Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wedding From Afar

History: Many years ago in a “previous marriage” Tonya used to decorate cakes, not as a living but a hobby. She really enjoyed it. Her and her friend Dawn also started doing a few weddings on the side. Dawn did flowers, Tonya did the cakes and then on certain occasions the two of them would make food (finger-type) for the reception. It was fun, we enjoyed it but it was a lot of work.

Last month we were asked by Christopher & Heather how much time we would need in order to make it to Houston for their wedding. We told them at least 21 days as we are loyal Southwest Airlines customers (other loyal customers know what we mean here). A few weeks ago we got the good news that they had set a wedding date, February 28th.

Next came the groom’s request that his mama would make the wedding cakes! Now this was not anything that Tonya had never heard before, this is something that Christopher had insisted on since he was a quite young, back to some of the first wedding cakes Tonya ever made; he wanted his mom to make his cakes.

Tonya tried to explain to the two of them that with us living in Seattle and the wedding taking place in Houston there would be all sorts of challenges of baking and decorating wedding cakes. Not only did Tonya have to find a kitchen to work in (a kitchen that is not her own), and she lost custody of her cake decorating supplies in her divorce! She wanted to say no, I’ll buy you’ll a cake… and she nearly did until Heather called and said, “it would mean the world to him if you made the cakes, this is something he has always dreamed of…for you to make his wedding cake”. What’s a mother to do? A mother (at least this mother) would try to move heaven and earth where her kids are concerned, so a plan had to be developed.

After Tonya agreed to this project her head started spinning; hmmm need cake pans, hmmm need a design, gotta have a good recipe, a kitchen? I have to have a kitchen! So much to think about so many things that can go wrong, what about???? About that time God patted her on the shoulders, calmed her down and things started falling into place…. First thing on the list, find a kitchen!

Tonya called Daesha. They had a wonderful girl-time conversation, something they realized that the 2 of them do not do near often enough. Typically we just wait for Jeremy to relay information back and forth and we miss out on lots of news. New resolution; “have girl conversations more often”. Daesha was very open (actually seemed excited) to the “opportunity “of having her mother-in-law come in and take over her kitchen for a few days to bake and decorate cakes. She even wants to help! And she has offered to do our shopping ahead of time (all help appreciated). This most concerning obstacle had been overcome! Bill (aka Mr. Coupon) found that Michaels & Jo-Ann’s have 40% off coupons in the newspaper so we could start replacing our cake decorating inventory (Bonus! Every time we go into Michael’s to buy something they give us yet another 40% coupon. SCORE!).

It’s always been Tonya’s opinion that when it comes to the wedding cakes, if they are good nobody really remembers much about it, BUT if it’s bad, that’s all anyone will remembers. So the cake testing has begun. The first try for the bride’s cake turned out good, Italian Cream cake. We will be doing a 3 layer they cake with the top and bottom layers Italian Cream and the middle layer will be plain white (in case there are guests with coconut or pecan allergies). The chocolate groom’s cake has proven to the a bit more challenging, so the testing continues on that recipe. Bill, Whitney and Tonya’s co-workers are the guinea pigs but they don’t seem to be complaining too much. As of today, we are close to a winner.

Next on the Wedding from Afar list: Photographer
C&H know at this time they cannot afford a professional photographer we needed to figure something out. They asked if Whitney would consider doing the honors. Whit was leery at first; concerned she might screw something up, after all these are their wedding pictures, memories for the rest of their life! To which C&H replied, if she didn’t do it, all they would have to remember their special day is disposable cameras sitting around on tables, so to speak a do-it-yourself photographed wedding. So she has agreed. Whitney has a very artistic eye, she is a very good photographer, but she prefers landscapes not people. She’s not crazy about photographing people and she’s worried she’ll mess up their pictures. We told her that she can use both of our SLR Digital cameras (instantly know if you need to re-shoot a shot), flash, tripod, and she had a month to read up on posing people and getting more familiar with the SLR digitals. She appears to now be excited. We do need to find her an assistant, to be her “go-for” person.

Check back after the wedding, we are sure there will be many.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Adventure of Interviewing for Your Future Continues....

The search for Bill's future employer continues.... his typical day now starts these days with coffee while reading the morning paper, then trolling the Internet looking for an online application to be submitted (which is typically 1 or 2 each day).

We've had a promising week. Bill has had 2 interviews this week. He received a call from the operations manager of his "dream employer" on Monday asking if he could possibly make it in for an interview on Tuesday to which Bill replied, "I'll be there!". The interview went well, but perhaps not well enough. That company was pleased with Bill's credentials; he was the most qualified candidate they have had to apply, "but".... they are looking for someone with a architectural background in quality control and of course Bill's experience lies in civil. He was told they would keep him under consideration but they felt if they offered him the position they would be setting him up to fail due to his lack of experience in architecture; and Bill said he this job isn't one that he wouldn't would be interested in.

