Wednesday, December 31, 2008

True Confessions of a Tired Woman

I finally got a shower after two days. I know, I know..."GROSS!", some of you are thinking. Ya see, we are going from living at my mother-in-law's home to living in our home this week. With the move, and working M-W-F at 6am, etc. I've had to take "spit baths" to get by until 30 minutes ago. Wowsa, that shower felt heavenly!

The bad thing is, Jarrod tore out the wall around the bathtub to install a shower two weeks. :{

One of the joys of an oooolllld house is that it ONLY has a tub. (Well, there IS a scary old shower in the basement where the boogyman lives, but...)


If I'm sick, yeah, but sitting in dirty water to get clean?!? What a dumb idea. So anyway, the next two weeks I will surrender myself to bath-taking, without complaining (too much).

Pics of the house will follow in a couple days.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting Closer Every Day!!

Ok, here are a couple more pics of the house in progress.
Master Bedroom...not finished yet.
(great view of the neighbors, eh?)
Living Room under construction
Living Room receiving new life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Goodies

Here are two of the Christmas Goodies that I've baked the past week.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
I always think of my sister, Donna, when I make these. I don't know why.
The Official New Mexico State Cookie
These are NOT snickerdoodles.
I cannot begin to explain how much I want to be in NM today and tomorrow with my family. In leiu of that, I made my Gramma Rivera's specialty.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One Room at a Time

I am going to post one or two "Transformation" pictures of our house every couple of days.
For starters, I will show you Before and After pics of the "Blue Room"; ie: the boys' room.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home again, Home again, Jiggity-Jig

"Welcome Home, Flaming Family, Welcome Home"
216 E. 1st Newton, KS 67114

Our Living Room-to-be

Oh My Gosh!!! Did a blind person paint in here?!?

The scary basement.
No, I don't think we'll use this!!
This little "thing of beauty" is one of my favorite parts of the house. Why? It's welcoming and unique.

Every room will receive a beautiful coat of paint, and Jarrod will put his creative hands to work to make this house a place to call home.
Thank you so much, EVERYONE, for praying for us to find a house. You are a part of this!
You can see more "before" pics at

Thanks, God.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Ok, I can't think of the last time I was in -16 degree wind chill! I know, I know...moving to Kansas means dealing with the hard winters. I'm just sayin'- THIS is cold!

We had a really good weekend. Friday night we did pizza and games at our dear friends, the Koerners. Saturday we looked at a couple of houses (hopefully the one close to the kids' school will be the one!! please, God, let this be the one), then we all went Christmas shopping- yes, on a Saturday- in Wichita. We met Jarrod's mom and his brother for supper, then did the "Christmas Lights" thing. There are some incredibly HUGE houses in Wichita!!
And some "Griswald Competition" goin' on, too! It was fun...except for the part where Ben's car overheated in a parking lot in downtown Wichita. But we left it there, and kept having fun. Then there was the part where all of us were tired, and finished looking at lights, so we dropped Ben off at his house, and as we are getting back to our van, Anna accidentally locked the keys in the van! So, in the very, very windy, cold dark of night, Jarrod and Ben got to spend an HOUR with two wire hangers! Talk about Male Bonding.

Apart from those two little inconveniences, it proved to be a very Christmasy day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thoughts from the Basement

I am getting ready to go to work this in about an hour. When I get there I will make the coffee cake that we serve on Mon. mornings, then begin cooking and preparing the sandwiches and wraps for lunch. Mondays are busy, but I like being busy.

Jarrod is already off to work (6:30am). He has been blessed to be able to work since week 2 of our move to Newton. It's supposedly temporary, until the end of the year, while he's looking for something permanent. He's working for Smith Home Improvements, for a guy he went to high school with. He's enjoying the remodeling/construction stuff. His face is nice and dark, and he looks like a hunk in those insulated overalls and tool belt!

