Blast from the Past

Time was short this fall so sadly I didn't get around to making the kids costumes. However we went to Jared's parents a few weeks ago and the kids found an old bin full on costumes that Grandma Linda had made over the years. They had a blast trying them on and were so excited she let them take them for Halloween. In fact we think Ike's batman was Jared's costume as a toddler which made it kind of fun!
We had our church trunk or treat, they had tons of games and the kids had a blast and came home with lots of candy.
Ike was so proud of his Batman Costume. He would walk up to any giver door and yell "I'M BATMAN! However note to self, snow white hair and black hair paint do not mix, his was a dusty gray for a few days. By the end of trick or treating Batman looked like he had a rough night :)Checking out their loot!

Fall Whirlwind

The fall passed without notice. And yes it is officially winter here because Dairy Queen closed today. We have had beautiful weather. Even today was t-shirt weather for a few hours in the afternoon.

We finally moved in last Saturday, it was a long weekend, but is so nice not to be living in two places! One of these days I will get some house photos posted. We worked on the house night and day for three weeks, but probably don't have much to show for it. Most of it was cleaning, drywall and patching, plumbing and some painting. However we are loving it and this massive box on the hill is quickly becoming home.

Erin changed schools when we closed on Oct 7th. She has adjusted well and is loving riding the bus (as is her mama!). She started Daisy scouts and is making friends quickly. We also changed wards for church. I got a calling first week in as RS secretary. Its something completely new and I feel like I am learning the ropes and Jared is next in line. It has been nice to have some down time the last few months, but life is soon going to hick into high gear again.

So this a snap shot of the last month...

The kids had their first experience with fall leaves. For a month I have found leaves in coat pockets, backpacks, seat pockets in the van and in lunch boxes, they were obsessed. As you can see by the attire it has been a mild fall.

Ike met Clifford and was terrified! In fact he was waving his booking in the photo yelling "Get away bad dog!". Ironically he LOVES the books (and real dogs).

Erin spent many afternoons serenading the neighbors and walkers on 5th ave with her 3-string out-of-tune guitar as we packed up the things at the rental. The girl can rock it!

The kids did great and played together so well as we worked on the house.....

sometimes they played well at Isaac's expense. Sadly he was just happy to get attention.

The owner of the house at the trail head posted this sign in his yard next to the trail.... our peaceful Sunday afternoon hike was disrupted by Erin thinking every movement (or person) was Sasquatch. It didn't help at Halloween he had a fire pit and the guy was dressed up like a serious Viking :).


Welcome Home


Well almost.... We closed on our second home yesterday. As always it was a bumpy process but we finally made it to closing (which signing papers was much less stressful this time around)! We were planning to wait until the spring but we have been watching this house and with the current mortgage rates we were able to do a 15-year loan so we bit! This time we purchased a foreclosure (it was either pure genius or the most idiotic thing we have done) so it will not officially be home for about a month.

Short history on the house, built in 1996 by a single guy (its a man house, three-stall garage, tiny kitchen pantry). 2200 sq ft above grade, 3300 sqft with basement on .6 acres (mostly slopped). Completely builders grade, he never even painted a wall but I think he had a dart board on every wall because I have never seen a house with so man large and small holes in the dry wall.

The house itself is structurally in good condition but needs a new roof. There was a roof vent leak in the girls room (drywall repair = DR#1), vent leak in the upstairs bathroom (DR #2), he never used shower curtains so the kitchen and living room ceilings have water stains #3,4 &5. There was a toilet leak where the drywall was haphazardly cut out #6, and then he got miffed at the bank rolled a bowling ball down the stairs #7 and lastly peed in the downstairs corner carpet and drywall #8.

Not to mentions the hundreds of nail (dart) holes and dented corners.

The retaining wall are failing, the sink fixtures leak, the windows and siding are so dirty there is a coat of grime on them and the list goes on. However the view is specular, I can't see into any of my neighbors windows and we have a built in luge run that double as a driveway! I think with a little elbow grease and some arguments we can bring her to life.

So this weekend is seeing if we can salvage the carpet and starting the drywall repair process. Heather demanded that I start a project list again so to make her content I will and we'll see what we can learn during the process.

So come visit, we have plenty of room!


