothes, etc.  Can't wait to get started. 
 One of the things we did switch from the original plan was to move the laundry room to the other side of the house, close to our bedroom.  LOVE IT!!  Accent wall color behind matches a little cabinet I found for the craft room.  That window on the counter goes in a cut out in the family room...will show that later.  The flooring in here is something akin to what you find in Target and comes in tons of colors, etc.  I can't remember what exactly it is called, but is super durable.  Found a great rug at Sams Club to go in here.
 Stairway going up.  Was thinking a couple of months ago...the layout of this house is pretty darn similar to our Edwardsville, IL home...for those that ever visited us there.  But hey, Rich and I don't even have to go up the stairs...strictly for company!  Come visit!!  There's two bedrooms, full bath, and a bonus room up there.  I think it is about 700 square feet. 
 Ah, the kitchen!  I'll take lots better pics, but this turned out to be all that I was hoping it would be!  LOVE our cabinet guy...he's so good.  Love the hardwood flooring...clear red oak with a natural finish.  Sweet!  The countertops...so worried about them as all I had to choose from was this little piece maybe 2" by 4".  But they are PERFECT!  They are Silestone.  Anyways, I'll do some better pics!  Was a bit worried about how much natural light I'd have in the kitchen as it all comes from one side, but couldn't be happier...plus...don't stop and count how many cans there are in the ceiling...I tell you, there's a LOT of them.  Pantry door is sticking open...oops. 
 The stone used on the fireplace is the same stone as on the outside of the house.  It is sitting in the corner...can kind of see that in the next pic...This fireplace is some kind of awesome! 
 Built in entertainment center.  So, as we age and it gets harder to see, we need bigger TVs...right?  I think you could see what's on this one a mile away!!  The back of the TV is against where my craft room is, so we added a door in that room to access all of the cords, etc. so we don't have to move the TV out every time we need to hook something else up.  Rich is *just a little excited* to hook it all up!! 
 So, for the 10 years or so that we've owned this lot, we thought that it was relatively flat...NOT.  Anyways, the landscaping involved a lot of retaining walls, etc. and because of that cost, we almost didn't do the waterfall.  But we are SO GLAD we did!!  This doesn't do it justice and it is far from complete and the picture makes it look like the fire pit and waterfall are right next to each other, which they aren't even close.  Oh well.  But the sound, oh the sound, is AMAZING!!  And fortunately, all of our neighbors in close proximity are quite thrilled, too! 
 Front door.  Chose clear alder and love how it turned out.  So the music room is on the right and office on the left...see, I told you...just like Edwardsville!! 
Love that huge crack in the street...hmmm.  Don't notice that until you see it in a picture.  Oh well.  Least of my worries!  So, you can't see that there is a 4 car garage, but there is.  Rich is a happy camper about that one.  One of the things we did, too, was to change the pitch of the house, and by doing that we were able to get more of a front porch.  Not quite the wrap-around-the-house porch I always envisioned, but this one is great.  And the views out the front are just about as good as the views out the back, which are amazing!!  I think our main floor is about 2700 square feet, which means that there's that much in the basement, but that is all unfinished.  We do have a fantastic cold storage area under the front porch.  It is plumbed for two bathrooms, but who knows what we'll end up doing down there.

Anyways, there you have it for now!  I can't believe we are finally, really going to be settled again!   My friend Darlene was visiting last week and made the comment, "It's a little bit of Illinois, a little bit of California, a little bit of Texas all mixed together!"  Tis true.  And a little bit of Washington, too!  What a blessing!!  We look forward to all the great memories to come, having lots of visitors, and sharing with dear friends and family.  Look forward to part 2...and hopefully it won't take a year or more to get it done! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Loving Caleb

I'm especially loving little Caleb this week! Two fun experiences with other people with the name Caleb have given great hope for who this young man will one day grow up to be.

In Seminary, we were studying in the book of Numbers this week. And actually, President Kimball (such a sweet and tender prophet himself) tells the story so well...

"Give Me This Mountain", Ensign, November 1979
"I should like to refer to the great story of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt to the promised land. In that story there is an account of one special man that moves and motivates and inspires me. His name was Caleb.

