House to Home Countdown: #10

It is 5:07 am, and I just dropped Coach off at the airport.  He has been back and forth a few times since becoming “the” coach at TU, but this is the only time he has not left his truck in the lot.  I drove him there this time because this time he won’t be back.

That sounds so final and dramatic…of course he will be back; we have family in the area, tons of friends to visit, and he will be through here time after time on the recruiting trail.  He will see the Heart of Texas again.

But he won’t ever be back to this home.  And driving back to the house so early this morning, that fact hit me really hard.  Honestly, I am a bit shocked that it affected me at all.  After 7 homes in 19 years (Leonard, Stephenville x2, Denton, Pearland, Lorena, and China Spring), I know better than most that houses come and go; it’s memories and love that make a home.  On top of that track record, this home had a bit of a rocky start.  It took a little longer than normal to truly shift from house to home…

This house broke one of the Cardinal Rules of Coaching: never move mid-job.  There is little to no job security in football.  Even less in the coaching of college football.  When we make a move, we pick a house, and we stay put, paying extra on the mortgage principal from Day 1 to ensure that the equity is not upside down.  EVER!

But this time, through a series of events and decisions, we found ourselves moving from a southern suburb to a northern suburb after 3 years on the job.  As we scouted houses, we came across a new construction project that was just getting started.  The builder said we were early enough in the process to turn his spec house into a custom build.  There was still time to make a few floor plan changes, I would be able to select all the fixtures and finishes, and best of all, the project was slated to be on display in the 2011 Parade of Homes so it would have special pricing and be move-in ready on the final day of the parade which coincided perfectly with Coach’s summer schedule.

We never dreamed we would have the time assurances to build, we absolutely loved the neighborhood, and although it was way more house than we intended to buy, we liked the layout and could see our family living there.

I am here today to countdown the top 10 things that truly make this house a home for me (which is a very positive thing), so I am skipping over the building process (which is a very negative thing), but suffice it to say that it was an arduous journey, one that left me emotionally bruised for a while, yet one that taught me three very important lessons:

1.  Listen to your gut, and never be afraid to walk away.

2.  Believe in yourself, and never allow anyone to bully or berate you.

3.  Have faith in your strength, and never forget how strong love can make you.

Now for the fun part – drumroll please – the first entry on my House to Home Countdown is

#10: CHRISTMAS at 615 WHISPERING OAKS

We moved in to the new house on July 4, 2011.  Yes, you read correctly.  We were THAT family moving ourselves across town on July 4th, a national holiday, in the summertime heat.  MawMaw was the only person to show up and help that day, so it was Coach, two highly intelligent and directive ladies (like mother, like daughter…), two pre-teens, and 3200 square feet of crap to carry.  WAYYYYY FUN FOR COACH!!

I was so bitter about the building experience that for several months I really didn’t even want to be there.  After putting hours and days and weeks of thought into every little detail on the house, I had a hard time sitting in it while Coach and the kids were away during the days.  It wasn’t until I got ready to decorate for Christmas that first year, that I began to see the house as our home.

The first bit of excitement came with my library tree.  The library is really the blueprint’s study/office that I transformed into a library by adding 10 foot tall bookshelves on two of the walls.

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The third wall is painted a rich, chocolate brown and displays my (currently useless) collection of diplomas and certificates, an antique door that I turned into a desk, and the computer on which I am typing.

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The fourth wall is a half-pentagonal, 16-foot tall wall of windows that faces the street in front of the house.  The most amazing chandelier is suspended from the midpoint of the pentagon, and directly under the chandelier is an outlet, with a dedicated light switch, created especially for a big, beautiful Christmas tree.

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When Coach and I married on December 21, 1995, we chose a Christmas theme of red and green, and we put a Christmas tree in the reception hall to set a festive, joyous tone.  Shopping for that tree was the only other time I purchased a tree and all it’s decorations in one stop.  And Hobby Lobby wasn’t around then…but this time it sure was!!

