I’m a Home Owner

Yesterday the hubs and I closed on our very first home. Finally! It seems like it’s been the longest process ever. We went to our builder back in July and signed a contract for them to start building the home. Since then we’ve been on a roller coaster ride of the highest highs and devastating disappointments. Building a home is hard.

But it’s been even more than that. The hubs and I have been renting for 10 very long years. Since we got married over a decade ago, we have lived in other’s people’s homes. Our first apartment was great, but we were on the bottom of a three story building and it sounded like our upstairs neighbors were bowling all of the time. Next we moved in with my grandma right after my grandpa died. She was scheduled to have hip replacement surgery and she needed people there to take care of her. Really, she loved my grandpa so much she just needed someone there to keep her going. During that stay at grandma’s (which felt much longer than the 9 months we spent there), I got pregnant with our first child. Not wanting to raise her in my grandma’s basement we searched and searched for the right apartment for us.


Even though we weren’t looking in this area, the hubs and I were both drawn to a house we drove by almost daily that had a “For Rent” sign outside. I know we were meant to live there. Not because the tiny basement apartment was a great place to live. It wasn’t. We were supposed to be in the ward we’re in now. Words cannot express how much we love our ward and how the friendships we’ve made there have helped us progress to practically inactive to a temple recommend holding, sealed for eternity, kind of family. We lived there for one year in that tiny apartment under a pair of hard-partying drag queens and didn’t like it much. My visiting teacher lived in a duplex owned by her parents and let me know that her sister and brother-in-law who were living there were moving out and they needed new renters they could trust. The size of the apartment was HUGE and we readily said yes. Our little girl was only a year old. We stayed in the downstairs apartment until our next child, our son, was 6 months old. My visiting teacher and her family moved into their house and we decided we wanted the advantages of living in the upstairs apartment (i.e. a garage and access to the backyard). Since then we had another child. So really, we became a family in this house. This house will be special for that reason. And so not special for many, many other reasons.

The journey to get here has taken forever. We’ve been through so much. I don’t want to say we deserve a nice brand-new house because nobody “deserves” something like that. But we have worked so hard for it. We’ve prayed, saved, paid off debts, cried, and been disappointed. A year ago I remember crying to my sister saying that we’d never be in a financial position good enough to own a home. And now we’re here. I wish I could fully articulate how long and hard this journey has been. How long we have waited to have a home of a home. How long we have waited to give our children a place that is safe, where I don’t have to worry if they’re playing in the front yard or walking to school. How it has felt to watch all of friends take this step, some even two or three times, while we stayed behind and rented. It has been very hard.

We started our married life in debt and have slowly accrued more debt because of medical expenses and such, and have spent the last few years slowly climbing our way out of debt. Our biggest debt was finally paid off (a proverbial monkey off our back) with the money my Mom left me in her life insurance when she died. If it hadn’t been for us paying off that debt, we would have never gotten this house. So in essence, my Mom helped us get this house. My sister believes that my Mom had a hand in getting them their beautiful home they bought last year. I feel like my Mom is definitely in our lives still, watching over us, and being our angel.

Today we got our keys and we’re moving in. Moving in and moving on to a new life. A better life.

A question of Bravery


Recently, on a blog I read regularly, there was a post about Sgt. Kimberly Munley who is credited as being one of the civilian police officers who helped take down Maj. Nidal Malik at the Fort Hood massacre. The author questioned whether or not this 5’2″ 125 pound woman proves that woman are capable of being effective in combat situations and whether or not woman should be allowed in the American military as combat soldiers. I expected a high spirited debate over this question, but there was something I did not accept.

One of the commentors actually said that what Sgt. Munley did was not brave! Please, all my readers who are police officers, will you tell us whether or not putting yourself in the line of fire, engaging someone in gun fire, and taking the gunman’s attention away from the people he’s shooting to you, thereby distracting said gunman from taking more people’s live, and being shot 2 times in the process, is a brave thing to do? Whether it is your job or not.

Sgt. Munley was at the end of her shift and was washing her cruiser when she got the call that shots were fired at Fort Hood. I don’t know what all her options were at that point, but I know she took the most difficult one where she put herself in harm’s way to save others. That’s brave!
When I argued with this idiot, they had the audacity to say that police officers and soldiers are not brave just like cancer patients are not brave for having cancer.
Well that did it. You don’t step to me about cancer patients not being brave and not expect a verbal onslaught. In fact, I’m still seething with rage. I guess this person is entitled to their opinion no matter how idiotic, moronic, unsympathetic, hardhearted, callous, cruel, heartless, pitiless, cold, insensitive, uncaring, and devoid of any compassion it is.
I don’t care what anyone says…Sgt. Munley is BRAVE! She’s also one helluva woman who makes me proud!

