Sunday, July 29, 2012

Moving and Farm Life- ramblings from nearly a week without internet.

Chapter 1: The Move...


Construction in Reno makes no sense to me. I seriously believe that the city only believes in tearing apart roads one month per year- and that month happens to be July. Because of the roads being half removed (or at least it felt that way) the U-Haul company offered to give us the truck for an extra day if we wanted to come and pick it up a day early. We went to church and then picked up the truck and had it parked on the street, ready for the big day of moving ahead on Monday! We went to bed at a decent time and everyone was pretty excited! It was strange to see our home so empty...

We had lunch with my parents and said goodbye, and our friends Rachel and Evan stopped over and brought fudge!!!!


Kurt woke up at 5:30. He was ready to start the day!!! He let me and the kids sleep- he wanted to get things ready by himself. Help arrived at 6 and between 6:00-7:00 the truck was almost half packed!!! I woke a bit later, along with the kids, and got ready for the day. Carter and I ran some errands and then picked up snacks for the road, then we picked up Kurt's parents from the airport. We wrapped up loading, cleaning, and turning in the keys- and we were on the road much later than we had hoped- but still excited to be on our way!!!

We arrived in Salt Lake City at 3:30am. Ouch. Late night! We were all up and around at 10, and we had breakfast at the Corner Bakery on campus. Being back in Salt Lake was so nice- but it made me realize how much I missed Utah!!! 


Back on the road at noon... we drove!

We stopped in Ogallala, Nebraska for the night. We had actually made pretty good time, but boy were we tired!!! 

(Best part of the day? Fudge!!!)


With breakfast in our tummies, we were ready to roll! We drove all day and arrived in Iowa!!! We pulled into our new home just before dark- so we got a chance to look around with the kids for just a moment. We were very thankful for Kurt's parents and his Aunt and Uncle for doing such an *amazing* job on getting the house ready for us- we literally walked in and had fresh sheets and fluffy towels waiting to greet us!!!

We arrived so late, we had forgotten about dinner. Kurt offered to drive us into town for McDonald's - and we all agreed that sleeping with dinner in our bellies would be a good plan, so we left. Just as we set out it started raining one of those nasty Iowa rains. For those who have no idea what an Iowan rain storm is like- imagine having a fire-hose spraying your windshield... that pretty much captures the experience. Kurt drove through it just fine (I believe that native Iowans are born with special genetic abilities to navigate through weather such as this), while the kids and I were freaking out. 

We arrived at McDonald's and placed our order- but because of the storm they had a reset in their power and their Debit/Credit processors were all down. We shrugged it off, and we were ready to leave, when we were presented with our food! The smiling McHelper (I don't know what you call them- cashier? Waitress? Attendant? I thought McHelper was more witty) smiled and said, "If you would just allow us to try and run your card one more time, before you leave here, we will see if it works then. If it doesn't work, it's okay- dinner is on the house." She gave Kurt back his card, and we sat down to eat. Kurt smiled, "That's so Iowa!" was all he could say. (After dinner Kurt went back and offered his card, and the machines were working so it was accepted without any issue. This event was one of the examples of the differences in rural Iowa than we would typically experience in the west.)

Chapter 2: Farm Life...

Before I begin, I want to stipulate: I have lived in Iowa before. I lived here for about five years, during my late teens, and I moved when I was 21. I had lived in Salt Lake City prior to Iowa, and was used to an urban lifestyle.The Quad Cities was the most rural culture I had experienced at the time. Quad City dwellers most likely would not consider themselves rural at all- the area is a pretty decent size and has many of the amenities of a larger metropolitan area. Still, to me, it was small and foreign (and compared to Salt Lake culture, it was). However- now that I live in rural Iowa- I can say without hesitation: Iowa farm life and Iowa city life are two *VERY* different things. Iowa has vastly different cultures between populations, so my short time here thus far has been unlike anything I have experienced thus far. 