Shortly after Moses led Israel out of bondage from Egypt, he sent twelve men to search out the promised land and to bring back word about living conditions there. Caleb and Joshua were among the group. After spending forty days on their mission, the twelve men returned. They brought back figs and pomegranates and a cluster of grapes so large it took two men to carry it between them on a pole.

The majority of the search party gave a very discouraging report on the promised land and its inhabitants. Although they found a land that was beautiful and desirable and flowing with milk and honey, they also found that the cities were walled and formidable and that the people, the “sons of Anak,” looked like giants. The Israelite scouts said that they felt like grasshoppers in comparison. Caleb, however, saw things a little differently, with what the Lord called “another spirit,” and his account of the journey and their challenges was quite different. He said, “Let us go up at once, and possess [their land]; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30).

Joshua and Caleb were men of great faith, and they joined in urging that the Israelites go immediately, to the promised land, saying:

“If the Lord delights in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.

“Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for … the Lord is with us: fear them not” (Num. 14:8–9).

But the faint-hearted Israelites, remembering the security of their Egyptian slavery and lacking faith in God, rejected Caleb and Joshua and sought even to stone them to death.

Because of their lack of faith, the children of Israel were required to spend the next forty years wandering about and eating the dust of the desert, when they might have feasted on milk and honey.

The Lord decreed that before Israel could enter the land of Canaan, all of the faithless generation who had been freed from bondage must pass away—all go into eternity—all except Joshua and Caleb. For their faith, they were promised that they and their children would live to inhabit the promised land.

Forty-five years after the twelve men returned from their exploration of the land of promise, when the new generation of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, was completing its conquest of Canaan, Caleb spoke to Joshua:

“Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me … to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.

“Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God.

“And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.

“As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me [at least in the spirit of the gospel and its call and needs]: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, … both to go out, and to come in” (Josh. 14:7–8, 10–11).

From Caleb’s example we learn very important lessons. Just as Caleb had to struggle and remain true and faithful to gain his inheritance, so we must remember that, while the Lord has promised us a place in his kingdom, we must ever strive constantly and faithfully so as to be worthy to receive the reward.

Caleb concluded his moving declaration with a request and a challenge with which my heart finds full sympathy. The Anakims, the giants, were still inhabiting the promised land, and they had to be overcome. Said Caleb, now at 85 years, “Give me this mountain” (Josh. 14:12).

This is my feeling for the work at this moment. There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, “Give me this mountain,” give me these challenges. "

So loved and appreciated President Kimball's humility, and am so grateful to have a better understanding of who Caleb was and what faith he had. So grateful that he was eventually allowed to enter the Promised Land, among the very few to have actually started AND finished the journey!

The second "Caleb" experience occured this past Fast and Testimony Meeting in our ward in Katy. Towards the end of the meeting, a young man named Caleb Gardner stood up...he is maybe 9 or 10. He mentioned how his sister had previously shared her testimony and how he sat there pondering to himself why she would want to do that so often. He came to the conclusion that somehow it must make her happy, so he thought that he would try it to see if it worked, so he approached the pulpit, relaying to us the thoughts that had gone through his mind. And then with tears in his eyes, and a suddenly remarkably quiet congregation listening, he expressed his love for family, the Savior, the gospel, and the joy that it all brought to him. It was the sweetest moment! Brought peace to my soul. The Church will be in good hands in the future with men like Caleb Gardner and Caleb Brewer...I just know it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011 - Tender Mercies

It's Monday, after a fantastic week with family and friends in Southern California. Talk about hard to get back into "it"...geez...it was 32 degrees this morning...in Houston!! What is that about?? I was so cold last night that I could not make myself get up and get another blanket! Rest assured, even though we are in Houston, the electric blanket is now on the bed. Back to the week...

