Bursting at the Seams

Admittedly, this title could apply to a number of things in my life but today I’m using it in reference to my ward. You see, with 4o YW and about a bizillion primary kids we’ve known that our ward was well on it’s way to splitting. I, myself, have unabashedly been tossing idea after idea into the rumor mill trying to come up with a viable outcome for this inevitable event. I thought I was prepared until the bishop stood up during mutual opening exercises this week to announce the actual meeting where they show you the overhead with the maps and the numbers of families, high priests, etc. As soon as this eventuality became an actuality I started to feel a bit sick to my stomach. This morning that sick feeling turned into tears when I went to my YW Presidency Meeting and found out what the boundaries are on our side of the highway.

I’ve been remotely affected by ward splits but this will be the first time I’ve actually been so invested in a transitioning ward. We’re in the section of the ward that gets combined with some other ward fragments to create a new ward. Today I found out that our fragment isn’t nearly as large as I was hoping and it left me feeling a pretty sad. We have loved and been loved by some of the best people I’ve ever known and it’s depressing to think that in many ways it will be the same ward, we just won’t be in it. Not only does our ward win almost every youth and adult activity in the stake 🙂 but we’re also known for our strength, friendliness and willingness to help out.

As we went over the info this morning I was disappointed to find out that only 3 of our young women would be in the new ward. I don’t anticipate having a calling with the young women again but I was looking forward to seeing at least some of them grow and mature and I’m sad that I won’t get to see these awkward little Mia Maids make their way into Laurels and beyond.
I’m also feeling somewhat helpless as I contemplate the future without the bedrock leaders that have sheperded us so well during the last 2 years. I’m grateful that other wards will contribute great people and I know there is untapped talent around here but I’m not looking forward to leaving this well-oiled machine.

Ritchie and I were the second family to move into this piece of the ward so we’ll now be separated from the people who’ve been our ward family since we got here. I know there will be new friends and new opportunities but we’ll miss the people we’re closest to, the ones we’ve served with, the ones that we’ve known the longest, the ones who welcomed us, gave us callings and helped us be involved. I know that it’s great that we have enough move-ins and new members to create a new ward. And I know eventually our new ward will be great but today I’m wishing that we lived a few miles further south :).

Bona Fide Homeowner

You know there’s nothing like a sunny day (after 2 months of rain) to get you out in the yard working away. Ritchie and I slept in yesterday, had a leisurely morning and then round about 11 decided to get outside and get some chores done. For me that meant a quick run and then 8 hours of weeding, pruning, trellising, watering, dead-heading, transplanting and beautifying. After I was done the yard didn’t look a lot different but the little things I’d done definitely improved the overall effect. And much to my excitement, I realized that we’ve transitioned from creating a backyard to maintaining a backyard. After two years of designing, buying sod, building planters, digging out rock, hauling dirt and planting I’ve arrived at the day I’ve been dreaming of. I can now look at the backyard in terms of purchases under $50, maybe even $20.
As I cleaned up the kitchen late into the night I started to think about the whole house in this way. When Ritchie and I first bought our house we were cautioned that the expenses of getting settled into a “new” home can add up quickly as opposed to the expenses incurred when buying an existing home. We didn’t pay much attention and didn’t really understand what could be that different, after all it would be our first house either way. But now, two years and at least $5,000 later I think I get it….all the little “make it liveable” projects are just about done. Sure there are plenty of little changes we’d like to make but the basics are in place and we can sit back and enjoy normal home maintenance. I’m not sure what it’ll be like because I’ve only imagined this day but I’m pretty excited about it! We’ve gone from uniform walls, empty windows and a weed-infested-dirt-cascading-off-the-cliff backyard to colorful rooms, blinds and drapes, sod, garden tools, a planter, blackberries, mulch, whiskey barrels and a bbq. Hooray!
Now the question is-how does one efficiently tackle home improvement projects?

