Ward Boundaries

I'm not sure of the last time I've cried so much ...

Thankfully I didn't really start crying until we left the stake center... My head hurts, my eyes are red, my nose is running and I feel like a huge dork because I can't seem to stop. I'm not talking loud bawling or anything - just quiet, trying-not-to-cry tears. Trying to accept things that I cannot change tears. Trying not to upset the children tears. Digging DEEP for the faith I know is there tears. If I'm being honest with myself, selfish tears.

I grew up in a military family. We moved every three years and that's just the way it was. I always made new friends at each new post and many, many of those friendships have lasted into my adult years. I haven't completely put my finger on why this move is so hard for me but I guess it's because we didn't move. We're still here but our sense of here is now completely changed.

We moved to Texas in July of 1999, almost 9 years ago, and have been members of the Arlington 5th ward since then. Cara turned one here in this house - that's how long ago we're talking. To some nine years may not sound like a lot but, for me, to be in one ward that long is a true record. We live here with our closest immediate family a 20-hour drive away - the 5th ward has been our family. I've been the Primary president, in the Young Women presidency, and now in the Relief Society presidency in this ward. Bryan's been in the Primary, Financial clerk, Executive Secretary and Elder's Quorum presidency in this ward. We have history here...

Today our stake realigned boundaries of 5 different wards and created a new ward. People from the 5th ward were reassigned to 4 different wards, including some back into 5th. We are now members of the Arlington 4th ward. I knew that we would probably be going to a new ward but I didn't think we would be the only active family from 5th ward to be moved into the 4th ward pretty much by ourselves. (There are 2 active single brothers who are also in this boat with us.) All of our other friends from 5th ward had a large chuck of people they would stay with as they transitioned into a new ward family. This is where the selfish part comes in...

The stake president, whom I highly respect and have much love for, asked each ward to stand and sustain the new bishoprics one at a time. When we stood, I looked around to see who else would be in the 4th ward and saw maybe two people I personally know standing with us - none of which were from 5th ward. I don't think I've ever felt more alone. I couldn't help it - two tears slipped down my cheeks as I raised my hand to sustain this monumental change. Now they won't stop.

Sorry if this post is a downer. I know, just like when I was growing up military, that I'm not losing friends, I'll be gaining new ones. I'm just trying really hard to get over the intense feelings of loss I have right now. I do have a testimony of the gospel. I know the church is true. I get it. I'll be relying on that knowledge and faith to get me through this until I come to grips with our new reality.

Pizza Anyone?

We had a big elder's quorum pizza party on Saturday night at the Mansfield Webb park. Lots of pizza, laughing, kite flying, football, fellowshipping, sticky-plant throwing fun was had by all! This was our last function as the Arlington 5th Ward since our stake met today to realign ward boundaries today (more on that in another post sometime when I can get myself together...).

Jordyn with Claire Afungia her junior nursery leader and a great friend who I attended the graduation celebration in the Tongan ward in Euless last year with. One of my favorite students from my first year teaching, Manaaki Vaitai, was a member of that ward and is at BYU this year on a football scholarship!

Some of my favorite people: Courtney, Stephanie, Lisa & Joanna.

More of the girls: Jennie Jo, Erin, me, Sandi & Suzy.

Notice that I dressed up for this activity? Also notice the prednisone effect on my face? Nice.

Dash, aka Champion Kite Flyer & Fit-Thrower when it was time to put the kite away :)

One of our favorite elders ever on the right (can you have favorites?), Elder Gordon from Canada. He goes home in less than a month and this is his second stint in 5th ward. On the left, an equally great guy, Elder Montgomery from Nevada, who has been out in the field less than a month. Funny partnership when you think about the timing but it seems to work perfectly!

Not a great shot of the football game they had going but the only one I have... They had the missionaries be team captains and pick sides. :) Every guy out there last night was sore and complaining today - hee-hee! Bryan really pulled his hamstring... ouch... but he's quick to point out he played through the pain and his team won!