Rich and I went to Southern California a couple of days before the rest of the troops were to arrive. We haven't really had a time there together since leaving in 1999 and it was super fun. Yes, we miss that area...fun places and dear friends! I sit here this afternoon and just have to smile and feel grateful for several experiences that we had. We all know about that scripture in 1 Nephi..."the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." And then Elder Bednar's remarks about that scripture, "I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord's timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them." Thursday afternoon we chose to visit the Newport Beach Temple...so beautiful and so amazing to have a temple so close by. After we checked in at the front desk, we were approached by a gentleman who would be serving in the temple that afternoon. He said that Rich looked familiar to him and when he responded with "Rich Bowerman", the gentleman asked us if we knew Evalyn Bowerman. Ummm...yea...she was my mother! The gentleman then very quietly reminded us of who he was...her Bishop...from more than 12 years ago...he who spent countless hours guiding her, encouraging her, and blessing her life as her eclesiastical leader. We had met him a couple of times while she was so sick, and at her funeral, but Rich had spoken with him numerous times on the phone. It was such a sweet moment for the three of us standing there, knowing that it was definitely not a coincidence that we would choose to walk through those doors at that particular moment when he, who was actually filling in for someone else that afternoon, was standing there. It made our time in the temple oh, so sweet. And as we were leaving, we randomly asked a question of a sister sitting quietly close to the front door...turned out to be the Bishop's wife...and we had a wonderful conversation about Evalyn and how we remembered her.

Rich and I drove around and took pictures of apartments we lived in and our first home. We had dinner with good friends a couple of different times. Saturday morning Jennifer and I went to a favorite boutique at the Disneyland Hotel, called CUW. Some people are so darn creative...way fun. There were 12 different cashier stations and I finally ended up at one. As the gal was putting my purchases in order, I told her that she looked familiar and she remarked that I did, too. I have been gone from SoCal since 1999 and never lived anywhere she had, but we kept digging. Turns out that she is a sister of a dear friend from Bellingham, Washington, and we had indeed spent a most amazing day together at the beach many years ago. Way funny...and fun!

Our kids all arrived in Carlsbad on Monday of last week. We were thrilled with our accomodations and location...close to Legoland, the beach, San Diego, Orange County, AND there was a great "big, warm, bubble bathtub" - that was according to Claire. She spent a lot of time in that "bathtub", running from the freezing cold water fountain, to the nice warm bubble bathtub! It was so nice just to spend a relaxing time together. We did manage to get back up to Orange one afternoon and met our friend, Katie, who took some family pics. Loved walking along the beach and loved spending a couple of afternoons at Legoland with Claire and Caleb, and loved our Thanksgiving meal! One afternoon a group went down to the Mormon Battalion Museum in San Diego and yep, they ran into one of our old neighbors from when we lived in Santa Maria...a dear friend to Chris. How cool is that?

Everyone headed out Saturday morning, some driving and some flying, but we all arrived at our various destinations safe and sound and all about the same time. That was funny! Rich and I had to catch a ride from the airport that we landed at to the airport where we had departed from and left our car at. We had the most interesting conversation with our driver. She was very talkative and interesting, and as it turned out both she and Rich had traveled to the same place in upstate New York. Rich has a remarkable way of working the Church into conversations, and as he spoke about Olean, New York, he mentioned how it was close to places significant in Church history. So she finally said, "OK, tell me what Mormons believe." Really? She didn't know anything about the church, which is a little unusual. She was honest in her desire to know more and to find a religion where she "fit". She appreciated the fact that we have no paid clergy. She seemed to think that a modern day prophet might be a good idea. She was open to the idea of the Book of Mormon and asked how she could get one. She said that she often prays, and that when she prays that she asks that she will transport only good people. We mentioned to her that it may not just be "chance" that we ended up in her car that night. She was happy to give us her address so that we could make sure a Book of Mormon is delivered by some missionaries. Sweet times...we came home shaking our heads at all the amazing "little" coincidences that happened during the week, knowing in our hearts that they were not at all coincidental. And then in the morning I went to pick up Lucy and Lizzy...who have not let me out of their site! Missed my little girlfriends!! On to the holidays...LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this time of year!!
P.S. I totally realize that my red shoes really "pop" here (we were just going for lots of color!), but I love them...thanks, Jennifer, for talking me into that purchase. Maybe I should have Katie tone them down a little, eh?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Amy's Birthday - A Good Day to Catch Up

October 24, 2011

The thought went through my mind yesterday..."Oh my, if Amy was with us, she would be turning 30!" Feeling just a little old myself today. 30 years later there is still hardly a day that goes by that I don't think of my little Amy. Seems that as of late there have been so many difficult situations that friends/family/acquaintenances have had to deal with. I recognize that part of this simply arises from the fact that life is marching on (things happen the longer we live) and that my circle of friends has grown (thereby more experiences are shared) and that my children are no longer children and are therefore experiencing real life...at times it is fantastic and at times...not so much. I LOVED Elder Cook's address at the October conference...so good...
Here's just a little bit of it...
"Sometimes tragedies are very personal. A son or daughter dies early in life or falls victim to a devastating disease. A loving parent’s life is taken because of a thoughtless act or accident. Whenever tragedy occurs, we mourn and strive to bear one another’s burdens. We lament the things that will not be accomplished and the songs that will not be sung.

