Well, this year has certainly been our biggest year of change in almost two decades. There was so much to review, I had a hard time knowing where or how to begin. So, here it is... the best and worst of 2015 at the Corbridges'....and this year, there was plenty of both. No complaints, just the facts. We try to look at each and every challenge as a blessing that we yet recognize, and in most cases, this is exactly what we find... blessings!
In January, after almost a year of discussion about purchasing the cabin from the family/Doug's mom, after much prayer and fasting, Doug and I decided to begin looking at homes and on our first day of actually walking through homes with a realtor, we walked into the home of my dreams on New Years Eve Day. One step into our den and we both knew that we were meant to live in this home. Within a week, we had put a "For Sale by Owner" sign in our home of seventeen years in Smithfield, made an offer on the new home, which was accepted and the first couple who came to look at our home made a wonderful offer on it. Papers were signed, plans were made and a lot of work began! This was the beginning of some of the biggest changes in our 38 years of marriage and was definitely the biggest change of the babes' lives. It was emotional, it was frightening, it was exciting, it was change! And looking back on the year, it was wonderful change!
Also, in January, Zaylee was removed from Kelly's care, one last time and placed in foster care again. After almost two years of Kelly following all of the rules and complying with the requirements of DCFS and a very lenient judge, she was clean, sober, straight, working, responsible in every way but one... she allowed Zaylee to see her onagain/offagain husband without supervision and that was the last straw for DCFS. Much ado was made over this and it was the real beginning of what would be the end for Kelly and Zaylee. Zaylee was placed in the care of a family and the legal wheels began to turn.
On another happy note, Grace turned Sweet Sixteen on January 2. Dating and getting a job were on her priority list! Another happy note was that I discovered that soaking in Carol's new hot tub made my foot feel a thousand times better... a temporary bandaid until the next time I got in. LOVED that!
February became a lesson in patience! Following hundreds of manhours, we celebrated with one final winter hot dog roast in our wonderful Smithfield back yard.
We rented a storage unit, moved half of our home into it and moved ourselves into Doug's brother, Alan's home with his family. This was one of our biggest blessings of the year! What was supposed to be two or three days ended up being almost two weeks, but it was two very fun weeks. Each evening, we enjoyed hottubbing with Alan and Jill, fun meals, lots of laughs and good times. Doug and I also spent a lot of time with Carol and Robert, who seemed to be doing well following his chemo and radiation treatments for his brain tumor. There were many tearful farewells to our Smithfield ward and reality kicked in...we were moving! With the help of wonderful friends and family, we were able to move out entirely so that our new buyers could get settled in before the birth of their first baby, who was due the next week.
It was an emotional month. The kids world was rocked with this decision and it was a rough three months, our roughest ever with them, making the adjustments to living in a new school district but attending their old schools, being the new kids in the ward but not attending the same schools as the ward kids, leaving old friends, leaving the home that had been their only security in life. BUT, it was also good times, as they loved living at Uncle Alan and Aunt Jill's, who they adore. They were wishing we could bag the whole "new house" and just stay with them forever. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Also, in the middle of all this excitement, Doug's mother and her new friend were married. The whole idea of Grandma getting married again was upsetting to the kids until they met Norm and felt immediately connected to him. A great man and good match for Mom. In setting up for the wedding, a table fell on Grace's foot and we didn't realize until weeks later, it had been seriously injured.
We closed on our new home on February 25. What should have been a joyful day, after a flawless home-buying experience, was tarnished by a very tedious three hour closing meeting, in which there had to be much re-negotiation. It was rough! The previous owner, a wonderfully sweet 92 year old widower, had children who refused to move one thing out of the home until the closing had been recorded in the courthouse. We walked out of the closing, sat in the car, held each other and cried... tears of joy that it was over and tears of pain for what the other realtor had just put us through. So, for the first few days in our new home, we "shared" the space as they moved out of rooms and we moved into them. That was an unforgettable experience and quite possibly, three of the worst days of our lives. But, at 8PM, on Saturday evening, we were alone in our new home and ready to begin this new chapter of our lives.