By the time he got home he had received another call asking if he could interview the following day.... Bill returned the call, another construction company located NORTH of here, another 120 mile (round trip) from our house. It turned out that it is across the freeway from yesterday's interview. Bill interviewed with this company and he was stoked when he left there. Here is what transpired... Bill arrived early and he (the man we hope will be his future supervisor) was not busy and asked him to come on in. They chatted realized they had crossed paths before then talked as old friends.

This company has submitted "2 DOT design-build" proposals that they are currently waiting to hear about... one closes next week and the 2nd on February 14. They insinuated that "if".. after a 2nd interview, and if they were awarded either of the 2 outstanding job that he had a job.

As the interview closed the interviewer told Bill that if he were to offered another job, be sure to give them a call before he accepted.

All in all we've had a positive week. As of this Friday afternoon, Bill is currently unemployed but we are still healthily and happy.

Please keep us in prayers

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tonya's Winter Break

We got home from Texas and Tonya had to find something productive to do with herself, afterall, Bill was not feeling well, running a temperature and in bed, (so who was supposed to entertain her???), so she decided to paint & redecorate the upstairs guest room. (Yes it's yellow, blue & green) and it was (red, white & blue). She said we needed an updated look to go along with the fine furniture that Bill has been building..... dang, we do good work!

Tuesday (Before)

Wednesday (After)

Tuesday (Before)

Wednesday (After)

Tuesday (Before)

Wednesday (After)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Adventure of 2008

Can you believe that it’s 2009? Only 9 years ago last night how many of us were uncertain what Y2K held for us, we were wondering if our ATM cards would work, if computers would work, would the gas pumps still pump gas once the clock strikes and the year 2000 begins? So hard to believe that was 9 years ago. So much has happened in our lives since then but it seems that 2008 has been the year that had more changes than most.

2008 has been a hard year for us as it has been for so many others within our family & country. A year that has been a busier than usual, and it included more life changing events that we’ve been asked to weather. A year full of ups and downs; currently it appears that our downs far outweigh our ups when the final tally is counted.

We celebrated our 13th anniversary also in January by traveling to Hawaii. Historically we have not had the best of luck with anniversary trips that involve traveling over water, but thought we’d try it again, why not, after all it was our 13th anniversary, right, what better time on earth to travel to the Big Island and Oahu. While on the island of Hawaii we stayed in Hilo we visited Volcano National Park where we had hoped to see the lava flowing, but we found out from the park ranger the lava was flowing on “state land” and the only way to see it was from the air. We were disappointed but we didn’t let it ruin our trip. We still enjoyed seeing all of the craters, steam vents and old lava flows. The volcano Kilauea has been erupting for the past 25 years. We spent 4 nights on the Big Island and loved every minute of it. While in Oahu we stayed in Honolulu, we knew it was commercialized but we knew there were many of the traditional sightseeing opportunities that we wanted to see, Pearl Harbor, North Shore, Diamond Head etc. We spent 3 nights saw so much and experienced a lot of the Hawaiian’s local culture. Can’t wait to go back one of these days to experience some of the other islands.

In January Tonya’s best friend, Missy gave birth to an adorable baby girl, Kayla. She was beautiful and had the longest fingers and toes we’ve ever seen, and cheeks that would make any super model jealous. Her mom & dad are gonna have their hands full one of these day. As the year comes to a close she has grown into her fingers and cheeks, and is still just as beautiful.

G’ma Evelyn (Tonya’s Mom) is doing very good for someone that will be 89 this month. She is now legally blind due to macular degeneration and has a few other health issues but she does pretty well. Still requires a bit more help from her sons around her house; however she is still able to live on her own. She came up this past February for her annual winter visit spending about 2 months. While we were there Christmas and talking to her, we are hoping she plans to come back in February of this year too.

Billy moved to Washington from Utah in March to live with us while he finished school. He’s still passionate about skateboarding, and in most of his free time he could be found at one of the local skate parks here. He is a real free spirit who loves skateboarding but he can't come up with a scheme that make skating a full time occupation. So his life is in a holding plan until he can figure out where he wants to go.

This year we lost family & friends that were near and dear to us. Our sister Linda lost her long, hard battle with breast cancer in June at the young age of 54, only 1 month short of her 55th birthday. She fought hard up to the very end, she is missed very much and thought about every day. Tonya’s best friend’s mother lost her battle with cancer as well, The Gentry family adopted us several years ago; we were always invited to join any of their family gatherings.

Whitney turned 21 this year and she is doing very well living out on her own. She is still enjoying her apartment and her job. She comes out to visit us often, and we love having her around. She keeps us young and makes us laugh. Her dad and her both love football and enjoy watching a good game with one another. She has plans to return to Utah next fall to attend college to pursue her BA degree.

We did something in June that people look at us in disbelief when we tell them what we did and how it turned out. We bid (and won!) on 5 acres of land in Southern Colorado on eBay. The property is about 30 miles out of Antonito. We have since been down to view the purchase and much to our surprise, (considering the price and the fact it was an eBay listing) it was a good acquisition. Granted it’s flat, but it does have distant mountain views. It is less than a mile from the mouth of the Rio Grande River and would be a great place to put a vacation cabin or trailer on.