Among the most frequently asked questions of Church leaders are, Why does a just God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people? Why are those who are righteous and in the Lord’s service not immune from such tragedies?

While we do not know all the answers, we do know important principles that allow us to face tragedies with faith and confidence that there is a bright future planned for each of us. Some of the most important principles are:

First, we have a Father in Heaven, who knows and loves us personally and understands our suffering perfectly.

Second, His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer, whose Atonement not only provides for salvation and exaltation but also will compensate for all the unfairness of life.

Third, the Father’s plan of happiness for His children includes not only a premortal and mortal life but also an eternal life as well, including a great and glorious reunion with those we have lost. All wrongs will be righted, and we will see with perfect clarity and faultless perspective and understanding.

From the limited perspective of those who do not have knowledge, understanding, or faith in the Father’s plan—who look at the world only through the lens of mortality with its wars, violence, disease, and evil—this life can seem depressing, chaotic, unfair, and meaningless. Church leaders have compared this perspective with someone walking into the middle of a three-act play.3 Those without knowledge of the Father’s plan do not understand what happened in the first act, or the premortal existence, and the purposes established there; nor do they understand the clarification and resolution that come in the third act, which is the glorious fulfillment of the Father’s plan. "

Love that part about "all wrongs will be made right"...I have faith that this is true. It is what makes burying my firstborn child bearable. I have faith that families are indeed forever.

Moving along to the "catching up" part...

We are settling into our little bungalow/empty nest experience quite nicely. I think on the 2nd or 3rd Sunday here I was extended a calling to teach Seminary. Is it wrong to say that I just had a feeling about this...? Anyways, it's all good and I am having a fantastic time with my 9 regular students. This is a picture from this morning, actually. It was "Nerd" day at school, and a bunch of them came appropriately dressed.
This is all of them. I tell them often how grateful I am that they get me up and going each day. I am so glad to have them come to my home...6:00 a.m. comes early. We are studying the Old Testament together this year. I am learning SO much...it is amazing.

Needless to say, Seminary preparation has overtaken my life! The second they leave in the morning I'm thinking about the next day's lesson, and think about and prepare throughout the whole day. Not sure how full-time teachers do it. But I truly do think the world of them. These are such GOOD kids...willing to learn, participate, and be great examples to their friends. I count this such a privilege to serve in this way.

Shortly after school started here (and thus, Seminary), Rich and I headed back to St. Louis/Edwardsville to meet Marshall upon his return from missionary service in Brazil.

Here we are anxiously awaiting...I think he was the last one off the plane. Everyone who came off the plane and saw us with the sign kept saying, "He's on his way!" At last he arrived...what a relief to have him back in my arms once again. 2 years = long time, but within an hour I felt as though I was asking myself, "Did he really leave?" Marshall is still definitely Marshall...LOVE that boy and am so grateful for the example of service that he has set. It will serve him well throughout the remainder of his life.

First stop...Bobby's!! Yummy, yummy, yummy!!

Next stop...meet with President Holt, who extended Marshall his release from missionary service. We so enjoyed our time in the O'Fallon Stake and serving with these great men. What amazing examples of goodness and service. Marshall and Sarah drove out to Utah together...brother/sister bonding experience. And I understand they had quite the time. How grateful I am for modern technology that led them on their way and kept us in constant contact with them! Marshall's siblings were so excited to have him back in Utah...all is well.

I came back home for a short time and then headed back out to Utah...got some family time in!

This is Perry Sessions with Marshall. Perry is Marshall's 1st cousin, once removed. Perry just returned from his mission to New Zealand...how cool is that?? Now back at BYU together!

A couple of years ago I had met Colette. Her son, Ben, and Marshall left for the same mission on the same day and we have kept in contact over the past 2 years. Well, we had to meet for breakfast now that the "mish" is over. Colette also has a daughter Sarah's age...too fun. Even though they were in the same mission, they saw very little of each other, but had lots of fun stories to tell and spoke in Portuguese quite a bit!