Thank heaven for porta-potties (and hand sanitizer)
'cause when ya' gotta go - ya' gotta go...

Walker Wedding #1

Our niece Ashley got married two weeks ago and I am finally posting a few pics of the blissful event! Bryan was the only Texas Boyer who was able to attend which made us all sad but he reports the entire weekend was just fabulous. Ashley is Bryan's sister Beckie's daughter who has been attending Snow College and got a scholarship to play volleyball for Snow. She married Joe Phillips, who happens to be the kicker for Snow's football team. Can we predict athletic children??
Brent & Beckie Walker Family

The aunts and uncles (minus Aunt Hil)

The cool fish in the blue water centerpieces that Bryan keeps mentioning. :)

Walker Wedding #2 will be in June when Beckie's oldest, Amanda will wed her Beau!


Lake Conroe Fun - Spring Break '08

Bryan's parents got us a week-long stay at their time share condo in Lake Conroe, TX. It's about 4 hours south of us near Houston. (Or if your name is Bryan - 3 hours...) So we packed our bags, added an extra child (Cara brought a friend from church named Sarah) and took off on a well-needed relaxing week.

We stopped on the way down to check out the Sam Houston Memorial Statue. It is VERY large and located near Huntsville just off the side of I-45. To let you get a feel for how tall he is I included a photo of Sam with some teenage vandals who climbed up on him...

View from the condo balcony. Over to the right were picnic tables and grills.

The first day or two was fairly rainy and windy. My sister, Alison, called to see if we were okay becuase she saw tornado warnings for our area on the news. Happy to report that everything was fine. :) So we spent a lot of time on things like this:

By Wednesday we were doing things like this:

I did not get in the pool because, as I explained to the kids, I am not crazy. It was in the high 70's, low 80's but the water in the pool was super cold. The girls thought ducks at the pool was pretty awesome.

Thursday we planned to meet our friend, Eric, at the Houston Temple. He was going to an early session and then would take the girls back to the condo so Bryan & I could do a session.

Literally 4 minutes from the temple Jordyn puked.

Not sure who's idea it was to let her have Coco Puffs and chocolate ice cream for breakfast but she now had a blanket of disgusting choclate vomit all over her and her car seat. Whoa. We stopped at CVS to clean her off and clorox the van out. The smell was over-powering... I also found an adult size long-sleeved shirt there, cut off the arms, slipped them onto her legs and put the shirt on her. I think she thought she was stylin'... Needless to say, we were not able to stay for a session but did walk around the temple grounds for awhile. Cara and Sarah kept oohhing and aahhing about how gorgeous the Temple is. I have to agree!

All in all, we had a fabulous time! It was nice to get away and spend time together. I finished two books, a 1,000 piece puzzle and a cross-stitch pattern I started when I was pregnant with Cara while we were there... So that's what I used to do before the Internet... hhmmm...
One more picture of Cara & Sarah the day we came home - good times, good times...



...I was so crazy busy that today I could barely do anything of worth.