I found a fabulous array of turquoise, tan, cream, white, and chocolate colored ornaments – everything you can imagine like glass and glittery balls, feathers and beads, plaid ribbon for bows, and snowmen – lots and lots of snowmen!  Putting up that tree was so fun, and it was new, and it was about this house, especially for this home.  It was the first time I believed that this house would transform into our home as all the ones before had done.  How perfect that my belief was brought to light by Christmas!

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My favorite ornaments are often the simplest:

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Well, my tree fun doesn’t stop there.  This house was made (intentionally, of course!!) for Christmas.  In fact, I have a total of 7 trees throughout the house – yep, SEVEN 🙂

The wedding ornaments and bows from 1995 are still around, and they go on a 7-foot tree in the dining room which is also visible from the street.

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I especially love our annual hot chocolate bar that sits next to the wedding tree along with one of the cutest Santa pics you’ve ever seen:

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Our ever-expanding collection of family ornaments and artwork go in the living room on a 9.5-foot tree.

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Books can be found on all my trees…no big surprise there!

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And even a message for Santa:

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I adore my most treasured tree skirt (which happens to be the same one that was under Mom’s tree throughout my childhood):

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The upstairs Baylor-themed game room is home to a green and gold tree which is decorated with all kinds of silly and random football memorabilia such as ticket stubs, growl towels, and bowl game trinkets.  This tradition will definitely continue next year, just with a new theme and a couple new colors to play with 😉

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The kids each have their own trees in their rooms: Angel Girl’s is pink, and SonShine’s is blue.  I love seeing how they put them together each year, and they never look the same two years in a row!

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Finally, I have a tiny miniature tree that travels with us when we are gone to bowl games for Christmas.  When at home, it presides over the kitchen from its perch high on the bar.

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Each tree is special, as are the garlands and goodies that I drape and set on every cabinet, mantel, and countertop throughout the month of December.  I am eager to see how they all come together in a new house in a short 11 months!  Just know, whoever spends next Christmas at 615 Whispering Oaks, you’ve got a great foundation for establishing joy and turning this house into your home…

With love and hugs,

Ashli

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One Wise Elf

As you may recall reading from years past, our elf is a different sort of Elf on the Shelf.  She shows up in various places around the house each morning December 1st through the 24th, but instead of being mischievous and sneaky, she is guideful (is that even a word?) and wise.  The first time she showed up, she brought a beautiful, very large, family Bible and a pencil.  She brings to us each day a scripture card that gives us a verse to look up.  It is how we end our days leading up to Christmas:  sitting together, the four of us, and looking up Miss Snow’s recommendation, reading and underlining it, and sharing what each of us thinks that verse means.

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Well, I’m here to tell you that we have one wise elf!!

One day last week, she “told” us to look up Proverbs 16:3 which reads

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.

She also brought to our attention Proverbs 3:5 which reads

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

Well, we have done as directed, and WOW, WHAT A WEEK!!!!

About 14 days ago, the head coaching job for the University of Tulsa opened up.  Coach said, “That’s gonna be a really good job!”

About 13 days ago, he received a call to see if there was any interest in the job.  Coach said, “Absolutely!”

About 12 days ago, they asked if he would come in for an interview.  Coach said, “I’d love to, but…”  Ah, the BUT!

Coach has dreamed of being a head coach since before I met him almost 20 years ago.  He has worked tirelessly to build programs and develop players and accomplish wins, and it is a tremendous feeling to realize that those efforts have been noticed and that a program like Tulsa respects what you’ve done!

“…but the timing just isn’t right this week.”  The week he spoke of just happened to be one of, if not THE, biggest game of his career to date.  We were playing for our number one goal each year of a conference championship, we were playing for placement in an elite bowl game (a feat of which there are no measurables to describe the resulting positive impact!), and we were playing for final rankings as one of the top 10 teams in all of college football.  The timing just wasn’t right.

Knowing that he could burn bridges, knowing he was turning away from a job that by all accounts seemed terrific, and knowing that these opportunities are really, really difficult to come by in college football, Coach told them that he simply could not make it work that week, his focus had to be on helping Baylor win our final regular season game, for the team, for the coaches, for Baylor Nation, and especially for himself.