We have been here 5 weeks now, and are ready for God to show us the house He has all picked out for us, and a permanent job for Jarrod. There have been good days, and bad days, but overall, we are doing well. I have to fight rushing to adjust to this new place. I just want everything to feel "normal".

Oh, Jacob turned 11 years old on Nov. 24th. We had the easiest party ever...he doesn't like cake, so why bother with the expense? He invited 4 neighborhood boys over and we had Root beer Floats. Then, Jarrod took them down the street to the park and played Capture the Flag for an hour or more. The boys were thrilled!! What did I do? Take a nap on the couch! Aaaah. That's my kind of party!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Working Woman

It's long past time to update our blog. And I promise to post pics after day off!
We have passed the one month mark now. I don't like that the days turn so quickly into weeks. But, then again, it's good that I'm not sitting around with too much time on my hands. Hey, that reminds me of a Styx song. "t-t-t-t-t-t-t Too much time on my hands..."
Anyway...I will be true to my promise before to find one good thing about Newton, KS each day. I've forgotten a few days, but who's counting?

"I work in a very cool store that has the coolest wood floors."

Visit for more info.

Here's how it happened...

Once upon a time (the first week we moved to town), Jarrod and I decided to go "downtown" to check out the stores. Mind you, this is a town that rolls up the sidewalks at 5pm, and is NOT open on Sundays. However, on Thursday nights, the downtown is open until 8:30pm. It's a big deal here. Having very recently moved from a big city, where anything and everything is open pretty much anytime of day or night, this is an adjustment.

Ok, back to the story...
So, Jarrod and I walked into this store called "Prairie Harvest". It was an oasis for me. You see, I love beautiful things, and this store, to me, was beautiful. Simple and beautiful. The colors on the walls, the old wood floors, the spoke to me: "Melissa, come and visit me when you need a beauty-boost."
As Jarrod and I perused the bulk grains, the spices, the lotions, the deli, I thought to myself, "This would be a cool place to work." Little did I know that Jarrod was thinking that, too (for me, not him). One of the cool things about this store is that it connects to three other stores from the inside: a bookstore/coffee shop, a cool kitchen store, and a froo-froo girlie store with purses, scarves, etc.

One week's a Thursday night and Jarrod takes me on a date. Guess where? Downtown Newton, of course! We went back into Prairie Harvest and before long Jarrod's asking the manager if they are hiring for the holidays. She said, "Well, not really for the holidays. We really need someone for more than the holidays." Wow. Even better. So I took an application, and the next day returned it. The owner happened to be there, looked at my experience, skills, etc. and said, "We are needing someone in our kitchen. One of our cooks is moving. This is Providence, that we are losing a cook, and here you walked in with your application, and you are a cook!! I can hardly contain my excitement!" She offered me a job on the spot. As I walked out of the store, I thought, "Is this for real? I am going to work at this beautiful place, and not only work here, but COOK here?" Wow.

And so began my journey as a cook at Prairie Harvest. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is made from scratch- which I love. Since it's an organic, whole foods-type place, we do a lot of vegetarian dishes, but we always offer what I like to call "real food" along with it. Who knows? I might even TRY some of the vegetarian stuff sometime. It sure smells yummy.

There is also a catering side to it, which I will do plenty of this month. We do on-site catering in our Prairie Room, so I am excited to be involved in that. One of the best parts about my job is that I only work when the kiddos are at school and only M-W-F, basically.

Remember when I told you that Thursday nights the town is open late? Well, I prepare the menu for that, as well. I love that people enjoy the food. It's a great feeling to make people happy.

There really is so much more to blog about from the month of November. However, I'll let Jarrod take a turn and tell you from HIS standpoint how life in Newton, KS is going.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Click on the Pic

Because I've had several inquiries such as, "What is WordWhomp?" I am posting a link so that you, too, may enjoy the many hours of fun that Jarrod and I have experienced.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

7 Things About Me You May (or may not) Want to Know

Why not? It's just for the heck of it.