Home

Today we ran out to our new house so the hubs could measure the windows for blinds. As we walked in the front door as a family I had an overwhelming feeling like we were coming home. It was awesome. As the hubs measured all the windows, I took my daughter around and started showing her where everything would go. That was a lot of fun. She told me where she wanted the furniture in her room. We then mapped out the boys’ room. I took the two older kids to the bathroom they will share and told them what would go in the drawers and what not. They had so much fun they made me do it in my master suite.

Planning out where all the furniture was going in the new house and discussing it with my kids felt really right. I don’t know how to describe it. We been praying this house into existence for years and I can’t believe it’s finally going to be ours. I also noticed all the things my toddler likes to get into. Like opening the rolling drawers in the island in our kitchen. And turning on the faucets on the tub in the master bathroom. He also had a fun time taking off all the white rubber ends to the door stoppers and sucking on them. I’m going to have to do some major toddler proofing.
It was so awesome being in our house together as a family today. The kids and I laid on the carpet in the living room and talked. My 8 year old daughter talked to me about being sad about leaving her all her old friends at her old school and how she is worried about making friends at her new school. I assured her that we were going to go to church for a solid month before she started at the new school and that would give her a good amount of time.
What I love about the new neighborhood is seeing all the kids playing outside. That is nothing something you never see on my street now. The snow was falling pretty heavily today. There were some young kids who were riding their sleds down a hill on the vacant lot next to us. That warmed my heart. This is a place where my kids get to grow up surrounded by children their age. I’m excited for them. I’m excited for their future. I’m excited for us. I’m excited I can finally give my family what we’ve been working for and saving for all these years.
Mama, I’m comin’ home.

Looking forward to the future

In the matter of a week and a half, I’m going to be a home owner. Wahoo! The hubs and I have worked very hard for this day to come. It’s been really hard to watch all our friends and even family members purchase homes while we stayed behind and rented. We have loved the neighborhood we live in now, and especially our church community, but we both feel like it’s time to move on.

This is our house. We watched it be built from the ground up. We got to go and pick out everything on the inside. Right down to the style and color of our cabinets, the type of granite on our countertops, and paint. It was a lot of fun. Now we’re getting ready to pack and move in. It has been a struggle getting this far. One fraught with ups and downs, disappointments and successes. And that’s just been building the house!
A couple of Sundays ago we invited the hubs’ brother to come look at the house. He got there first and found two hoodlums had walked in (one of the contract workers left the door in the garage open) and used our house as a haven to smoke pot. I made reference to it in this post. Brother kicked them out and then wrote down their license plate number and the description of their car. He then called the county sherriff. The police came and walked the house. In our daughter’s bedroom closet they found a tin box with a baggy of pot, a pipe stuffed with pot, and a bowl. Later that night they called us and let us know they caught them and the hoodlums admitted it. The city attorney just happens to be the hubs’ best friend. So not only did they leave their pot behind, they admitted to it, and then get the almost owner’s best friend as the prosecutor. Dudes, you picked the wrong house to smoke pot in.
The hubs and I finally feel confident enough in our situation to announce that we will be moving. The house is about 10 miles west of where we live now. Luckily we’ll be in the same school district. Unfortunately the kids will have to change schools half way through the year. And my son will have to go from all-day kindergarten to half-days. I think it will be a good move for our family. I’m so excited to move to a place where there are a lot of kids, nice neighbors (we’ve met a lot of them and they’ve all been extremely nice and welcoming), and one where I’m not afraid to let my kids walk home from school. I’m excited to have a stable place where we can call home and raise our family.

Discussion – "The Gift of Fear," Chapter 5

Before I begin talking about this chapter, I want to make it clear that Gavin de Becker wrote this book to help people not to become victims of crime. We can use our intuition and ability to predict to help us out in dangerous situations. The gift of fear that de Becker is talking about it the innate, internal fear we have when our intuition senses a dangerous situation or person. He is not talking about worries or fears that hold us back in our life.