And then a great thing happened:  the bridge did not burn.  Instead of being irritated with Coach, the search firm and Tulsa administration said that while they had to move on in their search, they admired and respected him for his decision.   They especially appreciated his honesty and integrity.  They wished him good luck on the game, and they said maybe paths will cross down the road.

About 8 days ago, we won a big game.

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About 7 days ago, I asked Coach if he thought Tulsa might call back.  He said, “I’m afraid that ship has sailed; there are a lot of great coaches pushing for it.  The right one will come, I know it will.”

About 6 days ago, Tulsa called back.  “They haven’t found their guy yet, and they want me to fly in to meet them…tonight,” Coach called to say from the road where he was out recruiting.  I started packing his suitcase, he drove 2 hours home, grabbed the bag, gave me hug, a kiss, and a huge smile, and drove 2 hours to the airport.

About 5 days ago, Coach spent a day in New York.  Which turned into more.  Much, much more.  After the first meeting, I asked him how it went.  “They were great.  Good people who I just visited with; I feel like I got to know them even in that short amount of time.”  He said it wasn’t an interrogation, just a conversation.  He could tell they were eager and committed to making their program a truly great one.

Having concluded the scheduled meetings, Coach was standing in line at the airport, literally at the gate, having to wait out and rearrange flights due to bad weather when his phone rang.  “They want me to go back to the hotel,” Coach called to tell me.  “It’ll just be the AD and me, but he wants to talk some more…”

About 4 days ago, Coach was offered his first head coaching job.  At a phenomenal school, in a beautiful city, and with good, good people:  this is the definition of a dream come true.  Going back as far as the early 2000’s and his high school coaching days, Coach has had calls about becoming a head coach at various levels and various schools.  It’s never easy to leave a wonderful life, and through those years no potential job compared with the actual job he had, so we stayed put.

We practiced patience.  And the patience has paid off.

About 3 days ago, Miss Snow brought Coach home, she brought a donut feast for breakfast, and she brought a card pointing us to Proverbs 16:18 which reads

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

What a great reminder of how to proceed through big times in our lives!!

Over breakfast, Coach told the kids that a potential job had come along that was, without a doubt, worth taking.  I’m so grateful for that family breakfast! By the time the kids were dressed and off to school, word had leaked that the job had been offered.  Within 10 feet of the front door of the high school, SonShine was stopped by coaches asking what what going on.  Angel Girl was taken out of class and questioned.  And by their lunch periods it was out there!

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About 2 days ago, Coach signed a contract to be the Head Football Coach for the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

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The interest in Coach taking the job, and the incredible response has been awe inspiring.  Everyone’s excitement and congratulations have been beautiful and overwhelming.  Baylor Nation and our longtime coaching family have been a huge blessing of support!  Our family and loved ones have been over the moon.  Literally hundreds and hundreds of coaches have contacted Coach wanting to be a part of what he is about to create.  It takes a whole lot of faith in a person to pack up the family, move them across the country, and put one’s livelihood in that person’s hands!

That amount of faith is humbling and touching and just plain awesome.  For me it is just a confirmation of what I’ve known since the day we met on April 21, 1995…I am one very lucky ME!!

About 3 hours ago, it was 6:30 am, and Coach’s phone was already ringing.  I’m not sure when the next quiet hour will hit, allowing me to sit down here and write about our adventure.  We are Tulsa bound, and I have a lot to do to get there…I am positively thrilled for the chance to go, and I can’t wait to share all I will see and learn along the way.

With hugs and love,

Ashli

PS:  Here are a few of my favorite screen shots from the past few days 🙂

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And one of my absolute very favorites:

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And last, but never least, my dad’s email announcement to his circle of friends…perfect in every way as it is both thorough and affectionate and full of his pride and love:

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What a fantastic fairy tale this is!!

Drum Roll, Please…

Well, the last time I checked in I had 3 days left on my 10 Day Challenge…here are the final results:

Those last 3 days were not easy! We were (and still are) in mourning for our sweet Belle, and we were excited for nine days off of school as well as family and friends that needed hosting, feasts that needed eating, and a big football game that needed winning. Talk about the ups and downs, hills and valleys, positives and negatives of life!!