#1- I can't stand to hear people clipping their fingernails.

#2- I love to have my ears rubbed.

#3- I talk to myself...a lot!! Complete conversations. Ask Jarrod.

#4- I think any type of fish is disgusting...even tuna fish.

#5- Today I splurged and bought a Chocolate Malt from Braum's. wowsa!

#6- I play a lot of WordWhomp.

#7- If the UNM Lobos and KU Jayhawks ever played against eachother (HA!) I'd have to go for the Lobos. Sorry, J.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Feeling Kinda Homesick Today

We made it safe and sound- after 16 hours, 3 vehicles, 9 people, and
1 Cocker Spaniel!

Our Dear Friends, Todd, Robert, Julie, and Malee- who helped us make this move!!

The Newton, Kansas

Thank God for a big, strong hubby!

OMG!! We got it all in Todd and Julie's garage!

Ok, so it took a week to find my camera to post any "moving pics". I can't find my huge thing of laundry detergent that I swore I would not allow to get packed into storage. And my cooler filled with green chili that I guarded with my life in order to move it safely to Kansas so that I could make my favorite NM dishes?? I left it at my sister's house the night we said good-bye.

My Mountains

We are in a great town, a small town with way more conservative values; where our kids are safe to play outside after dark...but it isn't home yet.

The kids are on day 4 of their new school. The school is so great: Christian Principal, many Christian teachers, etc. Each of them has had good days and tough days. Overall, they are enjoying it. And Jacob? Well, our 10 yr old, 5' 7" 5th grader is bound to be the class heart throb! The girls lit up when he walked in to the room! Yikes!

I am very glad that they have so many neighborhood friends already...even though we won't LIVE on this street more than a few weeks(we're living in Jarrod's Mom's basement until we find a place).

I am feeling a little blue this afternoon. Why? Because it has been a little over a week since we moved away from my beloved New Mexico, the wind blew constantly last week, and it's dark and cloudy today. I think I just need a hug from my parents and sisters, and then I'll be ok.

It's the little not being able to order a "Green Chili Double Cheeseburger at the local McD's; like going to the grocery store and not being able to find decent flour tortillas. After several "disappointments" like that, I nearly cried at the tortilla section of Walmart.

Moving sucks. But it will get better.

Jarrod was supposed to start work yesterday (Monday), but since it's a construction job, and it's rained the past two days, he's been outta luck. Lord, pa-leez give us some encouragement today.

So, if you happen to read this today, send me a hug via email. I sure need one!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Well, yesterday was a good day. The good part started after the kids were off to school and Melissa's mom and dad took us to The Frontier for breakfast. This place is right across the street from the University of New Mexico, so it is usually packed with students. It is a long-time Brown family favorite!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm Good!

Well, the house really looks like we're moving now. The walls are bare, beds are torn down and dressers are empty and most of it is in the garage. Melissa's mom and dad came down Sunday evening, spent the night and worked with us all day Monday...after breakfast.
Mom and Melissa spent the day in the kitchen and it is cleaned and pretty much packed, except for a few items we still need, of course. I mean, we obviously like to eat! Dad spent the day going around patching nail holes and doing touch-up paint. We do to hang stuff, huh Dad? He also helped me tear down our king-size bed. We're all sleeping on our mattresses on the floor. Woo hoo! I moved the remaining furniture from our bedroom downstairs. We now have all the furniture - dressers, bed frames, chairs & desks in the garage ready to be loaded.
Today I plan on finalizing plans with the utility companies, landlord, etc. and then cleaning/packing up the patio and backyard. Melissa has her last lineup of piano lessons today. Fortunately, we have a friend nearby that has a piano, so they can all go over there since our house is in upheaval stage.

Last night David, Donna, Taylor and Lindsey (Melissa's sister's fam) joined us for supper after Taylor's soccer game and Mom & Dad brought in Dion's pizza and salad. Mmmm!
After some fun and crazy stories, many surrounding our driving experiences (good luck, Taylor) we took a few minutes to take some family pictures. It was getting silly and crazy. I think maybe we were a bit tired?

