Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tessa's Instruments

This past year, Tessa has really accomplished a lot in music! She has been taking private flute lessons and has really made great strides in playing the flute! She plays beautifully with vibrato and all. She performed at the Nativity event at Christmas time and I accompanied her. I got goosebumps during certain parts of the music we played because her playing was so beautiful. She has also performed a few other times as well. Not only has she excelled on the flute(which is her strongest instrument), but she has learned to play the piccolo and the bari saxophone. Since she was the best flute player in her middle school, she got the "right" to check out the school's piccolo and keep it for the year. She also got to play the piccolo in the final band concert for the year.

She picked up bari saxophone so she could play in Jazz band because that is something she really wanted to do. The school had an instrument she could borrow for the year as well. She really did well on it and in the process learned how to play Alto Sax as well.

And she has continued to play the piano as well! :)

Jazz Band at Austin Peay's Jazz contest

Spring Band Concert

Tessa ready to play the piccolo

She had a hard time getting it tuned

Jazz Band spring concert

Tessa with the tenor sax...she did great!

Jammin to Jazz!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Manna from Heaven: Blessings in Boxes

It was about this point in time that my stress level had reached an all-time high. I was trying to homeschool Jarem in addition to dealing with a demanding two year old. Jarem wasn't making the schooling easy most days because he was uncooperative much of the time. Micah also wasn't making it easy because he wanted the attention away from Jarem and on HIM. Then there were a million end of school activities for the girls that needed to be attended to, paid for, etc, etc. The kids all wanted last sleepovers/lunches/etc with their friends that they were leaving behind. The laundry still had to be done and the kids still had to eat (darn it)! I was still chorister in Primary at church, which didn't take a lot of time, but was one more thing to do. We had a long list of little things that still had to be completed from the homeowner's inspection. I was trying to arrange/complete those before our house sale closing. Then there was the SORTING and PACKING which was looming over me like an impossibly steep mountain in which the treacherous climb required to reach the peak seemed completely unattainable.

We had made the decision to move ourselves. This decision was mainly for financial reasons. Hiring it packed and moved was just completely out of our budget. After spending the past 7 years as a practicing radiologist, Eric would be going back to a "residency type pay" and the new job didn't include any moving package. Boxing up everything ourselves and renting a truck was by far the cheapest way to go. That said, we hadn't moved ourselves for 12 years. In that time, we had accumulated 2 more kids and a much bigger house with much more stuff. In addition, we would be going from a 4200 square foot house to a 2000 square foot house. We had to really downsize!! So, it wasn't just packing what we had, but sorting through EVERYTHING. This included trips to Goodwill, the dump, and the sale of numerous things. 

We needed boxes! I had put out a plea for boxes on Facebook, but no one had any. Some suggested places to check, but I didn't have the time to just drive around and keep checking back for a box here and there. I knew I needed some boxes to get started, but they were so expensive. I had purchased 10 medium and 10 large boxes at Lowes to get started. The juggling act of the cart, the boxes and the boys was almost impossible to handle. The boxes didn't fit in the cart well, so they kept falling out. Micah was crying. I couldn't see where I was going. And then when trying to check out, the boxes all fell out of the cart and I was trying to get them back in with a crying baby. Jarem was trying to be helpful, but the boxes were really too big for him to handle alone. After that one incident, I swore I would not be back for boxes again without help. 

Although Eric wanted to help, his work schedule and church responsibilities as bishop had rendered him almost completely unavailable. Because of the way the Army works, they get new "people in payback" every July. However, the departing "payback people" always get terminal leave, which means they get all the vacation days, sick days, paid out at the end of their payback time. This basically means the previous payback people leave in April or May and the new guys don't come until July. This leaves them very understaffed in April, May, and June. Thus, Eric's work schedule was horrible because he was one of 3 covering the work for what normally was done by 7. He had been working late most days and on-call almost every weekend (His call means he works a good chunk of the day Saturday and Sunday). We didn't want him to take days off because his new job didn't start until July 1, but we had to be out of our house June 1. With his terminal leave, he could make it work with just working the first few days in June but couldn't take any time off until then. Every night was busy with something: Band concerts, Awards assemblies, soccer games or end of year parties, etc. 

How was this all going to be done in 2 weeks when we still didn't even have boxes? We would pick up the truck in TWO WEEKS! At that point, everything had to be neatly waiting to be loaded and taken to South Carolina. I prayed for help to get through this crazy mess.  

Friday morning, May 8, I woke up with all this on my mind. We got up early to do our regular family morning scripture study before Jesikah left for seminary. When Eric returned from taking Jesikah to seminary, I started pouring out my troubles to him: everything we had to do, how we didn't have enough time, I was spread too thin, and WE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE BOXES!! 

Eric responded, "You know that house that people just moved into two doors down, they have all their moving boxes lined up on the curb for the trash guy to pick up this morning". 

I leaped out of bed, "What? Did you get them?"

"No, I have to leave for work, but you should check into that." he replied.

I pulled on some clothes and started down to the neighbors. Realizing it was only about 6:30am, I wasn't sure how to handle this...but the trash guy would be coming. This couldn't wait. I didn't want to knock so early and I didn't want to just take the boxes without saying anything either. Hmmm...

As it turned out, God was looking out for me. As I walked towards the driveway, a man walked out of the garage. There in the gloriously bright morning sunlight was a whole driveway full of boxes: wardrobe boxes, dish packs, mirror and wall picture boxes, boxes of all sizes for everything we could possibly need, packing paper, heavy paper, and many of the boxes hadn't even been broken down. I asked the guy if I could have them. He gladly agreed. He was relieved to get them off his hands and put to good use. Then he opened his garage and said, "And I have more too!" Oh blessed day!

It was an answer to prayers: a glorious day! I ran home and got Jarem up. We happily walked all those boxes back to our house. I couldn't have been happier or more grateful. In Jarem's daily scripture study, we had been studying Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. God dropped down manna from heaven each day. All they had to do was pick it up and they had food. I couldn't help but make the correlation to my boxes. It was as if God had dropped the boxes down from heaven and all I had to do was go pick them up. It was a turning point in my perspective. I could now visualize how I could climb that impossibly steep mountain. The climb was going to be treacherous, but it now seemed attainable.

This picture really doesn't show they extent of the boxes. There were so many. Some were broken down too. And you cant see all the packing paper either. It was amazing.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

No More Car Payments!!

As if May wasn't crazy enough already with all the kids' end of year school activities and us moving, Eric decided to trade in his beloved truck! We both felt it was a good choice, but he was sad to let it go. The awesome part about it was: we actually had $15,000 equity in the truck after the loan was paid off. This allowed Eric's to get a beautiful black 2010 Acura TSX with only 35,000 miles on it and we paid cash out of pocket $2000 after the truck equity! And the best part is: this is the first time in the 21 years that we've been married that we will not have a car payment on any of our 3 cars!

It was a nice easy transaction and we had completed it in a few hours! The truck just was not practical for the narrow streets and small parking places in Charleston. It's an old city with not much room for big vehicles. Eric will miss his truck, but he loves his new car already!