Mother of the Year Award

So the blog has been a bit boring lately, here is a story for you. I FORGOT MY CHILD. I only have three, its not like it should be hard to keep track of them, but for some people like myself, it is.

Cedar Rapids has early dismissal every-other Wednesday for teacher in-service. Personally I think it's a little excessive but whatever. Today was one of those early out days. I was running left and right and at 1:30 my phone pinged with an email that I had a message on my home phone. It was a mother that I have met ONCE and the message said this.

“Emmaly, um Erin seems to think you forgot to pick her up, she is at my house, but we have to leave so I guess I'll swing by your house and if your not home we'll figure something out”.

I throw the other two in the car (we wouldn't want to lose another one) and race home, no one is there, I go to the woman's house, no one is home and she called from her home phone. So I head to the school thinking that she may have dropped her back there.

And that is where I earned the Mother-of-the-Year award. I walked in the office and said

“I forgot to pick up my child today (school has now been out 40 minutes). A mother in her class picked her up and I was wondering if you have her cell number on file.”

The secretary say “Sure, what is her name?”

I say “Umm, I think Molly. And Molly has a child in first grade (now looking sheepish)”.

She stares blankly at me for a second, then smiles and says we'll start with “Molly X”.

Sure why the heck not, so I called the cell number she gave me and asked the woman on the other end if she by chance had an extra child with her. Wheph she did and she even enrolled her in an afternoon cooking class with her daughter!

After almost and hour I could breathe. Seriously only in Iowa will a woman pick up your child after only meeting you once and take her in as one of her own. And the crazy thing was no one cared! The mother saw it as a favor, the secretary saw it as a parent helping out an idiot, Erin saw it as an extra play date and the day went on. In Texas this would have snowballed into a huge issue but Iowa kind of has this village raising mentality.

So my new goal for the week is not to forget anyone.

8 Years!

Its hard to believe its been eight years and its been a wild ride....

In eight years we have:

  • Backpacked Belize and Guatemala, slept with the jaguars in the jungle and hitchhiked from village to village.

  • Had an authentic Charlie Brown tree

  • Graduated ISU and moved 1,000 miles away from friends, family and the familiar

  • Jared started his career working for the Space Shuttle Program

  • Watched our precious baby under go open heart surgery just days after birth, found out the blessing of good health care and good insurance

  • J and I were called as church clerk and YW respectively, where we would serve the remainder of our Texas years.

  • Evacuated with three million people running from Hurricane Rita and spent way too many hours stuck in traffic watching the monster churn towards us, came home to an untouched community.

  • Purchased our first home, made it a home and began to call Texas home. Friends became our family

  • Had child #2 in a wheelchair and learned to fight insurance (and laugh)

  • Jared started his Masters

  • Learned to balance life, learned to be real parents (thank you Eliza).

  • Evacuated from hurricane Ike, came home to a storm-ravaged community. Learned to count our blessings as we helped others tear down and clean up as we had minimal damage.

  • After Ike our relationship was tested by building fences and laying new floor :) I got addicted to DIY projects.

  • Ike was born ten months after Ike and self delivered in a bathroom by yours truly (and learned to say the hell with insurance, sometimes it's just easier to pay for services not rendered)

  • Purchased a minivan, a GOLD minivan

  • Learned that the space program was coming to a close and learned about faith and patience

  • J finished his Masters!

  • Watched the final Shuttle Launch from KSC

  • J started a new career, sold our first home, and ironically ended up back in Iowa where we started this Journey!

St. Louis and Foo Fighters

Jared and I heard south last week. Now that we live near family we took full advantage and spent our first full weekend away from the kiddos. Jared's parents came to CR to watch the herd as we escaped to St. Louis to celebrate our anniversary. We price-lined a Marriott room that was downright swanky....it was missing a shower door (on purpose, I guess but complete random and not functional). The hotel was really nice.

Saturday morning we got up early and went to the St. Louis LDS temple, it always helps to check the schedule as they were closed for cleaning. So instead of participating in a session we watched them black top the parking lot and picked up some things at distribution. We stopped at Cabela's and picked up our sub-zero boots we ordered and then met some good friends of the family at the Cheese Cake factory. Is it hard to believe I am 30 and have NEVER been to a Cheesecake Factory???? It was fantastic!