I made a grocery list while Kurt worked on unloading the truck. The kids ran around like crazy people, they couldn't get over how large the yard was and the amount of room they could access to play. We knew we needed to head into town to get groceries before the internet service guy came and hooked us up, so we left in time to do a fast grocery trip and come home. 

A few observations from the grocery store:

While at the store, if Kurt was getting a product, elderly people wouldn't hesitate to ask Kurt to get a second  one for them- even if the product was light and within their reach. This is vastly different from the "wait-your-turn" mentality that seems to dominate the west (where strangers do not usually talk to one another). 

I couldn't find the meat section. I wandered for a few minutes and was so frustrated with the lack of selection!!! Kurt pointed me to an isle- a whole isle- with butchers waiting on the other side. Here, you ask for everything from whole chickens to ground sausage- it is not prepackaged at all. (Again, forces us to talk to strangers!)

I went to the butcher and asked for "grass fed beef" and he had to go ask someone what it was. Another man came over, smiled, and explained they did not carry any such product. Later, I asked Kurt's brother about it- he laughed too, and commented, "That is some California mentality right there- having happy cows in pastures full of daisies!" and laughed some more. When I asked Kurt's dad about it later, he didn't comment at all, just chuckled. So, I will be crossing grass fed beef and butter off my list for the time being =p

There is no "organic" section. 

Our groceries were less than half the price we paid in Nevada/Utah. Not kidding. Same brands, same foods,  just that much less expensive. 

The internet guy was scheduled to show up at 2pm... he drove into the driveway at 2pm exactly.

Kurt's dad stopped over for a few minutes. He brought our mail. No, it wasn't in the mailbox, he had picked it up from the post office for us. Apparently you can get other peoples' mail out here.

I was so bummed I had forgotten to pick up eggs at the grocery store. Kurt's mother provided us with the name of a guy who has chickens and sells their eggs, just down the road. Kurt took the boys- who loved running around with the owner's dog, seeing chickens, and generally messing around. Kurt bought 4 dozen cage-free chicken eggs from organic chickens for $6... (this retails for $24 in big cities, or 50 cents per egg. Kurt's family was floored when they heard we used to pay this price). 

After the grocery store, we came home and Kurt helped the internet guy. Kurt and the internet guy knew a lot of the same people, and they chatted. Kurt is *so happy* about fiber optic internet, and is surprised to find that we are in a 4G wireless area. So, for the things rural Iowa does not have- it has equally strange amenities! 

Carter and Harrison spent most of the day exploring and playing around. Carter was interested in local insects, so Grandma brought him a book all about insects (he carried it around all day!) and he had a great time trying to identify ones he came across. Carter also fell in love with a ceramic cat that Kurt's grandmother had made- he requested we move it to his room =) Harrison enjoyed wandering around and looking at all the trees. They call the clump of trees near the house "the forest" and Harrison enjoyed running around and hiding there. =)


The kids woke up to find Grandpa's truck in the yard, and they ran out to see what was going on. Grandpa was taking the combine into town to have it looked at before harvest, and was moving it out of our machine shed. Grandpa let the boys climb into the cab and ride over to his house! The kids were THRILLED!

Following the combine adventure, our family enjoyed farm fresh eggs (quite literally, farm fresh! NUTS!) and sweet potato hash (one of Harrison's favorite foods). The kids then went outside to play while Kurt worked on unloading and unpacking. I washed laundry, and Kurt hung it on the line for me (my ankles were still giant, so he asked me to spend the day inside, doing lighter housework). 

Kurt's brother came over with his two kids, and all of the children played together. They took turns riding Carter's bike, they climbed trees, and they ran around (like little kids are so good at doing!). It was a really nice time, and it warmed my heart that my kids didn't want their cousins to go, and their cousins didn't want to leave!

It was 10:30 as we climbed into bed, and Kurt had spent the entire day finishing unloading the truck. So many things were already put away- I am so proud to say that 50% of the house is already unpacked! I gave Kurt some ibuprofen and he fell asleep quickly... and woke at 9:30 the next morning! He really needed some sleep! 

