Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Next Door Neighbors

I remember the night they moved into the house next door.

I was only four, but the memory of meeting them that night stands out as one of the clearest from my early childhood. We quickly were introduced and we quickly became friends. For privacy, I won't mention their names, but they became more than just our next door neighbors, they pretty much became family.

Their oldest child was my age, and for every child that was born into our family after that, one was born into their family too. We played together nearly every day, and we played and fought like siblings. We owned a cat together, that we named Bobcat, and played with many litters of her kittens. The boy who was my age was my close friend, but also my rival. We competed over everything. He helped me to push myself to become a better person.

As the years passed, our families became inseparable. As our family grew larger, we ended up moving into a bigger house that still had an adjoining backyard. When we built a fence around it, my dad built a gate between our yards so that we could still have unlimited access to play with each other.

My childhood memories involve our neighbors nearly as much as my own family. I can't begin to express how much each and everyone of them blessed my life. I love talking to the father and mother of this family. They are still close friends and confidants of mine.

One time, in high school, there was a Valentine's Day Dance on my birthday. I wasn't really expecting to be asked, and so I'd already steeled myself to accept the fact that I was going to celebrate it at home with my family.

On the way home from school a few days later, the next door neighbor, who was my age, asked me if I wanted to go to the dance. I thought he was just speaking generally, so I responded, "No, I was just going to stay home and celebrate my birthday."

The next day, the institute secretary told me that she had heard a rumor that this boy had asked me on a date and I had turned him down. I thought it was hilarious. I had no idea how a rumor like that could have been started. So, when I saw the young man later, I walked up to him and said, "You wouldn't believe what I heard today! I heard that you asked me to the dance, and I turned you down."

Completely straight-faced, he turned to me and said, "You did."

After some explanation, we got the situation figured out. I discovered that he had meant, "Do you want to go to the dance with me?" I apologized and he offered to take me to the dance. I had a wonderful time.

He even gave me a birthday present, a small book light that I still carry in my purse.

I don't think I've every told him how much that date meant to me. It really made me feel loved, and is one of my more treasured high school memories.

After I graduated from high school, I was saddened to learn that these neighbors had moved out of town to a beautiful home on a farm. The block just hasn't been the same since they left. When I go home, it's like a part of my family is missing. However, sometimes I am still able to visit with them, and I cherish those moments that we can talk and reminisce.

As I've thought about what I want for my own family, I've realized that I want next door neighbors just like I had growing up. I want Kevin to have best friends next door that he can just run and play with and that I don't have to worry about.

I want for him to have what I did. We have wonderful neighbors now, but no one around us is exactly Kevin's age. Though he has wonderful friends in our neighborhood, and we are so grateful for them, it's not quite the same.

I was super blessed to grow up with the neighbors that we had. I know most people don't have the same experience that I did growing up, but it was one of the things that I loved about my childhood.

I want everyone to have friendly neighbors, and for me to be the kind of neighbor that I had. I want kids to feel free to come into my home whenever they want and hang out. I want people to know that if they need help, they can come and not feel bad about asking for it.

I want those kind of childhood memories to exist for Kevin. Hopefully, we can continue growing closer to our neighbors, so that we can foster those same kind of relationships.

That's one of the things that I really want for my children.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

So Much Snow

At the beginning of this year, I may have said something like, "I hope this year we get ten feet of snow in one storm so we have to dig our way out of the front door!"

We may not have gotten quite that much snow, but last I heard we were up to 54 inches (total this year), and we're supposed to get some more in the next couple of days.

It's been awesome. For once, the reservoirs are full, and it looks like we'll have plenty of water for the next year. It's also been fun to play in. We've been sledding a few times, but this whole winter, Kevin has been wanting to make a snowman. However, even after all the snow, it wasn't until last week that we were able to do so.

On Saturday, we went out and shoveled and played in the snow for a while. The snow was finally the right consistency.

We built a snowman together. Grig made the base, I made the middle, and Kevin made the head. It turned out pretty cute.

We had rocks for eyes, a carrot nose, and sticks for the mouth and arms. Then, we stuck pieces of evergreen in the snowman for buttons. It's pretty cute and still out there, though it has about a foot more of snow on top of it now.

Then, Grig wanted to make something else, so he rolled a huge snowball. Kevin wanted to roll his own huge snowball too. I think Grig had something in mind, like building a fort, but Kevin insisted he wanted his snowball on top of Grig's. So, they ended up with this:

Meanwhile, I built a snow dog for our snow man. I think the dog turned out pretty cute too.
Not as cute as the real ones, though.
Loki has been staying with us for a little while. His owners have had some problems with their heating, so until their home has heat again, Loki is staying with us. They've been having a great time together. Siff likes having someone around with a longer coat. Loki likes going outside to play more than Arkhon does.

After we finished crafting our snow sculptures, Kevin made himself a snow angel. He really likes doing that. You have to wait for the right kind of snow for snowmen, but almost any kind of snow is good for snow angels.

So, we're staring to get tired of shoveling, but overall, we've still had some good times with the snow. When we can, Kevin, the dogs, and I still go walking. The sidewalks are missing, but the road is pretty decent most days, so we walk on the road.

For those of you who want an update on foster care, I e-mailed them the other day to see how things were progressing. I guess they mailed us a form so they can get our background checks done in Idaho too (since we've lived there within the last 5 years). Other than that, he said that everything is in.

Now, we're just waiting for that piece of mail to arrive while we keep fixing things up around the house in preparation for our home inspection. We're getting pretty close. I attached the bookshelves to the walls today, and we made a baby gate upstairs. I think it turned out pretty awesome.