5:00 am - Alarm goes off - snooze once - shower
5:45 am - Leave for doctor's appointment in Dallas with my rheumatologist
6:30 am - Arrive for 7 am appointment (they request you get there early...)
7:00 am - Lab work
8:00 am - Actually meet with the Doctor. He says he'll start to taper down the prednisone next month but then increased the dosage of Azulfidine to 2000 mg/day. Blood work looked just fine.
9:15 am - Back in Arlington - went to Dollar Tree sans children for a few Easter basket goodies
10:00 am - Pick up Jordyn from my Visiting Teacher's house. Her daughter was having a difficult time sharing with Jordyn and cried a lot while she was there but then cried again when we had to leave... The joys of 4-year-olds...
10:10 am - Arrive 10 minutes late to Visit Teach Gwenette - at least Sandee, my companion & good friend, was on time
11:00 am - Buy Jordyn a Happy Meal - she eats approximately half - this drives me crazy...
11:15 am - Drop Jordyn off at Robin's so I can go to RS Lunch Bunch at Kincaid's Burgers
11:30 am - Aforementioned Lunch Bunch with 6 others. A junior burger is PLENTY... and Yummy!
1:00 pm - Pick up Jordyn and head home - try unsuccessfully to get her to nap
3:20 pm - Cara comes home - no homework - phew!
5:00 pm - Go to Cici's school fundraiser pizza night
6:00 pm - Cara's Open House at Amos Elem. - Talk to all the teachers & librarian - They love her :)
6:25 pm - Bryan flew to Utah for our niece, Ashley's, wedding this weekend - thank goodness Brandon dropped him off at the airport! - Will come home Sun. afternoon
7:30 pm - Visit Teach Debi - arrive on time this time...
8:30 pm - Take children home - put to bed - they beg to sleep with me since Daddy's out of town - cave in to the request - immediately regret decision
9:00 pm 'til 3 am-ish (not to be confused with Amish) - Jordyn repeatedly kicks me in the back - I hear every creak and groan of the house - get up and look around with my trusty bat in hand - dog wakes up and follows me around - put dog out 3 different times - finally left her outside close to 2 am...
6:30 am - up again for a new day

I'm pretty sure I really over did it. Days like that never used to bother me, in fact they were somewhat routine but now I'm totally wiped out by a day like yesterday. Today I was so tired I didn't even shower until 3:30 in the afternoon. I laid in my bed reading/dozing while Jordyn watched a movie or two. I know - lame... I also scoured the Internet trying to find a last minute fare that would get me to Utah in time for the wedding but had no luck. It would have been fun to just show up and surprise them all!

I dug deep and found enough energy to take the girls to see Horton Hears a Who tonight. We all really liked it! We also stopped at Kohl's and found Easter dresses for both Cara & Jordyn on the way home. One more thing to check off my list. :) They are both short-sleeve dresses so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some good weather next weekend. It was 87 degrees today but Texas weather can change on a dime...


Our Easter Tree

I've had this tree since before we moved down to Texas way back in 1999 and I can't remember the last time I put it up. It might have come out once but even Cara couldn't remember ever seeing it.

My mother is queen of the holidays. I'm pretty sure she has holiday decor for every occasion. Mom would even send me holiday packages while I was in college and the family still lived in Germany. It was awesome!! My girls now look for a package from grandma when Valentine's Day, Easter & Halloween roll around. She's never dissapointed them and they love it!

I used to decorate. I don't know what happened... maybe just life... but I slowly stopped decorating for any holidays except for Christmas. Christmas is the one holiday I will go all out for. I love getting those boxes out and sorting through all of the red & green. I'm not saying we don't celebrate the other holidays; it's just that those boxes don't usually come down until the night before and by then it's too late to get the stuff out only to put it back again the next day.

Our ward is having an Easter egg hunt this Saturday. If you planned to participate you had to bring a dozen filled plastic eggs per child to the church this week so that everything could be hidden before the hunt actually starts. This is a good idea considering the whole Mormon Standard Time thing - however anyone willing to bet there will still be people who show up Saturday with a sack full of eggs? :) Bryan got down the Easter box from the attic for me and the girls and I spotted the Egg Tree.

I'm so glad. We pulled it out and decorated it together. The girls took their time placing each ornament on just the right branch. Then we all stepped back and admired each other's work. It was another blaring reminder for me to enjoy life and take advantage of these years when my own children are home and only want my love and time together.


In case you hadn't heard...

...Jordyn is a very clean girl.

Yesterday in Primary, Sis. Novak was doing a sharing time about how our body is a temple and that we need to keep it clean. Jordyn announced to everyone that her body is very clean because, "I took a shower with my momma this morning and we are CLEAN!!" (arms pumped in the air for added emphasis). Apparently Jordyn thinks the ladies in Primary are deaf becuase she then repeated this several times for good measure.

I had at least three different sisters come up after Sacrament meeting to tell me the story... I guess it is pretty funny.