A Few of My Favorite Things

Ritchie spent the better part of July working late nights trying to finish the “Concept Home” his company was building. Before reading this post I would recommend viewing the virtual tour of the house at http://www.stadlercustomhomes.com/ taking special note of the following:

*The sweet fish tank in the foyer (also visible from the office)
*The shape of the great island in the kitchen. On the far left it has shelves for cookbooks and then you can see the drawers for storage and cubbies for baskets. It was awesome.
*The 3 levels of outdoor patio/entertainment area

As is my tradition when touring 2.9 million dollar homes, I took a few photos of the features I liked best…

This is the ceiling in the study. I love the iron scrolling along the panels (but I’d hate to dust it!)

This the the dining room ceiling. I like the way it’s shaped and the stenciling was one of my very favorite features. These designs were faintly painted on several different ceilings and walls throughout the house…I absolutely loved them.

The beams in the master bedroom are faux painted to look like rusted steel. Not a feature I’d put in my own house but nicely done.

This is the tile in the transition area from the master bedroom to master bath. I like the way they used so many different types of tile so tastefully.

This is the hood over the range in the kitchen. If you look closely you can see the faint stencils again in the corners. At first I didn’t like the antique look of it. Uncle Ben described it as furniture from the Goodwill. However, after looking at it for a week I came to appreciate the contrast between the dark antiqued wood and the cream glazed cabinets. I really like the finished kitchen.

The wonderful utility room. The wrapping paper station is there on the left, along with the personal valet. The personal valet is your very own dry cleaner. I guess you can get them for about $350 which sounded like a deal to me. You can see the open shelving unit under the window…it moves so you can roll it around, pull it out and stick a chair behind it for a desk or use it as a second workspace at the computer nook which is just around the corner. Ingenious :).

This is the view from the elevator…that’s right, the elevator. Just in case your elderly parents need a place to stay. It had an old fashioned accordion gate and the doors to the shaft were automated to be locked unless the elevator was waiting behind the door.

This picture was the best I could do, sorry it’s diagonal. That little doorway is off of one of the children’s bedrooms. It opens into a little cave-like play area set up with little rocking chairs, video games and a storage ottoman. It was a popular feature.

This is the bath for the second bedroom upstairs. Ritchie really likes the tile.

I included this picture for the golfers. This is the golfcart garage (this house is located on the golf course in this 8800 acre subdivision out in the country). Notice all the golf stuff in the picture….golf ball drawer pulls, putters for the sink legs, astroturf as the countertop and putter heads for the hot/cold fixtures. Ritchie helped brainstorm this one. I thought it was pretty clever.

And finally, the powder bathroom. This sink is so awesome. Sadly, it costs $1,000 so I will never own one but I can admire it in this picture. It’s hard to appreciate the tile from these but they’re all colored glass and the total effect is great.

The media room wasn’t represented in these pictures or in the slideshow. It had a mini-kitchen, huge screen tv, leather couch and round poker table. I really liked the sliding windows that allowed you to pass through food/games from the media room to the main level veranda.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little view of Stadler Custom Homes’ 6 Augusta. Have a terrific day!

By the way…

The crazy little watermelon…is a cantaloupe. I told you I was a novice :).

A Clean Slate

Something I read yesterday really struck me. I’ve been checking out all kinds of IVF books from the library and one of the books suggested that each treatment should be looked at as the very beginning of your journey because you have more information so effectively you are starting from scratch. So instead of bringing all the failure with me, I just focus on the current chance and hope for the best.
This proved a refreshing thought so I got to thinking about it in other contexts. I realized that this little clean slate theory is applicable to life in general. If I could really get over the fact that even though I may have royally screwed up one day (whether it be a decision, a conversation, dinner) I have the potential to be great every day. I will obviously bring my life experience with me but I could stand to leave my prejudices and failures behind. Sometimes I forget that important part of my daily prayers…to drop the baggage and start with a fresh perspective. So tomorrow I’m going to try it…a clean slate for everything. I’ll let you know how it goes!

"Sheer Determination"

The rewards of athleticism are few and far between. Sure there’s the ward softball team and an occasional pick-up game but sometimes I wonder why I spent years of my life honing various athletic skills instead of being musical or technical, etc. This week however, during our great vacation at Lake of the Ozarks, I was grateful that I’d spent hundreds of hours learning to participate in various water sports. The obvious reason was that I was able to wow all of my pre-teen nephews with my athletic prowess. (I’ve included some pictures because I’m a show-off and Ritchie’s a good photographer who managed to take this first picture before I face-planted into the water.)