We spent the afternoon lounging and then headed down to eat at a fancy Italian restaurant and then out to the Foo Fighters concert.... They played for almost three hours, awesome concert! I saw them back in college, they were an opening band, they have improved much over the years! After a hectic summer it was a well needed weekend.


Settling down in Iowa

Our first month in Iowa has been great (a bit chaotic but it feels right). To start from where the last post left off, everything was fine and dandy, the moving truck was to leave Thursday and be in Cedar Rapids Monday or Tuesday of the following week. Jared was driving up with us to help unpack and fly back that Wednesday to complete his last two weeks with United Space Alliance. All was dandy until the truck driver informed us that there was a scheduling mix up and everything we owned (and I mean everything because we only packed the necessities for a two day drive) would be sitting in Plano, Tx for nine days. He had to drop the trailer and then make a run west before picking it up....WHAT THE WHAT??

It was too late to change plans so we headed out Saturday morning and stayed the week with my parents. Our stuff got in late the following Tuesday. Jared had already flown back to H-town. The truck pulled up on the hottest day of the summer. My wonderful mom stayed two days helping me unpack in the scorching heat and get things in order and by the time she left it looked like a home.

We are renting a really cute house for the fall on the SE side of town. It was built in 1900 and like any old house has its odd intricacies. For example there is no pantry (which I completely freaked out about). We believe what once was the pantry is now the downstairs half bath....however we have a wonderfully hideous wet bar in the basement that works perfectly for storage.


Giant sliding door to close off the majority of the house so when people visit it can be trashed!....I personally think every house should have one of these, its awesome!

My first week in I decided to scrub down the porch, I have been away to long and forgot to check to see if the outside faucets were winterized and managed to flood out the basement. I spent a day getting to know my landlord as we gutted wet drywall and carpet in the basement. The damage was minimal, thank goodness.

Living Room


The house has this awesome attic that could be out of a book. Anyway the woodwork throughout is beautiful and the neighborhood is perfect. Lots of mature trees and rolling hills and turn-of-the-century mansions. The area is absolutely beautiful and super friendly. Two blocks west of us starts the ghetto and I am not joking we hear at least a gun shot a week and two blocks east is old school money, the 5000 sq/ft circa 1900-1920's mansions that are perfectly manured. We get to bike through the upscale neighborhood on our way to school everyday and I am completely enamored with it.

Erin's school is very diverse economically, everything from title 1 to the old school money. She is attending Grant Wood Elementary until we move (which is awesome, I am a HUGE Grant Wood fan). The halls are lined with his art work, I love love love it! Minus a staff member I ran into this week that dresses like a tramp ( I am sorry no 40 year old woman should be wearing what I would consider a swimming suit cover up to work, especially with little kids. I just wanted to say hello I could see your undies...you know if you were actually wearing some)...besides her everyone seems really down to earth and the teachers are awesome.

Jared finally made it in safely on Aug 15th, unfortunately his golf clubs did not. Southwest lost them or someone snatched them (joke is on them J's left-handed). So he has been filing his claim and hoping for the best. But golf clubs or not we are happy to finally have him up here.

He seems to like his new job, he even met a nice group of boys to eat lunch with in the cafeteria. I was laughing one night as we sat at the dinner table and both J and Erin excitedly told about their new lunch friends.

And for the first time in month I feel like I can breathe. As much as we miss Texas this already feels like home.


Transition - Leaving Texas

Time to dust off the blog, We are still alive and well! The past three months our lives have been a blur. While at the time it seemed like chaos ruled and logic was lost, we now are settling down to realize the great blessings and mercy the Lord has extended to our family through the process and that we are indeed where he would have us be (well almost, we missed the mark by five miles but thats another story!)

I typically don't back-blog much but I'll take a minute to touch on some major events.

First and foremost Jared graduated from the University of Colorado with his Masters in Engineering Management – Space Operations in May. What should have been a celebrated momentous occasion simply passed by with a sign of relief as we madly cleaned and fixed in preparation to place the house on the market. We are so proud of him, it was a long three years for the whole family but he balanced it all well.

With the move came our biggest concern, selling our home in League City. It was our first house, we moved in shortly before Erin turned two and soon it became home to a growing family. It was beautiful, and backed up to the park and we were surrounded by friendly neighbors who were wonderful. For five years I engineered my own soil, finally last spring I had a patch of fertile land that would actually yield produce.

