It's been kind of a crazy year for us, and looking back I am sad I didn't blog about it even once. So I am now going to give this thing another try. Maybe it will stick into a comfy little spot in my routine, maybe it won't and I'll be back again a year from now, catching up. But I have every intention to start recording some of our best memories. If nothing else for something fun that the boys can read later in life. Ok, who am I kidding; Something their wives will enjoy reading!
So in the last year we decided to pull up our old, well planted, California roots, and transplant to Texas. We also added some fruit to our family tree, in the form of another beautiful, healthy baby boy. So this will be my attempt to catch you up, and help me wrap my mind around the wonderful changes that have been sent our way in the last year or so.
May, 2010: My "baby" brother graduated from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. The family decided to make a vacation of it to celebrate him and his BIG accomplishment of an engineering degree.
We also decided to extend the trip to travel down to central Texas and check out the Austin area. Austin had a lot of buzz going on in terms of being small business friendly, and actually showing growth in a horrible economy. We really felt like we were being led to something new. With some advice from friends, we had a few leads of some towns that we thought would fit our family and our business lifestyle. After staying a couple of weeks in this great state we knew we wanted to be residents. But we still were not sure that it would happen, or how it would happen. This was a big decision and a big move.
September 2010: Joe took a trip to Austin to check out some job leads, make some business connections and check out some neighborhoods. It was a very scary time, full of second guessing. Should we really move accross 3 states and start a whole new life? Will the kids be ok? Would our finances be ok? Would we be ok? Oh, I forgot to mention, by this point we had also found out that we were expecting baby #3. I was going to have to move while I was pregnant with 2 little ones! It took some major faith to follow through with this one, and we really had no choice but to go "all in"!
Through lots of prayer and discussion and decision making and decision changing, we got through some tough things. But the Lord has held our hand and woven us through the crowd, leading us to where He would have us. Where he wanted to use us. At least for right now.
November 2010: Joe and I got to take a short trip out to Texas without the kids. Nonnie and Papi watched the boys for us so that we could find a home. We were trying to move before the Christmas season was in full swing. We only had 2 full days, well really 1 1/2 because we had to make a decision and sign papers before we left, or so we thought. We looked at so many homes. It's just like anywhere else, this trip allowed us to find out what you get for your money, depending on location. The last day, early in the morning, we looked at 2 homes in the small little town that Joe and I had fallen in love with. Even though these homes were both much smaller than EVERYTHING else we had looked at the day before, they were situated on large lots, in a rural setting. We prayed. We waited for an answer, and I let my husband make the final decision on which house we would apply for. As some of you may know, I struggle with being in charge all the time and having things my way. Sad but true! I didn't feel totally excited about the house that Joe was leaning towards, but there were many things that made me ok with it. Number 1: We had made a "pros and cons" list of the final 2 homes. Joe's pick made much more sense on paper. Mine made much more sense in the way it made me feel. How much more obvious can the gender roles be in this situation? Insert small chuckle here. Number 2: Joe and I have a sort of "rule" in our family. We are a partnership and when there are big decisions to be made, we discuss, sometimes to the point of beating a dead horse, thanks to me; but Joe gets the final call. Something else you may know about me is that I am a rule follower. If the rule is there, it should be followed, right? Funny thing is, I am also a rule breaker. Whats the fun in NEVER breaking a rule, right? But we won't get into that now. Number 3: I love my Lord, and I want to obey Him. I'm not always great at this, but He tells me to submit to my husband, and this was a time I chose to obey. Number 4: I had specifically prayed that God would lead us to the right home. And, Joe being the leader, seeking God's will for our family, had a strong sense about which house we were to make our first Texas home. After breaking down in the driveway (dead battery), getting a jump from our realtor who didn't hesitate to drive the 10 plus miles back to that house, and meeting the neighborhood cats (one jumped right in our car as we waited for our new realtor friend), we put in our application. We knew this is where we should land, at least for now. This town has everything we were looking for: good schools, good neighbors, small town feel and room for the boys to roam. Although none of this stuff ultimately matters, it was nice that God wanted these things for us right now, too. We found a home in the 11th hour, and we were so excited! Now we just had to patiently wait to see if the Landlord wanted to let our growing family move in to his tiny home. Oh, did I not mention that? Were were moving out of 2200 square feet, into 1450, with another baby on the way. That was a little tough for me, but I knew that people live with much, much less. I was good with making the best of it.