In the midst of that few days, we honestly wondered "What have we done!?!?" because of the drama with the previous owners' children, but late one night, while sitting here alone at the house, (Doug had gone home to Alan and Jill's with the kids and I stayed behind to finish up a few things), our new neighbors across the street, Layne and Julie, came over to see how things were and offer any assistance. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and a tender mercy that said to me, "This is where you belong at this time in your life." Happiness!
March was filled with hard work and lots of surprises. Settling in to this home was nothing like any move we'd ever made. We'd set aside the funds to be able to renovate this home. It began with having an electrician wire the home for a HOT TUB on our covered patio!!! Bonus! But, with each new day came a new surprise of things that would need to be done that we'd not planned on or expected. Every contractor that walked in would say, "That'll be $200-$500." Every bill came in well over. We ended up removing every inch of wallpaper and having to texturize every wall. Floors were not easily removed because of surprises found beneath the carpet. Electrical had to be done. Three ceilings had to be replaced. A new stove had to be purchased, then wiring literally fried it, not covered by warantee, and another purchased to replace that one. Plumbing issues. Paint issues. It took Alan and Jill almost six weeks of work, along with sheetrockers, plumbers, electricians and many many hours from friends and family. Thankfully, we had budgeted for a few emergencies. But, by the end of May, we were feeling like royalty living in our completely renovated home! HAPPINESS!
During this few months, it was ups and downs every day... physically exhausted, emotionally drained, tension high with three teens who only saw problems and messes and work work work. But, as things came together in the home, hearts were softened and happiness restored in our family. This was a rough few months...different than any time we'd ever had in our family. Thankfully, it's over and past and we have forgotten. Even reviewing the year for this entry has been hard. Eewwww. Glad that's over!
ZJ turned 14 in March and that was a passage for her.... she got a job working for her aunt, celebrated with old Smithfield friend and began making the adjustments to living in the new home as preparations for Young Womens Girls camp began.
The thrill of March, for me, was having Liza, Buddy and Aylabelle visit. Buddy worked hard the entire visit installing new floors for me in the entry and kitchen.
We celebrated Doug's birthday and for some reason, I was walking past a men's shop and decided to buy him a new suit! He opened it and looked at me as if I'd lost my mind, but when we took it in for alterations, he opted to upgrade to an even nicer more expensive suit, which made me look at him as if he'd lost his mind. Little did we know that he'd have a need for that suit in a very short while!
In April, following LDS General Conference, the kids gave us a wonderful anniversary surprise of "a weekend alone".... they lived downstairs and we had the whole upstairs. It was extremely thoughtful and was actually one of the first times that the kids thought, "Hey, this bigger home isn't so bad!" This being our 38th birthday, and Doug's obsession with the number 38, was definitely a biggie! A new home and a new life was a great gift from him!
We had a great snowstorm leaving us with over a foot of that beautiful white stuff, which was exciting to me... we'd been in the home since seeing it on New Years Eve and after one of the mildest winters on record, I was sad not to be able to see a snow-covered back yard until next year. Best part, it was all melted and gone within a day.
Quayd also discovered his love of theater when he got a part in a one-act play at his high school. He joined the Thespians and decided to run for an office in their presidency.
Grace also decided to get involved at school and auditioned for the female singing/performing group, Bella Voce. Grace auditioned, wearing a surgical boot for six weeks after a table had fallen on her foot during the set up at Grandma's wedding. It got her out of PE the rest of the year, which didn't bother her at all! Grace had also made connections with her first boyfriend. Only a few dates later, and it was over.
May brought about some serious times. Carol's husband, Robert began to decline rapidly. Our hearts broke daily as we saw this wonderful man's health dwindling and he began a very rapid descent to his final days in this life. We shook our heads and questioned Heavenly Father's plan and tried to exercise our faith in the Plan of Salvation. That they only had one year together...I still shake my head. Our hearts still ache.