Funny things that happened today: Kurt got a hand-written note from our postal carrier, she took the time to explain a form (even filled out part for us) and she signed her name. Lectures on the differences in corn: seed, field/commercial, sweet, Indian, etc- apparently are still Greek to me. Our rural cousins thought it was a bit odd that our kids didn't know how to bike very well on grass, or climb trees. Our children found that it was odd that their cousins didn't have their own golf clubs and weren't comfortable with swimming pools that have high dives. I learned that out here it is polite and expected to wave when someone drives by- not waving to everyone that passes by your home is considered rude. 


I woke up, and begged Kurt to let me mow! This will sound crazy, but I have never ridden a riding lawn mower, and the idea was pretty exciting. It sounded like lots of fun! The day started pretty hazy, so Kurt thought I should start in a part of the front yard. It was a great time!!! I got about 1/5th of the yard mowed, and it started to rain. Thankfully that 1/5th was its own section, so it doesn't look silly. I had hoped to do more- but the rain is still falling! (Good news for farmers!)

We returned the moving truck and then we visited Kurt's grandfather. The kids really liked visiting, and it was nice to see him. As we were leaving Harrison became serious and asked, "Where is the grandma?" We didn't even think about talking to them before hand, we had not realized this was the first time they knew of a grandpa without a grandma living there too. Kurt and I talked to Harrison and Carter and explained Grandma Arlene's death- and both boys were *really* sad. Kurt's grandmother died almost 20 years ago, but it did not lessen the boys' somber attitudes. We took the kids to a playland (still raining!) and got them treats, but both the boys only ate half, and gave the other half to Kurt- feeling sorry for him for not having his Grandmother anymore. I can tell this is something we will need to cover more in depth, but the kids' attitudes and compassion were remarkable and touching. 

We stopped over at Kurt's parents' house, and the boys got to see the kittens that are living in the garage (4 of them!). The kittens were so adorable!!! We chatted with Kurt's parents while the kids played with a basement full of toys, and we all set up plans for next week. Kurt's parents stopped over for dinner- Kurt made chicken salad =)

Today Kurt rearranged the boys' bedroom. They were originally in two separate rooms, but they requested to be together, so Kurt set them up. Kurt has done an amazing job with unpacking, while I have been enjoying access to our internet (as you can tell!). This has been our laziest day thus far, and we are both really looking forward to tomorrow- when our family observes a real "day of rest."

So far farm life is pretty enjoyable. I say "farm life" but really we are not farming- just living on a farm. Today when I had finished mowing, I pointed out a tractor that was working on a field across the street- what a neat thing to see!!!! What made it even more special was that it was Kurt's dad! Such a different life out here- with really neat equipment, and a culture unique to us- it is a pretty amazing experience and I am so glad that Kurt gets to share it with our little family =)

**My husband can drive a mower with some seriously mad skills. John Deere should really feature him in their commercials- he makes it look SO easy!!! He insisted on mowing parts of the yard before allowing me to try- he was worried there would be hidden holes or bumps that might shock me into labor or something (he is already overprotective of his daughter! SO FUNNY!!!!!! LOL!) He also trusted himself enough to attach the trailer-thingie (notice my technical jargon there?) and pull the boys. Our boys had such a blast riding along with Daddy!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

And we're moving to...

Photo is of Kurt's grandfather, in whose home we will be staying. He is overlooking the yard. Photo courtesy Kurt's cousin Rachel Hatch.


In two weeks we will be on our way!!!

Kurt does not have a job, he will be looking locally when we arrive. So... why (one would ask) exactly are we randomly moving our family 1,631.5 miles away?

The move is not random.

Our lease ended. Currently unemployment pays our rent and utilities. We knew it was unwise to sign a new lease here, at the risk of Kurt getting a job in another state. We prayed. We knew putting in our intent to vacate was the right thing to do, but we weren't sure of exactly where we were going. Being planners, we had a plan.