We placed our house on the market Memorial Day weekend, ours would compete at the time with scores of homes with similar square footage and build. The local housing market was flooded because of the massive layoffs associated the shuttle program. While our house was in a good neighborhood and we kept it up, there was over a year of inventory on the market and could easily be a year or more before we sold simply because of the volume and economy.

Jared was swamped with interviews and work during the spring and I spent night and day prepping the house for sale. I am thankful for good friends who scrubbed walls unknown to people taller than 3'. The amount of showings was dismal, by the third week of June we only had three showings. Much to my surprise our Realtor called and said an offer had been submitted. The offer was acceptable, almost asking price, but the buyer was asking for $6,000 cash to close. Ouch, but after running the numbers what it would take to keep the house vacant, plus the concern of shifting foundation with the drought (which by the way I had nightmares all summer during the closing process that it shifted right before closing and the buyer backed out :) we accepted.

July was plain crazy. I am thankful for an excellent Realtor (Jeff Bulman for all your locals getting ready to put you house on the market) who kept everyone of their feet (much to the loan officers dismay at times). Their email banter back and forth provided entertainment while we were in a completely stressed state. The buyer had financing issues, and after a few weeks where we suspected the deal would fold, they worked it out. Long story but the market was falling so fast our house didn't even appraise for the buyers offer. That became a breach of our relocation contract - one messy chaotic situation and for several days we had no idea who actually owned our house or if we had closed. In late July we received our equity check in the mail...which made us assume we SOLD! It was one of the many miracles on this journey. For reasons still unknown to us, we were able to sell and are so very grateful that we could start in Iowa being free of our obligations in Texas.

In the mean time Jared got tickets to see the STS-135 launch from the six mile mark at Kennedy Space Center. While we didn't have the time to make an impromptu visit to Florida, this was the LAST shuttle launch. I'll post separately about it, but it was epic (and emotional)!

Jared dropped me off in Louisiana for YW camp on the way home from the launch. I served as the assistant stake camp director this year, which was a perfect closure to my time in League City and after serving in the ward YW presidency for 6 ½ years (which will probably be another post).

I returned home from camp on a Saturday physically exhausted from two weeks of travel and spiritually uplifted – just in time, the movers came on Wednesday. Monday friends threw one Texas sized good bye party for us. They had a corn roast in the park, despite the heat it was a warm sendoff and much needed closure as we left great friends who have doubled as family
over the past seven years. We will miss them all dearly.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent packing in 100+ degree heat. Thursday and Friday night we stayed with good friends, enjoying some final time together before the next adventure of life would turn its pages for both families the following week. We waved goodbye to Sam Houston as we left Houston one last time... we left home to head home.


The Great Migration

Over the past year we have noticed a trend, several old friends are returning home. LA, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Atlanta, Baltimore, Oklahoma City all returning to the upper Midwest triad(Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin) after almost a decade of being away. I wondered why, there is not much there besides fields and memories. Like most of them, we too loved where we grew up but went off to college and then off to the city. I enjoy being a couple of miles away from the center of Houston, the games, the museums, concerts and constant things to do. I love that within a five mile radius I have two lowes, a HD and a small hardware store. I miss the summer storms, the 20mph "breeze" and the warmth of the Midwest people (southern people are friendly also, but they don't chant randomly in the store line :).

In mid July we too will join that migration. We'll be heading to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jared starts at Rockwell Collins on Aug 1. We knew this day was coming. With the closure of the shuttle program in July and the cancellation of Constellation last year (the program in play to replace the shuttle) that Jared would probably become one of the thousands of aerospace causalities. With several layoff over the past year, he was blessed to make it to the end of the program.

The last month has been crazy, he had a standing offer at Rockwell Collins and also had another offer from a small comapny out at Goddard Space Center in Washington DC. We literrally had to make the decision over night. DC sounded amazing, the job was great... the cost of living there with three kids and the poor school system, put a damper on the excitement. We too decided that it was time to spend a few years home, let the kids get to know their grandparents and enjoy the storms.

We are sad to be leaving Texas, but after almost 18 months in limbo its nice to have something secured.


Mamas dusting off her running shoes

I haven't ran in years...so this spring a group of girls from church decided it was time to get out heinie's in gear and put some miles behind a us. A few had never ran before in their life and the rest of us were rusty so we put together a face book group to make us accountable to each other . I still don't run much, around 3 miles two or three times a week, but I am remembering why I loved it so much (at least until it hits 90 degrees).

