Monday, March 28, 2016

Aunt Norma, 1941-2016

See that lovely lady on the left in the blue and white stripes? The one with joy and love emanating from her face? That is my aunt Norma, and she is heaven's newest angel. She is my mom's oldest sister, and the 2nd of her 10 siblings. Aunt Norma was the surrogate grandmother in our family since my mom's parents passed away before I have any memories of them.

From left to right: Seth, John, Ellie, Ralph, Carter, Mark, Kathy (my mom), and Mary

Although we lost Norma suddenly and unexpectedly which is always tragic, I think the story of her final hours on earth is really beautiful. She had recently taken up watercolor painting and was really pretty good. One of her pieces was being displayed at an art show, and she was planning on going to see it that night with her daughter, Shelly. They were all dressed and ready for the show, but had some time to kill, so Norma sat by the piano while Shelly played for her. My Aunt Norma was a great lover and advocate of music, and I can only imagine that this moment was already heavenly for her.
It was in that room that her heart gave out, and she never regained consciousness.

The family that poured in for her funeral is proof of the great woman that she was (and is!). Four of my six siblings were there along with our parents. It was a whirlwind trip (Byron and I drove down to Phoenix and back--20 hours in the car--in less than 48 hours) but I'm so glad we went. All of my mom's remaining brothers and sisters were there with many of their posterity. I haven't seen much of my extended family the last several years so it was really wonderful to see them and catch up.

This was a test photo that I took only to figure out my settings, but I love the expression on my mom's face. It was a hard week for her full of lots of emotional ups and downs, but she is one who will just keep on giving all that she has no matter how drained and exhausted she is.

It was a wonderful funeral full of music, laughter and tears. We love and miss you, Aunt Norma.


All four kids had green shirts for St. Patrick's Day this year. I call that a win, even if Sawyer's was actually a Christmas shirt, and Logan would have actually rather not worn green because he wanted to be pinched. (?) Izzy, Sawyer and I went to the Springville Art Museum for their art buffet (which was just a bunch of art supplies laid out for you to do whatever you wanted with). Sawyer was thrilled to be able to use the scissors since he's been banned from them at our house.

Afterwards we went to a local toy shop to spend Izzy's birthday money. Just outside the store was this cool painted wall that seemed like the perfect background for their shirts.

This was almost a reject picture due to the apparent strangulation, but their smiles are actually about as genuine as they come! I guess it's only appropriate-- these two have a tough love relationship.

That was the extent of our festivities. No green eggs and ham or corned beef and cabbage at our house. In fact, we got a jump start on the next holiday later that night by attending a production of Rob Gardner's Lamb of God. It is my favorite thing to do at Easter time and I cannot recommend it enough. The performance we saw this year had a sign language element that was out of this world. There was an entire cast of signers translating the performance, and they put so much emotion and action into their signing that it felt like we were watching a play on the side. It was really beautiful and added so much to the already breath-taking music.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

House Tour #6

This is the 6th house blog tour I've written. That doesn't include the four houses/apartments we lived in before I started blogging, or the two times we've moved in with Jeff's parents. Humor me for a second and let's number them.