The last week of school claimed one of the longest nights of our lives...ha! We attended the Thespian banquet, a 3 hour and 45 minute banquet that left us speechless, but our son was officially elected as the Historian of the Thespian Club, which made him happy, one of his happiest moments ever at school!
Grace had been waiting since her birthday for her big 16th birthday trip...a flight to Arizona. She enjoyed the extra attention from her big sister and Liza even set her up for a date night, which she called one of the worst dates ever. (Not a fan of blind dates!)
Most of our focus at this time was on Carol and Robert. We tried to be there for Carol in any way we could. Robert passed away on Monday afternoon. I sat by Carol at his bedside, for a short visit, just an hour before his passing. Watching this happen to someone I love so much (both Carol and Robert) was one of the hardest things I've ever imagined. I hate cancer. Doug and I love Carol as if she were our flesh and blood. Watching her experience the death and funeral was devastating to all who love and adore her.
Robert'sfuneral was held in Oakley Idaho. Doug took a few days off work and we spent the weekend in Burley, visiting the City of Rocks with the kids, attending Robert's viewing and funeral.
In July, my sweet friend of seventeen years, Tina, passed away from a brain tumor after fighting breast cancer for eleven years. I attended her funeral in our old ward in Smithfield and I believe that was the first time that our move and separation from the old ward really sunk in. Missing Tina, not being a part of serving her family during the funeral dinner, so many things, our move became very real. No regrets at all, just the reality that we are truly no longer a part of that ward family that had been so closely involved in for almost two decades.
All three kids got summer jobs. ZJ began working for her aunt north near Smithfield. Grace took a job working at the south end of Logan. Quayd works in Smithfield. So, my days were spent taking Zee north at 9, the Grace south at 11, then picking Zee up at 1, north again. Grace ended south at 3 and Quayd began at 4 north again. He worked until 8 or 9 or 10 at night. So, my entire summer was spent driving kids from the north end of the valley to the south end and back over and over again. It was expensive with gas at $3 a gallon and time consuming for me. I carried a book and my iPad everywhere and barely had time to get home before it was time to go again, but was thankful to be living smack dab in the middle. I was so glad for them to have the opportunities to work hard and save their money. They kids all bought their own school clothes this year, which was their choice and a great learning experience for them!
Carol and I took several trips to her and Robert's home in Idaho during the summer. While the girls were away at YW Girls Camp, while they had different activities and at times when Doug was home for long weekends. We had a ball taking our little road trips to Robert's hometown, but each trip was a painful reminder that Robert was really gone. We would be laughing one minute and in tears the next. And we won't mention the amount of Diet Coke that was consumed.
Also, in July, Mom's manfriend of twenty years, Boyd passed away. Mom was able to care for him until his last few weeks when he fell and had to be placed in assisted living care. Mom was a rock through their entire last two years together as his "caregiver".
July also brought some other really fun memories. Quayd and Doug were able to stand in the circle of our grandson, Jason's ordination as a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood. Quayd attended a literal, life-changing experience called APTC, which stands for Aaronic Priesthood Training Camp. He spent a week in LDS Missionary Preparation and came home with more determination than ever to serve a mission. He literally walked in from this camp, showered and we headed to the ranch for the Corbridge Reunion weekend and a few extra days with Alan and Jill and their family. As always, lots of laughs and good times...not to mention more food than we should admit to. However, Quayd spent every minute of the weekend in bed in our trailer deathly ill with the flu.
August brought about one of our happiest experiences of the year! Liza and Buddy announced the great news that Buddy had been hired by Dixie State University Athletic Department, which meant an immediate move to St. George, UTAH, just five and a half hours away!! We got word just a few days before it was official and were invited to attend Zaylee's adoption, which ironically was the same week that Liza and Buddy returned to Utah. Their living in Arizona, out of state, was one of DCFS reasons for choosing Zaylee's third foster family to adopt her. We were thrilled for Zaylee's nightmare to come to and end, but our hearts broke for Liza and Buddy, who'd planned and been told by DCFS from the beginning that they would be the ones who would be her permanent family. Our eyes were opened to just how broken the system really is. However, at the end of it all, Zaylee is happy and safe and that was what matters the most.
