our house in the middle of the street

saturday-morningsunrise from my street

When I as engaged, I was charged with finding us an apartment. There were plenty of apartments, of course; the tricky part was finding one we could afford. We ended up renting a tiny 1 bedroom 1 bath top floor of an old stucco house on an isolated corner of Columbia Lane. It was close to my BYU where I was finishing up school and close to my husband’s job at Best.

That house was our first introduction to what is known as the Grandview Hill. I guess it’s fitting this NW girl should end up in the NW corner of her town.

Despite us being in a situation where the only neighbors we got to know were the couples that rented the basement apartment, we liked the feel of the area. I remember driving through neighborhoods in the Grandview Hill and thinking, “I could live here someday.” Which was a stretch for someone who always wanted to get back to the farm.

In particular, I recall driving through a neighborhood a little further southwest of our apartment and watching a house go up. I watched the progress of the bay window in the back of the house and every time I drove past it I thought to myself, “I’ve always wanted a bay window.”

Eventually, as we were expecting our first child, we moved across town into my cousin’s basement apartment at the foot of one of the Wasatch mountains, where we lived until just after the birth of our second child.

By that time my husband had been employed as a school teacher and I ungainfully employed as a stay-at-home mom and I felt it was time to look into acquiring a mortgage.

When we first met with a bank, we were literally laughed at.

“You won’t want to live in what you can afford,” were the literal words.

I asked the guy to show us anyway, and there were three homes in all of Utah County we could have gotten a loan for.

By now you may have guessed it was not the brand new home with the bay windowed dining room. But we did drive right past that house to look at the one I already knew in my heart would be our first home. Because it was right around the corner and happened to be exactly one mile from the school where Shane was teaching.

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The 1320 sq. ft. 2 BR home was definitely a fixer upper (the structure was initially a fruit-packing shed that had been build onto rather unconventionally a couple of times), but the price was right, Shane’s second job at the time (so he could afford school teaching) was installing sprinklers in the summer and remodeling houses nights and weekends during the school year, so we had a built-in handyman. And the neighborhood was perfect.

It was like coming home.

My favorite parts of that house were the light and spacious kitchen and dining area, which looked out from a big picture window to the green backyard, the deep oval bathtub in the tiny master bedroom, and the huge backyard, in which we built a sandbox that provided hours and hours of endless construction and entertainment for the kids (along with a few episodes of pinworm for the kids, because the neighborhood cats found it a nice playground as well).

But mostly it was about the neighbors. We felt at home–wanted and needed and loved–even before we moved in. We were surrounded by good people working hard to raise more good people in a place where it quickly became apparent even when people grew up and moved away from they longed to return. And some did. And so began the next generation.

Eventually we had four kids crammed into what was really one bedroom with a little side-room and it wasn’t until two of my brother-in-laws and one of their friends lived in a trailer in our driveway that I realized we might need more space. Shane’s 6′ 4″ little brother stood in the doorway of our home one day and it struck me that we might only have four kids, but those kids weren’t going to be little forever and we simply didn’t have room for four BIG kids.

Word on the street was that one of our neighbors a couple of houses up across the street was planning on selling his home. It was a gold brick split entry. I did not love gold brick. And I had no love lost on split entry. So I was not even interested in looking at that home. Until I heard the words “hardwood floors.” Yes. The upstairs bedrooms apparently had all hardwood floors under their carpet.

Split entry aside, this house 5 BR house was twice the size as our current home and was on a beautiful third-acre lot that had lots of potential. Fortunately, that year the bank had laughed out loud at us we were able to buy low and the market had grown steadily enough we could sell high and have enough equity for a decent down payment. So we jumped.

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And that is how we moved literally across the street. I didn’t even have to unpack the drawers from our dressers, we just carried them over and slid them right back into their rightful slots.

What I love about this house is the plentiful storage (my first linen closet!), the shady back deck, having a real laundry room, and a dining room large enough room for a my large second-hand dining room table on which I can feed people.

Since then our kids have grow almost as tall as Shane’s little brother. They fill this house with their very tall friends. Our first grandson is now the same age as our youngest child when we moved in. Over the years we’ve watched neighbors come and go and sometimes come back again. They continue to be our people.

I love knowing that, for whatever reason, this was and is where we are supposed to be.

There’s no place like home.

NaBloPoMo November 2016

Sunday thoughts

In order to avoid rambling on about something I can’t quite explain, this will be a short one.

Lately I’ve been thinking a bit about my congregation.

I’ve always appreciated the Sabbath as a day which, while not so much a day of actual rest for a mom, especially a mom who likes people to feed people, is a day to recenter. To stop and be still for a few hours (unless I get asked last minute to substitute in Primary, which is not so still) and rest from the cares of the world by focusing on Christ.