  1. Our newlywed garage-turned-studio-apartment in San Dimas, CA. We spent all of 6 weeks here after our wedding.
  2. The ever popular Cambridge Court apartment. (I swear 50% of BYU newlyweds live in this complex at some point.) It was one bedroom, 525 sq. ft, and the perfect place to start our lives together.
  3. Our spacious TWO bedroom apartment in Richmond, VA, where we lived the summer Jeff headed up a sales team for Virginia Linen. We had zero furniture and one car, so I hung out by myself in that barren apartment for four months straight. But it did have a pool and a library within walking distance so it could have been much worse.
  4. First time living with Jeff's parents. The house they were living in had two master suites, and we were lucky enough to get the other one! Every piece of furniture we owned (minus our sofa) fit in that room.
  5. House-sitting for my statistics professor. This was a fun opportunity. He had taken his family on sabbatical for a semester, and offered his house to us for a deal we couldn't refuse. We had tons of room there and enjoyed getting to know that ward a little better, since it was the same ward we had attended while living in Cambridge Court (see #2).
  6. Our first home! We bought a brand new townhome in Saratoga Springs and met some of our dearest friends there. I just got together with a bunch of them last week, 10 years later. Logan was born in this house (3 days after we moved in) and Jeff and I both started our first post-college jobs here.
  7. Second time with Jeff's parents. They are so generous to keep putting up with us! We had a few weeks between houses so we crashed with them in the meantime.
  8. The Orem house. This was a bit of a change going from a new build to a 1970s home, but the yard was incredible and we had so many bedrooms and closets we hardly knew what to do with all of them! The location was prime, and we loved this ward and neighborhood. Savannah and Isabelle were born in this house.
  9. Oklahoma house #1 - This was our first rental in Edmond, OK. We only lived there 9 months, but it was a great start and the house served us well.
  10. Oklahoma house #2  - I never did a full tour of this one, but it was another short 9-month rental. These were some of the hardest and happiest months of my life. Funny how those things often go together.
  11. Arkansas house - This was a recent post, so I won't add much here. But suffice it to say we spent 2.5 blissful years in this home and welcomed Sawyer in it.
  12. Which brings us to our current home! Time will tell what milestones we'll see within these walls.

We are hoping to get a yard in soon, but we have to wait until the ground is dry enough to grade it. So it might be awhile...

Right as you walk in is the formal living room. I doubted whether we could fit the piano, sofa, and two chairs, but a little rearranging and it works!

Past the living room is a great room. This part of the house is laid out almost just like our last house, but with the dining between the family room and kitchen (a vast improvement!). It is so similar, that I am having the same project ideas surfacing. Ultimately, I hope to replace those bookcases with floor to ceiling built-ins.

The dining area is nice and wide with plenty of room to walk all the way around the table. We have always had tight dining spaces so it is heavenly to have so much room!

The kitchen is basically the white version of our Arkansas kitchen. I didn't even have to figure out where to put things because they just went in the same drawer or cupboard that they were in before. I love how bright this kitchen is, though, and so far, have been able to mostly keep up with dirt and grime on the door fronts.  

Speaking of bright, this entire room has lots of windows that let in a ton of natural light. I have learned that I crave light and my mood can be affected by spending too much time in a dark room, so I paid special attention to how much light a house got when we were house hunting. (If you're wondering about the random tape on the floor, we've had some issues with the wood splintering. They are being refinished this week, but in the meantime, tape it is.)

Our soon to be backyard.

The mudroom-- a first for us! Really it's just a hallway, but having all this stuff easily accessible yet not blatantly visible is a huge perk. That door at the end leads to a little powder room. It's also the only place I've found for our printer. I don't love it there, but it's nice to have it so close and I don't have a better solution so... for now, it stays.

Opposite the mudroom hooks is our command center. Again-- close at hand yet out of sight. Best of both worlds!

Upstairs there is a little landing, and then the bedrooms wrap around in a circle. (Again, just like the last house.)

Isabelle's room is a work in progress. She has never had her own room before, so we are making it up as we go. We painted the bed a few weeks ago and picked up a new quilt. Artwork and window treatments are up next.

Savannah's room has some of the best windows in the house. I have a thing for windows.

The boys room got a complete makeover when we put them together. New bed, new bedding, and new toy storage. Their bedding is my favorite thing ever. It zips! I knew I didn't want to mess with trying to make bunk beds, so we went easy from the get go. It is so great and looks pretty nice, too!

There aren't a lot of things I would change about this house, but oh! How I wish they would have put two sinks in this vanity! But since that is one of maybe 5 things I would change, I'll let it slide. The silver lining of one sink is lots of counter space!

Upstairs laundry-- a must if you have all your bedrooms upstairs! This laundry room is amazing. It has so much counter space! When I finish a load, I just dump it on the counter and fold it all right then and there. I have plans to put the wrapping paper on rods and have a wrapping station. And all my sewing stuff is up here so it doubles as a craft room.

Our bedroom has some pretty sweet windows, too. There really is not a dark room in this entire house.

The master bath.

If you go back to the mud-hall and head the other way, you take the stairs going down to the basement.