A few days went by, and we got the news that we got the house. Ok, now this was real. I could not believe we were actually moving. Moving out of the only state I have ever called home. The blessing in this was that the Lord prepared the way. For some reason we had already detached a little bit from our California life, and it made the whole idea of moving away a lot easier. And besides, I had no time to think because I had less than 30 days to pack up all of our stuff.
Thanksgiving weekend, 2010: We celebrated Thanksgiving with the family. It was not completely relaxing, being that we had 3 days before the move and still had A Lot to pack. The plan was to load up the truck on Sunday and leave on Monday. It was very, very stressful. You always forget how much stuff you have until you have to put it all on a truck. Well, apperently we had no idea how much stuff we had, because it would not all fit. We had things randomly stashed in every crevice of my car, Joe's car (which was on a trailer behind the moving truck) and the boat (being towed with my car) was full with bikes and outdoor toys. We still had stuff that wouldn't fit.
We had to change our plan and rent another moving trailer. So now my sister was going to have to drive one of my parent's trucks, and tow that additional trailer. She was already planning on moving with us, but now she would have to drive separate, and we wouldn't be able to ride together. Sad! We put the rest of Michelles things in that trailer, and filled it up the rest of the way with the stuff that wouldn't fit in our truck.
It was kind of a nightmare. We had to actually decide what was going to get thrown in the trash because it was not going to fit. Nothing like moving to teach you to let go of your possessions, because I honestly don't miss any of those things. I obviously didn't need any of them! Which makes me think of the boxes upon boxes in my garage. They sit there as I type these words, waiting to be opened, waiting until there is a home for them
Like I mentioned above, we went from 2200sq. feet to 1400. It was definitely an adjustment. But, maybe someday we will get into a bigger home and I can again surround myself with my stuff. Or who knows, maybe we will come to love the simplification of a smaller house. Theres a lot less to clean, which is a great bonus!! We sort of melted into this house and got used to it's cozy quarters. I do miss having the ability to invite friends over, as I've made a few, because there really isn't room to host moms club or bible study or anything like that. I am hoping there is a lesson in here somewhere that I will be bright enough to pick up on, and learn from. That remains to be seen.
So, the day we got here. It was an interesting one. We were using google maps to find the house, and it took us through this back country road. We were in a state park, had no cell service, and had been separated from Joe. But we were almost there! I was leading, Michelle was behind me. Up ahead there was a stream spilling over the road. It was really not much water, but the fact that the road immediately turned into a steep incline on the other side was a problem. I realized it when it was too late. My tires were wet and didn't want to pull the 3600lbs it was towing, up that hill. My adrenaline was pumping and I was trying to sound calm for the sake of the boys, who were now officially scared. I calmed them down with a prayer ( I think my frantic prayer to Jesus as my tires were spinning probably didn't help their stress level in the first place) and it actually worked. I got them to believe that we were fine and that we were going to get out of there without falling into what suddenly looked like a raging river behind us. With my foot on the brake, my e-brake on and my head out the window, I yelled back to Michelle that she had to get a hold of Joe. I knew he could back this thing back accross the stream, but, I could not. I was not able to keep my cool in this situation. At least on the inside, I was freaking out. So about 7 hours go by (not really, it just felt that way) and this jeep comes over the hill. The man gets out and says he's going to push, and instructed me on how to get up the hill. What he told me actually made sense and it worked! God had answered our prayer and gotten us out of there! It was the best feeling to get to the top of that hill! Even better, that the boys got to witness an immediate answer to prayer. And even remember it. It was maybe a month ago when Cruz brought up the "angel God sent" to get us up the hill. Love that I am actually capable of being used by God to teach my kids about Him!!
But the day was not over yet.
Just a few short minutes and we were home. We unleashed the monkeys from the backseat and found the key the landlord had left. Watching them run around and check out their new room gave me a flashback to when my parents took my sister and I on a trip out to Temecula before we moved there. I don't remember much from that day but the echo of the concrete in our unfinished house, and that we brought a cooler with a yellow/orange lid. Funny the stuff you remember, and it's fun to know that they may remember that first day in Texas, someday.