Over the past few months I’ve begun to grasp the value in not just meeting to worship, but meeting to worship together. I’ve not just felt inspired by others’ words, but also by their presence with me in the chapel and in our classes. Having been uprooted from my childhood homes in such a way I have no place to return to, I rerooted where I am now. Those neighbors have become friends in a sense that now feels very much like family.

We are different in many ways. In some ways we disagree. Yet when we are united in purpose to worship together, we become as one. And perhaps now I’m just beginning to sense the power in that. A greater power to lift and strengthen. Simply because when we gather to worship, to pray with and for one another, and to mourn with those who mourn in a very real way, I feel lifted and strengthened.

It’s as if somehow my somewhat-passive listening and feeling has evolved into a more active and engaged learning and being. It changes me.

Whatever it is I am feeling, it is almost palpable. And it’s something I look forward to each week – even on the weeks when, for whatever reason, I have to work for it.

NaBloPoMo November 2016

2013 – year in review

1525415_10152520083083065_1927935255_nFarewell 2013

Wow. My first thought looking back is that 2013 is the year that tried to chew me up big time. But I bit back, chewed on it for awhile, chewed it up and spit the bitter parts right back out. When I savor what’s left, these are some of the top notes:

luke and emily
Our first wedding. I never once looked at it as losing a son. I gained a beautiful, gentle, kind-hearted, hard-working daughter. Welcoming Emily into our family is a pleasure and a joy.

#Ihatecancer. I won’t pretend I’m not mad as h377 or that this isn’t one of the most bitter parts of 2013. But if I am to be honest I must also say that the courageous battles my mother-in-law, my mother, several friends, and now my mother again have waged/are waging against this brutal disease have left me gut-punched also by tenderness, love, faith and peace. And it has not tarnished – it will not tarnish – my hope. Now as I look deeper, I realize some of my most sacred moments have occurred as I have been witness to some of the darkest moments of this war. Still chewing on that.

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Closing the store is the brave thing to do. (Name that film!) I did something wild and crazy this year and walked away from something I knew well. Something comfortable and secure. From people I loved and who loved me right back. And took up, of all things, rocket science. Aerodynamics. Physics. Managerial Accounting. You name it. The girl who is afraid of flying stretched out her wings and reached for the sky. Yes – I still have much to learn. But I have made new friends, learned so much, and discovered what can happen when you dare to dream.

fam damily
Returned to the sea. One of the best things we did this year was rent a bright red brand new minivan, pile in all the kids, and head to the Northwest. It was the best of times. I need to stick my toes in the sand and let the wind whip salt-water spray across my face more often.

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Salt Lake Comic Con. I got a golden ticket. Braved the crowd. Went with a new friend from my new job. And had the time of my life. Geeks are some of the friendliest people on the planet and my favorite part was chatting up strangers from Frontrunner to Trax to Comic Con and right back home again. Oh, and Q. And Barclay. And a Wookiee.

crows on tress
Provo River Trail.
Sunsets.
Sunrises.
Trees – from bursting with blossoms, to casting dappled shade on green grass, to dropping brilliant reds and yellows for me feet to crunch crunch crunch, to stark black branches against bare sky.
The constant, reassuring presence of Mt. Timpanogos.
Rain.
Clouds.
Thunder.
Violent storm.
Peaceful, calming, quiet blankets of snow.

It does not get any better than that.

The entire year was made brighter and better by the love, laughter, and living life to the fullest with family and friends. Love and hugs to each and every one of you!

Welcome 2014. Bring it!

The perfect thing to say

I have been most blessed to have a few people in my life who generally know the perfect thing to say. This week in particular, two such people touched my heart in perfect and loving ways that I don’t want to ever forget.

Exhibit 1:

Me to a close friend:  Thanks for knowing me and loving me anyway.

Friend: ¬†Not “anyway.” I love you because.

 

Exhibit 2 (aka Card Writing 101):

Birthday card from my sweet brother Keith

Actually, when I showed it to my kids (telling them, of course, to “watch and learn”), Zack pointed out that this is a little more upper division than 101, probably at least 303.

“This” is a gorgeous scarf my little brother has spent the past three months knitting for me for my birthday. Knowing that my kid brother spent the past three months putting all kinds of love into such a lovely gift from the heart–via his time and labor–warms my heart more than my mere words can say.

I want to wear this every day for the rest of my life. The photo doesn’t do it justice. If I see you, chances are I will ask you if you want to feel how soft it is, because the yarn is heavenly.