Oh basements! How I've missed you! One day this will be a second family room, two more bedrooms, and a bathroom, but for now it's Logan's permanent Lego zone. It's so nice having a place for his Legos to stay contained without having to battle with him about cleaning them up every day! I'm almost tempted not to finish the basement just to keep this space for him. Once it's finished, I know I won't be so relaxed about the mess.

Oh, and we use it for storage. Of course. If I can get my act together, I will KonMari this space and get rid of at least half those boxes!

This is a funny picture to include, and my car is reeeeally dirty so it's embarrassing, too, but I am head over heels in love with our garage. Our garage is HUGE. And yes, we have a history of small garages so my perception may be skewed, but this garage is deep enough for me to pull in with shelves in front of my car and still walk all the way around and even open the trunk with the garage door shut! Plus, it's extra wide so we have room for everything and then some.

On top of all that, there is a third bay which will soon have a tool bench at the end (and still room for Jeff's car). I love this space!

So there it is. I was pretty selfish this move and chose the house over location, so Jeff has a 25 minute commute to work, but I really do love, love, love this house. It backs up to a pond in a quiet part of south Springville and is minutes from the mouth of Hobble Creek canyon. We are also super close to Jeff's parents and sister, so we get to see lots of family. My brother is about 30 minutes away in Lehi, and works just across the street from Jeff. These are just a few of the perks we have enjoyed since our move. All I need now is for all our friends from the past 11 moves to come visit and say hello! So get on that, already, ok?


We brought back an overpriced stuffed sloth from Costa Rica as a souvenir for Sawyer. The first time he saw it, he cried and declared it "too scare-wee." He would have nothing to do with it for a few days, but the other kids loved it and eventually he warmed up to their example. Now Slothie (or Fa-fee, as Sawyer says it) is well on his way to becoming Sawyer's security animal. He lugs it around all day and cuddles with it at night. I've never seen him attach to anything like this before, other than his blanket. It's kind of cute and a little strange. 'Cause it's a sloth. And truthfully, it is a little scary (in a cute way). But to each their own.

Isabelle is Five!

My little Gizard is five! I spent a few hours the other night reading old blog posts and remembering her first birthday, first steps, and first words (which quickly became first monologues... this girl can talk!). Isabelle has always been a little firecracker and there is never a dull moment when she is around. Her birthday this year was no exception.

It started a week or so before when I asked what she wanted for her birthday. There was no floundering about; she knew exactly what she wanted. German pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast, noodles with red sauce for dinner, cheesecake with different flavors for dessert, and for birthday gifts, a bouncy ball kit and flags.

"Flags?" I clarified.
"Yes. You know, the ones that are red and white and have stripes..."
"An American flag? Like that?" I pointed to a house we drove past with a flag hanging on the porch.
"What size flag? A big one like that? Or a little one?"
"Oh, medium size. And I want one for Logan and Nana, too, so we can wave them around like we are in a parade."

Well, ok. Flags it is. And a bouncy ball kit. I knew exactly what she was talking about on that one because Savannah had received an identical kit from her cousin for Christmas. A $15 shopping trip to Walmart later, her gifts were done. But then the spendthrift inside me got out and I ducked into a cute local toy store to pick out a puzzle for my puzzle lover. She loved it, but not nearly as much as her requested toys. She was so giddy about her $4 flags it may as well have been Christmas. I guess I should trust the source.

Her birthday morning started with breakfast in bed (her idea). It was a school morning, so I delivered her breakfast then headed back downstairs to help get the other kids ready. She ate in solitude until I came back up to check on her. Later I asked her if she liked her breakfast in bed. She said it was lonely, but she still liked it. Silly kid.

At preschool that day, she received a birthday crown that has literally not left her head since. She wore it everywhere, including Costco where we picked up her birthday cheesecake. The clerk asked if it was her birthday, and she replied that today was only part of her birthday. I think she was a little confused when her actual birthday was since we had a party for her the next day. In fact, that night when I was tucking her in, I asked how she liked being five, and she sat up straight and exclaimed, "I'm FIVE?!"

Happy birthday, sweet, silly Izzy! You are a goofball and a sweetheart and I would never want to change a thing about you!