Loved getting a chance to visit with my sister, Trish, doing better all the time after all of her cancer treatments were finally completed. Speaking of sisters and backing up a little...about mid-July my oldest sister, Sharon in VA, had gone in for routine knee replacement surgery - something she has put off for too long, but finally gave in. Well, the following morning she had a stroke...probably as a result of a blood clot. Serious? Sharon is very much like a mother to me...she is 73 this year. The stroke seriously affected her ability to speak and remember lots of different things. Of all things to have to deal with, this would probably be right up there with the most difficult for Sharon. Talk about having to learn patience. Sharon just bought her first computer in May of this year! She had labored over that decision for such a long time. She LOVES family history and has realized what a great blessing the computer is - just for that purpose. She is AMAZING and to say that this has been frustrating would be a severe understatement. I was able to go spend a week with her before Marshall returned and we made remarkable progress. Over the last couple of months she has periods of great depression/frustration, but as of late she is doing much better. Each time I talk with her I can understand a little better what she is trying to say. People, time frames, dates, etc. are routinely mixed up still, but she's getting there. And if there is anyone that can get through this and come out better for the experience, it would be my oldest sister. She still has a great work to accomplish and I have no doubt whatsoever that the Lord is blessing her and that the special gift that we have, the Holy Ghost, will indeed "bring all things into remembrance" for her. Again, one of those situations where all you can do is ask, "OK, so what am I supposed to learn from this?" Then move forward with faith.

Of course, getting to go to Utah means getting to spend time with my two favorite people in the world...Caleb and Claire...gosh I miss them!! Here's Mr. Bubba...

...and here's Miss Claire. She's almost 3...can't believe it!!

Also, the trip out yonder had the purpose of getting Sarah situated in school up in Idaho. This pic is out of place, but Sarah came down a couple of weeks ago and the kids all were together to celebrate her 18th birthday...can't believe that either!!

While on the way up to Idaho, we picked up one of our favorite people in the world...Jenny! Jenny is very much like a grandma to Sarah and I adore her. So easy to talk to and such a blessing in my life! What would I have done if I hadn't had her shoulder to cry on as I drove away from Rexburg, leaving my baby behind???

Some things just work out, ya know? I could NOT have hand picked a better roommate for Sarah. Natalie is a music major, too, and from North Carolina, and so has had many of the same types of experiences as Sarah. They were BFFs within minutes! Can I just say...I LOVE BYU-Idaho! There is such an amazing spirit that exists on that campus...such goodness. She is one lucky girl to have this experience and I know that she is having the time of her life. It makes my sadness at her absence just a little easier to handle.

But since Rich and I are missing the kiddos so much, we had been talking about a new puppy. Actually, while at the airport waiting for Marshall to arrive, we saw a couple get off the plane with one of these dogs...and we fell in LOVE! We asked about their dog and learned that it was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel...little bit smaller than a Cocker Spaniel, but a fantastic companion dog and good on the airplane! So we started doing our research. At some point Rich threw out the idea of maybe getting two...which kind of shocked me. But then reality hit and we decided on one...but then we found a breeder, went to visit, and...he had two sisters!! So I say...how could you possibly choose??

Meet Lucy on the left, and Lizzy on the right. They were about 9 weeks old when we brought them home. They have been a BLAST! And we are SO glad we have both of them. They keep each other company! They are pretty crazy when they are at play with each other...they love to grab each other's ear or tail...but then...

...they are like this...

...or this. They are almost always touching each other somehow when they fall asleep. They are doing super at potty training. They have very distinct personalities, though. One is very stubborn, one loves her bath, one is very patient at waiting, and on and on. I told Rich this was probably our only chance at having twins, so here we are!