To quote from page 72, de Becker states, “Intuition is always learning, and though it may occasionally send a signal that turns out to be less then urgent, everything it communicates to you is meaningful. Unlike worry, it will not waste your time. Intuition might send any of several messengers to get your attention, and because they differ according to urgency, it is good to know the ranking. The intuitive signal of the highest order, the one with the greatest urgency, is fear; accordingly, it should always be listened to. The next level is apprehension, then suspicion, then hesitation, doubt, gut feelings, hunches, and curiosity. There are also nagging feelings, persistent thoughts, physical sensations, wonder, and anxiety. Generally speaking, these are less urgent. By thinking about these signals with an open mine when they occur, you will learn how you communicate with yourself.”
Chapter 5: Imperfect Strangers


This chapter is all about using our ability to make predictions to help us in choosing those we want closest to us. Whether it be a babysitter, or an employer, or even a mate. Wouldn’t you love it if all the women in abusive relationships could have predicted that when their mate was acting possessive in the beginning that that behavior is not flattering and will turn to more substantial abuse in the future?
De Becker states that human behavior, like gravity, is bound by certain rules. Not all rules apply all the time, but neither do the physical rules of gravity. De Becker states, “With behavior, as with gravity, context will govern, but there are some broad strokes that can be fairly applied to most of us:
We seek connection with others.
We are saddened by loss and try to avoid it.
We dislike rejection.
We like recognition and attention.
We will do more to avoid pain than we will do to seek pleasure.
We dislike ridicule and embarrassment.
We care what others think of us.
We seek a degree of control over our lives.”
De Becker says we can use these assumptions to predict the behavior of others. For example, the employee that goes on a shooting spree at work is reacting to one of these variables, usually, and not something outside of himself. De Becker says, “no matter how aberrant the person whose behavior you seek to predict, no matter how different from him you may be or want to be, you must find in him a part of yourself, and in yourself a part of him” in order for predictions to be accurate.
One thing I love about this chapter is de Becker points out that we may encounter people who have vastly different standards of behavior and vastly different ways of perceiving the same events. De Becker says, “for example, some people operate without listening to their consciences; they do not care about the welfare of others, period.” When I think of a person like this, I think of a sociopath. De Becker mentions the author of the book, Without Conscience, written by Robert D. Hare. He give us very specific attributes to identifying psychopaths/sociopaths:
Glib and superficial
Egocentric and Grandiose
Laking remorse or guilt
Deceitful and Manipulative
Impulsive
In need of excitement
Lacking responsibility
Emotionally shallow
You’re thinking of someone you know, aren’t you? I know I’m thinking of a few people in my personal life and my work life that fit the bill.
De Becker goes on to point out how to identify specific behaviors from criminals that women should keep their eye on. I’m not going to go into the whole list, but I think we all know when someone is acting inappropriately or someone oversteps the boundaries of social norms. Reading this chapter really helps you become consciously aware of when people are over-stepping those boundaries and listening to how your intuition reacts to them. This can help you identify someone who is just really friendly by nature, and someone who wishes to do you harm.

In Tribute to my Mom

Two years ago I lost one of the most important women in my life to pancreatic cancer. My Mother. Susan Degn McPeck was one great woman! She wasn’t perfect. None of us are. She had her faults. Some things she did used to drive me crazy! I would love to be driven crazy again. She was funny and the life of the party. Everyone was her friend. She once told me that she made it her mission in life to make everyone laugh. Her spirit was larger than life. She loved her children with fierce devotion. She once told me that if anything ever happened to one of her children she would lay down and die, because she wouldn’t be able to handle the pain. She adored her grandchildren. She prayed them all into existence years before any of them were ever conceived! She was brave. She was an example of how to face cancer with courage. When she had breast cancer 20+ years ago she faced it head on. Two weeks after her double mastectomy she was out on her 6 mile morning walk. She face that situation with humor and grace. Twenty years later she looked pancreatic cancer in the face and said, “you will not beat me.” Unfortunately pancreatic cancer beats everyone. But she put up a helluva fight.

November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Patrick Swayze brought a lot of attention to this disease. The reality is it’s the 4th leading cause of cancer death (over 35,000 Americans will die of this year) and it is the least understood, least researched, and least funded of all cancers. Often people aren’t diagnosed until it is too late. In order to do something, please donate at http://www.pancan.org.