Step 1/Plan 1) Look for jobs locally. Truth be told most of my favorite people are in another part of this city, further north than we live right now. The northern part of the city had a lot of housing options, and more square footage per dollar than where we live now. We thought if Kurt got a job here, we would just move back up north a bit- where I could enjoy being closer to friends and our family could enjoy a bigger living space. We had wonderful people keeping their eyes peeled for rentals in the area- and we were happy to find that we could rent a house (rather than townhome) for almost half of what we were paying before! Good plan? Totally!

Step 2/Plan 2) Look for jobs in our "favorite" state. Kurt and I love Utah. LOVE. My university is there, we have excellent friends there, and we love the Utah culture. Kurt applied and had interviews in Utah. One of the jobs looked *very* promising, and we even got a call weeks later saying they were still trying to put together an offer! We love Salt Lake City and the surrounding area, and the boys were thrilled at the idea of getting to see Carter's favorite person in the world: Kayla. Kayla, and other Salt Lake friends, were keeping an open eye on local rentals, and we actually found a house that would have worked perfectly! I wrote to my favorite professor and I asked for my lab position back (she said yes!). I was thrilled about having my favorite OB again, and over-the-moon happy at the prospect of getting our old pediatrician back! The money from this lead was right, we picked a home in a great neighborhood, we were all set! Good plan? Absolutely!

Step 3/Emergency Plan) We didn't know what our backup plan would be, at first. Kurt told his parents about his job loss, and right away they reminded him of the other house on the family's farm. Kurt thanked them, but didn't seriously consider it. I was dead set against it. (Iowans- please, I beg you, do not be offended! I just saw our family in one of the more western states- with larger cities, bigger mountains, and low humidity.) As weeks went by we realized that Kurt's family was seriously offering us the use of this house (not used to being offered houses, part of us thought they may have been kidding... when I say us, I mean I), and we were slowly understanding what a blessing it was to have a backup plan. So, while we did not plan on moving to Iowa, we were very thankful for the comforting blessing of knowing we would not be without shelter. Just knowing we had an option really took a lot of stress away.

So- Kurt applied and applied and applied. He had interviews. We had prayers for us. We had leads! And time kept going by....

With just two and a half weeks until the end of our vacate notice, we knew it was time to pray again.

As a family, we gathered, and we prayed. 

And now, we are headed to Iowa.

I know my husband, and I have watched him transition to happy acceptance over this decision: I know he wanted to be in Utah. I know he would have been happy in Nevada or California. He has grown used to managing people and working long hours. He has loved urban life and ulcer-causing-stressful competition in western sales. He has grown accustom to providing us with a certain lifestyle. He loves mountains. He adores internet at bandwidths most families would never conceive of needing. He has been happy! On the flip side- he knows Iowa family values. He is thrilled at the mere idea of getting to spend (any!) holidays with his very large family, most of whom are very close by and see one another often. He is ecstatic about being able to share a part of his life, living on a farm, with our children. He is thrilled at the idea of being able to care for his dear and wonderful grandfather's house while we stay there. I see his eyes dance with the idea of being able to help his dad bring in a harvest, and showing our kids what it is like to have to spend 2 1/2 hours mowing a lawn. His face beams at the thought of being close to his childhood friends- and raising kids together. His smile wrinkles as he fondly tells stories of growing up on a farm, stories the kids and I cannot possibly relate to. His heart is warmed at the idea of getting to see his parents, his extended family, and having our kids close to lots of cousins. When he lived there, he was happy!

So how could we ever make a decision? Thankfully- prayer gave us peace. We knew we need to go to Iowa. Why? I have no idea. It could literally be to show the kids what it was like for Kurt, growing up. It could be that the perfect job is waiting for him, and needs more time. It could be that Kurt's family needs to be close right now. It could be any number of things, and we have no idea which one, but for now we are thankful we know where we are headed!