They are so good at night, too. The kids will remember for sure that it took Oreo several weeks before she wasn't crying at night. These two climb into their crate about 9 p.m. and sleep soundly until I get up at 5:00 a.m. Then they play for awhile and are back in their crate while the kids are here for Seminary. Then we are out and having fun the rest of the day. They are SO sweet and we hope they will continue to be so. They are supposed to be the kind of dog that pretty much just loves to be around people. They certainly are eye-catchers. I took them out one morning and I lost track of how many people took their picture. Passed on the breeders info also. Finished their quilts this last weekend...and they LOVE them! Speaking of quilting...I'm back in the swing of it. A gal that was in our ward in Edwardsville, her parents are in this ward in Katy, and Colleen is a quilter extraordinaire! We get together once a week...I'm actually getting projects done and it is amazing. Looking forward to a quilting retreat down in Galveston in a couple of weeks. Also, Lindsay comes on Wednesday for the Houston Quilt Market - I think it is among the biggest in the country...should be super fun!!

It is incredibly odd to not have children at home. It's like - wow, no marching band, no practices, no school performances, nowhere you "have" to be most of the time. It is odd, but also kinda nice, too! We're getting into this! We are very much involved in ward activities. We had a great service project last weekend at a home for adults with limited abilities...did a bike race and carnival. Was SO much fun. Rich and I are determined to go places and explore this area. Who knows how long we will be here. But anyways, a couple of weekends ago we headed over to the San Antonio area and stayed at a hotel on the "Riverwalk"...was WAY cool! The funnest part was the Segway tour that we did. Need to find those pictures!! What a trip those things are!! The "Riverwalk" is so pretty. The puppies are not-so-good on their leashes yet, so we didn't get to walk around too much with them, but we still had fun!

OK, so that only took a couple of hours. Life is good, life is hard sometimes, but definitely good. We are very blessed. If all y'all find yourself in the Houston area, give us a call!! Would love to get together. We are planning on being in California for Thanksgiving, and Utah for Christmas.
Oh, and the World Series is tied up at 2...go CARDS!! We found that you simply can NOT live in the St. Louis area and not be a baseball fan...wish we were there to be part of the baseball frenzy that I'm sure is going on...kind of interesting living in Texas and not rootin' for the home team...oh well. Hugs to all!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011 - Happy Birthday America...from Katy, Texas!

I'm sitting here amidst boxes, boxes, and more boxes in our new Katy bungalow, thinking about how cool it was to be able to see the fireworks from one of the upstairs bedrooms at our home in Edwardsville. Before I mentally readjust to Katy, I need to reminisce just a little about Edwardsville. I've been thinking about all of the things/people/places that have been so dear to me over the past 6 1/2 years. This list is clearly not all-inclusive. We've had so many amazing experiences and our family has grown and changed and changed some more. We won't even go into that yet...except to say that Sarah is currently in Utah spending the rest of her summer with her siblings. Super proud of her for running a 5k today with Lindsay. Super glad that the kids were able to spend some time together on Sunday afternoon. She has missed them tons.

This picture was taken during the part of Youth Conference when we were at the St. Louis zoo! I'll mention more about that later...

One of my very favorite parts of the day was waking up and looking out the window and seeing this tree and listening to the birds sing. I remember growing up under a memosa tree and spending hours stripping off the little leaves and playing with the pink flowers. I have given this tree a LOT of TLC and it is finally turning into something. I will miss it!

My dear sweet friend, Karen Wall, shared several of her beautiful lilies with me a couple of years ago. Last year they were great...this year they have been fantastic. So glad I was there to see this...

...and this...

...and this....How I grew to love Karen and her dear, sweet husband Norman. I miss Norman and am so glad I was able to see him embrace the gospel.

One of the very best parts of living where we did is how close we were to Nauvoo. Love, love, love Nauvoo. There's no where like it! Sarah and I (along with Arena) made one more dash up the road to experience it just one more time. Spent the night in a log cabin, listening to thunder and lightening and remembering how similar it was to the night before Katie was married in Nauvoo. So grateful for the Prophet Joseph. I love this statue of Joseph and his brother, Hyrum.

How lucky I was to come in contact with lots of tennis friends. Wow, Edwardsville has the BEST indoor tennis courts at the YMCA. We were so lucky to be able to play all year. These ladies are amazing - providing equal amounts of competition and socializing and plain fun.

This is another fantastic group of tennis ladies. If I can find even just one group in Katy like I've had the pleasure of playing with in Edwardsville, I'll be one happy girl!!

Yep, I'll be lost without Carmen. Carmen cuts (and colors) my hair and provides lots of humor and a listening ear at no extra charge. The girls all love Carmen and will miss their visits whenever they came to town!