Last Saturday we all did a local 5K together, Yuri's night run (even though it was at 8am) to celebrate manned space flight (which is ironic since the program is killed this year). Alot of our kids also ran the 1K. The weather was beautiful, the course was beautiful and there were even a couple of random storm troopers to help you off the finish line!

Erin is an awesome runner, she came in first in her class and fifth overall for the 1K (ages 12 and under). Erin is not competitive in nature but put her at a starting line and she gets her game face on! She was dang proud that she beat Stevie (yes they are holding hands, Stevie is a hot commodity with the kinder girls :). We all survived! My goal was to make it in under 30:00 and I came in at 29:18 and placed 13th out of 54 for the 20-29 age group. I feel like I am in a good trend, I can now outrun the stupid, yet incredibly swift and mean geese around the pond trail, hopefully I can keep up the momentum!


Double Trouble

These two have a love hate relationship. When they find common ground it typically involves mischief.

Truck, Truck!

Friday night we went to a birthday party. Our city fire department has a really great program where they will come out to your party with the trucks and let the kids climb in them. Erin was not amuzed at all, Eliza had fun but Ike was in Heaven! He just stood there pointing at them and yelling TRUCK!!!! TRUCK!! The fire woman gave him a hat and badge and he was just beaming! They had two trucks and he spent twenty minutes going through them...then they had to leave early for a car fire.

Eliza decided they were okay as long as she got the drivers seat ;). The weather was beautiful and just a great night to be outside....our nice days are numbered.

Project Weekend - Emm meets electrial for the first time!

Projects # 2,8, 18 & 26
Jared was out of business for part of the week and I had some time to crank out some house projects. I actually pruned my trees a few weeks ago, our neighbors had an electric pole saw so we thinned out our large red oak in the back, pruned the peach tree, and nubbed down the crape myrtle.

I finally got all the woodwork in the kitchen caulked...yay!

And this weekend I had my big first....I learned to wire in electrical stuff! I don't know why I have been so timid to do it, (probably because I HATE electricity) and even though I shut off the power to the whole house, I still think I am going to die of electrocution). I can't believe I didn't tackle this sooner, walk in the park...White to white, black to black, ground to green....(except for the back light which were all white and I got lucky). twist, cap and walah! I am proud to say they all worked on the first flip of the switch! And I am sad to say I had to take the back one off and return it to Lowes because the screw that lets you set the light was stripped, so I got to install that one twice, lesson learned.

Our front garage light is UGLY! It once was a lovely cheap looking shiny gold, no doubt from the early 1990's. At first I was just going to buy one, but even the new ugly gold ones are $30.00 plus dollars. We rarely use it and while walking through Lowes clearance section they had a can of hammed bronze Rust-oleum spray paint on sale for $2.00. That was more my price range. The paint is amazing! I got a little spray happy and also did our flag pole holder which was rusty and our fuse box and meter (they are outside). Now I want to go back and buy the brushed nickel spray paint and paint all our uggo gold fixtures. I cleaned the glass (for probably the first time in twenty years) and wow the thing lights up the whole neighborhood now! So ya its still ugly but at least it a new, bright ugly.

And I never realized our back light they put the junction box on the outside of the siding. Whatever, I am not going to mess with the last guys laziness. It has not shorted out in five years so I slapped that new puppy on and for the first time in a year we have a back porch light. The girls we all excited until I told them it was so they could run things out to the compost pile after dinner...the excitement faded quickly.



(Last week)
My wisteria is almost five years old and this year it finally bloomed! I was SOOOO excited, absolutely beautiful!
(This week)

Take it down the field!

Eliza started city soccer this spring. She plays on a 3/4 year old team, the green jaguars, and while I personally think soccer is probably the most boring sport on the face of the earth, tot soccer is hysterical to watch. The first five minutes of the game is full on mass chaos with a swarm of little bodies go for the ball....the last twenty-five minutes are filled with the defensive line picking flowers and the occasional kick.
It took us two full practices to get Eliza onto the field (she is really shy). But she finally caught on and this last game she even got the ball and dribbled it down the field. Thanks to Erin E. for the photos!