Two years ago today I got up that morning with incredible morning sickness. I was very newly pregnant. I dropped my daughter off at the elementary school and then took my son to pre-school. I stopped by The Hole, which has the best donuts in the world, and ordered a dozen sugary treats. Knowing that my Dad probably hadn’t left my Mom’s side since she went on Hospice and was taken home from the hospital, I stopped by Starbucks and got him a very large cup of black coffee. I then headed to my parent’s house. I remember thinking that the smell of the coffee really helped quell my morning sickness. When I handed my Dad the coffee he called me a Saint. My brother was asleep downstairs. He had dropped out of college that semester because the stress of my Mom’s illness was too much for him to handle with his school demands. In the three weeks leading up to my Mom’s return home from the hospital, we had spent many hours together in the hospital waiting room watching funny movies trying to take our minds off reality, yet not wanting to venture too far from my mother’s side.
It was election day. My Dad asked me if I would please stay with my mother so that he could go vote. The man deserved a break. Of course I would stay with my mother. I remember him giving me instructions on how to give her more morphine if she sounded like she was in pain and that if she passed not to do anything. I didn’t think she was going to die that day. I knew she was going to, just not that day.
I laid in bed next to my mother. I tried to watch TV but everything on every channel was meaningless to me. I held her hand. I listened to her breath. I had been listening to the soundtrack to Les Mis a lot in those days. It was one of my coping mechanisms. As I held her hand, I started to sing to her the lines Val Jean sings to God as he is nearing death. “God on high/ Hear my prayer/ Take me now/ To thy care/ Where You are/ Let me be/ Take me now/ Take me there/ Bring me home/ Bring me home.” It was peaceful in that room. Spiritual. I wonder if angels were filling the room waiting to bring her home.
My Dad got home from voting and I had to leave to go pick up my son from pre-school. After I picked him up, we went to the library. I checked out some books, thinking I would be at my mother’s side for days and would need books to read. We came home and I made him lunch. I was surfing the web, chatting with the hubs on I.M., trying to take my mind off things, when my Dad called saying he was pretty sure my Mom had just passed and he was calling the Hospice nurse to verify it. I told him I would be right over.
Of course after I got off the phone with him the hubs wasn’t answering my I.M.s I called his office phone. No answer either. Desperate I called my mother-in-law. I squeaked out that my Dad had called and my Mom died. After that all I got out was, “will you…” and she said “I’ll be right over.” I was trying to ask her if she would pick up my daughter from school and take my son for the day. I didn’t even have to ask. She already knew. That’s why she’s wonderful. Finally I got a hold of Casey. I swear I rather articulately told him that my Dad had called and my Mom had died. He swears all he heard was sobbing and new immediately he had to come home. He drove home faster from work probably than he ever had before. My mother-in-law came. The minute she saw me she grabbed me and hugged me tighter, harder, and longer than she ever had before. I dissolved into tears and sobbed and sobbed.
I don’t remember the drive over to my parent’s house. I know the hubs drove. Knowing myself I was probably talking non-stop. When we got to the house the Hospice nurse had confirmed that my Mom had stopped breathing and her heart had stopped beating. She was crying. That was weird. It was our loss. Not hers. The hubs and I went into my parent’s bedroom. I dropped to my knees, laid my head on my Mom’s chest, cried, told her I loved her, and goodbye for now. I remember sitting in the living room with my brother and the hubs shell shocked while my Dad made a lot of phone calls. One of them was to my sister. She was in the middle of a phone hearing. She had to hear the news in the middle of it. I feel bad for that. We waited until my sister could drive up from Salt Lake to say goodbye. And then the hubs called a man in our ward who worked at a local mortuary. He was aware of our situation and gave the hubs his cell phone number and told him that when the time came to call him and he would take care of everything. Watching the two men from the mortuary, my Dad, the hubs, and my brother carry my Mom’s body out to the hearse was the worst moment in my life.
It seemed like hours and we were all starving. We decided to go to Sizzler. It’s our family’s go-to place in happy and sad events. Cheese toast is comfort food. My sister called my mom’s brother in Hawaii to tell him the news. I know it was hard. On the way to Sizzler, my sister and I stopped at my mom’s other brother’s house and gave him the news. At that point I was in a daze. We must have been a sight at Sizzler. We were all in a daze. I don’t even know if I tasted the steak. I do remember the hubs spilling Mountain Dew all over my purse.
After that we went back to my parent’s house where my Dad made more phone calls. My sister and I tried to get a hold of more relatives. After a while she had to go back home to her family. My brother sought comfort with his friends. I sought comfort by writing my Mom’s obituary. I couldn’t let anyone else do it. After a few revisions, the whole family approved of it. I don’t remember going home that night, but I know I did. The next day my Dad, the hubs, and I went to the mortuary and made funeral plans for my Mom.
Every day after November 6, 2007 I’ve had to live without my Mom. It sucks. Many wonderful things have happened since her death. The birth of my son, my saving grave, who is her little namesake. She would have adored him. The college graduation of my brother. And most definitely the marriage of my brother and his new wife. I know life goes on and good things continue to happen. But all of life’s wonderful events for me are bittersweet because she’s not there in the flesh to enjoy them. It’s not enough to feel her spirit. I want to hug her, to kiss her on both cheeks (our tradition), and watch the happiness in her eyes. It’s hard going from seeing your Mom every day to missing her every day.
This morning I was looking on my cousin’s blog. Today is a sad day for them as well. They lost their son on this day 4 years ago. They have a song list and one song stuck out for me. It’s a song I’ve heard before. It is the song one of my adoptive couples dedicated to their baby long before she came into their lives. Today I heard it for the first time in the context of what my Mom wants for me. What she wants for my Dad. What she wants for my siblings. What she wants for her grandchildren.
My Wish