We spent Monday teaching the nieces and nephews how to kneeboard. I was excited that they wanted to learn and I was surprised at how easily most of them were able to master it. By Tuesday some of them were even venturing out of the wake and trying 360’s. On that second day we went out early (hence the beautiful sunrise pictures) for some adult time on the lake and after a few runs we started teaching the kids to wakeboard. All of the nieces and nephews between 8 & 13 wanted to try it so we spent the better part of the morning giving each a turn. Most of the time I was in the water with them, trying to get them situated and ready to go while Ritchie drove the boat. It became apparent that most of them would not meet with success on this last afternoon on the lake so we focused our efforts on the ones with the most promise. Not considering ourselves wakeboard experts on the first place, Ritchie and I were trying everything we could think of to teach the two oldest boys how to get out of the water. Joe (names have been changed :)) actually caught on pretty quickly which put the pressure on Ian, his older brother. Midway through the afternoon Ian had had 2 half hour turns and he still hadn’t been able to get up. He was so intent on success that he patiently waited for the other kids to take their turns and he hopped back into the water saying “I can do this.” The sun was starting to set and we wanted so badly for him to succeed. He used two more of his turns to no avail and finally with 20 minutes left before we needed to return the boat, we realized that he was coming out of the water but not turning his board quickly enough. We gave him this one last suggestion and hoped for the best. I’m not sure if our grins were wider or if his was when he got up that next try. He had spent at least 2 hours in the water, drinking liters of the lake and suffering all manner of bruises and injury from fall after fall but all of that didn’t matter when, according to Ritchie, through “sheer determination” he became a wakeboarder. It had been so fun to help him, cheer him on and finally see him succeed. The look on his face was priceless and though we’d had a great two days, those last 20 minutes on the lake were our favorite. And I was grateful I’d spent all those hours learning because it was even sweeter to learn it all over again with him.

Happy It’ll Happen Someday

I’m in need of some zingers…recently I have been the recipient of some rather insensitive comments in regards to parenthood. The most memorable of which was on Mother’s Day when my visiting teacher saw me leaving after church and said “Happy M–Happy It’ll Happen Someday!!” I had already sensed that this remark was going from bad to worse so I had quickened my pace to the door which meant that she had to yell that last part across the foyer. I was completely mortified. In my state of shock I tearfully made my way to the car, not knowing how someone could say, let alone yell 🙂 such a thing. Now, I know she meant well, she was trying to be sensitive but that may be the all-time greatest when it comes to crazy comments I get.
This weekend one of our youth conference kids, after staying at our house for 2 days, said “So how many kids do you have?” When I said none, with a bit of a laugh as I’m not sure where I would have stashed them over the weekend, he proceeded to ask if we wanted any. I assured him that we did and he went on to tell me that he did not because they were so much trouble…yata yata yata.
And then there are the ever present words of comfort, “Be grateful, they’re a pain.” “You can have one of mine.” “Just relax” (which would imply that this is all my doing) or “my sister’s brother’s cousin decided to adopt and the next thing you know, they got pregnant!” . It used to be that I could take these little jabs in stride but lately it has become quite a bit harder so I’m asking for help. What can I say besides “Not yet,” “Oh really,” or “I’ve heard of that happening” when people offer unsolicited advice or ask about my reproductive plans??

ps…This post is not intended to make any of you feel bad. Your questions are welcome as they are motivated by concern & love and I truly appreciate your support….I’d could never have made it this far without you.

The Huxtables

WARNING>>>this is gross. Last week we hosted some boys for youth conference. During “host time” I took them down to the pool where we met some other yc kids staying in our neighborhood. I made a deal with my neighbor that he’d play roughhouse football with the 15 yr olds and I’d keep an eye on his kids. I figured this would be the low key job-relaxing in the kiddie pool. Everything was going swimmingly until it we went back to the big pool and the ever popular fountain. You know, the ones little kids always love to sit on because water shoots up and they think it’s great. Well this time it wasn’t great. All of a sudden, to my horror, there are brown pieces shooting up and splashing back down with the water in the fountain. We’re not talking about one, two or even three, think 7-10. Germ-a-phob that I am, I instantly grab the kid and sprint out of the contaminated water to the bathroom. After picking up another little treasure from the bathroom floor I take her back out to her dad and explain that we have a problem. I’m wanting to sound the alarm and clear the pool until it can be properly detoxed. Instead, the dad moves to where the huxtables have migrated and proceeds to pick them up one by one, store them in his hand and throw them away. UGH!!!! Next time, I’m playing football and swimming my laps at the gym.