On a hot August family trip to float the Onieda River in Idaho, Doug received a phone call to schedule an appointment with one of the USU Student Young Singles Stake Presidents. We had no clue what this was about and were never so shocked to hear his invite Doug to serve as the counselor to Bishop Trace Skeen with 200 amazing young college students. It was the beginning of an entirely new experience and, we laughed that Doug had a reason to wear that brand new suit to wear each Sunday! Doug was ordained as a High Priest by our dear and wonderful friend, Jim Anderson, who is also serving as a Bishop in a YSA ward currently. It only enhanced the special bond that Doug and Jim have always had.
School began all too quickly and so did Back to School Activities. Grace attended a Bella Voce Retreat, lots of shopping for new clothes and supplies, less working which meant less driving for me and we were in full swing for Quayd's senior year, Grace's junior and ZJ's first year as a freshman.
On our way to our first "activity" with the new Bishopric, Doug and I were rear-ended by a college student who was trying to keep her Great Dane from driving for her. Minor injuries and we were driving Doug's mom's Subaru, which we'd just committed to purchase from Mom because we spend four months of having one of our vehicles in the shop for transmission, radiator, coolant, you name it repairs. Carol's daughter, Taylor married a wonderful young man from Robert's Idaho ward and it was like a fairytale wedding with two fabulous receptions. With Liza and Buddy arriving in St. George, Zee and I took a quick road trip to visit and help them get situated in their new home.
We were also able to spend some time with my mother, who now only lives a few miles from Liza.
We, as a family, were also involved getting to know the kids in the YSA ward, assisting in so many service projects and discovering quickly just what a great experience this would be in our lives!
In August, after ten years of blogging on TypePad, I decided to move my blog to Blogspot. This was a huge decision that had taken me over a year to make. One that I'm still not quite sure about, but it sure is easier to blog than then changes TypePad had created to frustrate my daily blogging experience.
I feel like the year began to greatly change in September. The challenges, other than continual car problems for four consecutive months, seemed to settle down and as they did, emotions did too! THANKFULLY! The kids were settled into school and absolutely loving the new ward and home. The new calling for Doug with the YSA was just a huge blessing in our lives. We love these kids and every opportunity to spend time with them and for our kids to be around them.
Grace was invited to her first dance, Homecoming,by three different guys but she accepted an invitation to Logan High School's homecoming with our neighbors, Layne and Julie's son. They were so cute together and a had a great time!
The kids have really made some connections with other kids and leaders in the ward and Layne and Julie, especially. BEST neighbors ever! Because of these connections, ZJ really wanted to change schools to the Logan school district so that she could attend with the rest of the kids in our ward. We were all loving life... life in the new home, in the new ward, in the nieghborhood, in the YSA, living in Logan, so close to everything, including my two best friends, Carol and Denise, happy kids... life is good!
Another huge blessing in September was when Doug called me while at Carol's home in Idaho to tell me that they'd "let go" of one entire shift of workers at his company. My heart skipped several beats as he shared the events of the day, where one by one, employees had been invited to the HR office and were escorted out in tears, with little or no time to say goodbye to friends of the past decade. Thankfully, Doug was not one "let go" but he was definitely affected by the loss of many good friends and co-workers from years past.
I spent my birthday in October preparing dinner for fifty YSA students and celebrated with a perfect for me gift, a round banquet table, to accomodate our many dinner parties and company! We enjoyed watching General Conference together and although Quayd had to work, Doug enjoyed taking our grandson, Jason and his dad, Dave out for dinner before the Priesthood session, the Dave reciprocated with four gallons of icecream for dessert afterwards, here at home with the girls and I. We are so blessed to be a part of our adopted out grandchildrens' lives!