Kurt called his parents yesterday, and he has started making arrangements. I am so thankful Kurt has good friends in Iowa- a few who homeschool!- who can help me navigate Iowa laws regarding schooling our children at home this fall. I called the hospital where our baby will be delivered, and asked them a few questions that were important to us (mostly regarding policies about sibling visits). We still have some things to sort out- but we know that those things will fall into place.

Kurt's parents graciously offered to come here and drive Kurt's truck to Iowa for him. They offered to help us move! Their thoughtfulness and kindness brings me to tears. In one week we have been given hope, love, and blessings that were beyond our comprehension. We have been gifted things for our baby, and shelter for our family. There is no doubt that we are not loved. 

Thank you to everyone who offered prayers on our behalf. God heard them, and responded. Yes, it was in His time- but it was ALL for a reason. Although the full reason is not yet clear, my faith is unshakable that these things have come to pass for our greater good, and with any luck- this process will bless others as well, and help us spread God's greatness =)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Shower Day!!!!

In April, we were forced upon a different life path when my wonderful husband (who is an excellent professional and businessman) very unexpectedly lost his job through absolutely no fault of his own. As the days turned into weeks, and weeks became months, I tried to stay strong. 

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. ~Matthew 7 :24-25

I tried to stay strong and weather this storm with grace. I sought comfort in scriptures, friends, and spending time with my little family. Every time I felt like I was wearing thin, I would come across a scripture that reminded me that "I CAN DO THIS!" and God is with us!

Therefore take no thought, saying "What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself... ~Matthew 6:31-34

As time went on, we dutifully sought the path that Heavenly Father would have us follow. We have prayed over just about every decision that has been made in our home- from what to have for dinner to when to put in our lease notice- and we were lead to the miracle in the video below.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed. ~Psalms 37:3

I am not a perfect person- far from it, in fact! And very recently I hit what I felt was my own mortal limit. I am not sure what did it- and really, it doesn't matter- the end result was me flopping in a puddle of self-pity, instead of stopping to remember Christ. During this pity party, I understood I was blessed, without really understanding what that meant. At this time, I turned to a group of women I have been talking with online- as so many of them are excellent at finding words of comfort and turning me on to the blessings and purpose to our current trial. 

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ. ~Philippians 4:19

Within an hour I had received words of comfort and love that gave me strength and helped me pick myself up and continue along with my day. That same day, head better composed, I was able to understand and see my blessings more clearly- all because I stopped thinking of my current situation and focused on Christ. When I had been able to check with the group again- I was overcome with emotion to find that there were multiple offers from generous women, for us to use some of their baby clothing! I was so grateful, and so thrilled! Our need had almost instantly been met!!!!

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? ~Matthew 6:25

On Monday I had some appointments, and when I came home I logged onto my facebook to chat with the ladies in my online birth group. It was there that this started:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. ~Proverbs 3:5

I still cannot find the words that can give justice to the emotions that Kurt and I have felt during this week. For us, it was quite literally breathtaking and divinely inspired that some wonderful women had offered us clothing. We were so stuck on that generous offer, on our need being instantly met, that our hearts cannot possibly begin to process the rest of this week's miracle. 

During our time of earthly uncertainty and tribulation, our needs were not only met, but we were literally showered with love, kindness, and generosity (I now understand the term "shower")!!!!!! For us, this has been a miracle. We feel more blessed than we can possibly ever express!!!! We never fathomed that we would ever be in a situation like this- and we are eternally grateful for every single person who contributed to our situation- be it through a prayer, a note, or a gift- there is absolutely no way we can express our gratitude enough to really show how we feel!!!! Kurt and I are so overcome, as soon as the camera was off and we had finished opening the giant pile of gifts, he held me and we both cried- Harrison called it "Happy cries!" We both cried again when we saw the list of all the gifts that so many women had packaged and en route. Literally- shock, awe, and waves of blissful gratitude and love swept over and overcame us. Our eyes are still puffy (I am writing this at 8:00am the following day- it took that long to compose myself enough to put together sentences that could resemble any of my thoughts!), and our hearts are so full. Last night, I dreamed of yesterday- and it was like an instant replay- the grace and love washed over me again and again! I woke this morning and saw the huge pile of gifts and cried again- it was not a dream, it was real. 