I love it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trial Denial

For some reason, if you ask me what trials I've experienced in my life, I can think of very few. It's like my brain represses most bad things that have occurred. There are a few trials that stick out, but in my mind, I've had a pretty wonderful life.

Lately, things have been hard. 

We've had some death and sicknesses in the family. We've been pretty low on money, and it hurts that we still haven't been able to become pregnant. 

However, it wasn't until about a week ago that I was willing to admit that we're going through some trials right now. That's when I realized that I have trial denial. 

In my brain, I would look at the hard things that we're going through and think, "Compared to what's happening to other people, this isn't so bad." We've also been blessed in a lot of wonderful ways, and so I tend to push aside the bad things and try to focus on the good. 

I don't think that focusing on the good is wrong, but this state of mind also makes it so I don't realize when I am experiencing stress. Sometimes, I have no idea I'm stressed out until the stress is gone and I realize how much better I feel. 

Trial denial has its benefits. I'm usually a pretty happy person, and as long as I pretend that things aren't really hard, I can go on being happy. 

However, it's not really healthy either. It's okay to acknowledge that things are hard sometimes, and that we need help; whether its emotional, physical, or mental. When I'm stressed and don't realize it, I tend to have less patience and to be less productive. My brain wants to keep pretending that everything is okay, and so I start looking for ways to distract myself from my problems. Those ways usually involve reading too much or watching too much tv. 

I've spent a lot of my life burying sadness and anger. I would try not to show any emotion besides happiness in front of other people. Sometimes it's still hard for me to show those emotions even in front of my husband. However, when we are able to talk honestly and openly about our trials and our feelings, we are stronger as a couple and closer. 

Confirming that we are going through some hard things right now wasn't easy for me to do, but it was good for me. Even though our trials are not that big compared to other people's trials, they are still something that we are struggling with, and they are hard for us. 

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have a problem. 

We have some trials in our lives right now, but I know that with the Lord's help, we can fix them, and things will be okay. We've had a lot of comfort and peace and I know that the Lord is there. We've also seen a lot of miracles, and we know that the Lord is helping us out. 

Prayer is so important. If we trust in the Lord, and pray for the things that He wants us to pray for, amazing things can, and will, happen.

I'm so grateful for Grig. One of the best parts of our relationship has always been our communication. While we had his brothers living with us, that was sometimes hard to have. Now that they have moved out, our communication has improved again, and we have drawn closer together as a couple. We are grateful for what his brothers taught us and for the time we were able to spend with them, but I am so grateful that I have a chance to reconnect with my husband before we start foster care. 

I know that that's going to be a wonderful mixture of trials and blessings too. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Siff's 1st Birthday

Today was Siff's first birthday. She is officially no longer a puppy. We love our little elkhound girl. Kevin was really excited all day that it was her birthday. He kept saying, "Happy birthday, Siff!" and roughing up the fur on her face. She loved it. 
We've had Loki (Arkhon's brother) here for the last week or so. They're having some problems with their front door, and since it's been as cold as 25 below zero, they decided it wasn't safe for any of them until they get their front door fixed. We agreed. So, he got to join us for our celebration today. 

They've been having a lot of fun together, and Kevin enjoys playing with all of them. He loves his dogs. 
 Kevin helped me make Siff a dog cake (which is human friendly, but pretty bland), and she got ot sit at the table while we sang "Happy Birthday." She didn't really like being up on the chair, but she and the other two enjoyed eating the cake. Kevin then opened her presents for her, and they got a couple of treats.
 Here is the three of them waiting for a treat.

In some ways, it's hard to believe our baby girl is a a year old already, but in other ways, it seems like she's been a part of our family forever. She's so chill and usually so well behaved. The other morning though, she suddenly reverted to puppy-hood and chewed up a bunch of stuff. Hopefully, it was a one time thing. It was pretty random. She hasn't chewed up anything in months.

We have some pretty great dogs. They're really well behaved and definitely help me with my stress levels.

Happy Birthday, Siff! We love you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Foster Care Update

For those of you who were wondering...as of yesterday, we officially had all of our foster care paperwork turned in.

We've been working on it since we completed the class back in November. There have been a few things that have taken a little longer than we were expecting. The first major thing was fingerprinting and background checks. We had to get an appointment for that, and the earliest they could schedule us was in the middle of December. The other thing that took a little planning was a CPR/First Aid Class. By the time we tried to sign up, all the classes were full.

However, they are now allowing Utah foster parents to take online CPR classes, and so we took that option. It was less expensive, and convenient. We rather enjoyed it, though it took a while. We got that passed of just before Christmas, and then we were just compiling everything together. I scanned it all in, and then submitted it a few days ago.

A couple days ago, the person who is coordinating with us, told me that they still didn't have proof that we were vaccinated for Hep A, but everything else was good to go. I made a few calls, and yesterday (thanks to Grig's mother) we were able to get the final piece of paperwork in.

So, you're probably wondering, what happens next?

Well, I guess they're waiting to hear from our references. Once they receive all of that information, we're going to have a home check scheduled. Allopex and Havelock, Grig's brothers, moved out on Friday night, so I've been reorganizing and cleaning the house in preparation for the home check.

There's been a lot going on, and some of it has been kind of stressful.

My only living grandfather ended up in the hospital over the weekend as well, and we were pretty worried for a few days. I am happy to report that he is making an excellent recovery and will hopefully be discharged soon.

We're excited for foster kids to join our home, but until then, we're enjoying having our home to ourselves for the first time. Grig's sister moved in a month after we bought the house, and then six months later, Grig's brothers moved in. His sister moved out the next month, and the brothers have been with us ever since.

We do miss them, but it is also really nice to have alone time with my husband.

Life is moving forward. It will be exciting to see what happens next.