I've been so blessed to have such good friends while living here, and these are just a few of them! It is so very strange to find myself a tad bit older than most of them...how could that be? It seriously seems like just yesterday that I was the young, young mother, desperate for a friend. Girls need friends and after a certain point, age becomes irrelevent!

Debbie Coffey used to live around the corner from me in Huntington Beach, CA. Now she lives in St. Charles, MO, which was not too far from Edwardsville. We didn't get together nearly enough, but did have a chance for lunch a couple of weeks ago. Debbie amazes me in many, many ways! Melody came along also. Ummmmm....I can't even begin to say how much I'll miss Melody. I knew Melody and I would be good friends when we discovered that we had chosen the same china pattern decades ago. We've been through weddings, and fires, and walks, and talks, and serving, and grandbabies together...and that's just the beginning. Although we won't be together as much, I am sure that our paths will cross often - and I will look forward to those times!!

I have lots of little friends, too! I love all of the kids in the ward. Ashlyn and Payson were regulars at my house, as Heather was Sarah's flute teacher and brought them along. Small price to pay to have the teacher come to MY house. Didn't get a picture up of Sarah and Heather together, but I can not NOT write this without mentioning how grateful I am to Heather and her influence on Sarah - not just musically, but as an amazing example of all that is good and all that she has to look forward to. Heather always knew just the right thing to say and just the right way to say it. I will miss our musical afternoons!

And here are some more of my little friends - the Reeds. Their last Sunday was also the same day as mine, but they are headed north. These are some of the best kiddos and I will miss them tons. So glad the world is much smaller with the internet! Like I said, there were tons more...

I have never had a "Stake" calling before until I was called to work with the Stake Young Women, meaning I work with all of the 11 units in our Stake. These two ladies, Deor Jorgensen and Dana Waggoner, are a blast! We have had so much fun serving together and getting to work with the 12 - 18 year old girls. Keeps us young!! We had a blast last year at Girls' Camp and Youth Conference and monthly dances. A couple of weeks ago Deor and I drove out to Dana's farm - yep, a REAL farm - and spent the day seeing how life is on a true farm in Salem, Illinois! Way amazing. They have thousands of acres that they farm, AND she teaches 5th grade, AND her daughter just had twin baby boys, AND her husband is Bishop of the Centralia Ward. The woman is CRAZY busy. Deor has a daughter that lives here in Katy, Texas, SO we took a road trip down here together...way fun. Deor is so easy to talk with and the miles flew by. I will miss my association with them immensely...I learned so much!!

This is just one set of the many, many missionaries that have served in our area, but we really like these guys...Elder Dodge and Elder Jensen. Hoping they'll still be there when we go back in August. They so remind me of Marshall!

Miss Arena!! LOVE this girl. Arena has been such a sweet friend to Sarah. She is a year behind Sarah in school, but looks forward to catching up with her at BYU-I. She came into our Sacrament Meeting to see Sarah receive her Young Women Medallion - meant a lot to Sarah. Arena is representative of the amazing youth that I had the chance to spend my last weekend in Illinois with...

Here is the group after we finished our scavenger hunt at the St. Louis Zoo. I can't even begin to express how GOOD these kids are. Our Mutual theme this year is the 13th Article of Faith, which was printed on their t-shirts. Our conference theme was "We believe, we hope, we will endure" and they will! They gain strength from coming together and truly represent what is "virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy" to me!!

Ah, 102 Friar's Lane...I will miss you! I have loved driving (and running and biking) through our beautiful neighborhood. I have loved mowing the grass and caring for the flowers, in spite of the poison ivy, bugs, bee stings, and weeds. In the end it really is just a house...what matters most are the sweet memories that took place within those walls. Three high school graduates, two wedding receptions, one missionary farewell, music lessons, the Hawks living with us, Beth living with us, lots of other short-term occupants, luncheons, showers, birthday parties, parties after school musicals, Christmases, grandbabies visiting, ice storms, snow storms, power outages, bike trails, wonderful neighbors, Oreo, visits from extended family, spontaneous times around the piano...I'm sure I'm forgetting a thing or two...

I am so grateful that I got to know the family that is moving in! Especially made me happy that Julie likes the red front door and has no plans to change it...