Speaking of which, we were invited to celebrate with Zaylee and her new family on the day of her temple sealing to her new family. Again, we feel blessed! Quayd celebrated his big 18th birthday with friends from the ward and a four foot wide pizza! Eighteen for Quayd means this is the year that he decides whether he will serve an LDS Mission. As of now, that's his plan!
Quayd was invited by two girls to the Sadie Hawkins dance and had a great time. Grace had planned to invite Kendell but he had a performance at Logan High... another conflict of living in one school district and attending another, but we're making it work. They went on a date another night instead. Youth Conference was held at the Logan Country Club and ZJ says that this was a life changing experience for her because she made some strong connections with our ward youth that weekend! We are loving this new ward and stake and the many activities that they offer the youth! Doug and I celebrated a pre-Halloween party with our friends, the Skeens, making donuts and games in costume while the kids were all involved at Youth Conference.
The next morning, I made a quick trip to visit Liza in St. George to help her prepare some visual aids for her new ward calling as Primary Chorister. I stopped on the way home and had a sleepover with my good friend, Marilyn, after a treacherous rainy/sleety/snowy five hour drive and made it home in time to help the kids with a Halloween gathering here in our new neighborhood!
On the night I arrived home, ZJ handed me a 26 page persuasive letter with all of her reasons for needing/wanting to change to the Logan School district. After much thought and prayer, we made the decision that she would make the change to attend school with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood. She was one happy camper and made the transition quite easily.
I taught a Christmas decorating/organizing class in Brigham City for Jason's dad's business and since I had to get everything out for the class, decided to decorate for the holidays earlier than I ever have before! Ten days before Thanksgiving! With the new home, I was more than excited to spend almost a week decorating, putting things here and then there until if felt perfect! And as silly as it may seem, having three real fireplaces and mantles to decorate was the best "decorating high" I've ever had!
We invited Alan and Jill and family for Thanksgiving dinner and had the most wonderful day together! After dinner, we played games and teased and laughed for hours! Again, I am more thankful than words can express for our lovely new home and the many opportunities it has brought us... mostly the room to share our blessings with others!
Liza and Buddy came to visit for two days after spending Thanksgiving weekend with Buddy's family.
Aylabelle is such a delightful child and every second with her is pure joy!
Grace immediately began the first of her nineteen Bella Voce performances, which didn't end until just before Christmas. She was invited to perform a solo at the Family Concert. I've never seen her so nervous, but she got through it and did just fine!
Just before Thanksgiving, Carol and I followed through on a "wild hair" and began a Bunco group with a twist... we invited a few who invited a few and we made a dozen new friends! Carol hosted the first gathering and it was just plain fun to play the game again and to enjoy meeting new ladies!
Our December was busy, busy, busy. Kids working, Doug's YSA activities, Shopping with Carol every day and decorating both of our new homes, daily Sonic runs together, service projects, Grace's performances, brunch with my grand girls
a Kurt Bestor/American Festival Chorus Concert with Layne and Julie,
Donut night with Alan and Jill and their kids and spouses/ friends plus Layne and Julie and family, which was the most fun night I can remember in years and then the holidays. Quayd worked a LOT a hours!
We celebrated Christmas Eve and Day in our jammies in the den, in front of a beautiful warm fire and spent the entire week just relaxing (except Quayd who worked a lot more hours) and enjoying our time together.
It has been a rough, challenging, exciting, sad, painful, emotional, fun, happy, eventful, busy, wonderful, blessed year! A year with much growth and joy! If anyone had have told me at this point last year that we'd be living in Logan, serving in a YSA, ZJ attending a different school than her siblings, away from friends of two decades, with three loved ones gone, I would have never believed the majority of it! During this year, however, we've grown closer, learned much, loved more and count the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives as such a huge blessing. This year has required much faith, fasting and prayer and has brought many many blessings! We're looking forward to what surprises 2016 will bring! Life is good!