What a great family I am in!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UNM - Lobo Howl Night 2008

I took the boys to the University of New Mexico Lobo Howl Night 2008 last Friday. This is the college basketball season opening night where many schools have a free open practice and introduction to the fans. Our pastor used to be the chaplain for the team, so we've gotten to know 6 or 7 of the guys that come to our small church on the Westside of Albuquerque.

Here are the guys: Will Brown, Tony Dandridge, Daniel Faris, Dairese Gary, A.J. Hardeman and Phillip McDonald. Duane Broussard is the Director of Operations and he and his family come to church as well. At this Howl Night, I talked to Duane and he said, "If you ever need tickets, just let me know." Doh! And now we're moving!?! Too bad I don't know anyone at KU!

The boys jumped into line for autographs. We were fortunate to get there early and had seats right on the corner of the court on the floor! These would be awesome seats for a game if we were still here!
Notice Caleb is several people behind Jacob...thanks big brother!

Phillip signing a ball for someone.

Jacob's hero, Daniel, takes time for a pic.

Caleb gets his pic taken too.

Here are some dunks from the dunk contest:

Philip with his "Hand in the Cookie Jar".

Dairese does a toss-up dunk.

Tony and the "Windmill".

Tony goes under his leg.

Tony does a "double-stuff". Way cool! You can see some more of Tony's dunks on YouTube. There is one against Kansas State a couple years ago where his head is above the rim!

Here's Daniel in the 3-point contest.

We had an incredible time together that night!

We also got to meet/know J.R. Giddens from church. He is a former Lobo and Jayhawk before he moved to Boston to play for the Celtics.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Packing and Storm Troopers

Today we packed, and packed, and cleaned, and packed. We have 14 days left, and are doing pretty good. Anna has moved in with the boys for the next couple of weeks. We got her room completely cleaned out. Jarrod and I both knew that her room would take longer than any other room in the house because she is...well, I'll put it nicely: a pack-rat.

The boys' room is empty except for three mattresses, and a suitcase for each. This makes life so much easier for us as moving day gets closer.
Just the thought of having dear friends coming to help move us out of this house and drive it to Newton, KS makes my heart smile! To know that you're loved and wanted is the best feeling in the world.

I have two more weeks of piano lessons. I am getting sad at the thought of leaving my 11 students. I feel so badly that they each picked out Christmas songs to learn for our recital, then the next week I had to drop the bomb on them. I hope to start up again in Kansas after Christmas, when we are settled and I have time to catch my breath.

I'm also getting sadder (is that correct grammar?) at the thought of leaving my family. The past three years with my parents close by (Santa Fe) and my older sister here in Alb. have been the best! I'll miss meeting Donna for coffee or lunch on a Friday morning. And I'll miss teaching my niece piano. Ok, I'll stop now, because I'm gonna cry.

Jarrod has two days of work left at the State. Friday, his office gave him a big "going away dinner". They've been such a great group of co-workers, and I know Jarrod's had a huge impact on their lives the past two years. I am so proud of him for sticking it out when the commute was too much to bear or people were less than nice. On the bright side:
Oh, on a funny note: we bought a "Storm Trooper" costume for Caleb for Halloween. I've always made their costumes, but this one?? No thanks! So, anyway, he's worn it constantly for 4 days now. He even wore it to the store with me the other day. Why not? People love to see kids dressed up for no reason. Plus, that's the stuff being a kid is made of. He was a little embarrassed once we walked IN the store, but happy, nonetheless. And I?? Well, I was just the proud mother of a storm trooper.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I know, I know...details. More details.

So, you want more details? Sorry.

No, just kidding. I'll give you what we have, ok?

