Tuesday, November 29, 2011

House, Ward and Christmas

Our new house is almost done, as in the cleaning lady was there wiping dust from the floor today (right before the inspector tracked dirt through it). Our final walk-through is on Friday and we close next Tuesday. Overall, I am extremely happy with our builder. They were doing so well until about three weeks ago. Then there were a series of things that weren't right. The island was put in the wrong spot (by two feet), the big bowl of the sink was put on the wrong side (requiring a new piece of granite cut--ouch!), they poured the patio in the wrong spot, they poured the steps in the front one foot too short, the light switches weren't the ones we chose... stuff like that. But, to our builder's credit, they had each one of these things fixed to the way we wanted it. Really, it wasn't their fault that the concrete people didn't read the plans and that the granite people did it wrong. I would recommend this builder to anyone (McArthur Homes). It's looking great now. We are so excited to move into it.

We started going to our new ward two Sundays ago and it felt like home. Funny enough, we knew more people in that ward than we ever knew in the ward we've been going to for five months. All our fault, I'm sure, but it was so nice to go to a ward on the first Sunday and be greeted by the 14 neighbors that we've met over the course of visiting our new house on a daily basis. Other people in the ward were super friendly as well, including one of my cousins. I'm not sure if I'm nice enough to be in a ward like this, but there's always the chance that I could start being nice. I've definitely given it some thought, anyway.

This is just too awesome not to write about. The names of my three neighbors (across the street, next door and right behind us) are: Bobbi, Brandi, and Bendi. Seriously. Isn't that great? All very nice people, by the way.

Our first day was also the primary program, which meant that even though we were a few minutes early, we were still in the very back of the second cultural hall. It is a huge ward with a huge primary, so add a bunch of grandparents into the mix and you get nearly as many people as stake conference. They laid wood over the armrests of the choir seats and crammed three kids to a seat up on the stand, and there were still kids sitting in the congregation. They all looked like they were the same age, between three and five, and there were hundreds of them. They came up and repeated something together 6 at a time, because there would never have been enough time to have everyone speak--and it still ran over 20 minutes. This is a huge change for us coming from a primary of 25-30 kids. There will be no shortage of friends for the kiddos.

There are 4 nurseries, 5 Sunbeam classes (five!), 2 classes for every other age until Valiant 8, 1 Valiant 9 class, 1 combined 10-11 class and 2 deacons passing the sacrament. Crazy! Erin, who is in CTR 6, is in senior primary because there isn't enough rooms for all those classes. I don't know how there are enough rooms as it is. Probably the lack of youth. So that's our new ward. We'll be happy to finally belong again.

Since we are so focused on moving, I haven't been thinking about Christmas much. When I do think about it, I can't think of a single thing that we need. Over half of our stuff has been in storage for 6 months so unpacking it all will feel like Christmas already. Why would we then give our kids more stuff that they don't need two weeks later? I started feeling really strongly about wanting to find places that we could serve as a family or give gifts to for Christmas, instead of giving presents to ourselves. We have been so, so very blessed. When we sprung this idea on our kids, I'm not sure they really understood until we showed them two contrasting videos. The first was of people in the Dominican Republic who didn't have food or a change of clothes. One kid got his first ball when he was like 12. He had never even had one before. It made us all realize what we have and that we have more than enough to give. The second video was a scene of Walmart on Black Friday where a mob of greedy shoppers were fighting over $2 waffle irons. It was sad to see what materialism and greed did to people, even punching each other over such a ridiculous item. I think my kids understood more about the true meaning of Christmas. At least I hope. I know I don't want to fall prey to that, even though it is such a human tendency to want more and more.

Yesterday was one of the best days of shopping I've ever had. I took all four kids to the store to pick out presents for kids their own age (for the giving tree) and then had them each pick out hats, gloves and socks for another drive that we found out about. I've always done the giving tree in the past, but this year, it just felt so different because that's all we were doing. We are not buying gifts for ourselves at all this year, just homemade stuff. Okay, Santa might come, but nothing from the parents. I felt so good thinking about the kids that would receive these gifts and about finding more opportunities to serve this year. I think this was/is one of the main things that Jared and I have been missing lately. I saw this quote on a blog recently, “Never will you feel better about yourself, until you forget about yourself.” It is so very true.

Happy holiday season!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Halloween and Such

I realize I have not been writing a lot lately. This in part is because our life is pretty uneventful and boring, and in part because I've been extremely uninspired. I know there is much to be grateful for, but I have had way too many not good days lately. I feel stressed out about little things that I should be able to handle. I feel trapped in the in between stage of moving, like I'm paralyzed and not able to do anything (like projects and such). I don't have a calling or friends in the ward, which is understandable considering we were never going to be here long. I don't do a whole lot except keep the family alive, which is not exactly life-fulfilling, entirely. I just feel like there is something missing right now. I really hope I can find purpose and belonging in our new house and ward. I hope I can find friends there. Really, just one... one good friend is all I need.

We are going to our new ward for the first time next week. I'm looking forward to the change, and also looking forward to not being called Melissa Brown anymore. She arrived in this ward the same week I did, has four kids about the same ages as mine and I guess looks similar to me. I think people have called me Melissa Brown like 15 times, no joke. And people don't call her my name, it's one directional and so annoying. Just had to get that off my chest.

We did have Halloween. I had such a great idea for family costumes, but Erin refused to cooperate and Jared and I had no place to wear them anyway. Maybe next year. Instead Erin was a rainbow fairy (she loves the Rainbow Magic Fairy books), and everyone else got to be whatever happened to be in their size at the thrift store. I think they were all happy about their costumes and looked cute.Poor little Dumbo. I don't know whose idea it was to put those hoods and baby costumes, but I have never had a kid that didn't act like they were being tortured whenever one was put on. He was cute anyway. He was much happier once he found the football, and the hood was off.
Marissa as RapunzelAlex loved being Batman. Look at those muscles!I told him not to put his underwear on the outside of his costume...And Erin.She insisted on the rainbow wings.After trick or treating
Oh, and here are the pictures from Disneyland... Okay, not really. It was at the ward Halloween party where they took pictures in front of a green screen.

We managed to carve a couple of pumpkins. Nothing too exciting, but a tradition nonetheless.

The happy girl pumpkin.
The scary boy pumpkin.All lit up.

On to Thanksgiving. I know I should be thinking of more things to be thankful for every day. There is so much when I stop and think about it. My family is one of the greatest blessings. Each of the kids' unique personalities brings joy into my life. We have been so blessed with good health and safety. I cannot tell you how many blessings we have received in the past year that have led us to find a new job, move to Utah, sell our house, and build a new house. The blessings are countless. We have been blessed financially through the relocation package and other means. It's been a blessing to live in the basement apartment and to build the relationship with the cousins upstairs. I am grateful to have both of our extended families so close and for the relationships our kids can have with their grandparents and all of them. I am grateful for the mercy of Heavenly Father, for repentance and peace amidst challenging times. I am grateful for the plan of salvation, for what Christ did for us.

And now, all of a sudden, I feel much better.