Photo taken at least a year ago...

I Heart Coupons

4 pkgs. Reynolds cupcake baking cups
3 pkgs. Duracell AA batteries
8 pkgs. frozen Steamfresh veggies
4 pkgs. Bic 4-pk razors
4 pkgs. Hungry Jack instant potatoes
2 rolls Pillsbury cresent rolls
2 rolls Pillsbury Cinnamon rolls
2 lbs. fresh broccoli
2 lbs. pears
2 lbs. apples
4 Stouffer's Frozen Entree Dinners
1 gal. milk
2 boxes Honeycomb
2 boxes Fruity Pebbles
4 bags Bridgeford frozen rolls
8 Pillsbury cake mixes
3 cans Pillsbury frosting
1 box Barilla lasagna noodles
2 bags Jet Puff mini-marshmallows
4 boxes Betty Crocker fruit snacks
3 boxes Total cereal
2 boxes Reeses Puffs cereal
1 box Cocoa Puffs
1 box Multi-grain Cheerios
1 French's spicy brown mustard
1 lb. hamburger meat
2 Jennie-O Turkey Tenderloins
1 lb strawberries
1 Softsoap liquid pump soap
4 boxes Wholly Guacamole
1 loaf sour dough bread
4 pkgs. No Nonsense pantyhose
4 Sunsilk styling products

Total cost before coupons: $259.03
Total spent: $84.28
Total saved: $174.75!! (68%)

I love saving money. I seriously get a rush watching my totals come down on the grocery store registers. The sad part is I think the most expensive single item was the milk - $3.50/gallon...


$2,921.50 later...

We've had an expensive week to say the least.

The morning after the Stars game Bryan discovered that there was something terribly wrong with our house's sewer system. You might wonder how one makes a discovery like this... It seems that when your sewer is backed up all things related to water in your home exit through an exterior access pipe. Ours happens to be in front of the house in the flower bed. Floating on top of said freshly weeded flowerbed was copious amounts of toilet paper and other unmentionables. Awesome.

Bryan goes off to work saying, "Call the plumber. It probably just needs to be snaked." Snaked? Okay.

The plumber comes over and says, "I'll just send the snake down and clear the blockage. It'll be $188.16 to do that." Gasp - okay... The plumber, named David, sends the snake (long, hose-looking thing with a blade on the end of it) down into the access pipe searching out the evil obstruction. Nothing. He sends the snake in again. Nothing.

He rings the doorbell, a flustered look on his face and says, "I can't figure this out. I'm gonna need to send the camera down there and take a look. Whatever is down there is taking hunks out of the metal blade on the snake. I'll waive the prior fee but sending down the camera will cost $292.50." Yikes. He sends the camera down and discovers that somehow the pipes that connect our house to the city's main sewer are now offset. His fancy camera sends a signal telling him that the problem is 6 feet down and one foot UNDER our driveway. It'll cost - gulp - $2,484.00 to dig down and fix the problem. Oh, and because of the impending storm they won't be able to do it until tomorrow...

We get this all lined up and scheduled. David, the plumber, leaves. Next the refridgerator repairman (named Steven - a greasy, odd-looking man with thick glasses) shows up. Our freezer seemed to be working fine but the lower half of the fridge wasn't cooling. Some repair men come, do their job, get some money and leave. Not Steven. He wants to talk. Great. Apparently the thermostat on the freezer had over heated and was not automatically defrosting and it needed to be replaced. An hour and a half, $130, and another $15 under the table to fix my ice maker later he left. (Thank goodness...)

Meanwhile the city has come by to make sure the main sewer lines weren't the problem and the rain starts to fall. Other cities about 45 minutes away got up to 9 inches of snow. We got cold, pounding rain. This did not help my poor exterior access pipe much. You never realize how much water you use in the house until you have to weigh every choice to use it. "Hmm, this is going to have to be the world's fastest shower. No laundry. No dishes. Careful and creative moderated use of the toilets... Not fun.