We have just not been making it out here in the desert...financially. We have given a good, hard, 3-year try and are falling farther and farther behind. Some of you may recall that in November of 2005 we set out on a trek and we called it The Hope Plan. Our verse was, and is, Jeremiah 29:11, which says, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the LORD. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.' " We still cling to this verse and know it's true. I love the following few verses as well. " 'In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you,' says the LORD. 'I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your own land.' "

So, why are we moving away from where our dreams and plans led us? Roadblocks. When it becomes painfully obvious that things are not working, you try something else. We've tried finding cheaper housing. I've applied and even interviewed for better paying jobs, asked for a raise and other ideas, but nothing. Now, just to show you that God has a hilarious sense of humor, just 4 days after we decided to move - I was notified that I had been chosen for and was going to be offered a job in Albuquerque (no more commute to Santa Fe) that was $2.00 more per hour! Too late! :)

The plan at the moment is to move in with my mom for a few weeks until we find a place of our own. I do not have a job lined up definitely, but there are some strong leads. Please pray for us that those leads turn into a job(s).

So, it may sound like we've given up on those dreams and hopes. That is certainly not the case. Our time in New Mexico has been rich with experiences and some really fun times. We've been able to spend some good time with Melissa's family and we are soooo grateful for that! These are the things that certainly makes this decision bittersweet. We will miss them. We will miss the mountains and the dry air and sunshine 90% of the time.

But, we really do see this as a positive thing that God is not going to allow our hopes and dreams to die, but is rather just changing the direction of the outcome of those ideas. And it's ok, because those dreams come from Him anyway.

I had a word picture come to my mind the other day and I hope it helps you understand it like it helped me. Imagine you're going hiking up a pretty nice mountainside. After being gone for an hour or so, you see the top and you say to yourself, ok, I can make it. But, when you get there, as you come to the top of that crest, you realize that's all it is - a crest. You still have quite a ways to go. At first, you feel defeated; like you know you just can't do anymore. But, then you realize that's what you're out there for. To experience the outdoors, the beauty of creation and to get some exercise. And so you look up again, this time with a different perspective that this is going to be good. That is how we are moving to Kansas. That Albuquerque is just a "crest" in our "hike" that we've made it to, and there is more good to come.

Please join us in seeing what is yet to come as we continue toward the next "crest" in life's hike.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My, my, my!

"My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." Isa 55:8 NLT

Boy, is that ever sayin' the truth?!

Well, welcome to Casa de Esperanza II. If you've been following our blog over on Casa de Esperanza, then you know a bit of what has been going on with our family the past while, especially these past several months. This is a fresh continuation of chronicling that journey.

First, I want to thank you all for your prayers and your encouragement. Psalms 6:9 says, "The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD will answer my prayer."

Another near and dear passage of Scripture is Matthew 7:7-11, "Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Ok, so here's the answer for us and you're gonna love how God worked this out! We're moving to Kansas!! Yep, that's right! We're counting down the days until we load everything back on that moving truck and heading it over to Newton, Kansas - my (Jarrod) home town.

Every round of the whirlwind we've been on the past 3-4 days has been so directed by God it is still amazing us. It started with a comment, a certainly sincere comment, from a dear friend of ours who said that if she could she would come down here, pack us up, load it on a truck and move us back home to make it better, then she would. Well, she and her family are doing exactly that the last two days of October.

It's a new step, a fresh start in a place I never dreamed of returning. But, God is bigger than my dreams and he has so orchestrated each move thus far and the overwhelming peace He's provided with it is so refreshing! I don't know if you remember or ever saw the verse we had posted for a while on our other blog, but it was Jeremiah 29:11, which says, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." And I just love verse 12 "In those days when you pray, I will listen."

He certainly has listened. To all of you and to us.
Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts. Thank you so much for your prayer and encouragement. Please ~ don't stop now!!
Like SCC says in The Great Adventure -
Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace
Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other - this is The Great Adventure
Stayed tuned right here as we ride into the next phase of our adventure.