I am so thankful. I am so thankful for the women who have done so much for us. I am thankful for my friends who have given with absolutely no thought for themselves. I am thankful for those who have listened to the promptings of Heavenly Father, and made this possible. I am so thankful for this- it has changed our lives forever. I can never say thank-you enough... 


****This was a big deal to me. I have never been on the receiving end of anything anywhere near this. While I do not normally enjoy being photographed or filmed (ESPECIALLY without makeup and while weighing so much during a pregnancy!) Kurt and I felt it was the only way to share what happened in our house today =) Sometimes- words just aren't enough. Thank you, from the depth of my soul! (And if our baby girl could talk, she would be screaming thank yous with overwhelming delight and joy!!!!!!!!!!)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Baby Shower?!

On Monday I got the biggest surprise EVER!

I logged on to facebook to find that the women in my online birth group had arranged to throw me a virtual baby shower!!! The ladies got together, formed a secret group, and arranged to send us baby gifts!!!

There are no words that can express my gratitude to these women, or my surprise at their overwhelming kindness! I have now known about the shower for 4 days, and I *still* cannot wrap my mind around their thoughtfulness and their generosity!

As the days have gone by, packages have started to arrive- we already have SEVEN! Tomorrow, the women will invite me to the hidden facebook group, and I will see pictures of everything that is going to be arriving. I am literally floored by this!!!!

I wish I had words to express my feelings- but I literally cannot find any! Tomorrow Kurt is going to film me opening the gifts that are here, and going to put things together to make a video. Imagine my surprise when I have been told there is *more* than these 7 large boxes?! As they continue to come, Kurt will either take pictures or film me opening them, and we will continue to add to the blog. While I am generally a camera shy person (as evident in my lack of pictures of myself on here) - Kurt and I both feel like this is the very least we can do to share in our gratitude and excitement for this amazing miracle that has touched our lives!

This is truly a miracle for us. Genuinely. I wish I had more to say, but cannot find the words. I cry each time I think about it- my very soul is warmed!

This amazing act has affected everyone in our family. The following story is copied from my own facebook status, from this past Tuesday. I cannot rewrite it- I cry even harder when I think about it, and typing about the beautiful baby shower already makes me cry enough!!! So forgive the copy/paste I have done- but this is too near my heart to redo right now.

We got a package today! It was the first package from the ladies from my birth group, for my virtual baby shower! We are not opening the box until Friday- which made the boys even more curious about it! Kurt insisted the package was for the baby, and shooed the children and I away while he hid the gift. 

Carter couldn't stop thinking about the package, and later came to us and asked us about it again. Kurt (with the patience of a saint) decided to jump on the teachable moment and talk with Carter about all his blessings. Carter didn't understand and said, "But the baby is 0- it isn't her birthday, is it? So why does she get presents?" Kurt pointed out all of Carter and Harrison's comforts. He tried to get Carter to imagine not having toys, clothes, or a bed. He asked Carter how he would feel if all he had was 4 shirts, booties, and a car seat. Carter nodded and listened, and then soberly went to his room. Both Kurt and I were a bit annoyed- we thought Carter's sober attitude was his lack of mailed packages.

10 minutes later Carter emerged from his room wearing his Santa hat and a belt. He presented me with a box, labeled "0." Carter told me the box was really for the baby- and he wrote 0 because that is her age. I opened the box to find a piece of paper, with a drawing, and some tape on the back. I smiled, and asked him what it was. He told me it is a drawing of some pants- and the tape is so I can tape the pants to my belly. I smiled and taped the paper, pants drawing facing out, to my tummy. Carter smiled, and said, "Yay! Now __(baby's name)__ has pants!!!"

Kurt smiled, I cried. He did understand- he just wanted to contribute, like the generous friends who are sending us things. I am so proud of my son =)