Joe had not even moved any boxes yet, and he threw out his back. He was in so much pain that he was on the floor and couldn't get up, at least not without, um, grumbling. It had been a long time since this had happened. His back going out was usually proceeded by a lot of stress and a lack of wellness care. UH, I think there was a little bit of stress going on for him at the time! Moving his family and his business were not small things for my Joe. He takes his role as husband, provider and daddy very seriously, and I have a hunch that he was feeling the pressure. Such a great heart, that man. I love that he cares so much.
I had luckily done some research before we moved about chiropractors in the area. I had my eye on a couple, so we gave the closest one to us a call. They were so accomodating and told us to come on in. So we left the boys with Michelle (thank God for sisters) and went to get him checked out. On our way down to the Doctor's office, Joe called our realtor. He had put the word out that we would pay some highschoolers to help us unload our truck and Joe wanted to update him, as we were going to be missing if they showed up at the house. Anthony is his name. Now I don't have to call him "the realtor" anymore. Joe told him what had happened and he said: "Don't worry about it, I've got you covered." or something to that effect. Oh. My. Gosh. What a welcome! We did not unload a single box from our truck. Anthony showed up with some men from his church (none of the youth kids showed up!) and they did everything, down to plugging in our refridgerator! Michelle wore herself out, too, helping move stuff. Anthony's kids and wife even showed up after their karate practice. The pizza and soda seemed like a mere consolation prize to the blessing they were to us that night. We were so greatful! It was really neat to see Gods hands and feet at work in our first (stressful) day in a new state. Oh, the love!
My parents came out for Christmas and to scope out some properties for themselves. My brother also came down from Longview and got to stay for a few days. It was so great, that with the stress of moving and being 5 months pregnant, we were still able to spend Christmas with the whole family. A cozy Texas Christmas for sure, with the celebration of our Savior's birth to end our year, and help propel the "new start" in our life.
Another tough thing about moving is finding a new church. Ugh! It makes me squirm a little just to think about it. The only other time we had really looked for a church together was when we were first dating. As in our second date! Neither one of us had a relationship with the Lord at that time, but we were both being tugged by God and were trying to find out what he was all about. So, in a way, I think it was easier. We really didn't have any preconceived ideas of what we were looking for. This was a lot different. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I probably didn't consult God enough on this decision at first. I wanted to just go to a church that I "liked". There were certain things I was looking for, none of which I am going to bore you with, but it was all stuff that was just going to make me comfortable. Well, this didn't work out to well for me, or for that matter, Joe. For some reason we just were not seeing eye to eye on the whole church hunt thing. After many, um, discussions we'll call them, we had to refocus. We realized that we wanted to be where God wanted to use us. And we knew that we would both feel comfortable when we were in that place. We just needed to seek out God's will, and it would all be fine. And of course, we were led to a church that we so love. We both felt the Holy Spirit that first day at Austin Ridge Bible Church
, and knew we would continue to attend there and see where it would lead us. We are now members there and are excited about being a part of such a great team of people, who strive to serve like Jesus did. Never have we been so excited about what God is doing with our lives! And just so you know, I did confer with Joe on this, he says Ditto. He feels the same.
So January came and Joe started to travel for work. And by travel, I mean Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Funny how that works. We thought all the work was supposed to be in Austin! Well, he got connected through a mutual friend with a communications company in Dallas. They are using him as a subcontractor and it's been great in helping us float through these first months in building our business. So, he is doing work where they get work, so it goes.
On one of his trips away, he's usually only gone for a day or two or three at the most, the boys and I woke up to snow! It was so neat! The boys litterally squeeled with excitement since they had never seen snow outside their own house before! The beautiful dusting looked like a thick coat of sugar and it inspired me to get the boys bundled up, grab my camera and drag my pregnant self outside for some fun! I had to be very careful, because, yet another fun fact about me, I am super clumsy. Being pretty preggo and snow were not going to make for a good combination, so I was very conscious of every step I took. It wasn't icy snow, so it turned out to be a non issue and I was able to get some great pics of the boys and Hank.