Crazy Little Watermelon

Remember that watermelon from last week?? This is what it looks like today….I’m hoping with all those blossoms I’ll get a melon or two :).

Bianca or Bessie?

So I think Ritchie may have the sweetest job in all of San Antonio. Last month his bosses decided to buy a company boat. Yes, that’s right, a boat, paid for and insured by the company, available for use by all employees. Well, for those of you who know Ritchie, you know he was ecstatic about this. I was pretty excited myself. We had wanted to take it out on it’s maiden voyage over Memorial Day weekend but the weather didn’t cooperate. However, the sun has been beckoning to us over the last few weeks and we’ve had some fun on the lake-twice. Now you may be thinking that we’re the company boat hogs, using it during 2 of the 3 weeks it’s been in operation but NO ONE ELSE WANTED TO TAKE IT OUT. I can’t really fathom this especially after the 2 fabulous Saturdays we’ve spent out on Canyon Lake. However, we won’t argue, we’ll just keep on skiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding and tubing. Not to mention darkening our sweet tans. Access to a boat has also heightened our popularity among our peer group…Lisa-maybe you could try boating at your next party :). Anyway, after our last foray we decided to bring the aforementioned boat home for a little TLC. We went to work…I busted out my Magic eraser and went at the scuff marks on the hull, we dug the grime out of crevices and containers, and buffed the windshield until it was crystal clear (I should’ve taken a picture). We noticed immediate improvement and decided it was time to christen this new beauty with a new name. In addition to Bessie and Bianca I like Blair and Belinda. Any other ideas??

The Jackpot

I have a confession…I wasn’t thrilled about going to the Family History Center tonight. I needed to go to the Stake Center for a temple recommend interview and I told myself I should at least stop by the FHC. You see I ordered some microfilm, oh, about 6 months ago and I had yet to view it. I had tried 3-4 times but the center closed early or all the machines were full, etc. But tonight, despite last week’s warning about crowded Tuesday nights, there were no other patrons. I dutifully started scrolling through the 1858-1870 marriage records of Grand Manan Island. I hit pay dirt in 1865 where I found Leonard Urquhart and Angeline Zwicker. I was somewhat disappointed that both parents weren’t listed as the witnesses (because that’s what I was looking for) but I was thrilled to have found their marriage date. I gathered up my stuff and asked the sweet grandma librarian which set of records I should order next. She replied with “Oh, I’m not sure you have to order anything. Let me just see…” The next thing I know she’s zipping around various websites, asking me to spell Urquhart and printing out 4+ generations of family members. The other librarian heard me shouting for joy and when he found out that we were trying to connect a family branch in Scotland, he volunteered to help with the search because he’s an expert on Scotland. Two hours and 11 pages later I leave the family history center with my head spinning…I sure am glad I went over there tonight and I don’t think I was the only one shouting for joy.

To Every Thing There is a Season

I think we’ve all heard this saying and we readily concur that tomatoes don‘t grow in the winter and lettuce fails in the summer. However, this spring I have been impressed with the intricate timing of even spring planting. Novice that I am, I planted all of my seedlings in February and then put all of my plants in the ground by the end of March…because that’s what my book said to do.
Many of my plants, strawberries, tomatoes, etc took off growing right away. However, I had a few seedlings that I
didn’t think were going to make it. (they looked like the okra-the tiny one on the left, front row). I’m always one to give a plant a second chance to so I continued to fertilize and water in the hopes that I might hit on something that would help the little seedlings have a shot. It turns out I just needed a little patience.
Apparently okra prefers t
o be started in May, as does watermelon. These little seedlings worked on their roots and hung on until it was their “time” this Spring. I have been amazed as this scrawny little okra plant and this withered watermelon seedling have sprung to life (watermelon above). They weathered the heavy spring rain and the harsh wind and now they’re doing great. All they needed was a bit more sunshine.