May 31, 2020

goodbye house, hello

Well over a year ago, we heard about a house on county island near our home that would be coming up for sale soon. It's always been one of our dreams to live on more land to have room to run and play, to enjoy the outdoors, and to return to raising chickens. We started working with a realtor to look into the home, but to make it what we would want it to be would have required a lot of work and money and the timing just didn't feel right. Since that time, we've been on the lookout for something that would fit our family well. We made a list of priorities and pros and cons of many different housing situations and started watching the housing market. In December, we expanded our search criteria and that led us to a home that we felt would be a really good fit for our family. After negotiations, we were under contract contingent on us selling our home. In January, we did all the work to quickly get our home up for sale. We had a lot of showings so I spent my days cleaning the house top to bottom and keeping kids out of the house whenever someone came by. Three weeks of that! It was exhausting work to keep our home spotless for so long. There were a few discouraging days where it felt like it wouldn't work out. However, we got a good offer on our home! Unfortunately though, it literally came 24 hours too late. Because within that 24 hour time period the home that we were trying to buy had two backup offers placed on it and the owners decided to go with one of the offers. So we had sold our house, but we had no where to go. I was a little bit stressed about that fact. 

During that time period, I found comfort in one thing. When we had heard the news that the house we were trying to buy fell through I knelt on my bed for a nice long talk with Heavenly Father. When I finished my prayer, I felt like I should read from the Book of Mormon right where I had left off the day before. I read a verse that popped out at me and I knew it was my answer from a loving Heavenly Father who was very much aware of me and my family. 

I read in 1 Nephi Chapter 9: 

Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.

But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen.   

Nephi was talking about his own circumstances and why he had to make this second set of plates, but I felt that God was also talking to me through these words--there was a wise purpose for everything happening the way it was. Like Nephi, I didn't know that purpose at the time, but the Lord did. The Lord knows everything even from the beginning. And he always prepares a way. He has all power. And so I can trust in Him and His wisdom. 

Fast forward a month's time and I understood that purpose. We needed to be here just a little bit longer for some very personal reasons. But we didn't know what was going to happen so we spent the next few weeks stressfully exploring every single housing option out there. Every option! And then, miraculously, the owners of the house we were originally trying to buy reached out to us. The second offer they had accepted fell through so they asked if we were still interested. We had to stick with a longer close date to accommodate the buyers of our home, but it was all going to work out.

And it has. On May 1st, we closed on both houses. We said goodbye to our lovely home on Carob Court and hello to a new house ready for us to make it our home.

On our last night in our lovely Arizona Carob Court home, we swam together as a family and enjoyed the pool and the backyard that we had designed and built. And loved for almost four years.

One last family smoosh in the grotto!

It was a crazy time to be moving during a pandemic, but so many kind people thoughtfully reached out to us in various ways and so we had the help that we needed to move on over.

Goodbye home we loved!!

Hello to our new home!!

It was such happy relief and excitement when we got the word that we were officially the new owners. There was a time when I really thought it was all a dream and that it would never actually work out. But I didn't need to worry, everything came together in the end. 

We all had various aspects of the new house that we were looking forward to and we often talked about them in excited anticipation. Things like closet shelves and drawers, a basketball hoop, bedroom space, etc. The one thing that Layla was most excited about was this little bridge in the backyard. As soon as we got in the house, she ran into the backyard to see her bridge! Love, love, love. 

There were so many mixed emotions for me during the move. To say it was hard to say goodbye to our Carob home is a huge understatement. But a house is made a home by the people in it, and this family of mine is all together in our new house safe and happy and that is what is most important. Every day that we are here it starts to feel a little bit more like home and right where we need to be. 

May 23, 2020

escape room 4: escape games Arizona**

We took our older boys to Escape Room Arizona in Mesa to do the Quest for the Throne escape room.

We used a groupon for this room. This one was mostly linear, so perfect for our small group. It had a great variety of puzzles, locks, keys, and elements. A Knight theme was very family friendly. This room was rated 7/10 and we thought that was pretty accurate. We did ask for our three clues, but one of them was just because we didn't see a lock hidden to the side of a picture frame so I don't really count that one. Ha! We escaped with 11:47 minutes left! 

We are excited to try the other rooms here because we feel like this was a really balanced and well done escape room business. 

So we have always had fun at every escape room that we have tried, but there is definitely a difference in quality and experience among escape rooms and businesses. I just feel like I need my own personal rating system here if I'm going to keep sharing our experiences with these places. So here it is:

One Star*--the escape room is ok; not a lot of variety or interesting elements; puzzles are average or aren't connected or adequately puzzling; atmosphere is subpar or cheaply done; escape masters don't seem engaged or give poor clues; system of communication is lacking or low technology; too linear so hard to keep moving especially with more people

Two Stars**--the escape room is well done and I would definitely recommend; multiple kinds of elements, types of puzzles, and locks; interesting and nice atmosphere with space in the room; adequate system for communication with the escape master and clear direction; fun and challenging 

Three Stars***--the escape room is extremely well done and I would highly recommend!; the room is set up well with quality elements and design; a variety of impressive elements, types of puzzles, and locks; there is an attention to detail in the room and by the escape masters; good technology for communication with the escape masters and good clues as needed; super fun and challenging

Escape Games Arizona: Quest for the Throne = **

May 22, 2020

I really really love my teenagers

They drive me wild in so many ways!!
But I was thinking last night about how much I love my teenagers. (And their teenage friends)

They love to spice life up and sometimes in the moment it makes me lose my cool. Like when I left them to decorate a big cookie to deliver to a friends family and this is what they do.

Nothing says love and warmth like “fear the Allred’s!”. Huge eye roll here.

But their hearts are good and their characters are solid.