We were sad that Daddy missed it, but texted him some pics so he wouldn't totally miss out. I moved up some more firewood and put on a pot of soup. We were going to get our cozy on! By the time the boys asked to go back out in the snow (the first trip out ended quickly when they found out they needed gloves ON to make snowballs) it had largely melted away. But in the coming weeks it would get colder and start a trend of "stuff happening" when Joe was out of town.
It started with the snow.
The next time he was gone, our pipes froze and we had no running water for 3, no 4 days!
Then, the frozen pipe, well it was our house water filter, thawed, burst, and flooded our garage. Yeah, all those boxes waiting for me in my garage? Soaked. Side note: Clothes WILL grow mold if you let them sit in a box wet for a week (or two). WHAT? I was PREGNANT!! Again, southern hospitality to the rescue. Our landlord came to fix the whole filter bursting thing and he and his son helped me move all the boxes that were in the "flood zone" to dryer ground. I just failed to open them up right away and it bit me back hard!
Another "stuff happening" example just happened the last time he was gone. Our washer door latch had broken and I had to deal with getting it repaired. This would normally be Joe's job, but I was fine with doing it. No big deal. Joe found an honest repairman to fix it, which he did just fine. But getting the washer and dryer hooked back up was going to be an issue. With a little creative thinking and one smart, nimble, strong 5 year old, I got it handled. I asked Aidan if he could help and he was happy to oblige. He climbed on top of that dryer like he had done it many times before (hmmm. that would not surprise me at all), got behind it and hooked the silver vent thingy up to the back of it, climbed back up on top of it and jumped back down. Very proudly he said: "I knew I could do it, cuz I'm almost 6!" That was great because I would need him again in just a matter of minutes. I did one load out of the 47 that had piled up while the washer was out of commission, and it seemed very humid in that little laundry room. I use the word room loosly because it's really a closet. It's just wide enough for the washer and dryer and nothing else, and it's in our hallway with accordian style doors. Have a visual? Well, the dryer vent had come loose from the wall and was venting into that closet. I still had 46 loads to do, I couldn't wait til Joe got back from Grimsville or whereever he was to fix it. The vent hose is just long enough to go from the dryer to the wall, with not much wiggle room. The connection at the wall was behind the washer. Hence the reason for making my 5 year old shimmy behind it to do the dirty work. So, I explained the problem to Aidan and asked him if he thought he could fix it. "Yeah, I think I can do it!" That's the attitude! So this time I had to help him down the back of the dryer, because we had to keep it close enough to the wall that the vent hose wouldn't come detached. I talked him through it and he totally fixed it! I was so proud! My son, the appliance repair man! Hopefully he'll have higher aspirations!
So, anyway, all of that being said, Joe is getting enough work to provide for us but is working hard to get our business going stronger in Austin so we can have a higher profit margin and hopefully start saving for a house. We do feel blessed to have the work that we do, as God is providing for our needs, as always.
Funny that I started my blogging about Texas weather with a story about snow, because all I ever heard when people found out we were moving here was how hot it is in Texas. Yes, it gets hot here, yes, it's more humid than the desert we came from in California. And yes, it has been an adjustment. Sigh. The heat here is just different. Instead of getting smacked in the face with oven-dry heat when you walk out the door, you get smacked in the face with bathroom after a shower-humid heat. And, actually that's a bit of an exaggeration because it really hasn't been all that humid. Just not dry, either. One big difference is the storms. To me, these are so fun. I call it Hawaii weather because everytime I have been to Hawaii there has been a storm or two and its warm and humid, but it's enjoyable. There is just something about being outside in shorts and a tank top, hair in a ponytail, watching big rain fall. The last time it rained Joe and I and Sebastian went out to the front porch just to watch it fall. It evokes some great feeling in me that I just can't really describe. But I do love it!
So, Sebastian. He's our newest little guy. He came along in April. On the 21st to be exact. It's funny because all our boys have been born on the 21st of their birthday month. So now the joke is: We only make boys, and they only come on the 21st! Only time will tell if that will stand true!
So, with a few exceptions, that just about wraps up our last year! I am excited to be back, and hopeful that this newfound excitement to blog will continue and not fizzle out once again!