Days 8, 9, and 10 looked very much like days 1, 2, 3, and 4:

  • 1 oz Ionic Supreme (early morning)
  • 2 IsaGenix Shakes (usually breakfast and lunch)
  • 1 Natural Accelerator Capsule (with one of my shakes)
  • 1 clean and healthy snack (usually mid-afternoon)
  • 1 “normal” meal (usually dinner with the kids)
  • 1 IsaFlush Capsule (right before bed)

(I did have “tasting” bites of Thanksgiving recipes throughout those days as Angel Girl and I baked and bagged 12 dozen Salted Caramel Maple Pecan Pie Bars, 12 dozen Thanksgiving “Dyed Dough” Sugar Cookies, and 12 dozen Pilgrim Hat Cookies for the local Meals & Wheels program.  That is a whole lot of sugar that I added bit by bit, but I didn’t have the confidence to feed strangers without testing the recipes first!)

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When I weighed on Thanksgiving morning (Day 11), I was still hovering right at the 120 pound mark.  That means that I have lost a little more than 8 pounds since beginning my “refocus” on October 3rd, and I lost 5 pounds those last 10 days before Thanksgiving.  Considering the roller coaster of excitement and sadness and stress and relaxation over those 10 days, I am very pleased!

I didn’t do too much damage Thursday through Sunday, either.  I weighed again this morning, and after REALLY enjoying very indulgent foods for four days, I was glad to see 123.4 on the scale.  I was worried to look down and see a 1, 2, and 8.5 in shining blue numbers, so 123.4 was juuuuust fine!  I attribute the minimal gain (as opposed to what I normally see over a holiday) to the IsaGenix products that I’ve been using to keep my system detoxified.  I ate a ton, but the food didn’t seem to stick.

Our feast included all the favorites: turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, ham, candied yams, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, green bean bundles, buttered corn, broccoli-rice casserole, broccoli salad, sweetheart salad, and warm rolls.  The snack bar contained deviled eggs, relish tray, veggie tay and dip, summer sausage, cheese assortment, crackers, and seasoned pecans.  The dessert island was filled with chess pie, pumpkin pie, the pecan pie bars, pilgrim cookies, sugar cookies, fresh fruit, and plenty of whip cream to top it all off!

Our feast included all the favorites: turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry relish, ham, candied yams, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, green bean bundles, buttered corn, broccoli-rice casserole, broccoli salad, sweetheart salad, and warm rolls. The snack bar contained deviled eggs, relish tray, veggie tray and dip, summer sausage, cheese assortment, crackers, and seasoned pecans. The dessert island was filled with chess pie, pumpkin pie, the pecan pie bars, pilgrim cookies, sugar cookies, fresh fruit, and plenty of whip cream to top it all off!

At least I wan't the only one piling my plate(s) extra high!

At least I wan’t the only one piling my plate(s) extra high!

To help my body recover further, I began another Deep Cleanse this morning.  I also came across a great article that answers very common questions about the Cleanse for Life system:  Top 25 Questions About IsaGenix and Nutritional Cleansing.  Take a look, and let me know if you are interested in giving it a try.  I can only tell you that I feel a huge difference in my own metabolism, energy, and well-being.  After cleansing today and tomorrow, I will pick up my 2-shakes-a-day schedule until Christmas.  I appreciate that it allows me to stay full throughout the day, sit down to a family dinner with the kids at night, and still be on track for my goals!  Once Christmas arrives, I will enjoy my holiday, enjoy my kids being home for a few weeks, and enjoy a hard-earned and well-deserved bowl trip (or hopefully 2!!).

I love knowing that I can live my life and ALSO work on me, all at the same time!  I am eager to see where these products lead, and I am anxious to see additional results.  The past two months, I lost most of the weight in my stomach, which is also the last place I tend to add weight.  I hope that as I continue the 30-Day Cleansing and Fat Burning System, I will see more trimming in my hips, thighs, and face, so stay tuned for more updates.

Coach says he can see a definite difference already, and that brings a warmth to my heart and smile to my face 🙂

Happy, happy December, my friends!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

Only the heart knows how to find what is precious.  – Fyodor Dostoyevsky