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
And each road leads you where you want to go
And if you’re faced with the choice and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you

And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walkin’ til you find the window
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything, more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left
I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get

Oh, you’d find God’s grace in every mistake
And always give more than you take
But more than anything, yeah more than anything

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

Discussion – "The Gift of Fear," Chapter 4

“Survival Signals”

In this chapter Gavin de Becker outlines survival signals. Here is a list of “signs” or “signals” that perpetrators use to con victims.
Forced Teaming
This is done by the use of the word, “we.” Examples: “It looks like we’re in a predicament,” “We’ve got a hungry cat to feed.” It’s when a stranger uses the we’re-in-the-same-boat attitude. De Becker says, “forced teaming is done in many contexts for many reasons, but when applied by a stranger to a woman in a vulnerable situation, it is always inappropriate.” I love how he says that rapport building has a far better reputation than it deserves. Just because someone approaches you and offers you help and acts like you’re in it together, doesn’t mean you really are in it together. This is where listening to your instincts is crucial.
Charm and Niceness
How many times have we heard in the news about how charming and nice certain perpetrators seemed? This is exactly how Ted Bundy was described. I love how de Becker states that charm is not a quality but a verb. It literally means, to charm someone. Perpetrators use charm to charm you into doing what they want.
Too Many Details
People who are lying always give too many details. This is because they’re trying to distract you from the truth. De Becker state, “every type of con relies upon distracting us from the obvious.” “Don’t get distracted by the details,” is really good advice in any part of life, but is critical when dealing with those who might harm you. De Becker states, “when approached by a stranger while walking on some city street at night, no matter how engaging he might be, you must never lose sight of the context: He is a stranger who approached you.”
Typecasting
This is when you start to rebuff the advances of a perpetrator and they try to cast you in some negative light so that you’ll prove to them it’s not accurate. For example, “you’re probably too snobbish to talk to the likes of me.” Say, “yes, I am” and walk away. I love how de Becker points out that it doesn’t matter what some stranger thinks because the typecaster doesn’t even believe what he is saying is true, he just hope it works.
Loan Sharking
This is when perpetrators want to be allowed to help you so that you’ll owe them something. A traditional loan shark usually demands a lot more than was borrowed, as will perpetrators. This could be helping you with your bags, opening a door for you, etc.
The Unsolicited Promise
De Becker states that, “promises are used to convince us of an intention, but they are not guarantees.” Someone may say, “I’ll just put your groceries in your trunk and then leave. I promise.” De Becker reminds us that if someone is promising something its usually because you don’t trust them (they can sense this) and maybe you should sense this too and listen to your instincts.
Discounting the word “NO”
No means no means no means no. One of the most powerful statements de Becker makes is that in our society when men say “no” it means “no.” When women say “no” that means it’s the start of negotiations. He reminds us to be strong in our “nos” and to not let them be negotiated.
After discussing survival signals, de Becker goes on to talk about intuition and prediction. He says that Intuition is always right in two important ways:
1) It is always in response to something.
2) It always has your best interests at heart.
De Becker is sure to point out that just because intuition is always right doesn’t mean our interpretation of intuition is always right. He points out that not everything we predict will come to pass, but intuition is a response to something and rather than discounting it we are better off trying to figure out why the alarm bells are going off in our heads and identifying what the dangers are.
De Becker ends the chapter by addressing the messengers of intuition. Intuition is always learning and everything it communicates to you is meaningful. De Becker states, “Intuition might send any of several messengers to get your attention, and because they differ according to urgency, it is good to know the ranking.”
The Messengers of Intuition
Nagging feelings
Persistent Thoughts
Humor (especially dark humor)
Wonder
Anxiety
Curiosity
Hunches
Gut Feelings
Doubt
Hesitation
Suspicion
Apprehension
Fear
I love what de Becker says in the last paragraph. To summarize he says that every relationship in our lives begins with a prediction. Those predictions determine the quality and course of our lives. He says that we should make we look at the quality of our predictions. Have you ever met someone and instantly knew you were going to be friends? Have you ever met someone and they instantly creeped you out? These are the predictions de Becker is talking about.