The next day David-the-plumber was back with a crew of 3 guys to dig the hole. This took ALL day long. Six feet is deep. They piled all the dirt onto plywood on the lawn and sank lower and lower into the hole.

You can see the guy's shovel at the top of the wheelbarrow. The three of them kept trading places until they were finished. I realize only one guy could be in there at a time but it was frustrating watching the other two stand around.

This is David-the-plumber. He doesn't look happy to be standing in our sewage, does he?

The new and improved pipe and the huge mound of dirt that wouldn't all fit back into the hole they dug it from... why won't it ever all fit back in?

I'm happy to report that we can now flush, shower, launder & wash dishes once again. Did I really miss the dishes and laundry part?? And, yes, we are currently accepting all donations!


Reading With the Stars

At Cara's elementary school they have a program called Reading With the Stars that encourages the kids to read and read and read and read and if you read enough you get a voucher for two free tickets to a Dallas Stars game. Cara loves to read and read and read and after a friend gave her an extra voucher we found ourselves with four tickets to last night's Dallas Stars hockey game. Our neighbors were also going and we agreed that taking the train in would be fun and cost less than gas & parking so we all went together. This was our first mistake...

Game time was at 7:30. Bryan works in downtown Dallas and we agreed he would just meet us there. The girls and I got talked into taking the 5:52 train which would put us at the American Airlines Center close to 6:30. This equates to sitting around for at least an hour before the game starts - hard enough for an adult to do. Now think about a 4-year-old, named Jordyn, whom we love dearly...

To pass the time I took advantage of being able to text the jumbo screen and have our message (Hi Cara, Jordyn, Gabrielle and Brenna!) played over and over again. The girls loved seeing their names scroll by! It was kinda fun reading other people's messages too. One of them asked a girl to the prom. There were birthday and anniversary well-wishers. Another one said "I want to see Ott get into a fight tonight." This actually did happen - there were two fights one of which looked so planned and fake it was very odd to say the least...

We discovered that 'free' tickets are free for a reason. Our tickets were in Section 334. This is the highest section number they have in the AA Center. Row G is one row from the tippy-top. Can you say nosebleed section? Seriously. We did have a clear view of everything that was going on so that was nice! But when you're that high up there's no chance of catching a t-shirt shot into into the stands by an air gun or a Chipotle coupon dropped from a huge balloon shaped like a red chile, is there?

Our view from our seats - tiny little guys, huh?
Eating cotton candy... Can you see Bryan? :)
So five minutes into the first period Jordy's already had enough and asks if it's time to go home yet. Sweet. Mind you her adventure had started two hours earlier... This leads to two more hours of her crawling all over us and trying to go sit with random strangers who smiled at her. We thought we could take the train home at any time but were WRONG about that as the first train out of there was scheduled for 20 minutes after the game was over. Okay, now we're stuck. We end up staying for the whole game - which Dallas lost, by the way - riding the train back to our van and did not get home until 11:20 PM - on a school night! Do we win parents of the year awards, or what??

The girls (Brenna, Cara, Gabrielle & Jordyn) on the train ride home.

I know I made this sound like it was a horrible night. It wasn't! We did have fun together as a family and strengthened our relationship with our neighbors. I think next time, though, the money used from driving our own car and arriving and leaving when we want to will be money well spent. :)


Texas Snow!?

This is what we woke up to this morning. Pretty pathetic, isn't it? The girls loved seeing it anyway... I'm sure by noon it will be gone. The front lawn is already melted.

It's very indicative of finicky Texas weather because just Saturday night looked like this:

and this...
Notice the short-sleeved shirts and shorts? Crazy. It's supposed to be in the high 60's again by 3 pm...


Hooray for Hilary!

Hilary Keegan, that is. :) She's a college student at OSU who has given me a fabulous gift.

She designed the new look for my blog. I love it!!

It's not very often I come accross another Hilary - especially one who spells her name correctly... :)

Thanks so much!