Jeremy was the first family member to suffer the feeling of a job loss in 2008. We were all shocked when he was laid off; little did we know that several others of our family would experience that same loss throughout the year.

Christopher & Heather are both doing well. They came up to the Northwest for a week in September from Galveston. This was the first time Christopher had been home (unless you count the 24 hour trip he made in 2005) since he moved away in 2004. Heather had lived in Tacoma when she was elementary school. Hunter and Sierra did not get to come along this time, but we hope to bring them out next summer without their Mommy & Daddy for some grandma and grandpa time.

Hurricane Ike hit the coast of Texas where Jeremy & Christopher both live. The day that Ike hit was a long day for us, spending most of our evening surfing between all the major news stations. Knowing how big this hurricane was and knowing that the boys were there in the middle of this mess was pretty stressful. Did we mention they both opted to NOT evacuate for this hurricane? Tonya finally went to bed around midnight but didn't really sleep much, and then at 5:15 am Saturday morning our phone rang, it was Daesha, calling to say they had survived the storm. Having what some would consider minor damage to their house, but they were okay. Then about 1:00 pm Christopher called, they made it thru okay as well, not much damage to their house either. Of course they were both without power but they felt sure they had made the necessary preparations.

As many of you know we have been talking and planning to retire (when the time is right) in New Mexico. We like it because of their low cost of living; it is centrally located to the family members in Texas, Utah, Arizona, and California. It has a good airport and hospital system in the immediate Albuquerque area. So this year we got serious looking for a acreage to build on someday. We fell in love with the area around Los Lunas, nice community, mountain views and only about 25 miles from Albuquerque. It didn’t hurt that the latter part of 2008 was also a buyer’s market for real estate, so we made an offer the land our future retirement home will sit upon sometime in the future. The land is flat but it has phenomenal views of the Manzano Mountains.

We went to San Francisco in October for the wedding of Bill’s nephew Adam (Karen’s oldest son Adam). Brittany & Whitney met us down there and we all had a great time together. Besides the 4 of us, Don and Diane stayed at the same hotel as we did; we always have a great time together.

Brittany is doing well; she’s still living in Southern California. She hardly has any free time, she stays busy as she continues her pursuit of her Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. We admire her and are impressed by her dedication to school and work.

November was not one our best months. Bill’s birthday was nice, but 3 days later he was notified that his job was being eliminated after 12 years. Shock and disbelief would be an understatement but we are now adjusting. Bill had not been happy with his job in a while, but thought he would wait until Tonya retired and they moved to NM before looking for something else, now he’s looking for another job. In addition to losing his job, he also lost his gallbladder. He had surgery 2 days before Thanksgiving, and seems to be recovering nicely.

Our daughter-in-law was also notified that her contract would not be renewed, another shocker since J was also unemployed. Yep that’s right the two incomes of that household were now gone. They are planners which in this case is a good thing.

We started the blog in September; we wanted to capture all of our trips, whether they were day trips or vacations as well as other events that take place and the blog seemed to be a good way for us to share it with our family and friends. We thank Daesha for providing us with more information on how blogs work; after all we are from the “Boomer” generation and at first thought it might require too much time or knowledge for us to keep one up. Dae’s blog was so comforting to us as she kept us up to date on all their hurricane preparations as well as the aftermath via her blog, we so we started our own.

Jeremy & Dae, Christopher & Heather met up with us in the Texas Panhandle to spend part of their Christmas breaks with us. We were able to get caught up with most of the Hopper Clan. Sadly the boys were not able to be with us at the same time, but we always take anytime that we can with them. Also looking back now, can’t imagine how “cozy” we would of all been there at Mom’s house. Jeremy has been offered a job with the local school district, so he starts the New Year with a new job. Christopher has a lead on a job that could hold a secure future for him and his family. Dae has found a part-time position where she is providing medical attention to lower-income individuals that are in need. We are still praying that Bill hears something positive after the first of the year about the job leads that he is following.

Sadly Tonya learned of another loss in ’08, her best friend in elementary school through high school passed away at the young age of 52. Living only a few houses down the street from each other Klonda and Tonya spent most of their time together with countless sleepovers or just hanging out at one of their houses. Klonda was in Tonya’s wedding (the 1st one…). This one is still soaking in.

We love you all, and pray that each of you will be blessed with happiness in 2009!

LESSON’S LEARNED (or re-learned):
· Following “The 21 Suggestions for Success “ (by H. Jackson Brown ) may not be the perfect plan for living but it sure has worked for us.
· Love your family as if there is no tomorrow, you never know how long you have them.
· Never take your job for granted, you really don’t know when you could lose it.
· eBay land purchases are not all scams.
· No matter hard blows life deals you, the Good Lord mixes in enough good times to make life palatable.