Whenever they drive to DQ or bahama bucks they always surprise me by bringing a treat back for me. Even with their friends there, they all tolerate my homeschool history lessons, they jump in to do chores and help around the house, they play with, watch, and include younger siblings, they join in our family game nights, they dance with us when we blast music and turn on the party lights. They are a dream!

And they keep my life interesting. For example, when Brinna started yelling at me to save her car and I looked out the window and saw the teenage boys like this.

At least they included Perry in their plans.

They drive me crazy and I love them for that.

May 21, 2020

sharing with your bff

On a lovely evening some of our good friends came over for swimming and pizza.

We spotted the little girls waaay off in the corner of the yard.

Just sharing a cherry coke.

What else are besties for?

May 20, 2020

a day on the rim

We took a drive and landed just outside of Payson, AZ on the Mogollan Rim to do a little off roading in my sister’s Ranger.

Kacin and kyler each drove up and down their first legit hill. They did so well!

Layla and Perry got behind the wheel, too. So fun to see their excitement about that. What a great uncle they have to give them driving lessons.

While we were on a long ride with Logan in the car, Jacqui organized a surprise party with a piñata to celebrate Log’s 6th birthday. Kyler and Eric were assigned the task of hanging the shark piñata from the top of a tree. I heard it was a little precarious, but in the end they got it up.

Piñata time! Brinn was a little bit nervous about those shark teeth.

But the others all happily took some big whacks on that thing.

Presents, cupcakes, and a little more off roading before we had to get home.

Big hugs to end the day!!

May 18, 2020

I’m just going to move it, mom

As soon as she spied E’s Diet Coke left unattended she started creeping her way over to it. When her hand reached for it, I asked her what she was doing. She told me “I’m just moving dad’s soda, mom.” That little sneaky girl didn’t fool me one bit, haha. I reminded her not to drink it. She hid her head and told me, “I know, mom.” I tried to persuade her that soda is yucky. She protested, “No, it’s not, mom.” 

May 16, 2020

Arizona escape room number 3*

Eric and I were talking about our bucket lists the other day and that led to a discussion of things we want to do together. We decided that one of them would be to try every escape room in the valley! We just love puzzling through escape rooms. We both do well with goals so we decided to take that idea and actually set a goal to go to 25 escape rooms. We recently went to two other rooms so we will count those towards our number goal. When we didn’t know what to do for date night tonight and we saw that escape rooms opened up again today after Covid-19 shut down orders, we decided to book one. 

We went to Puzzle Effect in Gilbert and successfully completed the Knight and Rook room with just over 6 minutes left. This room was linear. We don’t know if it was because this was the first time we’ve gone to one with just the two of us or not, but we found ourselves getting stuck more than we expected. One big hang up was because we mistakenly thought a pawn piece was called a rook. Haha. At this particular place, you don’t ask for clues, they just automatically give them to you when they see that you are stuck or when they see you aren’t making the time checks. The room was mostly puzzles to open locks around the room. But it was fun! And it was nice to get out of the house and use our brains again after pandemic quarantine brain.

Mountain Mamas

A friend persuaded me to give mountain biking a try. That is a fear that I haven’t faced since I crashed well over ten years ago when Eric and I thought we would start mountain biking together (after that crash, I was out). But she promised we would go slow and take it easy so I took a deep breath (well, lots of them) and faced my fear. Whew, I did it! I don’t like downhills or going fast, but I would be willing to go again in hopes that with every bit of experience I will get more comfortable.

After our mountain biking adventure, we started making plans for other outings like hiking, paddle boarding, and more mountain biking. Which led to our friend running with the idea of matching shirts for us “mountain mamas.” I went mountain biking once and now I have a club with matching shirts. Look at that! I love these ladies and glad they patiently, nonjudgmentally pushed me out of my comfort zone. Looking forward to more adventures with the mountain mamas! 

May 10, 2020

Mother’s Day 2020

I just finished reading a book about Mother Teresa, "Mother Teresa: a life inspired." I found it striking that over and over again it was stated that Mother Teresa's life and all that she stood for and did was influenced by her own mother. Her own mother had welcomed anyone and everyone who was hungry to sit with them around their kitchen table, teaching young Agnes that what one had was never so scarce that it could not be shared with someone in need. When Agnes didn't know who they all were, her mother told her "Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people."  Essentially teaching her that all people no matter their background or beliefs are children of God. And everyone needs a place. Her mother's example sank deep into her heart. She knew that a woman of faith had enormous potential and could have a great impact on the world. Building her life on that foundation her mother offered her, Mother Teresa became a powerful influence for good--reshaping missionary work, promoting peace, and loving individuals one by one. She became who she was because of her mother.

When asked what someone could do to promote peace in the world, Mother Teresa answered "Go home and love your family."

Love them! Love them for all of their quirks, virtues, shortcomings, and strengths. Intentionally love them. For that is how we can find the greatest joy and purpose in life. Love the people that surround us. As mothers and women, I do believe our influence is greater than we can even imagine. That doesn't mean we need to be perfect. We will fail and we will mess up and most of us and our children will end up needing therapy at some point or another. But if the people around us know that we love them and they are children of God then that will make all of the difference.

How lucky I am to be home to love these people.

My little family made me feel extra loved this mother's day. It started with breakfast in a special pink blanket draped chair. As we ate our meal, I got to share with them some of what I had read about mother Teresa.

Then they each blessed me with some very thoughtful cards and gifts. Their words brought me to tears! Their gifts were so individual and beautiful to me.

My favorite part of the day was our home church. Eric asked each of the kids to share something I have taught them and how it has strengthened their testimony or brought them closer to Christ. Their messages of the Savior brought more tears to my eyes. 

Motherhood is humbling and challenging, yet incredible and beautiful. I felt very loved today and I hope they know how much I love them back.